(This was written on 18th April 2010. I'm finally moving it from drafts to published in the hope that seeing it online will goad me to pick it up and finally complete it.)
He lived with one mantra- Give each day your best. One day at a time. Fine, two. He woke up with one and went to bed with another. He woke up today thinking positive thoughts as prescribed to him by his spiritual quack. He suspected his quack suffered from some personality disorder or schizophrenia or some other mental mumbo jumbo for he changed ways as often as the weather changes its mind in Springfield. But he deduced that could come from what his quack called "transcending spiritual and metaphysical boundaries" or maybe he was just a big old oaf making much money selling out the inner gods. He stopped himself from thinking too much about it. He had a long day ahead of him and he really needed to get started.
His first customer for the day was a Mrs. Mamona Aergias. She lived alone in a single storied small house on the street behind the supermarket and opposite the theatre. He hoped this time she would listen to him long before dozing off on the table. He rang the bell. There was no answer for a full one minute, he counted. He rang the bell again, two in a row, and was about to complete a set of three when the door opened, and a face hidden behind layers of fat poked itself through the gap.
"Good morning, Madam. I hope today would be a good day. Here, have some coffee." With that he nudged the door open and entered.
Mrs. Aergias eyed the coffee with distaste. She wanted to go back to sleep, but she could never refuse a free offering. She pulled her robe around herself, took the coffee and plonked herself on the couch and switched on the news. He sat himself down across her on another seat and thanked an unknown god that Mrs. Aergias was too lazy to go and get her TV repaired of the sound problem. All they heard was a low droning sound and watched as the reporter showed them a midget with a beard that reached his feet. The midget was apparently trying to set a record for growing hair that was five times his height.
"So, have you thought about it?", he asked.
She shook her head distractedly.
"Well, let me go over it again with you Mrs.Aergias. What I have here is a thing that could solve all of your problems and make you a more complete, wholesome human being. You would do good not just for yourself, but for those around you. Dolorium1618 is the solution to all our problems. Imagine this, you wake up and have this severe pain plaguing your mind and body and soul. What would you do?
"Take a pain-killer"
Exactly. What if there was no pain-killer that killed it?
Mrs.Aergias shot him a look filled fury and dread. Why would the man just not leave her alone?
"I don't know"
"See... There's no real pain killer."
"Ahh.. There's no real pain then either," she chuckled at her own marvellous wit and logical deduction.
"There's no real pain killer, but there's real pain. There's pain when you can't hear your favourite talk show host bitch about the latest model. There's pain when you have to stand an hour in line to buy your favorite brand of bacon. There's pain when you want to talk but there's no one around. There's pain when you have to wake up every day and wade through life's small, but plenty, futilities.
"The only way to deal with it is to embrace it. Pain will make you stronger by pushing you to act. By pushing you to harness your energies and channelize them in the right direction. Hence Dolorium1618. Start with 4 pills a day, you will have to do something about the pain. It will wreak havoc inside you. You'd be forced to go out and about and seek help. At the same time, you will learn to accept it, understand it, make it your friend. How's the coffee?"
"Not half as bad as I thought it would be"
"Do you think you want to come on our free trial programme then?", he laid subtle emphasis on the word free, making it come out casually, as if it was part of the deal doled out to all customers.
Again Mrs.Aergias seemed to struggle between two extremes of wanting, and she knew she would succumb. She was a woman who would take death if it told her there was nothing she would have to do to be dead. He almost believed that she would embrace death more enthusiastically if it came her way because there was nothing to do after that, nothing that she knew of yet. And hence, it was even more important that he converted this one before she chose the easier way out.
- To be continued. (hopefully soon enough)