What to say about Epp? Most likely not a lot. The guy was everywhere, was arguably the main driving force behind these tales, influenced every character and became the center of, if not the reason for, the entire third act. He was a character who was so powerful that scenes he wasn’t anywhere near changed course simply because his name was spoken out loud. He was a character so cool that he made britches and a waistcoat seem stylish.
Picking one moment to capture Epp, I realize as I write this, is completely out of the question. It just isn’t going to happen. He’s here, obviously very high up on the list, but the moment I’m going to choose isn’t any grand Epictetus moment. If you’ve come this far then you know all the grand Epictetus moments yourself and probably have a few stuck in your memory that are being trotted out right now: the cathedral; Newtonian Physics; pounding the bar at the Port Authority and turning a stack of hundred dollar bills into a brief history of currency. I’m not about to go picking and choosing amongst those to try and capture everything about him in one little scene.
He also has a number of rather wonderful lines:
Smooth – “Even for the immortal, Benjamin, life is too short to drink bad scotch.”
Touching – “Two thousand years and the power of a god and there’s no end to how much I’d give up to be able to talk through some of my problems with you. You were always so good at helping me notice what I was thinking too hard to see.”
When asked why you would buy the cow when you can get the milk for free – “One would purchase the cow if the future value of all milk after deducting for risk was greater than the asking price plus the value of the amount of expected free milk, assuming a cow that provided no benefits other than milk.”
But, no, none of these are my favorite moment. My favorite moment is nothing but a little throwaway line that comes in the middle of “Three Lessons.” It’s just something that Epp mutters while waiting for a text message.
Why choose this moment? Because it’s something that any of us might mutter while waiting for a text message (I mean, not me because I love texting, but other people). My favorite moments for Epp, in fact my favorite moments in these stories, are the moments when these keepers of strength and defenders of inspiration, when these century old demi-gods and masters of quantum particles, when these embodiments of the “whatever” in “whatever doesn’t kill you”, when these testers and pushers act undeniably human. Because that was the best part about these tales for me.
Despite all the bells and whistles and craziness happening, these characters came out as some of the more human characters I’ve ever written. That’s really all I want to say about that as far as the deep end of the pool goes, that statement is surely up for debate, but in the shallow end of things there are hundreds of moments where these characters become perfectly accessible because they do things like mess up math in their head, fumble with metaphors, screw up times zones, forget appointments. That aspect of things was a huge part of the world-building that went on for these stories. I didn’t want larger than life immortals gnashing their teeth and causing giant earthquakes and speaking in booming voices. I wanted their roots, their beginnings, who they were to start with to always shine through. I wanted them wonderfully and at times woefully human. Human but with the ability to turn mass into energy at will or quantum tunnel their way through a car roof.
So Epp at slot number two speaks for itself as far as Epp the character goes. The moment is irrelevant, so say I, allowing me to pick a moment that has nothing to do with anything except that it continues to make me smile when I think about it. Just one line when Epp is sitting alone in Sophie Loughton’s bedroom while Matthew is making his first push. Epp is contacting two strangers who turn out to be Mary and Bartleby, and in the silence of the gathering storm outside his phone continues to beep softly, and he continues to clack the keys in reply, and he utters to no one a very simple human sentiment:
Nobody talks on the phone anymore.
I always loved that line.
Of course, here we are with Epp and it’s only moment number two.
Surprised? Wondering what moment one is? It’s pretty obvious when you think about it. After all, this never really was Epp’s story, now was it?
(thanks to Reza Vaziri for the photo)