An Important Notice to Readers...
Although this fiction blog is illustrated with photos of dolls, and dollhouse miniatures, the language and content of the storyline is intended for an adult audience. Please be advised.
With a full belly, and the exhaustion of the day settling in, it wasn't difficult to doze off in the quiet of the car, and the blandness of the scenery. So when the movement of the vehicle came to a sudden halt, and Maureen opened her eyes, she was shocked to find herself surrounded on all sides by inky darkness, and without a single clue as to where they were.
Next to her, Ted's face was reflected in the light from his smart phone, as he checked their destination against the coordinates on the screen. Satisfied, he closed the app, and slid the phone back in his pocket. "Glad you're awake, Sleeping Beauty. We're here."
"Here? Where's here? I can't see a single thing." She peered through the window, squinting her eyes to adjust to the blackness. "Except for that building over there. The mud one."
Without answering, Beckett left the car to come around, and open the door on her side. Taking his offered hand, she slipped out of the seat, and joined him. The night air was several degrees lower in temperature, and she shuddered, both from the cool air, and growing apprehension. She wasn't a fan of the dark. Never had been. And this was, without question, the darkest dark she'd been exposed to in a very long time.
As a kid, her friends had all been Girl Scouts. It was the thing to do, and so, not wanting to be left out, or thought weird, she too had joined. The early days were fine, existing mainly of weekly meetings, crafty projects, and the yearly cookie selling. All things she heartily excelled at. But then she had turned 11, and the "club" like atmosphere moved to the outdoors. The first planned camping trip had filled her with absolute dread, and though she begged to be allowed to skip it, her parents had insisted the experience would be good for her. She could garnish no sympathy from her siblings, except for Kevin, who knew very well that she slept every evening with a Miss Kitty night light securely plugged into the outlet next to her bed.
In his compassion, he had purchased for her a sturdy flashlight, and several D batteries, from the local hardware store in the neighborhood, with the suggestion that she leave it on all night in her sleeping bag. The first evening out, his idea worked like a charm, much to the annoyance of her tent mates, who complained that they could see the light pouring from the top of the bag. She had tried all types of ways to dim the brightness, but her fear over rode the complaints of her friends, and the beacon stayed glowing the entire eight hours. It was no surprise, therefore, when the fore mentioned flashlight went missing from her knapsack the following day. Despite a stern lecture from the Troop leader, the safety net remained gone, with not a soul admitting to filching it.
She had spent that night lying in her sleeping bag, eyes wide open, teeth clamped in sheer mortal terror, listening to the breathing of her mates, and a myriad of strange noises outside the tent. The following morning, she had phoned home, crying and pleading for someone to come pick her up, promising everlasting gratitude and a laundry list of additional chores. Eventually, her tears moved her father, as they often did. He made the four round-trip to bring her home, and her tenure as a Girl Scout was officially over. But not her fear of the dark, which she carried all through high school, and into college, choosing room mates who didn't mind leaving a light, or the television, running 24/7. Even with Ted, she'd leave on the tiny bulb over the stove, and if he had noticed, he had never mentioned it. Now, standing here wrapped in layers of nothingness, it was an issue.
Grabbing for her hand, Ted moved toward the building, but stopped when she stayed firmly rooted in place. Arching an eyebrow, he let go of her hand. "What's wrong, baby? I know things have been kinda crazy, but I'll make it up to you. You'll see. It'll be like our own romantic get away. Promise." He reached out and wrapped an arm around her, and noticed her chattering teeth. "Are you cold? I can get the beach jacket from the back seat."
She shook her head, too embarrassed to look him in the eye. "It's not the cold. It's...I'm...it's the dark. I don't...like when it's pitch dark. Kinda freaks me out."
There was a grunt, and without commenting, he slid the cell phone out of his pocket, and tapping the screen, brought up an app that produced a beam of bright light. "See. No problem. We have a flashlight. Would you like to hold it?"
She nodded, and handing her the phone, they walked the few feet to the low porch of the building. The house was made of clay adobe, the walls rough stucco with timber trim. The door was strangely unlocked, and slightly opened, but it gave Beckett no pause, and when his wife hesitated, he lifted her up and drew her over the threshold, then placed her upright in the center of a large room. Using the phone, she swung the beam of light over the area around her, getting some sense of the room's layout.
|A look inside|
Even in the dark, the room seemed comfortably cozy, and Maureen felt along the walls for a light switch. When she could feel no such thing, she turned to her husband. "Please tell me this place has electricity."
Shaking his head, he replied, "Nope. No electricity. Running water and a propane stove, but no electricity. Not a problem. I believe that's what those lamps are for on the table." Before he could reach the table to light one, there was a sound from behind them, and voice filtered out from the dark behind the threshold.
