October 1962- In a little brown house, Salvador, lying on his baby belly, turns face down. The crib mattress presses into his face. His breathing stops. In the living room, his parents watch a special television broadcast. His mother, Claudia, interprets the dire news into Spanish for her husband, Tomás. A black and white image of President John F. Kennedy announces the blockade of the Cuba to stop Soviet atomic missiles from sprouting on the former casino island paradise. Premier Khrushchev intends to keep his promise of burying America.
Salvador’s pressed lips dribble salvia onto a white bed sheet. If Salvador doesn’t start breathing in three minutes, his tiny brain will starve from oxygen deprivation. His chubby cheeks will turn blue and his heart will stop beating. He will be among the millions of babies who die mysteriously in the crib.
If neither Uncle Sam nor the Red Bear blink, a destroyer will be torpedoed or a submarine will be sunk in the warm, azure Caribbean waters. The missiles will fly and the nuclear equation will incinerate everything.
Salvador turns his head, flexes his tiny fingers and sucks in a gush of air.
The Russians dismantle their launch sites and go home. The Yankees promise not to invade Cuba.
The world breathes again.