I certainly hope I am resting right now.
Part 19 of The Trees. Buckle in.
Budda brought the bus to a stop outside the beachfront home. There were beautiful lilies along the front of the house that caught Dan’s eye as he walked off the steps. The colors were amazing, and he was about to say as much to Rob when he heard Budda say, “Follow me, dudes.”
Dan fell in line as Budda led them through a gate on the side of the house and onto the deck overlooking the Pacific. The four guys sat down at a table topped with a gorgeous spread of some serious looking Mexican food. There were several different kinds of enchiladas, fish tacos, flautas, rice, beans, and a giant bowl of ceviche.
“Where did this come from?” John asked.
“There’s a place in town that delivers,” Budda replied.
“They certainly put the ‘D’ in delivery,” Dan added. He poured himself a big glass a water from a pitcher on the table and sat down. The others followed suit.
Budda regaled the others with stories of his time in Hollywood in the early 80s and dished on which movie stars of those days were cool and which were not.
“Were you in all the teen movies back then?” Dan asked.
“No, but it seems like it, right?” Rob replied for his friend who was taking a quick bite of a fish taco.
“I did have a credit for Last American Virgin. I was ‘Guy at the Party 1’ on that one,” Budda added. There was a trickle of sauce running down his rather bushy goatee, but he didn’t seem to either know or care.
“You guys remember that one?” Rob asked.
“Can’t say that I do. Any good?” John replied.
“No. Well, it did have a killer soundtrack. Anybody remember the band Gleaming Spires?” Rob said.
Nobody at the table did, even Budda, which surprised Rob who went on to explain that Gleaming Spires had put out the song, “Are You Ready For The Sex Girls” which was on the Last American Virgin soundtrack.
“I should really look into re-releasing that,” Rob said to a chorus of “no” from the table.
“Not to change the subject, but Rob, you should really tell Dan about that company that did Viv’s flowers,” Budda shared.
Rob just stared at Budda for a few seconds.
“You’re right, man. I should. Let’s go look at them, shall we? Grab another beer, gents. I have a story for you.”
The four men walked back around to the front of the house to look at the lilies Dan had noticed earlier.
“These are really beautiful, Rob. I don’t think I have ever seen these colors before,” Dan said.
“You haven’t,” Rob replied. “No one has.”
“Budda, you said these were Vivian’s flowers, right?” John asked.
“It’s not my story to tell, man, but yes. They are Viv’s,” Budda answered.
The men looked at Rob and to Dan and John, he looked amazing sober for someone who had probably had five or six beers and a couple of shots of 24-year-old scotch. Rob was staring intently at the flowers and there was even a small smile on his face.
In 2011, I think, maybe even late 2010, I came across this small company, EverTechDNA (ETD). They had been using some of our storage solutions and as you guys know, I like to get to know my clients,” Rob said before John interrupted him.
“Did you buy them?” John asked.
“No, but I tried. They were doing a lot of really cool stuff with DNA, and I thought it was fascinating, especially the data they were collecting. I figured it could be worth a lot of money someday, but they were not interested in selling. Interesting people, though, and they are way up in Maine in this tiny town. Anyway, one of the things they were doing was looking at how to splice a person’s DNA into plants, you know, flowers and trees and bushes,” Rob stopped talking long enough to take a sip of his beer and his eyes never left the flowers.
“I kept tabs on them and at some point, in 2014, they cracked the code and were able to start splicing all kinds of DNA together with plants. I guess the trouble others were having had to do with the proteins not, well, let’s just say that early attempts at this type of thing was not going so well because our DNA and that of a flower, for example, don’t really talk to each other.
“But Peter Bowen, one of the partners up there, he figured out a piece of it and then Jamila Hroudy figured out the rest. Peter and Jamila are two of the sharpest, craziest people you will ever meet, let me tell you. I can’t believe I didn’t tell you guys about them. Do you remember when I was up in Maine a few years back?”
John and Dan nodded.
“Well, in addition to failing miserably at learning to fly fish, I went to see them. I thought I could make another offer, but they have zero interest in selling, or really, telling anyone what they are doing up there. Ever hear of Weld, Maine?”
“Well, it’s up there near a college town called Farmington and a really beautiful lake town called Rangeley. Good fishing and hiking, for sure. They have this crazy compound in Weld that you would never know was one of the places doing the craziest DNA research on the planet. There is something happening there …”
Rob continued talking but Dan was starting to feel as sober as Rob looked. Now he, too, was transfixed by the flowers in front of them. He wasn’t terribly sure, but the day was taking a turn and he couldn’t believe the words that were about to come out of his mouth. He cut off his friend’s story with a question. Before he even thought too closely about what he was about to say, it came out.
“Rob,” Dan started. “Are these flowers Vivian?”
See you tomorrow.
These are stargazer lilies. They are beautiful...but not as beautiful as Viv's.