Hot Zone

Rosa sat on the carpeted closet floor, her body slumped against the inside corner wall.
I knelt alongside her and stroked her hair while trying to
keep my composure in the face of a rage that I couldn't quiet. An assassin had taken aim at the lives of my wife and child--the center of my universe. Whoever did this would pay a price, despite the fact that my faith instructed me to avoid revenge. I would have something to repent on the Day of Atonement.
Her eyes opened. She sat upright. "I felt like I was going to faint, so I leaned against the wall and slid to the floor. I guess I must have passed out." Rosa studied my face. "What's the matter?"
"She is fine," a paramedic said after listening to Rosa's heart and checking her blood pressure. "Pregnant women tend to have lower blood pressure. If they stand too quickly, the blood pooled in their feet and legs does not return quickly enough to the heart. Give her a few minutes."
"What about the baby?" I asked.
"The baby should be all right," the paramedic said. "You do not stop breathing when you faint." He and his partner packed their equipment, checked Rosa once more, and left.
A hole in the doorframe, four feet above the floor, was the same size as the one in the wall. The slug must have hit a moment after she fell while entering the closet.
"What are you looking at?" Rosa asked.
"A miracle." I helped her up and drew her close. Her head nestled in my shoulder while I kissed her neck. "Right now, the sound of your heartbeat is all I want to hear."
She hugged me.
"Let's get you onto the sofa." I held her around the shoulders until she sat.
"I am okay now," Rosa said. "What happened?"
"We're in someone's crosshairs. Two shots fired, probably from the building over there." My head turned toward the window. "I want to check it out before the police arrive." I grabbed binoculars from my travel bag and crouched by the lower corner of the window frame.
About three hundred yards from the hotel, on a level parallel to ours, curtains, buffeted by the breeze, flapped in and out of an open window.
The phone rang. Rosa picked up the receiver on the end table, listened for a minute, and hung up. "The manager said the police are on the way. The paramedics reported the incident."
I closed the drapes. "Pack our things. I'll be back soon." I pulled out my shirttails, shoved the holstered Glock through my belt, and kissed Rosa.

Bonita Quintero knows that her husband, Esteban, the Panamanian Consul General in Los Angeles, is having an affair. She seeks the assistance of Benny Goldfarb, Private "I"--not for a divorce--but for information about the girlfriend and the location of her husband's hidden assets. The FBI asks Benny to take the case. Esteban's lover is an agent for the Chinese military. Through economic colonialism, the Chinese are taking control of the Canal and Panamanian natural resources. Is it too late to protect U.S. shipping and wartime interests in the Canal? Benny's task is to find out. Accompanied by his pregnant wife, Rosa, Benny travels to Panama to serve two clients, Bonita Quintero and the FBI. As the case unfolds, his clients' interests become intertwined.
I have been a writer for most of my life. Or, maybe I’ve been a storyteller. It’s hard to know for sure. In the fifth grade, a poem, my first published work, Ethan Allen and the Green Boys, appeared in the school newspaper.