We're at a hospital emergency room - no emergency for us, my mom's a doctor and she's consulting about something. It's 4 pm on a Wednesday - after school. I'm in the waiting room - playing chess on my iPhone. I hate standing around in hospital areas with my parents (both doctors) listening to endless medical-trade jargon.
The ER room is almost empty. A wino-******-looking guy comes in and sits across from me about two seats down to the left. I'm ignoring him, for the most part, but he's all shaky and his fidgeting draws my eye now and then.
After a couple of minutes, I think he's watching me.
Yep, he's pretty much staring at me, shaking, tapping his right heal like he’s sending Morris code to the aliens and wiping his mouth with a ball of toilet paper.
And NOW we've made eye contact - he smiles - two or three of his front teeth are missing. I return my eyes to my phone and try to concentrate on my game.
But he's staring at me, I can feel it.
I put my phone in my lap and look at him for a moment. What sad humanity.
His head is sort of nodding - like "I see you seeing me" with a slight grin.
"Why do you do it?" I ask, in a quiet voice, sitting up a little straighter.
His head bobs backwards in surprise - "Do what?" he slurs innocently.
I roll my eyes, to say, ok, never mind and start to bring up my phone.
"I just like it", he says, with a little wheeze and a touch of attitude. "Better than anything else"
I nod, to say "OK" Then after a second I go back to my game.
My mom comes out a couple of minutes later and naturally, I get up to leave with her. I pause and look back at the.. ***??
"Good luck", I say,
He sort of half waves
My mom holds up her hand a little to encourage me to come on with her.
As we go through the automatic glass doors she gives me the side-eye.
"He IS a person", I say defensively.
Three beats later, we both say, at the exact same time, "A ******* UP person!"
"Jinx!!" I say a millisecond before her. I give a savage fist-pump-of-victory.
"I want Ice cream" I say.
We both grin as the car unlocks.
a story about an Emergency room wait