Before anyone can get up, there is a total eclipse. Emanuel’s hulking figure has emerged from his office and is now standing in the door like a blackhole sun. All the guys are silent. There’s no horseplay. The football is no longer being tossed in the air. Even crazy Baz looks as clear-eyed and respectful as a deacon.
The Day Hospital is not really a hospital. Not even a ‘hospital.’ It’s just a large one-floor building like you might see on any college campus. Having cleared the last step of the staircase, I’m standing on new ground, facing the entrance. The first thing I notice are the doors—normal glass doors like any office building would have—not the heavy locking double-doors I’ve become used to. Inside there’s a long hallway with a desk at the far end. I roll along with my stuff past closed doors with little signs that say things like “Anna’s Group,” “Claire’s Group,” “Drea’s Group,” then past what looks like the entrance to a large auditorium. It reminds me of the first day of elementary school, walking through the long hallway looking for a room with my name on the door and feeling lost. I guess hearing ‘hospital’ made me think of zombies hooked up to some kind of anti-junkie machine, calibrated perfectly to eradicate each one’s particular longing. The only piece of medical equipment I do see--sitting unused on a battered old thrift-store table--is an automated blood pressure cuff, like the ones they have at pharmacies. There’s a woman behind the desk, older, but with large red-framed glasses and a warm, open smile, and a lush paradise of platinum curls flowing around her head. Probably nice shoes too. She stands up and comes around the desk toward me. Tasteful weathered-brown slingbacks. I knew it. It’s a gift I have, you see.
I’m feeling completely hopeless and sorry for myself when I hear a noise from the hall that sounds like someone choking a goat. Bleeeeee-aaaakkkk, goes the sound. BLEEEEEEEEEEEE-AKKK. I wonder if Angel has gotten loose from the quiet room and is trying to kill someone. It’s too calm out there though. No Dr. Hush on the intercom, no staff running down the hall. The sound comes again louder. --BLEEEEEEEYAKKKKKKKKKKKKKK--