The Sign said: ‘Suicide IS Painless. Apply Within’
Two things served to finally lay to rest the old taboo on suicide. The first was technological, as it always is. The second was economic, and you may make of that what you like. And, of course, no one cared much about justice, or the law, anymore. For those living in our America of 2025, ‘justice’ was mostly a matter of filling out the right forms in the right order, paying your way out of what you could, and enduring whatever else came along. Alan Morel was working as Junior Transition Counsel in District Court 17. It was shit work, but there were too many lawyers and not enough jobs and that had been the way of it for decades. His role was to formally, for the record, argue with the just-convicted felon. Assert that life was precious, that 10 years was not so long a stretch, and that there was surely a good a reason to go on, etc. etc. And the unstated part was that he was expected to fail in the vast majority of cases. That they would take the prescriptions, and then the rest of us could move on.
There were just too many incentives on the other side. Expungement of your criminal and social media record. Life insurance payouts to next-of-kin. Settlement of associated civil liabilities. Aside from all that, the ubiquitous private prisons were, in a word, wretched; and essentially unendurable, by design.
Alan was just serving his time, too. A ten-years apprenticeship in this sort of thing was no longer uncommon. He was living in his parents’ home, getting by, and dreaming of better days to come, working in an office somewhere. Working the Life Courts wasn’t soul-crushing if you didn’t let them get to you. He kept telling himself that. The clients were, for the most part, guys in their 20’s who had made some really bad choices, including getting caught and then fighting it in court. They hated it when you fought it.
Right past the courtroom, where they walked the client down after they banged the gavel on him, was the door everyone called Dr. Jack’s. Before they cuffed you, before you took the wagon ride to the max pen, you could freely stop into Dr. Jack’s and ask for the two prescriptions. The first dulled your hippocampus, the neuronal source of your will to live. Quieting your natural revulsion, that universal fear of death. The second was a slo-dose of goodnight juice, such that you’d have it with dinner, lay down in your bunk, and never get up again in this world. The courts had given the Dr. Jack’s a right to set up in that corridor, and given those who were convicted the right to stop in before the rest of the process took its course. And most everyone felt better about the whole business, and the tremendous savings it represented, and the immediate closure it brought to the families. But Alan felt like – he couldn’t say he “knew” — this kid was different. This kid didn’t want to die, and kept talking about the old days when you could appeal your conviction and your sentence. He was facing 20 years. He said they had the wrong guy. Alan didn’t want to believe him; but he did. And that hurt. The trial wasn’t going well for his client; they never did, any more.