TODAY IS FRIDAY

By Ernest Hemingway

“Read anything I write for the pleasure of reading it. Whatever else you find will be the measure of what you brought to the reading.”  -Ernest Hemingway

ffd1e8f0-a0e8-40c7-9fe2-971576945eed http://genius.com/Ernest-hemingway-today-is-friday-annotated

Hemingway’s “Today Is Friday” is about three Roman soldiers at eleven o’clock in the evening still drinking after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In his Paris Review interview Hemingway claimed to have written it and two other of his best stories in one day:

INTERVIEWER You once wrote me that the simple circumstances under which various pieces of fiction were written could be instructive. Could you apply this to The Killers—you said that you had written it, Ten Indians, and Today Is Friday in one day…?” HEMINGWAY The stories you mention I wrote in one day in Madrid on May 16 when it snowed out the San Isidro bullfights. First I wrote The Killers, which I’d tried to write before and failed. Then after lunch I got in bed to keep warm and wrote Today Is Friday. I had so much juice I thought maybe I was going crazy and I had about six other stories to write. So I got dressed and walked to Fornos, the old bullfighters’ café, and drank coffee and then came back and wrote Ten Indians. This made me very sad and I drank some brandy and went to sleep. I’d forgotten to eat and one of the waiters brought me up some bacalao and a small steak and fried potatoes and a bottle of Valdepeñas.”

INTERVIEWER

You once wrote me that the simple circumstances under which various pieces of fiction were written could be instructive. Could you apply this to The Killers—you said that you had written it, Ten Indians, and Today Is Friday in one day…?”

HEMINGWAY

The stories you mention I wrote in one day in Madrid on May 16 when it snowed out the San Isidro bullfights. First I wrote The Killers, which I’d tried to write before and failed. Then after lunch I got in bed to keep warm and wrote Today Is Friday. I had so much juice I thought maybe I was going crazy and I had about six other stories to write. So I got dressed and walked to Fornos, the old bullfighters’ café, and drank coffee and then came back and wrote Ten Indians. This made me very sad and I drank some brandy and went to sleep. I’d forgotten to eat and one of the waiters brought me up some bacalao and a small steak and fried potatoes and a bottle of Valdepeñas.”

TODAY IS FRIDAY 

Three Roman soldiers are in a drinking-place at eleven o’clock at

night. There are barrels around the wall. Behind the wooden counter is

a Hebrew wine-seller. The three Roman soldiers are a little cockeyed.

IST SOLDIER You tried the red?

2ND SOLDIER No, I ain’t tried it.

IST SOLDIER You better try it.

2ND SOLDIER All right, George, we’ll have a round of the

red.

HEBREW WINE-SELLER Here you are, gentlemen. You’ll

like that. (He sets down an earthenware pitcher that he has filled

from one of the casks) That’s a nice little wine.

IST SOLDIER Have a drink of it yourself. (He turns to the

third Roman soldier who is leaning on a barrel) What’s the matter

with you?

3RD SOLDIER I got a gut-ache.

2ND SOLDIER You’ve been drinking water.

IST SOLDIER Try some of the red.

3RD SOLDIER I can’t drink the damn stuff. It makes my

gut sour.

IST SOLDIER You been out here too long.

3RD SOLDIER Hell, don’t I know it?

IST SOLDIER Say, George, can’t you give this gentleman

something to fix up his stomach?

HEBREW WINE-SELLER I got it right here.

( The third Roman soldier tastes the cup that the wine-seller has

mixed for him)

3RD SOLDIER Hey, what you put in that, camel chips?

WINE-SELLER You drink that right down, Lootenant.

That’ll fix you up right.

3RD SOLDIER Well, I couldn’t feel any worse.

IST SOLDIER Take a chance on it. George fixed me up fine

the other day.

330 TO-DAY IS FRIDAY

WINE-SELLER You were in bad shape, Lootenant. I know

what fixes up a bad stomach.

( The third Roman soldier drinks the cup down)

3RD SOLDIER Jesus Christ. (He makes a face)

2ND SOLDIER That false alarm!

IST SOLDIER Oh, I don’t know. He was pretty good in

there to-day.

2ND SOLDIER ‘Why didn’t he come down off the cross?

IST SOLDIER He didn’t want to come down off the cross.

That’s not his play.

2ND SOLDIER Show me a guy that doesn’t want to come

down off the cross.

