Chapters_1_&_2 Alonzo, unsure of his future, joins a ministry to Guatemala and is infatuated with Esmeralda
Chapters_3,_4,_&_5 Alonzo is busted at the airport and a guard is assigned to the group. Alonzo is ostracized.
Chapter_6 Alonzo witnesses the horrible death of two tourists accused of child abduction.
Chapter_7 Irma acts suspiciously. Alonzo meets the little girl Rosalinda in a compromising situation.
Chapter_8 Alonzo learns a violent secret about Irma and Carlos.
Chapters_9_&_10 Alonzo is jealous of Lucas and Esmeralda. Alonzo professes his love for Esmeralda
Chapters_11_&_12 Alonzo is introduced to the Brotherhood of the Harrowing. A warning is given about little Rosalinda. Lucas gets in a fight.
Chapters_13_&_14 Alonzo gets a lesson in healing from Arturo the Curandero.
Chapters_15_&_16 Alonzo has visions and he confesses things he has been hiding. Rosalinda leads Alonzo to some of the children of the orphanage.
Chapter 17 – Pretty Girls All in a Row
Rosalinda led me to another door. It was unlocked and it opened into a narrow hallway that was dim except for lighted portraits of little girls all along both walls. They were all smiling. They were all wearing pretty little dresses.
“Rosalinda, are these the ‘pretty girls’?”
“No. These are the good girls. They get adopted a los Estados Unidos.”
Rosalinda marched me down the hallway to a dark sitting room with a big window that looked into another room. In that other, well-lit, room I saw little girls sitting at tables writing or drawing, sitting in chairs reading, and one was practicing on a violin. They were all “picture-perfect” with their pink dresses and white sweaters. I could only tell them apart by the color of the ribbon in their hair.
Rosalinda went up to the window and turned a big dial on the wall below. I could suddenly hear the violin.
Rosalinda called-out “Hi, Carmen!”
The little girl practicing the violin looked over along with the other girls.
“Hi, Rosalinda,” said Carmen and several others in unison.
“I bring my friend Cesar.”
I felt compelled to step forward into the light cast from their room and I wiggled my fingers “hello”.
They all studied me for a moment and then they all giggled, “Hi, Cesar.”
Carmen said, “Rosalinda, have you heard? I’m going to be adopted and go a los Estados Unidos!”
Suddenly into their room from around a corner entered a young woman in an alluring black evening dress. I was immediately aroused and began to panic remembering Arturo’s little joke. But, no, it wasn’t a woman. I realized it was a little girl with a precocious made-up face, dressed like a woman.
She asked the "good girls", with aloofness, “Who took my magazine?”
Rosalinda said shyly, “Hi, Adora.”
Adora looked toward Rosalinda and saw me. That chiquita gave me a gaze as cold and as disdainful as ever any hot chica gave me at a club. She took her missing magazine from the hands of one of the “good girls” and turned quickly to leave without another word.
Rosalinda said with awe, “Adora is a pretty girl. She will get to make movies a los Estados Unidos and meet ‘portant people.”
A Good Girl
Chapter 18 – Blood in the Water
I got a bad feeling staring through that window at those little girls. Like the feeling I got when my father told me my mother was sick but not to worry.
“Rosalinda, we need to get back to your Play Room right now.”
This time I picked up Rosalinda and carried her as I retraced our steps out and down from the second floor. To get her cooperation I held her facing forward sitting on my left arm leaning back against my chest with my right arm holding her around her waist. “You’re flying the airplane!” I said. I released her waist and held up my thumb, “Here’s how you steer!”. She grasped my thumb and I made propeller noises, dipping and swerving as she turned my thumb. Her shrieking laughter almost hurt my ears and I wondered if this was really the best way to sneak back into the Play Room.
“Coming into the airport,” I said as we entered the Play Room. And of course there was a crowd at the “terminal”: Pastor Maximón in his wheelchair, Lucas, Esmeralda, Irma, and Itza.
“Hail, Cesar,” smiled Pastor Maximón, “I see you have conquered.”
All I could say was, “Pastor Maximón, my friends call me Alonzo.”
Lucas muttered to me, “What friends?”
Esmeralda pinched his arm.
Irma put out her arms for Rosalinda and I handed her over.
“We were just playing ‘airplane’ in the hallways,” I said as matter-of-factly as I could. Itza smiled but the way she stared at me made me feel like blood in the water.
Pastor Maximón said in a booming voice, “Alonzo, you are really going to feel good about today. We are making a TV commercial that will show the good work we do here and make an appeal for support from viewers for the Mudéjar Orphanage.”
Two men entered the Play Room with camera equipment. “’Bout ready?” smiled the husky director wearing the Oakland Raiders baseball cap. He gave directions to his cameraman partner about lighting and angles. “So, Pastor, we’re going to have children all around you and you will hold the little girl with no legs on your lap. Your wheelchair will be a nice touch, by the way. So let’s cue the children, OK?”
Itza went to a door at the other end of the Play Room and opened it. Children limped, hobbled and wheeled in like a defeated army. Itza carried little Belicia and placed her on Pastor Maximón’s lap. Itza and the cameraman arranged the children in a semi-circle behind Pastor Maximón.
Little Belicia began to weep.
Rosalinda ran over, “Don’t be scared, Belicia. Being on TV is fun.”
“OK, kid, you gotta move,” said the director.
“No,” said Pastor Maximón, “She will be fine. She is Belicia’s friend and she will comfort her little nerves.”
“You dah boss, Pastor. Let’s try one, OK?”
Rosalinda reached up and held little Belicia’s hand. Pastor Maximón snuggled against little Belicia’s cheek.
Pastor Maximón said to the camera, “Dear ones, this is little Belicia. Isn’t she pretty? But life has not been pretty for little Belicia. She lost her family and she lost her legs in the recent terrible earthquake.”
I looked at Belicia and she caught my eye. Jesus damnation, I heard her voice in my head! “I was mad at Mama and I ran away outside and I said I didn't like her and the big earthquake came and my house fell down on Mama and my tree fell down on me and I want to tell Mama I’m sorry.”
Tears began pouring down Belicia’s face as she stared at me.
“Perfect!” I heard the director whisper.
“If not for the generosity of you, Dear Viewers, what would become of little Belicia? She has no family. Where would she go? There is no place for her except in your generous hearts. Won’t you help the Mudéjar Orphanage to help Belicia?” Pastor Maximón kissed her hot streaming tears.
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