By Cindy and Walt
After a couple of hours of uncomfortable ‘bonding’ in front of the giant screen TV they left me alone in the bottom level of the studio/apartment. I was able to climb the stairs finally, so I expected to have the discussion about sleeping arrangements.
Since the discussion didn’t happen I was treated to the sounds of Bart and Rita screwing like rabbits. It might go on all night since her visit had started with her arrival Saturday morning. On just the second day together, I wouldn’t be surprised if they went for the marathon screwing.
I went on the computer, but couldn’t find Dark Daddy, which wasn’t unusual. Our relationship if you could all it that was more like, ‘Oh you are here.’ Certainly it wasn’t like an online affair or anything. Since I had a lawyer in my house, I thought of it as a non-committal relationship. It was more a sort of, ‘if I see you, I see you,’ kind of thing.
I really didn’t know why them screwing pissed me off, but it did. Even so it didn’t stop me masturbating to the sounds. So instead of Dark Daddy, I masturbated to the sounds of Rita’s moans and stifled screams of pleasure. Even though Rita was black her body hadn’t aged like so many black women. She hadn’t let herself get soft at all. She was still tight and trim. It was hard to tell her age. She was likely either forty or just past it.
I, on the other hand, was in the twilight of my third decade on earth. If youth counted for anything, I was one up on her. I expected that it wasn’t the years that counted in the eyes of men, it was most likely the miles. As any used car salesman might tell you a new but high mileage car was less valuable.
Monday morning I was up before the sun. Since it was fall like morning in Alabama, I pulled on an extra sweatshirt before I left on the E trike for breakfast. I was able to gently pedal the trike along with the E motor running at very low RPMs. It was more moving my leg round and round rather than actually pedaling. Unlike being on a stationary bicycle, I had a feeling of accomplishment.
I also got away from Bart and Rita for a while. That’s what I thought anyway. I was almost finished with breakfast when they pulled into the parking lot. When they sat down I was tempted to leave.
“I told Rita we always made decisions over breakfast, so she insisted we drive down to meet you,” Bart said.
“I can’t make a decision till I get my research done,” I said.
“What more do you need done?” Rita asked.
“So is she doing the talking for you now?” I asked.
“No, but she is representing my interest here,” he said.
“Why do you feel you need a lawyer. Surely you didn’t expect me to screw you?” I asked. I didn’t realize how resentful I had been since he mention invoking the buy, sell clause in our contract. But I realized that morning that I was really pissed.
“Come on Rose, you know all things come to an end,” Bart said.
“Usually someone dies when that happens,” I replied.
“Or someone just moves on like you did, when you came here,” Rita interjected.
“You don’t want to go there,” I said angrily. We had always discussed our plans in the restaurant. It kept our conversations civil to know people were listening. That morning I didn’t particularly care.
“Or what,” she said equally snippy.
“Or we will discuss what you and Bart were doing while I was getting raped daily in a jungle prison,” I said. “You did know that was part of me and Bart’s relationship.”
“You do know I had nothing to do with that?” he said.
“I also know you did nothing to stop it,” I said.
“They would have killed you, if we had tried,” he said.
“And you think my life was better there then being dead?” I laughed as I said it.
“Okay that’s in the past,” Bart said.
“I told your bitch lawyer not to go there,” I said. “How much do you want for your share?”
“The business was appraised at almost half a million,” Rita said again.
“If you have any fucking sense at all you will sit quietly,” I said to her menacingly.
“Do you know who I am?” she asked.
“Yes, do you know what I am?” I asked. That shut her up.
“I want to see a copy of that appraisal,” I said.
“Of course,” he said.
“What is the value of the building, machinery, and stock on hand?” I asked.
“It hasn’t appreciated or really depreciated in the year we have had it. The market says as pieces it worth around Two hundred thousand.
“That’s about our investment,” I said.
“Yeah, and since we have no debt that and the brand is all the assets,” he said.
“So they say the brand is worth three hundred thousand,” I asked.
“They are just guessing,” Bart said.
“Frankly I think it is worth more, but I’ll give you half the appraisal to get rid of you,” I said looking at Rita.
“Can you raise that kind of money?” she asked.
“Let me worry about that. I think there was a thirty day cooling off option in the buy/sell clause in the contract. At the end of that period I will have your 250K.” I saw the look that passed between them. They hadn’t expected me to make that move.
