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I am Joe's Will to Live

by Edd Vick

Joe lives the most ordinary life in the world. Look in the census for the average guy, and that's Joe. Oh, sometimes he might have diabetes, or an aneurysm, testicular cancer, maybe heart disease. But he gets well each time; they're just for show.

They took out his pancreas, put it back. His heart. His spleen. His brain. And he lived through it all. But take me away...

Most of the time he enjoys his middle-of-the-road existence, with his two-point-whatever children, his wife, and his utterly mundane life. But then along come the butchers -- oh, excuse me -- medical researchers, the ones who take him apart and put him most of the way back together. If anybody else were doing the cutting, it would be illegal. But not them. They're special; it's their job. Saves experimenting on animals, I guess.

That brings me to, well, me. See, Joe's special, too. He lives through every operation. That's because he has me.

Oh, I didn't say there wasn't pain. The research wouldn't be worth the pulp its printed on if he weren't in agony for every slice. Those nerves around the heart -- brr. I wouldn't be surprised to hear there was a special readout on the EEG just for pain.

Now they plan a me-ectomy. I am Joe's Will to Live, and I don't have long for this world.

But I've got me a little secret, see? I'm a numinous quality, like the collective unconscious, or apophenia, or those creation myths that seems so similar from culture to culture. I'm shared.

That means they can't take it away from Joe without taking it away from everybody.

See you on the other side.

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