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“He’s not on.”
They’re lying. “He told me to come back tonight. He said he’ll be on after 3,” I say, smiling like I like them.
Screw them. Screw them all.
“He’s not,” says the fat one with the droopy mouth. She rechecks the papers.
“No, not tonight. You’ve got it wrong.”
I shrink under her gaze. I take out the package. I show it to her.
“I got this for him.”
The package is tired. I’ve been carrying it around. I got it squished under my arm so many times it’s shaped like my armpit. It’s still white-like, but the bow’s about to fall off.
It looks secondhand. It is. I found it in a garbage bin. It smells it too, like smoke and booze and sweat.
Never mind, the knife inside it is sharp. I checked. I sliced through a tree branch with a flick of the wrist. It’s an old hunting knife shaped like a fish, its scaly handle growing into a long, smooth, solid blade thick enough to cut through ribs.
I’m the hunter. I’m gonna get my kill.
Tonight or tomorrow, I’m gonna get him.
I make myself small. They like it when you’re small. Makes them feel big and strong.
I bend my good right knee a bit more and slump my shoulders.
“Got it wrong then. Sorry. When’s he on?”
She looks at me, her sharp eyes getting soft. I don’t matter; I’m nothing to worry about. I’m small and old and dirty. She’s sorry for me.
“I can’t tell you,” she says. “It’s against the rules.”
I rub my left eye, the one with the infection. It tears. “I just wanna thank him,” I say. “He helped my son; he’s a great doctor.” I look down and make myself smaller. “I have a gift for him.”
I show her the box again.
She breaks. She looks at the papers and says, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow at 9. He’ll be here.”
I rub my eye and thank her. I leave slowly, limping on the left like I always do.
I don’t rush until I’m out in the dark and I know she can’t see me. They can’t see me.
Tomorrow at nine.
This fragment is an excerpt from OVERDOSE, An ER Psychological Thriller, by Rada Jones MD. She is an Emergency physician in Upstate New York, where winters are long, people are sturdy and geese speak mostly French. She lives with her husband Steve and a black deaf cat named Paxil. Dr. Jones is also a 2018–2019 Doximity Author.
Image by Willowpix / gettyimages