The Event’s Aftermath, Any Other Business, Other Rival Businesses, and Maybe, Just Maybe, Beginning to Get Around to the Point
You’re probably waiting for me to reveal that Creepy and I swapped places with one another on Thursday two weeks ago, and swapped back with great relief but no real change in our standard daily routine on Friday two weeks ago.
That would of course be the easy assumption to make and – much as I hate to admit it – would have made a lot of sense. But that’s not what happened. As a matter of fact, and again this was only according to the information we’d gathered so far, it seemed as though Creepy and I were part of a minority even smaller than the Idyllic Loving Couples Who Swapped Places For A Day category. A minority, so far, of exactly two people.
Specifically, we were adults who had not swapped with anybody at all.
To be honest, I don’t think that’s entirely surprising. There were really only three possibilities as far as I can see, and Creepy and me swapping consciousnesses with two other completely random people somewhere else in the world was a distant third place among those three possibilities. The other two possibilities were that we swapped with each other or we didn’t swap at all. I don’t know which of those was the 50% probability and which was the 49% probability, but that doesn’t change the fact that both of us waking up in the bodies of two previously-unknown probably-definitely-maybe soulmates was a 1% chance at best.
Creepy believes this is because we are in perfect Zen-like balance with ourselves and the universe, and need no other half because we are each complete and finished beings. I suspect it might be because we read as prepubescent children to the alien scanners. But surely if that were the case, we wouldn’t be the only ones? I’d like to believe we wouldn’t be, anyway. That would be embarrassing, as well as … okay, at least a little bit Peter-Pan awesome.
It’s also possible that as a result of our many adventures, Creepy and I have ended up with some sort of brainwave alteration, electronic implant or protective hex that has left us impervious or otherwise unsuitable for the experiment. As I’ve reflected in the past, I continually hope that the simplest explanation turns out to not be the case but up to this point I have been consistently disappointed.
Creepy hung up the phone.
“Some people, Hatboy,” he announced, “just don’t want to be helped.”
“I assume, by ‘some people’,” I said, “you mean ‘humans’.”
“Not exclusively,” Creepy clarified, “but the set I’m referring to does include all of the humans, yes.”
“Can’t disagree with you there,” I said, returning to my side of the desk and sitting back down. I clicked around desultorily on the computer for a bit. “There’s a new rival agency,” I said. “Another matchmaking service, by the looks of it.”
I could understand perfectly well why dating services and computerised matchmaking algorithms felt like a logical solution and a perfectly-placed business model to step into the new world that The Event had ushered in. They did have a bit of an overlap in terms of expertise, communications and other infrastructure. But the fact was, they didn’t really fit the bill. Because a date, a potential partner, arrived at by analysis of hobbies and likes and dislikes and preferred appearance metrics, intersected with The Event’s apparent matchmaking system around about nowhere.
That fraction-of-a-fraction of people I mentioned earlier, who found themselves swapping bodies with loved ones? That’s about as many people whose swap-buddies during The Event could ever have been predicted by a dating service.
Still, they tried.
“Good,” Creepy said. “Can we retire now?”
“Why are you in such a hurry to retire?” I asked. “Is it just because this whole ‘job’ thing is making you uneasy?”
“It’s not just that,” Creepy said. “We’re private detectives, Hatboy. The longer we leave it before retiring, the more we talk about it. And the more we talk about retirement, the more likely it is that someone-”
Reality, I have come to note over the years, doesn’t work in mysterious ways. That’s just what people want to think, whether they talk about the vast and random universe or some interventionist God or anything in between. Because declaring that things work in mysterious ways excuses us from any responsibility. How could we have known? If we’d done it all differently, things still would have gone pear-shaped because the Mysterious Way would have been changed, on purpose, to preserve a pear-shaped conclusion that was essentially predetermined.
And alright, look, I’m not arguing that pear isn’t the natural shape of the universe. I think it probably is, and we should probably get used to the idea.
No, the truth is there’s nothing particularly mysterious about the way things happen. It’s usually completely logical, at least in hindsight, and once you learn a bit more or get some perspective you can generally either a) point to a certain series of occurrences and say yep, this is where I could have begun avoiding that, or b) point to the whole thing and say well that was some unfair-arse bullshit right there.
In neither case, I need to stress, was there a mystery. If you don’t understand how or why a thing happened, that’s fine. You can’t be expected to know exactly what’s going on, all the time. But at least have a little bit of dignity about it. Don’t nod wisely and pretend like the whole point of the thing was to leave you puzzled.
That’s not the point. That’s just a result of you not being in possession of all the facts.
So anyway, I wasn’t surprised that someone burst into our office with a gun in each hand just as Creepy was outlining the dangers of being a private detective on the road to retirement. I was mostly surprised by the fact that the person seemed to be a female version of Creepy.