IT WAS FRIDAY, AUGUST 27, 1971. Salvatore Alvarez, Everett P. Erskine Professor of Education at Harvard, had just received a telephone call from Rafael Gonzalez, the Assistant Secretary of Education within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. The conversation, which was spoken fluently in pristine Castilian, is loosely translated below:
"And how, my good friend, are things going in Cambridge?" Rafael began.
"Not well at all!" Salvatore replied.
"What do you mean? I've already given you just about all the money I can, at least until the new legislation is passed and the funds are appropriated."
"It's not the money, Rafael. The data just aren't giving us the results we expected."
"What the hell do you mean? I thought you said that the students in the bilingual education classes were out performing the others at all four test sites."
"They are, but some preliminary analyses by one of my post-doctoral fellows--you know, Davey Thompson, the young, Celtic guy with the dark black hair. His wife was the attractive redheaded girl you had trouble keeping your eyes off of during the social hour at my house. Anyhow, when I looked at some of his analyses of the demographic data on the parents, I started to get a little nervous. I don't think he noticed anything, but it's possible that we've got some pretty serious mitigating variables to explain."
"Salvatore, I don't know what the hell you are talking about."
"Well, what I mean is that the experimental and control groups may not have been equivalent in all respects."
"So what, the bilingual groups are still doing better, aren't they?"
"Yes, but there could be other factors involved."
"Look, Salvatore, if you've got a problem, fix it. You know the stakes. If things go well, in a few years we could be in position to regain what our ancestors rightfully earned 450 years ago. With the military power of the US at our disposal, our dream--and their dream--will finally come true."
"I know, Rafael. It's just that it can be tricky trying to manipulate research findings. I can take care of the stuff we've got here, but before I noticed the problem, I let Thompson mail copies of the punch cards to his office at Wisconsin State."
"Why the hell did you do that?"
"We still needed to tabulate some of the gains made by the experimental groups in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, and he was the best person to do that. He had already worked on the Miami and Dallas data. Besides, I figured he would hustle his ass off trying to impress his new colleagues in Wisconsin."
"Well, let's just hope for his sake and ours that he doesn't 'notice' anything. Otherwise, maybe I'll be forced to do a bit more than 'look' at his pretty young wife."
"I hope it doesn't come to that. He's really not a bad guy."
"They're all bad, Salvatore. And, don't you ever forget it."
Salvatore knew what he had to do. He, like his father, and like his father's father, and his father before him, and so on since the Sixteenth Century had all but one purpose in life--to return Spain to her former glory--a glory El Foundador's crew had solidified when they anchored the Vittoria near the Mole of Seville in July of 1522 after circling the globe. It was a time of fantastic Spanish achievement. Not only had Columbus, whose voyage had been financed by Spain's Queen Isabella, discovered America in 1492, but also the last Moorish kingdom in Spain had been defeated during the same year. Spain was to conquer most of the Americans and become, not only the strongest power in Europe, but also the most significant navel and political force in the world as a whole. Spanish superiority, in one form or another, endured for centuries. It was a return to this international glory and achievement that the descendants of Magellan's voyage considered their birthright and patriotic duty.
Salvatore Alvarez arrived at his office at Harvard early the next morning. Salvatore had come in early, hoping he could avoid contact with any overly-ambitious research assistants or new post-doctoral fellows, who had decided to spend their Saturday mornings in the office. The mistake in the project had been his fault. If only he had paid closer attention to the consent forms that had been distributed to the parents whose children were participating in the study. How could he have been so stupid? He had been so busy finding elementary and junior high schools with substantial Hispanic populations in four major cities and in developing the overall design of the study that he had left some of the minor details to one of his post-doctoral fellows. And now, that bastard, largely because of a letter of recommendation he had written, had a tenure-track position at Stanford. I hope the fucker's killed in an earthquake, he thought.
As he looked around his office, he saw all the trappings of his membership in the academic elite. There were photographs of him with the President of Harvard, with the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, and with 15 of his graduate students who had secured academic appointments at Ivy League schools. Ivy League schools for Christ's sake, he thought as he concentrated on the photograph momentarily. There was even a picture of him receiving an award from Francisco Franco for negotiating an agreement that resulted in the International Congress of Iberian Scholars being held in Madrid for the first time since the Spanish Civil War. The fact that many Iberian scholars refused to lend their tacit support for Franco's Fascist regime by attending the Congress was not an important issue for Salvatore. Having a picture of himself beside Spain's iconic leader hanging in his office was its own narcissistic reward. In addition, scattered among immaculate reproductions of paintings by Goya, Velázquez, El Greco, and Murillo were numerous awards and certificates of recognition he had received from various professional societies.
