The US 1946
“Wearing a gown and mask, and with his doctor father whispering instructions over his shoulder, Hemingway found one good vein in Mary’s arm…”
When Ernest and Mary arrived in Palm Beach, from Cuba, the couple picked up the Lincoln, which had been sent ahead for repairs, and started the journey northwest to Wyoming.
It was a glorious five days drive up through Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and into Wyoming, and the small town of Casper, where they booked into the Mission Motor Court. During a meal of steak and fries, washed down with a couple of beers — the best Casper could offer — Mary didn’t feel too well and decided to have an early night. Ernest said goodnight, had another few beers in a local bar, played some pool with a bunch of guys who pulled his leg for looking so much like Hemingway, and then went to bed.
Early the following morning — around seven — as Ernest was putting some of the luggage into the car, Mary awoke in agony and began screaming for Ernest.
The next few hours were to be the worst of Ernest’s life, and very nearly the end of Mary’s.
“ Can I get you some coffee, Mr Hemingway?”
It was all the young nurse could think of saying.
“ That would be good. Thank you. Thank you so much.”
Just a few hours earlier, when he’d heard Mary screaming like a wounded lioness, Hemingway had dropped the suitcase he was carrying and ran back to their room where he found Mary writhing on the floor, her knees pulled up under her chin, her mouth opening and closing in anguished, uncontrollable screams of terror and agony.
Hemingway — as he had with the wounded Italian soldier back in 1918 — lifted Mary into his arms, gently placed her — still screaming — into the back of the car, and with the boot still open, roared out of the motel car park toward the hospital a half a dozen miles down the dusty road.
Twenty minutes later he carried the now almost unconscious Mary into the Natrona County Memorial Hospital where a young intern gave her a quick examination before confirming Hemingway’s own worst fears.