Maria stood on her tiptoes, tenderly kissing her husband as she ran slender fingers through his dark hair, and gave him a hug. “Carlos today is Friday. Do you know what that means?”
“Si, Maria. Today is payday. The baby needs food.”
“Yes, you remember. You have no excuse. Today must be different or you will learn a lesson.”
“I try but it is hard not to drink cerveza with the guys. They want to go to the cantina after we get paid.”
“One beer, no problem. Coming home broke because you bet on the greyhounds is; Carlita needs diapers and something to eat.” Maria shoved her husband out the door. “Hurry, I hear Rudy’s truck coming. And remember, you don’t want to learn the lesson I will teach you if you don’t come home with your money.”
Carlos winked and blew Maria a kiss. “The only lesson I want you to teach me, my firecracker, is in the bedroom.”
“And that is where it will be, but go now. Make Carlita and me proud. I will have a special supper ready for you so come home early.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It was nearing 2 a.m. when Rudy’s pickup slid to a stop by the mailbox. “Hey, Carlos!” Rudy yelled, “This is your house. Do I carry you in or can you make it?”
Marie heard others laughing and making comments as Carlos heaved himself over the side. Waving at Rudy’s disappearing taillights, Carlos mumbled “Adios, amigos” and stumbled up the sidewalk.
Seeing Maria holding the door open, Carlos stopped. A dim living room light illumined the red roses printed on her robe. Struggling erect, tossing his head back to get hair out of his eyes, he slurred, “Woman, am I the head of this house?”
“Yes, my husband. But you are not a good provider. We should be helping others and you reduce us to begging from the church.”
“Get me something to eat. I am hungry.”
“In the morning, I will. But first, I promised to teach you a lesson in the bedroom. Remember?”
Carlos’s eyes lit with suffused passion as Maria led him to their bedroom and undressed him. Twisting away from his muscular arm round her waist, she pushed him onto the bed. Pulling a sheet over his nakedness, she kissed his cheek. “Close your eyes” she whispered. “I’ll be back in a minute.” Carlos was asleep before she left the room.
When Maria returned Carlos was face down snoring loudly, sleeping the sleep of a drunken man. Marie went to work.
Picking up a large sewing needle, she inserted a long piece of strong thread through the eye. Pushing the top sheet tight against Carlos’s neck, she began sewing the sheet to the mattress, stitching a tight outline around Carlos’s body. She didn’t stop until she came up the other side to his neck. Satisfied, she returned the needle and thread to her sewing box and reached into the dark corner of a closet.
Grasping a baseball bat she stood over Carlos. “Now my love, you will learn a lesson and become the man I thought I married, or you will kill me. But you will do nothing until I cut you loose.” Maria tapped the bat against Carlos’s back, making sure she had the range before she began pummeling him. As smacks rained down, Carlos screamed and struggled but could not free himself. Maria laid strokes from his shoulders to his feet, ignoring first his cursing, then his pleading. She never said a word.
The next morning Maria cut Carlos loose with a pair of scissors. She helped him stand and led him to the bathroom, holding him steady as he relieved himself. Leading him back to the bed she said, “I’ll bring you coffee and something to eat.
“But Carlos, if I ever smell beer on your breath again, the next time I will use a knife.”
Carlos stared hard at Maria, holding his breath in puffed out cheeks, before releasing it with a hiss. Every muscle in his body ached with each breath he took.
“I prayed you would stop drinking for a long time, Carlos. Carlita and I need you. I put feet to my prayers because I love you.”
“Aiyii!, woman. You are a firecracker, for sure.” Gingerly he reached for Maria’s hand and, when she gave it, tenderly kissed her fingers. “And I am a fast learner. Next Friday, you will see.”
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