When a pair of ski-masked men walk into the country hospital, guns drawn and saying Do what we say and you won’t get hurt, nobody knows how to react at first. People break out of their slouch-shouldered waiting-room purgatories to sit up straight and goggle at the intruders. They can’t believe it. Robbing a hospital? For fuck’s sake, this isn’t a bank or a pharmacy, there are sick people here, show some fucking respect—everybody wants to say this but of course nobody does because one thing that a gun commands is respect.
Read: silence. Read: nurses handing (or rather hauling) over the locked boxes. There are two of them, and that’s enough: they’re heavy, made of white metal, whatever’s in them clanking and clattering around like loose bones. The people in the waiting room can practically read the thoughts on the robbers’ swaddled faces, eyes glinting with the anticipation of glut. These aren’t sharps containers, or those plastic boxes imprinted with the biohazard symbol that hold everyone’s leftover icky bits. Nah, these babies are locked.
Locked means precious. Locked means something you need to get into.
When the robbers get home, they have to bend over backwards to get those things open. There are two keyholes right at the front of both boxes, but hey, dumbasses: you forgot to ask for the keys. Waving a gun around eats up a surprising amount of adrenaline, makes brain cells wonder what they were put on this earth for in the first place.
It takes some determined wrestling with a pair of pliers and a hammer before they break the first of the boxes open. There are no drugs. No bottles of pills, no full-to-bursting syringes or anything of that palliative nature, just row after row of urine containers. Pee cups. The kind you piss into at the doctor’s office and inevitably end up getting your hand wet. The second box is crammed with countless vials of blood. Some of them have broken, and their biohazard red leaks into the cracks in the kitchen table.
These two men at the table, they’re vultures at a ruined feast. They stare and stare at the containers and then after a while, they’re not even sure why, they take them into the restroom and empty them into the blocked-up bathtub, one after the other, until the bathtub is full and red and the entire apartment smells like pennies and metal. Salt and ammonia. They look into the liquid like they’re palm readers breaking open a hundred sweaty fists, like they’re astrologers with a whole arsenal of birth charts and tarot cards. They look into it like it might tell them something about themselves they don’t already know.