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Xenolith, Page 3

A. Sparrow

  Chapter 3: Rio Frio

  May 5, 1991 …

  That first day together in Belize, Liz had taken the window seat on the bus outbound for San Ignacio. Texas had been her deepest prior foray South. She was new to the developing world, new to the tropics. Everything she saw either shocked or enchanted her: makeshift shacks huddled roadside, giant jacaranda trees blooming purple. Her reactions helped sear the film from Frank’s oblivious eyes, already grown jaded from years of trekking.

  Frank had tried to warn her about the discomforts and annoyances that accompanied travel in the developing tropics, but Belize brought her up to speed more rapidly than his words ever could. At lunch in Santa Elena, a rat scurried under their table while chickens watched them eat banana curry over rice. At dinner in San Ignacio, a flying termite caught fire in a candle and expired with a sizzle in her limed tea.

  That night in their guest house, as Frank sorted through bills of lading for their misrouted and delayed household effects, he heard a creaking from the bathroom.

  “Shit! Shit! Shit!”

  Frank hustled over. “What’s wrong?” He peeked in.

  Liz stooped naked in the bathtub with a rusty tap broken off in her hand.

  “There’s no running water,” she said. “And I’ve been looking forward to a hot shower all day.”

  Frank looked around. “At least the bidet works.” He pointed to a water-filled plastic trash bin beside the toilet. Liz threw the tap at him, striking his shoulder before he could duck.