Life Story Store

I found the store on a side street. One of those short
side streets which seems to go from here to nowhere,
just a shortcut from my parking place to my work. I
could’ve sworn the storefront had not been there
yesterday, but I wasn’t sure. Distracted by Lynn’s
betrayal, I could only think of her.

“Forget about me. Get a new life,” she had said.

Easy for her to say. I wish I could erase her memory
from my brain. Short of that, I would like to write our
story. That, I think, would exorcize my obsession with
her. Maybe these people could help. It could be that
they specialize in writing memoirs for others. On an
impulse, I pushed the door and found myself in a
large bare room painted in a way that suggested a
shimmering ocean. In a corner, gleamed a futuristic
stainless steel desk with two matching chairs facing it.
I took a seat and looked down at the snow melting on
my shoes.

“Good morning, sir. I didn’t expect you back so soon!”

An elderly man with very short hair, neatly trimmed
mustache and beard had entered the room.
He took a seat behind the desk.

“You’re mistaken. This is my first time here.”

“Or so it seems to you. My name is Jan, at your service,
sir,” He extended his hand.

“You look like Sri Ramana. “Yes, You definitely
look like him, except… your eyes are more like
Nisargadatta’s.”

He smiled pleasantly and shook his head from side to
side in the Indian manner.

“So they tell me, sir.”

“So you are familiar with these two gentlemen?”

“Most of our customers are of that persuasion.”

“What persuasion is that?”

He smiled mischievously. “Seekers of the ineffable, Dan.”

“Dan! How do you know my name?”

He shook his head from sideto side smiling. “Dan, here,
we help people who have trouble with their past.”

“Do you help them write their life story?”

“No. We help them forget. Give them new memories.”

“How do you do that?”

“We have a new technique which erases all their memories
and gives them new ones of their choice. You can understand,
we can’t discuss the technology.”

“Erases all of them?

“All. The procedure can’t be partial.”

“Would they remember that this procedure was done?”

“No. That’s why we ask full payment in advance.”

“But wait a minute, here. If they won’t remember that this
procedure was done, how will they know those memories
are really new?”

“They won’t. The memories would look quite natural and old.”

“If I don’t remember the old, and the new ones seem old, how
would I know I’m still Dan?”

He smiled cryptically and looked at me in silence with his
piercing eyes.

“Well?”

“I’m just a merchant, Dan, not a sage. It’s hard to know
anything for sure. What is Dan to you? Is it what you
remember about Dan, or the feeling of existing right now?”

I thought for a moment. “The feeling of existing right now.”
“That feeling is not always the same. Is it? Sometimes it’s
very faint and dull as if you had just awakened, and
sometimes it’s very sharp and exhilarating. Is it not?”

“Yes, one can be more or less conscious.”

“Exactly. A consciousness of 100 CQ is average, and one
of 200 CQ is tops.”

“What does CQ stand for?”

“Consciousness Quantum.”

“Never heard about that one before.”

“We coined the phrase in this store. I’m happy to
inform you that here, we sell the highest grade of
consciousness possible.”

“Wait a royal minute. If you change someone’s memories,
and his consciousness also, what will be left of him?
That person will be completely lost.”

“Are you lost now?”

“No, of course not, but I haven’t gone through that
procedure.”

“Are you sure?” He stared mockingly. “How do you know
the procedure wasn’t performed already? If the old
memories are gone and the new seem old… how can
you be sure?”

I didn’t know what to say. I stood up and turned to leave.
“Look in your jacket’s inside pocket, Dan.”

“Look for what?”

“The receipt I gave you an hour ago.”

Expecting to find nothing, I found a piece of paper, and
hesitated to take it out. My feet felt like ice. Finally, forcing
myself to pull it out, I looked at it. It was a receipt for one
hundred thousand dollars. Returning to my seat I felt faint.

“What could those memories have been that forgetting them
was worth so much money to me?”

He smiled. “I don’t know, better not to know. If we knew we’d
have to testify in court about crimes you don’t remember.”

“Did I commit any crimes?”

“I have no idea. Some people wish to forget terrible crimes,
but the police won’t forget.”

“But it wouldn’t be fair to punish a man for a crime he
doesn’t remember.”

He smiled. “You made a wise choice. You chose good
memories.”

“Why didn’t I choose to be a king, or a movie star. Why did
I choose to be someone who was betrayed by a girl named
Lynn?”

He shrugged. “I think you made a good choice. Lynn
introduced you to the writings of Ramana, Nisargadatta and
many other sages. With that knowledge you won’t repeat the
old mistakes.”

“Who am I, really?”

“Ah! That is precisely the question!”

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