Mourning Dove Road – A Butch-Femme Tale

24 Sep

Part II

The Motel

            It was by e-mail and phone that Katherine and I kept in touch during January and February. She’d phone each night or I’d call her. In one e-mail she sent me the pictures of her surgery and I sank when seeing them but wrote encouraging words, words that told her she’d be up in no time; that she was strong, that January was a long month, true; but February was a short one, and that spring would be here before she knew it. I missed her so much and I was missing my cat.

Five Mondays in January is no fun and I felt each one of them settle on my bones like a wet sock. By the third week, returning home one night from working late, I was unprepared for what I was to encounter. For fifteen years I was greeted at the door by a friend who, if he could talk, could reveal all my secrets, but he was a better friend than that, and that night, when I’d stepped through the door, I’d found my cat, Romeo, in a remote part of the house, whimpering in pain. Upon closer inspection, he had vacated his illness in nearly every room. As I held him, he cried in my arms, and I cried for two weeks after, imagining how sick he’d been throughout that day. I’d never see Romeo again, and I wouldn’t see Katherine for several weeks. The year had started badly.


            I kept sending her songs of the day, lyrics that reflected my love for her. I kept saying to ‘wear my ring’, that that was a sign of my love. She’d write to me in sleepy sentences, sometimes she would sleep for hours on end, with little awake time during the day because of her accident. We’d text message nearly every day.

I missed her body, her blonde hair, her blue eyes and the scent of Burberry that she wore. Her image burned in my heart, and the image of her falling was beginning to wane as February came to a close. It was good news:  her mother was returning to New Jersey because Katherine could now drive and was able to bear weight. We made plans in March to meet and she had signed her divorce papers. By the end of March, she would be ‘free’ she wrote saying and she could now love me, ‘totally and completely.” I couldn’t wait. I circled the weekend of March 3rd and 4th on the kitchen calendar three times for three things she always told me:  “you are my love, my life and my friend.”


            Katherine and I planned to meet at the EconoLodge outside of Matthews, NC, in Charlotte — not far from her home. She couldn’t drive long distances because she was only beginning to walk again; she had been using crutches or a cane, and was only walking for two weeks when I’d met her the weekend of March 3rd and 4th. We hadn’t seen each other in two months. I bought a new red shirt and it looked good. I wanted to look good for Katherine.

I drove into Charlotte leaving work early that Friday and though I’d never traveled to Charlotte toward Matthews, you wouldn’t know it by the way I navigated the road on that sunny afternoon. I was going to see my girl. I was finally getting to see her. I had missed her so much. I arrived first. She called to tell me she was going to be late -something had come up with Tom again, so I waited in the lobby of the EconoLodge talking with the manager, making small talk. I had waited about forty-five minutes; we were to meet at 5 p.m.

When Katherine pulled up she was wearing her Burberry sunglasses and she’d colored her hair from blonde to brown and she had lost weight. She got out of the car and she was wearing her brown boots, tight jeans, and a white blouse over a black Danskin that showed off her breasts. She had worn the gold hoop earrings and the silver ring with its blue mystic stone I had given her as a Christmas present. She was limping, but she was walking. I was so proud of her. It was so good to see her, to be in her company. I had missed her so much. She was wearing a brown suede jacket I’d never seen before.

“You look great. Nice Jacket,” I kissed her hello and hugged her hard.

“Hi! You are here before me! I’m sorry, baby. It’s so good to see you!”

We paid for two nights and when we got into the hotel room, we hugged and kissed but something wasn’t right. She broke the kiss and I looked at her,

“What? What’s the matter?”

“Look at the door,” she said.

As she rose, I watched her go to the door, trying to turn on a light that wouldn’t turn on. She wiped the door with her index finger and looked at me.

“Jo, it’s dirt! Dirt. Ugh, how disgusting. When was the last time they cleaned this             door?”

At that point I turned down the bed and looked at the sheets, there was a bad looking mattress underneath.

“Babe, no offense, but this doesn’t look too good.”

She said, “What should we do?”

“Let’s go. It’s not worth getting sick. We could get lice here, who knows. They’ll give us our money back.”

