Three Factorial! by Dee Artea

Three Factorial!
(A Tale in Three Sections,
Six Ways)
Dee Artea

Section One

Where are you taking me? I don’t trust you. Are you that lawyer guy who made me uncomfortable by the way you looked at me – my breasts, my legs? You look like him.”

“No Jamie. I’m Guy, your orderly today. We’re going to the social hall. And no one ever told me that I looked like a lawyer, geez. Sometimes you say the funniest things. That’s why I like working with you. … Here we go. We’re going to a picnic.”

The social hall was decked out with red and white checkered tablecloths (well really plastic throwaway ones), paper plates, paper cups, and lots of food – picnic food. Hot dogs, hamburgers, coleslaw, soda pop, with ketchup, mustard, relish, and pickles galore. A real faux picnic for the residents.

As Guy wheeled Jamie into her place at a table, she turned to him and said, “You really are that lawyer guy. See your name is Guy. So, you’re the guy.”

Jamie looked past the person across the table, and through the large window at into the sky. “I remember. Yes, I do.”

I downloaded the document from the lawyer. Only three pages, and one is blank. “For crying out loud, can’t anybody get anything right these days?”

Ya know, something was out of kilter with that guy. I sensed it when I first walked into his office. He wore a proper lawyerish suit, but it didn’t fit right. His hair was nicely cut, but it didn’t seem to be made for his head. But most of all, what bothered me was the way he looked at me, or through me, or over me. He didn’t sit behind his desk, but next to it, so we sat facing each other, seeing our bodies from head to toe. I wore sensible shoes and an appropriate skirt. At first, he seemed to look at my feet – or was it my legs? I purposely sat with my knees together, so that he – or maybe not? Can’t remember. Did I cross my legs? At one point he said he thought my left shoe was untied, and so I bent over. But the laces were okay. Did I wear a low-cut blouse that day? What top was I wearing? Don’t recall. But I do remember being aware of his hands; the way they were constantly moving, sort of caressing each other – I can’t find any other way of putting it. Spooky. I was glad to be out of there, and didn’t want to return. So, when he called, saying the document was prepared and I needed to come back to pick it up, I insisted that he scan the few pages and send them by email, adding that I’d pay any additional fees. He tried to convince me to come back for a signature or something, but I told him that I would handle that with a Notary Public later, for I needed to get together other documents to add to the entire package. He seemed disappointed, having run out of ways to get me back in his office. I vaguely recall him saying something about his desire to see me again, and saying it in a peculiar way – implying that he liked just “looking” at me. In the end, he gave in and said he would get his secretary to scan and send me everything. Now here they are: one blank page, and all unnumbered, whereas I need them in proper order. Damn!

Jamie, you ate all your food. You really relished that hot dog, or is that a sort of pun? But you were constantly looking out the window and you didn’t talk to anyone at the table. Where are your thoughts?”

“You really screwed up those documents, Guy. I had a hard time getting everything in order. Ya know, what? I’m not paying you. So there.”

“That’s okay, Jamie. And I’m sorry about the documents. I really am.”

Section Two

Wheel me to that window.”

“Okay, Jamie. What do you see? Cars, lots of cars, eh? There are many visitors today. But, so far, none for you.”

Oh, no, I forget where I parked my car. Are you going to help me? Which guy are you? Huh?”

This silly situation put me at a crossroads – “just like Hercules” I said to myself. In my case, two guys are trying to sway me in different directions. The handsome one wants to take me home. Not for good, mind you, but just for now – till I find my car. His clean & curly blondish hair, green-blue eyes, full lips and strong body are alluring and tempting – for sure. And that smile! Why hesitate, eh?

But still, there’s a tug to the other guy. The studious one, thick rimmed glasses, slightly greasy brown hair, diminutive blue eyes, thin lips, dressed in suit & tie – but showing wear & wrinkles. Did he sleep in it, for God’s sake? But he’s convincing, telling me that he can find my car, since it’s almost closing time.

Cripes, how could I be so dumb as to forget where I parked my car? Then again, it’s my forgetfulness – oh, I don’t want to think about that. Not now.

I need to make a decision. Is this my test from the gods? Can I still make choices rationally? Maybe I could still draw upon my rational side to get through this? How about that logic course in university? I liked that Prof: smart & good-looking too. I thought maybe that the course could come in handy, some day – and here it is.

