There was just a tiny shack with a door and a mailbox. I knocked and no one answered, so naturally I picked the lock. Stairs downward.
I wanted to be a polite neighbor, so I skulked in.
Huey P. Long still lives down there. He's as powerful a political boss and demagogue as he was back then, but now he's just a floating brain in a vat of preserving fluids, with electrodes connecting him out to the regular world. He runs a national underground economy. They don't use money - it's not traceable enough - only airline frequent flier miles. It stretches across nations.
Here's where Huey got it right: the airline miles are secured with a commodity more valuable than gold.
The disembodied brain of Huey Long explained this all to me when I went down there. He told me that I already knew too much, so he'd have to kill me. He put me into a large, fragile coffee pot and began to fill the thing with coffee as a slow, Batman-esque execution method. Then he explained the rest of his evil plan.
"Some people enjoy music more than others, yes?" said Huey bodilessly by speaker.
I nodded dumbly.
"Some people simply have a greater capacity for enjoying the music. Better pitch, or a stronger connection between their hearing and their pleasure centers. People can enjoy music more by learning, or by having good associations with it, and so forth, but there is a maximum capacity to enjoy music based on strictly biological limits, and some people are able to enjoy it more than others."
I shrugged with disinterest.
"The same applies to food. Children enjoy sweets more than adults because children have more taste buds for sugar than adults. By the same logic, there's a biological limit to how much some can enjoy flavors. Sometimes you might not enjoy flavor as much because you're depressed, and circumstance, mood, and so forth can affect things, but there is a final and ultimate limit to how much an individual can enjoy flavor, and it's not the same for everyone."
I was beginning to wish that the boiling coffee would kill me sooner, so I wouldn't have to hear this person rant.
"The same principle can be applied universally, to any source of joy. Some people get more out of poetry, or visual art, or roller coasters. Some people can enjoy the presence, facial expressions, and social interactions of others more. Summing these up, then, each person has a maximum limit to their overall happiness, and it's not equal for everyone; some people just have a greater capacity to be happier than others."
I started trying to concentrate on the pain to drown out the pedantry.
"That's the service I offer and the way I make sure airplane miles are valuable, assuring the quality of my underground economy," You would have expected Huey's brain to be cackling by this point, but no such luck, "We offer surgical implants to enhance people's ability to enjoy the world."
I should have just ignored him, but I had to ask. "What about intangibles beyond just neurological activity? The soul that reaches for higher joy?"
Just as I asked that, I realized it was a stupid question. It's pretty hard to convince a floating brain that there's much besides neurological activity.
But it really didn't matter, because I was rescued by vigilantes before Huey Long could respond. This is why I hate Tuesdays.