The hospital appointment card floated into the bin like a mini Concorde. The envelope it came in had URGENT written in red letters front and back. I scrunched that into a ball and flung it with the other rubbish. It was four thirty. Katie was due home in an hour. I rolled up the dressing gown sleeve on my right arm, picked up the loaded syringe and pressed the needle against the flesh above my wrist, just past the Silvermesh join.
Silvermesh--my perfect hand, like a mercury glove. After the operation, I thought of it as my bad hand, as if the mashed remains of my bones hid under the metallic sheen. I couldn't move it, just lay watching it twitch for a week. The doctors said full sensation should return. They were right about that at least. Then it became my good hand, my stronger, better than new, superhuman hand. I could crush a three-by-four beam, yet still feel the soft hairs on the small of Katie's back rise up at my touch. Now it wasn't good or bad, just spreading.
I pushed the needle into my vein. Heroin loaded my system and I dropped back on the bed. Junkie Joe saves the Silvermesh kid again.
"Clint? You home?"
The ceiling spoke and my eyes opened. "Shit." I rolled off the mattress and swept the needle and gear onto the floor and under the bed. The strap around my bicep slipped off easily. I shoved it into the bin and pushed the appointment card and envelope to the bottom then slumped back against the dresser. The door opened and Katie came in, her long streaked hair wet on her shoulders.
"Bloody Belfast traffic doesn't know if it's coming or going. It just sits there. Like we never get rain for Christ's sakes." Her head tilted sideways. "You all right? Back early again?"
I pushed myself up. "I was tired, I took a shower."
"So I see." She sidled over to me, slipped her hands through the join of my dressing gown and around my waist. Her teeth pressed down on her lower lip. "Are you hungry?" She kissed me before I could say no. Her hands moved lower and she kissed my neck. "Are you hungry, carpenter man?"
"I'm kind of tired still."
She pulled back and tightened my dressing gown around me. "Sure." She sat back on the bed and nodded at my hand. "What's it like today?"
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