Before it grew too big to lift, the hospital could have moved to a better neighborhood or invested in its neighbors. Instead it pushed out handymen and cleaning ladies and street hawkers like my uncles and nudged their tilting houses down, clearing room to stretch out one expansive wing after another, each named for a rich benefactor, north and south along the boulevard. Then, when the dispossessed had no place to go, it paid them to submit themselves to research, or didn’t pay them, or snatched up subjects after dark and ran its experiments to better mankind, if not us. My aunt said Uncle John was used in terrible ways before he died, but she wouldn’t talk about it. She didn’t have to: we had comic books; we’d seen twisted science in the movies. Knowing we were suggestible, our mothers invoked the night doctors to keep us off the streets after dark. Of course, no one could corroborate the rumors while we were kids, but we grew up paying the hospital, more than it deserved, a respect that was not all fear. Then my life occurred and promptly stalled. I got sick and made a career of it that outlasted every remedy. I am in need of the night doctors. Soft spotlights rub the face of the hospital after dark. Traffic lights cycle while past this low bench vacant men walk with extraordinary care, feeling the ground ahead of them before setting their feet down to cross the street. Whatever I have is no more credible, except to me, than the stories old wives tell after their husbands flee. I need someone daring to take me in, someone who isn’t afraid to break a few eggs. If need be, I’ll even go in through the front door.

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