From: J. Robert Oppenheimer
To: Katherine Oppenheimer
Date: July 14, 1945
Office of Issue: Scientific Director - Project "Y"


Dearest Kitty,

Tonight is the night. The last day before we go out and see if everything we have been working toward will actually work. I am filled with a kind of dread, as though I am pulling the stopper out of magic bottle to see if the genie will come out. Whatever happens tomorrow, know that I love you. I'm sorry darling. I don't mean to frighten you. I'm just writing this in case all of us eggheads are way off base. Albert and I have had our reservations from the beginning, but that’s neither here nor there. It is for the Greater Good.

I have had more trouble sleeping through the night, like when that time I took ill at the ranch, but much more pronounced. The doctors fret and pick, but they are standard military issue: patch you up and hand you a rifle. It's not that I am not tired, as I have trouble prying my eyes open most mornings. I just keep having the same dream, over and over again. It is like a nightmare and a memory twisted together, half real and half remembered. I have trouble explaining these things. The arts were never my strong suit. It just seems so real! I could swear that it did happen, but I can't remember when. It is very strange for me. I much prefer the quantifiable. Perhaps I just need to get it off my chest.

It all seems to start just before the day we drove from Berkeley with everything in the car to Santa Fe, when we moved into the Big House. Just after Ernie Lawerence came to me with his secret project that would stop the war. In the dream, I am sitting at my desk with Albert, and he is reviewing the letter he sent to President Roosevelt telling him about a kind of super weapon, when I get an urge to leave. Just to get out of the office. I find this compulsion overpowering and bizarre, as I often enjoyed talking to Albert, even if his social skills were lacking. I excuse myself and leave, heading for a small cafe just off campus. I had been there once before, to a student meeting a friend of mine had organized. I am drawn to return for some reason. When I arrive, I feel as though I have been expected, as the man at the counter tips his head in greeting and offers me a cup of coffee, two sugars and no cream, just the way I take it. I thank him in a daze and head for the booth beside the washrooms, at the back of the dining room. It seems very dark for the time of day, and no one else is in the place. I wait for a visitor.

Haakon Chevalier once said that this particular cafe reminded him of his smoky Parisian haunts, but I'll be darned if I can remember the name of the place. I sit and wait for a man who is coming to tell me something, something important, that will help me decide if I am going to work on the project. He holds the final piece of information that will tip the scale. I don't know how I know this, or who the man is, but I know it must be true. Something feels right about it. That, or it is a very elaborate lie. Another cup of coffee arrives at the table before I ask for it, and the counterman leaves a glass of what looks like whiskey on the other side of the table. I find this odd for two reasons: Nobody is sitting there and it is around 10 o'clock in the morning. Before I can ask about it, the door chimes jangle discordantly. He has arrived.

At a glance, I can tell I have never seen this man before, but he seems very familiar. It was like seeing a movie star at the green grocer, out of place but exciting. The man was rather unremarkable, except for the deep burgundy color of his suit. I had never seen that particular color before, and I haven't seen it since. It was a deep deep red, almost like a fresh steak. At first it looked odd, but the light it gave his face was strangely hypnotic. He moved like a king cobra, making a slow path toward my seat. His face resolved out of the shade of his fedora a few steps from the table. Where had I seen him before?

With a finesse that would make a car salesman proud, he seated himself, shook my hand vigorously and poured praise after praise in my ear. I found myself grinning despite my apprehension and confusion, feeling as though I had met an old friend. His face was sorely sun burnt, and it looked uncomfortably red against his black goatee. My new acquaintance leaned back, winked, and swallowed the stiff drink with toothy smile. I thought I saw a curl of smoke come out his nose just before he returned to the conversation. I swear I have seen him before Kitty, but I can't remember where. Maybe from the University of Göttingen? Remind me to have a look at my class picture later.

Lou. He called himself Lou. He said it like it was shorthand for something else. He finally got down to business, and the icy glare of his very green eyes got deadly serious.

"Are you going to do it?" he asked, point blank. I reeled, worried about spilling the beans to a potential Nazi spy. He jumped on my hesitation. "Don't worry Julius", he said, "I know all about the project". "In fact, I think it's the greatest idea I have ever heard." "It's just keen" he said with a savage grin. "Those Nazi sons of bitches and them slant-eyed Nips would sell their souls for this kind of opportunity, but I'm giving it all to you Julius." I felt a little sick. He must have been from the OSS or the War Department. "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions Bobby. Don't let this one pass you by." he added with a chuckle. He knew about my doubts and fears even before I put a voice to them.

He leaned in close and got very serious looking. I leaned back, hesitant, when his hand lashed out faster than I could see, gripped me by the tie and pulled me close. Eye to eye we faced one another across the table. "Think of it Bobby. You can end the war with one little gadget. The entire bloody war. Don't they deserve it? Shouldn't they pay for what they have done to America? You owe them revenge. Put them in their place! No one would mess with us if we had that marvelous bomb." With this said, he relaxed and let go of me. He smiled and straightened my collar absentmindedly.

"Think about it Bobby." He got up and turned to leave, looking back with his sneering grin. "I mean, what could go wrong?" he asked. The doorbells jangled as he left, and I sat for a long time thinking over the proposal. It was the next day I signed on. He was right, goddamn it. If anyone should have that power, it should be us.

I just started raining outside, and I think we may have to push back the test till tomorrow. The fellows are taking bets as to what will happen. Gen. Groves is in his office talking to the governor. The poor fellow has just been informed that an evacuation of the state may be ordered by the Army. Can you imagine? I think Enrico got him sweating with his betting pool. I put some money on a big fizzle, but the gadget looks ready. Please be careful, Kitty. If they ask you to go, don't wait for me.

Whatever the circumstances, remember that I love you.


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