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, part 3 and part 4 first.
Tuesday, April 17 (continued)
How did people do research before the Internet? Or anything, for that matter? Sitting at my favorite Starbucks on Green Lake, I can search ebay for rare editions of my favorite novels or scout Amazon for up-and-coming, self-published authors. Today, however, my laptop is my wireless cohort in finding Mr. Foster Harrington. I type whitepages.com into the address bar and enter his name into the "search" feature. In an instant I have not only a telephone number but an address, as well.
I sit back and take a sip of my soy chai latté, musing over my options. Am I really going to do this? Am I really going to call this guy up and tell him I'd like to write a book about him? How ridiculous. Of course, I can always just drive past his house and check it out, right? I mean, if he were concerned about people knowing where he lives, he wouldn't have a public address listing, right? Right. And there's no harm in just driving by, right?
Right, says a voice that can only be Papa Hemingway.
Papa! Thank goodness you’re here… It’s just the encouragement I need.
Before I can talk myself out of it, I put my laptop into my bag and head into the parking lot, where my old Saab convertible waits. As I ease into the seat, I am shaking my head, still unable to believe I am about to do this. Taking a deep breath, I start the car and pull out of the lot, not letting myself lose my nerve.
Foster's address is off Sandpoint Way, near the park. I slow down as I approach, but not too much. I don't want to be obvious, after all. There it is, to the right. It's a lovely home, two stories painted Navajo white with a forest-green trim. A silver minivan waits in the driveway and in the middle of the large fenced yard is a swing set. Hold on a minute! A minivan? Swing set? I must have the wrong address. I double-check the house number with the address I'd written down from whitepages.com and verify that this is, in fact, the correct home.
He must have children. What kind of a man owns a minivan? A married one, that's what kind. Looks like my hero has some villainous traits, after all. Oh, the cad! Out with a younger woman in the middle of the day without a wedding ring. His wife must have been at home with the kids while he was at McArthur & Schultz. That must be her minivan. How scandalous. Where is he now? In some seedy motel on Aurora Avenue with his chubby mistress?
I realize I've slowed almost to a stop. Pulling myself out of my thoughts, I accelerate and circle back around to Montlake, toward the U-District and home. Once there, I pull my computer out of its bag and search Google for "King County Marriage Records." The first link directs me to the King County Recorder's Office, where I have to agree that I will "only use this information for lawful purposes" before entering the records search. Yes. Okay. This is still lawful, right? I mean, I'm not trying to blackmail the man, for crying out loud. I'm simply satisfying my ample curiosity. I click "I Agree" and am taken to the records search page. I select "Marriage Records" and enter Mr. Harrington's name.
There it is. He's married, the scoundrel. I pull up his marriage license and certificate. His wife's name is Suzanne. Suzanne Cochran. I'll bet she took his name. Suzanne Harrington. I'll bet she's lovely and sweet and people call her "Suzie." I'll just bet lovely, sweet Suzie has no idea what her husband has been up to. Poor Suzie. They've been married for ten years. Ten years of marriage, wasted on a lying cheater.
Someone should tell her. I should tell her. I mean, we women have to stick together, right? Wouldn't I want someone to tell me if I were in her place? Ha! That'll be the day… Miranda Sutter goes down, kicking and screaming into a comfortable commitment. Well, still. Of course, if I tell her, I might miss out on a great story, not to mention being responsible for breaking up a marriage. Not a good marriage, but a marriage nonetheless.
Just wait and see what opportunities present themselves, advises Papa.
Glancing at the digital clock on my bedside table, I realize I am going to be very late for work if I don't get ready quickly. Turning on the shower, my mind is a lightning storm of ideas. I have to come up with a plan to find out the dirt on Foster Harrington. As the hot water streams over my body, I'm scheming. A little surveillance project is in order, I believe. I'll bet by hanging out around his place for a couple of days, discreetly, I could find out everything I need to know. Everything Suzie might need to know, for that matter. How hard can it be? Cops and private eyes do it all the time on television and in crime novels. Certainly, I can be clever and nondescript.
After drying my burgundy-dyed hair and twisting it into a frenzied mass of pinned insanity, I slick some silver eye shadow over my lids and finish with black liquid liner and mascara. I throw on a snug, hot pink tee shirt and a black pleated miniskirt with lime green tights and black over-the-knee boots.
Okay, maybe "nondescript" is not one of my natural qualities, I think, checking myself in the mirror while fastening my "M" necklace. Dashing down the stairs and out the door, I'm singing, "Who can turn the world on with her smile? Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?"
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PART 6 HERE.