Excerpt From ‘Heart of Diamonds’ by Dave Donelson
Dr. Jaime Talon sliced into the boy’s cheek where the corrupted flesh festered just below the eye. When he pierced the skin with the lancet, a thin, clear fluid dribbled from the incision. He applied a little pressure with the flat of the blade and was rewarded with a gush of viscous brown pus.
The boy flinched each time the knife touched his face, but that was his only reaction. Jaime guessed he was no more than fourteen. He placed a gauze pad over the weeping incision and told the boy to hold it there while the wound drained. With antibiotics and constant attention, the infection could be kept out of the eye, he thought. The antibiotics would come from the clinic’s nearly empty medicine locker; Jaime didn’t know who would attend to the dressing when the boy returned to the Lunda Libre guerillas who held him in the mopane forest of the Congo highlands.
“What is your name?” Jaime asked.
“Christophe,” the boy answered. His voice was high and tight with tension. He cleared his throat quietly, asthough he were afraid to disturb Jaime’s concentration. Jaime put the lancet down and smiled gently, hoping to calm the boy’s fears.
“Would you like to stay here for a few days?” he asked. The boy shook his head slowly and looked down.
“What if I give you food? Enough to take some back for the others?” Christophe shrugged but shook his head again, glancing furtively at the armed figure waiting for him near the trail at the edge of the forest. Even from a distance, Jaime could see the man’s eyes constantly shifting from the boy to the road and back to the trail leading into the forest.
“You must stay at least for tonight so the wound can drain. I will speak to him. Stay here and do not remove the pad.” Jaime locked his meager tray of surgical instruments inside a cabinet to remove temptation, then walked purposefully across the clearing to the gunman, keeping his hands out of his pockets and in full sight. He stopped a few feet away when the rebel shifted his weight from one foot to the other and casually pointed his rifle at Jaime’s stomach.
“The boy will stay with me tonight,” he declared firmly, trying to forestall any argument.
“No, dakta bandia,” the man replied with a sneer.