Ernest sat in the waiting room waiting for his name to be called. There were at least fifty people in the waiting room with him and he was quit annoyed. He had been waiting for over two hours and the line was moving awfully slow. The employees didn’t seem to care. They joked around and took extra breaks, they were getting paid either way.
‘200 bucks,’ he thought. ‘In a way, it was good money for doing not much of anything for a day.’ He tried not to think about the price. He looked around at the crowd. He wouldn’t have been surprised if some of them wouldn’t be happy to get the procedure, forget about the money.
He noticed that he did not see anyone leaving. A fellow donor told him that there was a special exit in back. He said there was a van with a driver and you got a free ride home and everything. It didn’t sound so bad.
He had been surprised that donating was even legal. He’d read about it in some local newspaper, the kind that had been underground in the sixties and had been taken over by some corporation in the eighties. There hadn’t been too many details.
He had Googled it and found only two articles about it, both of them in science magazines. It was so new that no one had found out a way to make it illegal yet.
Scientist had found a way to organize memory bands and transplant them into other people minds. There was quit a market for it, especially in California. There were the Simi Valley computer geek/ virgins who wanted to know what sex was like, there were actors in Hollywood who had been famous and rich all their lives. They needed the bands for more effective sense memory, especially if they were portraying pain or love. Hipsters wanted to know what the books they claimed to be their favorites were actually about. It wasn’t any different than anything else moneyed people were able to buy and the poor were able to sell.
Ernest had waited many weeks before calling the number. He’d been unemployed ever since he moved to Los Angeles. He’d gotten several extra money jobs many of them creating interesting memories. The day he’d worked as a background extra and Nicole Kidman had called him love. He’d been so poor that he had too steel ridges on the subway. He’d gotten a ticket and they had given him the option of doing community service. He’d met Samantha picking up trash on the highway; they’d each been the only one the other thought didn’t belong there.
They had been poor together for a while. They’d eaten nothing but Ramen, Subway sandwiches and vodka for over three mouths. She’d gotten a good job and left him. He wished he could forget her body, her laugh and the way he thought he could trust her.
He’d read a lot in his youth but had fallen away from the habit in his thirties. He wasn’t worried, although it may have been years since he read actual literature he was certain he’d read more than some 25 year old with fake glasses and a Google extracted knowledge of history.
Two more hours passed and his name was called. He followed the nurse’s aide down a dark hallway. He got into a machine that looked like a phone booth and electrodes were attached to his head. There was a movie screen in front of him that showed the memories as they disappeared.
His mother toilet training him, his father slapping him, being beaten up in the fourth grade and the fifth. He wanted to stop for a moment as the memory of winning an award for history in the 10th grade passed by. But he thought of the money and held his tongue.
The nurse walked him out and he got into a van. He sat watching the door waiting for the others to come out. He wondered where he put his check.