Evolution – Chapter 2
It took more than two weeks for the web of intrigue to be formed not only in his mind but on paper. The walls in the small apartment were pretty much filled with words and photos by then, to his brother’s discontent. Two weeks of missing almost every exam at college, forgetting to call his girlfriend back. His mind was rushing 60 miles per hour in trying to make sense what he felt deep within. Good thing the internet is out there to help in this kind of moments. By the end of the second week he could sit back on his bed, following all the strings on the walls with his eyes, making new mental notes to add or remove a part of it. The spider monster was almost complete.
“How’s life?” his brother asked while coming home from another “happy” day at work. His voice took a moment to sink into Angel’s mind, waking him out of the process of filtering the tons of information running through his head.
“OK” he says. “Been finding some unexpected stuff.”
“Did you know that over 75% of the brilliant minds and more than 80% of the world’s funds are spent in the beauty industry?”
“And that’s unexpected?! Told you so many times – cash flow, and not cash, is what makes one rich. It doesn’t really matter how much money get into that, as long as it doesn’t vanish.”
“Unexpected are the numbers. Granted I got the statistics from a questionable source, but still it’s way above anything I would have ever thought. Imagine if all those resources were used in other purposes.” He then paused for a few moments to get his mind around what he was about to say. Part of him was convinced that Marius will get the message and understand for himself.
“I feel there’s something else you are going tell me soon…” he said ironically as he made himself comfortable in the bed under all the drawings and wires. “And yeah – you do need to get your own place sooner rather than later!” and tried to laugh.
Angel’s eyes however were stuck on the wall and he seemed completely oblivious to his brother. Somehow, his mind has evaded this plane again as it was rushing back into deduction mode. On the wall straight across from him there was a picture with a pile of money, American dollars, in $100 bills. “It’s just paper after all” he said dismissively as he turn on the side and tried to steal a few moments of silence to maybe fall asleep. He hasn’t had the opportunity to close an eye in the last three days and the fatigue seemed to finally run him down. It didn’t take more than 5 minutes for his regulated breath to appear. He was soundly asleep.
His sleep was short lived, as his phone rang at 12 midnight. His girlfriend was calling to let him know she was going out. Still sleepy and not fully aware of his surroundings, he gathered it was late at night and got worried about her going out alone that late. “Who are you going to?” he asked knowing that she doesn’t usually go clubbing so an encounter that late made kind of little sense.
“I’m going to meet Cristian” she said. Cristian was a guy she had formed a friendship with as they both attended a class Angel did not subscribe to. It must have been an attempt to annoy him, which at that specific time perfectly hit the mark.
“Ok. Have fun and know that everything is over between us.” It was a forced reply, and maybe a bit harsh, but he has had some really bad experiences in the past that did not allow him to tolerate this. Besides, this relationship wasn’t in his focus anymore. It seemed strange, but this almost came as a relief. He was probably waiting for something to happen so that he could keep his mind on his current objective. Or maybe just to go to sleep, as after he hanged up the phone he crushed back into the bed. For a brief moment he felt the sharp stare of his brother, awake now because of the late call, but then fell back asleep.
The next morning he found many calls from his girlfriend, apologies mostly, insurances that she actually did not go out with anyone and so on and so forth. And one more message. From one of his best friends at college, the valedictorian, Alex. It read “are you going to miss today’s exam as well?”
Alex was a peculiar kid. Always with the same haircut and always with his laptop, learning, or working, or playing some mind puzzling game. Never appearing to really pay attention to what was happening, but given the challenge he could recite almost anything without mistake. His eyes behind a pair of normal glasses were hiding something he never spoke of, that only a trained watcher could see. A mystery within a boy within a mystery. That’s what Angel was thinking as he looked at the phone and smiled. He was not expecting such a message, but he welcomed it, as he wanted to check something.
No shower this morning. His sister was sound asleep and would have probably descended all the curses upon him if he would have decided to be that noisy so early in the morning. So he took a very fast and silent bath, same poor choice in clothing and went straight to college.
It was a simple exam day. He may have missed most of the others, but this one was one he did not have to learn for. It was a subject that has hunted him for a few years since he got stuck into a problem he could not solve, during high school. So, as soon as the teacher started explaining the domain they were studying, he basically recorded every word. Everything stuck in his mind as burned. And, funny enough, this class was going to represent something else entirely now.
He got there early, the only people there being his girlfriend and Alex. Not being in the mood for any specific explanations, he sat down beside Alex. There was a glimmer of question in his eyes, so Angel decided to explain:
“Long story”. No more words were needed.
“Tell me…” Alex began, “should I get employed or continue to do research?”
It was a nice change of subject that could only improve his mood, so Angel replied “I guess it depends what you want in life. Research will give you a different road from employment.”
“Well, imagine two functions, f(x) = x and f(x) = x2, and put them down on paper”. Alex took out a piece of paper out of his clipboard and they started drawing. “This would be the graph of success, based on age. You see that below 1, the second graph is far lower than the first one, but then it jumps back up, overtaking the other substantially.”
