Boom (3)

About six weeks later I saw it on the news, right there on the bar TV: some professors at Orono had discovered a new plant that might cure cancer.

I called Katie and told her to come in and take my shift. I apologized to my four customers, then sped home and sat down in front of the computer and didn’t move for seven hours.

It was just a leak. They hadn’t published anything yet. There was no hard data, nothing peer-reviewed. But someone knew enough to realize that they had something big.

The story in the Press-Herald wasn’t very exciting. Or very excited: there are only so many times they can run a story about a Miracle Cancer Cure before they become the journalists who cried wolf. But it had enough technical details that clearly whoever leaked it was plenty excited. (They never even figured out who the leak came from. I wouldn’t bet: all three of them were excited enough to pick up a phone. Or a megaphone.)

Our little fungus, our little Genny, had a protein that cancer didn’t like. Not all cancers, but adenocarcenoma: so colon cancer, some lung, all pancreas, some cervical and breast cancer, some stomach and prostate. So not all cancers, but enough. Plenty enough.

I wondered if the three guys knew this when they came into the bar. I wonder to this day. No idea. They were plenty excited, and spent to suit. But they were nerds who’d Discovered Something. Who knows.

The next day I called in sick. Katie wasn’t around to cover so I dragged Lotte in to do it for me. She made me promise her I’d be back by eight so she could meet up with her old rich guy. I swore to her I’d be back by eight, and swore to myself I’d be back by eight thirty.

It was the middle of summer. I put on hiking-boots and a windbreaker and got ready to sweat through both of them. I went out into the mountains with nothing but a bottle of water, a box of Cliff Bars, a hip-flask of SoCo, and a trowel. And a plastic wonton-soup container with an inch of pine tar inside.

It took me four hours to find what I was looking for. Then it took me three hours to find the road. I thought I’d never get off that mountain. When I did find the road I realized I was closer to work than to my car and just walked to the bar. Relieved Lotte – a whole hour early – and spent the rest of the evening pouring Carrabassett Pale for a bunch of snowboard salesmen. Had a cab pick me up and drive me to my car. Only then did I open my backpack.

Two little Gennys, floating in oil. Looking like a cross between a potato and an albino tennis ball. Two little Gennys. They really were there.

I put them in my fireplace, burying the container halfway in last winter’s ashes. Took them five days to decompose. Morning of the sixth and my little plastic container was filled with brown oily goop. I didn’t dare find out what it smelled like. Threw it in the dumpster, hoped the raccoons left it well alone.

I knew it was nothing. Nothing for me, nothing for a bartender and a ski bum who just happened to be two mountains over from where some guys had found their special fungus. Still I hadn’t felt so excited since they’d turned off the snow machines.

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~ by davekov on 9 March 2014.

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