Eighteen year old male, overdose/poisoning.
As we drive along the section of road indicated by the Satnav, we see two young men, one leaning back on the other. He manages to free a hand and wave to us; I pull alongside. Frank jumps out, and I follow.
‘What’s the problem?’ Frank says.
Our patient is dressed in a t-shirt and waistcoat and a pair of pink tights. The tights are stained and holed; he hasn’t any shoes, and his toes poke out onto the pavement.
‘He needs the hospital,’ says the patient’s friend.
‘Why’s that, then?’
‘Apart from being drunk, is there anything else wrong?’
The patient bridles.
‘There’s nothing wrong,’ he says, suddenly standing upright. ‘I just need some fish and chips. Take me to them.’
‘That’s not really our job, is it, mate? We’re not in the catering business.’
‘Come on,’ says the friend, looking over his shoulder. ‘You can see he’s had too much to drink. How am I supposed to get him home like this?’
‘Why don’t you talk about that whilst you get warm in the fish and chip shop?’
‘He can’t feel his feet.’
‘I would think that’s because he has no shoes on and it’s cold tonight.’
‘So you’re not going to do anything?’
Frank looks down at the pavement for a moment. When he looks back up, he is wearing a smile forged from pure steel.
‘Have you got a phone?’
‘Rupert? Where’s your phone?’
The patient puts his hands up in the air and closes his eyes as his friend kneels down in front of him and starts rummaging around in the front of his tights.
‘I’ve seen enough,’ says Frank, turning round. ‘Let’s go.’
I drive off far enough to keep us out of trouble and park by the side of the road. Frank finishes off his paperwork and we listen to the radio. When he finishes, he climbs out to have a cigarette before we clear up. I join him, the two of us quietly leaning against the bonnet. Night is coming down quickly now and the seagulls are heading out to sea. Blanched in the diffuse margins of light along the main drag, they swoop and call and then atomise above us through the deepening dark like ghosts.