Fiction Week: The Ernie Bedlam Stories | Bleader

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fiction Week: The Ernie Bedlam Stories

Posted By on 01.19.12 at 08:00 AM

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Editor's note: Craig Champlin submitted a number of shorts for our annual Pure Fiction issue, writing "Pick any of them. What I’d really like is to run 'The Ernie Bedlam Stories' weekly. I have a lot of them and people seem to really like them." We'll run five of the Ernie stories here on the Bleader this week. Here's the fourth.

It was the first day of Gettysburg

The rebel army was looking for shoes. The Union cavalry was there to prevent them from getting their Buster Browns. The Yanks were led by that Sam guy who played the lifeguard and sold everything on TV. Ernie held a deep affection for history. The rebel army was led by Martin Sheen. Charlie’s dad. The Sam guy, the fella with the giant mustache, wanted to hold the high ground. Ernie understood. He liked to be high too, perhaps because he was short. He had married a woman who was taller than him. She was also smarter than Ernie. She sang better, was better employed, liked to cook, and was good-looking to boot. Frankly, they didn’t have much in common. She was entrenched in reality; Ernie was entrenched in quicksand, constantly seeking the higher ground. That Sam guy was probably a better choice for a husband but was a hundred years too old and off fighting Martin Sheen in Pennsylvania. Sometimes Ernie was a damn visionary. If Martin Sheen told him to cross a big field and attack 20,000 guys playing with guns and canons three days before July 4th; Ernie wouldn’t be attending that picnic. He’d just worry about shoes later on.

Ernie was once in a bar. A guy sitting next to him was lamenting about how the South ever lost the war. Ernie agreed and said you’d think the Cubs played in Atlanta or something. The guy looked at Ernie and said that’s profound. He ordered another beer and moved to the end of the bar and sat down next to a deaf mute.

It was July first and the Cubs were playing the Sox at Wrigley Field. Ernie was wondering if that Sam guy was going to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” He also wondered if the south-siders wore butternut boxers underneath their uniforms. Ernie saved up most of his wondering for important matters. If the Cubs had won the World Series before the Sox it could have been an entirely a different world. But that thought could wait until tomorrow. Today it was obvious Ernie was on a higher plane. Ernie’s wife just hoped it landed soon.

Read the rest of Craig Champlin's "The Ernie Bedlam Stories" here.

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