Behind the Mask

Page 14 from the series Before the Pirate Came*


His real name was Charlie Fine.  He earned his despicable nickname by chasing pretty girls all over the Great Lakes, consequences be damned.  When Miranda called and asked if he would run the boat up to Charlevoix with her, he was openly excited that they would get to enjoy this adventure together.  Charlie loved adventure. 

With wind burned cheeks and hair blowing madly, he called out her name and pushed a loaded marina cart down the ramp to her boat.  There were electric space heaters, jugs to haul water, and an OSHA approved first aid and safety kit.  There were two CO2 detectors, a Garmin GPS, and night vision infrared binoculars.  He brought flashlights, a floodlight, a spotlight, and a surplus of batteries.  He kissed her cheek and told her not to see anyone else, then handed her a stack of new bills still in the wrapper. 

She was glad Charlie didn’t bring a shotgun.  She already had one on board.  

Miranda told herself this was classic Stockholm Syndrome, the bizarre psychological condition whereby a fair maiden, over time, develops positive feelings for the pirate who captured her.  She began to see the gifts, the vacations, and the money over the past year as expressions of affection.  The line between what started as a clearly defined “arrangement” had become blurred.   Miranda had grown to like Charlie.

“A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, The naive proceed and pay the penalty.”  Proverbs 27:12 (NASB)

Half the time she was on her boat Miranda was scared to death.  She wasn’t used to being alone.  Sure, she talked the talk, knew a clove hitch from a bowline, and could dock on a windy day.  But that didn’t take away the sadness over missing Harry, the fear of an uncertain future.  Miranda was losing weight, drinking too much.  Lately, she was afraid of the dark.  

Every year when she convinced Harry to launch their boat earlier in the spring, she was the one out in the cold and rain, hauling water and putting out fenders, which is no easy task when your hands are freezing!  Harry thought she was nuts.  But Miranda was born to be on a boat and truly loved nothing more.

However… she always had a backup.  There was always someone bigger and stronger to get her out of trouble if she dropped a tool in the water or slipped on a patch of late spring ice.  The sound of the lake, black water crashing over the sea wall, and the shore birds calling at night frightened her in a way she didn’t expect. 

When Miranda decided living aboard would be a great idea, she was putting up a strong front to show Harry she didn’t need him.  She didn’t need anyone!  She was a cowgirl exploring the wild west all alone.  No one could stop her, she had no fear.  She knew she could fend off trouble and pests with 12 red lipsticks, cute shoes, and a bottle of Chanel No. 5. 

And that’s why, in the face of a blustery day on Lake Michigan, she needed Charlie.

*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.




© 2011, Shoes for an Imaginary Life. All rights reserved.

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15 Responses to Behind the Mask

  1. .endtransmission. says:

    Oh, my dear Miranda…. Out of the frying pan, into the fire. She puts the funk in dysfunctional. As a vampire myself, I’m looking forward to enjoying what lies in the vault. This has been an exciting adventure so far. Keep it up.

    • Linda says:

      But she didn’t seem dysfunctional at the time. It was just life, y’know? Reading it back to myself I am stunned. I would never believe a story that reads like this.

      Regarding the vampire, I think I can use you but we’ll have to discuss it further. I’ll let you know when Miranda is holding auditions. I’ll make sure it’s not at a time that you’re entertaining 103,000 folks in a particular famous place that is related to horses. Come to think of it, your story is an original, too…

  2. Lake Michigan is cold on an August day.

    • Linda says:

      Not if you’re only ten years old! We watch those crazy kids jump off the lifeguard station all day long. The laughter is like music, cold water and all… : )

  3. Theresa says:

    This story tugs at my heart. It’s a challenge when you are young and so easily enchanted…like so many young girls…like one in particular that comes to my mind.


    • Linda says:

      “… enchanted.” That is such a lovely word that can take on such a dastardly tone. There are many things I liked about being young, but being easily led isn’t one of them. In a strange way, it still tugs at my heart, too.

  4. Debbie says:

    I’m with Theresa, can see a girl I know in this story too. How do you do that? Write and lay open all our hearts at once? God bless you as you take Miranda through the waves and storm to the calm. love and hugs!
    p.s. This is just so good! :)

    • Linda says:

      Thank you, my friend. I must say, that if all these gals I admire so much can relate to Miranda’s plight, it takes a real weight off her shoulders. She’s been hiding from herself for so long…

  5. Jan says:

    What woman has not been in Miranda’s stage of life, or state of mind? You express it so well.

    • Linda says:

      Is Miranda speaking the universal language of girls everywhere? I never would have guessed. Thanks for sharing… : )

  6. Ferd says:

    I am reminded of a boxer in a losing fight, having suffered too many punches, head spinning and vision blurred, yet still trying, completely vulnerable to that last knockout punch that he might not see coming. Somehow some of these boxers make it back to their corner still standing. I hope Miranda makes it safely to her corner!

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