His full name really was Tex Colin Davis, “Colin” was not exactly a middle name. “Colin Davis” was the family name given to it by Bruce Davis about four generations back when he got modestly rich, a liberated slave who never did get the promised 40 acres and a mule, and became a Buffalo Soldier, which despite Bob Marley’s song were mostly hired to wipe out the Buffalo herds in favor of cattle herds. But unlike most of the Buffalo Soldiers and how you better not ask, Bruce Davis collected small plots by himself and made his first modest wealth not trying to raise cattle but growing vegetables which made more money per acre, which allowed him to buy more such plots, which turned him into a sort of farmer capitalist.
Hence the Colin Davis family, more appropriately classier than just Davis. Nevertheless, up the generations, the Colin Davis family did get richer and richer raising cattle and buying and selling in the Chicago markets.
By the time Tex Colin Davis became TCD, the Colin Davis, there still were cattle ranches and corn and soy plantations in middle US for tradition’s sake, but bananas in Middle America, but the majority of the capital, and therefore the income, now came from Colin Davis Foods, secondary products of what was farmed and raised. CD Sausages, CD Breads and Cakes, CD canned fruits and vegetables, and so forth.
So CD Foods was a large and stable if boring income machine, good enough for TCD. But his son Alex had what he and his wife Stella had bigger and better woke ideas ideas.
“It’s the future, Dad,” Alex told him.
“It’s a crap shoot,” TCD told him.
“The science is there now.”
“That’s been there for a long time, Alex. But the market just isn’t really there. CD is in the soy business, and we do have enough capital in the phony food biz to do it without losing money, but not only us, but everyone who’s tried phony meat on any size has ended up in the red.”
“This is different, TCD, this is perfect!”
Alex had studied what was dubiously called Artificial Food Science and when he graduated TCD had bankrolled a thus far unnamed CD experiment with phony meats and fish which never ran in the black, figuring that one day Alex would be the ACD and keeping him in the business would be worth losing the lost capital.
From time to time Stella and Alex had invited TCD and his wife Belle to dinners of his latest phony meat, phony beef, phony pork, phony crab, phony buffalo, whatever. They had never puked, and Stella was an excellent chef, but the stuff came out of the factory in flat cubes and slices and was always so bland that whatever she did the best you could sell the result as was would be as army or astronaut or jail goop.
But the problem with even that was that making phony meat was expensive. Pound for pound you’d have to sell it for at least twice the real deal to break even.
“Give it a scientific test this time,” Stella insisted. Alex’s wife was very insensitive, indeed being very insistent seemed to be her career. She was what was now called a “political ecology scientist,” a line of work which never seemed to bring in a dime, but then again, she didn’t have to make money, and if she did, she was certainly good enough to make it as a cook.
This time she had gone overboard. Filet mignon. Roasted ham. Veal ala Holstein. Chicken Paprikash. Curried lamb burger.
Two plates of each dish.
“You expect us to eat all this!” Belle groaned.
“A bite from each dish,” Stella said.
“Try to tell us which came from the animal and which from our lab,” said Alex.
They could not.
“Fuck a duck!” exclaimed TCD.
“We haven’t tried that yet,” said Stella.
“Why not?” exclaimed Alex.
Stella had a bad moral problem before she met Alex Colin Davis who might have been sympathetic but still hadn’t solved it until now. Intellectually, professionally, and emotionally, she damn well knew that only the creation of electrical power by burning things was doing more damage to the planetary climate than raising meat animals to eat, and professionally, politically, morally, and emotionally, she should be a vegetarian, but she not only loved to eat meat, she loved to cook it.
As a chef, she tried, and tried to create classical dishes from every cuisine in the world that could substitute phony meat for the real deal, but everything just tasted flat.
But Alex Colin Davis, though sympathetic enough to encourage her vegetarian attempts, had won her heart, if not his or hers stomach, by telling her the scientific why.
“Something like the difference between analog and digital. The human species evolved as an omnivore which might be able to survive as a vegetarian, but we evolved to need meat, not only to stay healthy, but to feel that something was missing without it. Analog. Science now allows us to be healthy on chemically created foods such as the stuff CD Foods makes out of soy, which has all the necessary proteins. Digital. Like porn can get you an orgasm but you know it’s not the real deal.”
When it came to making love Alex was indeed analog, and digitaly speaking, his determination to create digital artificial meats that were fully analog was his scientific ultima thule that won her intellectual vegetarian heart.
