Upon Returning (Bad Hemingway #2)

Good evening, Creepers! As a sub-optimal writer, it is incumbent for me to practice The Craft until becoming at the very least average. Then I can leverage you, my rabid following, to drive sales of whatever crap an agent bites on first. Since you will be there at the end, you should be here in the middle, witnessing my transformation.

The Six Word Stories are going well enough, squeezing out unnecessary words and phrases like an angry Greek cook wringing water from a kitchen cloth, frustrated that the new waitress won’t let him bang her. The occasional haiku are developing my skill at spinning mysterious and high-minded bullsh1t, even if my poor grasp of WordPress make the haiku wrap to two columns. D@mn it.

But the Bad Hemingway may be an area for improvement. This exercise will help me develop my irony, and pity. Rapid-fire sentences that spray meaning like a 12-gauge shotgun into your migratory thoughts; followed by a line that drives home the essence like the estocada at the end of the faenza.

So let us proceed to the next edition of Bad Hemingway; “Upon Returning”:

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The man returned from the war wearing the shoes he wore to the port. They were scuffed from the walk through the fields with his girl when he said goodbye. She was long since married, to a good man. He woke before his family, and went to the pond. He dug worms in his neighbor’s corn field, sifting the dry earth while the wind rustled the stalks. It was summer.

He went to Church that last Sunday to please his mother. He took his shotgun and a ham, and left as the sun sank over the fields of corn. He did not know where he was going. He hopped a train and drank wine with an old hobo in the dark. The train was going to Minneapolis. At a bend in the line, he jumped off before the train picked up speed. He heard a last long whistle in the distance before he realized he had left his hat back with the hobo. The hat from the hills of Spain from the young girl in the dress that was too long.

He walked until he found a small glade by a stream. It was a clean, well-lighted place. There he cut down pine branches and made a shelter. He thought of brandy and the smoked ham of Spain, and ate a slice from the ham of his home. From the pig his mother called Delilah when she fed him scraps. The man wondered if his mother cried when his father strung her up by her leg and he cut her throat, squealing as the blood sprayed then ran out and then was finally a trickle into the earth below the oak branch where pigs had always hung and died all the way back to when his family came straight to the farm from Ellis Island and Bremen before that. In the time before trains cut through the woods and men could jump off when they slowed to go through a bend. He lay a long time in the shelter that night, staring through a hole in the pine branches at the stars until he fell asleep and dreamt of Spain.

When he came home that fall, he helped his father bring in the harvest. Corn from the fields, and turnips and cabbages and vegetables from the garden. His mother canned the vegetables and listened while he and his father counted the money from the granary, cursing the greed of millers and talking about hunting in strange forests and sleeping under pine branches. They never talked about Spain nor the Marne when they stalked the deer in the empty fields.

The first snow fell and the man went hunting alone. He saw a buck rooting in the snow for dried corn and he raised his rifle and watched until his shoulder grew tired and his fingers cold and he took the deer clean. When he was carrying the dressed meat back on his tired shoulders to the road he remembered that he hadn’t thought of Spain at all when he pulled the trigger. He lay in bed the next morning until the smell of coffee and his mother frying ham woke him from a dreamless sleep.

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Hope you like it.

Sincerely,

Finnegan

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