“Where should we go?”

“I don’t know. We’ll find somewhere else, don’t worry.”

Katherine was very upset. I went to the manager and asked for a full refund, but he wouldn’t budge. We were there less than 15 minutes and we were forced to pay one night.

Katherine started crying. I took her out of there and we drove ½ mile down the road and booked an adequate room at a Microtel Inn. She was still upset. Come to find she was menstruating heavily and it was obvious she wasn’t feeling well. Who knew if she’d fought with Tom before meeting me? She wasn’t telling me if she had.

We settled in. The motel room was much cleaner and cozier, and I could tell she felt comfortable when she began to unpack and put out her toiletries. I looked around, unpacked myself, and got into some comfortable clothing. It was getting near dinnertime but we held off and began to kiss.

I hadn’t kissed her in two months. She tasted so good to me. We explored each other’s mouths. I went to reach for her waist and her hips, she had lost weight, but she was still full and eager. Her breasts bounced toward me and she let out her bra onto my chest. I was so completely enthralled by her giving and her beauty and the love she held for me. I surrendered becoming completely naked without any props, allowing her to touch me without embarrassment. I had missed her so much and I needed her so badly. I couldn’t contain myself and I moaned, “Kath, I love you so much. I’ve missed you so bad. Baby…”  And we made love and we stroked each other in a way that spoke of sadness for being apart and a freedom for finally being together again. I teared up and she did too.

Sunday morning, before leaving, we made love again and she orgasmed so strong and quick she began to cry and then she began to weep uncontrollably. She said,

“Oh, Jo, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong, I’ve never cried like this            before. I guess everything’s coming out now, it’s been all bottled up inside.”

I held her and kissed her and said, “It’s okay, honey, don’t worry, it’s okay.”

We were friends and we were lovers. I let her know me. This was my end of the road. She would be my last hurrah. This was it. She was my girl. We spoke of marriage that weekend. I trusted her. I could finally be myself. I was home with my girl, my beautiful, Katherine. She had fallen and could now walk. Her divorce papers would be final at the end of March. We were in love, we would be together. There would never be another woman in my life. I told myself, “I’ll never be alone again.”

On Sunday morning we said goodbye at a Bob Evan’s restaurant. I would remember the breakfast Katherine ordered, a raspberry crepe with so much raspberry sauce it could have easily filled two plates, and lots of whipped cream.  She had given me a couple of forkfuls as I ate an egg and bacon sandwich on an English Muffin.

“That’s all you want?” she asked me.

“Yeah, that’s it. Let me taste some of your crepe.” She fed me a forkful.

“Woooh, that’s sweet, baby. Let me have another.”

She smiled, “Have as much as you like.”

“Yum it’s sweet, but it’s good, and hey! Look at that,” I said pulling out my shirt.  The shirt was bleached out as white as could be.

“Oh, aren’t you lucky,” she said. “A drop of that raspberry sauce on that shirt and you’d be screwed.”

Out in the parking lot the sun hit her face and she positioned her sunglasses to her eyes.  “Oh, that sun…hmmn…it feels good.”

“Yeah, it does.  Babe,” I said, “I love you.”

“Oh, Jo…baby, I’ll miss you. It was so good to see you.  I’ll call you tonight, or    just call me from the road.”

“You know I will. We’re meeting again in two weeks, right?”

She shook her head, “Yes! I may be able to drive to Raleigh then!”

I waited until she started her car and watched her drive away.


            On the ride home to Raleigh I didn’t call Katherine, I figured she was sleeping, but I’d made it home pretty quickly. I had slept good with Katherine at Microtel, I had relaxed. We watched some movies in the room, I’d felt comfortable. I couldn’t make love to her hard because her leg was still healing and so my lovemaking, my style, was sweeter and gentler. I knew she’d tire easily and I didn’t want to push her. We embraced in a soft and sweet balance I’d never shown her before, but I knew to go easy. I was so in love and I was so happy driving back because I knew that I would be seeing Katherine, she’d be visiting me, she’d be coming into my home on Mourning Dove and all the visions of her falling would fade away once she walked through my door. It would be like it never happened.

