Originally Posted by BrotherCadfael
"I aim to misbehave."
Okay, here it is. I have to start by saying that if there was any other way, if there was even a slight chance of another alternative, I would give anything not to be here with you now. Anything. Bru, how long have we known each other? Sixteen years. That's how long. Sixteen years. You should have seen yourself then. You looked like you just walked out of a Wheaties box. And me, all sweaty palm and deadly serious. I told everybody about this dream I had of conquering the new frontier, and they all looked at me like I was nuts. You looked at me and said, "yes." I remember when you told me Kay was pregnant. We went out and got crocked. I remember when Charles was born. We went out and got crocked again. The two of us. Captain Terrific and the Mad Doctor, talking about reaching the stars, and the bartender telling us maybe we'd had enough. Sixteen years. And then Armstrong stepped out on the Moon, and we cried. We were so proud. Willis, you and Walker, you came in about then. Both bright and talented wise-asses, looked at me in my wash-and-wear shirt carrying on this hot love affair with my slide-rule, and even you were caught up in what we'd done. I remember when Glenn made his first orbit in Mercury, they put up television sets in Grand Central Station, and tens of thousands of people missed their trains to watch. You know, when Apollo 17 landed on the Moon, people were calling up the networks and bitching because reruns of I Love Lucy were cancelled. Reruns, for Christ's sake! I could understand if it was the new Lucy show. After all, what's a walk on the Moon? But reruns! Oh, geez! And then suddenly everybody started talking about how much everything cost. Was it really worth twenty billion to go to another planet? What about cancer? What about the slums? How much does it cost? How much does any dream cost, for Christ's sake? Since when is there an accountant for ideas? You know who was at the launch today? Not the President. The Vice-President, that's who. The Vice-President and his plump wife. The President was busy. He's not busy. He's just a little bit scared. He sat there two months ago and put his feet up on Woodrow Wilson's desk, and he said, "Jim. Make it good. Congress is on my back. They're looking for a reason to cancel the program. We can't afford another screw-up. Make it good. You have my every good wish." His every good wish! I got his sanctimonious Vice President! That's what I got! So, there we are. After all those hopes and ll that dreaming, he sits there, with those flags behind his chair, and tells me we can't afford a screw-up. And guess what! We had a screw-up! A first-class, bona-fide, made-in-America screw-up! The good people from Con-Amalgamate delivered a life-support system cheap enough so they could make a profit on the deal. Works out fine for everybody. Con-Amalgamate makes money. We have our life-support system. Everything's peachy. Except they made a little bit too much profit. We found out two months ago it won't work. You guys would all be dead in three weeks. It's as simple as that. So, all I have to do is report that and scrub the mission. Congress has its excuse, the President still has his desk, and we have no more program. What's sixteen years? Your actual drop in the bucket! All right. That's the end of the speech. Now, we're getting to what they call the moment of truth. Come with me. I want to show you something.