— Day 1 of Married Life, 1977 —
Ah. Stuffed to the gills with an amazing dinner of Acapulco-variety Mexican food, we walked, hand-in-hand on the beach behind the resort hotel. Other couples were enjoying the last hour of golden sun as well, racing in and out of the foamy surf. We passed a small portable booth that advertised Deep Sea Fishing. Smaller signs boasted: “Guaranteed Catch,” “Exclusive Locations,” “4-Star Experience” — .
Chad stepped over to the booth, where two Mexican men with black mustaches lounged in deck chairs. “I’ve always wanted to do this,” he exclaimed.
Minutes later, we had signed a contract for 7 a.m.Thursday morning, the next available opening for their boat, and Chad had handed over $75 in cash as a deposit for the $150 adventure, the second half due upon arrival at the dock on the designated morning. He tucked the receipt into the pocket of his shorts.
We strolled a little further, and suddenly Chad stopped. “I’m not feeling so well. I think I need to go back to the room.” He looked a little green.
I wasn’t done for the day myself. I was excited and hadn’t fully explored our resort or learned about the many activities the facility offered. I also wanted to find a schedule for our tour to see what group activities were planned for the coming days. Chad went up to the room by himself. I found the perky tour leader in the lobby and checked in with her; she told me how disappointed she was that Chad and I had missed the meeting.
“It was a nice mixer, the first opportunity to get to know the other people in our group. We have several honeymooners, like you.” And then she got down to the nitty-gritty. “One of the most important things to remember is that the activity vendors here at the hotel are the only ones you should ever contract with for things like scuba-diving, snorkeling and deep sea fishing. We don’t guarantee the honesty of any of the beach vendors, or what kind of experience you will have should you employ them.”
Hmmm. What about ‘Guaranteed Catch’ and ‘Four-Star Experience?’ I crossed my fingers that we were not going to be disappointed on our Thursday fishing trip.
I signed us up to participate in a Tuesday p.m. dinner excursion to see the famous Acapulco Cliff Divers, and to go scuba-diving on Wednesday afternoon. I asked about renting a Jeep to go exploring. The tour host pointed me toward the concierge, and I tentatively scheduled our Jeep with him for Tuesday afternoon (I had a scuba lesson in the swimming pool set for the morning.) The resort concessionaires also offered hang-gliding. Chad would want to try that. Maybe Friday? I put our name on the list. Chad was an avid water skier, and I was certain he would love to try some skiing that promised an exciting finale in the air.
I watched the sunset from the bar beside the pool, and finished off my third Pina Colada. As night fell, the Mariachi band began with a guitar flourish. I watched the dancers for a while, expecting Chad to come down to join me any minute. About ten o’clock, I decided he wasn’t coming. I trudged up to our room and opened the door.
The sound of retching and the smell of vomit hit me with a one-two punch as I walked into the room. Chad’s bed was wrecked, pillows on the floor, sheets twisted. When the retching stopped, I held my nose and tiptoed to the open bathroom door.
Chad sat back on his heels in front of the toilet. Slowly, he got up and moved to the sink. I stepped up behind him.
“Oh, honey. You are sick!”
He looked in the mirror at me. Dark circles framed his sunken eyes. “I think I’m dying.”
(Ugh. Good news: he didn’t die. Bad news: the nightmare had just begun. Part 7 coming Friday!)