I put in a CD and played it loud, I was singing, I drove back home doing nearly 85 mph, just to call Katherine, to speak with her for our evening phone call.

Fly Away

There’s been a bird, a red-breasted robin, flying into two upstairs windows of my home. At first I didn’t know where the noise was coming from, when dressing I spotted him flying toward the window. I remember a Chinese proverb, something symbolic, or a Confucius saying, that a bird in a home is good luck. Still, several days later, the bird flies toward the glass on mornings when I dress. I’ve given thought that maybe the bird is crazed with bird flu disease, or maybe he’s just stubborn, wanting only to befriend his reflection.

For three weeks straight I drank and smoked, falling into the same exhausted, drunken slumber from the night before. I’d wake up weak and dizzy, drink some morning coffee, and go to work where I was barely recognizable to myself and to others.

Last night I looked up an old phone statement and retrieved a number I hadn’t called since New Years.


“Hi, it’s Jo Battle.  Sorry to call so late.”

Katherine’s mother had sounded the same from our first meeting at the airport.

“It’s fine. How are you, Jo?”

I was nervous calling her now, calling her at all – but I had to find out how Katherine was.

I began, “Elizabeth, I’m hanging in there, but please tell me:  how is Katherine?  Is she okay?”

“Yes,” Elizabeth said with a smile, I could hear her nonchalance through the phone,” she’s fine.”

“Are you sure?” I pressed.

“Yes, yes.  She’s fine.  She not working yet-“

“Well, I don’t care about that,” I interrupted.

“But she’s fine, Jo, really.”

“Elizabeth, I’ve called Katherine so many times, she’s not taking my calls. Where is she? She’s not speaking with me.  She’s not answering the phone. I am worried. That’s why I called you.  Where did she go?”

“She’s fine, she’s just doing her own thing.”

The phone call between Elizabeth and I lasted a little over three minutes.

At 3 a.m. I called Katherine. She didn’t answer. She hadn’t answered the phone in two weeks. I left a four-minute message on her cell. She didn’t call back. I called the house phone, left a message there. I’d lost count the number of times I tried to reach her.  It was now several weeks since March 3rd, well passed our last meeting, and Katherine wasn’t taking my calls. She had stopped texting. Katherine had moved on without a word. She had closed the door and closed it hard in my face in order to move forward with her life.

I dream of  Katherine, sometimes seeing her walk toward me. When this happens I masturbate and use her body, her face and her hands to hold me. Every night is the same. I wake at two or three in the morning, and call Katherine’s name. I pretend to reach for her, stroke her waistline, her hips, touch her hands, and smell her hair.


            Into the month of May I’m wearing shorts. I sweated today, breaking up the ground, trying to get rid of clover, wanting grass instead. I paint, repaint, scrub walls, get out the drill, build, break down – find projects that need attention, I do all these things to forget about Katherine.  Sometimes I can still hear my cat scratch on the doorway wanting to go out, he would have wanted out today; it’s beautiful.

The birds are singing and their songs sound like ‘cheater, cheater, cheater.’  I think of Katherine and hope that the reason she left me was because she needed space or something and not because she cheated on me. I think of her everyday. I miss her more than I’ve ever missed anyone.


            The summer came and I went to Atlanta for a writing contract. It was a hot summer. I rented out a room in a woman’s house – she lived in Decatur, and not too far from where I was working. It was a crime-filled area, and I endured three consecutive car break-ins, a house fire in a nearby house that roared so large it was too hot to sleep in my rented room that night (and I had to stay at a motel), a daily commute on the train while my car was in the shop, and the worst part was losing my house keys when they slipped off the back of a turbo toilet in a restaurant. Atlanta wasn’t looking too good for me. And for some reason my boss did not like my aggressive style. I didn’t like him. I guess my New York attitude was just a bit too much for this part of the genteel south, so I planned to return to Raleigh and chalk it up.

