TITLE: MESSAGE FROM PANAMA
Intro: This dialogue occurs immediately after Pen Smith, the protagonist, has been shot and Enriqué Soong has saved him from subsequently being run over by a bus.
"Pen Smith," I said, holding out an unsteady hand. "Thank you very much."
"Enriqué Soong. Glad I could help." His grip was firm and his English was good.
A diminutive waitress appeared and said something like "Dig me."
I looked helplessly at Enriqué. "French," I apologized. "Eight worthless years."
He smiled. "‘Dígame.’ It means: Can I take your order?"
"Dos café pronto," he told the waitress.
"Triple brandy" I gasped, then seeing vermillion spotting my pants, added water to the request. The area above my knee was a mess, the fabric ripped, and underneath, raw, sticky, oozing flesh. I grabbed a year's worth of napkins and crushed them against the wound.
"Will the police come?" I asked.
Enriqué looked me over. "Usually they would," he replied, "but you walked away. And the Diablo Rojo is long gone--"
"Devil. . .red?"
"Yes, the ‘Red Devils.’ They are responsible for many horrible accidents. Last year, nine people burned to death in a Diablo Rojo. Terrible." He threw up his hands.
"People here are accustomed to the Diablos Rojos. They know it is of little use to report something like this." He gestured at the street which showed no sign of the previous turmoil.
"Bus gone, the man who fell down gone. . ." He looked at me with questioning eyes. "No, I do not think the police will come. That is. . .unless another person observed what I did."