[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.It seemed as if at least half of them were jammed into the mission control center.Gene Redding had taken over as controller; I had moved to the right-hand chair, a headset still clamped over my ear.“Want to make a bet Sam talks them out of whatever they came for?” Spence asked me.I shook my head, then realized that he could not see me.“No,” I said.“Not even Sam could—”“Wait a minute!” said the news reporter.Like the rest of us, he had been on the scene all night without relief.“Wait a minute! There seems to be some action up there!”The camera zoomed up to the rooftop balcony of my father’s suite.And there stood Sam, grinning from ear to ear, and my father next to him, also smiling—although he looked drawn and pale, tired to the point of exhaustion.Behind them, three of the rebel gunmen were pulling off their ski masks.They too were laughing.I rented the fastest jet available at the Orlando airport and flew to New York.With Ric at my side.By the time we reached my father’s hotel suite the police and the crowds and even the news reporters had long since gone.Sam was perched on the edge of one of the big plush chairs in the sitting room, looking almost like a child playing in a grown-up’s chair.He was still wearing the faded coveralls that he had put on for the space mission.My father, elegantly relaxed in a silk maroon dressing gown and white silk ascot, lounged at his ease in the huge sofa placed at a right angle to Sam’s chair.The coffee table before them was awash with papers.My father was smoking a cigarette in a long ivory holder.He was just blowing a cloud of gray smoke up toward the ceiling when Ric and I burst into the room.“Papa!” I cried.He leaped to his feet and put the cigarette behind him like a guilty little boy.Sam laughed.“Papa, are you all right?” I rushed across the room to him.Awkwardly,he balanced the long cigarette holder on the arm of the sofa as I flung my arms around his neck.“I am unharmed,” he announced calmly.“The rebels have gone back to Quito to form the new government.”“New government?”“General Quintana will head the provisional government,” my father explained, “until new elections are held.”“Quintana?” I blurted.“The traitor?”Ric’s face clouded over.“The army will run the government and find excuses not to hold elections.It’s an old story.”“What else could I do?” my father asked sadly.Still seated in the oversized chair, Sam grinned up at us.“You didn’t do too badly, Carlos old buddy.”Sam Gunn, on a first-name basis with my father?Getting to his feet, Sam said to me, “Meet the new co-owner of OrbHotel, Inc.”One shock after another.It took hours for me to get it all straight in my head.Gradually, as my father and Sam told me slightly conflicting stories, I began to put the picture together.Sam had barged into my father’s hotel suite just as the rebel assassination team had arrived, guns in hand.“They had bribed two of my security guards,” my father said grimly.“They just walked in through the front door of the suite, wearing those ridiculous ski masks.”Sam added, “They were so focused on your father and the other two guys in his security team that I walked in right behind them and they never even noticed.Some assassins.A trio of college kids with guns.”Once they realized that an American citizen was in the suite the student-assassins became confused.Sam, of course, immediately began bewildering them with a nonstop monologue about how rich they could become if they would merely listen to reason.“They’re all shareholders in my new corporation,” Sam told us happily.“Sam Gunn Enterprises, Unlimited.Neat title, isn’t it?”“They refrained from assassinating my father in exchange for shares in a nonexistent corporation?” I asked.“It’ll exist!” Sam insisted.“It’s going to be the holding company for all my other enterprises—VCI, OrbHotel, I got lots of other ideas, too, you know.”My father’s face turned somber.“They did not settle merely for shares in Sam’s company.”“Oh? What else?”“I had to resign as president of Ecuador and name Quintana as head of the interim government.”“Until elections can be held,” Ric added sarcastically.“Who is this young man?” my father asked.“I am Ricorio Esteban Horacio Queveda y Diego, son of Professor Queveda, who fled from your secret police the year you became president.”“Ah.” My father sagged down onto the sofa and picked up his cigarette holder once again.“Then you want to murder me, too, I suppose.”“Papa, you’re murdering yourself with those cigarettes!”“No lectures today, little one,” he said to me.Then he puffed deeply on his cigarette.“I have been through much these past twenty hours.”“Ric did not condone assassinating you,” I told my father.“He wanted me to warn you.” That was stretching the truth, of course, and I wondered why I said it.Until I took a look at Ric, so serious, so handsome, so brave.For his part, Ric said, “So you have joined forces with this gringo imperialist [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]