When a bet is jokingly placed during a Friday night drink down the pub, Stephen Welles, a blind mathematician, decides to accept and starts work on the problem of doing interior design when you've never even seen a colour.
Basil let out a short, sharp bark when Stephen finally arrived home. He fumbled in his pockets for his keys, dropped them, then stooped down to pick them up only to find Basil dropping them into his hand.
He turned the key in the door, struggling a little to find the keyhole at first and then let basil guide him in. He took off his coat, hanging it on the coat hook the left, and then let Basil lead him upstairs to the bedroom. Basil knew the Friday night drill - pub, home, bed. He'd once tried to stay up and listen to the radio; but Basil wouldn't have any of it and after listening to his constant whining, Stephen had acquiesced and gone to bed. He'd felt better for it too; no telling how awful he'd have felt in the morning if he'd stayed up.
Basil knew best. He was far more than just a guide dog to Stephen; they'd been together for years and he was more like a friend now than a helper. Technically, Basil had retired as a guide dog, but Stephen had decided to keep him as a pet and had declined to get another one. While Basil was getting a little old, he still had a lot of life in him and Stephen couldn't bear the thought of replacing him.
Stephen got into bed and as he lay there he couldn't stop thinking about the conversation at the pub.
* * * * *
"So who would you put in charge then? Fabio? He's about as much use as a blind interior designer. Crap, sorry Stephen! Ha! Ha! Ha!"
"Shut up Mark, this isn't America, I'm not gonna sue you for hurting my feelings. God... " He shook his head. "And Fabio isn't all that bad. Not my first choice for the stats project, a bit young, but anyone's better than Parkway. Jesus, if he refers to that god damn paper of his one more time... it's not even relevant!"
"Speaking of irrelevance. The idea of a blind interior designer isn't that far fetched. After all it comes down to a balance of geometry, colour matching, optimal usage of space and light distribution. That's all maths at the end of the day, you could model it all out without ever seeing anything." Raj said, finishing off the last of his pint.
"Bollocks to that!" Mark laughed. "You only have to pay a visit to Stephen's place to disprove that. Jesus, that place looks like it was decorated in the seventies. His wallpaper could hypnotise you with it's orange and brown swirls."
"It's not that bad..." Stephen said weakly.
"You don't have to bloody look at it. Poor Basil has to put up with it every day.Why d'you think we meet down the pub instead of your place? Gives me a bloody headache."
"Flipping hell, Mark, easy on mate." Raj said, a little indignation creeping into his voice.
Stephen just laughed and shook his head, he found the whole thing more amusing than anything else. "Political correctness gone mad. Next round's on me."
He left the table and Basil took him up to the bar. After paying and insisting he could carry them himself, he brought the 3 pints back to the table.
"...all right then, I bet a weeks wages that Stephen can't come up with a new design for his house that wont give me a headache, and no cheating with making everything bloody magnolia, I mean something proper like those TV shows do."
Raj shook his head. "I'm not betting on that. Steve," he said, relieving Stephen of a pint, "it's your house, your bet. Personally, I'd go tell him to jump in the canal."
Steve handed over the other pint to Mark and then sat down with his own. "I dunno." he said thoughtfully, "As you said, it's all maths."
"Eh! See, Steve's got balls!"
"I didn't say I agreed. I'll think about it, okay?"
Mark looked at his watch and downed his pint. "Right, I need to be off. Steve, you just let me know if it's on - a weeks wages is up for grab. See you guys later."
After he left, Raj grabbed Stephen's arm. "You aren't really considering it, are you? It's not even a fair bet - you earn more than him!"
Stephen just shook his head, trying not to laugh as he finished his drink.
"You know, " Raj continued, "Mark needs to start watching what he says, one day he's going to say something in the wrong crowd and find himself on the wrong end of a court order. He wont be laughing then. Right, then. Another round?"
* * * * *
The rest of the night was a bit of a blurry, but here he was a few hours later tucked up in bed with that idea going around and around in his head.
It's all maths, after all...