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"Believe Me Now, or Believe Me Later"

     Charles Hyder fell unconscious on the 78th day of his fast,
which he began on the day the first truckload of c, the Department 
of Energy's Waste Isolation Project Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico.  
Friends and caregivers took him to the Carlsbad Medical Center, 
where he was given liquid and revived.  The friends persuaded him 
that his death by fasting would be a waste, since the media was 
paying no attention to the story.  The friends brought him home to 
his apartment in Albuquerque, and he broke his fast on the 82nd day.
     I visited him several times, and found him weak and wobbly,
but resolved to continue to fight the contamination of our planet
by radioactivity.
     On my most recent visit, I helped him see the lighter side
of these very serious matters.  I described to him the recent "60
Minutes" story in which AMA officials stated flatly that smoking
causes impotence.  Smoking inhibits blood flow through arteries,
including the arteries of the male sexual organ.  Sooner or later
impotence results.
     The great state of California is far ahead of the rest of us
with its anti-smoking campaign.  One ad depicts a young macho,
coming on to a gorgeous ready-to-be-aroused sophisticated lady. 
She's coming on to him, too.  But then he lights a cigarette,
which then goes limp, with appropriate drooping sound effects --
"whee-ooo-ooops..."  She wheels around and stalks off, while his
limp-dick cigarette wobbles and waves in the breeze.  Charles
laughed out loud at my description of it.
     I told him that the huge statue of the Marlboro Man in
Hollywood has been changed, to depict the young rugged good-
looking cowboy, with that same wilted drooping cigarette in his
mouth, with the word "impotent" spelled out in the background.
     The "60 Minutes" story ended with the reporter talking to
the elderly M.D., who had just made extremely flat statements
about how smoking causes impotence.  "The young men won't believe
you," the reporter says.  
     The doctor smiles and says, "They may not believe me now,
but there will come a day when they will wish that they had
believed me now."
     I recalled the ad for Fram Oil Filters, from decades ago. 
The mechanic smiles at you and says, "You can see me now, or you
can see me later."  #3.95 for a new oil filter now, or $500.00
for a new ring job later.
     I told Charles, "You're doing the same thing.  They can
believe you now, or they can believe you later.  Now, they can
keep this stuff in no-release containers and monitor it and work
on solving the problem with a new technology not thought-of yet. 
Or they can scatter it all over the biosphere, as they are now
beginning to do at WIPP, and they and their children and their
children's children will have to learn to live with leukemia and
other cancers."
     "I'm writing another book!" Charles exclaimed.
     "What's this one?" I asked, thinking he was changing the
     "THE LAST TRUTH," he said.
     "Which is?"
     "All those things people refuse to hear and think about."
     "Oh.  Another one of them," I said.  "We have several right
here on our list already.  Yours: HUMAN SURVIVAL ON A PLUTONIUM-
     Charles was more animated at that point than I.  I wondered
whether either one of us needed to write another book which
spelled out clearly what our species has decided not to think
     My mood dropped even lower.  I thought of Bill, the visitor
from Andromeda, who questioned, in VERMIN, whether a species that
constantly needed saving could possibly be worth the trouble.
     But Charles was excited, and considering what he had just
been through, I felt ashamed of my own discouragement, and roused
myself, and got back to work.

                            *   *   *

Copyright © 1999 Harry Willson

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