But it had never worked, and they both came to the sad conclusion that it was impossible. And then Alex read how more live animal flesh had been grown out of animal flesh in the lab. And something clicked.
“If it’s possible to grow live animal flesh in the lab, it’s got to be possible to grow it in large quantities!”
“Artificial meat animals? But how would that be different from raising live stock on soy or corn?”
“Not live animals! Just live meat! We grow it like vegetables. Plant live flesh and grow meat like potatoes or apples!”
“We can do that?”
“Anything that is not impossible is possible,” Alex told her, and went to work. Financed by CD Foods, without quite explaining what he was trying to do to his father.
“Let me get this strait,” TCD told his son, “you’re tell me that we can grow real beef, pork, chicken, lamb, whatever, without raising live animals?”
“You got it, Dad!”
“We just raise live meat, we feed it whatever it needs to grow and harvest it.”
“You’ve actually done this?”
“You’ve actually eaten it, and you couldn’t tell the difference, now could you?”
Tex Colin Davis caught his breath. So it could work in the lab, but could it work in the market? In the balance sheet? In the bottom line?
“How much per pound?”
“You haven’t even thought about that, have you Alex?”
“I guess not…”
“Your meat would have to compete with what’s already in the market, pricewise, now wouldn’t it?”
“Uh…I guess so…but…”
“I tell you what, Alex. We’ll risk, say half a billion in a factory and see what we can do. If it doesn’t work, it’s a tax loss, but if it does…”
“I guess it’s my turn to get it from you, Dad.”
“Not quite, Alex, no offense, but I’m not about to drop the business end in your hands.”
“No problem, Dad, no offense, I might be a scientific genius, but when it comes to the biz, I’m not only not an expert, I don’t even want to be.”
“It’s just not working, and I told you it couldn’t, Tex, didn’t I?” said Carla Wegstein, CD Food’s long time head economist. “It’s a slow pace disaster. If we drop the prices to compete with real meats, we lose with every sale, and if we don’t, we can’t sell any CD Super Meats to anyone but political green fanatics who are so longing for meats that they’re able to convince themselves that they’re vegetarian kosher. We either lower the cost of production so we can stay in the black at a competitive price and sell by the millions instead of a few hundred thousand per anim or give up and take the tax break.”
“We can’t possibly do that without betting more capital building factories that can lower the price by buying the soy and the rest of the feeding stuff at much larger and therefore cheaper lots,” said Horace Karmike, the CD production chief.
“Any more brilliant ideas, miz Stella Colin Davis?” snarled Joe Jones, the long time head of advertisement.
Carla, Horace, and Joe were not exactly brilliant, but they had been competent to do their jobs for decades, and Tex Colin Davids could see no fair reason for firing them now for what was, or had been, the doings of his son and his wife, or to be truthful, himself. Which was more or less why he had zoomed them on this meeting so he could turn them off now and kill their failed brainstorm in person.
“Well, Stella, you heard Joe, any bright idea before I pull the plug?|”
“Give me another month.”
TCD sighed. He had, of course, never had canned a relative. “To do what?”
“Better I show you before I tell you,” his daughter in law told him. “I promise you that if it works, CD World Meats will make us millions. Bet me a month and that’s all that you lose, better odds than betting on the horses.”
TCD sighed again.
“Three weeks,” he told her.
Stella had to admit that she had struck out as a political science ecologist believing that CD Supermeats could compete with cheaper traditional meats to confirmed meat eaters on green planet grounds and the more righteous veggies turned out to being political skepticals.
But Stella, who previously had modestly considered herself merely an excellent cook, now had to try making it as a brilliant Chef.
CD World Meats had to be worth to buy for at least twice anything CD Super Meats or anyone else was selling. It had to sell what no one else had even thought of selling. Not CD Super Meats creating versions of familiar traditional meats but World Meats, meats from animals of the whole world, even meats of animals approaching extinction.
Elephants. Tigers. Whales. Gorillas. Eagles. Bears. Rhinos. Lions. Anything and everything she could get the DNA of. Who knew what would proved delicious? Who knew what would taste awful? Stella the political science ecologist had no idea. Stella the political scientist ecologist or for that matter even the excellent cook had never even thought of such a thing.
But now Stella the would-be brilliant chef had three weeks to find out.
“So you really think you’ve done it,” TCD asked his daughter in law at the end of the three week deadline.
“Good enough to prove that CD World Meats will work,” she told him with an aura of adult confidence he had never seen before.
