Moral Imperative Moral Dilemma
A Prequel to Shadow House
Sam Autenburg is caught in a situation from which there is no soft exit. He must either stand by and watch the assassination of three children, or intervene and risk almost certain death.
His decision leads himself, the children, and their parents, face to face with moral dilemma.
In Cartagena, Sam is walking from the old city to the marina. The morning air is hot and sultry. Two pistol shots ring out close by. A man falls. A child screams. Without conscious thought, Sam runs to the children and hurries them to safety as the gunman empties the remaining bullets into Sam’s back in his attempt to execute the three children. The bodyguard lays dead, blood pooling around his death pose. Sirens approach. The gunman flees. Sam falls. Children in silent shock. Unknown hands staunch the bleeding.
The police question the girls and call their parents. Their mother Carlotta Gutiérrez-Ledesma, arrives as the medics are treating Sam. After hugging the children and wiping away tears she walks to the ambulance. When the police tell her it is a touristo, and he is not carrying a medical insurance card, she tells them to take him to an exclusive private hospital. Her husband Montez, arrives, looks at the scene, the blood, the two ashen faced girls, his only son beside them, the dead bodyguard. Eyewitnesses are telling him what occurred, how the gringo was shot in the back as he saved the children.
In a private hospital set in the quiet suburbs of Cartagena, Sam is in intensive care for many days. Each day the mother visits him. She prays and talks to him in Spanish, not knowing if he can hear or understand.
One week after the shooting Sam regains consciousness. The three children and their parents go to the hospital to say their first real thank you. It is a moving time for all and many tears are shed. The father tells Sam that he is their guest in Colombia for the full duration of his recovery, and as long as he desires after that. There can be no argument – it is all arranged.
The family home is palatial. Sam had no idea Montez Gutiérrez-Ledesma was such a wealthy man. There were five servants, and now a full time nurse on hand just for him.
A strong friendship has grown between Sam, and the two girls, who have come to understand, despite their tender age, just what he had done for them. What he had risked. Young Montez, although outwardly polite, is reserved, as if the debt, and the attention this man is receiving from his family is troubling him. Perhaps he is just being a ten-year-old boy.
Sam & Carlotta also have an easy and deepening friendship, and spend long hours talking of many things. Carlotta is an interesting woman, and is much more than the quiet and modest beauty on her husband’s arm.
A month passes, and Sam’s recovery is almost complete. Over dinner, he tells Carlotta that he will arrange to leave and return to his home in the next few days. She admits that she will miss him, a look of sadness on her usually serene face. Sam admits that he has grown very fond of her, and will greatly miss her company, their talks, and walks.
Montez Gutiérrez-Ledesma, is out of town on business. Sam knows that he has both legitimate and covert business operations that keep him away from home a great deal. That night, Carlotta goes to Sam’s room and they make love for the first time.
The affair between Sam and Carlotta deepens. They meet most days, either in a hotel, or more usually on Sam’s yacht. They don’t discuss the future or the risks, living only in the moment. They both know that eventually it has to end. She could never leave Montez; he would never allow it.
When young Montez sees his mother and Sam in a passionate embrace, he is angry and confused. Eventually, he tells his father.
Montez Gutiérrez-Ledesma; ruthless in business, a hard man, a cuckold, is now faced with a moral dilemma. Does he kill the gringo who saved the lives of his son, his two beautiful daughters, but is fucking his wife? Internal struggle consumes him as he tries to reach a decision. Pretending to know nothing about the relationship, he offers Sam a handshake of one million dollars as a parting gesture of his gratitude. Sam knows immediately that he’s on to them; something in the man’s eye and in his choice of words.
Will Sam take the money and run from the woman who loves him?
Will Montez Snr swallow his pride for the sake of his family and reputation?