Hester L. Furey
She was a maenad, one of the wild women who ran with Bacchus: dancing, fighting, tearing men to pieces, falling asleep drunk with their boots on. Disturbing the peace was her art. She was the life and death of the party. He was a river god, a good-natured but remorseless seducer of young women, a true son of Proteus, but eventually he gave up his peaceful kingdom on the water to be her husband. These two notorious philanderers fell in love and ruined their lives. This part of their tale happened while they still lived out at the river, before they married and moved to town.
The trouble started because she was a fighting drunk, but he was a walker. At a party she generally liked to dance with some poor fool until someone took exception to it, and a brawl invariably followed. She loved to fight the way their daughter loves to swim. He would stand by, calmly finishing his drink, not getting involved except for the occasional “take your damn hands off her.” This time, though, he stalked out and left her with her fool. It was pitch black on those winding sand roads down by the river, but when she realized he’d gone, she took off after him, running and cussing. By the time she caught up with him, she was so angry, she just kept on running and left the bastard in her dust.
After she’d been running along in the dark a while, she began to think maybe she should have stayed at the party. For sure she shouldn’t have left without a bottle. She heard a car, so she moved over. But it slowed down, staying behind her. She thought, “aw, hell, it’s some damned man, he’s gone try to make me get in the car, and I’m gone have to cuss him out.” Or fight him, maybe, and in all the running, strangely, she had lost the urge to fight. He didn’t bother her, though, just let her run. She kept on jogging, and the car crept along just behind her, out of her line of sight. By his headlights she could see she was getting closer to Herb’s cabin.
She’d begun to get a little scared, so she was glad to be close to home. She didn’t slow down for fear the man in the car would stop. Then the man in the car began to talk to her in a familiar, soothing, belittling voice that just irritated the hell out of her, sounded like some kind of way you’d talk to a pet. A small, harmless pet. If she hadn’t been almost home, she’d have stopped to fight him after all. She began to cuss him loudly. She’d forgotten all about Herb, trudging alone in a stony drunk way back there. Suddenly she veered off into the driveway. In the darkness, below the bug noise, she caught his parting words: “That’s right, now, you go on home, and be a good girl, now, you hear? You behave yourself, Dorothy Lee.”
The next morning they went to breakfast at Fatboy’s and found that the story had raced ahead of them all over the Americus side of the river. Hopeful brawlers must have followed her from the party but then appointed themselves her “protectors.” She had already committed so much mayhem that she was legendary, but it tickled the river people to have one on her. She was a monster, but she was their monster. Hoots and shouts of “hey honey, I sure wisht I’d seen you outrun that Cadillac” followed her everywhere for months. In the end, she told the story on herself.