IST SOLDIER Aw, hell, you don’t know anything about it.

Ask George there. Did he want to come down off the cross,

George?

WINE-SELLER I’ll tell you, gentlemen, I wasn’t out there.

It’s a thing I haven’t taken any interest in.

2ND SOLDIER Listen, I seen a lot of them here and

plenty of other places. Any time you show me one that

doesn’t want to get down off the cross when the time comes

when the time comes, I mean I’ll climb right up with him.

IST SOLDIER I thought he was pretty good in there to-day.

3RD SOLDIER He was all right.

2ND SOLDIER You guys don’t know what I’m talking

about. I’m not saying whether he was good or not. What

I mean is, when the times comes. When they first start

nailing him, there isn’t none of them wouldn’t stop it if

they could.

IST SOLDIER Didn’t you follow it, George?

WINE-SELLER No, I didn’t take any interest in it, Loo-

tenant.

IST SOLDIER I was surprised how he acted.

3RD SOLDIER The part I don’t like is the nailing them on.

You kpow, that must get to you pretty bad.

2ND SOLDIER It isn’t that that’s so bad, as when they first

TO-DAY IS FRIDAY 33*

lift ’em up. (He makes a lifting gesture with his two palms

together) When the weight starts to pull on ’em. That’s when

it get’s ’em.

3RD SOLDIER It take some of them pretty bad.

IST SOLDIER Ain’t I seen ’em? I seen plenty of them. I tell

you, he was pretty good in there to-day.

( The second Roman soldier smiles at the Hebrew wine-seller)

2ND SOLDIER You’re a regular Christer, big boy.

IST SOLDIER Sure, go on and kid him. But listen while I

tell you something. He was pretty good in there to-day.

2ND SOLDIER What about some more wine?

( The wine-seller looks up expectantly. The third Roman soldier

is sitting with his head down. He does not look well)

3RD SOLDIER I don’t want any more.

2ND SOLDIER Just for two, George.

( The wine-seller puts out a pitcher of wine, a size smaller than

the last one. He leans forward on the wooden counter)

IST SOLDIER You see his girl?

2ND SOLDIER Wasn’t I standing right by her?

IST SOLDIER She’s a nice-looker.

2ND SOLDIER I knew her before he did. (He winks at the

wine-seller)

IST SOLDIER I used to see her around the town.

2ND SOLDIER She used to have a lot of stuff. He never

brought her no good luck.

IST SOLDIER Oh, he ain’t lucky. But he looked pretty good

to me in there to-day.

2ND SOLDIER What become of his gang?

IST SOLDIER Oh, they faded out. Just the women stuck by

him.

2ND SOLDIER They were a pretty yellow crowd. When

they seen him go up there they didn’t want any of it.

IST SOLDIER The women stuck all right.

332 TO-DAY IS FRIDAY

2ND SOLDIER Sure, they stuck all right.

IST SOLDIER You see me slip the old spear into him?

2ND SOLDIER You’ll get into trouble doing that some day.

IST SOLDIER It was the least I could do for him. I’ll tell

you he looked pretty good to me in there to-day.

HEBREW WINE-SELLER Gentlemen, you know I got to close.

IST SOLDIER We’ll have one more round.

2ND SOLDIER What’s the use? This stuff don’t get you

anywhere. Come on, let’s go.

IST SOLDIER Just another round.

3RD SOLDIER (getting up from the barrel) No, come on. Let’s

go. I feel like hell to-night.

IST SOLDIER Just one more.

2ND SOLDIER No, come on. We’re going to go. Goodnight,

George. Put it on the bill.

WINE-SELLER Good night, gentlemen. (He looks a little

worried) You couldn’t let me have a little something on

account, Lootenant?

2ND SOLDIER What the hell, George ! Wednesday’s pay-day.

WINE-SELLER It’s all right, Lootenant. Good night,

gentlemen.

(The three Roman soldiers go out the door into the street.

Outside in the street)

2ND SOLDIER George is a kike just like all the rest of them.

IST SOLDIER Oh, George is a nice fella.

2ND SOLDIER Everybody’s a nice fella to you to-night.

3RD SOLDIER Come on, let’s go up to the barracks. I feel

like hell to-night.

2ND SOLDIER You been out here too long.

3RD SOLDIER No, it ain’t just that. I feel like hell.

2ND SOLDIER You been out here too long. That’s all.

CURTAIN

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s