City Intersection, Chapter Two – Zero Dollars

I’m quite enjoying this one. Gotta say, Durarara!! (and Baccano!) inspired me a good bit with this story, especially the mix of the supernatural into a contemporary setting.

Real life also inspired me quite a bit. I just spent a little while in Philadelphia, which is more or less where the city setting came from, and while I was there I did, in fact, cut my pinkie finger pretty badly, requiring a three-hour trip to the hospital, thirteen or so ccs of lidocaine, three stitches, many ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and plenty of kratom. And props to a friend named Hannah for helping a ton throughout the process. (And being the source of Hannah’s name.)

(And no, I wasn’t on ketamine.)

~

Ketamine gets to you, very quickly. One moment you’re coming down, getting to grips with reality once again, then you find yourself snorting another bump and rocketing off into the dissociated chaos of Special K.
I found myself glad I was on it, though. Well, partially glad. Being on anything that noticably affects your fuctioning while at a hospital can be rather unnerving. Especially if it’s a hospital you’ve never been to before. Despite that, though, it works very well as an anaesthetic, which is what I needed at the time, especially given my hatred of lidocaine.
I suppose I should explain how the hospital trip started. It’s always a little difficult for me to tell when night – and dreams – begin and where they end, exactly. I’ve been buried in the k-hole since… Uh. Hmm. When did I start, exactly? I feel like there was some reason. Ah well, doesn’t matter. I’ve been buried in the k-hole for a long time, is the point. One can’t be nigh-continuously on basically any substance for any amount of time without suffering at least some of the consequences. For ketamine, at least for me, it causes a bit of a permanent dissociation from reality. It’s a dissociative, obviously, but that’s just supposed to be the case while you’re using it. A side effect of my use, however, has been that that is now my permanent state of mind. At least, I’ve never been off it long enough to know otherwise.
I’m getting off track. Dissociation from reality, that’s all you need to know. Sometime during the night, whether in real life or in dream – ah, I guess it would have to be real life, given what happened, or at least what I thought happened, it’s hard to tell which is which any more – I got up to fill my mason jar with water. For whatever reason, I almost always keep this mason jar around, it’s pretty much the only glass I use any more.
What I had forgotten, though, was that earlier in the night I had been trying to warm up the glass by running it under hot water. Can’t really remember why I was trying to warm it up. Improved dissolution with heat, I imagine. But anyway, while I had been doing that, a crack had formed around the bottom of the glass. Nothing too bad, just a hairline crack circumventing it. The glass seemed to still work fine, though, so I guess I just forgot about it.
Too many words. Fucking a. Sorry, I’m new at this. I get a little too sidetracked in details. Point is, while I was refilling the jar in the middle of the night, the bottom fell off and the raw edge of the glass sliced through my pinkie finger.
Now bear in mind, I was more or less sober – chemically, at least – at this point. Also bear in mind that ketamine is an anaesthetic. I hadn’t really felt pain in… Well, however long it had been since I started.
Turns out, slicing a finger to the bone hurts a bit. But it hurts in a weird way when the object of laceration is sharp enough. You don’t feel the cut itself. But you feel the blood running down your hand and onto the carpet, and in a moment you start to feel the nerves screaming as they find out that they’ve been cut in half.
It sucked. I had forgotten what pain was quite like, and for a moment I was confused as the sensation hit me. But then the blood started covering the bathroom sink and floor, and I realized I needed to get to a hospital.
What’s funny, though, is that I actually reasoned with myself that I didn’t need to. I thought I was still non-sober enough that it was an overreaction. I tried to clean it off a bit with an alcohol swab, then roughly wrapped it up in toilet paper and fell asleep again.
In the morning, the toilet paper was soaked through, as were the sheets below it. I felt a bit lightheaded, though that could’ve been caused by any number of things, including a sort of “blood loss placebo”.
But I knew my previous inclination towards going to a hospital had been correct. I had no idea where one was, though, or how far away it would be. I didn’t have a car, either. I thought of Hannah. She had to be still in the city, and I had her cell phone number. I gave it a ring, and she picked up the second time I called.
“Who is this?”
“Lawrence. Look, I cut myself pretty badly last night and I’m pretty sure I need to go to a hospital. Would you, by any chance, be able to give me a ride?”
She sighed. “I guess. I’m out anyway. I’ll pick you up outside the hotel in five minutes.”
I hung up and threw on some clothes, then tapped out a bump of powder from my bag – don’t get high on your own supply, kids, use your own, or actually, don’t do drugs in the first place – and in a few moments I didn’t feel my finger any more.
I almost left the room, but really didn’t trust the hotel enough to leave my briefcase there, so I brought it outside with me. A minute later, Hannah pulled up and I stumbled inside.
She took one look at the toilet paper-wrapped cut – I had changed it earlier but it was already dripping, now, and half of the paper was disintegrating and falling in clumps wherever I walked – and drew in a breath of shock and disgust.
“Yeah, you need a hospital.”
We drove around for a bit, hoping to find a sign that would direct us on our way, but in the end we just had to pull over and ask for directions. The people we asked, a family who all looked freakishly similar, gave us directions and we headed out.
Ten minutes later we arrived at the hospital. Ten more minutes of wandering to figure out where we were supposed to go, followed by twenty minutes of waiting to be admitted, and I was laying on a sterile cot surrounded by all sorts of sterile things. That’s one thing that has always weirded me out about hospitals; the utter sterility and cold mechanical actions of care.
This one guy came in and cleaned up the cut, named Dave or something like that. He was older, but pretty friendly. An odd thing that stuck out to me about him was that he always called me “boss”.
After that we answered a few questions, then entered the obligatory waiting period of a hospital visit. Doesn’t matter that I came in through the emergency room. Doesn’t matter a bit. Two and  half hours we waited. We, meaning Hannah stayed with me through it all. I found it a little odd, we barely knew each other, but she seemed genuinely concerned and caring. I guess it was nice to have her there.
But two and a half hours. My ketamine began to wear a little thin, and I eyed my briefcase. They had let me bring it in without any questions, but I doubted I’d be able to get anything out of it without raising some eyebrows. Not to mention, Hannah had no idea what was in it either and I’d rather not get her involved.
At least the anaesthetic effects were still going strong. At the end of that two and a half hours, this guy named Patrick finally came in with a bottle of lidocaine and a stitching kit. As soon as I saw the bottle, I told him I’d rather not have it, that I’d be fine taking the pain. He frowned, but put it away without much more discussion. Three stitches later – three relatively painless stitches later, all I felt was the pressure of the needle – and Dave (or something like that) came back in and cleaned it up and bandaged it.
Turned out I wasn’t quite finished, though. I hadn’t had a tetanus shot in almost twenty years. A nurse came in with the needle, jabbed it into my shoulder, and was gone a moment later. I didn’t feel the actual shot, but tetanus itself is shit. Makes your shoulder swell up and ache and feel like general shit.
I had an insurance card. I couldn’t tell you where I got it or why it was still active, but it was just there in my wallet and they accepted it. After working through all the paperwork, Hannah and I stepped out of the hospital and were, immediately after, nearly run over by a Volkswagen van.

