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  • Writer's pictureWilliam I. Atkinson

A Stone, a Leaf, a Door

Updated: Jan 3, 2020

You’re going where? McCaffee’s director said, and McCaffee shrugged. Just driving, he said. The glower deepened; McCaffee could have sworn the old man’s eyebrows bushed out. It’s your first vacation in six years, the director said: Why drive? Go to Paris, go to Nairobi, Vienna waits for you. I don’t need all that, McCaffee said. The director damped his glower and leaned back in his chair. Well, hell, he said, maybe you’re right. Sam Johnson said some people could see more from the local stagecoach than the average guy got on the Grand Tour. Maybe you’re a stagecoach guy, Mac. How’s the project?

McCaffee was ready for the question. Nothing definite, he said. But? prompted the director. But we’re on to something, McCaffee said. The team can feel it, I can feel it. So what’s the holdup? the director asked. Where are your results? McCaffee spread his hands. It’s that old dictum, he said, I think it was Bohr. That anyone who isn’t troubled by quantum theory doesn’t understand it. The director leaned forward like a retriever, his eyebrows bushy again. And you understand it? he said. McCaffee shrugged, meeting the glower with his mild Oppenheimer stare. Maybe a little, he said. That’s why I’m getting away. Not to Vienna. Not to do things. To be a blank slate so I can think this through.

So, said the director. So so so. It’s not really a vacation. You’re continuing the project offsite, is all. Yes, McCaffee said. He hoped it was true.

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