Tallulah telephoned Ray and informed him of the miscarriage.
“I buried it out by the garden.” She spoke, nodding and shaking her head against the receiver. “No sir, but it sho nuff done broke her heart. She’s took to the bed right now `cause her Mama give her somthin’ ta make her sleep. Yessir, but we gonna git her better Mr. Ray.”
“Is her mother there?” he asked.
“Yessir, Mrs. Turner is upstairs. You want me ta git her for ya?”
“No, just tell her I will see her in a few weeks. Thank you Tallulah, I’ll call again in a couple of days.” And he hung up.
Mrs. Turner sat quietly beside her sleeping daughter filing her manicured nails and strumming them on the mahogany table as she planned her next move. For whatever reason her son in law had lost interest in the marriage and that must be remedied. He had told Maggie that he was delayed in Washington on state business but Mrs. Turner knew the truth. Yes, she knew all about the mistress he kept in town near the old French Quarter. The pregnancy happening so soon, probably on their wedding night, had been an unexpected blessing but with that gone now she needed to establish another strategy, just until she could be certain Maggie was pregnant again – but how long would that take? And would her rebellious daughter be able to carry an heir to full term?
“You don’t mind I go on home bein’ as you here, do ya, Mizrez Turner?” Tallulah asked tip toeing across the wooden floor.
“No dear, you go on. Thank you for all your efforts.” Mrs. Turner replied.
“Sorry I couldn’t do more. Call if you need me ma’am.” Mrs. Turner nodded and motioned for Tallulah to go.
Maggie groaned in her sleep as her mother took her hand and held it to her own chest.
“Beat of my heart, fruit of my own womb — I am so sorry for your loss… It would have been a boy, a deformed boy but an heir and the assurance that we needed.”
“He was my son, mother.” Maggie whimpered groggily, “Your grandson — the hideous thing buried in a tissue box by the garden… and for a moment I loved him.”
“Hush, hush.” Mrs. Turner whispered repeatedly until Maggie, once again, cried herself to sleep.
Within a short span of two weeks Maggie had made a full recovery. Mrs. Turner stayed on and accompanied her to the gynecologist. She was delighted by the report; her daughter could safely conceive in another two weeks. The doctor said two months but Mrs. Turner was sure she knew more than the incompetent physician.
“This is cause to celebrate.” Mrs. Turner said, “Let’s make a day of it. Are you up to it puddin’?”
“I believe I am.” Maggie replied, “I’ve had a hankering for an oyster po-boy and…”
“And what?” her mother asked
“I’d like to walk over to Saint Louis cathedral and light a candle for James.”
“Who on earth is James?”
“James Rayburn Lafont, that was my sons name Mama.”
“Oh Mag, it was little more than a lump of malformed tissue!” Mrs. Turner exclaimed with a hint of disgust. Maggie paused beneath the moss draped oak and stared at her mother in disbelief.
“I realize no one other than me and God will ever acknowledge his existence Mother, but can you allow me this one kindness and for one measly moment see me as something other than an avenue to YOUR dreams?”
“Of course sweetie.” She replied, patting Maggie on the head as if placating a small child.
Maggie felt a burden lift as she exited the church. Something about the mass of lighted candles comforted her. Whether it was the spirit of God or the knowing she wasn’t alone in her despair, as noted by the flickering prayer requests – either way it made her feel better.
“How about the Red Fish on Bourbon Street?” Mrs. Turner asked with pouted lips against a tube of taupe lipstick.
“Yummy.” Maggie replied swinging her leather purse by the silver fetter. Mrs. Turner reached for Maggie’s free hand as they strolled like school girls giggling at the street vendors and artists and the occasional con scouting his next target.
The Red Fish was crowded, as usual but Mrs. Turner spied an open table in the back.
“Excellent. There’s an empty table over there. I hate hiding in corners but we’ll take it.” She said waving to the hostess “Do you have your master card precious?” Maggie wasn’t listening. “Your card sweetie? It’s in your pocket book, right?” Mrs. Turner twisted in the direction of her daughters gaze. “Land o Goshen.” Her mother mumbled then regained her composure almost yelling, “They’re packed darlin’. What say we shop a little and come back later? It’ll be better for the appetite.”
“You should have spotted them first!” Maggie exclaimed angrily. “Take me home mother!”
The entire ride home from the city was cluttered with Mrs. Turner’s denials, followed by excuses for what they had just witnessed. Maggie stared out the window, trying to ignore her.
