ERNEST

by John Carson

Mom.

What?

When you were in school did you ever read Hemingway?

Read what?

Hemingway. Did you ever read any stories by Ernest Hemingway?

Yeah. I think so. Hand me the remote, please.

We read this story called “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” in English class.

Oh.

It’s about these two waiters in a café in Spain.

Did your father call today?

Yeah. He said to tell you he’ll have the check for you on Wednesday.

That’s what he said last week.

Anyway, this old man comes into the café every night because he’s lonely and just wants a place to be. And the young waiter wants to go home and gets mad at the old man because he won’t leave. But the old waiter understands because he’s lonely too.

Have you seen my cigarettes?

They were on the table before. The old waiter can’t sleep at night because he’s afraid. He recites the Lord’s Prayer and replaces a lot of the words with “nada.” That’s Spanish for “nothing.” Mr. Moore said the old waiter is afraid because he doesn’t believe in God anymore so he thinks he’s alone in the world.

Sounds interesting. You didn’t take my cigarettes, did you Becky?

No. Do you believe in God?

Of course I do.

Then you don’t think people are alone?

No. Did the mail come yet?

Not yet. Why do you think some people feel lonely and stop believing in God?

I don’t know. Oprah’s gaining weight again.

Yeah. Time for a new diet.

Poor Oprah.

Yeah. Your cigarettes are under the TV Guide.

Thanks.