Lorenzo spoke mathematics. The terminology was a satisfying buffer between him and the rabble outside the College of Advanced Mathematics. If someone who arbitrarily wondered into Bertrand Russell Hall pretending to belong there, he or she could be quickly filtered out by a reference to Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem, or maybe a casual remark about the Law Of Quadratic Reciprocity.
But if the intruder was young but possibly interested in theoretical mathematics, he might drop a softball about the Pythagorean Theorem. If he got a blank stare, he’d call security.
On a winter evening, Lorenzo was at his computer, indulging in another viewing of his favorite movie, “A Beautiful Mind,” when the doorbell rang. He hated visitors, especially at the end of the day. He peered through the peephole and saw a man in a FedEx uniform. He opened the door. “I need your signature,” the man said, extending a small screen and stylus. As Lorenzo took the box, the man shoved him so hard that he fell backward. Instantly the man was on top of him, pressing a damp cloth over his face. Then nothingness until he awoke in a dark room, tied down to a cold steel chair bolted to the floor.
A door opened, a single light was flipped on, and before him stood a young man holding a knife. “Recognize me? Of course not. You’re a busy man. You have important work crunching equations. But I’m the man you ejected from the program, saying I had no talent for the work of theorectical mathematics.”
“I say that to all substandard specimens. You shouldn’t take it seriously.”
The torture lasted five days before the police traced the distress call for a man abandoned in an alley way, naked with a thousand cuts over his body, but miraculously still alive. The cuts were clean, deliberate, and were in the form of equations and formulas never seen by anyone, not even the experts who viewed photos of the victim.