Monday

Belize Survivor, part 75

When he returned with the baby forty-five minutes later, Max saw Alexis speaking with a big strapping Spanish boy who was picking out tomatoes. As the handsome young man left with his purchase, she could see her husband’s anger written all over his face.

"Who is that guy you were talking to?” he demanded.

"I don’t know,” she said. “I think he’s one of Rick’s workers. I don’t even know his name.”

"Well, stay away from him. You don’t need to be hanging out with these Spanish guys."

Max was in a mood; she could feel it coming on, so for the rest of the day, Alexis remained quiet but tense. As much as possible, she gave Max a wide berth, and answered his questions without offering anything extra, trying to avoid any remarks that might be deemed controversial. But still, a feeling of foreboding came over her as they rode home together in the truck. Max was somber and she could feel profound fear creeping into her consciousness. As they pulled in the rear of Michael’s property, and got out of the truck, Max started again with his verbal invective. As she carried Jordan up the back steps, she made the mistake of defending herself.

"I just think I should be able to carry on a conversation with whomever I want. It's not like I see other people very often. It gets lonely up in the bush. What’s wrong with a little social time in Cayo on a Saturday? You had a beer with Rick.”

"And who were you spending time with when I was in Guatemala buying the water pump? Some other little Spanish boy? Or perhaps that same one? If he works for Rick and Suzy, it’s only a short ride across the river and downstream."

"You’re being absurd. We didn’t even know Rick and Suzy yet.”

"Stop arguing with me, okay?” Max shouted. “You listen to me. I call the shots in this relationship and I don't want you associating with guys like that. End of discussion.

Now just shut the fuck up."

Alexis shook her head, close to tears. She put the sleeping baby in his shortened hammock and set the stick to hold it open. Then she went back into the kitchen to put away the provisions they’d bought.

"Oh no," she said aloud. Things had just gotten worse.

"What's the matter now?"

"I forgot the box of provisions in town. I had the girl in the store box them up for me, and I forgot to pick them up on the way home."

"You dumb-ass!” Max said angrily. “I can't believe this. I have the responsibilities of running our whole show and you can't even remember to bring home the groceries.
Now we're going to have to go all the way back into town tomorrow. That's half a day's work, plus gas and wear and tear on the truck. None of the dories run on Sundays. Hell, you'll be lucky to get the proprietor to open his store so we can get the stuff."

"I'm sorry, Max. It was a simple mistake."

"Right. ‘Simple’ being the operative word here. How the hell you gave birth, I’ll never know. You're not mature enough to be anybody's mother. You still need a mother yourself, someone to wipe your nose for you.”

Alexis burned at the insults. "I said I'm sorry."

"Words are cheap. Now fix me some dinner."

Without the groceries, there wasn't much of a selection. One thing that had been especially difficult for Alexis was to learn to prepare local foods, a situation made more difficult because many were best prepared by frying. Max preferred steamed or baked food; Alexis had a stove but no oven. She missed foods like cheese and apples, and yearned for crackers, yogurt, and whole wheat bread. Face it, she thought. All she could fix tonight would be a little leftover beans, some steamed plantain, and maybe fried eggplant. She hoped it would be adequate because that was all they had. Nightfall came quickly in the tropics, and Alexis constantly fought with the kerosene lamps. They were dim and temperamental. She was already emotional, and could barely see what she was cooking. At last the meal was ready.

"Here's your dinner," Alexis called as she put the food out. "I'm putting it on the table. Please eat it while it's still hot."

Max walked over and sat down. "Aren't you having any?"

"No. I'm not hungry. I'm just tired. I think I'll go to bed."

She had been in the bedroom less than one minute when she heard the crash of the plate and Max's cursing. He stormed in and tore her out of bed, hauling her into the living room by the arm. "What do you mean by putting that crap in front of me?"

"Shhh, not so loud,” she said, terrified. “You'll wake the baby."

"I don't care if I wake the whole goddamn river valley,” he screamed. “What's the big idea of putting that pig slop on my plate? Do you really expect me to eat that? You sure as hell aren't having any."

"I don't like eggplant. I thought you did. I'm sorry."

"Sorry!" he screamed in rage. "I've heard sorry out of you a few too many times lately. This time you're going to learn sorry."

Instantaneously, he cracked Alexis on the side of the face. She screamed and backed away from him as he grabbed her by the shoulders and shoved her against the wall. He crushed her nose sideways with his finger and cursed her again. "You've had this coming for a long time, you uppity little bitch."
Then he drove her head against the corner of the exposed beam and she collapsed, feeling the warm blood trickle down the back of her neck.

"Stop! Please don't hurt me," she cried.

"You fuckin' bitch! What about your smart mouth? All the times you've hurt me? How about all the times you humiliated me in public? Associating with people you have no business hanging out with? How about when you flirted with that jerk with the big dick on the day before our wedding? Huh? Go on. Answer me. You always have an answer for everything. Well, this time you can scream and cry all you want. There's nobody to hear you and nobody to help. It's about time I taught you a little respect. Now get your ass up."

Max lifted her to her feet and she felt another powerful punch to her upper arm. No longer coherent, blood dribbled down her chin from the split in her lip. She could hear the baby crying, and felt a last hard kick to her thigh before dropping to the floor for a second time.