You open your eyes. You wonder where you are. A mirror. A small sink? The hum of an overhead fan. Now you remember. A dingy bathroom.

Half your face is flattened along the wall. Wetness at the corner of your mouth. You are sitting. Wrinkled pants circle your ankles. You are on a toilet. Ass numb. Left arm tingly, asleep, dangling. Metallic toilet paper dispenser indenting shoulder flesh.

You sit up straight. Shake your head, rub some life back to your facial musculature. You wonder how much longer you can do this. You hate it. Despise it. You hate yourself. You hate everybody and everything. But you know it’s your own fault. You asked for it. Wanted it bad.

You dig in your shirt pocket, finger the small paper square. You carefully unfold it over the metal surface of the dispenser. You let the fluffy white powder cascade into a small mound. You lick the paper with the flat of your tongue, like a sad stupid dog, and savor the bitterness. The medicinal aroma. Satisfied, you crush the paper and drop it to the floor.

You pull a loosely rolled dollar bill from the same pocket, tighten it. One end disappears up your right nostril. A sharp forceful sniff and you taste and feel the goodness. Your throat tingles. Half up the right, half up the left. You tap your tongue to the dirty dollar hole. Suck once with pursed lips.

Your head tilts back. You rest your skull on the chrome pipe. Your heart rate increases, mind awakens. Thoughts flood in. The world opens up. The sun rises. You now believe that it will be okay. In fact, you know it with certainty. You will be fine. You decide to stop over-dramatizing. Everything will be glorious. In fact, there is no stopping you. You, my friend, are an animal.

Your phone buzzes and you reach low, retrieve it from your pants pocket.

“Yes.” You say.

“Dr. Altman?”


“Maryanne. Charge nurse from Four-South. Dr. Valmood was just by, said he wants you to meet him in OR 10. Mrs. Bixley needs to go back. Abscess.”

You nod and rub your eyes. “On my way.”

You stand, lift the scrubs, tie them at your waist.

Splash water on your face.

~ fin ~

Glenn Gray's stories have appeared in a wide range of print and online publications and anthologies. Beyond his writing career, Glenn is a practicing physician specializing in Radiology. He lives in New York. His debut story collection,The Little Boy Inside and Other Stories, (Concord ePress) was released in October 2013.