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    Tony O'Neill

    2. The Doctor Takes A Walk and 3. Not Quite Joe Meek

    By Tony O'Neill

    The Doctor sits in a toilet stall in a shopping mall under a short-circuiting blue light meant to stop him shooting up, which is practically useless against a junkie who had put in so many years perfecting his art. Strictly for amateurs and kids shooting up their first hit of Robitussin DM, he thinks, sneering to himself, as he slips the loaded syringe from his dirty overcoat pocket. He knows his veins as intimately as someone who spends a lifetime in New York or London would know the underground transit lines. Even under the eyestrain-blue glow he can see them mapped out like one of those charts in a doctor’s waiting room. He ties the handkerchief around his upper arm and rolls his shirt sleeve up. He concentrates hard and wills the blood to find its way around his ailing system and into the diversion created by the needle. The mind trick works: blood floods into the syringe and, ripping the handkerchief off of his arm with his teeth, he unloads the hit into his bloodstream. His usual stoic calm floods him. Today is a special day—it is his granddaughter’s birthday.

    He has an address but nothing more. The last time he had so much as spoken to his daughter she told him that he should have nothing to do with either of them. He imagines her clearly though, a laughing little girl with dark hair and large round eyes, dancing over a suburban lawn in a light summer dress. . . . Every year he sends a present and every year he hears nothing. He has never attempted a more overt form of contact. He is too old, and in a way he likes things the way they are, even though it makes him feel sick late at night sometimes. Human interaction is a messy business and this relationship with a five-year-old girl he has never seen has proved to be one of the most lasting of his life. The Doctor is an old man, and by junkie standards he is practically a walking miracle. He has no time for drastic changes left. . . . Read More.

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