By Cindy and Walt
“No I’m not alright, I just saw myself in the mirror, and I look like shit,” I said through the open door. Buddy Baker my guardian angel had insisted I leave it open.
“Gee, I wonder why. Oh yeah you are much less than a year back from Devil’s Island east. Oh then there was the surgery to remove your implants and the trimming of the excess skin. Let’s not forget the Arsenic treatment to kill the worms. Then there was the burglar you blew almost in half, and finally the fall that will likely cripple you. Now tell me again you are surprised that you look like shit,” Buddy said with a laugh.
“Well, when you put it that way,” I said smiling. “I suppose next you are going to tell me things can only get better.”
“I was going to tell you I’m hungry. Do you want me to bring you something, or can you walk to the cafe,” he asked.
“You better make the run, I’m not up to the walk just yet,” I said.
“Fair enough.” You want an egg sandwich and bad coffee on a bun,” he asked.
“No I want you to get my coffee pot down here, the blue plastic box with the coffee in it, and the filters. Then I want you to go through the drive thru at the Dairy Queen and get me a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit. I will have the coffee made when you return.
I did have the coffee ready even though I almost cried in the process. I hurt everywhere while I worked on the simple pot of coffee. I collapsed back onto my sofa bed while I waited for Buddy.
He came in and took one look at me, then asked, “Are you okay?” He seemed concerned not just asking in passing. I must have looked even more like hell, I thought.
“When I get the grease in me, I will be,” I said.
The ten minute meal took me half an hour to get down. The drugs were suppressing whatever appetite I had managed to recover before the accident. Shit it looked like I would have to buy even smaller clothes.
I sat on the sofa with my coffee still trying to clear my head. “I have to pick up five bales of trimmings you arranged to buy. I guess those are the start of the business,” buddy said.
“Yes, so when do I have to pick them up?” I asked.
“He said before five tomorrow,” Buddy replied. “To be honest I think there are some shenanigans in the sale.”
“He probably isn’t going to report the sale. I am buying shit they usually turn under so the government doesn’t need to know about it,” I explained. “I need to arrange for a place to put it then for someone to pick it up.”
“Well why not arrange to store it in that building you are going to buy, and I can pick it up,” Buddy replied.
“I can’t buy the building that quick,” I said.
“Surely you can rent space there,” he suggested. “Something dry till you work it out.”
“They do have a freestanding storage building. Maybe I could work something out for that.” I used the real phone to call the Realtor. Since no one answered, I left a message. It took her a couple of hours to get back to us.
After I left the message and hung up I said, “I do have a storage building out back if worse comes to worse. We can always bring the trike in and store the bales in my storage building.”
“What kind of trike do you have,” Buddy asked.
“I can’t explain, go out and take a look,” I said tossing him the keys. He took them and was gone no more than fifteen minutes.
“Is that an electric assist trike,” he asked.
“Yes it was my only transportation the first few months I lived here. I am probably going to use it again to rehabilitate my leg,” I said.
“Wow that is kind of cool,” Buddy said. “So where are the batteries?”
“If the batteries haven’t been stolen, they are on that shelf under the stairs. There should be three sets under there. Two large sets for long over the road distances and one twenty hour rescue set. The twenty should be good for around town or to get me home if I were to run through a big, over the road, set. I have a total of about a one hundred and twenty five mile range. They might be good a little farther, but it would be pushing it I think. They have probably been suffering from storage as well.
“Can you explain how the batteries work,” he asked.
So I explained how to charge them and how to estimate the time left on them. I also explained about the rescue battery.
“Would you mind if I took it for a ride?” he asked.
“Be my guest, but don’t wreck it. I told you I’m going to need it for my rehabilitation,” I replied.
“Miss Martin, you left a message for me?” the female Realtor asked when I answered her call.
“Yes it’s time we worked a deal for that building. Tell the owner to put on his reality shoes. You do have the zoning change don’t you?” I asked.
“The board said that it isn’t going to be a problem,” she assured me.
“Draw your contract for Fifty thousand and a clause that the sale is Dependent on the zoning change. I would also like to use that outside building to store materials until the zoning is approved.”
“Well I know he is going to demand rent for that space,” she said.
“I will pay him a realistic rent, if the zoning is not approved. If it is I do not expect to pay him any more than the fifty thousand total.”
“He won’t go for that,” the Realtor said.
