I sit in back, behind your sycophants. Schizophrenic mouse brain cross-sections fill the projection screen. Your nasal drone bores me, so I surf the net. Of course, I know these data -- this is my work of which you talk.
Spit gathers in my mouth. But I close my eyes so I do not have to see your white hairy face, and breathe deep: Truth is virtue.
You cannot steal my energy.
When I open my eyes you are small again. I boot-up my laptop. Headlines flash on tweetdeck.
Stocks up at bell’s open.
Explosion at Afghan prison kills 9.
Lockdown @ V-Tech - gunman still at large.
I click. The url takes me to Blacksburg, a place I do not know. But I do know this school, this Virginia Tech. Two cousins went there, long ago. Now they teach in Cali.
“Compound J-23 induces glial cell regeneration.” You point the laser at the dendrite’s pink-stained branches. “In other words, my compound rebuilds the brain’s hardwiring!”
“The dual efficacy of J-23, so novel among antipsychotic agents, is why the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health have funded my work.”
Three students down.
Professor dies in classroom.
The silk bow-tie flaps around your fatty neck, gobble-gobble like a turkey. Your hypocrisy at the seat of truth nauseates me. I turn back to the news, imagine you cowering behind your desk, shitting your pants in fear, and smile.
“J-23 is a perfect silver bullet for refractory schizophrenia,” you say. “As well, as you can see in these tables, it also reduces symptoms of mania and anxiety.”
Chairman Professor, you fail to mention the serious side effect. But I know you will not. Not while I sit before you. I reach into my backpack, to make sure. Yes, yes, my dissertation is still here. I am proud of my work, it is a contribution to the field, but you refuse to sign. You do not tell me why you refuse.
At first, I believe you refuse because you think I am stupid. You think all of us Chinese not so smart because we hesitate before we speak. We know because when you talk to us, your voice gets loud and you enunciate every syllable. We only wish to be precise – it is Chinese nature.
Now I think you refuse because of that night last year. I worked late, past midnight, we had a grant proposal to submit. You came in from a dinner, surprising me.
“We could be such a team,” you whispered, your liquor breath hot on my neck. You pressed me against the bench. When I struggled, you covered my mouth with your hand. I closed my eyes when you unzipped my pants. You did not forgive me when I cried afterwards.
“We do not air our laundry,” you said before leaving me on the cold floor. The next day I switched advisors. You did not forgive me that either.
3 professors, 13 students dead in engineering hall
Multiple shooters feared
You disgust me. I click on the blog, the one I made in case you refuse me again. It is linked to a sham account no one can trace to me. One post holds three pages. My experiment, the one where six mice treated with J-23 bit and clawed each other to death. You left that part out of the grant proposals. You know of this finding, your name is on the report. Scanners make so much easy.
Now, I am finished my work. I am to become Doctor of Philosophy, just like you. But you do not sign the papers. Because of you, I do not graduate, do not accept post-doc. I lose visa and now, I will return to Guizhou Province to teach biology to children. All these years, a waste.
I feel the hotness in my head, behind my eyes. I close the blog and stare at the news.
Gunman shoots self
Shooter identified, sophomore student Cho
Cho. Korean. Stupid, he should know violence is not the way of justice. He gives us Asians a bad name.
You stop talking. The students pack away their computers. I wait until everyone leaves. Then, I go to the front, to you. I bring my dissertation. You look up from the podium. Your jaw hardens.
“Yes?” you say.
“Please, Professor, sign off on my thesis,” I say.
You shake your head. “Fatal flaw.”
Hypocrite. You never read my work. You should, it is about our compound. But you refuse to read at your peril.
“Data limitation,” I reply softly. “It is good research.”
“We have a level of excellence to maintain.” You close your book and walk away.
My breath heaves in my chest. I walk to the back desk. The hotness returns. This time, I let the tears come. When my eyes dry, I click on the blog. It takes a second to paste the url into tweetdeck, a few more to address the link: @NSF, @NIH, @reuters, @AP, @googlenews, @Fox.
I push update.
As described HERE, I am participating in the DZANC Book Write-a-Thon to raise awareness and funds for all the great work this small independent press does for emerging writers and young people's writing groups. If you believe in their mission, please help out and CLICK HERE AND DONATE UNDER MY NAME - Linda Wastila.
The above very experimental fridayflash was written for this effort in response to this prompt:
For purposes of the write-a-thon, we'd like to have everyone write a piece - a poem, short story, nonfiction, memoir, etc - where some bit of news that a character has come across via the reports on the internet affects the events of a particular story. This can be the major motivating focus of a piece - a character hears about starving children in Kenya and decides to fly off to work for Doctors without Borders - or some minor thing - a news report of a fire working as a metaphor or motif within the piece.
Please give generously. I'll be raffling off a copy of LIFE GOES TO THE MOVIES (Peter Selgin, Dzanc Books) top everyone who drops some change.