In the end, he didn’t call the cops. He wanted to though. His eyes kept gazing at me with an unreadable look. He took my hand and walked me out of the small room and into the main hallway. I stared at the gift shop absentmindedly while I let him lead me out. I looked at the colorful balloons and gift cards and wondered if I still remembered how to be happy. I wasn’t sure anymore. The chances of my situation ending in more or less good circumstances were less than zero.
On our way we passed a woman carrying a baby in her arms; she seemed exhausted and beaten up but still managed to smile at her child. She gazed up at me and the smile still lingered on her pale lips. My eyes closed for a moment as I considered how the scene didn’t set any emotions in me. Nothing. I just felt numb, now that the voices in my head had subsided. I stared at the hand holding mine and speculated how long will this last after he lets go. I really didn’t want to find out.
And now as he leads me to the front door and stands for a moment in silence, I try to set my mind in the present as the sliding doors open and close over and over again. He doesn’t loosen the grip. I don’t dare to move, ignoring my surroundings, just focusing on the here and now. I couldn’t even plan five minutes ahead.
One more time, can you please explain this to me?
I don’t think that I can.
Why not? You know I can still change my mind and call the cops?
Do what you must.
I say, thinking if he did call the cops, he would have to wait here with me until they got here. I somehow feel selfish, counting on the extra minutes with him.
Just like that? You’re going to give up?
Well, I think that ship has sailed a long time ago. Look, normally I would run away, okay? I would scream, shout and maybe even hit you with something. I would steal the drugs and leave... until I would need more. I would probably choose a different hospital, or maybe the same one, depends on how strong the pain would get... and since it’s getting worse with every day, I think I might visit you again. Something tells me that either way I would end up in prison.
You’re strange. You know that, right?
Mmm, the word doesn’t even begin to describe me.
He gives me another puzzled look, staring at me as if he is not sure what I might do in the next second. His eyebrows scrunched together, forming one line as if he is trying to solve some really hard problem and he doesn’t seem to know from which angle to grab it. He finally lets out a big puff of cold air and shrugs his shoulders, like he’s giving up just like me before.
Alright, look. I can see that you’re not as bad of a person that you seem at first. You’re not exactly a ‘usual’ kind of junkie that I have to deal here almost every day. But still, what you did was a felony and I should report this to my supervisors. I don’t even know what’s stopping me.
I look up at him, at the circles under his blue eyes and his tired face. I didn’t notice it before, too preoccupied with my own sufferings to even care.
I’m sorry, I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t have to. If I had a choice.
He lifts his other hand to his head and ruffles his bright, hazel hair. Then the hand covers his face, and he sighs deeply.
Fine, just go, I won’t call anyone.
He lets go of me and waves his hand as if he wants to get rid of me as soon as possible. I swallow and close my eyes shut. Somehow desperately trying to reverse the time with my mind. Surprisingly my thoughts don’t go back to the moment when all shit went down or to the many mistakes that I did in my life. My mind wanders off to the exact moment when he touched me and for the first time in days, I felt relief. I wanted those extra minutes with him.
And not only because of the miracle abilities that he possessed. There was also something about his presence. It worked soothing on me like nothing bad could happen to me as long as he was near. I try not to think how cliche my words sound in my head and make myself move.
Thank you. I really do appreciate it. If it was someone else...
I start to say and notice that the light from the lamps gets brighter. My head begins to throb but it’s not like before. This pain doesn’t want to open my skull, it’s more of a migraine thing. I hear some whispers and look at the floor. All liveable. I could do this. I look up at him and wonder how long before it gets back to the previous state. I don’t wanna think about it.
Nothing that I couldn’t survive. Trust me, it’s much better than it was.
I turn to the sliding doors and walk out into the night. It’s raining a bit but I don’t mind. The rain seems to wash away this terrible day, preparing me for the next one, that probably won’t be as kind. I hear the doors slide again but I keep on walking.
I turn around and stare confused at Charlie. He rushes to me as if in an emergency and I am tempted to look behind me, to make sure there wasn’t any accident happening there. But I don’t, because I know, that I am the emergency.
Did you change your mind? Shall I wait for a police vehicle?
I ask, almost amused, lifting my hands as if they were already in handcuffs.
Let’s just say, I am still debating. So stop kidding around.
Okay, okay. So, what do you want?
Your phone number.
Don’t look so surprised, I feel offended... I need your phone number so I can check up on you. Cause let’s face it, the entire time that I have known you, you look like you are on the verge of collapsing. I don’t want to have this on my conscience if anything happens. I have enough on my head as it is.
Do you have a pen and paper?
How retro of you... and yes, I have. It’s one of the perks of being a male nurse.
I take a small notepad from him and scribble a phone number and my home address. I hand it to him and he stares at it with a funny look.
Not sure if this will work. I don’t really do house calls.
Well, I don’t always pick up... for different reasons. And that’s a landline phone.
No cell phone?
It’s breaking a lot these days. I guess it doesn’t like it when I throw it against a wall.
Or throw it out the window, I think to myself. This was another issue for me. Because of the constant pain, I kept getting panic attacks and fell into a lot of tantrum states, raging on. When my head threatens to explode, the phone’s ring was like a screaming murder to me... that’s why it usually landed on my wall. The landline I only turned on when I didn’t have a surround system speakers in my brain. Which wasn’t often. But I guess even my pain had a scale. Sometimes it was an 8... and sometimes a 100.
So what you are saying, in such an ‘enduring way’ is that you won’t kill me with a hammer if I chose to check up on you?
Yes, sounds about right, since I threw away all of the heavy and sharp objects from my junkyard... I mean my ‘flat’.
Ok, it’s a deal.
He comes closer and extends his left hand. I hesitate for a long moment, not used to being around people as of late. The further away I was from everybody the better chance I had of mental survival. I finally shake his hand, enjoying the peace that this physical contact was giving me. I stare at him for a second, thinking that he might be doing this on purpose.
From one side I knew that he must be really confused about what was really going on. Maybe he thought I was some scam artist and that all I wanted were some free drugs... and in order to make it look convincing, I cooked up some silly story about his wondrous touch. Now, from the other side, I could feel that a part of him wanted to believe me, despite everything that he knew about the world and how much he relied on that knowledge. And not some crazy shit that was going around him. My fingers squeeze tighter around his and then I let go.
And as I leave him and head out into the night, I think to myself that this was a little gift from him. As if he was charging up my batteries for what was to come. I put my grey hood on and try not to be too visible. All I wanted right now, was some peace and rest. Hoping that maybe if I was quiet enough I could disappear and hide away from my problems.
And it doesn’t take very long for them to find me again...