The whole town was there, standing in hushed anticipation for the return of Senor Najera’s son from the war.
“He was wounded,” someone whispered. “Hit by the enemy’s new weapon.”
The ship approached, the gangplank descended, and Mateo Najera appeared. The crowd gasped.
The rags of the once-proud army uniform were stretched over the misshapen, hulking figure that shambled off. One huge eye lolled at them, roaming witlessly.
Senora Najera tore from her husband’s restraint. “Stop!” he shouted. “What if he’s contagious?”
“He’s still my baby,” she said and ran to embrace him until her tears wet his festering skin.