“Then I won’t buy it. I will enter into negotiations for a piece of land outside the area zoned retail. I can throw up a metal building cheaper than I can renovate that one anyway I expect. I hadn’t looked into it because that building would be more convenient. However I don’t intend to get screwed to save a few steps,” I said. “Get back to me by five, or I will be shopping for a metal building.”
It was almost 2 PM when Buddy Baker walked in the rear door from his test ride. “Son of a bitch I want one of those,” he said with a huge grin.
“I’ll bet you do,” I replied.
“No I’m serious. Tell me where to get one,” he said.
“You don’t just get one, you create one,” I said.
“Tell me what I need and where to get it,” he said a little more adamant.
“Use mine for a week or so to be sure you want to invest in one. Even when I’m able to pedal it, I can’t use the trike and the truck at the same time. If one of us has the truck and the other one needs to go somewhere, he or she can use the trike. Of course if I am out riding for exercise, you can use the truck,” I said.
“Okay but in a week, I’m going to ask again. I’m sure,” Buddy said.
I was napping at four when the Realtor called back. The zoning is a mute point. I have the approval in my hand. Now as for the use of the property, sign a contract to buy and you can store anything you want outside the building, on the lot or in the out buildings. It will take the lawyer about a week to get the papers done. If you will put the money in the escrow account the owner will do it for Fifty thousand.”
“I’ll sign the contract tonight and you can take a thousand earnest money from my debit card. I will have the other $49,000 transferred tomorrow. Just bring the contracts over anytime,” I said.
“The earnest money might be a problem, I can’t take a debit card,” she said.
“I can’t get to the bank right now. I can write you a check, but it won’t be certified,” I said.
“That’s okay, we will hold the contract till your checks clear. In the meantime do your thing,” she said.
“Good,” I said.
“I’ll drop by in an hour with the contract,” she agreed.
“You know Buddy, I need to put some clothes on. I’m going into the bathroom and wash. When I come out I’m going to put on some clothes. How about going upstairs and get me something to wear?” I asked.
“Sure what do you want?” he asked.
“Clean tee shirt for one thing, a pair of panties and running shorts will probably work. You might want to get me a regular button up blouse, so my boobs don’t stick out,” I said.
“Your boobs are not the problem. It’s your nipples,” Buddy said with a laugh.
“After I sign this contract you are going to have to haul the hay to the outbuilding across the street,” I said ignoring his attempt at humor.
“I can do that in a morning. I expect to make it in one trip,” Buddy said.
“Good then we can start looking for some machinery. Jeff is going to bring his recipe for manufacturing tea this weekend. I think I should warn him there will be no pinch and tickle. If I do he might want to email it to me. If he does, then we won’t ever be meeting again.”
“I know you said we needed a cutter of some kind to process the stems,” Buddy said. “Do you have any idea where to get one?”
“Actually with Jeff’s version of green tea we need a giant stainless steel chopper. We can get one from any industrial kitchen supplier I expect,” I suggested. “But we also need a steamer to get rid of the hard woody texture. He swears it will stay pliable if we steam it before we chop it. I have no idea if that will work or not. But it will be easy enough to test. We can take a couple of woody stalks’ and put them in a little tent and put a teapot in with it. If it works we will work out a larger version. I expect that the ratio of tea to clippings has to be determined by pure trial and error.
“Well after we sign the contract tonight we need to start experimenting,” Buddy said.
“First you have to get the bales then we can start,” I suggested.
“There isn’t much we can do before we have the stuff is there old girl?” Buddy asked.
“Old girl my ass. We can rig a test kitchen right here. I have an idea what Jeff meant when he told me what to do, so we can give it a shot on a very small scale,” I said.
“Love, you are going to need a couple of weeks before you can do anything. But I can set it up here so you can observe the results of our experiments,” Buddy said.
We were still arguing when the Realtor came with the contract. She stayed only fifteen minutes, because she really didn’t like me at all. After she left Buddy said, “Call the farmer and let him know I will be there tomorrow.”
“If the cops didn’t steal it, I have a few grand in cash in the house,” I said. “So go to the bathroom upstairs and find the box of Kleenex and bring it here.”
I had moved the money from my escape kit the same night I killed the burglar. I put it in the box of Kleenex for safe keeping. I did that only after I returned from dumping the ID’s. I had time while I waited for the cops to come.
