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Gangbang Tango
by Susannah Breslin

Every Friday night, her husband would go to the gangbang club. She would sit at home. Alone. And bored. It made her angry. Why did he get to go to the gangbang club, and she had to sit at home? Alone. And bored. What was she supposed to do? Knit. Bake. Talk on the telephone to women she secretly hated. Her life was hard. People did not understand. She was a failure. She was failing herself. Her refusal to behave the way her husband did, running willy-nilly through life, robbing, pillaging, and gangbanging, was her downfall. It made him happy. He made her seem dull in comparison. Recently, she had bought a diary. She had opened it up to the first page. She had stabbed her pen into it like a knife. She had killed it. That had been the end of that. What would she do now? She was a good woman, and she was relatively smart, and sometimes she was generous, but, somewhere along the way, she had taken a wrong turn in life. She lay in the bed she shared with her husband, feeling the great glob of the entire earth rotating on its axis underneath her. She wanted to feel like she was alive. At this moment, she was being prevented from doing so. Her husband was in her way. He had secreted himself in the master bathroom, doing whatever he did to prepare himself for the gangbang club. Trimming his pubic hair, she imagined. She had had enough. She couldn't take it any longer. She knew this to be true. She slid off the bed and onto the floor. She pulled herself along the hallway rug upon her stomach. She dragged herself to the bathroom door. She used her index finger to slide the lock closed. Her husband heard her do it. There was silence. WHAT ARE YOU DOING, her husband bellowed from inside the bathroom. Nothing, she whispered, lying on the floor. She could see her husband on the other side through the crack at the bottom. SET ME FREE, her husband wailed. One of his eyes peered out at her from under the door. NEVER, she hissed. She got up and walked down the hallway. She felt better with her husband locked in the bathroom. In the foyer, she put on her coat, cinching the belt tight around her waist. She took her umbrella from the oak stand in case it rained. She pulled on her boots, as this seemed like the right footwear for this occasion. She let herself out. She could hear her husband behind her, weeping into the toilet. Behind the wheel of her husbandís S.U.V., she drove through the dark city streets. His car was bigger than hers, a bulldog of a car, really. With it, she realized, she could probably kill somebody, anybody, everybody. The thought made her smile. She watched as, across the windshield, the rain began to fall. She pushed the car harder. She sped the roads unfurling before her. When she arrived at the right address, she parked the car across the street. Once, her husbandís car had been in the shop, but, oh no, he could not miss a single night of this, so she had driven him here, to the gangbang club, dropping him off at the curb like a little boy who was getting dropped off at school in the morning. Then, he had kissed her on the cheek. Goodbye, he had told her, in a condescending tone of voice. He had shut the door with an enthusiastic slam. She had watched him disappear into the white square of light at this front door. Now, she was walking towards it. She thought of all the things that had taken her to this roadside stop on the thoroughfare of her life. The unbearable redundancies of cereal boxes on the grocery store shelves amidst mid-afternoon emptiness. The terrible way her mother had informed her that her ankles were thick like trees stumps. The dead sound of the clock at the office job she had before she met her husband, ticking over her head like a time-bomb preparing to explode. Across the threshold of the doorway, she stepped. She held her purse close to herself as she did so, so she wouldnít lose it. Inside, there was a large room. It was filled with men. Their backs were facing her. OUT OF MY WAY, she wanted to scream. LET ME IN, she wanted to shout. IíM HERE FOR THE GANGBANG, she wanted to shriek. Instead, she moved sideways along the wall, careful not to disturb them. She sat in a folding chair and set her purse on the empty chair beside her. The men milled around in front of her, staring at the big door at the other end of the room. They were impatient. They were ready to go. They were waiting for whatever was on the other side. She took her comb from her purse and ran it through her hair several times. She looked at herself in the circle of her hand-mirror. Her eye winked knowingly at her. The temperature was rising. She could understand why her husband came to this place. It was exciting. She stood up and took off her coat, laying it across her purse, so it wouldnít get mussed. She looked at herself. She was in her nightgown, she realized. She shrugged, and the nightgown fell, the peach nylon pooling at her feet. Her embarrassment fell to the floor with it. She picked up the mess and stuffed it inside her purse. She looked around herself. No one had noticed. In the meantime, the men had removed their clothes. Something was about to happen. A man with a bandana over his face hooted. Another man let out a whoop. It was hard not to feel one was a part of something. Suddenly, the door swung open. All the men funneled through it, taking her along with them. She rode the flood of their bodies as they spilled through the doorway. It reminded her of a nature show she liked to watch, hosted by a man who spoke calmly to her while herds of crazed antelopes and out of control wildebeests thundered across the tundra behind him. This is freedom, she realized, in the middle of the pack. This is living, she decided, as everyone stampeded. This is what it's all about, she knew all too well. In the next room, as a group, they stopped. They paused to catch their breath. Someone coughed. No one spoke. There was nothing to say. She knew what was going through their minds. She knew what they were doing. She knew what they wanted. It was what she wanted, too. On the floor in the middle of the room, a girl was kneeling. Over the heads of these men, she could see the great Sahara Desert of the girlís face, blank, flat, and unreal. It made her want to grab the hands of the men standing on either side of her, leading them in a song about the glory of it all, as she had done in church, because if this wasnít a vision of transcendence, well, then, what was it? Instead, she hung back, shyly, as the men moved towards the girl. It was hard to see through the crowd. Then, a voice came calling out to her from behind her. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?, it cried. She didnít have to look. She knew who it was. It was her mother. She turned around. Her mother was standing in the back of the room. In one hand, her mother was holding the purse she had left behind on the chair. HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN SOMETHING?, her mother howled. She walked towards her mother. Her motherís hand was extended to her, her bony fingers wrapped around the noose of the purse in a death-grip. She looked into her motherís face, the screen upon which the made-for-T.V.-version of the story of her life was playing, the one her mother had written for her. It featured great winds of fury, catastrophic plots, and graphic characterizations of profound personal disappointment. She knew the script all too well. In her motherís eyes was her own reflection, she spied, distorted and distended, a tiny speck of her true self, its tiny skeletal hands held up to its bulging skullhead as if it was screaming. It was trapped. YOU NEED TO COME WITH ME RIGHT NOW, her mother commanded of her. She turned her back on her mother. She moved away from that life. She could hear her mother calling for her. She made her way between the men and their forest of penises. She had to know what they were seeing. She had to know what it was there was to know. Back at home, in the bathroom, her husband was kneeling on the floor before the toilet, as if it was an altar, speaking in tongues, crying for his wife to please, please come back home.

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