Detroit, January 1997

In a haze of sleeplessness, I open the door to the general-surgery call room (aka “the Garage”) just after midnight. I’m one of two third-year medical students on this call team, and if I arrive first, I might be able to avoid the bunks with the most creased sheets and the pillows with head indentations still on them. The entire general-surgery team sleeps in this one room, with its messy bunks for eight and its odor of stale bodies. That is, we sleep during free moments, in rare fits, interrupted by pagers beeping and the door opening with a flash of light and closing with a loud click.

Climbing to an upper bunk, I get beeped: Code 1.

“Fuck, another gunshot victim,” I mutter.