Authors: Rosa Turner Boschen
Rosa Turner Boschen
Misty Meadow Press
Rosa Turner Boschen
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Originally Published by
Cover by Dar Albert
American writer Rosa Turner
Boschen is the award-winning author of twelve books, published under different
pen names and in various formats, including
paperback, print-on-demand and electronic download. She’s additionally written
editorials, nonfiction articles and essays for periodicals, literary journals
and the Web, and has had her poetry appear in three paperback anthologies. She
welcomes correspondence from readers at
and visitors to her
by Rosa Turner Boschen
(Sequel to Force of Fire)
Six Short Tales: New Beginnings
To my Father
his infinite patience and wisdom
The roadblock came out of
nowhere. Deep in the steaming jungle where the lonely hills meet the
mountains, a car obstructed their muddy path.
Their driver proceeded slowly, silently checking the locks on the reinforced
doors. Joe's face tightened as he lifted the faded Bible from the center seat
beside him and adroitly withdrew his automatic from the hewn-out portion
A pair of uniformed officers
appeared from the underbrush and tapped at the driver's window. The driver
lowered the glass a fraction of an inch. In a flash, a long, thin barrel pushed
through the opening and crackled in recoil.
Ana shuddered at
the sudden blast of light going out of his eyes.
Joe snapped up his pistol,
futilely taking aim through the bulletproof panes of the jeep.
Ana unbolted her door.
She lunged from the car and
tore through the velvet green bush.
Joe scrambled after her.
off the bare-barked trees. The jungle exploded in gunfire. A body clipped her
heels, striking the forest floor. She dove through a leafy palm and into a wall
of steel. Her head snapped back at the force of cotton closing in over her
Ana clawed at the
splotchy brown sleeve, writhing in its iron grip.
Her throat was
burning, swelling shut.
A blur of others crushed toward
them, trampling through a sea of ferns. She tried to discern the swirl of
faces, but, when she looked up, the lights went out in the western sky.
Ana Kane tightened the seatbelt
around her slender hips and leaned back in her chair as the plane began its
steep descent. In the stuffy confines of the cabin, tiny beads of sweat swelled
into gentle streams under her crisp cotton suit. Though Ana had traveled to
many times, this would be her first
unescorted venture into the war-torn Central American country named for its
ominous black sands.
Her previous trips had been
group efforts, assignments undertaken in conjunction with her project team. Now
that her team had all been fielded on site at the office she’d helped
establish, there was no one left to travel with her. Besides, no one other than
the contract manager had the need to ferry back and forth between the capital,
La Concha and DC. Ana’s role in assuring billing matters went smoothly between
her firm and State, kept her mainly in Washington. But, from time to time, it
was necessary to travel to various contract locales to ensure that all those
consultants she’d hired were doing more than enjoying a third world vacation on
the US Government.
Ana worked for one of the
numerous Washington, DC specialty firms that earned its livelihood by securing
US Government contracts. For many of his admirable efforts, Uncle Sam was
incredibly understaffed. In Washington, it seemed, every department, federal
agency and his brother had big plans but no manpower, at least not enough to
get the job done. When the time came to upgrade computer systems, provide
technical or material support, or deliver detailed assistance to developing
nations, federal government contractors stepped in.
And so it happened that Ana
Margarita Kane, theoretically employed by pharmaceutical contractor Health Tech
Designs, was in fact an indirect employee of the US Department of State, Agency
for International Development. In compliance with the terms of the $500,000
contract she’d negotiated with USAID, the State Department paid Health Tech
Designs to establish a viable pharmaceutical distribution system in ailing
. Ana made sure that all contract
expenditures were reimbursed and checks got to everybody on her team. Though
the cost of home office support was usually included in a contractor’s routine
overhead expenses, in cases of contractual oversight (such as that supplied by
Ana Kane), USAID often footed the bill.
Ana pressed her raw shoulder
blades into the seat behind her and tried to shrug off the tension that spiked
from her neck to the small of her back. She’d been sitting in an artificial
position of dignified corporate poise for one too many hours and now was paying
An airline attendant made her
way through the cabin, checking seatbelts and advising passengers of their
imminent landing. Ana strained to see out the window beyond the young couple
seated beside her, but the tiny head of an infant cradled on her mother’s
shoulder restricted Ana’s view to a wispy halo of clouds. The child squirmed
and Ana felt a sudden urge, a taut longing in her breasts. Then the father
turned and lifted the baby and the moment passed.
This was not the kind of
journey Ana would be making were she a mother herself. It was one thing to
endure the danger, the uncertainty, alone. Another thing quite entirely to
involve the life of a creature whose
totally dependent on your own.
