He'd look up at the blurred stars, as the dew on the grass soaked through the back of his jacket and the back of his trousers, and then he'd look towards the moon. All that distance from the surface he was pinned down on to the surface glowing in the darkness, with nothing but space all the way in between. Nothing to hold onto. And yet, someone had managed to get there. Someone had managed to do that. A truly impossible thing. So he'd get up out of the grass, light-hearted again. It made everything else possible. Anything you could think of, anything you were stuck with, it could be done. Because that had been done. Someone had got up and gone to the moon. And nothing else was more impossible than that.
Dave the Moonman.
But sober and playing around on the internet he started to find bits and pieces, Dave the Moonman. Things about the Van-Allen Belt, and about Kodak film and dual light sources. And he talked to people who knew about similar stuff, and he read bits in magazines and books.
The first time I met him was at a party. He was surrounded by a group of people and he was giving short lectures about all the stuff he had learned, going round the party one group at a time with all the energy of someone newly-born to a religion. You had to wait your turn if you wanted him to tell you about it, so I waited my turn.
The first thing was the Van-Allen Belt, he said; an outer layer of the atmosphere that all the shuttle flights stay inside, that protects the earth from radiation. He raid somewhere that if the astronauts had really gone beyond that, and gone all the way to the moon, the radiation would have killed them soon afterwards. Then there were the photographs of the astronauts walking on the moon. He said you could tell from the shadows that the light sources were all wrong, which suggested studio lighting. And there was something about the photograph of the footprint too. If a moon boot could leave such a deep impression on the surface of the moon, then the thrust of the rocket when it was landing should have forced two big mounds up on either side of the rocket. But there are none in the pictures.
There was a whole load of stuff. A whole load of stuff more than that. And so he was coming to believe it was a hoax, and that no-one had ever been to the moon.
I thought he had a mission, Dave the Moonman, to prove to everyone that no-one had ever landed on the moon. But that wasn't it at all. He was telling everyone all this stuff he'd learned cause he was hoping someone could prove to him it was wrong, and it wasn't just a hoax. Cause dreaming was so much harder otherwise. And it was so much harder to find the belief to get things done- lying out on the lawn at night, drunk, with the dew soaking through the back of your jacket. And all that distance between here and there. And he really wanted to believe that people had travelled to the moon in that crazy rocket, that looked as if it was made out of tin-foil and cardboard. He really wanted to believe that they'd managed to get it there, just by strapping enough fuel on, even though today you probably wouldn't trust it to get you down the shops.