We are told to climb the white steps into the building. We cannot have travelled far, passing through the side gate, behind our lodgings, out of the courtyard and then, it seems to me now, distracted by those we were silently sizing up and interrogating. Perhaps the are highly suited to their purpose, and it seems the problem of suspicion can lead to man layers of incompetence in suspecting the motivations behind the activities of those at work, while we are rebuilding, all so fragile in doing so, all so ready to accept what is presented to us as real. The inside of the building I remember less vividly, but I recall its welcome, a smell of congealment, artificial cleanliness. Comforting in a way, like something reserved for the important, or something that was once commonplace and uniform. Another time, past, not there, not here, I did see a man try to run from a medic once, with a blood pipe in his arm. He was being kept alive, I think he felt, for something worse. It has a history, certainly, I confided in a comrade at the time, keeping a man alive and well so he can endure more suffering. For, I remarked, what use is pain if one gets used to it? Proportion can only come from perspective, and in times of great agony, only rest will prolong it. The man was easily tracked by his trail, a gory Ariadne. They were thankful that he did not bleed on something important, I remember. The consequence of human blood, spilling, almost too regretful to even contemplate. He was not a bad man, I remember thinking, but there are sides to things and he was not punished for running. Not in front of me at least, an example wasn’t made of him. But then I do not know what happened to him in the end. The nurses back then were indolent and cruel, and he was shouting that they had been trying to humiliate him by deliberately missing veins with their needles and that she had told him the syringe was infected with hep C. I don’t understand why he ran after the blood had been pumped, and not before. Because he had been strapped down. I remember. Now I remember why I remember. It would’ve been too late if true.
They want to be followed. I told myself that they did, and I did follow them. Once we entered the building it’s impossible to talk about the outside. I can talk about what I see, but what I see I see through blood-tinted glasses. There are no screams and everything is extremely tidy. There is no ulterior social agenda. The people working here, scrubs and clean whites and gloves, are earnest and forgiving and unfazed by death. They have no wounds on their bodies and just love in their eyes. They are trying to do their best and earn their share and go home. We are chained up, metaphorically, because it is impossible to step out of line and you have to walk in a single file. At each step we are encouraged to step onwards.
I was asked about my favorite foods, my personal history, and my past relationships. It didn’t help that I had none. I didn’t know my blood type, but then they said it was not necessary. Some things you just have to let other people know for you.
Inside the clean building there seems to have been some sort of preventative procedure performed. Why else ask questions of diet? I don’t recall its details. No lasting physical harm came to me. I left of my own volition. Nothing was said about it amongst others, like our training courses on conflict management or on pieces within the collections or workplace safety procedures, it seemed just another unfortunate and dreary piece of rigmarole amidst our responsibilities. Ill fortune to us that we thought it so, I suspect, now. The journeys to unmarked and nondescript medical facilities are not to be trusted as reputable encounters, and the workers who shepherd us there. It all frightens me, the way they are used to blood, and the return journey, passengers fatigued. I can never manage to speak more than they speak to me, I recall, sitting in the comfortable brown leather reclining chairs in the medical centre, patiently waiting for my number to light up the led board in red digits, to the nurses and doctors who are taking my blood. This stoicism on my part, which would normally be a fine thing, leaves me little from which I can recall the encounters. I am left dizzy afterwards. A coarse insult, to steal blood.