Friday

Belize Survivor, part 44

On the west side of Simonton, just north of Dey Street, a new local tavern had been constructed. Unique to the area, the main bar was under one thatched roof, an entertainment hut with a raised stage under another one. A series of additional thatched-roof huts arranged in a circle were all connected by slatted wooden walkways that skirted huge living trees that had been left in place, rather than cut down. Brightly multicolored paper lanterns contrasted with the night sky and a band from Miami played calypso music. Patrons danced on the circular central dance floor under the stars and enjoyed drinks made with exotic fruits like papaya, anona, guanabana, and sapodilla. The bar was crowded that night, with nearly every table at capacity. Max and Alexis sat at the table closest to the band and, as the last song finished, a young couple looking for a place to sit asked if they could join them at their table. They made the usual introductions. Richard and Rita lived in Miami but were originally from Santa Cruz.

"No kidding!” Alexis said enthusiastically. “That's where Max and I met."

"Another one of those ‘small world’ things, I guess." Rita smiled. “What do you both do?"

"Since we got here about two months ago, we've just been having a good time, but we're working on opening a little gift shop,” Max answered. “Got to make a living, you know."

"Isn't it a drag when money keeps getting in the way of your life?" quipped Richard. “I’m an artist; Rita’s a yoga instructor. We own a gallery in Coconut Grove.”

Rita signaled the waiter and ordered a round of drinks for everybody. A few minutes later when the server arrived, Max raised his glass and toasted his hosts.

"That was some good music in the last set," Alexis said wistfully. "I wish I could have been up there."

"Why? Do you play?" asked Rita.

"We both do," Max interjected. "I'm a conga drummer. Alexis sings and plays flute."

"If you’re musicians, you guys are in for a treat,” said Richard. “That’s why we came tonight. Wait til you hear this next group. They’re originally from Kansas City but I met them in a recording studio in Monterrey. The lead singer’s outrageous. Wait a minute. They're coming on now. Watch this.”

The stage lights went up. The bass player, drummer, keyboardist, and rhythm guitarist struck the first clean chord, then launched into a heavy, yet funky, solid rock-and-roll beat. As they got into the theme, a striking blond with a Les Paul guitar leapt out on stage and attacked her instrument. She was an absolutely stunning woman with long shapely legs, tapered hips, and perfectly rounded breasts. Masses of strawberry-honey hair fell over her bare shoulders as she swung the neck of the guitar seductively to accent the beat of the song. But when she belted out the lyrics, full-throated, alternately wailing and crooning sweetly, Max's jaw dropped. He did more than look at her, or listen to her, during the course of that song; he devoured her. In those few seconds, for the first time since they'd been together, Alexis clearly saw an obvious raging desire for another woman.

"She sounds like Bonnie Raitt, don't you think?" said Richard. "Her name's Katrina. Is she hot or what?"

"Wow. She plays her own lead," murmured Max. "You weren't kidding. She's great."

"Would you like to meet her after the set?"

"Ahh…yeah,” Max could hardly talk. “Definitely.”

Although he would try to deny it later, there was intense chemistry between Max and Katrina from the start, and it wasn't just one-sided. This became particularly apparent during the first break when Alexis returned from the ladies room to find them dancing cheek-to-cheek. Later, finally, she dragged Max home. He was more than a little drunk. Luckily, Katrina's tour bus was scheduled to leave town the next day.

* * * *

The shop was perfect. Located right on Duval Street next to Howie's Bar, half a block from Front Street, they’d found it two days earlier, and Max was so pleased that he’d put down a deposit immediately. They decided to call it Rondavel, after the Afrikaaner word meaning "round house," and together they had made plans to create an inventory of Alexis' new macramé line, as well as other consignments of pottery, belt buckles, paintings, and jewelry.

"I really think it’s a good idea for you to go to Miami and check out this wholesale house," Max said, as they walked around the shop. "It sounds like they have an incredible selection of beads and cordage. Obviously we can't just buy supplies retail and then expect to resell the finished products for a decent price. We've got to get the stuff cheap enough so we can wholesale the chokers and plant hangers too. That means purchasing in quantity. And with Richard and Rita offering you a ride and place to stay for the weekend, it's not like it will cost us a lot of money."

"Are you sure you don't want to go?" Alexis said. "We always do everything together."

"No, I should stay here and fix up the shop. It needs carpentry work, floor matting, and I've got to make the place secure from theft before we put any stock in here. You go. Have a good time. Everything else will be fine."

0 advocates for peace: