ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: The Writer, His Wife, and their Afterlife
Book One, Part Two, Chapter 61: Ernie’s Reason to Write
One night five years before Ernie died, Joshua called from L. A. “Cain and Abel has just been accepted into The Other Venice Film Festival. You gotta come out here, Daddy. You guys have to be a part of this.”
Cain and Abel is Joshua’s first feature-length film. He wrote it, directed it, and acted in it. Ernie and I don’t even discuss going out there. We both know we will.
We go by train. The day before we pull into the L. A. station, Ernie experiences excruciating stomach pain that hangs on and on. “It’s so bad, Ernestina, that I feel like jumping off this train.”
We talk to the train conductor, who tells Ernie: “I can drop you off at the next stop, but the train won’t wait for you. You’ll have to catch the next train.”
Ernie grits his teeth. He finds a piece of paper, takes out his yellow Mont Blanc pen, and begins to write about a dog he saw out the window a few miles back who was chasing the train.
When Ernie was in pain, he wrote. Not about his pain, though. His forte was fiction, with its multitude of characters — once even a dog chasing a train. Although, isn’t this dog chasing what he can’t catch also a part of Ernie?
Yes. Of course.
Ernie’s fiction contains at its heart, truth — what he felt and what he knew. In his great generosity, he wanted to pass this along.