A wonderful vacation goes bad...
|The light from the neon sign flickered through the window as I lay huddled in the grimy bathroom floor. How could a day that started so wonderfully end up so bad?
My family and I were on vacation in the Caribbean, eager to leave the cold December winds of the Midwest behind us. We spent the day riding ziplines through the rainforest, walking on the beach and dining at a wonderful little café. When we arrived back at our condo, our teenage son headed for his room, earphones already firmly attached to his head. Our daughter announced that she would be down by the pool, poured herself a Jack & Coke and headed out the door. Alone time for mom and dad! Our decades together hadn’t dampened her sexual appetite. We made love until we collapsed in a sweaty heap on the bed.
I awoke around midnight and decided I should make my normal fatherly rounds. I checked the front door to make sure it was locked. I quietly opened my son’s door, walked toward his bed and turned off his I-pod. Next I went down the hall to check on my daughter. Her door was open and she was not there. “Okay,” I said to myself. “She’s 21 years old, don’t make a big deal out of it.” I went back to bed, but not back to sleep.
I twisted and turned for another hour. The night watchman lived up to the nickname we had given him…”The Whistler.” He had the irritating habit of whistling as he made his rounds in our gated community. His whistles were soon being drowned out by the sound of a steady rain.
It was now after 1:00 am and the rain was pouring down. There was no way she was hanging out at the pool. As I was getting dressed, my wife awoke. “Where are you going?” she asked. “To find YOUR daughter,” I replied.
I walked down to the pool and of course no one was there. I pulled my ball cap down toward my eyes and pulled my collar up to my ears in a futile attempt to stay dry. I stared into the windows of the other units desperately hoping for a glimpse of my daughter. I approached the night watchman. “Hola. Habla Ingles?” He shook his head “No” and motioned for me to follow him. Hopefully he was taking me to someone who could understand me because my Spanish was limited at best.
Guillermo was the man in charge. His English wasn’t much better than my Spanish. I explained, in English, broken Spanish and a lot of hand signs, that I was looking for my daughter. He asked how old she was. “Veinte y uno,” I said, hoping my use of his native language would somehow make him my friend. I could almost see the lights go on in his head. “Unit 12. Senor Phil’s.”
We quickly walked across the courtyard toward the second building. Guillermo knocked firmly on the door. No answer. He knocked again, this time even harder. A middle-aged man, whom we’d obviously awakened, answered the door. Guillermo explained why we were there. He said he would check and see if my daughter was in Phil’s room. We watched as he knocked …again and again. There were no replies. As my adrenaline began to flow, my temper began to rise. “If my daughter isn’t out here in two minutes, I’m fucking coming in after her.” The bedroom door opened and out came my daughter.
The short walk back to our unit was tense. “I have never been so embarrassed in my life,” I was told. Things really came to a head as we walked into our home. “How could you be so stupid? Didn’t you hear about the girl who is missing in Aruba? You don’t even know this guy!” Tempers flared as she ran into her room, slamming the door. I was way too riled up to go to sleep, so I decided to go for a walk.
I hid in the shadows and watched Unit 12. Phil was leaving. Obviously irritated that his little rendezvous had been interrupted, he was walking the couple blocks into town. His destination, a seedy little bar that never seemed to close. I had no choice but to follow him.
I caught up with him in the alley beside the bar. He was a large man, fifteen years younger than me. I couldn’t have taken him even in my prime. We exchanged expletives. He grabbed me, yelled “Yeah, I fucked her” and slammed me to the ground. I lay there in the stench and rubble unable to move…afraid to move even if I could. He laughed and began to walk away. And then I saw a small, rusted piece of pipe. I summoned any strength left in my body, picked it up and hit him in the back of the head. Again and again and again.
I ran into the bar and went straight to the restroom. Everything I had eaten was spewing into the toilet. I shook uncontrollably, scared of what lay ahead, but in a weird sense proud of what I had done.