Alan sat at the kitchen table and Googled earworm on his old Dell laptop. The song had been playing in his head with increasing frequency over the past few weeks and he was beginning to feel as if it was taking over his life. Wikipedia said that ninety-eight percent of people experienced earworms at one time or another in their lives. The name had originally been adapted from the German “Ohrwurm” by a marketing researcher. A marketers dream was to give you an earworm. He and his sister could still spontaneously break into a jingle that had been burned into their brains between the cartoons they watched as children. All that made him feel better. He liked some of the synonyms, “tune wedgy” and “humsickness”. It was just a normal thing. Then, out of curiosity, he clicked on the link for musical hallucinations imbedded in the article. This information didn’t make him feel so good. People that actually thought they were hearing songs could be schizophrenic or had brain lesions. But they could also just have had something pounded into their head by hearing a piece of music too often or because they were under a lot of stress. He did feel stressed.
He’d hadn’t told the shrink anything about the song. He was just about off probation and he didn’t want to give her anything new to change his status. Their weekly meetings had been ok at the start. The medications she’d given him had helped him sleep in those first weeks after it happened. But now she was trying to dig deeper in to his cranium and he wasn’t going there. He’d learned how to cope with his baggage. His life was a little messy, but it was the way he liked it. He had his freedom. He wondered if the jumper had felt freedom in those first moments. He wondered why the guy couldn’t find that freedom in his life. He wondered if the guy had an earworm and somehow passed it off in those last moments. Then he pushed the screen of his Dell down on to the keyboard, went to the refrigerator for a beer, and headed for the couch. Nigeria was playing Cote d’Ivoire.