I'm sitting on the train platform, waiting for the M train to take me back to Ridgewood. I love the M train, it's one of NYC's hidden treasures. Not really but it beats the shit out of the L, at least during the week. I don't work for the MTA but they pay me $60 every six weeks to mention the M train to at least 40 people so I figured I'd get that out of the way with this opening paragraph here.
Anyway there I am, outside, it's pretty deserted, it's nice out, oh I should mention that the JMZ is an elevated train line in Brooklyn/Queens (just for all you people who live elsewhere) so yeah I'm outside, in the shadow of the most frightening-looking hospital I've seen in the United States, Woodhull. It's the facility that serves Bushwick and Williamsburg, I believe (although I think they're building some sort of white-person-gas-pains Urgent Care center over on Metropolitan).
"Serves" is a loose term; although I have never been in there myself (through some miracle I have only been in Wyckoff Heights and Kings County hospitals), I and probably everyone I know has heard a story from a friend who walked in with, like, an earache and left three days later in a wheelchair. The building itself looks like a spacecraft from a dark future, some industrial freighter that has temporarily touched down to harvest mineral ores and will at any moment rumble and lopsidely roar into the sky.
A woman comes through the turnstiles and walks over to the bench I'm sitting on and sits two seats away from me. I notice that her shoelaces are untied, in fact they look like they've just been re-laced. She rolls up her sleeve and I see the hospital wristband, even as she brings it up to her mouth and starts biting at it. She rips it free from her arm, in between her teeth, and spits it out in front of her, breathing a heavy sigh of relief.
Psych ward. Back on the streets.