If there was any chance of there being a single perfect, brilliant, exceptional human being in the population of the entire city of Boston, the odds were 782 to 1 against that person being Will Hunting. Taking into account all those whom fall into the categories of perfect, brilliant, exceptional—the artists, writers, doctors, scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers— Will Hunting saw the truth plainly written on the back of a receipt in stark black ink. If someone interested in these odds were to read this unashamedly unscientific study, they would no doubt question the authenticity of its numbers. After all, it was conducted on the back of a receipt for a pack of Marlboros, three of which didn't survive the walk to the bus stop, and the large, childlike letters were almost illegible in some places because of the jostling from the bus.
The thought did not cross Will's mind. No one would care about the statistic he had quickly scrawled out on his way home. He certainly didn't. Pulling a cigarette from his pocket, he crumpled up the paper and threw it carelessly onto the floor of the bus.
"Hey, sonny, no smokin' on the bus!" shouted the driver, his gruff voice loud and clear all the way down the empty aisle.
"All right, all right. . . . geez," Will answered back. He didn't feel like getting into a fight five minutes from home. Still, his eyes roamed over the dark-skinned man with his muscular build and hairy arms. He could definitely take him.
The bus stopped with a screech. Will stood, yawning and stretching his legs before strolling up to the door.
"You take cayah of yaself, now," the bus driver said as Will stepped off, perhaps sorry for having shouted at the lonely youth. Will nodded quickly in return, rumpling his hair as he walked up to his house.
Making a path through the junk in his yard, he kicked open the front door and fell onto his bed. The bed creaked, and the rusty springs poked into his back, but Will only shifted position and grabbed a book lying on his pillow. The lamp afforded enough light to make out the small print if he lay directly under it. He flipped through the pages, already familiar with the text, lazily sifting through for some passage he might have missed.
"Sympathetic frequencies. . .'armonics. . . reinfawcement. . . .expoinential. . . blah, blah, blah.," he mumbled to himself, tossing the book aside.
Will stared up at the ceiling, his eyelids heavy with sleep, the smell of cleaning products still on his hands and drifted off into a restless sleep.
Sean Maguire checked his watch again. It was rare that he would be up and about at this hour and even rarer that he took the bus. It was not that he had somewhere to be—far from it. His home was simply making him claustrophobic. The early morning light streaming in through the window had drawn his attention to the dirty dishes and empty bottles in the sink, and he decided it was less trouble to wander about the city than drag himself into the kitchen and clean it up.
So here he was, waiting for the morning's first bus. There it came and stopped with a screeching of brakes and a puff of exhaust. The doors opened, and the slack-jawed driver looked down at him, as if he had been dreading stopping to allow the bearded professor onto his vehicle.
"Good morning, sir," Sean said, cheerily as he stepped in. His smile quickly faded as the driver indicated that his early-morning brightness would not excuse him from the bus fee.
The professor paid the fees and made his way down the aisle, making sure to get as far away from the driver as possible. He finally settled on a seat near the back and sat down. Staring out the window, he made circles in the frosty glass, wondering just where the bus was going to stop and what he was going to do once he got there. Like a dog chasing a car, he thought.
Deep in rambling thoughts, he quickly lost time and slid in his cracked leather seat as the bus jerked to a stop. Steadying himself, he looked out the window and found, to his relief, the bus had stopped in the city park. He sauntered back up the aisle, raising a hand in a semi-wave to say his good-byes to the driver.
The air was starting to warm as the sun rose, and he saw that he was quite alone as the early bird joggers were his only company. And so he ambled through the park, kicking at rocks along the way, watching the squirrels scurry about and listening as the birds twittered from their nests. Eventually, he found a small bench beside a pond where the swans were swimming about for their breakfast.
He sat there for awhile, thinking. It was marvelous what he could remember without a bottle dangling from his hand. The ache in his heart alternated with joy that nearly made him cry. The memory of his wife was stronger here in a place he had never been than in his own home—at least the good left in that memory.
The sun was high in the sky when the professor finally walked away from his bench. He held his head a bit higher, the peace he had discovered, following him back to the bus stop. Still, there was a pang in his heart as the bus and its burly driver pulled back up. He would be going home now. He would be going back to a dim house with a sink full of dishes and a counter littered with empty bottles.
He boarded the bus again, paying his fees and went back to his seat at the end of the aisle. He sat down with a sigh and laid his head against the glass. He closed his eyes as the sleep he had missed out on made itself known. Moving to cross his legs, he heard a rustling beneath his feet. He looked down. Below him was a small piece of paper. He picked it up, carefully unfolding it, making sure not to tear its already tattered edges. The handwriting was deliberate though a bit scribbled in places, undoubtedly from the bouncing of the bus. The paper's purpose was clear however.
782 to 1.
Sean laughed a bit to himself and pocketed the paper. Whoever had dropped it had obviously been discouraged by the numbers they had come up with. Poor soul, he thought. The odds were not favorable. His mind searched for some Shakespearean passage he might recite in the hopes that the wisdom might reach the disheartened fellow, but none came to him. Then, he thought—perhaps these odds were not meant for the person who had dropped them. Perhaps they were meant for someone else. For him.
782 to 1.
Seemingly unbeatable. He smiled again. Maybe, just maybe, some luck might stumble his way. . . .