This proposal had been more of a family favor that TCD hadn’t really taken seriously as a business mogul so when the time came to what he had thought would be the time to pull the plug, it was just himself, his son, and his daughter in law to avoid family embarrassment. But now, somehow he found himself taking it seriously, if perhaps only because she was not only taking it seriously but with business confidence.
“You only gave me three weeks, TCD, so I’ve only come up with four products that will work out of a dozen World Meats that I’ve cooked and eaten. Bear was maybe the best, really delicious when roasted, gorilla was nice when slow boiled, eagle when fried in cumin and medium hot peppers and just a teeny bit of saffron was better than even duck or chicken, and dragon lizard stew was a pleasant surprise. Tiger, whale, elephant, rhino, sounded better than they tasted, lion, wolf, and python, were real puckers.”
“You actually ate all this stuff?”
“Me and Alex.”
TCD glared at his son in wondrous and nauseous disbelief.
“But personally, I wasn’t so keen on dragon lizard as Stella was, and I do think lion and rhino have their possibilities.”
“You only gave me three weeks,” Stella reminded TCD. “There are hundreds of possibilities out there, World Meats could bring out new World Meats every month for years. And without any competition, at least to begin with.”
“This is really serious, isn’t it Stella?” TCD muttered. “We start out with maybe your first proven four and…how fast and how many new World Meats we can bring out?”
“Depends on how much capital we put down on production, doesn’t it?” said Stella CD.
“And how many chefs we can hire who could turn out winners,” TCD the businessman reflected. “And how we sell and advertise…”
“At least to begin with CD World Meats should play both adventurous gourmets and righteous green wokeys,” said his ecological political scientist.
“The rich and the righteous…” TCD reflected. “We set the prices backwards, we figure out what the product costs us to make and just, say, double it.”
“It’s a deal then, Dad?”
“The numbers say that if we do in right it can’t lose.”
Alex took out a bottle of Champaign. “Let’s drink on it, Dad,” he said.
Stella CD took a travel package out and opened it. Inside it were four warm plates of meat. TCD didn’t need to be told what they were. “De-licious!” she promised. “Shall we eat to it, Dad?”
“I think I’ll take your word for it for now, Stella CD,” Tex Colin Davis outsold her.
“You can’t let her do this!” Joe Jones all but shouted at Tex CD.
“Why not?” Stella said. “We’re selling a dozen different World Meats already. What’s the problem?”
“For Chris’ sakes, we do this and we’ll be creating cannibals!”
“No we won’t be,” Stella Colin Davis said. “Our World Meats don’t come from live animals and our long pig won’t be live humans either and there’s already a waiting market.”
“Long Pig?” said TCD.
“That’s what they’re already calling it,” Stella told him, “old traditional pirate lingo, and it’s all over the web with the name, meaning all the free advertising. If CD doesn’t take advantage of it first, someone else will.”
“She’s right, Joe, it’s just good business tactics, and no one gets eaten and so no one becomes a cannibal.”
“You think they won’t call themselves cannibals!”
“So what? There are zillions of nut cases on line who call themselves aliens from Hanger 51, but that doesn’t make them aliens, now does it?”
“But these damn wannabe cannibals will be eating real human flesh!”
“As Barack Obama once said about inhaling pot smoke, I thought that was the whole point.”
“And that was illegal when he said it, and so is this.”
TCD shrugged. “No it isn’t, Joe. Our lawyers have checked it out nine ways from Sunday, and there’s no law anywhere against eating long pig itself.”
“Hence no law against selling it,” said Stella.
“But no way to copyright it either, like all our World Meats,” Joe Jones pointed out. “Any of the bigger boys already competing with them can do it to our long pig too. Our lawyers have tried to sue that, and it’s not possible to copyright natural DNA.”
“So we have to go first to come out with a long pig meat,” Stella told him. “We can ‘t copyright that either, but we can copyright a CD Long Pig and it’s your job to convince the customers that the first is the best.”
“Oh no it isn’t, Tex,” said Joe Jones. “I couldn’t sell this shit without vomiting, nice knowing you Tex, I quit.”
“It’s kind of romantic, isn’t it?” Alex said as he and Stella approached the new meat factory, built to produce CD Long Pig, and about to begin production.
“I didn’t know you cared,” Stella purred only half sardonically.
“Oh yes you did, don’t you remember?”
Stella kissed him on the cheek and took him by the hand. “Seriously, Alex, the factory is not exactly a five star hotel for a second honeymoon.”
“Seriously Stella, We are sort of making it make it truthful.”
