The monotonous beat of Boyz n the Hood–era gangsta rap hammered him as he climbed the stairwell to the fourth-floor landing. At 4-A the shrieks of the perpetually crying baby cut through the rap music. Poor guy probably had colic, but the dim-witted mother wouldn’t know colic from cauliflower. At 4-C the stench of fried fish seeped under the door, as it did every night. At 4-E he took out his keys and turned the first of three locks.
A frenzy of vicious barking and growling exploded from the pit bull across the hall. David jumped, his heart racing as the noise blasted up and down the corridor. Claws digging at metal made his teeth ache. “You pink-eyed albino son of a bitch. Where were you last week when 4-H was robbed?” He’d love to get the hideous monster into the lab and perform a laryngectomy. He gave the dog the finger.
Once his heart rate dropped out of the death zone, David turned the second lock but hesitated before turning the third. This moment—walking through the door and facing his dad—was the hardest part of each day. He loved his father, but tension between David the compassionate son and David the detached caregiver was wearing him down. Hal McBride had gone from larger-than-life hero to demented five-year-old, and David didn’t know how to handle it. Medical school had prepared him to deal with disease, but not when it lived under the same roof. He promised himself that tonight the compassionate son would rule, not the frustrated caregiver. He turned the key and went inside.
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