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Chapter 09

Chapter 09

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Published by The Cowboy Wiseman

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Categories:Types, Comics
Published by: The Cowboy Wiseman on Aug 12, 2010
Copyright:Public Domain

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09/25/2010

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Chapter 9
An old business associate, and coincidentally the Professor Emeritus of Vertebrate Biologyat Cal State Davis, invited me and a select few other of the institution's Platinum Club contributorsto a formal dinner honoring the return of one of the school's most distinguished alumni. Wegathered in a fine old Victorian on Faculty Row after Dr. O'Riordan's speech at the auditorium. Shehad talked about the sketchy data that had been gathered during the abbreviated experiment but, likean old astronaut, she was chomping at the bit to get back in there. "It's like we've gone back toGenesis and created a whole new world for ourselves," she cooed at one of her applause lines. "Soclean, so pure, so...virginal."She answered questions at the dinner table with the bubbly zeal of a new convert; she wouldlightly touch her breast and, with glints in her bottle green eyes, breathe huskily that, "The wholeexperience is like being born anew, its the way we're supposed to live." She answered everyone'squestions but mine -- me she stared at in a flinty silence. It wasn't until after dinner, when I'd hadthe chance to get her alone on the portico, that she unloaded on me like I knew she would.It was one of those made-to-order California nights, the distant whisper of the surf and the briny taste of the air. Eucalyptus perfumed the evening and the warmth of the air softened
 
everything’s edges. I hoped it would soften O’Riordan’s attitude toward me as well."Don't misunderstand, Mr....""Cowboy. Just call me Cowboy, even the Professor does." She dropped her chin and raisedher eyes at me, as if to say ...Cowboy?"Okay ...Mr. Cowboy, its not that I have anything against you personally. I don't knowmuch about you other than that the Professor tells me that you are obscenely wealthy. And don'tmisinterpret that. I don't have anything against wealth either, as long as it’s properly applied." A pregnant pause, a knowing look down that beautiful angular nose at the robber baron, right on cue."It’s just that I will not work for the private sector. Philosophical reasons more than anything.""Because you feel that government is better equipped to provide benefits to society as awhole because the profit motive is absent, that the free enterprise system is somehow incapable of so doing, is that it?""Your words, not mine. But I won't argue." She took a delicate sip of her champagne, as if to celebrate a point won.I assumed an attitude of deepest sincerity, calling forth all my con man’s skills. I knitted my brow, opened my hands, molded my body’s posture. "If I could somehow convince...no, convinceis too strong a word. If I could present the possibility that the project I have in mind is benign or even socially responsible, would you at least consider lending your assistance?""I have an open mind, if that's what you mean. But people like you have wasted billions of dollars on Madison Avenue trying to convince a gullible public that your motives are pure, dollarsthat some feel would have been better spent elsewhere. And I must warn you that I have a verysensitive propaganda detector. So you’ll have to convince me that you’re not simply coming on tome like a tobacco company. If you have something to me by tomorrow night, I will promise that Iwill read it on the plane. End of promises."I sensed that I’d exacted as much as I would get tonight. I knew that I’d convinced a veryskeptical woman who’d already told me, “No” to reconsider and say, “Maybe”. And like any good

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