An extraordinary discovery rocked the literary world this week when Mr. Anthony Gubyard, a Naperville archivist and bearded man, went through several handwritten journals of Ernest Hemingway while accumulating research for his book, Why Not: Another Hemingway Biography. We proudly present, for the first time in publication, the entirety of Mr. Hemingway’s short story, “For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn,” initially thought to be a mere six words long. This draft proves the author affectionately known as “Papa” to be not only a groundbreaker, but also a startlingly prescient prognosticator of literary movements to come.
“For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn,” Judith read out loud to her husband. They drove together through a foggy, starless midnight. “What an utterly downbeat ad to put in the paper. Don’t people check these things before they run them?”
“Whoever wrote that’s probably just looking for attention,” Ronald mumbled. “Reminds me of someone else I can think of.”
Judith was a popular model for men’s magazines. Her youthful skin and generous bosom were known nationwide—as was her marriage to millionaire Ronald Larson at the tragic age of twenty. Though her good looks and nubile energy stayed intact, her middle-aged man tested her patience with verbal abuse and stifling lack of romance.
“There’s not even a number to call,” she continued. “It’s like it’s deliberately vague to make you think of the most depressing context imaginable.”
“Judith, for God’s sake,” Ronald growled, shooting her a disapproving look, “I’m trying to—”
“—Ronald Darling, LOOK OUT!”
Ronald’s Studebaker steered off a sharp right into the grass to navigate away from the silhouette in the middle of the road—Had it been there only a second ago?—and turned onto its back like a submissive husky.
Judith climbed from the ruined automobile. She regained her footing, only for her knees to weaken all the more as the silhouette approached.
The thick fog parted from the figure like mosquitoes from a torch, revealing a tall, pale man of devastating good looks and eyes that sparkled like newly mined diamonds soaked with sweat.
“My beloved,” he purred like a white lion, “please forgive me this brash introduction.”
The man’s dashing Victorian apparel barely concealed thick, ropey muscles. His seductive smile parted to reveal fangs like Bowie knives.
“Oh my,” Judith gasped with feminine approval.
“I saw your picture in April’s issue of Men’s Tales of Cracking Adventure. You were modeling an electric coffee thermos. I fell in love with you instantly.”
Judith put her dainty hand to her forehead and tilted to one side, revealing her neck to her suitor. The Man leaned in to take his rightful prey—
“—What in blue blazes?” Ronald cried from his ruined auto. The amorous stranger reluctantly unhanded Judith and stalked up to a different sort of prey. Crickets chirped impassively as Ronald’s fat neck was torn open and his throat masticated with vicious efficiency.
The stranger wiped his mouth, eyes cast downward to tall grass wet with dew and Ronald. “So now you see my nature. Would you run screaming from me?”
Now it was Judith who approached through the fog. She wrapped her arms around her new beau like a boxing kangaroo. “If you kiss with that same voracity, then please, no more talk of nature. Only demonstration.” They kissed, years of restrained pep surging through Judith as she offered up her lusty physique like a sex-appeal sacrifice to the pagan gods of the Whoopie Tribe.
As he drank of her essence as though she were a flask of twelve-year-aged Teacher’s scotch, her thoughts returned idly to that classified in the Journal. No matter, she thought as she resigned herself to lusty immortality. No matter.
Eric Stolze writes ad copy, articles, and screenplays in Los Angeles.