A small wrinkle in the way he held his head was the only open betrayal of his condition. The many colored papers he was studying were laid out in piles as he moved from one to the other, scouring each for some kind of clue. His serious but friendly face, rounded in a kind of smile, rarely looked up. It wasn’t until we had been at the bar for some time that we started chatting, innocently at first.
He gave his name as John, and slowly started talking about his mission. He had just been to a pain management clinic at the hospital, and there in front of him were all the secrets that help him shove his life, if not his back, into order once again. The car accident had done its damage, but pill after pill the magic that was supposed to help him cope had its own price. Liz and I listened intently because a slipped disk in her back had given her the same bottles that rattled in her purse and through her nerves.