“24hr Pet Emergency” blares neon into the truck-sliding night, urgently red. The waiting room lights make everyone’s faces look pallid. Incurably ill. Blue keeps sliding to the floor, his limbs all soft and slack. His eyes are rolling back and mouth foaming at the edges – the kind of sticky white spit that almost looks like chewing gum. Rat poison. He starts falling floorwards again, so I grab a handful of rusty curls and pull him to me.
‘We’ll see you now.’
A sharp-nosed vet with warm brown eyes, she turns on her heel efficiently.
They pump his stomach and I fret in the waiting room, quietly tearing off strips of magazines and eating them. When the ambulance arrives, I don’t know what to tell them. He’s as good as dead when they haul him up into the back, hoodie soaked with spit and sick. They won’t let me call his Mum from the back of the ambulance, screaming through traffic to the hospital.
Mercy is not in their nature
the clean white socks that clasp their knees and lick their upper thighs are bought new weekly
their parents never did find a way to bleach all the blood out
they shadow the rims of their eyes so the sun can’t get in
and smoke their own haze effects hourly
mulching the cigarette butts with the tips of their school shoes
they have perfected the art of looking unobtrusive
arms snug over breasts, eyes down at the floor
ball gags and hot pokers for anyone who squeals
they say that they kill a man every full moon
and kick the shit out of all the rest
they call it ‘tenderising’ and smile their lipgloss grins