Matt Galletta

Matt Galletta lives with his wife and cats in Troy, NY. He brews his own beer so he never has to leave the house. Find him at www.mattgalletta.com.

 

A Story About VD and Hemingway (May-ish, 2011. Issue 28.)

It only hurt when he moved, so he remained still as possible. He adjusted the ice pack in his lap again, pressing down hard, trying to freeze out any sensation.

In the morning, if it didn't get any better, he would go to the doctor. He promised himself that.

He grimaced, thinking about how stupid he was. Nothing to worry about, he had told himself. No risk. She'd led him to believe as much, though he couldn't quite remember what she had said that had given him that impression. Maybe nothing.

Funny how we always like to imagine ourselves to be the first.

He stretched his right leg out slowly, carefully, trying not to upset anything. He kept pressing down on the ice pack, harder and harder. He wondered about nerve damage from the cold.

TV was useless. Magazines were useless. Closing his eyes was useless. Nothing could take his attention away from the dull ache.

He wondered if she was sitting on her futon in her apartment right now, experiencing the same symptoms. Did it work the same for both? He almost wanted to call her and find out.

The ice pack was softening, melting. Soon he'd have to get up, shuffle into the kitchen, and get a new one. He didn't look forward to it. The ache he felt right now was bad enough; when he tried to walk, it was like being on fire.

Jesus, he thought, just let me get through tonight. Let me get through this and in the morning the doctor will give me antibiotics and I'll feel better.

Jesus. He smirked. He wasn't the praying type.

It reminded him of that old saw, no atheists in foxholes.

It reminded him of that old Hemingway piece, that story about the soldier praying to Jesus to let him live through some battle. The soldier lives, and the next night he takes some girl to bed, and Papa Hem helpfully points out that this soldier never tells the girl, or anybody else, about the night he prayed for his life.

How fucking profound.

If he wrote that same story today, nobody would be impressed. Nobody would fawn over the "universal truth" of it. They'd call it what it was: trite; a cliché; a story told way too many times already.

Of course, maybe Hemingway was the first to tell it, and maybe that made all the difference.

Funny how it pays to be the first.

He pressed harder with the ice pack, using his elbow now. In the morning he'd see the doctor. He just had to get through tonight.

The Legendary