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He commutes on the L train to 1st Avenue. Nursing school was obviously not Roberto’s first choice but the jobs are easy to come by and they pay well. Plus the benefits are invaluable, especially since the first one was born. And there are more on the way. He poked the orange with the syringe and all that nursing school crap, even as his friends at the bar would laugh at their childhood mate, the male nurse. So unprepared he was, only two weeks into his first job at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary on Second Avenue. The sight of a roach bathed in yellow ear wax. “Ayudeme, ayudeme.” With broken toothpicks down sensitive internal canals. “Ayudeme, ayudeme.” Dried blood and more blood. Gasping for air, Roberto lowers his shoulder into the last door to freedom. He Rips his surgical mask from his face and doubles over. Second Avenue traffic hurdles by. “I can’t do this,” he tells himself as he lets the mask fall to the sidewalk.

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