The young mother retrieved her
child and settled the wriggling infant against her blanketed chest. Through the
milky window, Ana could see the stark cinder block 't' of the airport
Ana drew a breath and prayed
the Embassy would remember to send the bulletproof jeep. Her current assignment
meant a field trip into the jungle, a mission to audit pharmaceutical supplies
at the children’s hospital in the northern territory. Though she had limited
medical knowledge, as the contract manager, it was up to her to make certain
the terms of the agreement between USAID and Health Tech Designs were being
In La Concha, there’d be project people
to assist her, consultants she’d hired to staff the field office; in
, at the hospital, she’d be aided by local
counterparts, medical personnel funded by the Costa
Ministry of Health.
Ana gripped the cold, metal
plates of her armrests as the plane rocked onto the runway. The big jet whined
as it slowed and dragged to a halt. Palm trees lining the runway breezed into
focus as stone-faced guards with machine guns lorded over prodigious streams of
passengers making their way through double-paned doors. All at once, her
stomach tightened. This was Costa
Its darkness and danger lay just beyond these airport walls.
Scott Denton leaned into the
doorjamb of his dingy basement apartment. Just this morning, he’d stood in this
same spot watching
climb into the cab that would
take her to the airport. Scott shifted his gaze to study the scaffolding
bracing the row houses before him. Though most of the townhouses in this
Capitol Hill quadrant had been renovated, Scott’s aging landlord, a section’s
editor at the city paper, had not seen fit to improve upon his dilapidated
segment of building. That suited Scott just fine. He wasn’t into pretense the
way that Ana was.
She was such a poseur, with her
neat Second Street efficiency in the posh Supreme Court district, hand-made
tapestries from Ecuador and Peru hanging like markers of her success on freshly
painted walls. Photos crowded end tables, a parody of the happy family she
professed to have.
She’d never accepted his need
to furnish things sparingly, or why he thought it important to live within his
meager means. He had to do it on his own, and wore his poverty like a badge of
courage. So what if he did volunteer work thirty hours a week and waited tables
ten? Ana said he had it backwards.
Ana and her
Ideas of what he could make of himself if he only tried. It’s
like she thought he could do better.
In some ways he could. But he
would never in a million admit it. His father, the sole proprietor of the most
prestigious (read profitable) engineering firm in Louisville, could cut him a
check at a moment’s notice. 'Just let me know, son, if there’s anything you
ever need.' Well, there were plenty of things Scott needed, but not that his
well-established father could supply. Not at this late date.
Scott fought off the memory of
Ana’s harsh words. 'You think you’re too old to care, but what you really are
is too damn young to see you still need a father!'
He’d raised his hand to strike
her then, but had turned instead and walked out the door to the market where
he’d bought her a small bouquet of fresh-cut flowers.
Nobody quite saw through him
the way Ana did. That was the scary part. He loved her dark side, the stormy
personality it seemed only he could awaken. Scott wasn’t so sure this was
something to be proud of. And yet it gave him a sense of power, a sense he
sorely lacked in every other aspect of his life.
He was in a town he didn’t
like, in a job he didn’t like, nailed to a woman he didn’t like – half
the time. The other half, he wanted to devour her completely, suck every ounce
of her precious being into his own. They’d had so many good days, but the bad
ones were coming more frequently. She was always on his case. Nothing he did
was ever good enough. She was the savvy young professional and he was the total
incompetent. She didn’t have to say it; it was written between the lines of
every brain-picking question she asked. She didn’t used to ask so many
questions. The Ana he had fallen in love with was the woman who was content to
just let him be.
Scott shook his head and looked
up at the thickening sky. Yes, once who he was had more than satisfied her.
There’d been a song in her eyes that said she’d cherished no one more. There
was something to those unforgettable days in Seville. The nights he beheld her
in that small, fragrant plaza beside her rooming house, his soft serenade on a
Spanish guitar lacing orange trees with tender truths. She’d captured him but
hadn’t known how badly he’d wanted to take her away. They’d gone to Portugal
but that hadn’t been far enough. He’d wanted to escape it then – not just
for the two of them. But there were
restraints that bound him tightly, more tightly than Ana knew, to Iberian soil.
By the time
got to her hotel, the thin fibers of her suit had molded to her body like a
glove. She dropped her bag onto the bed and pulled out a simple cotton shift.
It was lightweight and sleeveless, and had just the right polish when she wore
it with its matching white jacket. Things were informal in the tropics. None of
the men here wore ties. Perhaps it was exactly for that reason she felt the
need to maintain a professional appearance in this largely male-dominated