epilogue, or the lindsey lee Wells chapter
Colin Woke up, exhausted, to the rooster, and rolled around in bed for a solid hour before making his way downstairs. Hassan was already sitting at the oak table with a collection of papers in front of him. Colin noticed that Hollis was not asleep on the couch; maybe she actually had a bedroom somewhere.
“Pr o fit / Loss Margins,” Hassan explained. “It’s actually really interesting stuff. Hollis explained it to me last night. So, d’you hook up with her or what?”
Hassan got up, grinning goofil y, and smacked Colin on the back gleefully. “You’re such a vulture, Singleton. You just circle, baby. You circle, and you just slowly fly lower and lower, always circling, waiting for the moment when you can just land on the carcass of a relationship and fugging feast. It’s a beautiful thing to watch—particularly this time, because I like the girl. ”
“Let’s go out to breakfast,” said Colin. “Hardee’s?”
“Hardee’s,” agreed Hassan excitedly. “Linds, get up we’re going to Hardee’s!”
“Gotta go visit Mabel this morning,” Lindsey called back. “Eat seven Monster Thickburgers for me, though. ”
“Will do!” Hassan promised.
“So listen. When I got home last night, I plugged Lindsey and me into the formula,” Colin said. “She dumps me. The curve was longer than K-1 but shorter than K-4. That means she’s going to dump me within four days. ”
“Could happen. It’s a crazy fugging snow globe of a world. ”
Three days later, the day the Theorem indicated Lindsey and Colin would not survive together, Colin woke up to the rooster and rolled over groggily only to find a piece of notebook paper against his cheek. It was folded in the shape of an envelope.
And, for once, Colin saw it coming. As he carefully unfolded the paper, he knew that the Theorem’s prophecy had been fulfilled. And yet, knowing it was going to happen made it no less horrible. Why? It’s been so amazing. The best first four days ever. Am I crazy? I must be crazy. As he opened the note, he was already debating whether to leave Gutshot immediately.
I hate to fulfill the Theorem, but I don’t think we should be involved romantically. The problem is that I am secretly in love with Hassan. I can’t help myself. I hold your bony shoulder blades in my hands and think of his fleshy back. I kiss your stomach and I think of his awe-inspiring gut. I like you, Colin. I really do. But—I’m sorry. It’s just not going to work.
I hope we can still be friends.
Lindsey Lee Wells
P. S. Just kidding.
Colin wanted to be all-the-way happy, he really did—because ever since he saw the steepness of the curve with Lindsey, he’d been hoping that it’d be wrong. But as he sat there on the bed, the note in his still-shaky hands, he couldn’t help but feel that he would never be a genius. For as much as he believed Lindsey that what matters to you defines your mattering, he still wanted the Theorem to work, still wanted to be as special as everyone had always told him he was.
The next day, Colin was feverishly trying to fix the Theorem while Hassan and Lindsey played Hold ’Em poker for pennies in the Pink Mansion’s screened-in porch. A ceiling fan blew the warm air around without really cooling it. Colin was half paying attention to the game while scribbling graphs, trying to make the Theorem account for the fact that Lindsey Lee Wells was, quite clearly, still his girlfriend. And then poker finally clarified the Theorem’s unfixable flaw.
Hassan shouted, “She’s all in for thirteen cents, Singleton! It’s a huge bet. Should I call?”
“She does tend to bluff,” Colin answered without looking up.
“You better be right, Singleton. I call. Okay, turn ’em over, kid! Gutshot Dolly has trip Queens! It’s a hell of a hand, but will it beat—A FULL HOUSE?!” Lindsey groaned with disappointment as Hassan flipped over his hand.
Colin knew nothing about poker except that it was a game of human behavior and probability, and therefore the kind of quasi-closed system in which a Theorem similar to the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability ought to work. And when Hassan turned over his full house, Colin all of a sudden realized: you can make a Theorem that explains why you won or lost past poker hands, but you can never make one to predict future poker hands. The past, like Lindsey had told him, is a logical story. It’s the sense of what happened. But since it is not yet remembered, the future need not make any fugging sense at all.
In that moment, the future—uncontainable by any Theorem mathematical or otherwise—stretched out before Colin: infinite and unknowable and beautiful. “Eureka,” Colin said, and only in saying it did he realize he had just successfully whi
“I figured something out,” he said aloud. “The future is unpredictable. ”
Hassan said, “Sometimes the kafir likes to say massively obvious things in a really profound voice. ”
Colin laughed as Hassan returned to counting the pennies of victory, but Colin’s brain was spinning with the implications: if the future is forever, he thought, then eventually it will swallow us all up. Even Colin could only name a handful of people who lived, say, 2,400 years ago. In another 2,400 years, even Socrates, the most well-known genius of that century, might be forgotten. The future will erase everything—there’s no level of fame or genius that allows you to transcend oblivion. The infinite future makes that kind of mattering impossible.