Published Fall 2015 in The Louisville Review
This story ends with a plot hole. But before I can tell you about that, I need to tell you about the editorial meeting where it all started.
Near the end of the meeting, Doug Zonnig acted like he was just casually suggesting an idea. “You know, Ngoc Dung Muộn would be perfect to interview Dr. Moon. You know because of her father.” Spite finally made Zonnig pronounce my name correctly.
Our boss, Mr. Porlock, interrupted, “Wait, who is her father?”
I cringed. Was he really going to tell everyone?
“You didn’t know?” Zonnig beamed his brightest smile. “I guess N.D. is just shy about it, but her father is the great theoretical physicist, Dr. Muộn.”
Mr. Porlock paused. “You mean that guy from all the TV documentaries?”
“Yeah.” Zonnig simpered. “That’s the one.”
“N.D., why didn’t you mention this earlier?” Mr. Porlock demanded.
I shrugged. Doug Zonnig is Exhibit A in the perils of dating in the workplace.
Mr. Porlock adjusted his sweater. “N.D., would you be willing to fly over?”
“Why don’t I just Skype?” I asked. “It saves time, money–”
Zonnig’s cheerful look got cloudy. “No, N.D., you have got to be physically there, in the room, in Switzerland. It’s our only chance to actually get the story. Dr. Moon never allows pictures and rarely speaks to anyone. But he might talk to you, because of your father.”
“He’s right,” Mr. Porlock said.
Zonnig knew I couldn’t refuse with the whole team there. It would look like I wasn’t a team player, and everyone knew they were already looking to downsize.
“It’s not a bad idea, but–” I started to say.
“Then it’s decided,” Mr. Porlock said. “You’ll leave tomorrow. Work out the details.”
After the editorial meeting, I elbowed Zonnig in the arm. Hard. “Jerk.”
Zonnig just laughed. “What? I thought science was in your blood?”
“You know I’m busy with the digital clock piece,” I said.
“There will be plenty of time for that when you get back.”
Zonnig probably knew I had requested the weekend off. Li and I were going to travel up the coast. That’s probably what this was all about.
Zonnig winked. “You know, they call him ‘Moon-atic’ behind his back.”
I could already feel the stress beginning to coalesce where my nose meets my forehead. At least I wouldn’t have to conduct much research for this interview. I knew all about Dr. Abora Moon. My father was one of his strongest supporters. He probably liked Moon more than anyone (if he ever actually liked anyone at all). Of course, Moon also made a legion of enemies, who were waiting for the day when he would finally falter. And that day might finally have come. That’s why Porlock wanted this interview.
As you probably already know, Dr. Moon is the most iconic figure in science at the moment. Love him or hate him, I know you know him. His career started with the publication of an infamous paper, which concluded that string theory is false (because string is far too tenuous to connect the universe – it would take at least a rope).
“Let Schrödinger’s Cat chase after string,” Dr. Moon had said. “I pursue the truth. And Rope Theory is that truth.”
His paper and his quote were roundly mocked. But none of us understood that Moon wanted our ridicule. Rope Theory was merely a feint to attract attention: an elaborate practical joke. Moon had a very real theory waiting in the wings, and he unleashed it just as our mockery reached a crescendo.
His real theory was a paradigm shifter. Those who were caught in the act of ridicule were positively stunned. Not only was Moon an unquestionable genius, he was a consummate showman. It was no surprise that the public loved him then. But that would change…
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