Sunday, April 20, 2014

a good night out

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.’


Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

Unfortunately yes, that IS what counts for a good night out in so many of the world's metropolitan areas. It's taking the medical systems down with it thru overcrowding and constant need for follow-up, I have been reading in the last years.

Thank you for being the front line. Mental health care would be such a big help in so many of these cases and yet that's lacking worldwide too, no ?~!

TomVee said...

Wow. The imagery on the eyes was great again, Spence.

Not opiates then. Must have been something strong, though, or he got the dose wrong.

Spence Kennedy said...

Lynda - It is another big strain on the system, that's for sure. Poor kid, though. It's easy enough to do - and just taking a snort of something doesn't seem all that big a deal - and for the most part it isn't, it's just that the risk of you reacting badly to it, or the drug being stronger / tainted is so great you'd think it wouldn't be a risk worth taking...

TV - I think it was a 'legal high' of some description. They've got such bold names like Euphoria - but lately I think they should reflect the risk, like Coma, or maybe Into the Abyss.

Cheers for the comments! ;)

Cassandra said...

Maybe it's a byproduct of being disabled at such a young age, but I much prefer to spend my nights IN, watching a movie, reading, playing Dungeons and Dragons or watching the guys play DnD… but then, I was that way even before I got sick so… The whole "club scene" never appealed to me, ever. Drinking, dancing, drugs… what's the point? Why trash your body? The music is boring and repetitive, the people are sweaty and boring and shallow, you don't GAIN anything by the experience… what's the point? And just as likely you'll feel awful the next day. You might feel awful the next day after staying up and reading too many books, but you probably won't end up hospitalized, that's for sure. Unless, of course, you get a really, REALLY nasty paper cut. Or maybe if someone gets upset that you made the spot check and lobs a D8 at you during a DnD session and catches you in your tender bits or something… Those things can be pretty pokey.

I dunno. I was never popular and never ran with that sort of crowd, but I've always counted myself to have had more enriching life experiences than the sort that crowd racked up. Sure, catching bits and pieces of current media made me kind of wistful that I was missing out on such "fun" times, but then I'd go on an amazing weekend backpacking trip and realize that I had the better end of things after all.

jacksofbuxton said...

Night out?What's one of those Spence?

I'm fairly sure Mrs Jack (not her real name) and I have fond memories of such a thing.So to make up for not having had one for years,we're off to see Ken Dodd at Buxton Opera House on Thursday.He's the only act that requires a change of staff through the concert (I reckon we'll be out by 1am at the earliest)

Spence Kennedy said...

Cass - Not sure what a D8 is (but sounds painful). I know what you mean about clubs. I've been to some, but actually prefer gigs. Films, too, of course. Reading. In fact, there are endless ways to spend your money... Backpacking's great. I always feel better after a long walk - esp this time of year 8)

Jack - I'd love to see Ken Dodd some day (I'd better make it soon, then - he's not getting any younger). An absolute legend - and I bet Buxton Opera House is the perfect venue! I hope you have a great night.

Cassandra said...

A D8 is simply an 8 sided die. There's a whole set of various sided dice needed for different scenarios in a lot of tabletop role playing games, and the lesser sided ones tend to be a bit… pointy. Kind of like a caltrop, or like stepping on a Lego. What's a Ken Dodd?

Spence Kennedy said...

A classic British comedian - the last living link to the music hall. Famous for his incredible joke-memory (and his long shows).

Anonymous said...

We saw Doddy a few years ago during the heat wave on stage in his fur coat and we gave up and sneaked out just before midnight because we felt soooooooo tired.
Glad we saw the living legend and he can still sing too.
Hope the young man was ok and learned his lesson.
bless you.

Spence Kennedy said...

I hope so, too. A helluva way to learn, though. It strikes me that taking drugs is a bit like Russian Roulette - you just don't know if you'll be lucky or not. :/