13 March 2008

Stevedores Bear Burdens, Mothers Bear Children, Bears Love Honey

OK, I'll warn you right now that this one is coming through in waves so, bear with me.

I was on my way to Havre de Grace to visit an old friend who teaches forensic horticulture at Bowie. Well, she doesn't really teach it just yet, but she's mapping out a curriculum in cooperation with some rogue Regius Professors of Medicine at the University of Tuzla in Bosnia Herzegovina. She's the first in her field so it's been baby steps for a few years. I visit her from time to time to check in on how its coming along. See, it was me who thought up the idea of forensic horticulture. But like I said, this one is coming through in waves and I'm having a hard time remembering where and when it all began.

I guess, I can say with confidence, it all started with O'Riley's bovine cinnamon fern. What started out as your garden variety corner office fern had grown to be about 7 feet tall by now and he'd fallen in love with the thing.

I mean O'Reily was really attached to this here osmunda cinnamomea. He had a website up about it. One of those blogs where he'd write in the pen of the fern itself: "Today I am well. My master just watered me", that kind of stuff. People from all over the world followed this fern. He - well really I should say the fern - had fans in Siberia south through Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan to Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. They all subscribed to his site. He charged them all $10 a month and that allowed them full fern access. He had a 24-hour webcam set up that was just aimed at the fern in the corner of his office. It was unbelievable. His wife would oft find O'Reily in the middle of the night, in the den, squinting at the monitor, eyes trained on his fern. I mean the man quite simply could not take his eyes off the thing.

O'Reily worked for a fern firm called Munchausen, Thearterbate (pronounced like Theater Bait)and Richter. He started as a per diem clerk in the 70's and worked his way up to CFO by the late 90's. He had the cinnamon fern all along and had moved it to every cubicle and office he'd ever had. The fern was originally a gift from a man named Randall Peltzer who'd worked for the firm when it was still Munchausen and Thearterbate. In fact, I don't think Elliot Richter had even been born yet. But we'll get to him later.

Peltzer had interests in Myanmar and Siberia before anyone looked to Asia for capital. He had roots, somehow, that lead back to Egypt and the Sa'id, the Ottoman Empire, all that crazy shit. He'd cultivated all these bizarre relationships with the great-great-great-great-grandchildren of guys like Kavalali Mehmet Ali Paşa. I mean these guys ruled dynasties! Ali Paşa ruled Egypt and the Sudan until the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. These guys were no joke. And here was 5'5'' Randall Peltzer from Manhattan Beach hobnobbing with Turkish warlords and Albanian emperors. Some said Peltzer was the muse for Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize winning Willy Loman character. I don't know about any of that but in his heyday, Peltzer was shrewd to the tiebar.

Anyway, that all doesn't matter. Alls I know is Peltzer took a trip to the Suez and came back with this cinnamon fern for the office and he gave it to O'Riley to take care of. I guess the fern became O'Riley's by common law or whatever. I'm not sure if domestic partnership common laws apply to humans and plants in long term non-marital relationships but for the sake of this story let's pretend that they do. Allow me that artistic license, won't you? Though I suppose there couldn't have been mutual consent of the parties to the relationship constituting a marriage since the fern can't speak. But like I said, this one is coming through in waves and I'm having a hard time remembering where and when it all began. O, whatever, let's move on.

So one day the phone rings and it's Marigold and she's calling from the Straits of Gibraltar. No, not the actual place but a physical place, a restaurant/bar down on Hudson. She says she overheard someone talking about a murder. Downing Sidecars and discussing a murder using baseball analogies quite clumsily. Have enough Sidecars poured by a heavy handed bartender and even the most steady spy can kiss clever goodnight. Cointreau is a sweet little truth serum. How do you think MKNAOMI got started?

So Marigold has one foot in the bag herself and she's going on and on about cryptonyms over a bad connection. I told her to meet me at Odessa's in an hour and she did. And it was there, over onion rings and grilled swiss cheese sandwiches on rye, she first told me about Project Bluebird. But like I said, this one is coming through in waves and I'm having a hard time remembering where and when it all began...

No comments: