‘It’s dead boring, mate. The same fookin’ questions over and over and over. For what? For the paperwork, thassall. And you get treated like shit as soon as they find out you used to do a little gear. You can see it when they read them fookin’ letters: I V D U. Snigger. Point. Yeah? But that was years ago. I’m clean now, man. I’ve not touched the stuff in ten years. That’s what you get though. That’s what you get for being different.’
Alex is different. You can see it in the jaundiced glow of his face, like a solarised photo; you can see it in the way he walks, crabwise, jabbing at the ground with a stick, crooked over to one side with the drag of a leg that was damaged when gangrene set in from a filthy injection; you can feel it in the drum-tight swelling of his belly; you can hear it in his accent, a tight, Mancunian drawl, case-hardened in smoke and rage, and you can see it in his eyes, when he opens them wider than a slit. Pinned through Subutex.