Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hemingway, Hotchner and haunting, sad eyes

Lindsey has a beguiling quality and haunting, sad eyes.

But early this afternoon at the Downtown Grill, it's readily apparent she's only interested in taking my order. So, I forget about flirting and ask for Mountain Eggs with brunch potatoes and bacon. It's a good meal for a lazy Sunday.

Afterward, I forget about Lindsey, and we walk south on Gay Street, looking at the classic cars that have made their way here for the special screening of "Thunder Road." But I'm not much into Robert Mitchum and bootleggers, so I head west on Kingston Pike to McKay's.

The pickings are slim, but I unearth a couple of books on Hemingway and a military history of the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu. Driving home, I get stuck on Cunningham Road behind a car with Loudon County tags that doesn't appear to know where it is headed.

Heavy afternoon thunderstorms negate the idea of watching TV, so I crank the air conditioning down and curl up in the recliner to read.

A.E. Hotchner was one of Papa Hemingway's best friends the last 15 or so years of his life. "Part Boswell, part Euripides," as the Times Book Review once called him, Hotchner observed, remembered, put down a few stories.

Mary Hemingway didn't like the fact that he wrote openly about Papa's 1961 suicide, but Hotchner said Ernie would have wanted it that way.

"He said that for him there was only one way to account for things -- to tell the whole truth about them, holding back nothing." And, if we know anything about Hemingway, surely that statement must be true.

I napped in between claps of thunder, still thinking about Lindsey's sad eyes, and wishing I could have bombed around with Papa and Hotchner on long ago adventures in Key West and Havana.

Oh, well. In some ways it's better reading about it from the comfort of your easy chair on a rainy Sunday.

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