How I Bought Two Slaves, To Free Them

A journalist gets caught up in a story in which happy endings are hard to find

Mama San won't budge from $1,000. There's the food she's paid for, the clothes, the makeup and the condoms, not to mention the middlemen's fees. At $1,000, she says, she is making nothing. She taps out the figure in Thai baht on a calculator and holds it up: 43,650. You won't get a pair of 14-year-old Burmese girls for less in this town.

"Thirty thousand," I suggest.

"Forty-three," answers Mama San. She tells Tip and Lek to fetch their chips. The two tiny figures squatting at her feet jump up, run upstairs and return clutching gambling counters. "What the customers paid,"...

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