Treatment with Possible Pardon, "After You Revisit Memory You Will Die"
The protagonal infrActor, Sussman, claims to have a head full of compressed air, enabling him to fire his eyes at the sky and watch the world pass rapidly below. But he says that he chooses not to do this because while the skill is certainly a talent, it's also an inconvenience when he can't find the bullets. If the audience doubts his abilities, they'll be all the more surprised when he demonstrates them while taking a stroll, suddenly firing his eyes into a lake and then going for a long blind swim. After several such action sequences his skull will expand to twice its size, and instead of his vision taking leave by its typical pneumatic projection, it will disappear behind the expanding flesh. A fissure will form by his ear and an ant crawl from it, and he'll tell his future wife that he is waiting to get the operation.
Her name is Misery and Sussman met her downwind in the loom fields, where she weaves parachutes. She likes to stand before the wind and loom, she says. Sussman was searching for his eyes one day and Misery had them in her purse. They go to her apartment, which was a tunnel before the government turned it into an apartment, and the floor is asphalt and there's a stop sign on the door, but it doesn't matter. Occasionally a vehicle attempts to drive through. Her brother lives behind the wall in a small room in which he never sits down, and his name is Memory and he also likes to loom. Despite the flashing high beams and horns, they like it here.
This program is for mild offenders, except for the character of Memory who will likely be exterminated. Sussman makes a proposal of marriage, offering Misery a reinforced hand, and she agrees if he will get his head operated on, a procedure that involves a great deal of excavation, reverse bellows, and hammerwork. So it's scheduled for after the wedding.
Depending on the level of offence, the InfrActor may be kept awake for this procedure, or put to sleep with his crimes played back during the surgery.
Before they can get married, however, they have to wait until Memory is released from a prison on Earth, where he is standing trial for failing to salute an engineer. Even though Sussman has never met him, he thinks Memory should be his best man.
A bright new star appears in the daytime sky, and without so much as knocking, Memory drives into the apartment in a stolen convertible.
"That little sun shouldn't be there," he says, "it makes me squint."
Now that he is back, it's time for the marriage, but our character's head has gone south in the meantime, and how will they get it to the church? This minor plot point can be drawn out as much as needed with various proposed solutions, including teleportation and onager, but ultimately Memory produces a wooden wagon and they ease the suppurating head into it, where it sloshes in a puddle of its own juices. Sister and brother pull him up the street through terrible foot traffic, his head smelling like garbage by the time they get it to the church, and the priest wonders if he shouldn't just bury it behind the rectory, saying, "I could use the compost," but Memory will object. He'll say, "No, today my sister is getting married," and she and Sussman will be conjoined by handfasting.
The head abortion is a great success, with only a few hammers bent, and to celebrate, they have a party that consists of the three of them eating a dinner of white rice. On the table sits an urn containing Sussman's cranial cremains, which he has been toying with having pressed into a diamond so I can wear a piece of himself, something he might do in another episode. The rice is burnt, just how Sussman likes it, and as they crunch the solitary grains, they wonder what comes next.
Fall comes, and the artificial leaves are raked into the library and burned, their heat felt by many. Months pass in the name of sleep. With Misery looming downwind, Sussman and Memory grow bedsores. Sussman is annoyed because Memory sleeps at the foot of the bed with both eyes open, saying he doesn't trust Sussman's new shrunken head, but luckily Memory is soon driven from the tunnel by a nightmare that transpires on a cruise ship on which he has to drive a Grayhound bus, serving popcorn shrimp to all the passengers, a scene that can be long or short. After this nightmare, he decides he hasn't really been living. He needs to bandage his bedsores and dive elbow deep into life.
In his absence, Sussman and Misery have a boy. Nox is already printed on the tag sewn into his lower back. If Sussman hadn't had the operation he could have carried that boy inside his head, something he frequently laments. He finds work as a Spinning Coach, working for a fitness and travel outfit housed in a gymnasium that tours across the country, the building held aloft by exercise bikes. The exercise enthusiasts do not really want to be in the world. They prefer pedaling machines while the gym takes trips across the country, allowing them to remain inside. The word gymnasium literally means to exercise naked, but no one does this. Instead, as they exercise, they watch videos of the streets below, and Sussman's job is to yell at them until he loses his voice. Which he does …
"Urr, in this instance, the exercise is not so much about fitness. It's about coming down to earth. Can you see the earth getting closer?"
At the last second, without encouragement, the spinners take matters into their feet, but he is fired.