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A Mistake

September 30, 2002

A MISTAKE
At the clinic, Dr. Guillermo Toledo Montes leads Enrique to an examination table.

Enrique's left eye socket has a severe concussion. The eyelid is injured and might droop forever. His back is covered with bruises. He has several lesions on his right leg and an open wound hidden under his hair. Two of his top teeth are broken. So is one on the bottom.

Dr. Toledo jabs a needle under the skin near Enrique's eye, then on his forehead. He injects a local anesthetic. He scrubs dirt out of the wounds and thinks of the immigrants he has treated who have died. This one is lucky. "You should give thanks you are alive," he says. "Why don't you go home?"

"No." Enrique shakes his head. "I don't want to go back." Politely he asks if there is a way that he can pay for his care, as well as the antibiotics and the anti-inflammatory drugs.

The doctor shakes his head. "What do you plan to do now?"


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