Welcome to the 4th episode of The Search for the Last Flower. I want to thank everyone who’s taken time from their busy schedules to read my series. I appreciate you. ♥
Dr. Smith’s eyes gleamed with excitement.
“During the ceremony, the elder presents a flower. This flower is passed around, and the leaders of each family sniff it and pass it gently over their wives’ faces. It’s almost as if these people worship the flower.”
“What flower is it?” Dr. Smith’s pulse raced as he thought of the possibilities.
“I don’t quite know. I’ve seen drawings of it done by the tribe’s artists. It’s unlike any blossom I’ve ever seen before…” Caleb’s words drifted, and he seemed in a daze.
“Well, what does it look like?” Dr. Smith talked fast and walked in circles at a speedy pace.
Caleb was jolted from his stupor. “Oh . . . yes. From what I’ve gathered by looking at the drawings and listening to the people’s descriptions, the flower is large with blue petals. It has a yellow middle and the stem is long, thick and light green. The leaves are striated and small in proportion to the bloom.”
“I don’t recall ever having seen a flower such as you described.”
“No, you wouldn’t. According to the tribesmen, they are the only ones who have ever seen it. The flower only grows here. Only a few bloom at a time once a year.”
“So––I don’t understand. What has this flower to do with these people’s immortality?”
“During the ceremony, the flowers are passed around and then the blooms are crushed and consumed.”
“So you believe this flower’s properties are what slow down the rate at which these people age?”
“Yes, I believe so.”
“That has to be it!” Dr. Smith clapped and stared at Caleb, wild-eyed. A few of the natives stopped in their tracks and stared at him.
“Shhh! You’re acting like a crazy old man. Do you want to scare them?”
“Aren’t you excited? We’re at the threshold of a thrilling discovery. You should be excited.”
“I can’t get excited yet. I’m not even sure we’ll be invited to the celebration.”
“What?” Dr. Smith frowned. “These flowers are an incredible gift to the world. It’s the cure for aging. This tribe has been selfishly enjoying it for too long. It’s time the world benefitted from such a miracle.”
Caleb got to his feet and looked at him, brooding. “And you’re going to be the one to introduce this miracle to the world. Am I right?”
Dr. Smith shook his head. “You and I will harvest the properties of this flower and introduce its miraculous benefits to the world––together.”
“Listen Andrew, I understand you mean well, but it isn’t going to be that easy.”
“Of course, I mean well. Why should the cure for aging stay here in the middle of the Amazon with some jungle tribe? No one wants to grow old, get sick and die. We can give people eternal youth.” Dr. Smith’s eyes glazed over as he stared sightlessly into the jungle.
“Alright, even if we get invited to the celebration, it doesn’t mean they’ll allow us to participate. As a matter of fact, I don’t think it’s very likely that we’ll get anywhere near those flowers.”
“I don’t care!” Dr. Smith pounded the palm of his hand with his fist.
Caleb gasped and looked around. A few of the tribesmen were staring askance at them. Caleb smiled and waved at them, and they went about their business.
“Stop yelling, Andrew. I mean it. You’re going to get us kicked out of this village.”
“Alright. But listen––we need to find out where the flowers grow. We need to collect enough of them to create an elixir. An anti-aging tonic that will blow the market sky high.”
Caleb stared at him with a disappointed expression.
“What? We’re not allowed to make a profit?” Dr. Smith picked up a rock and threw it hard to the ground. Caleb shrugged and looked down. “We’ve been in this stinking jungle for weeks. We’re introducing something magnificent to the world, and we’re going to make a little money in the process. So what? We’re entitled to making a living, aren’t we?”
Caleb nodded reluctantly.
They gathered as much information as possible from the tribesmen as to the whereabouts of the flowers. The people of this tribe were honest and naïve, and they trusted too much, too quickly. Before long, Caleb knew where the flowers grew.
It was nearing the end of the year, and the tribal people were preparing for the harvest and celebration.
“So when will these flowers be in bloom?” Dr. Smith asked Caleb.
“I have heard the natives mention that the moon will tell them when the flower will bloom.” He breathed on his glasses, creating a film of moisture on the glass, and then wiped the lenses with his t-shirt.
“What nonsense is this?”
“It isn’t nonsense. They said that on the next full moon the flowers would bloom.”
“When is the next full moon?”
“Tomorrow night,” Caleb responded with a brittle voice.
“What’s the matter with you?” Dr. Smith rolled his eyes, annoyed by Caleb’s demeanor. “We’re so close to accomplishing something amazing, something no one else has been able to achieve in the history of mankind, and you’re pouting!”
“This doesn’t feel right, somehow. It feels too much like stealing. These people have welcomed us into their home with open arms, and now we’re going to take their most valuable asset.”
“Nonsense!” Dr. Smith opened his blue eyes wide. “These flowers don’t belong to them. They’ve had them for generations. The time has come for the rest of the world to benefit from the flowers’ properties.”
“Fine, but everyone should have access, not just the rich.” Caleb stared at Andrew directly in the eye. “I mean it! If I’m to be a part of this, then I want everyone, rich and poor, to benefit from the product we create. Understood?”
“I completely agree.” Dr. Smith cocked his head to one side and put his hand over his lips. Caleb narrowed his eyes.
The following evening, Dr. Smith met Caleb at the designated rendezvous point. Dr. Andrew Smith brought with him several men carrying powerful guns. A few of the men were carrying 12-gauge semi-automatic shotguns and 45mm assault rifles.
Caleb stumbled and gaped at Dr. Smith and his men. He pushed the rim of his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “What’s all this? Are we going to war, or are we going to pick flowers?” The armed men chuckled.
Dr. Smith scowled at him. “Do you think these people are just going to hand over these flowers? No––they are not. We need to be prepared for anything. I intend on making my anti-aging elixir, and if I have to wipe out the entire village, then that’s what I’ll do!” Dr. Smith kicked a rock lying near his feet.
Caleb combed his fingers through his messy hair and inhaled deeply. “These are a peaceful people.”
“Enough, Caleb! You have always lacked the resolve to take the necessary steps to get what you want. You’re weak! I have tried to strengthen and make a man out of you, but you continue to disappoint me!”
Caleb felt like his heart was on fire as he listened to the words coming from the man he loved as a father––that for all practical purposes was his father. He stared at Dr. Smith with glistening eyes. “Well, we’ll see how far you get without me and my team.” He turned to leave.
Dr. Smith stepped forward and grabbed his arm. “You know I can’t make the elixir without you. Please don’t do this.”
“No––you will never be able to extract the properties from this flower to make your precious elixir without me. So I guess there will be no anti-aging tonic for you to make millions from, will there?” Caleb shook his arm free and walked away from him.
Dr. Smith gestured to his men and they all pointed their guns at Caleb, who heard the click of multiple guns. He turned and stared at them with a bewildered expression. All color drained from his face.
“I’m sorry, my son, but this is too important. This is more vital than you or me. Think of all we could do with the essence of these flowers.”
Copyright © 2014 by Vashti Quiroz-Vega. All rights reserved.