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Hemingway's Hat

by David Wiseman

About the Author: David Wiseman lived in the UK for most of his life, but is now a resident of British Columbia, Canada, where he writes and occasionally appears as a background actor in movies. He writes long and short fiction, is an occasional blogger, and enjoys maps, photography, travel and reading. He is also an accomplished genealogist.


He was at a table in the corner of the old library, an aged leather satchel at his feet, a few books and a newspaper by his coffee and a hat on his head. The hat and his white beard and sunglasses hid his features, yet were an identity in themselves. That was the first time I noticed him, but even then there was a hint of the familiar about him. He was talking to his companion, a lean young man in jeans and yellow football shirt. He was talking in English, slowly and deliberately, that much I could tell, although the details of the conversation were just beyond my hearing. It’s hard to place an accent from just the slow sound, with nothing of the actual words to go by. One or two drifted to me and it seemed he might be American, or at least North American, but there are nearly as many ways of speaking English on that continent as in all the world.

They were an unlikely pair, which made them all the more interesting. A pickup perhaps, it was a quiet corner and the young men looking for customers liked to parade in public but trade in private. They made me linger over my drink longer than I’d intended, not that I needed much excuse to be away from my room. I’d set up to write, it was the only reason to be in San Marco, but after nearly four weeks there was nothing beyond a few lines in my notebook. I had no reason to rush back to my cramped little table and unforgiving chair.

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