Actually, that old Prof was not much different from this studious guy, who, now that I look again, ya know, he’s not too bad looking, either. And he makes sense, now that I think about it. Let’s see, it’s 8:55 pm and people are leaving the store in droves. By 9:10 or so, the parking lot will be mostly empty and there will be no trouble finding my car.

Let’s see: although my feeling side draws me toward the handsome guy, logically—

Yeah, the guy with the glasses; he’s my go-to guy. We’ll find my car, together. Now, which one did Hercules choose? I forget.

Jamie, are you still looking out that window? I’ve helped three other residents with their needs, and you’re still―”

You’re the studious guy, aren’t you Guy? Yeah, we found my car, didn’t we?”

We sure did, Jamie. We sure did … I guess.”

Section Three

Wake up Jamie, your doctor is in the Home for her weekly visit, and I need to get you ready to see her. Here, I’ll brush your hair. You must have been tossing in your sleep. What were you dreaming? When I came in, you had a nice smile on your face. Do you remember? Can you tell me?”

No. And what’s this about a doctor? To see me? Not bad news again is it?”

When I got the news, I flinched. The doctor said that in time I would ultimately lose my sense of time. Eventually, sequences of events could come in any order. A loss of my sense of time? Cripes! As if my life were now to be divvied out in random permutations. What could I do? Think!

Let’s see, permutations? I remember them from the high school math class that I always liked, and did well in, even though I was a girl. Brings back good memories. The math teacher, he liked me. He thought it was neat for a girl to be good at math. He gave me confidence. Girls were supposed to be afraid of math. Cindy told me this. Yes, Cindy, who was always surrounded by boys. The good-looking ones. “You have to act dumb; they like that – makes them feel superior, even when they are vacuous dolts,” Cindy said. It worked for her. “But I don’t want dumb boys,” I told her, “even if they’re good-looking.” And that was that.

So, the doctor’s prognosis. Random time? Permutations? Let’s see, hum, it’s factorials that come to mind. I remember; yes, I remember! To calculate the number of permutations of things, you just get the factorial of it. The math symbol is the exclamation point. X! is the factorial of X, where X is any number. So, say, for the number three. 3! = 1 x 2 x 3 = 6. So, there are 6 ways of arranging three things.

Ominously, this is to be my life now. Just random events? That’s going to be tough. But if I could still do math problems like this, well, maybe I could still hold my life together, somehow. At least, that’s my hope. Otherwise I see depression – and more – in my future. Let’s hope math comes to the rescue. It’s all I have; my love of math.

Screw you, Cindy! You dolt!

Jamie, you seemed to be in a daze while the doctor looked at you – took your vitals and such. You acted as if you did not know her. You barely answered her questions. Where were you? You seem to live most of your life in another world; I wish I knew more about your past, but since no one comes to visit, I don’t have any source of information about your life. I wish you would talk to me and tell me what you’re thinking.”

Who was that doctor? Looked familiar. Yeah, nobody does come do they? Where did everyone in my life go to? Wait, ask the doctor about my life … I think.”

Section Zero

Dr. Cindy Nolan jots in her notebook.

Jamie, losing her memory as the dementia goes deeper. Time sequences suspend. Before/after lose their meaning. Time is experienced as just random events. I remember she was good at math. From what I’ve read of Einstein and Relativity, it’s like falling into a Black Hole – the black hole of dementia. Is there a difference? In both cases it’s a one-way street toward the hole – a circle of total blackness. The hole, really a collapsed star, so compact that its gravity approaches infinity. What mathematical physicists call a singularity. The visual size of the hole grows faster than a normal object approaching closer because the light rays are being bent by the massive gravity of the hole. The space eventually bends all around as the total blackness encompasses everything.

Doctor, help me, all I see is blackness. Weren’t you always dumb? How did you become a doctor! … Oh, Cindy, please reach out to me. Is it too late? Have I passed the threshold? I’m being sucked in. I thought we were in this together. What happened to our, uh … Cindy, have I reached the point of no return? All vision – total blackness. Why am I thinking of factorials? Blackness and !!!!! … !!!!!! and blackness.





! x 0 = 0


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