The man who solved the world. A short story.
★ Trevor wanted to save the world. This was his passion. It took a fair amount of his time and energy, but he didn’t mind. It was a lonely task, mostly done anonymously, in difficult circumstances, nevertheless, Trevor was unwavering in his commitment.
He was particularly good at connecting things. When Trevor was a boy, he would wander the streets of his small town, observing life he saw along the way, creating stories out of seemingly random phenomena. This excited him to no end.
The sight of a nine-year-old talking to himself incoherently while jotting things down in a tiny notepad soon raised enough eyebrows for him to be shuffled off to the school psychologist. The tall, flustered lady couldn’t figure out what was wrong with Trevor, as he seemed to be a decent boy, and referred him to the local specialist in child & adolescent psychiatry. In the hospital they tested him, and found that he had a below average IQ, mostly because he decided he did not want to speak to them. He was made part of a class with other children with special educational needs that did not want to talk to adults. Trevor thought this was an excellent idea.
Being below average soon after became almost a hobby. It brought him great enjoyment. He was free to pursue his purpose without the interference of expectations from his parents, who both intensely cared about achievements and appearances, and after hearing he was a bit slow, shifted their ambitions to his younger sister. This lack of attention from them brought freedom, Trevor grasped this perfectly, even with his nine-year-old mind, as he was always both a pragmatist and a creative. If things worked and suited his quest, no matter how awful they seemed to others, he would just let them run their predictable course.
With a great deal of free time on his hands, since his entire family now believed him to be irrevocably dim, he started secretly constructing a prediction machine, he called it The Telodrome. Somewhere he read that telos meant ‘endgame’ in ancient Greek. He liked that word, the convergence of elements, a tidy summation of a chaotic whole. This was the beginning of his lifetime project. A space where he could connect ideas, people, situations, at random, through both intuition and logic, and examine the results of the synthesis. First it was a series of large notebooks with various clippings. Then it became large cardboard panels, as they had ample surface and were easier on the eye.
After a few years of occasional accuracies, and significant failures, the system started to work properly.
One day, when Trevor was in his early teens, a piece of local news came on TV while he was eating his morning porridge. It was a revelation. His next-door neighbor, Mr Brainbridge, was arrested for growing exotic sounding illegal plants, they said. A great deal of exotic plants.
Trevor rushed off to his archives and dug in to find the notebook he was looking for. Finally, after an hour of painful and tense search he saw it. It was a series of depictions of Mr Brain he made a few years ago, his fairly large head placed as a flower bud on the long-stemmed bodies of various greenery, cheerful haphazard industrial chimneys blowing smoke in the background, with a long calculation and a date scribbled in the margins. The photos were smudged and grainy, as Trevor was never really good with the camera, but all was clear, nonetheless. He looked at the date he jotted in, and his timeline analysis: “6th of April. In exactly three years.” Then he jumped up in a surge of euphoria and started clapping vigorously. It was the exact same date, three years later!
He was somewhat crestfallen for Mr Brain, as he was a pleasant, relaxed sort of man, who never judged Trevor for being under average and slightly odd. In fact, he was one of the rare neighbors that sometimes even spoke to him. But, Trevor thought, this is a genuine sign – if I can predict things as precisely, I might be able to save another Mr Brain from ruin and disrepute, and then go on to greater things.
Then came the case of the post office robbery. His big social breakthrough. At one point, Trevor became obsessed with people that hung out in front of the local convenience store, drinking beer from cans, and smoking, but it was difficult to photograph them as they would chase him up and down the street if he tried. So, he drew them from memory. Every single one of them that hovered around he sketched and filed, and his collection grew. One day, as his prediction date was approaching, he took the sketches and, with difficulty, placed them all on the floor of his tiny room, the most cluttered space in their house. It was thankfully left unsupervised by Trevor’s parents, who, at this point, hardly spoke to him. Neither did his sister, slightly embarrassed that she had a below-average brother, boring and unpopular, she thought, and tended to pretend she did not know him in public. Trevor saw this as a blessing, as she never had interest in the inventory of his room, the way she did with their parent’s closets. In search of any sort of treasure, she would be merciless in her raids. So, this way, all his documents were safe.
Spending an hour gazing over his collection of sketches, he picked out one man, out of the many, and tagged his image on the wall across his bed. Next morning, he woke up, and got ready for school. When he was approaching the convenience store, which had a post office inside, there was a police van up front, and one younger man had been handcuffed and pushed inside the back of the vehicle. Something was off, thought Trevor, as the older, balding man he chose to tag on his wall stood outside, in a green parka, mixed in with the crowd, while the officers were clearly arresting the wrong man.