“I would rather settle this sooner.”
“Don’t tell me you have already burned your bridges,” I said looking at Rita.
“How about I buy you out for three hundred thousand and take the studio building as well.” he said.
“No thanks,” I said.
“Three and a half,” Rita said.
“I thought so, you are planning to be Bart’s new partner. Isn’t there a question of ethics here?” I asked.
“No, I just can’t represent you,” she said.
“That isn’t going to be a problem,” I assured her.
“It’s a fair price,” Bart said.
“Bull shit, I can take that much out of it in a couple of years. I don’t need money right now so why should I?” I asked.
“Because you know you are going to get bored. You are a builder not an operator,” Bart said. “As for that leaving you in that hole, ask Silvia how may times I tried to get her to let me go get you. It just couldn’t be done.”
“You just really don’t want to bring up the past to me. But if you two are going to be an item, I’ll buy you out and you can become farmers,” I suggested. I was sure it was going to go the other way, but I just couldn’t manage to say yes.
“Look how about this? Two hundred thousand in cash and half of the profits for the next two years. You won’t have any control of the day to day operation but you can monitor the expenditures and the income. You have my word we won’t try to screw you,” Bart said.
“We can’t do that,” Rita said.
“Yes we can and we will,” Bart said.
“No we can’t. We need that money to build the business,” she said.
“Sell it to me under the same conditions then. I’ll give you two hundred K and fifty percent of the profit for the next two years,” I said. Bart knew that I realized what he was thinking. “You are planning on an expansion and there won’t be large profits till that is paid off. It’s what I would do.”
“We are at an impasse then,” Bart asked.
“Yes we are,” I agreed.
“If you would let me make a suggestion?” Rita spoke. I forced myself to keep quiet and listen. How about two hundred thousand now, and 50% of the profits for two years. Bart will guarantee your share to be more than two hundred thousand total. If he doesn’t fulfill his commitment then you just sue for breach of contract.”
“I could have the accounts audited at any time?” I asked.
“At your own expense but yes,” Bart agreed. “I get the studio as well as the factory.”
“I will clear my things out when you make the first payment of two hundred thousand dollars,” I said.
“More coffee all around to celebrate,” Bart said. While he went to the self serve coffee bar to refill the cups, Rita feverishly made notes on her notebook.
“Do you hate me or are you jealous,” she asked without looking up.
“I started the company and Bart helped me move it into production. Far as I can see you aren’t bringing a lot to the table,” I suggested.
“It’s my two hundred K sweetie,” she said.
“Then maybe I should have asked for it all in cash,” I said.
“Maybe you should have,” she said.
“So when are you moving to Alabama?” I asked.
“I have already moved. I’m just waiting to find a place to live to establish residency for a divorce. I don’t want my husband to get everything. We were only married three years,” Rita informed me.
“Well good luck you two. I’m going home to shower then meet Hannah for the day’s work at the factory,” I admitted. I stayed long enough to finish half the coffee refill then I rode off on the trike.
I finished my shower then walked across the street before Bart and Rita returned. Hanna came in fifteen minutes after I did. I helped Hannah with the first step. The first step was to put the stalks and stems into the grinder. We had found early on that they were easier to grind if they were dry and fibrous. After they were ground as fine as a tobacco product we put them in large pans then into a steam cabinet for half an hour to break down the fibers.
The oil and flavoring went into a big ass mixer for a quick tossing like a salad being dressed. Then we packaged it. We still didn’t have that part mechanized. We sat at a long table and spooned it into the envelopes which were placed into cardboard boxes the size of two packs of playing cards. The process could be completed in a single day, but the results were less than four hundred boxes of tea per day.
The last year we sold all we could produce to a tune of over four hundred thousand. After expenses Bart and I shared two hundred and thirty five thousand. It was just our second year and we made the most money I had ever made legally.
We took almost a hundred thousand to upgrade equipment and order the automated packing machine. It was capable of making a couple of different packages. Bigger and smaller packs were going to be on the menu.
Bart came in after the grinding was done. The stems and stalks were in the steamer when he came inside. “I called about the packaging system. It should be here this week.”
“That’s good, I’m getting tired of filling boxes all day. So is Rita going to fill the boxes when she takes my place?” I asked.
“By then we will have the packaging machine up and running,” Bart said.
