It has taken me four years to publicly respond to the social media comments about US National-ex-NASA-Dr. Paul Muller's controversial death, as reported in newspapers all around the world.
I didn't want my words to fade into the barrage of "opinions" posted on social media but, now, using my own blog site, I hope to to debunk the two theories that have prevailed in every radio show and on-line comment section: one, that Paul was taken out by his government, and the other, that Paul was in Thailand to partake in truly despicable acts like pedophilia.
Who am I, you ask? Paul started out as my writing mentor (he had a PhD in pretty much everything), and quickly, Paul became a friend. I became an editor for his agency, and he became my book agent. We corresponded, at length, virtually every day, and oh...and I also spent two solid weeks with the guy, just weeks before his death (more on that later).
I'm not about to defend every aspect of Paul--God, that would be difficult--but I can share what I know to be true.
If I had liken Paul to another personality, I would liken him to Sheldon Cooper from the TV show, The Big Bang Theory. He spoke his mind in much the same way. I can't verify this next statement, but I'm confident that he had Aspergers Syndrome, which is a high-functioning form of autism. He was brilliant, and perhaps even a bit ADD, and he had some social blips, but he also had high moral and ethical standards that came through loud and clear during all the years that I knew him.
To address the two theories directly... I recall how, once, the topic of school teachers getting involved with students came up and Paul became very angry and blurted that when he was a teacher, if he had heard of ANY teacher crossing the line with a student he would have reported him to the principal and ensured that his license was taken away. His reaction, which can't be conveyed in one line, here, would have reassured anyone that Paul wasn't a pedophile. As for him being in Thailand in the first place, Paul didn't travel there "for pleasure"; Thailand was his home base. He lived there in a senior community where he could enjoy a high standard of living, with cheap healthcare. Paul had a life of coming in and out of money. I can't recall all the details, but three marriages and one bad business decision, after founding a major software company, left him without the fortune he might have enjoyed had things worked out differently. In any case, apparently, it's a destination for retirees, just like Panama or Belize. BTW...Paul lived in Belize, too, for many years, building resorts, but again, I don't remember how it all crumbled; I only remember feeling like it was quite unfortunate.
But I'm sure you're thinking about "how he was found" and what that implies. So, despite being an eccentric academic, Paul was also very open sexually. I not at all happy to expose anyone's intimacies, but I have to address them since sex is at the center of the controversy. So, here it is...
Paul saw everything as an experiment--even life itself. He even wrote a book--that didn't get published, but I read the manuscript--about how he could prove, through a thought experiment, that there was no consciousness/life after death. Right or wrong, he wrote an 80,000 word thesis on proving that when you're gone you're gone. He approached sex in much the same way. He spoke about it in a completely detached, academic way, yet experimented with it because of the enjoyment "the big O" brings. He was all about finding ways to heighten and prolong the experience (seems reasonable!).
Another truth is, yes, he willingly took meth. He even wrote a book about how to take meth properly to achieve whatever effect. I never read it, and don't care to, but the book came close to being produced. So, yes, Paul likely administered the meth, found in his system, to himself, and he likely tried to heighten the effect with an autoerotic stunt (not the first to go that way), but guaranteed, no children would have ever been in the picture--not that day, not any other day.
The article about his death also displays his last work of fiction: Suicide Inc. I read it when it was still a rough draft and, while it's erotic fiction and strange as hell, you can mine two significant points from it: one, that Paul's default ideal sexual partner is a mature, intelligent, sophisticated woman; the other is that it reveals the level of sexual game-play that Paul was open to. I don't mean the murders; the murders are the vehicle that bring all the characters together to engage in the various sensual play, from almost normal sex, to off-beat or underground scenes.
But as diverse as his PhDs, Paul had many fascinations and he wrote every kind of book, from non-fiction (academic books), to fiction, to one pre-teen novel. Among his other fiction was Flight Of The Marbles, a completely mainstream story about factual marble statues taken in a heist, in Europe. His pre-teen book, Tesseract House, didn't make it to print in the 70's when it should have, but we attempted, briefly, to revitalize it by bringing it into the modern era. I think technology has moved too far beyond the book to make it work today, but I feel that it missed its calling, having a compelling eerie feel, along with elements of time-travel and parallel worlds.
Paul's manner, whether affected by Aspergers or something other, affected his relationships (I mentioned the three wives and the Sheldon Cooper thing...), but he valued his relationships very much, even if they were based on argumentation. There were many times when I opened my e-mail to find a letter from Paul that he wanted my feedback on before he sent it to some business person. I remember, my response was often: "I know you want to say that, Paul--I know you wanna, but don't do it! Do not do it". And he would always say: "I know you're right. You always set me straight"...right before he sent it off anyway.
I remember how he got himself on the shit-list with Editors & Predators, first because he wasn't meant to be "an agent" as much as an editor, and despite good intentions, one of his clients took him to task. However, the relationship with E & P really went south when Paul told a good friend of the president of E&P to f-off. From what I understand, the woman told him that no agent edits for free--that he had to be "a predator"--and Paul eventually responded accordingly. Well, I can assure you, 100%, he did edit writer's work for free. He enjoyed teaching, and he enjoyed the contact with people all over the world, and that is why he did it.
As for the two weeks of togetherness that I mentioned earlier... I'm not even sure how it all went down, but one day I was informed that Paul was going to visit me, in Canada. Not only that but we were going to meet and potentially stay with a family who would be vacationing at a resort one hour away from my house. The father in that family was another good friend of Paul's, kind of like me--someone who helped Paul, with the book agency, but more in a technical capacity. As it turned out, Paul, the friend, and the friends wife and three kids got along great. We spent a week together, at a resort. I learned to play board games again and I watched Paul become an amazing "grandfather figure" to the three kids. I will always remember that time fondly. A funny aside to that story... I drove Paul to the resort in my Mini Cooper. He literally talked, non-stop, all the way there until my car windows fogged up. When we arrived at the resort (before the family), we sat at a coffee table where he used every scrap of paper around to show me how he figured out how he figured out how to land the Apollo in a lunar mascon and how he got the astronauts off the moon with barely enough fuel. I was sitting on a couch, staring at a table completely covered in parabolas and equations. The talking lasted throughout every day, until late at night, resumed at the crack of dawn, and continued in that cycle for the entire two week stay.
In the final moments of Paul's visit, in my driveway, I watched as Paul insisted to the somewhat resistant-looking Airporter taxi driver that he had to sit in the front or he would get motion sickness. So, after a final wave to me, I could see Paul launching into a story and all I could think was: "Whoohooo! Your problem now, buddy...!"
A final few thoughts... I wonder if Paul found himself to be wrong--finding that there is consciousness after death--and if so, I hope he felt he left enough of a mark on earth. I know, if he could have had his way, he would have had his brain transplanted into a new body so he could live forever, but since that didn't happen. I hope he is at peace.
He did have friends, though. He had a best friend in England who he spoke to every single day, and it was this friend who reached out to me after he stopped hearing from Paul, very suddenly, I believe in April 2012. I may have taken Paul's place as "the friend" in the weeks and months following Paul's death. I also witnessed the decline of this friend's health and we fell out of contact in the summer of 2016.
I may have said to little or too much; I hope not the latter, but I just felt it necessary to defend the name of someone who can no longer do it himself--and although the government conspiracy theory is not an attack on Paul, quite the opposite, I can say, with confidence, that it wasn't that either.