Funny Happy

           When I was just beginning medical school, and I heard the term ‘hippocampus’ for the very first time, I joked with the guy beside me in the class, both of us feeling safe from scowls sitting at the back. I said, ‘The hippo campus must be a place at the university where people of exceptionally large size like to hang out and float in a very big pool naked.’ We both laughed, but then our very serious teacher gave us a stern stare that silenced the two of us for the rest of the class. This is going to be a long semester I thought.

           When the class was over, Professor Ruger stood in front of me as I headed for the door. “What did you say that caused that outbreak of laughter?” I told him exactly what I said. He didn’t really laugh, but I did earn the first smile I’d seen on his face all semester. For the first time, I thought, ‘Maybe this class won’t be so bad after all.”

           I did well in the course, as the subject was fascinating to me, especially when we were learning about the brain and all of its functions. For all his seriousness, Professor Ruger was a really good teacher. So good, in fact, that in the next semester I took his course that just dealt with the brain. 

           It was in that class that I first wondered, “What if you could tap into the hippocampus, the storage space in the brain for memories, and somehow have certain fond remembrances broadcast outside the brain?” While I wondered at the time, I didn’t really think that it could be done, let alone by me. But the question lingered, never completely squashed by the seeming impossibility of it ever happening.

My Drive to Do Research

           I graduated with a medical degree, but realized that I wanted more to be a researcher, and innovator than I ever wanted to be a family doctor, or even some kind of highly-paid specialist (‘I am sorry to tell you this, but your brain is sick. I’m going to have to operate’). I wanted ‘to boldly go where no’ researcher had ever gone before’.

           For my doctoral dissertation (with Professor. Ruger as my advisor), I engaged in finding the places where some of my most vivid memories were stored, and trigger their complete show in my mind. I didn’t want to try that on anyone else in case something went wrong with the device I had put together for the purpose, or that the research subject would be traumatized by a particularly bad memory. 

           The first memory triggered and made vivid was of when I first met Constable Dinah (my own personal policewoman), who would later become my wife. I was amazed and a little bit startled by the really cheesy pickup lines I used with her at the club, and the fact that she laughed at them, and was willing to dance with me shortly thereafter. I believe that I thought at the time that it must have been my good looks and charming smile that won her over. I learned later, and am very grateful, that we have the same sick sense of humour.

           The second memory I triggered I turned off right away. It was the darkest, nastiest moment of my life. I was five years old. It was the day that my mother was killed by a car right in front of our house. I heard the screech of brakes, looked out the window and saw my mother lying motionless on the side of the road, my father standing over her. The phrase, ‘Dad has killed my mom’ shot into my head. I never accused him of verbally, but I never forgave him. We never really got along well when I was growing up.  I was kicked out of the house when I was 18.  And we haven’t spoken in years. There was no way I wanted to see that incident again.

           Now that I found out how to trigger the memories, I proceeded to the next step, the more difficult one. I wanted to create a device which would capture the memory images and project them on a screen. Professor Ruger (I still call him that even though we are colleagues now) doesn’t think it possible, but I believe that it can be done, and that I am the one to do it.

A Year Later.

           While I did get decent funding for my research, experiment after experiment followed, but it was failure after failure. The images were vivid, eventually I could see them through a microscope, but I still wanted to go another step further. Dr. Ruger said that I should try to do something more scientifically useful. I appreciated that he gave me that advice, but I still wasn’t going to give up yet.

           Constable Dinah encouraged me to continue, knowing how much I wanted to, despite the failures. She said that it might prove useful in providing evidence in court. I hadn’t thought of that. 

           Unfortunately, my research funding dried up. Not having spectacular results will do that. Among other things, I could not afford to pay research subjects, so I had to experiment on Constable Dinah and myself. I did not ask her to do it. She volunteered. One thing that I liked about that was discovered that her memories of when we first met were just like mine. It was great to see, even if the picture was terribly small.

The Breakthrough

           The breakthrough came after I contacted an old high school buddy who now called himself a videographer. I thought that he might provide me with ideas that I hadn’t thought of, that he would know more about the media than I do.

           I was right. Progress was relatively rapid. It was time for the big experiment. I would be the subject, hoping to project images of the night that Constable Dinah and I first got together. My buddy would operate the video device.

           It was a little awkward at first, but then a picture was projected on the big screen. My first reaction was negative. It projected the scene of my seeing my mother lying dead on the road. But then I saw something I hadn’t expected. As my father was bending over mom, a man got out of the car. He was our next door neighbour. He had been the one who had killed my mother. I watched the memory all through, even though there were tears in my eyes, like I now saw there were in my father’s.

           The experiment was a success, but I realized that there was something else I really needed to do. I knew where dad lived, even though I had never visited him there. Tomorrow Constable Dinah and I were going to go see him, and tell the story of the mistake that led me into thinking ill of him. We had to patch things up. He is my father, and is owed a reconciliation.      

November 28, 2022 15:38

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Tommy Goround
15:55 Dec 06, 2022

I like this.


John Steckley
18:01 Dec 06, 2022

Thanks. I'm glad that someone has a similar sense of humour to my own.


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Starry Skies
00:30 Dec 04, 2022

I love all the layers here, and the contrast between the two memories in such quick succession really kept me involved. I was invested until the end, and I am so glad that the protagonist will be able to make up with his father! Great story :)


John Steckley
11:48 Dec 04, 2022

Thanks for your comments. I enjoyed writing this story, and am glad that you liked it.


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