Page 79… in a fiction series
Miranda returned to the living room, goblets in hand, to find Dominic Manos stalking the perimeter, inspecting her artwork as if he were in a gallery. He paused at a framed lithograph. It was all she had left of her lovely orchids. Later, she would find out that this, too, was part of the screening process, her personal private world that Neil Lipman could not penetrate.
She sat on her soft leather sofa while he took a seat across from her in a vintage wing chair, one of the pieces she and Drew refinished on the weekends. D.W. Manos was smooth and refined– smiling on cue, cocking his head this way and that. While he charmed her with small talk, Miranda thought about the times she had seen him before.
She recalled Manos sitting with the usual crowd at Tommy’s Gotcha– Vince the imaginary cowboy, his slobbering sidekick Lester, and DUI lawyer Joe Ramano. Miranda recalled Vince telling her to stay away from the man in the navy blue blazer, that he wasn’t her type. She wondered now what he meant by that. There was nothing suspect about Manos, and Miranda was an excellent judge of character. She remembered leaving early. Maybe something happened after that…
But there was another memory, too, something that made her afraid. She smiled his way, pretending she was intrigued by his story. Manos took a sip of wine while Miranda drifted back into the cold mist of Castle Rouge. She had a vision that night, (drunk of course), that carried her beyond the walls of the old stone warehouse, far out of her reach. Her old drinking buddies were all dressed up– as pirates? Not a complete surprise, considering everyone at the party was wearing a costume, but still…
Someone said her name, she recognized the voice. He was inviting her to join them. She squinted her eyes, swallowed another sip of fragrant Bordeaux. Manos wore a patch on one eye and flashed a silver hook, stacks of gold doubloons on the bar before him. Did he really reach out from the mirage and hand her something? How was that possible?
Miranda struggled to revisit what was likely an illusion, brought on the mixture of alcohol and a bipolar episode. Was it really pirate treasure? Or was it the business card that ended up on her dining room table, the mysterious card that said, “D.W. Manos.” Goosebumps swept over her skin– and not in the way they had the night before. Even so, this was the final day of her 30 dates in 30 days plan, and it would be foolish to quit in the final round.
Manos raised one eyebrow and looked across the room at her favorite Tarkay, the numbered print that once hung in the home she shared with Harry, a souvenir she took with her after their tragic divorce. He finished his wine and studied her as if she were one of Harry’s gently used Porsches– low miles, glossy finish, black leather interior.
Miranda wanted him to leave, but instead filled his glass. Her judgement, once again, failed miserably, leading her down a dangerous path, seducing her right back into the dark. Manos raised his glass, grinned at his prey, and said, “Cheers.”
To be Continued…
*This story is based on some true events, however, has been fictionalized and all persons appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
© 2012, Shoes for an Imaginary Life. All rights reserved.