A Door to Numbers

Angelina would need a few minutes to get to her desk and back, and her footfalls are heavy enough for me to know when she was coming. And what I need to do only takes a few seconds — flip over the legal pad, commit the numbers she’s written down to memory, then turn the pad back over. Those numbers would give me access to Murph’s home, and when there I could find a definitive answer to the questions my mind refuses to ignore. Is Murph really married? If yes, then why is his wife rarely if ever seen in public? If no, what could posses a man to create such an elaborate ruse?

If I flip over the legal pad, I can unlock a door that will open a house full of answers. But that act would open a second door, figurative but no less real. I would betray the trust that Angelina has placed in me, and violate the privacy that Murph so clearly cherishes. And after committing such a blatantly unethical act, would I be able to resist —

A bald man wearing a very colorful tie walks into the conference room. He looks at me, purses his lips. “Info Quest?”

I shake my head, point to the man’s left. “Think they’re in B.”

“Ah!” The man winks at me. “Thanks.”

He leaves, and the regret I felt when he entered leaves me, and lets me know there’s only one course of action for me. I flip over the legal pad, stare at the numbers. Five, none sequential. As a child, I learned the best way to memorize a series of numbers was to impose a pattern on them, based on numbers familiar to me (a famous athlete’s uniform number, a significant month or year, a scientific fact or formula); I quickly impose a pattern, then hear Angelina’s distinctive footfalls, and place the pad back into its position. Angelina walks into the conference room a moment later, and I almost want to apologize to her.

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