“Can you finish this up when Hannah gets back here this afternoon, if I’m not back?”
“Sure where you off to?” Bart asked.
“Need to see a lawyer of my own,” I said. Bart agreed and I left just a little after nine. The stalks and seed were in the steam cabinets. When they came from there they would be dried blended with tea and packaged. By the time Hannah returned from school it might be ready to package or it might not be. If it wasn’t ready there were thing Hannah could do. She was a smart girl and knew every step of the process.
“Miss Sadie, I need a lawyer. I’m not in any trouble I just need someone to draw a sales contract and register a deed. Do you know anybody?” I asked.
“Well Annabell, My sister’s oldest daughter dated a lawyer for a while. I could get his name,” she suggested.
“You sure Annabell won’t mind?” I asked.
“No she dumped him. Something about strange sexual practices,” she said with a laugh.
“If you would get me his name I would appreciate it,” I said.
Sadie called back before Hannah returned, so I called Bart. Once I explained he was willing to come over and help out even though Rita was in town. “Look at it this way, she will have to find out how it all works sometime.”
I called the lawyer who once dated Annabell. I expected him to be a real ass. I wasn’t disappointed, but he did seem competent. He faxed Lisa, Sam’s daughter, a copy of a Sales Contract, then arranged for her and her husband to mail the contract to him. But only after it was notarized. Since he seemed to be pretty smart, I told him that I would want him to read a sales contract for me. Just to be sure I wasn’t stepping into a mine field.
A week later he had researched the deed to Sam’s farm for me. The double wide trailer Sam lived in had been reduced to ashes. The property contained three storage buildings, all were concrete block. There was one building for each of the three catfish ponds. The ponds had been drained by the county bio hazard people. It seemed an unattended catfish farm pond was a chemical hazard. I didn’t even bother to ask why, I just took their word for it.
So I spent a hundred dollars even after I paid Lisa a dollar for the place. I owned it or I would after I paid off the bank lien and the tax lien. Those two items came to almost twenty thousand dollars.
According to the lawyer the farm actually contained 35 acres even after it had been chopped up to keep the rest of it afloat. A thirty five acre pot farm would go a long way toward paying for itself quickly. Unfortunately I could farm it all.
Legalized pot had its share of bureaucratic crap, but most of the shit was point of sales regulations at the beginning. Make no mistake we were all in on the beginning. It had been legal less than a year when we started producing tea.
As a manufacturer of a food item and a drug item we were heavily scrutinized. On the growing side, as long as we didn’t deviate from the amount we grew, they didn’t much give a crap. The joint manufacturers paid top dollar for the product, so there was little incentive to sell on the black market.
That is unless you sold to a retailer. The street vendors avoided the government tax and regulations completely. The point of sale street vendors were the ones the government wanted. There had never been a licensed grower busted since the law was enacted. The license to grow was also known as a pot allotment or a potalot. It was a license to steal. Farmers joined in a sweepstakes for the allotments. The potalot went to the person not the farm.
Often when a farmer was in danger of losing his farm, his potalot was the first thing to go. It was the most liquid of his assets. After I had the land locked up, I had to secure a potalot. My first five acres came from a family farm whose owner grew too old to continue. His five kids wanted a quick settlement so the potalot was sold separately. I bought the five acre potalot for $50,000. It seems like a lot I know, but it was potentially worth twice that after a year in production. Even more if you grew indoors. I figured to get two crops a year maybe more.
The next step was to cash out on the factory producing Irish Tea. I met with Bart in our office, the Dairy Queen, for breakfast the morning after I bought the potalot. I would have told him the night before, but he had been spending his nights with Rita in one of those suites only motels in Williamston.
It seemed that her only legal clients were Sylvia, Swamp Dog, and several of their previous employees. As she had in my case Sylvia always recommended Rita. I expect because Rita had no real scruples. She just believed in results. Sylvia and Bart swore she only worked for the good guys, but I said you never really knew who the good guys were till the movie ended. The point was she used the Internet to do her work so she would do it in Alabama as well as back at the Swamp.
“So Bart, get my two hundred grand and I’ll move from the studio/apartment,” I said.
“I heard you were making moves to secure a farm and potalot,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if you were going to farm it, or trade it for my share of the factory.”
“I wasn’t sure either when I bought the farm, but I’m going to keep it. I am also going to try to hijack Hannah,” I admitted.
