Miranda Sutter is a vegan, a bartender, and a writer – not necessarily in that order. She knows that the next Great American Novel is rolling around inside her head, if she can just find the right inspiration… The solution? Consult with one very dead writer by the name of Ernest Hemingway. When a handsome stranger saves a choking woman, Miranda knows she’s found a hero she can base her book on, but when she begins stalking him to learn more about his life, she’s in for more than she bargained for. Along the way, she will have to deal with long-buried grief and fear, a crisis of faith, an unwelcome housemate, a clingy gothic poet, the hero’s ex-wife, and a very hairy dog. Her crazy antics are sure to land her in jail… or in love!
If you're new, read part 1, part 2 and part 3 first.
Tuesday, April 17 (continued)
Helen’s face is painted a deep scarlet color now and Aiden is on the phone with the 9-1-1 operator, hurriedly but calmly giving the address of the restaurant. “They’re on their way.” Mr. EMT is still giving Helen metered thrusts, but without avail. I am holding my breath, on a subconscious oxygen strike until Helen breathes again. But she doesn’t. Instead, she falls limp in the arms of Mr. EMT, the color evaporating from her face, leaving it ashen. The same color Aiden used to turn when he got his chemotherapy treatments…
Helen’s husband howls. Aiden starts out from behind the bar. I am off my barstool and three steps toward the scene before I realize what I am doing. The engrossed businessmen get out of their seats to get a better view. Even the burger babe stops eating. Everyone is moving in a small but agitated stampede toward the window table, but Mr. EMT remains calm, lifting Helen’s small frame from her chair and onto the floor. With her on her back, he positions himself with his knees on either side of her hips and continues his two-handed upward thrusting. “Come on, Helen,” he whispers. Come on, Aiden, I'd whispered while he slept.
Five more thrusts, and Helen takes the biggest breath of her life. The rest of the room exhales as one, as if we were all striking against oxygen in unity. Mr. EMT runs a hooked finger through Helen’s mouth and retrieves half a prawn. Outside, the siren of an ambulance wails nearby and less than sixty seconds later, uniformed saviors burst through the door.
As an oxygen mask is strapped to Helen’s face, Mr. EMT briefs one of his apparent colleagues on the drama of the previous moments. Each of the attendants seems to know him, and I overhear one call him by name. “Lucky you were here, Foster.”
Helen’s vitals are being checked. She looks pale and weakened but at least she’s breathing. Her husband approaches Foster sedately. “Mister, I can’t thank you enough. She’sshe’s my life. I don’t know how I could go on without her.” His voice is cracking with emotion. “You’re a true hero, sir. God bless you. God bless you.” He puts his arms around Foster awkwardly, beginning to weep. Foster dutifully embraces him and pats him gently on the back.
You’re a true hero, sir. My heart nearly stops and I draw in a sharp breath as my eyes widen. This is my hero. This is the man that Papa has sent me. I can’t believe it. “Aiden!” I whisper, rushing back to the bar. “Aiden, did that guy give you his credit card to keep his tab open?” Aiden shakes his head. “Did he have a reservation?” Glancing around the nearly empty bar, Aiden gives me a what, are you crazy? look. “You’ve got to have your manager give him a gift certificate or something. I need to know who he is, Aiden. You’ve got to find out for me.” I’m still trying to whisper, even though I’m so excited. Aiden is giving me that look that tells me he thinks I’m up to no good but walks over to his manager, who hurried down from the restaurant upstairs when he heard the sirens.
Helen is being wheeled out on a gurney, her husband at her side. I remember waking up on the gurney after they'd extracted the marrow from my hipbones. I want to see my brother, I'd demanded. The nurse had told me I needed to rest and slipped a shot of something into my I.V. to put me back out. Bitch.
Foster the Hero has picked his wallet up off the table, collected his burger-gulping date, taken a last drink of diet soda and stands now at the bar. “I’d like our check, please.” I shoot a pointed, meaningful look at Aiden.
“No, sir. Your meal is on the house, courtesy of our manager. I’d also like to present you with a gift certificate for dinner for two as a gesture of our gratitude and appreciation for your actions this afternoon. We simply can’t thank you enough.”
“That is awfully nice, but unnecessary. I’m just doing my job.”
“No, sir. I insist.” Aiden glances at me and adds, “If you’ll just tell me who to make it out to…”
“I’d love for my parents to be able to use the certificate. Would that be okay? Their names are Geoffrey and Annette Harrington.” Aiden raises an eyebrow at me and I nod. Aiden writes the names on the certificate and hands it to Foster Harrington. I have a name. It’s a start. Hell, his initials are even the same as Frederic Henry’s. Nice job, Papa. No subtle hints. Foster flashes me his gorgeous smile before turning to leave. It's a good thing I am sitting down because suddenly it's so hot in here, I might faint, myself. How shameful. Melted by the smile of a cute boy. No more boys until your novel is finished, Papa Hem’s voice instructs me.
Oh. Right. I asked for his guidance, so I suppose I should listen.
I watch as Foster Harrington and Slob exit, already imagining the victims my new hero will save in the Great American Novel. Now, however, is time for research… “Thanks for the coffee, Bro. I’ve got errands to run. See you at home.” I toss a ten-spot on the counter before he can respond and dart out the door, knowing Aiden is shaking his head disapprovingly after me.
* * *
PART 5 HERE.
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