Some Come to Laugh Their Past Away (R. Hunter)

From a work of mine about the future, in progress:

 

August was marked by the death of Darcy G. from rapidly spreading liver cancer, the outcome of a hepatitis C infection she picked up shooting heroin and turning tricks in Las Vegas many years before. Darcy had made arrangements for her funeral while she was in hospice care before she died and sent Ferguson a note alerting him to this. The funeral was attended by 200 people, most of whom attended a barbecue on the Lillard Blocks afterward. 

Ferguson was also in attendance, and as he ate ribs and cole slaw and drank sparkling water, something from his past struck him. This barbecue was quiet. The laughter was muted. No voices were raised in argument. No one was invading someone else’s space. No puking. No screeching. This was unlike every such event Ferguson had ever attended as a child growing up and then as an adult of some notoriety. 

He was puzzled until he realized that every one of the people there was sober.  He assumed that the machines were constantly urging them to do what they used to do, which was purchase half the alcohol sold, a good deal of the weed when it was legal and much of the street drugs that they managed not to die from overdoses on. But maybe, he considered, the algorithms and their writers had picked up on the fact that these people had said fuck it to getting loaded and the massive enterprise associated with that and were now urging them to keep coming back and take it one day at a time and seek outside help (on sponsored pages) and give it away to keep it and so forth. In actuality, he was wrong because algorithms are based on logic and predictable behavior, and what these people were doing was neither predictable nor logical.  Even modern artificial intelligence constructs could not figure out recovering addicts.

True, the addiction-treatment industry had previously invaded machine-space trying to reach these people, but they were trying to do it through the people who were still using and their families (and thus a source of money). When the treatment industry and its buttoned-up professionals and evidence-based treatment and insurance-reimbursement-driven protocols finally collapsed in the wake of the Krieger-induced collapse of the insurance industry itself and the subsequent formation of the insurance “Big Three” of Aetna, United HealthCare and Cigna, the whole thing had reverted to where it started, which was basically nowhere. “Medicare for All” was on the near horizon thanks to President Dalton-Smith, but it didn’t have the same interest in helping addicts recover since there was not nearly as much money in it now. It was left to addicted people to take care of each other, which, as he learned from Darcy G., was precisely what Bill Wilson and Bob Smith realized when they started Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. It made no sense then, and it didn’t now.

© Joseph Galligan 2019

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