“Will you give me time to train someone else?” he asked.
“Just till I get the greenhouses up,” I said.
“Fair enough, I have the Two hundred K in your bank by the end of the week,” he said.
I knew that it was going to be close money wise but I had a line of credit with a very special New York bank. I wasn’t sure how I could negotiate it without feeling in his debt but I might be needing money, since I planned to hit the ground running at full speed.
The set up was going to cost me the whole two hundred K and I might need to borrow enough money to get through the first growing season. It would be a short term loan, if I needed one at all. I still had a few thousand in the local branch of Bank America up near Farmer’s Grove. There was no way I could farm the whole five acres the first time out. But I did want to get all of the greenhouses built at once. It would save me about 12% on the building cost.
I moved what little furniture and fixture I wanted from the studio so Bart and Rita could move into it. I rented a storage locker in Williamston while the same contractor who had done the studio renovations worked on one of the concrete storage sheds.
He had been on the property already and done his checking. One of the sheds was located near the burned out double wide mobile home. That was the one I chose to convert to a small a cabin. I intended to live on the farm to guard the crop at night, at least for a while.
The shed was actually just three sides and a roof used to store machinery. It was twenty four by fourteen, so there wasn’t going to be a lot of space.
The man the contractor sent the first day was a plumber. He wasn’t licensed but he could dig a trench and rough in the plumbing. He ran a thirty foot trench for the utilities. He left it open till all the people who wanted to connect to the building could do so.
First he ran a water line then a sewer line. He stubbed them off inside the shed along the north wall. There were no windows in the shed of course, but there was an exit through the rear wall. I suppose so the workers could go into the woods and relieve themselves without walking around. Most likely it was for something else but it sounded good to me.
Two days later the roughed out plumbing was complete. The next day the termite man came in to poison the earth on the floor. The same afternoon the concrete truck came in to pour the floor. The crew didn’t show up at all on the forth day while the concrete cured.
The fifth day they arrived with two sets of swinging patio doors. The carpenters framed the doors in and put up some vinyl siding to fill in the gaps on the edges. The next day the drywall men came and covered the inside of the new wall and then insulated and hung a ceiling above the cabin’s roof.
I had learned what worked and what didn’t work from the apartment over my studio. The bathroom and utility closet occupied a corner of the single room. The corner bathroom had a corner shower stall with fiberglass panels screwing to the walls and caulked watertight. It had a toilet along that north wall and a recycled pedestal sink along the rear wall. There was a utility closet along the north wall as well. It housed the small propane gas furnace and the propane water heater. Then on the back wall was a small range, sink and cabinet area, which occupied the area up to the rear walk door. Just past the door was the refrigerator space and a small eat on bar. The south wall would have the sofa bed from the Williamston storage building. From start to finish it took the contractor and his men eleven working days with the Sunday off.
I was thrilled with the results. I could stay there for a while, then let my night watchman stay there after I started making money.
During ten of those working days a crew came to fill in the catfish ponds starting with the one nearest the house. Each pond was over an acre so there were three ponds but a total of five acres. Once the gravel and soil was in place, he erected the aluminum rod frame, then stretched the thick, clear, flexible plastic over the frame. The front and rear wall took the most work.
I was in the cabin and had greenhouses before the second week came to an end. I was absolutely thrilled. I started looking forward to growing. I asked around and found the best pot seeds. I bought a thousand dollars worth over the Internet. The delivery was by mail and was set for ten days or less.
I showed up at the tea factory to talk to Hannah. The reason I wanted Hannah was that she was a good worker and knew how to farm. It was time to prepare the soil and I needed her quick.
“So Hannah would you like to get back to farming?” I asked.
“Well to be honest Miss Iris, this factory work doesn’t suit me all that well,” she said. “I would prefer to be outside.”
“Well I can’t promise you that, but I can tell you we are going to be growing pot in a greenhouse. To be honest there are five houses but I’m not sure I have enough seeds for that many plants. I can promise that I will make time for your school and keep you working as much as I can. Most likely it will be more than you want.
“I would rather work for you than Mr. Bart,” she said.
“Well the deal Bart and I made was you could train a replacement, so how about I tell him. Then you can teach someone else to blend the tea,” I suggested.
“Yes Ma’am,” she said.
“Well it looks like we are in the pot business,” I said.