When I was nineteen I discovered a certain fly buzzing about my dorm room, and something intrigued me about this fly. It was slightly larger and less annoying then most flies, making a light purring noise like a satisfied cat, instead of the annoying drone of its brethren. I think this fly fancied himself some what of an aristocrat perching himself on the rim of my Manhattan and spitting in it and drinking it back up. I figured my drink contaminated, so I abandoned it to the dandy insect, and went to sleep sober. The next day I awoke to see the drink empty and the fly drunkenly wobbling up to the top of the glass just to role back down. He tried once more, but fell back and passed out. Feeling sorry for the little bugger I cut a piece of lime for a morning treat and fixed it to the rim of the glass and left for class. When I returned I found him gingerly nibbling on the lime, making a satisfied squeaking noise. I found this too damn cute. I decided I would make him my pet, naming it Earnest Hemingway the II, after another prodigious booze hound.
He became a fixture in my life, perched upon my shoulder, like a parrot from Chernobyl. I taught him a few tricks like fetching small crumbs, playing dead, and taking standardized tests. My friends thought it was kind of creepy to have an oversized purring fly on my shoulder. They just couldn’t understand Ernie, as I have come to call him; he was rejected by fly conventions due to his exotic tastes and impeccable social graces. To force him back into that barbarous and hellish life, to make his existence short, ugly, and brutish, would be a crime against enlightenment. He was not stuck up or anything like that, I would often find him sitting back on a Pilsner glass dropping back some Sam Adams with drunken frat boys, or doing Vodka shots with members of the Russian mafia, and other unsavory characters. Whenever he would get in too deep with these types I would have to come in and extricate him, but before I could get angry at him he would just give me that wide-eyed look he couldn’t help but give due to his lack of eyelids. All was forgiven as we embraced.
I once took him to a Picasso exhibit as he had shown immense interest in his blue period work. Unfortunately, it was his cubist work, and Ernie couldn’t see what the big deal was. It wasn’t because he couldn’t understand and appreciate abstract art- quite the contrary -abstract and conceptual art was Ernie’s favorite, which was why I was so confused by his disinterest. Late that night it finally came to me that with his refractive vision, his kaleidoscopic world was just to cubist for Picasso to ever live up to.
After about two weeks I began to worry. Flies generally live for no more then a month, and my new found platonic love for Ernie was too deep to lose him so soon. I began to research ways to extend his life. I didn’t sleep a single night for three days as I searched every source for a cure for his all too short life span. As the fourth day of sleeplessness was about to consume my mind, Ernie flitted from his Gin Rickey to my video collection, and he landed on the horror classic The Fly. Eureka.
All I had to do was build a matter transporter, we would both get in it, and boom we would share genetic materials and he could live. I trusted Ernie to only do good with his super powers, being the gentlemen’s gentleman he was, so I got to work. For the next week I did nothing but research and build. My technical abilities and sanity were stretched to their limits. On day 27 after our first meeting I had finished it, tested it on the Janitor for safety sake, and then Ernie and I went in. It worked… too well. We both came out the other end unchanged. We tried it a few more times before I gave up and smashed the transporter in to fragmented shards. I always hated Star Trek.
After that we tried to make every last moment count, visiting all the cultural sights he could tolerate, and jiving with coolest cats at the hippest cafés. We drank… lets just say we drank oblivion under the table. Then on the 30th night in our drunken reveries we fell asleep, both believing our friendship wouldn’t survive the dawn.
When I awoke Ernie was on his back in his favorite Martini glass. Tears started to fill my eyes as I cupped his body in my trembling hands, and then he flipped over and exclaimed “Tadaa”, in his flittering voice, his first word.
Over the next year Ernie grew both as an individual, and physically, growing to the size of a football. At this point he grew aware of his nakedness and made me tailor him a smoking jacket, and as a result he immediately took up smoking small cigars and a pipe I had carved for him from a piece of cherry wood. He had also increased his vocabulary to include, “Smashing”, “bully”, “Dadaist”, “overrated”, and a series of Latin phrases, leading me to believe that if not for the exertion of speaking through his proboscis he could speak fluent English. After he had attained such skill, and style, I thought it best for him to keep a low profile. Disney had been sending its costumed hooligans to find out about Ernie, and I believe this is what caused Ernie to go red.
While I think he found Marx’s ideas as stupid as any sane man would, he found the corporate structure of America, a structure which would deny him the basic rights that should be afforded to any thinking being, to be an unsound structure in which he would not participate. He set his mind on going to Cuba, reasoning that a corrupt communist structure was better for his continued well-being and growth, rather than an efficient and cunning corporate one. I made him a disguise of a white suit, shirt, tie, and Panama hat. His bags packed, he left in the dead of night- he so hated good-byes.
A month later I received a letter from Ernie. He had bribed his way into citizenship, and a small seaside mansion. He enclosed a photograph of himself in a rocking chair nursing a Martini and Cuban cigar. He became a successful author under a series of pen names, and lives in Cuba still, deep in the abandoned American Colony. Writing, living and drinking, he writes me often in his beautiful looping letters. He sometimes asks me to come and join him, but I can’t. Our lives have diverged, my friends and family are here, I can’t leave, but I will always treasure my friendship with Earnest Hemingway the II.