On a cool spring evening, all is quiet in the house on Vernon Street. A back window glows in the darkness. Things have settled into a wary calm. The tae kwon do slave girls are gone, whisked away to a safe house somewhere. Pelayo and her husband, Darwin Padolina, have pleaded not guilty to trafficking and enslavement charges, while Rudolfo “Duden” Demafeliz, entered a guilty plea and was sentenced on January 5. Afterward, he was allowed to voluntarily deport himself; he left the U.S. on January 9. Pelayo remains in federal custody while she awaits trial, having been deemed a flight risk. Whether her husband visits her or calls her every day is unknown, but he still lives in the house, still has parties and guests over, still waves hello to the neighbors every now and then, as if nothing ever happened. The man next door and the other neighbors, unsure of protocol, wave back hesitantly.
“How come they haven’t moved away in shame?” the man asks. “How come they haven’t crawled under the ground? That, I just don’t know.”