Finally ready to speak out to another human on his findings, Trevor discretely walked over to one of the officers standing on the far side of the van, and whispered: “You know, I watch these people all the time, this dude you got is only a stooge, the older guy in the green jacket is the ringleader. He talks everyone into stealing things, so they show off, and sometimes end up in trouble, they always give him a cut, but he never gets caught.”
The officer was a bit surprised at Trevor, but he looked at him with interest, took his name, address, and jotted down a few sentences.
Trevor walked off. Quietly elevated. This, he thought, is what it was like to be successful. And soon enough, after a few days or so, he heard that the balding man was arrested, and the younger one released from custody. He did not want to read anything more about the details of how they charged the local green parka Svengali, as they would probably be untrue and – as far as Trevor was concerned – justice was served.
This personal victory spurred Trevor to become more overtly independent. At 16 years of age, he sought emancipation from his parents, who, for the first time in their lives, were surprised by his actions. They thought he could hardly read, let alone live alone. But as they did not care much about his trajectory, him being terribly underachieving and dull, and his sister pleased she would have his room for her fashion studio, they let Trevor go easily, placing a great deal of hope in the fashion career of their younger offspring.
Trevor left school at 17, lived alone, in small studio flat in a rough neighbourhood, and worked menial jobs, mostly in construction, as the environmental noise made people want to talk to him less, and that was relaxing. He continued his predictive work at night, and would often intervene, in small ways, in some injustice he witnessed, or mystery that people would not be able to resolve. He also started hoarding books on various subjects, but he most tended towards anthropology, philosophy, and ancient history. He found that reading for long hours at night made him less anxious about the future. Also, more secure that he will find a way out of his own increasingly elaborate maze of ideas.
He also started to steadily date a co-worker, a cashier, whom he met on occasion, when he went up to the head office of the sprawling construction company he worked for part-time. By this point, Trevor became quite a handsome young man, yet entirely unaware of his appeal to women. Relationships came easily, and Trevor was always attentive and kind, but never seemed quite interested, especially in a more committed bond. Until Stella, his romances were brief. She never asked much of him, but also, never gave up on asking him out. And she was a funny sort, witty, managed to make Trevor smile, even just thinking of her. That was a novelty to him.
Early one morning, he woke up, looked at the bright spring day outside, and at Stella, who spent the night over at his. She looked pretty in the sunlight, sleeping. Angelic, serene. Unsuspecting of the world. That suddenly really worried him. He took a day off work.
Trevor decided he needed to do something substantial in this world. Protect Stella. But he had no formal education, other than all the stuff he read in the evenings. What could he possibly do to make himself more able to be the man she needed him to be?
Then it came to him. Naturally. Without a shred of a doubt.
His only talent, he reasoned, was analysis. He was very perceptive. People were grateful for his input. And he was hardly ever wrong. Maybe they would reward him monetarily, somehow, for resolving things in the world, events they are unable to understand for themselves. He would start off small, with a blog, now that blogging platforms have become user friendly and, of course, he would call it Endgame. The raison d’être of all curious things. Work under an alias, call himself Aristotle, follow world events, trying to understand the patterns, figure out the consequences, test the waters, and see how people respond to this work. If they like it, maybe get advertisers in. Working in construction he got to meet a lot of people in real estate. Some even liked him.
By the time Stella woke up, and made her toast and jam, Trevor was writing his first article: Will we go to war? The irresistible, magnetic riches of Old Babylon.
Twenty years later, they came for Trevor, in the night. And he knew they would. He became too prominent, something he never wanted to become, and for a long time avoided, skillfully, by staying a tad too fringe for the ghouls. But it was inevitable, considering how times had changed. Also, his sister became somewhat of a celebrity, over the years, a reality TV star and tabloid fodder, now famously alienated from their parents, who were suing her for invasion of privacy.
Indicted for conspiracy to undermine governmental efforts in preventing civil unrest under enormous pressure of recent political events, Trevor also became a cause célèbre of a different sort, free speech advocates and anarchists across the globe hailed him as a hero, his philosopher nom de guerre synonymous with the most meticulously researched disclosures.
However, most of his terrified co-patriots labeled him a dangerous conspiracy theorist, likely an employee of a hostile foreign element, and were rooting for his demise.
While agents were vigorously banging on their door, he gave Stella a safe key, an address, and told her to hide both, and not to worry. It was time for him to research the system from the inside. He’ll be back.
Trevor then kissed his twin teenage daughters goodbye and told them to read books.
As the officers were handcuffing him, pushing him out, he bent over towards Stella, once more. She was standing highly distressed in the narrow hallway.
Trevor whispered his return date into Stella’s ear.
Author: © Milana Vujkov, Demolition Road: God’s Analyst, 2015/2020