So, I removed the Kleenex and there was one bank packet of 100 hundred dollar bills. I gave him seven of the hundred dollar bills from the packet. “Before you pick up the cutting, pick up a steamer like they use for clothes, a tea kettle and a food processor. They don’t have to be the best quality, since we are just going to test the recipe.”
“I’ll get some commercial tea as well,” he said. He obviously was better organized. He was operating with a brain not fogged by dope. It took two more days to get everything to work. Making the plan was easy, but things started to go wrong right away.
Buddy knew nothing about food processors, so he got a mixer not a bladed chopper. Since I felt like shit I didn’t even noticed when he put the bags away. Why didn’t I notice, you might ask?
It was because the farmer didn’t help Buddy load the bales. So Buddy had to figure a way to get the over two hundred pound damp bales of clipping up and into the bed of the truck. Then he needed to cover them with tarps since we didn’t have the necessary paperwork to transport the pot. So the day ended with Buddy simply parking the truck in the alley behind the just purchased building and walking away.
The next day he showed me the items he bought at the department store in Williamston. I laughed then said, “Buddy honey this thing would do if we were going to make a cake. Actually it wouldn’t do any good then since neither of us knows how to bake.”
Buddy didn’t see that as humorous. Men, I thought, but said nothing.
We struggled to get it all together and ready for the test by the end of the week. Jeff showed up at the door just in time to meet Buddy before he went to retrieve a few pounds of stems.’
“You must be Jeff,” Buddy said. “I’m Buddy Baker I’m helpin’ Rose for a while.”
“Really,” Jeff asked apparently surprised to find my assistant and nursemaid was not a maid at all. Let alone a monster of a man. “Well Buddy it’s nice to meet you. Is Rita behaving?”
“She is and would you mind calling her Rose, Rita is going to be a bit complicated. Rose will explain while I get the clippings.” With that Buddy left through the front door with a plastic dishpan under his arm.
Jeff walked through what had previous been my retail display area. By the time Jeff got there Buddy had converted to a make shift lab. Once through the temporary lab he entered into the rear room which was acting as my temporary bedroom. When he got back to that room he saw me in the soft running shorts and tee shirt. I had thanked god all week that I lived in a moderate climate. There were still two more months of summer and hot weather before going into weather which almost never fell below forty degrees. The locals called that winter.
Once Jeff was in the room, he bent to kiss me. “Should I worry about Buddy?” he asked.
“He is not going to punch you out or anything honey. His girl friend is my lawyer. Her real name is Rita, hence the confusion,” I explained.
“I think I get it now. So how are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m a little gimpy, but I’ll be okay. I’m probably going to have a little limp, but I will get by,” I replied giving him the short version.
“God I do love a sexy Gimp,” he said with a grin.
“When Buddy gets back, we are going to test your process. Then we are going to use you for a guinea pig. If it works, I probably will be my own best customer,” I suggested.
“Mostly what I told you is textbook information about plants in general and how they act. We are going to have to do some experiments and just try it,” Jeff said.
A few minutes later Buddy returned with the pan of stalks and stems. I guess we should just call his stuff ‘the material’, I suggested. “Okay Jeff you are the chemist, so make like a chemist.”
He half filled the bowl of the new blender with stalks and stems. It took only seconds to chop it into a bunch of course clippings which Jeff declared were just right. Unlike tea leaves the stalks were like fresh celery because we hadn’t steamed them first. They were just hard bits of woody material. “We need to break this down or it will take forever to brew,” Jeff said. “Let’s put it in a double boiler to steam. That clothes steamer won’t work at all.”
“Well it’s back to Williamston for me,” Buddy said. “I sure thought we had everything.”
“Why don’t you two take a look at what we have, and Jeff you suggest anything we need. You can take Jeff along in case he comes up with anything else we are going to need,” I said to them both.
So the Friday mid morning start of the work day, became Friday late afternoon. We did finally steamed the coarse cuttings by 5 PM. The steaming took only seconds in the microwave. We were using a plastic bowl and a plastic strainer on top inside a plastic bag. It was a mess, but Jeff devised it and it worked fine. After all that work we had about half a cup of limp blobs of vegetable material.
“Okay now we have one of the tea additives,” Jeff said.
“Okay so what now?” Buddy asked.
