He looked at his watch, but tried to be nonchalant about it; he didn’t want to seem nervous. This meeting would be grating enough without him acting like a child at the principal’s office. Doctor Harold L. Barnhauer, neurologist. The words used to roll off his tongue at speaking engagements and parties, but now he cringed as the Dean, Doctor Andrew Fisk, read his name from the itinerary.
He stood and sauntered to the front of the room. He remained standing in front of the board members. The rest of the room had bodies in seats but they were mostly students there to accept reprimand for discipline.
“I suppose you know why you were summoned here, Professor,” Dean Fisk said. He was a slight man with hollow cheeks and an even slighter smudge of grey hair, he’d always seemed a fair man, but the complaints would be too large this time.
“I believe I do,” Barnhauer replied, trying to maintain his usual slow, deliberate tone. It wasn’t working well.
The school secretary shuffled some papers, “We have a substantial pile of papers here that are accusing you of everything from cruelty to animals and human rights violations, coercion, and even an accusation of hypnosis without consent.” She shifted her eyes above her glasses to stare at him, “Are these valid complaints?”
“Possibly.” He tried to sound contrite but these people didn’t seem to understand. “The subjects might have felt that to be true, but it was under the guise of my experiments. I have made some very significant break thr…”
“We are not here to discuss the merits of your research,” the Dean interrupted. “We are here to discuss these complaints.”
“How can we honestly continue without acknowledging my work and why I have these complaints against me?”
The secretary frowned. “I personally could care less about your work here. You were supposed to be teaching people about the brain, not using students as test beds.”
“The students in question were well aware -”
“Professor,” the Dean interrupted again, “we aren’t here to debate whether these students fit your criteria, your findings or whether you had any rights to continue this work. The fact is, we have a cease and desist from the Federal government. We have no choice – as if we were going to chose otherwise – but to follow their orders.”
Barnhauer seethed. He felt his heart throw a temper tantrum in his chest.
“Professor?” The secretary tilted her head as if to ask what he was thinking.
“You will just interrupt again. I have nothing further to say if this was just an elaborate ploy to hand me my pink slip publicly.” His voice took a manic turn, the tone delving deep into a growl, yet still just shy of hysteria. His eye was twitching.
“It was no ploy, Professor.” The Dean seemed to sense the building hostility, his calm voice was starting to find an edge also. “We had no intentions of letting you go until we received notice that several students were hoping to use the FBI findings to start a class action suit if you didn’t leave the campus. A suit against the school. Such a suit would have been very costly.”
“Once I lose tenure, I will lose my funding. Most of it came from the Federal authorities for as much military research as it did for pharmaceuticals. Did they explain why they are trying to shut me down when they are the one’s who pay my way?”
“That is unfortunate,” said the secretary with a sneer.
Her posture here was duly noted. “Yes it is. My final breakthrough was two weeks ago. I was ready for final testing and a field trial.”
“Not here you weren’t.” The secretary’s face turned from sneer to scowl.
“You aren’t seeing the big picture.”
“We have seen all of your ‘picture’ we wish to. You may pick up your equipment and clear out our lab space. We have other tenure who are in need of space who are working on far superior fields. Really, Professor? Sound waves to control a human mind? Which Star Trek episode was that from?”
Suddenly Barnhauer decided he had enough. “Are we through laughing at my work?”
“We are. You will be off the premises by afternoon classes Friday, and are to be escorted by Security at all times. You will need to turn in your keys immediately, including the key card.”
Barnhauer clicked his heels and saluted Nazi-style before turning to walk from the room.
“When I come back here, I will own this place,” he muttered under his breath.