Bad Hemingway

The Old Man and C

By Michael J. Legeros

He was an old man who programmed alone on a workstation in a lab and he
had gone eighty-four hours now without taking a bath. He was tired and
smelly and frustrated by a bug that he could not find. So he read. Alone
because of his stench, he used his screen to browse the sports page of a
Russian paper. He liked Russian soccer. His favorite team was the

The old man quit reading and smelled himself and tried to remember why
he left the lingerie business to come to school and study computers. But
all he could think of were his words this morning with the boy who was
his son.

"Hi dad," he had said on that day that was today.

"Ah, the son also rises."

"You're very earnest today."

"No. Only bull."

"I'm tired."

"You have been gone all night."

"I was dancing."

"Line-dancing at that country bar?"

"Yes. I fought The Matador."

"Marchito ambulanca cochero!"

"Stop it! I don't speak Spanish and neither do you!"

"And how is the job? The hotel you run?"

"The Arms fare well."

"Well is not the right word for such a cold place for a man to live.
 Those Arms have poor circulation."

"You are old and your blood is thin."

"Does Bill still work there?"

"He toils for me. On Wednesdays."

"How is the boy?"

"He lives with her now."

"How old is he?"

"He is two and can walk and can say only one word."


"No, nada," his son replied and farted and walked out of the room,
leaving his father alone with his Trix and a rapidly dissipating cloud
of methane. Now there was only silence and soccer and headache-inducing
overhead lighting. He thought of the bug.  And of the code. And how he
faced a mountain of code that had peaks with no snow on them.

He was ready to the face the bug and fight the code and make all things
error-free.  But his past was still with him like The Stench That Would
Not Leave. He remembered the sewing and the stitching and the hemming
and how the hemming way was the hardest to get right. He remembered
selling women's wear and how he tried to peek through the key hole and
how the charges were dropped by a nice judge who liked to wear satin
under his robe when scolding young boys who were caught with their hands
in large cookie jars. The old man knew about men and boys and what they
liked to wear under their pants. Even the great DiMaggio liked things
that were soft and pink.

He sighed and closed the sports page even though it was a window which
was a thing that he did not understand anyway. Bugs were not bras to an
old Misher Fan whose batteries were dry. He even knew what kind they
were. Big, strong D cells that had been run down like those who get
trampled in The Running of the Geese. He felt like a weak pair of D.

copyright 1993 by Michael John Legeros


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Copyright 2023 by Michael J. Legeros