Title: My War with Hemiingway
Author: James Charles
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Excerpt Heat Level: 4 (one scene)
Book Heat Level: 1
A young veteran struggles with Post-Traumatic Stress, alcoholism, the loss of the only girl he ever loved, and Ernest Hemingway.
Zach, a young veteran, contemplates suicide after a horrific tour in Afghanistan when Ernest Hemingway appears and stops him.
He enrolls in college where he falls in love with Jessica, a young woman from a wealthy family. Her love stabilizes him, and Hemingway’s appearances become less frequent, until she doesn’t return to school after break. He confronts her father who tells him he is not to see her again.
Alone, haunted by the wars, and with his friend Hemingway pestering him, he descends into alcoholism.
Teaming up with one of Zach’s army buddies, and in defiance of her parents, Jessica searches for him. But will they find him in time to save his life? And is her love enough to help him find redemption?
During the third week of the fall semester on a Tuesday morning, I arrive to class early to get a good seat. I review a section in the textbook to prepare for the lecture, a general studies class on political science.
She sits next to me. There are empty seats all over the room, but she sits next to me? Gorgeous is an understatement. She is slim, yet shapely, and has warm hazel eyes. She smiles at me, curling her lips. “Hi,” she says.
“Hi.” I smile and look away like a shy high school boy. If she puts those perfect lips together and whistles, I’ll melt like an ice cube. She has an oversized book bag full of texts.
She settles in and takes the text out. “I’m Jessica,” she says, offering her hand.
“Oh,” I say, fumbling with my textbook. “Zach.” We shake. Her hand is delicate, soft and warm.
She opens her book to the chapter I’m reviewing. “Just reading it now?”
“No,” I say. “I read it last night, but wanted to review some of the key points.”
She glances at the clock on the wall. “I didn’t have time to read it. Could you give me a summation?”
“Ah, sure.” Why the hell am I so nervous? “Well, it’s essentially about Thomas Hobbes’ moral and political philosophy, where he believed that in order to live in a state of nature without fear and civil conflict we should give our obedience to an unaccountable sovereign.”
“That was well said.”
“Thanks.” Damn, my heart is racing and my palms are sweaty. The instructor rolls in and everyone settles down. He is perhaps in his sixties, prematurely bald, but has one of those ridiculous ponytails that some balding men have. I wonder what the point is. You had lost all of your hair, except on the back of your head, so you grow it long there to compensate? Whatever.
I don’t hear much of the lecture, and try to stay calm because I smell sweet perfume or body lotion drifting my way from Jessica. Several times, she flicks her long, light-brown and silky hair to her side where she wraps it over her ear, catching me looking at her. She smiles, and I look away like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. What an idiot!
The class breaks up and I place my text and notebook in my backpack, watching her out of the corner of my eye as she readies herself for departure. She exits the row and I follow her out into the hallway where she turns and says, “I’ll see you again on Thursday?”
Those smoky hazel eyes, slightly tilted upwards, knock me over. “Ah, sure,” I say readjusting my pack. “Yes. I’ll see you then.”
“Perhaps we could study together sometime?”
“Yeah. That would be great.”
“Okay. I’ll see Thursday.”
“Yes. Nice to meet you, Jessica.”
She smiles again, turns and walks down the hallway. Like a dog in heat, I stand there watching her hips sway in her tight-fitting jeans. Someone jabs me in the side. “You perv,” Dale says. “She’s hot.”
“Yeah, well, don’t you even think of it.”
“Yeah?” he smirks.
“Are you kidding? What do you think I did in Iraq and Afghanistan?”
“Awright,” he says. “I get it, psycho. It’s cool.”
“You have a class here?”
“Yeah. Catch you later.” He enters the lecture hall and I head off in the opposite direction.