An Excerpt from "Biloxi"
By Gwen Masters
I was a tender twenty-four years when my husband told me that he was in love with someone else. Within a week he had moved out of our home and our bed and into hers. Of course I had married too young. Isnít that what we all say when a first marriage falls apart? I had been young and spontaneous and blinded by the belief that love could conquer all, even my husbandís fetish for other women. For weeks the pain of his leaving reduced me to lying in our matrimonial bed, unable to do anything but sleep and occasionally stumble my way to the bathroom, where I always paused at the medicine cabinet to contemplate the pills that resided within. Some strength I had never known I possessed always moved me past that image of the bastard I had called my husband sobbing at my graveside. It would serve him right, he would deserve it, which is exactly why I didnít do it. I had already given him far too much of all that he didnít deserve. And I would not cry.
I lay in the darkness those long days and watched as the little red light on the little annoying answering machine began to blink faster and faster. Only when the tape was full did I listen to them, one pestering little beep at a time, each one helped along with a deep and dark sip of Gentleman Jack, the only man in my life that it made any sense to keep around anymore. Through my answering machine I learned that my mother felt I should do anything I could to work it out and uphold the family name. That was par for her course, though it still hurt my feelings and wounded my pride even further. I learned that my best friend had also slept with my husband and she could have told me long ago that this was coming, but of course she kept that to herself, that selfish friend of mine. I learned that the mortgage was past due apparently because the one who called himself my man had once again wasted all that hard-earned granddaddyís money on booze and cigars and of course, women.
My trusty little answering machine also informed me that because I had missed work for a week without calling, I was now fired and I could expect my severance check in the mail. The good old postal service was apparently still running while my world was falling apart, and I made my way out to the mailbox in my sweat suit, an audacity that would likely have brought on a heart-attack for my traditional grandmother. After all, it was she who had taught me that a lady never left her home without her nails painted, her hair done, and a fake smile plastered on her face to hide the pain within.
I rifled through the mail and discarded all but one. I ripped the envelope open and dropped the pieces on the ground. In my hand was a check for twenty-five thousand dollars. My own money. Mine. My bare feet turned, seemingly of their own accord, and stopped in front of the garage door.
That was how I wound up on the River Road, chasing my heart down the two-lane at ninety miles an hour. I had no idea where I was going and I found I didnít particularly care, as long as my humming tires were carrying me somewhere more humid and more Southern than Kentucky. I didnít want to be in the same state as that man I had married. I left the house unlocked and unclean, the answering machine blinking, the dishes festering in the sink, the dust conversing atop the glass tables. I left all his money in the bank. I took all my dresses and only the things I couldnít bear to part with. I left a note for my lawyer saying that the adulterous husband of mine could have everything. Except the car. That was my vehicle into a new life, in more ways than one.
I had twenty-five thousand dollars in my glove compartment and a full tank of gas. It was enough for a small apartment and the necessities to hold me over until I found a job. It was enough for a new start. The ragtop was open and the wind lifted my chestnut hair to cool me as the humidity pressed down. My eyes watered with the sting of freedom. I drove into the approaching twilight with no plans, no destination other than where I already was, the beautiful south. I had crossed the Mississippi line long ago and now I was heading into blues country, nothing but cotton fields stretching their long rows out to my left, the swirling Mississippi River on my right. I slowed my speed as the darkness loomed.
Somewhere between Tupelo and Greenville, I decided on Biloxi.
"Biloxi" by Gwen Masters
is featured in Foreign Affairs: Erotic Travel Tales
To read more, pick up the book at Amazon.com,
Or at fine bookstores worldwide.