“I am not an idiot mother and neither are you!” Maggie finally responded. “Are you honestly going to disregard what you just saw? Did you see the way he looked at me? Like it was me… like I had done something wrong. I can’t take it anymore… I want to come home.” Maggie’s voice was quivering. The image of her husband smiling at – catering to the trollop who’s bed he warmed while Maggie suffered alone through the carrying and then the loss of their child. The lying, pretending to be hours away on business when in truth he was moments away on pleasure.
“Now don’t be rash Maggie.” Her mother persuaded, “These things happen. Men will be men.”
“No mother! I have forgiven his vulgar conduct more than once.” Maggie blurted out,
“He calls ME a whore on my wedding night, sodomized and humiliated me yet shows himself in public with his real whore? Leaves me alone to grieve our son? …NO! It is over!” Maggie sighed through flared nostrils, slapping the tears from her face, “No more tears. No more… No more.”
Mrs. Turner’s motherly instinct reared briefly at the thought of her child being molested and cursed, called a whore until it occurred to her.
“You told him you weren’t a virgin didn’t you?”
“What does that have to do with this?”
“Well it only explains everything!”
“Why on God’s green earth did you tell him? You foolish child!”
“Because he asked me! Did you expect me to lie? Never mind, of course you did.”
“You young girls! Your cherry was lost to a tampon, why didn’t you just tell him that? Dammit Maggie!”
“Well this marriage is over and I am coming home. I want you to help me get my things and I’ll ride back to Mississippi with you today.”
“You are not coming home Maggie Mae.” Mrs. Turner shot back with a glare in her eyes, bringing the car to a sliding halt before the splendid pillars of the Lafont estate. “You will stay and see this through – by god you will! As soon as you are pregnant again –”
“For Christ’s sake Mother, have you no soul?” she asked searching her mother’s eyes for a hint of compassion. The only thing visible was greed. “Don’t bother getting out.” Maggie yelled as she slammed the door of the pearl colored Cadillac and watched it fly down the oak lined path heading east.
Mr. Ray foned and tol me to tak the res of the week off. Seems hez comin home early and I bets he is bringin you sumthin real nice. May be yall have a secun hunymoon. Cawl me ifn you need to my sweet Magy gurl. –T
Maggie had to smile as she read the note from Tallulah. Though the spelling was atrocious the sentiment was more than touching. The smile didn’t last long as she opened the heavy pine doors and was greeted by a portrait of Senator Ray Lafont. She stomped up the stairs to the room filled with only sad memories and began packing.
“I’ll take a room in a hotel till I can figure out what to do next.” She spoke aloud to herself as she yanked dresses from their hangers and emptied drawers, “I’ll camp down by the swamp but I will not stay a day longer in this snake pit.” She had just secured the zipper on the Louis Vuitton luggage when Ray walked in.
“Where do you think you’re going? He asked.
“Away from here.” Maggie replied, without looking in his direction.
“And how do you propose to do that?”
“I suppose I’ll call a cab.”
“How do you expect to pay for the cab?”
“They’ll accept a credit card.” Maggie shot back, yanking the bag up and starting toward the door. “Save your breath. It is over.” In a rapid fluid motion Ray locked the door and stood blocking her access. “I don’t want to fight with you Ray. You win, now please let me pass.”
“You won’t reconsider?” he asked with a sick smirk.
“No!” Maggie answered sharply.
“I told you what to expect in the way of treatment. Didn’t I tell you Mag? You’re used goods. You’re diseased womb isn’t even fit to carry my seed, you proved that. But I’ll allow you to remain my wife under a few conditions.”
“Are you insane?” Maggie glared at him, “I no longer want to be your wife and the sooner I can put you behind me the better off I’ll be.”
Ray could see her conviction and knew that it was futile to try and sway her.
“You selfish tramp!” he spoke through gnarled lips, “Have you even thought about what this might due to my reputation? My seat in the senate or my chances at re-election?”
“Really Ray?” Maggie was aghast, “Have you considered what your public displays of affection with that trollop might do? Everyone from Biloxi to Baton Rouge knows about your real whore. Everyone in Orleans parish knows her name and address, the address that YOU supply her with.”
“You watch your mouth.” He growled.
“You don’t get to tell me what to do any more darlin’,” Maggie laughed a wicked laugh, “go back and bully your trampy brunette on Dauphine Street. She still lives there doesn’t she?” Ray was simmering and Maggie watched with delight as his nostrils expanded and the pink capillaries of his face and eyes bulged.