“Sort of truthful. “We have to do it. If we didn’t do this before we started production of the meat, all those would-be cannibal creeps would be claiming we were using their DNA just so they could sue us and force us to pay them off.”
“They’re gonna do it anyway. They can’t prove their false positives, but we’d go broke trying to prove their negatives. But this way we can prove CD Long Pig is made from hundred percent Colin Davis DNA and we’d only have to do it once.”
“Let’s hope we never have to, Alex, Joe Jones quit immediately, and he’s not a member of the family. Or are you the one to tell your father that the DNA for CD Long Pig is your DNA, meaning the Colin Davis DNA, meaning his DNA, and we didn’t even tell him.”
“You didn’t dare to tell him either, now did you, Miss Stella Colin Davis, now did you? You couldn’t even get him to taste any prototype.”
Tex Colin Davis was by and large an even-tempered man, or so at least he wanted to believe and he did really love his smart-ass daughter in law, but he was openly furious now.
“What in hell are we supposed to do now?” he shouted now. “As soon as we start selling CD Long Pig, every son of a bitch will try to sue us by claims that we’re making our CD Long Pig meat from his damn DNA?”
“But none of them could win, Dad.”
“Of course not, it would be just petty blackmail, but there could be hundreds of them we’d have to pay off. Hundreds of lawsuits we’d have to either fight or pay off.”
“But once we win a few–”
“We couldn’t win any of them. Long pig is in public domain, and besides which we’d have to prove a negative over and over again.”
Stella was trapped, there was only one way out, CD Foods could easily enough prove that CD Long Pig was made from Colin Davis DNA, that would stop the pirate cannibals from suing. But to do it, she would have to tell TCD what she and his son did without even telling him, and he was already royally pissed off. She had to…
She had to….
“We have to change the name, Dad!”
“Change the name?”
TCD’s temperature seem to cool a few degrees and his business mind seemed to start thinking,
“To something we can copyright.”
“To what, Stella?”
“I don’t know yet, but…”
“That’s not usually my line of the business…but…”
“But one thing I do know is that there’s no business like show business.”
“Of course I can get you just about anyone,” Elvis Franco told them. “Movie stars, rock stars, game stars, baseball stars, even famous politicians who lost their last election, I’m numero uno, everyone who knows anything knows that. I’ve even made deals for desperate enough celebrities to sell their turds in lucite, but I won’t tell you who they are, and I’ll deny it. I’m numero uno, everyone who knows anything knows that.”
“Of course,” said Stella Colin Davis, “that’s why CD Long Pig has gone to you first.”
“You do understand I represent my clients, not you.”
“Meaning what?” said TCD.
“Meaning it’s my job to get them as much as I can out of you.”
“Of course,” TCD told him. “It’s your job to set the prices for your famous clients, it’s our business to charge high enough sales prices to make a profit.”
“Of course,” said the famous agent of famous and semi-famous celebrities, “your bottom line is my top line.”
“So now let’s get down to business,” said Stella, looking TCD for the approving nod. The two of them were live in TCD’s office, Franco was on the zoom, so that each side in their own ways could feel they were on the top, which, she thought was sort of the truth, which was the best way to do business.
“So you want to rent my stars in CD Long Pig commercials. Meaning to do what?”
“To eat the product and yum yum how delicious it is.”
“That won’t come cheap.”
“Of course,” Stella told him. “Depending as how much we can pay for who and how high the price of the product has to be to make a profit.”
“Business 101,” said Elvis Franco. “But leave us understand that both sides are on the same side of selling as much of the product as we can.”
“Of course,” said Stella. “So what?”
“So CD Long Pig sucks as product name.”
“I was hoping you’d say that.”
“If my clients have to eat something called that, not only will it not make a good sell, but because it would be a lousy sell, it would make their names and bodies less profitable. No deal on that product name.”
“And you’ve got a better product name?”
“Eat me!” said Elvis Franco.
“I beg your pardon?”
“The ad opens with just EAT ME in huge bright letters. Then close up on the famous face grinning. Pull back as the client bites into the product and yum yums it. “Delicious! Gobbling CD Eat Me is almost like kissing me! Eat Me, folks, if you love eating CD’s Eat Me, Eat Me will love you!” Elvis Franco shrugged. “I’m no writer, of course I’ll hire a professional commercial writer.”
“If you don’t mind, let us discuss for a few minutes,” TCD said and killed the zoom sound pickup.
“Well, Stella? said TCD flatly without giving his daughter in law a clue.
