a strange meeting
Home sweet home Latest site info Poetic stuff Serious stuff Funny stuff Topical stuff Alternative stuff Shakespearian stuff Musical stuff
  click here for a "printer friendly" version

The Writer and the Devil by Martin Green.


It was a spring day in Paris. I was sitting at an outdoor café, sipping a café latte. A slight breeze rustled through the trees. French pigeons scuttled about, looking for crumbs. Schoolchildren passed by on the sidewalk, speaking perfect French. I’d been drafted after graduating college, during the Korean War, but had been stationed in Germany. I had no desire to return to the States so I took my discharge there, then traveled through Europe, ending up inevitably in Paris, as I wanted to be a writer. In my mind, I was emulating Ernest Hemingway.

I looked up from my latte and gazed hopefully at the young very attractive French girl seated two tables over. She met my gaze, turned down her mouth and looked away. I should have known. Now, if I was Hemingway … The man sitting in the far corner lowered his newspaper, was it? It had to be him: the black hair in a widow’s peak, the swarthy angular features, the pointed ears---it had to be.

I approached his table. “Excuse me, sir, “ I began. “Are you the …?

“Sit down, Martin,” he said, “and don’t ask foolish questions.”

I sat. I thought I detected a hint of sulfur in the air. “How did you know my name? Oh, a foolish question.”

“Yes. How is the writing going?”

“Not good. I’m having a devil of a time …Oh, I’m sorry.”

He shook his head. “I’ve heard it before.”

“If only I can write like Hemingway.”

“Ah, yes. Ernest. An interesting young man.”

“You knew him? Did he…I mean, is that how he became so successful?”

He shook his head again. “Millions of words have been written about Ernest. Do you really want to add to the speculation?”

“No, I suppose not. But I’d give anything to write like Hemingway. I’d sell my …”

He held up his hand. “That may be, but you must have at least a modicum of talent to begin with. Starting a story with “It was a spring day in Paris.” How pedestrian can you get?”

“But I’d be happy to even write like Steinbeck, Sinclair Lewis …”

“Wait. Ah, yes, that’s the man I was waiting for. Do you see that young Asian across the street? When he finishes his studies in Paris, he’ll return to his native country, become a dictator and slaughter millions in the name of a more perfect society.”

“The hell you say! Damnit, I’m sorry. I mean …”.

“Martin, you’re hopeless. Go home and get a job. Practice your writing. Perhaps we’ll meet again. Now, you’ll excuse me, I must catch up with that young man..”

He was gone. I practiced my writing, but I never saw him again. So that’s why this story is appearing in Winamop instead of the New Yorker.


© is reserved by the author. Please do not reproduce it without consent.


© Winamop 2008