“Give me your check book and your cards.” He demanded. Before Maggie could extract the items from her purse, he yanked it from her and emptied it on the floor, kicking the contents away. He took two twenty dollar bills and shoved them into her cleavage. “That will get you a cab into town. I imagine you can beg enough to pay for a meal once you get there. That’s all I can do for you.”
“You bastard.” She screamed, “You worthless, low life, backwoods son of a -” Maggie did not complete the raving comment; Ray’s hand was around her neck. Without warning, her head landed hard against the heavy door.
“That kind of talk just might get you an old fashioned backwoods ass whopping southern belle.” He spoke as he slammed her skull against the antique door facing again.
“Go to hell.” She managed to say just before the room went dark.
Consciousness came and went as Maggie felt herself being dragged across the floor. She heard water running and gagged as the bar of ivory soap filled her mouth.
“What did I tell you about that filthy mouth?” Ray growled as he twisted the bar, screwing it toward her throat. Maggie could feel the white perfumed lye shave against her teeth, stifling her ability to breathe and forced herself to relax and inhale slowly through her nose. She could see herself in the bathroom mirror as Ray lifted her to her feet by the hair of her head, just before he plunged her face in to the marble sink. He held her face up beneath the tap.
I’m drowning. Dear God help me, she prayed.
Ray withdrew the soap but held her tightly in place. When she stopped struggling, he lifted her up to face him.
“Have you learned your lesson?” he asked.
Maggie could not yet speak. Each effort sent pink bubbles foaming from her blood-tinged lips. The stinging in her lungs made it hard to catch her breath, she coughed up bits of soap and tried again to speak. He held her there, in front of the mirror; one hand full of hair and the other clutching her jaw. “Have you had enough?”
“You owe me an apology. You know that?” He said, staring down into her eyes and pressing his thumb harder into her neck. “Now do you want to say something?” Maggie nodded again and he slowly released her chin. “Go ahead.”
Maggie cleared her throat and dabbed at the bubbles with her tongue that were still forming with each gasp, took a deep breath and declared, “Fuck you.”
The first lick of her skull against the smooth stone counter brought blood; Maggie watched it spatter on the mirror as she sunk her claws deep into the flesh of his face. The second punch caused her head to spin, by the third or fourth her arms fell limp. Ray did not notice. When the punching stopped, when his shoulders were fatigued from swinging he bounced her head against the hard surface once more for good measure. Maggie fell motionless to the floor; Ray kicked her and watched to see if she would move. She didn’t.
When Maggie regained consciousness she was lying naked on the floor. Ray was gone, so were her luggage and all the contents in her purse. She inched her way through the bedroom, found the door and reached to open it. Maggie wrenched the knob left and right without success. Frantically she shook the antique hardware; she could hear the skeleton key jingle, metal against metal on the other side of the door. She called out for Tallulah before hazily remembering the note she’d found earlier. Blindly the battered woman ran her hands over and around the nightstand but found nothing. Maggie crawled back to the bathroom and reached for the vintage telephone beside the claw tub. Feeling, counting the holes in the dial she managed 911 but there was no answer. She pressed and released the receiver several times before grasping the fact that there was no dial tone. She felt hopeless. She was caged, there was no one around for miles and Ray had removed the phone cord, her last bit of hope.
Maggie dragged herself to the linen closet and retrieved a face cloth. She felt her way, by memory to the sink and began washing the caked blood from her eyes. When she was able to see her reflection she decided it was not as bad as she had feared. Her face looked like a lumpy mass of clay surrounded by scarlet colored yarn but there were no serious lacerations. She filled the tub with hot water and an entire box of fine Artisan bath salts, slid down and washed the red stain from her hair.
No tears. She reminded herself when she felt the desolation overtaking her. I can’t jump from the balcony, I’ll break my leg, she plotted, but I could tie the sheets together and let myself down from the balcony. Yes. Maggie deliberated with optimism. She eased her pain-riddled body from the bloody water and hobbled to the closet only to find it empty.
“I hate you!” she screamed. “I’ll get out of here or die trying.” There was no one to hear her scream, not while her husband punched her and cracked her skull against the unforgiving surface, there was no one then and no one now. “Look at me – I don’t need any clothes.” She said yanking the drapes from the glass door that led to freedom. She grabbed the handle and pulled but it refused to budge. Peering outside at just the right angle she could see the makeshift lock holding the door.
