“Brutally dishonest,” she said. The words flew from her mouth in clear, sharp, cuts.
“Excuse me?” the guard said.
“You’re asking me to speak honestly. There’s no brutality in honesty. The only brutality is in being dishonest,” Kim replied.
“Okay, but you know that that’s all wrong.” Steph the guard was a squat guy but had large trapezius and pectorals that somewhat showed through his shirt. He had a clean shave that knocked off a few years. He had squinty eyes that looked like he was appraising a diamond. He kept his hand on his stun gun and spit these words back at Kim. She gasped.
“You see, honesty hurts. The truth hurts. Everybody knows that,” Steph said. His full name was Talmud Ezekiel Spinks Stephen Goro. Everyone called him Steph. Except Kim.
“CO Goro, that old, false way of looking at things is exactly why people don’t trust individuals. People trust people. But not individuals. They know that truth, honesty, and just flat out laying down reality are all about building. It may seem like it hurts but it’s actually not pain in the sense that it is toxic or an assault.”
“Oh, yeah?” Steph asked.
“So if I say, ‘You’re a homicidal ex-cop who had a thing for offing other girl cops’ you wouldn’t get offended?”
“Because you are being brutally dishonest.”
“Now, we return to the original idea.”
Kim felt empowered. No sting resulted from the barbs that the guard tried to throw. She looked at the wall. The metal mirror with its slight shimmer and laughable lack of true functionality ironically stimulated her.
“Do you believe in God?” Goro asked finally after a long pause.
“That’s the wrong question,” Kim replied with a quiet, even tone.
“You’re supposed to ask if I approve of the theory of God.”
“Okay. Do you approve of the theory of God?”
“You’ve got your zero.”
“Zero. And you have one. Zero out of one makes sense. It’s true. It’s a possible fact.”
“Alright…math. What’s your point?”
“Consider the reverse. One out of zero is what?”
“Yes. But if you calculated it, it would be undefined.”
“You’ve never tried that on a calculator before.”
He shook his head slightly.
“Look at your phone.”
Goro peered at his mobile device.
Kim grinned. “So, let’s stay positive. You’re one. You and I are one of one.”
“Were you trying to trick me all along?” Goro asked with wonder in his voice and a slight bit of concern.
“No. I’m just pointing out that you’re correct if you are honest.”
“Back to the honesty….”
“I’ve never left it.”
“So, this is better than two plus two?”
“That’s classic but this is even better because it deals with the first figure and the placeholder. By knowing what you now know, you’re going to always remember that simple fraction and retain the fact that the one must be there in the denominator.”
“The denom––” Goro started with a deep robotic voice.
“Don’t do that.”
“You don’t have the authority any more. I can say ‘denominator’ if I want. You’re accused.”
“We’ll see what the trial is going to show.”
Goro walked away and the lights dimmed and there was a golden glow underneath the door outside of Kim’s cell. She looked at the mirror but it didn’t matter. All was a black shroud before her eyes. Sleep found her but she didn’t dream of any numbers. In her night phantasms, she saw balloons go by her unconscious.