" 'Tom Heeney said that? Do you mind if I ask him about it?'
Hemingway said he had no objections. So the next time I was in Miami I took a cab over to Heeney's bar on the Beach. I walked in and had a Martini, but there was no sign of Tom. Then a woman came over and said she was Mrs. Heeney. She said that some men at the bar had told her I was Gene Tunney.
"She called Tom, who was at his apartment, and when he arrived I repeated what Hemingway had told me.
" 'Yes, Gene,' Heeney said. 'You were a dirty fighter.'
" 'Tom, I don't understand you,' I said. 'Would it be reasonable for me to try to maim you, and then immediately step back and allow you to recover?'
"Heeney had to admit that it wouldn't be at all reasonable. Well, we parted friends, but I don't know even today if that man believed in his heart that I was telling the truth."
As his visitor was preparing to leave, the retired undefeated heavyweight champion got to his feet.
"Remember just one thing when you write this story," Gene Tunney said. "I would never want to hurt any of my friends' feelings. Life is too short for me now. I would like to think that I have the goodwill of all my friends, and not their bad report."