“So, are you telling me Norton that if I were to hit you now I would actually be doing you a favour as I would be causing you pleasure?”
“That is, dear Burke, exactly what I’m saying.”
“But that, dear Norton, doesn’t make you a hedonist at all, but simply a masochist! A masochistic Schadenfreude enjoying vulture!” he laughed as he emptied his glass and put it down on the little side table next to the fireplace.
“Ha, Burke, if I didn’t see you smile I would almost think you are starting to despise me for my base preferences. But I feel you still don’t understand the concept for which I argue. I’m not a masochist at all, my friend, on the contrary. A masochist enjoys the physical pain that is inflicted on him, or even finds arousal in the mere anticipation of it. The ache, the submission, the powerlessness: that is what the masochist seeks, that is what causes him satisfaction. I, on the other hand, very much like to be in control. What I am trying to explain to you, Burke, is that you cannot possibly cause me pain, because it doesn’t exist in my world.”
“But does that mean, Norton, that if I were to hit you now you wouldn’t be feeling anything at all?”
“Oh, of course I would! I am a man made of flesh and blood and my nervous system seems to be working perfectly fine, just like anybody else’s. Even though I have to admit that it is dulled from time to time due to my preference for old aged and distilled beverages. But that’s not the point. I have, after a good deal of thinking, contemplating and experimenting, been able to train my mind – or rather convince my mind – that every pain I experience will eventually turn into pleasure. Hence each and every pang, be it physical or emotional, is but a sheer manifestation of a pleasure to come. It is the foreplay to something enjoyable, if you want to call it that.”
“That, is remarkable, Norton, and truly unbelievable!” He felt his palms were slightly damp.
“Remarkable – yes! Unbelievable – I wouldn’t say quite so. I am, after all, the living example. But this method, my dear Burke, is what I believe could help many of my patients. I am still working on the perfect way as to how to convey it to my clients, and how to make them understand. The problem I am facing right now is that it does, I’m afraid, require a certain level of intellect in order for it to be truly appreciated.”
“I would imagine.”
“And of course, besides on myself I have not yet been able to test the method on anyone else.”
“And this, dear Burke, is why I asked you to come here tonight. You are a man of reason and a man of intellect. I do believe that you could be the first person I could relieve from pain, any kind of pain, altogether. Would you do me the honour, Burke, of working with me on this?”
“I don’t know what to say! You left me speechless. And even though I said I didn’t have any expectations at all before I came, I clearly didn’t expect this. Dr. Cooper truly didn’t exaggerate when he said working with you would be out of the ordinary!”
“So is that a yes?”
“I guess that is a yes”
“Ha, I knew I picked the right man for this! Thank you my dear friend!”
As he noticed his guest’s empty glass, he went off to the bar and returned with two tumblers of Bourbon. He handed one to his visitor, who didn’t refuse this time.
“To a good collaboration, Burke!”
“To a painless life!” the other replied, laughing. The cold drink felt refreshing in his hands. He took a sip, and the Bourbon burned in his throat like fire.