Last words & epigraphs
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"I'm sorry. I just can't stay here no more. I gotta go be by mysef."
With that, she walks outta the motel. Jus' like that! Cost me sixty dollars a day--and she takes a hike. And on this of all nights. Gone. Period.
I should . . . should period her ass is what I should do. Damn woman. Gone and leave me high and dry. I wish I knew what the hell I did.
But I should of guessed it was comin. Been getting, now'd I think about it, them hound-dog eyes, late. And every now and then, sobbin'. But I thought it was all jus the weddin' day being so near, an' all.
I'd ask, "Honey, what you leakin' bout now?" and she'd choke back a bit and say somethin about how her face powder got her eyes a runnin'. Oh, I should a seen it comin. I shoudda.
And yet everything startin' out so fine. Damn near perfect. As April a day as you ever seen. Sun never shine so bright. Belle, that's her name, was shinin' all pearly-white and girly. Nervous, too, she was. I could see it in her eyes. But I didn't say nothin', jus' looked. Damn, she looked good to me.
We got there early at the justice, the J.P., she sniffling now and again. I was feeling like a twenty-dollar bill never folded, soft and crisp at the same time. We had it all planned. We were gonna go to Biloxi, the Broadwater Beach Motel there. You know, for newly-weds? Man and wife we were gonna leave.
But first, had this fool business to take care of. Me, I was itchin' to get outta there, but that fool justice jus' kep' draggin ass. I don't know how I got through that; it was like twenty years on bread and water 'fore he finally run outta words and let us be. Man and wife we left.
Brother, I wanna tell you we plowed into that Dodge, Belle and me. She couldn't hardly hole me back from the "feelin' her up" I was givin' her behine that fool justice's back. Shit, she was fit to fry.
"Now look here, honey" she says to me all-of-a-sudden-like, breakin' away. "You oughtta be shame o'yourself in that place with ya carrin' on. You got to find me a motel somewhere. Damn if I'm gonna stretch out on the front seat like a whore. I'm a married lady." She tasted that last line, trying it out in her mouth for the first time.
"Now you be still boy," she slaps my hand again. "Get s your hands offa that stuff, mister, and min' that wheel. We got plenty o'time for that. Last thing we need now is to wreck in the ditch. Jus fifteen miles from Henryville. Jus hole your horses. Why ma mamma can see the headlines now: 'Honeymooners Found Mysteriously Dead in Ditch.' "
It was a quiet thirty-minute drive to Henryville. Wouldn't you know I'd be stuck behine a eighteen-wheeler on the crookedest road in Missipi?
But my sap begun to rise when I feast my eyes on the sign: Dixie Motel, 3 Minutes. "Damn, baby, we almost there."
"There? Hell, I ain't stoppin' there--not at that cheap motel. I thought we was goin' to the Broadwater Beach?"
"We are, honey. Been havin reservations for two weeks now. But I thought we'd just stop here a while. You know, try it out?"
"Try it out? You thought we'd stop for a while and 'try it out?" Honey, I ain't puttin' my ass on nothin' but them Broadwater Beach Motel sheets. You drive straight on, brother; you ain't gonna see a pinch of me till we is in Biloxi!"
Shit. Canya beat that? I thought I knew that woman.
Well, brother, it was quiet--all the way to Biloxi. Finally pulled in to the Broadwater Beach Motel and this polite man brings our bags to the room. Whew, what a room! The Honeymoon Sweet, he calls it. He turned down the bedspread, plumped the pillows--all the while winkin' behine her back to me seein' as what a piece she was.
"Well, we here" I announced to her. I began to undo my shirt then and there while she grabbed the small suitcase and went to the bathroom to get ready.
"Why you goin' in there for, woman," I teased. "I gotta special place for you."
I tugged off my pants, settled under the sheet and waited. Brother, I waited. Damn, she was never like this before.
"Honey, you bout through now? Come on, girl. What you waitin' for. Let's get this show on the road."
Then I heard it again, sniffling. It can't be! Damn that leak. What the hell 'd I do now?
"What's the matter, baby" I sweet-talked through the door, which I found was locked from the other side. "Come on, sweet. We done this before; it's okay now. What's the big deal? This is me you talkin' to, not some stranger."
But the sniffling had changed into great heaving sobs on the other side. It was like trying to talk over the neighbor's noisy water pipes.
"Honey, talk to me. What's the matter?"
Nothing. But some small gain had been made: the sobs had become only sniffles again.
"Woman, let's talk this out. Look, I won't do nothin if you don't wanna. I promise. Let's talk."
She opened the door and I walked inside to face her. "Hey, what's the matter?"
"I'm sorry," she said red-eyed. "Jus' bein' silly I guess. I gotta go out for a little air."
"Air? You gotta go for some . . .air? What the hell's the matter with the air in here?" I demanded.
Now, what am I suppose to do? Go out there and kidnap my own wife on her honeymoon? Nah. But I will go and fetch her back.
I found her walkin the sand along the water, and we both came back to our room together pas' the polite man who helped us with our bags. I ordered some supper and a bottle of champagne. I decided the thing to do was to go slow.
I looked in her eyes and saw it again, that same scared look was there. I cupped her hand. "What's the matter, baby? I wanna know."
"I'm knocked up," she says quiet, almost in a whisper, though it rang through the room down to the sheets and pillow cases.
"Pregnant. You know how that story goes. As in 'gonna have a baby and live happy ever after.'
"You mean that one night . . . ?"
"It only takes once, Tarzan," she reiterated. "Found out yesterday. I'm four weeks today."
Her eyes were misty. I couldn't tell whether it was left over from, that last cryin' or signaled another burst to come, so me, I didri't say nothin'.
But from that day on, lovin' her was different. I didn't hold on so tight; she didn't neither. We didn't squeeze so hard. And she'd say things like she "kinda felt three."
And you know. Maybe we needed to be.