The Meeting

Before the sun leaves to its nighttime horizon it’s a little cool before it goes, but when the moon rises and the wind settles, the night takes on a quiet of its own. It’s here, between the twilight, where I go down.  So on the drive back to Raleigh, I passed Charlotte, turned around, took out a pen and piece of paper, bought a map, and found the hamlet of Matthews, NC.

The driveway was long, she was right about that; the house was huge. This was an affluent neighborhood. Bicycles were in the driveway. I saw the Black Rendevouz. I walked up to the front door, and the doorbell sounded hollow as it rang, one, two and three bells. A young girl answered the door,


“Hi, don’t you remember me? You came to my house only last year, we made smores.”

I was standing on the front porch, “Oh, right.”

“How are you?” I asked.


I began to feel awkward, it was still hot out even though it was nearing October, that’s just how the weather is in the south. And then I hear,

“Who is it?”

I gulped. Oh, this was a bad idea. Here I was unannounced, no warning. I hadn’t seen Katherine in months. What if she called the cops. What if she …

She came to the door.

“Jo, oh my God.”

I didn’t know where to look. I couldn’t look at her. “Please come in,” and she opened the door.

We walked back to the patio, it was just as well because I was warm and wanted some air – even if it was a thousand percent humidity – to smoke. “Do you still smoke?” I said to her. She was wearing shorts, sandals, a simple tank. Her scars were evident, you knew from the length of her scars, and scarred circles where the screws were, that her operation was extensive. She saw me staring.

“It’s pretty bad, huh?”

I didn’t say anything, but veered my eyes to face her. “Katherine, what happened? Where did you go?”

The children were near us, Patrick was precocious, listening, wanting his mother’s attention. “Go in the house, I’m talking! You’ve had me all day. I have a friend here. Go inside!”

We smiled at each other. I continued, not wanting to miss my chance, to hear what I’d been dying to know. “You just left me. You never called me. The last time I saw you was at Bob Evans restaurant. What happened?”

What she told me, she had to tell fast because it was going on 4:30, and she alluded to having company.

“Jo…I’ll just tell you: during the time I was sick, when I broke my leg, after I was operated, they gave me all these painkillers. I was taking so many. I was sleeping the days away. I became addicted.


“Yes. I was addicted – heavily. Oxycodone. Well, one day, night…I can’t recall. I got back on Curve Personals and …” She stopped, like a there was some large stop sign looming over her forehead.

“What…say it! I’ve been waiting all this time without knowing! Say it! Say it!” I was very upset, my heart raced. I held back my tears but I was filled inside with pain as wide as a river. I’m sitting there waiting for the words, and nothing is coming out of her mouth.

I said, “Did you meet someone or not? Is that why you took the chicken way out, just totally forgetting me? Not taking my phone calls? Ignoring me when you told me how much you loved me over and over? Say it!”

‘”Yes! I met someone!” and with that she threw out her left hand to show me the ring.

“Where’s my ring? You took my fucking ring off?” Why I said that, I don’t know. It was a moot point. There was silence. I looked at her, she could not face me.

“Look at me, Katherine. I have to know this: do you love her more than you loved me? Tell me. Tell me and I will go and I will never bother you. But goddamn it. Do you love her more than you SAID to have LOVED ME!”

She looked away, then down, then the tears came, then she started crying. I pulled out a paper towel from underneath a drink of soda and handed it to her.

“Here, blow.”

She took the towel and all she said was, “Jo….I’m sorry.”

After that, there was no reason to stay, there was nothing to talk about or take back. I stood, and quickly got in my car, navigating backwards down the long driveway, never losing sight of her face, watching her wave goodbye, I turned the corner, and made my way up Interstate 40.


At my Mourning Dove home, children in a nearby backyard are learning the alphabet, and you can hear their father recite,  “C. C is for cat,” he says. You say it, “A, B, C” and “C” stands for what?”  “C” stands for Courage” I say under my breath.

The children are playful. Sirens go off in the distance, somewhere, someone is hurting. Other children play with a basketball and yell, “That’s what you get!  Hurry up, man!” And the birds go, ‘woo, woo, woo.’ The twilight begins again.


© Terry Rachel 2011

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: