The Medicine Line
- shit...is it already 4:57 pm? why does time have to move so fucking fast when you don't want it to?
in just three minutes he would have to put on his shoes, leave the confines of his room and join the pack (the herd?) for his medication. slinging his body (already weary and tired from withdrawal symptoms) to the side of the bed and shuffles his shoes on. he takes one last look at the insanely yellow walls of his room, at the silverfish mating and partying in his bathroom (the facility is none too clean) and, with a huge, hefty sigh opens his door to the world of recovering addicts.
slowly descending the stairs (withdrawal has a way of making the whole body ache) he rounds to corner with a sick feeling in his stomach. sure enough the dingy hallway is already packed with recovering addicts (in various stages of recovery) waiting for their medication.
- who's last, he asks despondently.
someone unenthusiastically raises their hand and he shuffles behind that person, leaning up against the dirty wall to alleviate some of the fatigue and aching that seems to permeate every muscle in his body.
there are two doors. two "stations". and about 30 people. there is no discernible line. even if one could get grumpy, grouchy addicts into some semblance of a line there wouldn't be enough room for that line to adequately form. instead, there is a cluster of people, the really old or the really confrontational sitting while the remainder are standing, alternatively leaning against the walls or the railings, trying to get their bodies into some sort of stance that would mitigate the pain they feel.
- I hope it goes somewhat fluidly today, he half-heartedly thinks, knowing that it would be like every other time. rather than a flow of people entering and exiting the medicine room it would be a staccato rhythm with endless gaps of time in between patients.
- there is nothing more depressing than standing here, he thought to himself looking over at a grossly obese man who was sitting in the first chair, about as close to the door to the medicine room as possible; his legs protruding from therapeutic socks plastered with webs of bluish and greenish (should veins have that colour) veins above two massive feet which sported sandals allowing full view of his bulbous uncut and yellowish toenails.
the left door (not his door) opened and he could feel the pack (the herd?) collectively rise in anticipation. the patient is barely able to exit the room when the next patient is already cramming himself inside with a frantic movement that belies a fear that someone else may try to usurp his position in line.
- at least I'm not like that, he thinks to himself, I'm not like those people that stand an inch from the door, breathing on the door handle, ready to pounce into the room like a predator on its prey. no, no, I'm a good patient. I wait at a respectable distance. why in fact, someone may consider my nonchalant...relaxed, he thought to himself with a rueful smile. yes, I'm not like them, I don- oh shit our door just opened! oh happy day that means that I'm one person closer, but how many people are in front of me? he tries to gauge the amount of people that could possibly stand between him and salvation only knowing the "last" person who raised their hand to him to indicate his place in the queue.
- who's last? this entreaty is asked at least another half dozen times as the stupid, interminable door stays closed for fucking ever.
- what in god's holy name could take so long to be given medication? he starts to wonder as the sick feeling again builds in his stomach. I mean you open up your hand, you get the fucking pills and you move the fuck out. you don't make idle chit-chat, you don't ask about your conditions, you just PUT YOUR HAND OUT and take your fucking medicine. that fucking simple.
the other door opens again.
- oh fucking great, he thinks to himself, the other line is moving. he was the type of person who got anxiety every time he got into a cashier's line at the grocery store. always taking his place with the near certainty that the other lines would move faster than his. always ready to dart to another line at the slightest indication that it could potentially be moving faster.
seeing the other door open and close with the rhythmic motion of people that knew how to stick out their hand and get their medication without idle chit-chat was maddening. more than that, it was deeply and personally unfair to him.
- don't they know I'm here waiting? waiting so nicely, so calmly, so serenely, look here I'm even putting my foot up against the wall as if I don't give a shit that the OTHER LINE IS MOVING SO MUCH FASTER.
but he wasn't the only one noticing the discrepancy in pace. some of the other patients at his station were starting to get restless. pacing around yet always trying their best to keep as little distance between them and the door that would open up for their medication.
hours and days and lifetimes went by then his door opened again. a tiny, ash-white lady who had literally been hovering over the door knob darted in before the other patient could even leave the room. the door slammed.
- at least it's moving. how long have I been here? he looked down at his watch and saw 5:13 pm. impossible he thought to himself, again the relativity of time being his greatest nemesis.
eons, eras, decades, generations, go by. time wastes away at him.
