Thursday, August 27, 2015

MASON DIXON

Mason Davis woke up to the biggest headache in history, or so she thought. The clock on the nightstand read 6am. She let out a moan and turned to lie on her back. She stared at the ceiling, trying to remember last night’s events. She slapped the roof of her dry, pasty mouth with her tongue; she needed a big, cold glass of Coke. She lie still, her breathing labored, her head heavy.

Wait a second. Where the heck am I? She reached for the bedside lamp and turned it on. This is not my bedroom. She managed to drag her legs to the side of the bed and put her feet on the floor. She stood up. Her head throbbed and she fell to her knees, holding her palms at her temples until it passed. After a few moments, she hoisted herself up and went to the window to open the curtain. Her reflection stared back at her and she realized that she was naked. It was breaking daylight, the parking lot was full, and the Rocky Mountains loomed over the motel. She closed the curtain and looked around for the bathroom. She froze when she saw a hump on the bed. That is definitely not a pillow under there.

“Shit!”

The hump stirred.

She tip-toed to the bathroom and gently closed the door behind her. It felt good to relieve her bladder. She found her purse and found that everything was in order. She took two Tylenol. Her phone was dead so she couldn’t call a cab. She didn’t even know what part of town she was in. Her clothes were hung up on the bathroom door hook and she checked her jean pockets. She found two business cards. One was for The Banff Inn and the other must have belonged to the hump in the bed. The card read: Bobby McLaren, Fire Restoration. As she repeated the name, a flood of images came to her.

She had gone out with the girls from the office after work. They had found out that it was her birthday and they wanted to take her out for a few celebratory drinks. But, of course, one drink led to another and another until they partied the Friday night away. She remembered Bobby and his two associates had joined them at the table. But how she got to the motel was still foggy.

She got dressed and decided that she was going to sneak out. She slowly opened the bathroom door, listening for any movement; nothing. She spotted her shoes and jacket on a chair near the door and made her way there, stealth mode. There was a click when she unlatched the door, but the hump in the bed stayed still. She went out, slipped on her shoes and jacket, and ran for the motel office where she used the phone to call a cab. She then went to the far side of the building so that if Bobby, or she hoped it was Bobby—she couldn’t see the hump’s face—would not see her if he left the room. A few minutes later she was on her way home. A roadside sign read: Calgary 125kms. She closed her eyes and slept.

Mason’s dreams, as always, were haunted by visions of her husband—the man she thought she knew—and the life she left a year ago. In her dream, a dark figure followed her from the corner store, where she bought the same Marlborough cigarettes and the same Doublemint gum. As she would get closer to the door of her apartment building, the footsteps would get louder and closer, and just as she would turn around to look, the figure would jump back in the shadows, just out of sight. She woke up with her head pounding and wiped the beads of sweat that had formed under her eyes. The cab driver glanced back at her from the rear view mirror.

“We’re almost there, Ma’am, another few minutes.”

Mason looked out the window and recognized the view of the TransCanada Highway. When she first came to Calgary she made many trips to the mountains, trying to forget about her life in Brampton and the lying, cheating prick that she had been married to.  The drive to Calgary had been therapeutic, and seeing her younger brother and his family was wonderful. She had stayed with them for three months before closing a deal on a condo at Montgomery Place on 1899 45 Street West. Northern Calgary was beautiful, and it didn’t take long to get used to the city. It took her less than a week to find a job; she was hired at the Calgary Herald, writing for the Life section.

Every Sunday for the first six months, she would drive to Banff and hike the trails, trying to rid herself of the heartache of the divorce, and trying to understand why he did it, why he cheated on her. She wondered if he had felt any remorse. Nightmares of the police chasing her for beating up the girl still haunted her, and the images of them from the basement window was fresh in her memory. She had to go to the doctor to get Valium. With Valium it was better, with Valium there were no nightmares and sleep came.

After making friends with several of the Herald’s employees, she became confident again. She was a great person with a friendly and happy personality. Nothing kept her down for too long. It was easier when you had friends to talk to and do things with. She felt like she was finally letting go and living life again, and her brother and his family gave her a sense of belonging, something she had been sorely missing.

The cab stopped in front of her building. She paid him with a credit card and gave her thanks. Hunger pangs jabbed her stomach and the smell of fresh coffee was mesmerizing. She found herself sitting at the counter ordering a cup and a full breakfast, all the while praying that she wouldn’t throw it up.

When she finally got home, she took a shower, and went to bed. By the time she to up it was evening and the chill of the September air made her put on socks and a pullover. She got up, ran some errands, and watched an episode of Supernatural on Netflix before bunkering down for the night.  


At work the next morning, a large bouquet of red roses was on her desk. The card read: Can I see you again? Bobby.  A tiny smile formed on her face. Looks like Mason was going to make it after all.