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Rod, Rex and Rhoda

by Bob Brill

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Parting Is Such Swift Stupidity

I’m back in my lab at Cal Tech trying to tease out an idea, but it’s not going well. Rex is with me and that’s a help, but Rhoda has gone to Washington to work on her story.

I can’t remember the thread I was following, but I have the hint of a glimmer of an idea, and without much reflection I test myself for metafallazine. My blood sample shows a low level of that molecule where I expected none.

I stare out the window for a long time. There’s a part of me that knows that when you get a totally surprising result, you’re on to something. But what?

My phone rings. It’s Rhoda calling to plead with me to join her in Washington. “I’m having trouble keeping all the science straight in this story. You could help me with that.”

“I told you we need to stay close together to keep our minds functioning. I’m having some scientific difficulties myself. I’ve got some new evidence that needs to be researched. I suspect that a low level of metafallazine is a component of normal blood. That changes everything and we need to find out more. When and why does it sometimes lead to Fallow’s Syndrome? What is its purpose in the human body? Is this connected in any way with Rumex’s anti-aging drug? You’re premature with this story. All you have is an idea, not a story, certainly not proof. At this point we don’t know what your evidence means.”

Just being in phone contact with Rhoda has cleared my mind. “Come back. We need each other now. And I’m not talking about sex.”

Rhoda hesitates. “My agent is very excited about this story. If I can get the facts better organized, this will be a major boost for my career. Help me, Rod.”

“I am helping you when I say it needs more work. Come back and we can discuss this further when we we’re both smarter.”

“All right, Rod. I hear you. I’ll be back in an hour or two.”

“Good. Call me when you arrive at the Cal Tech transporter station. I’ll pick you up and take you out to lunch.”

Two hours later we’re sitting in the Golden Phoenix drinking wine coolers and waiting for our meal. “I’ve got a real dilemma,” Rhoda says. “I feel so much better now that we’re together again. My mind is crisp and clear. And I see that you’re right. I can’t spring this story till we’ve got an airtight case. But the truth is, Rod, we’re not right for each other. I can’t spend the rest of my life within two feet of you.”

“I’ve got the same dilemma and for the same reasons. Remember my saying how much I love you? Well, amend that to say I’ve been very much in lust with you, but with a bit of effort I think I can get over it. You’re not in love with me either. But since we’re bound by a common need to keep sane, we’ll have to forge a different kind of relationship. Maybe we can team up to write popular science books and articles for the lay reader. I’ll provide the science, you provide the stories.”

“But, Rod, I’m an investigative reporter. I want to expose bad behavior by politicians and corporations like Rumex.”

“That’s a worthy ambition. Right now it’s not clear that Rumex is doing anything wrong, except for scrambling our brains. Even if they are, they’re enormously wealthy, with armies of lawyers and lobbyists, and mountains of cash to tempt the greedy who can pave their path. I predict that Rumex’s anti-aging drug will be approved by DOPAD sooner or later. It occurs to me that this might be a good time to buy some Rumex stock.”

Proceed to Chapter 14...

Copyright © 2010 by Bob Brill

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