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Marcia Miller-Twiford

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Harry's Return
By Marcia Miller-Twiford
Friday, January 29, 2010

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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Recent stories by Marcia Miller-Twiford
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This story is a follow-up to my poem, "Louise's Secret." For those of you who haven't read the poem I'm posting it again (before the story) for your convenience and for continuity.

Louise's Secret

I often wonder whatever happened to Harry.
The first one you thought about when planning a gathering,
the life of every party, the one you could count on
to dance with a lonely lady, or bolster a fallen ego.
There isn’t a woman in town whose heart didn’t skip at the sight of him
and the men to be like him how they in vain did aspire.

Then came the night when Harry met Louise.
She in a backless dress of red and five-inch stiletto heels,
coming through the door, chandellier earrings swaying
walking to the music’s beat with a think you can handle it attitude
the scent of Obsession wrapped around her like a seductive fog
overpowering the stench of overflowing ashtrays and spilled whiskey.

Harry froze on the spot, charmingly debonair as always
but with mouth agape he was speechless at the sight.
No one was surprised when once compusure was regained
he walked up to her and led her to the dance floor without a word
and she walked into his arms as if that's where she belonged.

I often wonder but only they know what happened then.
Soon after meeting they took off for parts unknown
and the irresistible charmer Harry was never heard from again.
It’s been rumored Louise had inherited a small fortune,
from a father who had paid her little mind,
and Harry was one who just got by, but how nobody knows.

Louise came back to town awhile back
dressed in what for her is conservative attire,
her Louis Vuitton luggage looking as tattered as she does.
Her hair once her crowing glory now shows a tad of gray,
it’s lost its glorious sheen and lays limply on her pale shoulders.

Day after day she stays within her dwelling,
doesn't speak with anyone,
has her simple fare groceries brought in,
caretakers for the palatial property come and go
and her porch light stays on all night.

On rare occasion she's spotted on her balcony
her head down, back to the world
a more solitary figure this town has never seen.
It appears that whatever happened to Harry
is Louise’s take it to the grave secret,
something we’ll always think and speculate about,
but none of us will ever really know.
because Louise, well. . . Louise isn't talking anymore.

© Marcia MillerTwiford


"Harry's Return"

 It was midway through Saturday night and the place was packed.  A new dance band started that night and the crowd was welcoming them enthusiastically. They were a versatile band playing everything from old time Swing to the new age dance numbers. The band was a good choice for the regulars who varied in age and choice of music.

Tonight’s crowd was the usual one, most of whom had been hanging out here for years. It was a respectable place where no nonsense was tolerated, it was nicely decorated, had a dance floor, and was one of the few places left where a person could still enjoy a cigarette with their drink of choice.

Couples and groups were seated at tables and the single patrons mostly along the long stretch of bar itself. On rare occasion a man would give a woman patron the once over, sometimes sending her a drink hoping for that welcoming thank you smile which seldom if ever came. It wasn't a typical pick up place. Most of the single patrons just wanted a nice, clean friendly place to have a drink or two, listen to some good music and unwind. Some hooked up but it was infrequent.

A little after 9:00 the door opened and in walked who of all people but Harry. On his arm was a petite drop-dead gorgeous blonde many years his junior. She appeared to be the shy type walking close alongside him, eyes downcast and she was holding on to his arm with both hands as if she were afraid he’d disappear if she let go. I didn’t understand it. You’d think a woman that beautiful would walk with her head held high. But, as time goes on there’s more and more that I don’t understand. Like the saga of Harry and Louise. Then again it can’t really be considered a saga because we didn’t know enough details to tell the whole story; just the beginning, a small part in between, and the ending. Maybe someday we’ll know what happened during the in between time but as of now we don’t have a clue. There’s a lot of speculation, but that’s all it is, speculation.

None of us had seen or heard from Harry since he and Louise left town a few years back. She'd returned a couple of years ago and on rare occasions she'd come into the bar for a drink or two, but everyone knew to leave her alone. For all intents and purposes she'd shut herself off from the world. At first she never left her home but after awhile she did venture out to the library or to go to her hair dresser or dentist. The town's folk tried to befriend her but she shrugged them off. Some were hurt by her actions but others, me included, came to the conclusion that something not so good had happened after she and Harry left town and it was best to leave her to work things out in her own way. There were a couple of steadfast friends of hers who were seen going into her place on occasion, but other than that she kept to herself.

Harry looked good but his hair was thinning a bit and he'd developed a slight paunch he didn't have before. He was dressed casually but upscale and his clothing didn’t come cheap. I wondered where he got the money to dress in such finery. He’d been known as a man who just got along but how nobody knew.

One of the regular lady patrons, sitting at a table with her husband and a group of friends, took her cell phone out of her purse, turned her back, and obviously made a call. I think I’m the only one who noticed and didn’t think a thing of it. Checking on her kids at home was my only thought.

Harry shook hands with those he knew at the bar and then sat his lady down, saying to the man two bar stools down, “Keep an eye on her for me will you pal? Not too close an eye mind you,” he then laughed and alone went around the room greeting all those he knew from before. The band was on a break so it was easy for him to converse for a short while with each. Harry was a real charmer. His usual dazzling smile took center stage and the ladies fanned themselves with their hands while the men had the usual love the guy, wish I was him, look on their faces.

The band returned from their break and Harry excused himself, went and got his lady, and onto the dance floor they went. The Tango took on a new meaning that night as the two danced as one. Nobody saw Louise walk in and stand quietly against the wall, just inside the door by the coat rack. All eyes were glued on Harry and his partner who danced the entire set ending with an equally provocative Fox Trot.

A little breathless, the couple headed back to the bar. Harry ordered a double Jack Daniels for himself and a Cosmopolitan for the lady. While waiting for their drinks Harry lit two cigarettes in the Paul Henreid fashion made famous in the movie, "Now Voyager," and handed one to her with a killer smile. Her fingers encrusted with jewels she stroked his hand seductively as she reached for the lit cigarette.

As if out of nowhere Louise walked up to them. Harry turned around, gasped, and received the first shot right between the eyes. His lady turned and the second one shattered her neck going straight through and sending the mirror behind the bar into splinters. A 357 Magnum does its job.

Someone called 911. Everyone else remained fixed where they were. It was so quiet you could hear the silence.

Louise, blood splattered, but calm as can be, sat on an empty bar stool with the dead couple at her feet, downed the lady's Cosmo in one swallow, and waited.

The police found no reason to restrain her. She was docile as a lamb. As they were leading her away Louise glanced at Harry's lifeless body, smiled in a way that sent chills down my spine, and was then heard to say, "For heaven’s sake Harry, get up. You look silly lying there like that. I’d love to stay but my driver is here and my plane takes off in an hour so I have to go. You take care now."

© Marcia Miller-Twiford



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Reviewed by Annabel Sheila 2/1/2010
Awesome!!!!!!!!!!! Loved the poem and the story, Marcia...Gripping tale from the start to the finish. Great had me there in the bar. Well penned, my friend!!!

Reviewed by Georg Mateos 1/30/2010
"...because Louise, well. . . Louise isn't talking anymore..." I suppose, that in the end, she did.
Complementing the poem the short story tell us of a chain of events which seems not a build up but a kind of chronology until Marcia get us with a sucker punch coming from nowhere. Exquisite tale, psychological twist and showing the hand of a true tale spinner!


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