A Delicate Situation


By Gilbert M. Stack


“Thanks for making time to see me. I have a delicate situation here and time really is of the essence.”

“Think nothing of it,” the executive told the man. “Why don’t you have a seat and tell me how I can help?”

He took the offered seat. “First I would like to clarify something. Your advertisement, can you really deliver? Can you literally erase memories?”

“As advertised,” he confirmed. “The bulk of our work is in industrial secrets, but there are literally thousands of other applications.”

The man smiled, obviously beginning to feel hope again. “That’s precisely why I’m here, but I don’t mind telling you that it all still seems so far fetched. Erasing memories…”

“Come now,” the executive adopted a quiet professorial manner. “Erasing memories is the easy part. The basic science for that has been around for decades. Apply a small electrical current to the appropriate section of the brain and you can trigger recollection of a specific memory. Increase the current and you can destroy that memory. The problem has always been in finding the specific memories you want erased, and limiting the juice so that there’s just enough to erase the memory without destroying any brain cells.”

“And you’ve done it?”

“A painless outpatient procedure,” the executive assured me. “We’ve coupled the latest in neurological scans with the precise application of electrical current so that we can safely eliminate any memory or chain of memories the client desires.”

“But if the patient knows they’ve come to your laboratory, might they not be driven to investigate their circumstances until they rediscover the very thing they came to you to forget?”

“That’s not an unheard of problem,” the executive conceded. “In industrial work, the client usually knows they are having proprietary knowledge erased, but in government work… Well sometimes a client stumbles across information he wishes he had never seen. In those cases, we pretend that the client came to us for a medical reason such as scanning for tumors. Would that suit your purposes?”

“It might at that.” The man mused as he considered the possibilities.

“My problem,” he confided, “is somewhat embarrassing. I’ve been having an affair and it’s just turned ugly. It was all a terrible mistake. I love my wife. I just can’t see any way to deal with the thing. It’s interfering with my marriage and I thought if I could just erase everything…”

The executive adopted an almost pastoral expression of sympathy and understanding. “And you think that if we could just help you forget the other woman you could refocus yourself on your wife and family.”

“Oh, no,” the man told him. “You’ve misunderstood me completely. It’s my wife who’s having the problem. You see, I was careless and she caught us. It was just a tragic mistake. Now I’ve got to do something before she files papers and divorces me. I’ve got to make her forget she ever caught us. You see, I also love my mistress.”