This is chapter one of a serialized tale of politics, capitalism, and corruption in San Francisco. Look for the next fiction installment in each new issue of the View.
“I told you John, I’m not selling,” said Chester, as he sprayed water that’d traveled for hundreds of miles, all the way from Hetch-Hetchy, adjacent to the Yosemite Valley, on a small pallet of bright yellow Blazing Star flowers.
Chester had been the first to cultivate the wildflowers. It was a tricky process, dependent on a mix of soil composed of compost made up of food scraps from a nearby Locavore restaurant, along with a “secret ingredient” that consisted mostly of the dregs scrapped from the bottom of a vat of handcrafted beer, brewed a few blocks away.
“You’re an idiot!” John shouted back. “Do you know how much this place is worth? What’s the point of growing weeds for Silicon Valley coding commuters when you could be retired in a villa in Mexico?”
“Weed, eh,” Chester said. “That’s an idea. It’s bound to be fully legal sometime soon. The trick would be how to make it drought-resistant, it uses a lot of water…”
John took a step towards Chester, his hands up in surrender. In his late-30s, John had the build of a former boxer who’d spent a great deal of time drinking and eating after he retired early from the ring. His large belly sagged over his belt; a full head of prematurely white hair capped a face already mapped with wiggly broken corpuscles, most prominently on a nose that looked like it’d be broken more than once.
“I’m just saying,” John sighed deeply, “that you should think about it.”
Chester, who had a headful of grey hair, and another 10 years and 25 pounds on John, carried in a rounder, more friendly fashion, smiled. “I will, John, I will.”
“That’s all I ask,” said John, who turned towards the door. “I’ll check in with you later.”
“You do that, John,” said Chester. He watched as John strode out of his plant store. As the wooden door slapped shut he stepped back, his hand reaching towards the redwood bench next to the cash register. He slumped onto it, his body slack.
Maggie, Chester’s wife, who was recovering from a recent knee operation, hobbled in from the outside garden area. “Who was that,” she asked.
Chester looked up, resting his hands on his thighs. “John. He was after me to sell. Again.”
“Ugh,” said Maggie, as she sat down next to Chester. “Who does that guy work for, anyway?”
“I dunno,” Lester shook his head. “He’s also been some kind of City fixer, paving the way for developers, but I never know exactly which ones.”
“You okay,” Maggie squinted at Chester. “You don’t look so good.”
“I’m just tired,” said Chester, as he checked the readings on a device strapped to his belt that he used to monitor his blood sugar. “Neither one of us are spring chickens, anymore. Hell, you turn 50 next week.”
“Always reminding me that I’m the older woman,” Maggie chuckled. “As I recall, at the time you needed the training,” she winked at Chester.
“I suppose I did,” replied Chester, as he slowly got to his feet. “Now off to make some more of that mulch.”
“Ha!” said Maggie. “You mean to get a mid-day beer with your friends.”
“That too,” said Chester, waving his hand as he ambled out of his shop.