- what in god's holy name could that small frail woman be doing in there? what on earth is taking so long?
the other door was opening and closing with the smooth efficiency of people who actually cared about others. he was certain that his station was populated only by people that had no regard for others. who would go into the medicine room to banter about time and the river. but he was not the only one who noticed. and trouble was brewing.
one man, with thick, heavy eyebrows that were always furrowed in anger (a self-described rageaholic in one of the meetings) was pacing around, running his hand through his thinning hair muttering. it would only be a matter of time before he exploded. tick, tick, tick, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. the man was now pounding on the fragile wooden door with the open palm of his hand.
- HEY, HEY, what gives? what's going on?
the door opens and the fragile woman darted out and just as the angry man was about to enter a booming voice came forth.
- HEY what do YOU think you're doing, I'M NEXT.
- oh fucking great he thinks to himself, we have a kerfuffle in the order of the line. the booming voice came from none other than the heavy-set man, with the therapeutic socks and near gangrene feet who was now laboriously lifting his girth out of his chair, leaning heavily on his cane, face beet-red not only with exertion but also outright rage and anger.
- I'M NEXT, I'M NEXT came the exultations between gasps of air.
- NO, I'M NEXT, I WAS STANDING RIGHT HERE (as if proximity to the door itself indicated placement in the queue)
the orderly, who was now standing at the door wanting to know what was holding up his line shrugged indifferently and the angry man pushed his way in slamming the door.
bellows of indignation came from the large man who started kicking the door with his misshapen hooves in a wild delirium of indignation.
the door stayed closed.
- that's it! the large man opens the door and barges in right as the angry man slides out with a smug, self-satisfied smile creasing his lips.
- you're turn he said in response to the man's impotent rage.
- hey FUCK YOU the large man yells at the angry man for a moment forgetting that he was about to get what he had been waiting for all along. no, the medicine could wait now, now he had to yell and make his indignation known. nobody treated him this way! nobody! having emptied his vitriol to a sufficient degree the large man then turned and entered the medicine room.
months and years go by.
- how long have I been here? cooly leaning against the wall as if none of this bothered me? he looked down at his watch 5:25 pm. a full 25 minutes had passed. his thoughts started to scramble as they tended to do when he was getting to the point of losing his much worked on decorum and composure. thinking about all the lose and evil and heartbreak this addiction had caused him all to have him end up standing here, in this god forsaken medicine line with god forsake people in a god forsake hellhole of a facility. yeah, those moments of god-like feeling when the alcohol kicked in were surely worth the loss, the suffering, the pain, the agony and standing in this cluster of despair.
the door opened. the large man laboriously made his way out. the crowd shuffled, yet right as the next person was about to set foot into the medicine room the orderly says, "one moment please" and closes the door.
the herd (the pack?) turned in on itself. what in god's name are they doing now? and of course the other station's door was opening and closing and that station only had 3 or so people left and here we were waiting like cattle, oh the indifference, oh the humanity.
he could feel the collective sweat gathering amongst the patients. the anxiousness rising to a fever-pitch with every minute that the door stayed closed.
- what on earth are they doing in there? he thought to himself. have they no regard for human suffering? how can they be so callous. he imagined them laughing at the sickly patients waiting for their medicine, laughing and chatting about their normal, everyday lives peppered with stories of the unimaginably sickening patients to enter their medicine room.
- HELLO!!!! BOOM BOOM BOOM a slight woman who didn't seem like she had the strength to pound as loudly as she was currently doing was slowly starting to slip into insanity.
- HELLO!!! FOR GOD'S SAKE, WHAT ON EART- the door opened, the orderly looked as if he hadn't heard a peep, with a casual smile he spread his arms and ushered the slight woman in.
moments later he door opened again, ah at least this slight woman. had some compassion for her fellow compatriots.
- one moment please, the orderly said again and closed the door again without admitting another patient.
this was too much. he could no longer casually stand against the wall calmly and nonchalantly, it was 5:37 pm, he had been waiting for over a half an hour, what kind of despicable dereliction of duty would turn a 10 minute affair into such a long arduous tri- the door opened. the pack (the herd?) stared at him feverishly. in all of his loss of composure he had forgotten that the slight woman had been the one who had raised her hand to indicate his place in line.
he pranced inside. bliss entered every pore of his body. finally. finally. he held his hand out to the indifferent nurse. pills plopped into his hand. he filled the paper cup with water. throw it back, swallow. done.
time for dinner.