Between Hemingway and Wodehouse

His notebooks were always the same color, brown. And the pages were always handmade. Everytime he got a new one, he would draw his name out on the first page with a black pen, in big block letters. He always wrote with an ink pen. On his 15th birthday, his grandfather pulled him close to his lap, kissed him and gave him this pen. It was before he started to molest him. Everybody knew his grandfather molested him, he told them all. But nobody knew why he held on to that pen so closely and nobody asked.

He wrote short stories when he was happy. And like all great men, he wrote poetry when he was sad. Sometimes, when he couldn’t decide if he was happy or sad, he would go to sleep, even though he wanted very much to write. He liked Hemingway, sometimes more than he liked Wodehouse. His family had taught him to love Wodehouse. He learnt how to read Wodehouse but he didn’t quite grow to be inspired by him, like every other male member in his family.

He found Hemingway in his grandfather’s library one afternoon after they all went to nap. He rummaged through old yet sprightly and clean bookshelves for something other than a picture of cartoon people on the front cover. Trouble with Wodehouse was even though he was funny and everything, it wouldn’t make him laugh.

He found an unmarked copy of short stories by Hemingway. All the other books that he read from his grandfather’s library had all sorts of markings on them. This one was clean, untouched, new even. It looked removed from everything else around it. He grew curious. He wasn’t allowed in his grandfather’s study but nobody would know now so he tiptoed into the study, sat on the comforter and began a life long affair with Hemingway.

He would return to this moment often, when he thought about the big old house and its fresh cobwebs, his grandfather behind his big black armada glasses and that godawful Grinch like smile. When his grandfather died, he locked himself up in the study and went though all his grandfather’s papers and journals. He didn’t know what he was looking for, a sign of remorse perhaps? A hastily written ‘I am sorry’ somewhere?, a letter written for him to be opened and read silently after he had passed?

He found nothing except some really yellow photographs of his wedding day and honeymoon and some from his days at the university. By evening he had grown tired of not knowing what he was looking for so he settled down with his Hemingway on the comforter by the fireplace.

He couldn’t read and gave up soon. He curled further back into the comforter and looked at his grandfather’s life size portrait. It must have been a fairly recent one. He looked closely at his wrinkles which spread like little roots etching out of the corner of his eyes. That broad forehead with its legendary mole sitting sharply, like it still lived, after the face had gone, and its body now rotting. He kept looking at the mole until the mole itself became the focus of his eyes, sieving his attention from the competing thick eyebrows which were now beginning to appear now that his vision was back.

He stood up and faced the portrait. Looking, searching, breathing. His hand in his pocket, twirling the lighter around. After a minute his eyes softened and he let go. His throat was beginning to feel heavy. He looked down and rearranged his feet. They were now neatly parallel to the tiles. He picked up his jacket and waited by the door to bid a proper farewell. He needed to keep this vision alive for as long as he would postpone writing about his grandfather. Now was the time. A gentle rustle of wind lifted itself between the door now shut tight and the window. Outside, he got on his bike and rode into the darkness.

He would go back to his apartment and write his grandfather’s obituary along with some other things his journal had been waiting for.

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