I looked to Cheryl. She indicated that I was to sit and she would remain standing. There wasn't room for two chairs. Moon waited until I was comfortably seated before returning to his chair. The computer monitor hid half of his face; his eyes and flat forehead hovered a couple inches above the top. I moved my chair to correct "the eclipse of Dr. Moon." The thought must have made me smile inappropriately, because Moon's eyes hardened.
Maybe a little joke would break the ice. I looked from the big monitor to his laptop computer. "I can see you are a two-computer man." Moon glared and said nothing. "You know .... Like in the American Western movies. Some gunfighters were two- gun men." Maybe Moon's English was the problem. To demonstrate, I made a two gun fast draw gesture.
Moon looked down like I had irritated him. He snapped shut the laptop computer. Maybe he thought I'd been peeking at the screen. "In Korea, we don't have gunfighting cowboys. We have karate." His voice was carefully-controlled, now, and his eyes now had all the sympathy of a bad guy performing a ceremonial bow in an 1980s karate flick.
I wouldn't try to compete with him in a contest of glaring eye contact. My eyes dropped to his laptop computer. A telephone wire protruded, so I figured he was doing modem communications with a remote site. I suppressed the impulse to call him an Internet cowboy.
We spent a few seconds in silence.
Cheryl cleared her throat. "Dr. Moon, we discussed this interview last night. You are to tell Dr. Candidi everything he needs to know. And since the office isn't large enough for all three of us, I'll wait outside like we discussed." She took two steps back to where I could still see her and Moon could not.
Moon laughed nervously and then was silent. He looked at the empty doorway. When he spoke again, it was with strained courtesy. "With what I may help you?"
What was I to make of this posturing, straight out of a B-grade karate flick. The thought must have made me smile again, because Dr. Moon's eyes were now flashing angry.
I said, "As you know, I am doing scientific due diligence for our company, B.M. Capital. I have come to ask you some questions."
"I will try to answer your questions, Dr. Candidi, but as Dr. North probably tell you, I do not have very much time." I decided not to contradict him.
Moon leaned back in his chair in an exaggerated attempt to seem at ease. "Could you please state your first question."
This did not show much promise of becoming a friendly scientific discussion.
I sucked in my gut. "What is the mechanism of anti-tumor action of the three compounds?"
"You can find that in the patent, which you should have read before coming here. Please read the Introductory Statement and the Description of the Invention in columns five and seven."
It wouldn't do to let him get away with this. I concentrated very hard on speaking in a normal voice. "Dr. Moon, I did read your patent. I do not remember it explaining how these compounds kill tumor cells. All I remember the patent saying is that the three compounds are protein kinase C inhibitors."
Moon didn't blink. "Maybe you should check patent."
Okay. I could play the game of bad manners and bad grammar. "Please excuse while I refer to patent," I said, purposely dropping the pronoun and definite article.
I lifted my briefcase to my lap, snapped it open, and pulled out the patent. I made a big show of speed reading, running my finger over the indicated sections. "I have diligently checked and have found no mechanism other than a statement of protein kinase C inhibition."
"That is correct," Moon said. "It kills tumors by inhibiting protein kinase C enzyme."
"But that doesn't tell us how it really works. Just because protein kinase C stimulation can cause cancer doesn't mean that protein kinase C inhibition can cure cancer. What genes are being turned on or off?"
"Dr. Candidi. I do not know where you come from, but ...