“So if we mark the x=1 for let’s say… 25 years old, you already know that by that age all the others who choose employment will be more successful. And probably rub it into your face.” Angel replied laughing. “But after that, the graph goes way higher and reaches a designated limit at a far younger age”.
“So you’re saying to do research for now.”
“I say that this how I view things. Me and most of my acquaintances. I would sell this graph as valid, so that you can make a choice based on it.”
“Then x is in fact x/25.”
“25 is more of a guide that a rule. It could be more or it could be less. Usually more. But yes, you got it.”
“Then I’ll just do research for now.”
The teacher walks in the classroom, laughing as always. What better way to start an exam than with a joke? Nobody remembered the joke, but it was a good way to release the tension in the room. He has always been like that. One of the young and very talented teachers, a bit chubby and extremely full of energy, he brought smiles to almost everyone he met. Then he started splitting the test sheets among the students, not checking if anyone was planning to cheat or not, simply doing his job happily and with no care in the world. Yes, he was definitely one of both Alex’s and Angel’s favorite teachers. By the time he was done with the papers, the blood was rushing up into his cheeks, so visible because of the round glasses. “Aaaand begin!”
The exam contained a couple of variants so that it would be harder to cheat, and was different from all the other problems given so far. A breath of fresh air, forcing the good marks to relay only on top of those who actually studied. And on one more…
Alex and Angel turned in the paper at the same time. No stress, no worries, just smiles on everyone’s faces. As soon as the exam was finished, Angel left after the teacher to his office. It was more of a team’s office, shared with all the other brilliant minds, but since it had computers and the possibility of individual work, it got the job done. As he walked out of the classroom, Angel felt the harsh looks of everyone behind him. It was pretty clear he was following the teacher so most likely he had some idea about how to increase his grade, or so they thought.
The discussion that actually took place was different. At first, the papers had to be checked, so they did that together, since they both trusted each other’s decisions, even if it was against the rules. One could say it was a mistake, since Angel used the opportunity to give a bigger grade to every paper that landed in his hands. In the end, it was the teacher’s call, but the grades remained as they were.
The second part of the discussion was a bit about the life choice, that thing that convinced Angel to actually get out of the house and drag his body to this exam.
“Tell me Luke, what did you decided to become a teacher?” Angel asked. “It’s a really bad paycheck and I don’t think you did not have any other options.”
“Options? Yes. Opportunities? Not really. It all comes down to what you really want to do in life. Where would you like to invest your time and energy? Working under the name of Computer Science has its advantages you know.”
“Like the fact that if you want to be heard, or if you truly believe into a project, you are backed up by a centuries old firm. How likely are you to be taken seriously, no matter how good and well-presented your project is, if you go into the fight backed by a company started only a few years back?”
“So, you’re saying in order to make a difference, to actually be able to have a real impact on the environment, you need the backing up of this university.”
“I wouldn’t say need. Every now and then there have been few who have conquered successes on their own. It’s harder these days, but not impossible. If you do want the probability in your favor however, it’s best to stick on a well walked road.”
“Unfortunately this has never been my style. I guess I’m kind of born to be a loner.”
“Didn’t you say you like to teach?”
“I do, it’s something I’m good at and I enjoy it a lot. But I think I enjoy money more. Having it might give me the edge to make the difference you are talking about.”
“Oh… so you do something in mind.”
“Yes, it is a project I only about in the last two weeks, but I think I’m going to finish it somehow.”
“Can I help in any way?”
“I was counting on you to ask. I don’t know where my plan will lead us, but I will need your expertise to finish it. And the backing up of the university won’t hurt either!”
“Well, I’d love to stay and chat about it, but I have to give these papers back. I’m going to give yours back in the official way also, so give it back!” Angel hands him the paper. “No matter what it is I’m in! And we’ll see what the university can do to help.”
“I want to speak to more people about this. I’ve started a blog but my visits can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The things that I have to say won’t exactly make people turn their heads unless it comes recommended.”
They both leave the office thinking, wondering about the nature of publicity the project should have, before it is actually materialized or even completely understood by the both of them. As they reach the classroom, Luke comes up with an idea.
“Here’s what:” he says “we’re going to make an interview of you, with a reporter” and then he smiled pointing at himself, “and we’ll just post it on the college’s website. If it caches, it could go viral. It’s the best way to reach as many people as possible these days. Much better than a blog or a TV Show”
“It will have to be orchestrated, there are many things I haven’t yet thought out, and many things I think about and don’t want to let out”.
“So… prepare it! You know how to find me!”
As they enter the classroom Luke gets his usual happy figure as Angel walks silently back into his desk. He’s back in his thinking state, and does not even falter when the teacher announces his A. The other students smile with contempt, probably expecting some sort of reaction from Angel as their eyes are burning towards him. Unfortunately for them, his mind has left this world, preparing for something in the future.
So how will the interview go? His ideas were finally forced into their places, organized and prepared. The presentation was on route.