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By the time I got home my hand was starting to throb and I wondered what exactly I’d done. OK: buy gloves, learn to drive, get health insurance.

I should have had the cab take me to the emergency room back when we were still near the hospitals. I was tired and didn’t relish the thought of sitting in a waiting room thinking about cops or The Block or anything. But I was thinking, and what I was thinking was there were two possibilities here: one, that at least partly as a result of me Ziggy’d developed an insatiable craving for man-flesh, or two, that maybe I hadn’t been his first at all. Maybe the whole thing had been a huge lie. I didn’t know what he was doing out there tonight, buying, or selling. What had made me think he wasn’t sleeping with other men if he slept with other women? I don’t know. I doubted everything right now. I took some aspirin and went to sleep.

I woke up maybe five hours later with thin winter light coming in the window and my hand throbbing. My thumb was red and swollen like I’d been stung by a bee and moving it hurt. I was still in my clothes and went to the kitchen to stick my hand in a bowl of ice water.

I was sitting there, half asleep with my hand aching in a mixing bowl (not that anyone ever seemed to mix anything in it), when Christian came downstairs in a bathrobe with some hotel’s crest embroidered on the chest. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t know.”

“I could hear you cursing.” He stuck his head into the refrigerator and came out with a triangle of cold pizza in tin foil.

“Cursing?” I didn’t remember cursing specifically. “Must have been when I was trying to get the ice cube tray emptied.”

He sat down across from me and ate the pizza. “What did you do?”

“Oh, I banged it on the counter until all the cubes fell out.”

“No, stupid, to your hand.”

“I don’t know.”

“Got in a fight?”

“I…” I couldn’t figure out what to say about that. “What makes you think that?”

He shrugged. “Maybe it’s the black eye.”

My other hand went to my cheek which was sore to touch. “Jeezusgod.” I put my head down in the crook of my arm and my face hurt.

Chris came around my side of the table and lifted my hand out of the water. He tugged gently on my thumb and I bit my lip. “It’s probably sprained. You want to go to a doctor?”

“I don’t have a doctor,” I said, my voice weak.

He sighed. “You really are beyond coping, you know that?”

I nodded. When I pulled my thumb out of the ice it was still swollen and the bruise looked like it went clear through from my palm to the back of my hand.

“Jeezuschrist,” Christian said. “I think we better get you to the hospital immediately, as in, right now.”

“It’ll be okay…” I said out of reflex, but he hit me on the shoulder hard.

“Don’t be a dickhead about this, Daron, just listen to me. You could be seriously fucked here, man, do you know what I mean? Shit, Sean caught one finger in the door of the van two years ago and he’s still totally fucking…” He put his hands to his temples and gritted his teeth at me to make his point. “Does it hurt?”

“Fuck yes.”

“Keep it on ice. I’m getting dressed and then St. Elizabeth’s here we come.”

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