Friday, December 04, 2009

The Procedure - 4

I was not the only one who was desperate to know what the privileged few had known, to see or feel whatever it was they'd seen or felt, to emerge reborn and so exalted. There were murmurs of discontent in bars and coffee shops, in work break rooms, in all the places where Nocs might huddle, glancing warily at the door each time it opened and hoping it wasn't one of those damned happy people. Have you tried to get it? we asked each other. Of course, have you? Almost everyone had petitioned at least one shrink for a referral, even those who'd never been to any kind of therapy and had previously considered themselves content and well-adjusted. Happy, even. Now a new misery had descended upon us. We wanted the Procedure.

It was not easy to get. Those with the sudden and tremendous power to refer patients to Dr. Herkimer had various reasons to be stingy with it. Some were skeptical of the Procedure. It was not documented in any reference book or journal, after all. Might there not be unintended side effects? Others were clearly jealous of Herkimer. They didn't want to admit that he could fix their patients when they could not.

You might think you'd have better luck if you found a psychiatrist who had undergone the Procedure. But that was not the case. In spite of their expertise, they were not immune to a flaw that seemed to be subtly infecting the Proc community at large: pride. They were the gatekeepers to a rarefied realm of boundless, exquisite ecstasy. Surely its inhabitants were special. Surely not everyone deserved to enter.