"Hands up, my friends. Nice and high where I can see them."
Standing next to him, Maureen could feel Ted stiffen, but watched as he raised his hands, and urged her to do the same.
"Now turn around. Slowly. And keep those hands just as they are." The portly man held a pistol in one hand, and shone a flashlight into their faces with the other. Once satisfied, he slid the gun into his waistband, and put the flashlight down on the table next to the door. Sticking out a hand, he replied, "It is you, amigo. Sorry. I needed to be sure."
Maureen watched as her husband grasped the man's hand, and then patted him roughly on the back.
"Baby, this is an old friend of mine...Alberto Arroyo. "
The man took Maureen's hand, and pumped it vigorously. "Buenas noches, Senora. Congratulations on your marriage. I don't think I'd live long enough to see my amigo here take a bride. But I can see why he was moved to do so." The man smiled widely, showing off a prominent gap where one's front teeth should be.
Confused as to why she was exchanging greetings with a man who only seconds ago held a gun to their backs, Maureen could only muster a quiet "thank you". Then the man was scurrying about the room, dusting things off as he went, and chattering amicably.
"I am sorry for the state of your lodgings, Colonel. There was not much advance notice. I brought what I could for tonight, but I will be back tomorrow with additional supplies. The message didn't say how long you were staying. Do you have an extraction date as of yet?"
Stretching out across the padded sofa, Beckett shook his head. "No, not yet. I expect I'll hear something within the next 48 hours or so. Until then, I'm afraid we burden your hospitality, Alberto."
"Is no burden, Colonel. None at all. I owe you a debt I can not repay in this lifetime. Anything I can do for you, my friend, I will do gladly. I have a few things in the truck...some groceries, some bedding, extra candles. But I will be back first thing in the morning." He turned toward Maureen, who still stood dumbfounded in the center of the room. "I will do my best to make this a sweet place for love, Senora" He gave her a wink, and for first time in her life, Maureen was glad for the lack of lighting, if only to hide the embarrassment and anger spreading across her face. "Now... if you'll excuse me for a moment, I will bring in the supplies from my truck."
Maureen waited for the man to be out of hearing range, and then tore into her husband, who didn't seem in the least bit upset over the situation they found themselves in. "Just what the hell is going on here, Ted? You don't actually expect me to stay in this...this place, do you? Why can't we just check into another resort. Better yet...why don't we just forget this whole friggn' nightmare you call a honeymoon, and go home? I've had just about enough of your idea of 'romantic'."
Opening one eye, Beckett sighed, and sat upright. "I understand your anger, baby. And I'm sorry. This wasn't the way it was supposed to be. Shit happens. We'll have to make the best of it. In a few days, someone we'll come get us, and we'll be on our way home. I promise."
"A few days? No frickn' way! I'm not staying here a single night, do you understand me? Not one solitary, stinkin' day. And if you won't come...then I'll...I'll go myself. I'm not kidding. I'll take that car, and drive to the nearest airport, and fly home. All by myself. "
Ted made a face, and then cheerfully asked, "And just how do you propose to board any such plane without a passport?"
Stumped for a second, Moe narrowed her eyes, then explained, "I'll find the US Consulate. Explain everything. They'll help me."
"Hmmm...just how will you explain entering the country illegally under a false name? They arrest people for that. And don't forget...you're a wanted fugitive in Tulum. That Sheriff didn't strike me as all that understanding."
"I don't care. I'll handle it myself. I'm perfectly capable, you know. I don't need a thing from you. Besides, this all your fault. Every bit of it. If you had come to the beach with me, none of this would have happened. You would have explained to the man with the silver that he can't cheat us just because we're Americans. Instead, you had to be a lazy ass, and lie in bed all day. Now we're stuck in the middle of Buck Fuck Egypt, with no electricity...in some...some Mexican hovel. I've had enough, Ted Beckett. Just hand me the keys to the car. Right this instance."
With a long sigh, he pulled the car keys out of his pocket, and dangled them in front of her. "Okay, baby. If that's what you want. I'll trade you the keys for my cell phone."
She hesitated for a second, and then thrust the phone at him. "Fine. Whatever. Take your stupid cell phone. Wouldn't want you to miss any important calls, or anything, you big jerk." Grabbing the keys, she marched toward the door. Then turning around, she flung one more sentence at him. "And by the way, when you get home, don't even bother looking me up. We're done, Mr. Beckett."
Still on the sofa, Beckett threw an arm up in a mock salute. "As you wish, Mrs. Beckett. Safe trip home." And then flashing an evil grin, added, "Oh...and be careful out there. It's awfully dark."
Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2013
All Rights Reserved