“Really Ray? Really?” Maggie yelled and stomped in a rage grabbing the heavy Victorian lamp perched by the settee, she sent it flying like a javelin out into the yard. “Woohoo!” she laughed as glass fell all around her. “Give me those sheets.” Maggie gave an invigorated heave to free the material from the mattress and when she did, an airborne cell phone struck her in the thigh. “Thank you Jesus.” She howled and pressed the #2 on speed dial. When Mrs. Turner picked up Maggie could not utter the words.
“Maggie?” her mother cautiously spoke into the phone. “Are you there sweetie?”
“Mama… can you come get me?” Maggie slumped to the floor and blubbered through swollen lips.
“No honey. I told you – you are gonna have to work it out.” She said firmly.
“But Mama he beat me.” Maggie broke down when she heard the words coming from her own mouth.
Mrs. Turner cleared the knot from her own throat and reiterated, “You’re going to have to see this through and that’s all there is to it.”
“But Mama…” Maggie stopped. Her mother had hung up the phone. Maggie dropped her head between her knees and allowed herself to cry for a few minutes before blowing her nose in to the palm of her hand and smearing snot on the Persian rug. She opened her phone and began to scroll through the numbers. Nearly to the end she paused, took a deep breath and pressed the green send button.
“Operator. May I help you?”
“Yes.” Maggie stammered. “Put me through to Linda Latrull in ICU please.”
“This is Linda.”
“Linda… this is Maggie Lafont, I mean Maggie Turner… I’m in trouble, can you come get me?”
Linda caught a flight to New Orleans where a car was waiting with a one-way rental agreement. She let herself in at the servant’s entrance of the Lafont mansion, breaking only one pan and raced upstairs. Ray had left the skeleton key in the door. Maggie crouched quivering in the dark as she heard the metal grating, clenching the coat hanger she’d made ready to poke out the eyes if it was Ray and stretching the spiraled cord to the cell phone charger to choke him with…
“Maggie?” Linda whispered easing the door open.
“Is he here?” Maggie asked.
“I don’t think so.” Linda said turning on the light. Nothing Maggie had told her could have prepared Linda for the horrendous site before her eyes. This was not the Maggie she had last seen at LSU.“Here put these on.” Linda said throwing a Danskin running suit at her, “I know it’s not your style but it’s the smallest thing I could find and it fit in my bag easy.”
“Thank you.” Maggie said, keeping her face down.
“Don’t you duck your head!” Linda told her, “Not in front of me. Let me look at you – see if I can spot the old Maggie.” Linda surveyed the pummeled face then stared in to the watery eyes. “Yep, there she is.”
Maggie tried to smile but the swelling in her face made it difficult.
“That’s some Lower Ninth Ward stuff right there.” Linda said shaking her head, then retracted, “No that’s some Mid-City… on second thought I don’t know what that is but it is jacked up! And Ray Lafont did this to you?”
“I knew he had a mean streak in him but I never imagined this!” Linda looked around the room, “We better get out of here. Is there anything you want to take?”
Maggie shook her head, “This is all I have.” She said holding out the cell phone and charger.
“Lucky for you, huh.” Linda took Maggie’s arm, turned off the light and peaked out in to the hall. The coast was clear or at least as far as Linda’s pin light could see. When they reached the bottom of the staircase Linda turned to Maggie,
“I’ll ask you one more time and that’s it kiddo – are you sure this is what you want to do?” Maggie nodded. “There is no turning back” she said “and probably no coming back. People like this don’t play games girlfriend and if they do – they always win.”
“Look at me Linda.” Maggie said with conviction, “And my own mother told me to stay and work it out? Who do I have? What choice do I have?”
“Okay then.” Linda agreed. Moving forward she pressed the wooden panel of the console table in the foyer exposing a tin lock box. “We’re going out the front door and taking this with us.”
“I never knew that was there.” Maggie giggled.
“It don’t look like you ever came out of that blasted bedroom.” Linda chided.
“Not often.” Maggie admitted.
Within fifteen minutes they were on I-10 heading west.
“Can you believe it?” Linda asked, “Maggie Lafont steeling away in the middle of the night with the likes of me.”
Reclining her seat, Maggie looked up at the clear black sky dotted with stars and announced, “I don’t want to disappoint you but Maggie Lafont is dead.”
Now if that don't make you mad...
Read the entire story Behind the Rage, Book Two in the Clan Destiny series. Read the entire series to watch revenge unfold. Follow the links to your favorite e-bookstore.