What would Ernest do?

Ben and Jerry have both been working in New York for a long time.  Their friendship has lasted through many jobs and they both have a lot of juicy stories that they could tell, but they’re sure the lawsuits would follow, so they keep their mouths shut. They always meet for lunch on Fridays. Ben calls Jerry at 11am..

“Hey, you have some time for lunch today? 
“Where at?”
“Housing works Bookstore and CafĂ©.”
“I don’t know where that’s at. Is it in SoHo?”
“Yeah, it’s at 126 Crosby Street.”
“Why do you want to go there?
“I’m looking for an old book that might help me with a screenplay.”
“Who you working for now?” demanded Jerry.
“Mr. Allen, and I hope he doesn’t walk in while were there.”
“Touchy subject.”
Ben got there first and wrote Ben and Jerry on the list for a table.  He liked to do this, when the servers read the list, they always started looking around the room for the ice cream guys.  Ben had a need to mess with people, even in the slightest way. Jerry didn’t like trouble, so he was kind of Ben’s watchdog. Jerry is a stage manager, and Ben writes screenplays most of the time, the rest of the time he goes about the city looking for occurrences of conflict. He jumps right in, well after the punches have stopped of course, to try to get some feeling of anger, rage, and discontentment.  But let’s be clear, Ben is not a fighter, just a fan.
“Table for Ben and Jerry,” the waiter calls out. The rest of the patrons in the restaurant look to see who these Ben and Jerrys are, curiosity, disappointment, and a smirk on Ben’s face all happen at the same moment.  The waiter takes them to a table with a view of the street.
“So what’re you working on that is so hush, hush? asks Jerry.
“The screenplay is about how people don’t say what’s really on their minds, and how one segment of our society is becoming a little sheepish, and another more arrogant at the same time.”
“That could get deep,” Jerry said while chuckling a little.
“So I’m here because there is supposed to be a first edition biography on Ernest Hemingway. As a historical figure he comes across as a person who spoke his mind. I need some sense of what it would be like to be a person so blunt, in order to continue with the screenplay. Imagine if he were alive today, would he be a success or failure?” Would society dismiss him for his lack of tact, and irascible temper?
“Irascible, that’s what his ex lovers wrote about him when they were in a good mood. He left a trail of women in his wake. I saw the Biography documentary on A & E about ten years ago He flared tempers in his day.  If he was alive today, he’d knock your current employer out cold.”
“What, why,?” asked Ben with a little curiosity.
“His granddaughter has a new book out Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family. It’s a memoir of her life. In the book she tells about how your boss Mr. Allen was constantly trying to get her in bed, always grabbing her ass, as she stood inside the edge of the curtains on stage in low light, pestering her about lunch, and threatening to never allow her to work in this town if she didn’t comply. Your boss was doing all this while he was sleeping with his adopted Asian daughter, and hiding it all from his wife.”
“Let’s order, I’m hungry, and later we need to find that book if it’s still here. Waiter!”
“Two Reuben’s, and two Sam’s Summer Ale please,” Jerry called out to the waiter.
“Mr. Allen’s neurotic behavior will drive the directors mad, after he reads about more of his past shenanigans. And I can’t count how many times he will bother the writing staff. But I like it. Imagine a womanizer beating up another womanizer.  Who do you think would throw the first punch? That is if Ernest was still alive.”
“Dumb question there Bennny: Ernest of course.”
“No, I’m thinking that Mt Allen’s famous paranoid neurotic personality would go straight for his lawyer and get a restraining order. That would be his first punch, hiding behind the legal system. He’d be dancing in a room by himself cheering victory, or cowering behind a large curio in his dining room.”
“Ernest wouldn’t care about that, he’d follow wobbly legs Allen down Broadway and knock him out cold in the street. Can’t you just see him? Ernest Hemingway, limping in his right leg from the plane crash in Africa, dressed in his safari clothes and that symbolic gray beard accenting his scowl. He would be yelling at Mr. Allen, ‘coward,’ with his fists raging through the air as he dragged his bad leg through the streets of New York. Mr. Allen would be screaming for dear life, ‘ he’s a mad man, he’s trying to kill me’, of course no one in New York would care. Everyone would just think he deserved it, that justice was taking place on the streets.”
Jerry looked for their food while a smile of delight over the scene he just imagined went across his face. 
They both ate, and Ben got up and looked for the biography of Ernest Hemingway . Jerry helped, but after one hour and asking for help, it didn’t appear to be in the store. They walked out to 126 street, Ben had to head back to his loft and work, while Jerry headed back toward the New York City theater off Broadway. While Ben walked, he thought about, being direct, being the kind of person that speaks out, right or wrong, and puts all their cards on the table.
“I wonder what that would be like,” Ben exclaimed aloud.
The pedestrians ignored Ben.

© Copyright Artemis J Jones, 2015

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