Imagine having every superpower imaginable. Being able to do anything you wanted, whenever you wanted.  It’d be great, right? Fantastic. You could have anything you wanted.
You’re a quite selfish person if that’s the case, if you think that would be great. At least, more selfish than Mr. Rennet Bennet.
Mr. Bennet was a bit troubled. At least, he always felt troubled. Objectively, though, he’d probably be considered one of the least troubled examples of humankind in all of history. He was completely self-sacrificial, would rather help anyone, anywhere, than care for himself.
You can begin to see why he would see his powers as a curse. Someone that others-centered, with all the powers in the world, would begin to see every accident and death that happened on earth as his fault. If only he had been there. If only he had been better. If only.
He had considered completely rejecting his powers. Never using them, blending in with normal people, turning a blind eye towards everything just like everyone else. But he couldn’t, he just couldn’t. He felt even more guilty.
But that’s not even the worst part, no. Ahaha, this guy is screwed for life, for eternity. He’s an immortal. He can’t just live out his days doing the best he can until he dies, he just has to keep going forever.
This guy, no joke, feels at fault for Lawrence’s cut. Can you believe this guy? But actually, for once, he managed to save someone. Two people, in fact; Lawrence and Hannah. And actually, in that one moment, the paths of all six outsiders crossed, for just one moment.

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