A guy in his early twenties is lying on the pavement, shivering, his knees drawn up, his hands bunched in fists beneath his chin. A streetlamp taints the sweat on his face a ghastly orange. Three men stand over him. They aren’t with him; they came across him when they left the pub. One of them laughs and gives the guy a gentle punt with his trainers. The wee lad’s taken something, right enough he says. Something he shouldn’t ay’
We thank them for their help and they move off noisily, slapping each other on the back, goofing around.
I squat down next to him and squeeze his shoulder.
‘How are you? What have you taken tonight?’
He can’t speak. All he can do is roll his pupils onto me, pupils so massively round and black, if I let go of this pen torch I could watch its pin-point of light trailing down about a mile inside him.
I can only just feel his radial pulse. The kind of hectic, protozoidal rhythm you should only see under a microscope, sculling through a drop of water.
We give him oxygen, scoop him up, call ahead.
I go through his pockets: phone, keys, driver’s licence, bank card.
Luke. I wonder who’ll make the call, and who’ll answer?
We get to hospital as quickly as possible. We pat-slide Luke onto the hospital trolley in A&E resus, shouting out the facts and figures, the little we know.
The team close round.
I book him in at reception.
By the time I’ve come back with the paperwork, he’s tubed and ready for ITU.‘Well,’ says one of the doctors, wearily pulling off his gloves as the porters move in, ‘so that's what counts for a good night out these days.’