Holiday in Hell
I’m awakened by the familiar screeching sound of rubber on tarmac. Instead of arriving home from a tropical holiday with a refreshed body, mind, and spirit, this time the sound irritates me and fills me with overwhelming anxiety.
Cathy touches my arm.
“Marisha, we’re home,” she whispers into my ear.
I’m the first to deplane. Standing up, pain cascades from my face to my toes. Painstakingly, I hold onto each seat I pass. Slowly, I move with my head bowed toward the stewardess walking ahead of me. Each passenger’s stare burns through my wounded face. I’m dazed and unable to see clearly through my unbandaged swollen eye. Cathy reminds me of what I must do officially.
“As soon as the captain hands him over to the police,” she reminds me, “you must point at him and speak as loudly as you can that you charge this man with assaulting you in Cuba.”
I gasp for air, desperate to get out of the aircraft to the place where I see a wheelchair. It is there; the stewardess helps me to ease myself down into it. Cathy and Randolph are still beside me, standing on each side. The stewardess requests them to leave with the remaining passengers. I ache with their parting from me. These two have become caring friends, even though they are only acquaintances who exchanged vacationers’ stories with me on the island. I beg them to stay; I want to keep their comfort around me. But the stewardess quickly pushes me in the opposite direction, down the ramp to another arrival hall, a darker one, and leaves.
I breathe a sigh of relief. There in a corner under what looks like a blue-white spotlight, I see him surrounded. I hope that the Canadian authorities already have arrested him.
I raise my trembling hand and wave in his direction.
“I charge Raffaele Grecci for assaulting me in Cuba! I charge him now in Canada!”
A deathly silence fills the hallway.
“You cannot charge this man in Canada for an assault in Cuba,” one of the many officers replies.
I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I’m devastated! In this gut-wrenching moment, everything freezes.
“I . . . I . . . I can’t charge him?” I yell.
“No,” another police officer adds.
My heart palpitates; my breathing stops as I lift myself up a few agonizing inches off the wheelchair seat. The policewoman eases me back and hands me a Kleenex.
I wipe my bleeding nose and feel a prickle of pain in my mouth, especially now, when I yell.
“He attacked me! He almost killed me!”
I crumple back down into the wheelchair seat and feel myself beginning to black out as I see the man who had savagely beaten me swagger away. It’s as though prison bars are closing on me, instead of him.
What on earth is happening in my homeland? I carried out the instructions of the Cuban police!
“I–I–I was promised! H–h–he was going to be a–a–rrested!” I stutter.
Anger and fear turn to panic; I can barely clear my throat. Am I not the victim?
“Why? Why? Why?” I yell.
“Sorry, we have no jurisdiction to act on a crime that occurred in Cuba,” another officer states.
“What do you mean, there’s no jurisdiction? He’s a Canadian citizen and so am I! This is ridiculous!”
“Why can’t you understand?” The older officer frowns. “There’s no law in Canada to charge him for a crime committed in Cuba.”
I’m trembling, devastated and stunned in disbelief.
“I–I–I need protection,” I stutter again, glaring at the silent wall of blue uniforms standing in front of me. It appears that he has gotten away scot-free, immune from punishment. With my last ounce of effort, I cry out, again,
“I’ve been—brutally—attacked! Can’t you see?! He almost killed me!!”
“I’m truly sorry,” the policewoman responds with almost genuine compassion, “but we don’t have the authority.”
My trepidation makes my heart pound so hard; I fear I’m on the verge of having a coronary. She hands me another Kleenex. I wipe my tears and blot my nose, the tissue revealing the warm red liquid that is still flowing.
“Can you please take me to the hospital?” I beg.
Instead, she wheels me out to the passenger pickup area.
“Are you taking me to the hospital?”
I feel frustrated, overcome by fatigue.
“Sorry, we cannot do that,” she answers. She points to a phone at the courtesy desk and then stomps away, shaking her head.
I’m alone—confused, embarrassed, and abandoned.
I wonder who to call.
I curse the day I met him.