Page 34 in the series Before the Pirates Came*
(Author’s note: If the name Harry Stowe doesn’t ring a bell, you can read the backstory starting on Page 1, “Imaginary Princess… before the pirates came.”)
Miranda met Harry Stowe shortly after she married Brian Parker Hall. As the new editor of the Orchid Society newsletter, it was her job to proofread, add some finishing touches, and deliver the rough draft for printing, just as editors had done for half a century before.
When Harry’s father founded Stowe Publishing, the Orchid Society was one of his first accounts. Even after the business grew and took on many national clients, the company’s relationship with the Orchid Society continued. With each quarterly edition, Brian grew more proud of his young wife for accepting a role of such responsibility and status. It was good for her to have a project all her own, especially one that made a good impression in the community.
Miranda always looked forward to dropping off the newsletter and going over the details with Harry. He was successful, outgoing, and well liked around town. Even as a young man, Harry made a fortune doing what he loved. And Brian resented that. Miranda called him Mr. Stowe. He was somehow elusive and mysterious, something she couldn’t quite explain. Even so, she loved writing about the beautiful plants, and judging by his excitement, Harry loved them, too.
“Orchids are among the most lovely and coveted flowers in all the world,” he used to tell her.
For no specific reason she could recall, Miranda always spent extra time picking out a pretty suit and retouching her lipstick. It was okay if her skirt was a little short… after all, she was still in her twenties and just wanted to look nice. A fresh manicure, a new pair of shoes, a sprtiz of Chanel No. 5, and she was ready to go.
Harry looked forward to seeing Miranda and always found a reason to schedule a second or third meeting to go over the details of the project. Once it was to clarify something in an article, Orchids and their Evolutionary Relationships, another time he needed to confirm the spelling of Cypripedium Calceolus. Orchids are very complex.
While Miranda sat at a traffic light fussing with her hair, Harry was busy rubbing his new Porsche with a diaper to enhance the car’s mirror finish. He parked behind the Stowe Publishing building on the square downtown. It was right next door to the building where Lydia Ogletree had her office. So far, Miranda had avoided running into Lydia but made arrangements with Harry to use the back door just to avoid alot of questions. Not that Harry and Miranda had anything to hide because they didn’t… at least not yet.
She acted surprised when he invited her to join him for lunch at Red Lobster. They rode together in his shiny red Porsche, one of many rides she would enjoy in the years to come.
When things began to go downhill between Miranda and Brian, Harry noticed her tired eyes and the sadness in her voice. He was a caring and attentive listener. She told him about her situation at home without mentioning her drinking problem or bipolar diagnosis. Since she finally had those situations under control, what would be the point?
Once her divorce was final, she told Harry she was relieved and just wanted to move on. Soon after, Harry invited her to see “Phantom of the Opera.” It was playing at the old Pantages Theatre in Toronto. They would take his jet and be home the next day. She was nervous about going with him.
After that weekend, Harry was a phantom no more.
*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.