‘It’s called Euphoria. I took it yesterday. Someone’s been following me around ever since.’
‘Have you had that feeling before?’
He sticks out his bottom lip, studies me a moment, then says: ‘He wants to cut my throat.’
A short-legged, thick-set man in his mid-twenties, Michael has the look of a taller man that’s been beaten into the ground like a tent peg. He has a gloomy, fidgety air about him, dividing his attention between us, the front door and the staircase behind him.
‘Maybe we should run you up the hospital so you can talk to someone there about how you’re feeling.’
‘I’ve got to get my fags first.’
‘Okay then. We’ll wait here.’
He turns on the spot and trudges robotically tread to tread up the stairs, his left hand sliding up the rail, until he disappears round the corner. He doesn’t look back, even at the turn.
‘Can I have a word?’
The hostel manager holds the door of her office open. When we’re both inside, she shuts it carefully behind us.
‘Michael’s been with us about six months,’ she says, the computer chair squeaking as she settles.
‘His substance abuse has been getting a bit out of hand lately, but this is a new development. Are you taking him to hospital?’
‘I think it’s probably the safest option.’
‘Fine. I’ll just let our team leader know what’s happening, then I’ll give you a sheet with his personal information.’
She swings round and calls a number.
I tell Rae that I’ll wait back outside in the lobby, just in case Michael comes back down and wonders where we are. In fact, it’s a few minutes before he arrives, puffing on a joint.
‘Where’s your friend?’ he says.
‘She’s just getting some more information from the manager.’
‘The usual – you know. Date of birth, medication, how long you’ve been here. That kind of thing. Which means I won’t have to bother you by going through it all.’
He doesn’t react at all, but takes another drag on his joint, which crackles audibly.
‘One thing I have to ask you, Michael. Have you got any weapons on you? Any knives or sharp objects?’
He looks over my shoulder, like he expects someone at the door any moment, then back to me.
‘Don’t worry,’ he says. ‘It’s my throat he wants to cut. Not yours.’