Part 2 – A Welcome Pleasure

“What has Dr. Cooper told you about me?”

“He only told me what you have just proved to me yourself. And that is all I need to know, Mr. Burke. You seem to have the right mindset. You don’t find many people like yourself nowadays. This is a shame, but I suppose it only means that it requires a slightly more intensive search for the right person. I could have, of course, just invited anyone, but that would have diminished the fun tremendously. And as we have just established, Mr. Burke, I am a man of indulgence, and the greater the possible pleasure that can be attained, the more value I ascribe to it. It is mere pragmatism on my side: if I have to make the effort – if I have to endure the pain – then I naturally want the outcome to be significant.”

“The greater the pain you go through, the greater the pleasure you enjoy afterwards.”

“And I am anticipating immense pleasure from your company, Mr. Burke!”

“You are flattering me, Mr. Norton, and I apologise for the trouble you had to go through,” he joked, and nearly choked on his drink. He coughed until his eyes started to water, then snorted with laughter and resumed “I hope you appreciate my practical example of pain at this very moment. I admit the anticipation of pleasure,” he coughed, “makes it so much easier to endure!”

Mr. Norton roared with laughter. He patted his visitor on the back, saying “you are the living example of how pleasurable pain can be, Mr. Burke! Just watching you in agony grants me an incredible sense of pleasure!”

“I must say you are rather cruel,” joked the young man after he had recovered from his fit. “This is a whole new kind of taking pleasure in other people’s pain. Enjoying Schadenfreude does not only make you a pragmatic, but a lazy one on top! It means you are feeding on the discomfort you accidentally encounter, without even making the effort of inflicting it yourself. Like – ”

“ – Like a vulture?”

“Like a vulture!”

“Oh dear Mr. Burke, yes, yes you are absolutely right. But I hear disapproval in your voice, my friend. I hope you don’t mind my calling you this, friend. I believe that once one person has been in the position of giving another person the kind of pleasure you just gave me, a certain intimacy has been established that allows, no requires, the term friendship. Hence, Burke, my friend, I would argue that there is a place for everything, ha, what am I saying? A purpose for everything! The vulture is a highly underestimated creature. It is detested by most firstly for its appearance, but even more so for its association with death. It feeds on what is left behind, on what is deemed waste and decay. I consider the scavenger a very intelligent animal. It finds treasure where others see dirt. It cleans up after others, who wastefully desert what could still be a feast! Now please consider this: if we have to inflict pain to gain pleasure, why not use the pain that’s already there and turn it into something good? Everything else would be wasteful! Think of the balance we have to maintain! Wouldn’t it be crueller of me to cause you pain for my own purpose than just to enjoy what you have entirely brought upon yourself? And in the end we would both be profiting from your suffering. If you think of it, Burke, it would be rather selfish of you not to share the satisfaction we could both have from your little discomfort.” He smirked at the young man, who jestingly raised his left eyebrow in approval.

“I see, Norton, there is no arguing with you.”

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