A Storyby David Corbett
Malvasio sat up and rolled the stiffness from his neck while, beside him, the girl fidgeted beneath the sheets and drew away, sensing he’d wakened. An unconscious impulse, her withdrawal, and unearned since he’d never touched her, not that way. He had his standards, after all. Some of these kids showed up already boiling with disease.
Her name was Anabella. She looked about twelve, scrawny and dark with a broad face and stubby little nose. She had long straight hair that he foresaw getting cut short, molded into the pin-curled helmet the trashier Salvadoran streetwalkers were famous for.
She was a reward, a bone tossed to him by the judge and the colonel, and only a fool would deny them their displays of macho largesse. She’d arrived last week from Honduras, one of thirty or so orphans and street kids on the finca at the moment, most of them due to move on today. Many had arrived with first-degree malnutrition, endemic in the region—they didn’t scream out at you with fly-coated eyes and bloated bellies like the haunting kids of Africa, they just withered away from diarrhea or slowly starved to death. Here on the finca, though, they’d been fed and treated for intestinal parasites until they were fit enough for work—proof, Malvasio supposed, that mercy took many forms.