Feel better now

You wonder if it will be quiet in the pharmacy tent, because that’s what you need right now – just some peace and quiet – so you duck through the canvas entrance.   Instantly, you’re hit with a wave of quiet, alright – but it’s an odd silence, one born of sterility rather than from peace.   Shelf after shelf of perfectly sterilized, organized, meticulously catalogued products fill the tent, promising relief from everything from headaches to eye strain to erectile dysfunction to fallen arches.   It’s quiet in here, but weirdly devoid of… something.  You can’t put your finger on it, so you browse the shelves, looking for something that might help with, well, what is this?

With ubiquitous precision, the pharmacist peers over her glasses at you.  “May I help you find something?” she asks, her tone not unkind but oriented toward problem-solving in a way that unnerves you.  

“Ummm,” you stammer, “my stomach isn’t feeling well.  I mean, I think it’s my stomach.  I’m not sure, actually.”

You babble on, trying to present an intelligent-sounding symptom worthy of eliciting an intelligent response.  

“I mean, something’s just off.  I don’t think it’s something I ate, but who knows, I’ve been trying to be gluten-free but maybe I wasn’t careful…”  Your words trail off as you squirm, aware of her piercing steady gaze.  

“Look, I don’t know what it is, I just want to feel better.”  You pull yourself together enough to conjure a tone of demand in your voice.  “And your sign said ‘Feel Better’ so that’s why I’m here.”  You look up emphatically, hoping that something has made sense to this white-coated expert behind the glass window.

“The PeptoBismol is on aisle four,” she gestures.   “I’d start with that, and also pick up a bottle of FeelzZero on aisle seven.  Drink that in one ounce shots every ten minutes for the next hour – it’s specially formulated to be quick-acting and will eliminate your discomfort for the rest of the day.   And then I’m going to give you a prescription for StomachoSteelza – it will make sure you feel no unpleasant sensations in your midsection, no matter what you eat or whatever stress you might have in your life.  It’s quite amazing and our patients just love it.   You’ll have to take it twice daily for the rest of your life, and if you need to change dosage it requires an 18 month tapering period, but you will definitely feel better, all the time!”  

She smiles, and a glint of light sparkling from her tooth catches your eye, reminding you of the smiling woman on the banner outside the tent.

“Alright,” you sigh.  “How much is the prescription?”

“We have a special for new patients so your first week is only $47, then after that you will be on a monthly subscription program so you’ll receive it automatically for just $397 a month, or you can get on our annual plan which bills $3,997 every twelve months.”

Staring at her blankly, you notice the pit in your stomach getting worse.

You don’t have stomach pain, you realize.  What you’re feeling is dread.  Existential dread.

Whipping out a Jack Nicholson line from a movie of the same name, you stand up and lean toward the white-coated StomachoSteelza peddler.  “What if…. What if THIS is as good as it gets?”

With grim satisfaction, you spin on your heels and stride out of the tent, back into the steady din of the circus.