A small city-owned apartment. Usually they are filled to bursting, a honeycomb of micro-hoards straining against steel doors and cinder block walls. This one is different.

It still consists of the obligatory two rooms plus kitchen and bath; it’s still painted Institutional Cream; it’s only accessible via a smelly, undersized elevator. Instead of the usual hoard, its living room contains only three things: a television, an old wing chair, and Jenny.

She called 911, but I can’t imagine how as she writhes around in the chair, feet planted firmly on the floor. She stiffens and leans waaaaaaaay out to one side, then to the other while mumbling and whispering.

If you could even call it a whisper. “Help me,” she breathes over and over again, Scarlett O’Hara in a silent film.

She doesn’t really want our help, though. I’m not sure what she wants. She pushes the oxygen away, breathing “It doesn’t work.” She balks at the cardiac monitor, and she adamantly if quietly refuses the IV. “The last paramedics almost killed me with an IV.” We don’t pry for details.

We finally coax her onto the stretcher. She keeps demanding yet refusing our help, so the best we can do is a trip to Local Suburban Hospital. Maybe they will have better luck. As she steps aside, he feet reveal a pair of threadbare spots worn completely through the rug to the linoleum below.