'Shit', he said to himself at the thought of spending another hour, junk-sick, at the hospital whose environment depressed him.
He had to wait for another hour in order to get his daily allotted shot of methadone.
He was in no hurry of course; he had nothing important to attend to, but the waiting was all the same depressing.
He hated waiting in general: waiting for a friend, waiting for an event, waiting in line for food at the army, waiting for 'the man'. And now, being junk-sick made it quadruple times worse. Junkies are one of the rare people who always live in the present. The only time they live in the future is when they're waiting for the next fix.
What was the junkie doing right then? He was waiting; he was trying to live as far as the methadone shot he's due for. And after that? God knows.
He started wandering the corridors and wards of the multi-speciality hospital. When the security guard at the neonatal ward gave him a questioning look, he shook his head, whispering 'nothing'.
He entered the neonatal ward with both his hands inside his pockets, with the guard staring at him with the utmost engrossment, paranoid that the junkie might spring something upon him any second. The junkie didn't do anything of that sorts but the security guard maintained the same degree of heedfulness.
That was when the junkie noticed it. The small helpless, defenseless thing laying on a cradle, with a warmer hovering over it. It was pink and fragile. The first thing that came upon his mind was how it'd be to crush it like a little bug, back into the pool of primordial protoplasm. He chuckled at the thought.
He might've have done it if he weren't too afraid of touching the baby in the first place.
The Ward Nurse was looking at all this with not a hint of worry on her face. She didn't move. She was just staring at the junkie; at what he's gonna do next. She looked like she had everything under control, with a pristine and authoritarian smile, just like she had managed to maintain her composure when they brought home her son dead.
The junkie shuffled to approach the cradle, looking cautiously and nervously at both the indecipherable nurse and the frozen security. He looked at the baby for a while, then muttered his courage and touched its left hand with his needlemarks-laden pale serpentine junkie hand, like a pseudopod of an amoeba engulfing its prey. The child withdrew its hand suddenly on the touch, which made him jump and swerve his fingers like recoiling tendrils of a carnivorous plant. He was startled. He exclaimed 'ooo!', smiling embarrassingly at no one in particular. He took his hand again and touched the baby's right hand. The baby reflexively held his index finger, encircling it with its fingers and palm. The junkie was a little surprised by the sudden intimacy that got established between himself and the baby. He had to brag about it immediately. He looked at the nurse, smiling and pointing at the finger the baby had grasped. The nurse retained the pristine and authoritarian smile. Then he turned to the nervous security guard, who tried and failed an attempt to smile.
The junkie touched and caressed the baby and appreciated its smoothness. He had a contended smile which his face almost forgot it could still make. It might have also been a giggle.
The nurse kept on staring at all this.
Tears started pooling up in her eyes, her face turned red, lips trembled and on the verge, she muttered something inaudible. Then she shook herself and retained the old placidity. The baby started crying and a nursing student took the baby away for feeding it.The security guard had wandered off to chase the pigeons from the corridors.
The nurse let him stand there as long as he wanted, giving him the same unmodified expression. The junkie didn't know what to do. He opened and closed his mouth like a thirsty chicken, then turned around and started shuffling back to the methadone counter.