An Unsoiled, Well Illuminated Bar
A Short Parody of the Works of Ernest Hemingway

By: Andrew J. Pritchard
July 7th, 2004

"What'd he do?" asked Francis. "Was a boxer. Least that's what he told me a while back." Nick replied. "Why'd he get out of it? Good money ain't it?" Francis questioned. Both bartenders watched an extremely drunk, handsome fella slowly sip a whisky- soda. It was now quite late and the breeze blowing from the open window was becoming quite cool for the bar. "Well, apparently he tossed a fight for a few thousand." "How many?" "I heard about 75 or so. Used some of that to come down to Johannesburg. Big game hunter or so they say." The man was now finished his whiskey-soda and motioned for one of the bartenders to fetch him another. Francis walked over and asked the man what he would like. "Una Cerveza." The drunken man said with some trouble. "This is South Africa, not Spain, pal." Francis said, giving the man a cold hard glare. There was something about the retired boxer that Francis despised. "Whatever, just bring me a damn beer." "You're over your limit, Mac. Shouldn't mix either." Francis said.
All the same, Francis walked over behind the counter of the bar and grabbed the boxer a cold bottle of "Castle" lager. Which was on of the popular beers in South Africa. As the boxer sat and drank, the two bartenders continued discussing him. "So, what exactly brings him to Johannesburg?" Francis asked. "There ain't many fights, gambling or big game hunting in an urban city like Johannesburg." "Well, he's running see." "From what?" "Them. Double crossed a mafia head when he tossed that fight I mentioned." "How do you know that?" "I'm omniscient." Nick said with a smirk. "Jesus, so there's a hit out on him then?" Francis said, worried. "What if they come looking for him. here!" "No, they wouldn't come looking for him here." "What makes you believe that you idiot, they are the mob. Francis said, a tone of fear was becoming quite noticeable in his voice. "Because," Nick said. "this is an unsoiled well illuminated bar. Who would kill a man during his evening drink? The mob knows to let a man have dignity, because without that he is nothing." "What dignity could a wretched bum like him have? He tossed a fight for $75k, can't have too much pride after that, can he now?" Francis said with a snort. "Alright, you know how I said he was a big game hunter?" "Yeah, what of it?" "Few weeks ago he went hunting in Nairobi. Figured he'd kill something. That's what hunting is about see. Anyway, he sees this pack of buffalo. Pulls out his rifle, and picks each one off using 'bout 2 or 3 rounds a head. Now this one he didn't peg off runs into the bush. Tour guide isn't going in after it. That's an 800 pound animal coming at you when he charges." Nick said. "That's one big bastard." "Sure is," said Nick. "back to my story, that man, biggest nutter you've seen, goes after the beast with his rifle and bayonet. Tour guide was about 20 metres out, said the guy walked into this clearing in the bush and waited for it to charge. When the massive animal came at him, he rolled to one side and jabbed the bayonet in its flank." "Killed it?" Francis asked, now very interested in Nick's story. "Yeah, but get this, this is the best part." Nick said with a chuckle. "What?" "The buffalo kept running. Like after he jabbed the bayonet in there. But he still had a firm hold on the rifle, and it was dragged through his entire side, guts and all sorts of crazy crap went everywhere. But all the same he went over and sealed the deal by shooting it. Very macho thing to do, put it out of its misery." Nick said. "Well you proved me wrong, Nick. His pride is well deserved then. Although he cheated himself out of self respect by tossing the fight he came through and killed a big animal. Quite redeeming." Francis said. "Sure is." Nick replied. "So what is he doing here besides big game hunting?" "Just checking out the Snows of Kilimanjaro. Typical stuff one does in another country." Nick said.
At this point, two men enter the bar and sit down. They are adorned in tight-fitting velvet suits and are wearing leather gloves. "Not the typical sort eh boyo? Never kill a man during his evening drink, some dignity they're leaving him." "Shut up you buffoon, they won't kill him in here, when he's ready." Nick said under his breath.
The boxer and the two men now engage in a staring competition. The boxer looks away. He tilts his head back and empties the last half of his beer. He gets up and walks out the door, without a second glance at the two men. "At least they took him outside. You were right, even the mob wouldn't kill a man during his evening drink."
"Outside a gunshot is fired and a woman's piercing scream is all that is heard. Nick hangs his head. Francis cannot think of anything to say other than: "Better a short happy, life, than a long, unhappy one."


I wrote this story a couple of months back when I was thinking of entering a Hemingway parody competition, and then updated and revised it a little before handing it in. This being a parody of Ernest Hemingway's short stories, I thought it would be appropriate to hand in as a short story for extra marks. However, there are a few things I wanted you to know about this story. Firstly, I worked really hard to imitate Hemingway's short and to the point narrative and include a lot of dialogue. All of the characters that appeared in this story were from Hemingway's collection of short stories. The two bartenders appeared in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" and were named after Francis Macomber from "The Short, Happy Life" and Nick Adams from "The Killers" and various other Hemingway stories. The hit men were also from "The Killers", and the retired boxer was a combination of Jack from "Fifty Grand" and the Old Man in "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place". As you can see I also stole my titled from "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" and just altered the words with synonyms. Throughout the story there are plotlines and references to at least ten of Hemingway's short stories. I just thought this would give you a better idea of where I got my ideas for this story.


Andrew Pritchard