I slept six hours and woke up feeling exhausted. My eyes were dry and all I could think about was going back to bed. The thought of being wrapped in swadling, head resting on my pillow, visions of sugarplums …so compelling. But although I gave it a go, there was no going back to sleep. I had slet, my body knew it, and was apparently enforcing some sort of policy upon me in which I was not going to be allowed to return to my dreams. Not that I recalled having any. It’s a figure of speech. So, feeling a bit testy I rose to greet the day. “Bite me,” I said to it. Some greeting.
I went to my computer and saw that I had accumulated quite a few messages in the 15 hours since I last checked. Very little of it was spam, thanks to the filters I have in place, but I have to admit that about half of the messages could have easily been dumped into the junk folder and I wouldn’t have argued the logic. About two thirds of my mail is actually forum based; maillists dedicated to particular subjects like Multiple Myeloma, veterans and a couple of schools I attended. Delete, delete, delete. I dispatched after scanning a number of the maillist messages, they were droning on and on about the kind of subjects that never change or die. They just mount the ruiing wheel like a frenetic gerbil and go endlessly on and on covering no new ground.
But then I came to a group of mails that discussed chronic pain. About half of them were authored by those who’d never felt more pain than a stubbed toe or a hangover headache, yet they were dominating the conversation. They were professing that if they were subjected to pain they wouldn’t sit around or complain about it, they would avail themselves of appropriate medication, kill the pain and keep their discomfort to themselves. “People who claim pain stops them from living a normal life make me sick.” said a list member.
In blackface and jet black clothing I crept through the nighttime darkness. It was warm out, and as I’d hoped, I found an open window. Slowly raising it, I slid into the home and paused listening to the sounds of the house. The gentle breath of an air conditioner sighed softly. The wooden structure made an occasional tick noise as gravity caused a never ending settling. A ranch style house, I made my way down the long hallway that tied the various bedrooms together. Carefully opening the door to one of them, I saw the outline of my prey as she lay in bed sleeping. I thought again about her comments on people in chronic pain and how they made her sick and it firmed my resolve. In an instant I was on her, wrapping duct tape around in a gag. She was awake and frightened and tried to wrestle away from me but I struck her jaw sharply with a fist and she grew still. Even in the dark I could see the fear in her eyes. Good, I thought. Very good. I grabbed the knife and blowtorch from my bag. The tape prevented her screams from being heard as I…
There’s a cruel streak in me that wishes that those who pontificate about those in pain needing to have a stiff upper lip would be forced to live with severe, chronic pain for a time. Fortunately, there is a stronger streak in me that finds pain so terrible as to not wish it on another human, regardless of circumstances. Still, pain is the best educator about itself; those who experience pain know just how powerful it can be, and those who don’t experience it don’t. I have personally known three people who ended their lives because of the pain they suffered. While they were good friends and I miss them terribly, I take a great deal of solace that they no longer feel the pain that so oppressed them. I understand about the fear that pain creates as well, because I experience it. I’m very frightened to know that the pain I feel will escallate as time passes unless some miracle comes along and I’m not much of a believer in miracles. So I can understand those who, in the anticipation of their pain becomming amplified, end their lives. I strongly and irrevocably support the few states with Death with Dignity laws in effect and I’m glad I live in one of them. It has always been incomprehensible to me that we will euthanize animals to prevent tortuous pain, but somehow think it’s proper that humans should suffer.
I closed the valve and the blowtorch expired with a fwit! noise. I collected up the branding iron, knives, vice-grips, chainsaw, hedge clippers, sledge hammer, hay hooks, and other tools of education I’d used. Soon they would be strewn across miles of ocean floor real estate. I at last removed the duct tape and was rewarded with the low moans and keenings I recognized as the symphony written by pain. The instruments of the orchestra had played so many times in me before and would again, and I knew that I had saved this person from ever again having to experience sickness at the thought of someone elses discomfort.