Chapter Three

No chains around my feet, but I’m not free.

Bob Marley

That evening, Gwen and Puzzle have settled in for the evening at Gwen’s house. Gwen lives in a lime green rancher with a wooden screened in porch. There is an array of hummingbird feeders hanging from trees and posts in the yard. There is also an old concrete mixer parked in the back yard with a For Sale sign on it, and a sassafras tree growing up through its roof. The driveway is paved with broken river rocks. A red Jeep is parked in the yard near Gwen’s car, an Easter egg yellow 2010 Volkswagen Beetle convertible with a “My Other Car Is A Broom” bumper sticker under the license plate. There is a Ravenclaw house sticker in the rear window.

Gwen is multi-tasking as usual: Crossword puzzle in Latin, setting up the webcam on the telescope to track Saturn across the night sky, and listening bemusedly as the weather lady said “cumulus” while pointing at a nimbus cloud formation.

The television is on the local news, where the weather lady is weaving a bit from drinking all afternoon. Puzzle is on the floor scraping frosting out of a pizza box with a Boy Scout knife.

Gwen threw down first, with a haiku:

Gwen thinks it may rain,

But Gwen has been mistaken

At least she’s not drunk.


Puzzle countered with the graceful air of someone who dreams in limericks:

There once was a lady named Thyme

Whose weather predictions were crime

For when she said rain

The clouds wouldn’t drain

Until she predicted all day sunshine.


“You suck.” Gwen opined.

About this time the following numbers appeared on the television screen:

3   8 21 55 44

Gwen hits the “Pause” button on the remote control so she could tease Puzzle at her leisure, “See Puzzle-man? Those could be your numbers, if you had bought a ticket! You know what they say, right? If you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket!”

“If I had bought a ticket to the lottery, what do you suppose are the chances I would have picked all the numbers in ascending order?” asked Puzzle.

“Same as the odds of surviving a sword fight: one in three. Either they are in order going up, in order going down, or mixed. One in three,” replied Gwen, with a snarky tone that was unmistakable.

“Do you ever buy lottery tickets, Gwen?”

“Not often, but sometimes, sure,” said Gwen, a little bit reluctantly because Puzzle was not taking the bait with his usual gusto.

“Please comment on the number series currently on the television screen” asked Puzzle, his fingertips tented like a James Bond villain.

“3, 8, 21, 55, 44. What of them?” asked Gwen.

“Look closer.”

“3, 8, 21, 55, 44. Oh frak. What are the odds?” she asked, “Alternating Fibonacci Numbers? Really?”

“Not quite, these are alternating Fibonacci numbers mod 100 after 99, if they were really alternating Fibonacci numbers it would be ‘3, 8, 21, 55, 144’,” he admonished.

“I bet you wish you had bought a ticket at the 7-11 now, huh mister Tax On People Who Are Bad at Math?” Gwen chided.

Puzzle said nothing. Their eyes met. Gwen saw the cartoon rabbit peering out from behind his corneas, and blinked first.

Puzzle pointed at the ticket lying next to the pizza box.

“I am not going to live this down, am I?” he inquired.

“Not ever, not even remotely.” she replied.

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