Deferred decision; delayed judgement. This was the way that the writer responded to being in pain. Submitting to the medical gaze would be sure to confirm what he suspected all along. Narrating this sensation and revealing it to others would surely lead to collapse. Endless hours twisted into years spent wrestling with the decision. Better to live with doubt than to surrender to the verdict. For the writer, the hospital constituted a place of absolute certainty. The certainty that the pain in his head was sinister. Crossing the threshold here would be the beginning of the end. It would put in motion the all-too familiar sequence of decomposition from diagnosis to failed treatment: from disease to decease. The force-field of the hospital was intense. Thoroughly embedded within the fabric of the city yet somehow removed, it was an otherworldly realm of entrance and exit. The tall, mottled orange brick building loomed on the horizon of the city. Twelve floors of strip-lit judgement. Next to it, pale yellow smoke silently drifting from the chimneystack of the hospital mortuary, calmly dispersing people who had responded to being in pain. This is where bodies melt away. This is where he would melt away if he came here. This was not a beacon of optimism or hope, but a place of sentence. Yet this place was unavoidable. He had no choice but to pass it on the number 11 bus every day on his way to college. He would choose a seat on the opposite side so he didn’t have to look. Eyes averted to prevent the hospital from grabbing him and taking possession. Fists clenched and heart beating fast. The wailing of an ambulance siren would set nerves reeling. The pain intensified and blood rushed to his face. Looking would bring him closer to this certainty. If he accidentally turned his head, he would see the signs which bore witness to painful procedures: oncology, radiology, accident and emergency. Each of them a powerful synecdoche, possessing a gravity that would engulf their hapless victims, dispatching them along a predictable but unstoppable trajectory. This place promised escape.