“Now we need some kind of oil to add to the mixture of tea and weed,” he suggested. “It helps draw the THC out of the plant fibers.”
“Okay, but tell me this is absolutely necessary,” I demanded.
“It is if you want to get a kick out of it in a reasonable amount of time,” he said.
“Okay, we have steamed the weed, so now we want to pack it in olive oil?” I asked.
“Pretty much yes,” Jeff agreed. “We need enough to coat it. Just as if we were using a vinegar and oil salad dressing.”
“Have you ever done this before?” Buddy asked skeptically.
“No, but it’s what the Stoners tell me works best. They have years of kitchen experiments going for them. I took the ones based in science for you. Not the bullshit legends,” he said.
So I watched them put the steamed material into the blender again. Then they add a quarter teaspoon of olive oil and toss quickly. Buddy was the one who knew how to brew tea, so he filled the hard plastic tea holder, called an infuser, with a mixture of real tea and our tossed salad. I could tell they were just guess when they used an equal amount of tea and product. After all that mixing they added water and boiled the hell out if for five minutes. Then they left the tea infuser in the liquid tea while it cooled.
Buddy filled a measuring cup with the brewed tea, then passed it around. Jeff seemed to gag on it, then smiled. Buddy, who was a tea drinker, declared it was foul. Since I drank some pretty rank coffee I expected to be a little less judgmental, but Buddy was right. Buddy had assessed it fairly. It was awful, but there was something about it that make me want more. After that first taste it got a little better but not much.
I passed it around again. “Well for sure it is an acquired taste, but so is plain tea,” I said.
“According to the people who do this regularly, we need to wait an hour to assess the effect. I don’t have the equipment to analyze the strength, so we will just have to wait,” Jeff said.
“You know we used that whole bowl full of raw product to get down to one tea pot full of this crap,” Buddy said. “I’m not sure if there is any money to be made on this stuff.”
“We could have got two or more pots from the same amount of product. This was some pretty strong stuff judging from the taste. Let’s have dinner and give it time to work,” I suggested.
“Are you up to going out?” Buddy asked skeptically.
“Hell no, but we can get pizza,” I suggested.
“It’s nine o’clock, so I can drive to that place between here and Williamston,” Buddy suggested. He had obviously learned a lot about the area while on my trike.
We ate the pizza and I was feeling much better after. I felt a little wonky before the pizza, but I felt as if I had finished off a couple of drinks. I even felt a little turned on by the two guys who surrounded me. I shook my head to clear it of those thoughts. The spirit might be willing but the body definitely was not in any shape to do anything.
“Okay, we have the formula and process down,” I suggested. “It now becomes our mission to make it taste better.”
“We can’t change the taste of the material, so we have to disguise it,” Buddy said slurring his words. “But you are right this is really smooth.” He broke into laughter. Jeff joined him in his revelry.
“Okay we coat the material with something that is an oil and has a taste better than olive oil,” I suggested. “Coconut oil maybe and mix it with a little peppermint oil?”
“That might work.” Buddy who was our official tea taster said. “We will have to work on the recipe, but I think we can make that combination work just fine.”
By Sunday night we had the recipe within a few tweaks of being perfect. Since there was only so much tea one could drink and still be objective, we went looking for other people to try it.
We knew right away Miss Sadie and the Boxer were going to be looking for different things. The ratio we used was right for the boxer no doubt, but for Miss Sadie it would need to be a more watered down mix.
Jeff went back to school without a blow job. Buddy and I set up a small factory in the old farmer’s co-op building. I mean so small the machinery could be placed on one table and still have room for a Mcdonald’s happy meal. We managed to process three of the hay bales, before we started to look for better machinery.
We also test marketed the product in that first week. Buddy’s knowledge of making and drinking tea really came in handy. He drank Miss Sadie’s tea a couple of times a day and I drank the Boxer’s tea and managed to get around on the walker.
I couldn’t stand long, but I could get to the Cafe for lunch. Buddy still went to the DQ for breakfast. The point is I was getting better and more able to handle the pain thanks to the pot I drank. I felt just a little numb but also a little fuzzy in my thinking as well. I was looking forward to getting rid of the pain killers.
“Buddy helped to wean me off them. It was a month after I left the hospital before I could do without the narcotics. I was down to a super ibuprofen and a non-narcotic pain killer. I did have a cup of tea in the evenings as well. It was to help me sleep, I told myself.