Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hills Like Short Paragraphs

His name was Barrett, he said. He sat down at the table. I was waiting for the train to Pamplona and drinking the wine.

"This is good wine," I said.

The waiter brought Barrett some wine. He drank. "Yes, it is good," he said.

"But I have no money for the wine," I said.

"I can teach you how to make money."

"Really." I looked at the hills, in the distance. They were big and square. Like typewriters, I thought. Except that they had no keys. Maybe they were more like rocks.

Barrett was speaking. "You can write short paragraphs. I know plenty of editors. I tell you what to write. And where to write."

"Where will I write?"

"You can get a room at the local inn."

"But I am waiting for the train to Pamplona. I'm going over those hills over there. The ones that look like big grey rocks."

"No no no no. You mean, like white elephants." He paused. Frowned. Then he pointed at my notebook, which was closed. "Write that down," he said.

"Who are you again? Do I know you?" I said. I stood up and looked down the track. No train in sight. Also no money. So I sat down again.

I said, "Promise me one thing."

"Depends what it is," he said. He drank some more wine. Then he belched. He thought I didn't hear, but I did.

"Promise me that there's no tedious study."

"There won't be."

"And tell me about the checks."

"They will be small, and in a hurry. And there will be many. And they will add up quickly." He paused. "They will bring cash," he said at last.

"All right," I said.

But then Barrett stood up. He threw some coins on the table. "Write to me in Chicago," he said. Then he walked away. I never saw him again.

19 comments:

Tori Lennox said...

That Barrett is one wily customer. Well, not a customer so much as a scammer, I suspect.

Dee said...

I tell you what to write. You write small check to me. Then you write small paragraph asking other people to write small checks to you.

Me-Me King said...

Fabulous story, you really drew me in!

Bill said...

Mr. Barrett may have fathered Leonard L. Hofstadter, based on appearances.

Very nice story, and I picture you typing it on an old Remington while a polydactyl cat purred on your lap.

unfinishedrambler said...

You should be a millionaire now just based on this one post.

His method works. See?

Lidian said...

Tori - I think you're absolutely right.

Dee - You guessed what I'm guessing! :)

Me-Me - Thanks, it was fun to do.

Bill - Actually I did use an Olivetti as a child. I wish I still had it. Manual typewriters are excellent. But alas, this was hammered out on the laptop.

unfinishedrambler - I must be doing something wrong! (Maybe I was supposed to activate AdSense)

Cute Irish Girl said...

Mmmmmm.... sign me up! Just call me "Gullible in Galveston".

Phyl said...

Really, from reading your post, it seems to me that you clearly don't need his course. You could teach it, in fact.

I learned to type on a big clunky manual typewriter in high school. (Though I don't know whether or not it was an Olivetti.) This is why I tend to pound my computer keyboard now. Old habits never die.

Dr. Julie-Ann said...

Did the train ever arrive?

What happened next?

Relax Max said...

Dear Mr. Editor:

I write short paragraphs. I am a beginner. How many would you like to buy? It only costs a small check.

Well, let me know.

Your friend,
Relax Max
---------

Dear Mr. Max:

We don't buy from beginners. Get lost.

Love,
The Editor

Relax Max said...

"Barrett" looks like an adult version of a stocky childhood friend I once had. His name was Eugene. We called him Shorty. This was before the days of political correctness. This could be Shorty, only with a name change. What do you think? Shorty was always a good scammer. No glasses though. But his eyes could have gone bad by the time he got older, right?

Relax Max said...

Shorty did have a mustache though. In fact, by age 11 he was already quite hairy in general. And he combed his hair back like this guy. By God, I think this is Shorty.

Ron Eklof said...

Lidian write good. Drink much wine. Write gooder. Barrett leave tip. Small tip. The hills are calling me. Excuse me whilst I answer the phone.

Lidian said...

Cute Irish Girl - You'll have to write to Barrett in Chicago for the details...

Phyl - I miss my old Olivetti. It was ideal for writing poetry, actually. I used an electric typewriter after the Olivetti, until about 20 years ago. That was fun, too. More so than the computer keyboard (it is quieter, though).

Dr. Julie-Ann - I'll have to think about that!

Max - This is probably quite close to the truth. Re Shorty: maybe...Did he move to Chicago? (I really need to have a tag for Chicago retro)

Ron - Thank you. Yes. Writer's block is rough. Wine helps, sometimes. But if it is not good, then not really.

unfinishedrambler said...

Or else maybe your Entrecard isn't working right. We should be raking in the big bucks by now from them, right? ;)

Shay said...

Easily one of the worst best bad Hemingway imitations I've ever read.

Lidian said...

unfinishedrambler - We should be, but I'm still waiting!

Shay - Thank you - I think! :)

Heather Cherry said...

HI-larious! Although, it wasn't the shortest of paragraphs, as paragraphs go...

Lidian said...

Heather- That's true. But at least it wasn't ersatz Faulkner or Dreiser! :)