“What do you think, Dad?”
“I think it’s bullshit,” Tex told her, “and I think this guy is only half as clever as he thinks he is.”
“It’s clever show biz bullshit, so it will sell long pig, and make CD the long pig king for sure, but why stop there?”
Stella regarded TCD for a long enough beat, as they said in show biz, and then satisfied him and showed him that she was a true chip off the old Colin Davis block, as they said somewhere.
“We trademark the EAT ME logo!” Stella CD told him. “Not just EAT ME Long Pig! EAT ME World Foods! EAT ME everything!”
“You’re not thinking what I am, Dad, are you?”
“What about a Super EAT ME Long Pig? The celebrity really eats his own meat proven guarantied on the ad by DNA confirmation?”
“Getting any worthwhile celebrity to do that would cost us a fortune!”
“So what? We just charge a big enough fortune to stay in the black. From people who have enough money to buy what’s got the top name of whatever and want it. Rolls Royce and Rolex Watches are far from the best cars and watches by now, but they’re still doing good business on the brand names. And that will allow us to use it to promo selling the ordinary EAT ME Long Pig for a lot less but a lot more sales.”
“We can’t trademark a company DNA, Dad!”
“Maybe not, but we could prove any Super Meat made by our company with the company DNA was genuine CD.|
“Well not exactly, TCD, our long pig has to be made from a specifically human DNA like any…uh real natural animal…”
“But we use a single DNA for each Super Meat, don’t we?”
“Well yeah, but…”
“But what? We use the same human DNA for all long pig, don’t we?”
“Well, uh yeah, I think so, not my business…uh…that’s Alex’s job…”
“Come on, it’s your husband and my son, who can I trust, if I can’t trust my closest people in the family?”
“For sure!” said Stella. “I’m sure Alex did it right. Just…just want to be sure…”
For a moment there, TCD seemed to smell some thing fishy, but surely Stella wouldn’t be lying to him, and he turned the zoom sound on and made the deal.
Only later did TCD learn that while she had been telling the truth, it wasn’t exactly the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and he had found it out by himself and couldn’t figure out how and when to reveal that he knew it.
It had been easy enough for Tex Colin Davis to find out when he really decided he wanted to, still the TCD of the CD company, the father of Alex Colin Davis, and the grandfather of Dale and Roberto, and still running more than he wanted to do when Stella had been giving birth to the kids before they were old enough to go to school.
All he had to do was go to the EAT ME long pig factory, order up a sample of the DNA, and compare it to his own anonymously, get a DNA from Stella’s son when she gave birth, and wait until Alex was injected for something.
No scientific doubt about it. EAT ME Long Pig’s DNA was that of Alex’s DNA, and certainly that of Roberto, and Dale probably carried it.
And therefore so did he.
He had known this for years but he had said nothing, not to Alex, and not to Stella, because they both, and Stella particularly, had lied by omission believing it was for his own benefit. And maybe it had been. And maybe it had been not to tell his own wife, whose own favorite meat was EAT ME Long Pig.
Alex had no trouble eating what he knew was the family meat and therefore eating his own. Nor did did Bella in blissful ignorance.
His wife ate it, his son and daughter in law ate it. Dale and Roberto ate it innocently. Millions of of people ate CD EAT ME knowingly and happily. Were they all cannabises? What did that even mean now? Why was he the only one in the family in who kept up various pale excuses for not eating the family meat?
His own meat.
Perhaps he was the only one in the family who knew what it was but kept not just the secret but the secret that he knew.
But he could not help but knowing that sooner or later the kids would have to be told the truth either by his parents or by his grand father.
And what was wrong with that?
What was wrong with it for Tex Colin Davis was that the weight of keeping the secret as well the secret that he had known for years.
The kids were in school and Stella had cooked one of her adult lunches for him and Bella and Alex, hard drinks, wine, and roasted EAT ME Long Pig among the goodies. And as Tex nibbled everything else but as usual, somehow he remembered how he had learned to eat oysters in the long ago.
As a teenager he had regarded oysters as disgusting. At length, at inevitable length, some one he didn’t remember had dared him to swallow one. He finally did. And picked up another.
He regarded the roasted long pig, the EAT ME long pig, the family meat, his own meat.
He cut off a little slice.
“I think it’s time I give it a try,” he announced to the surprise of his wife, to the relaxed knowing surprise of Stella and Alex.
The three of them smiled as he put it in his mouth.
And took a bite.
And found it delicious.