The mahogany desk, leather chairs, wall-to-wall carpeting, and floor-to-ceiling bookcases that surrounded his office had been purchased with grant monies received from the federal government, and so too, a large combination TV and stereo music system that was housed in a matching mahogany encasement.
He thought, as he surveyed this monument to his insatiable academic narcissism: What if I get caught? It will be the end of my academic career at Harvard and probably at any other major university. Academic fraud, even in the pursuit of federal grant money or honourable social goals just doesn't cut it, at least not with real academicians. But what if I don't do it? La Sociedad will either ban or even kill all of my father's descendants. This project was a critical step in implementing the first of two long-term goals for the northern sector of the New World. That was as clear in Seville last year as it was four years ago, right before the Bilingual Education Act of 1968 was passed and I was appointed to the Order of Pigafetta. And then, there's all that money La Sociedad invested in me. Jesus, counting all the pay-offs and the cost of all those "accidents" since grade school which helped me to get where they wanted me to be, the cost must have been extraordinary. Hell, that admissions dean they bribed at Brown 20 years ago is still living a comfortable life in the Balearic Islands courtesy of La Sociedad. No, I must do my duty. I must, as Rafael said, "fix it." Our cause is just; it's what we rightfully deserve.
The data from the four-year project were stored on thousands of punch cards that were contained in two large metal cabinets, which were sitting in a tightly secured room off the large reception area that was adjacent to Salvatore's office. There were only three keys to the room, the one Salvatore was now taking from a hidden compartment in his desk, one in his safety deposit box at the First National Bank of Boston and one in a large, and very secret, underground intelligence and communication center in Seville. Except for the cards that had been copied for Davey on the cohorts from Philadelphia and Los Angeles, only two copies of all the data cards from the project existed. Both were housed in this tightly secured room.
Fortunately for Salvatore, the data cards on which the subjects' demographic information had been recorded constituted a small percentage of the total number of data cards in the cabinets and had been clearly labelled on top with a red marker. Salvatore placed the cards in two small, specially sized storage boxes and then returned to his office to secure one of the master format-coding keys that he kept in his desk. He was taking a risk in removing some of the data cards, but no one would notice the missing coding key. He needed the key to know specifically which holes needed to be changed in the data cards.
After he had placed the coding key and the two small data boxes into a larger box, he locked his office and walked swiftly to the parking lot that was adjacent to the building. While he was placing the larger box into the trunk of his 1968 420G Jaguar, the Dean of the School of Education yelled cheerfully from the other side of the parking lot, "Hi Salvatore. I'm glad to see that at least some of the faculty have better things to do with their Saturday mornings than mow the lawn."
"Hi Preston," replied Salvatore trying to appear nonchalant. "I wish I could avoid that unpleasant task for the rest of the summer, but unfortunately I have to go home right now and get it over with so that I can spend the rest of the weekend working on one of my grants. By the way, Rafael sends his regards. He told me that he thought you were the most effective education dean in the country." In just two sentences, Salvatore had told four lies. He was no more going to mow his lawn than fly to the moon. He never mowed his lawn; that was work only mere mortals ever did. Nor was he going to work on one of his grants. That could wait until Monday when he planned to drive down to New Haven to have the data cards punched again. Nor had Rafael asked Salvatore to give the dean his regards. In fact, Rafael thought the dean was a complete idiot, who probably hadn't had an original idea since he discovered that he could use his dick for something other than pissing.
"Oh really! Well, you tell Rafael that if he continues to throw grant money in our direction we'll give him an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Now, you take care, Salvatore. Unfortunately, I've got to spend the day preparing a report for the President, and then it's off tonight to meet with some rather dull but very rich alumni."
"Great seeing you, Preston. Let's have lunch sometime after the semester starts."
"Have your secretary call me."
"I'll do that." Salvatore got into his car and drove directly to his upper-middle-class home in the Marblehead district on Boston's North Shore. There, he would change clothes and he and his wife, Bonita, who was also a descendant of one of the surviving members of the Vittoria crew, would drive to their cottage near Popponesset Beach. Although La Sociedad had arranged his marriage, Salvatore considered himself to be a very lucky man. Bonita was not only intelligent and strikingly beautiful, but she totally idolized Salvatore and would do anything he asked, sexually or otherwise. Tonight he would ask her to travel to Spain to arrange with her sister for the sale of the family villa near Huelva and to deposit the money from the sale in her Swiss bank account. Her only response to his request would be, "I will need about two weeks to prepare for the trip."