Fisbee! By Don Urbanus
Professor Fisbee was elated. For years he had struggled
as a virtual unknown in the world of plant genetics. Not anymore. He had somehow
managed to survive budget cuts, downsizing, outsourcing, and mergers. Now
finally, his experiments and perseverance had paid off. He would totally
revolutionize the entire horticultural industry. A grateful world would
immortalize him in the annals of genetic history.
He sat clutching his portfolio and waited in the plush office of Henry
Greenwald, the CEO of Genetaplant, Inc. He had never met the CEO or anyone of
any importance in the company. Fisbee smiled. It was a testament to the
importance of his work that he was sitting here. A door opened and a tall,
well-built man with graying temples stepped through.
“Professor Fisbee,” he stated flatly, “You can come in
“Mr. Greenwald?” Fisbee asked.
“You can call me Henry, Professor.”
Fisbee stood up confidently, took in a big breath of
air, and marched into the room. It was dark except for large table in the middle
of the room. The shades were drawn shut. Around the table sat a dozen very dour
looking men. They eyed him coldly. This immediately started Fisbee’s heart
pounding. Something was wrong. Wasn’t he supposed to make his presentation to
“Gentlemen,” said Henry, slowly scanning the room,
“This is Professor Fisbee. Please tell these men what you told your supervisor
“Well, I……I was saying……..” Fisbee stuttered. This
isn’t what Fisbee expected. He was expecting smiles, a ticker tape parade, a big
bonus, and congratulatory slaps on the back. Instead, the men sat there silently
staring at him. He felt like a fish in a bowl monitored by a cat.
“Professor Fisbee? Please tell the…….”
“Yes, of course,” sputtered Fisbee. “My experiments……I
have genetically manipulated plants so that they resist, I mean, they don’t just
resist, they don’t get any diseases, or any bugs for that matter. Heat and cold
don’t bother them. Too much or little water doesn’t faze them. In fact, they
don’t die period.” Fisbee smiled in spite of himself. Now that he had said it,
he felt much better.
“What do mean ‘they don’t die’,” asked a portly man,
choosing his words carefully and slowly. The others around the table leaned
Fisbee looked cautiously around the table. “They have
been bred to live indefinitely. No disease kills or attacks them; no insects
chew or suck them. Think what it will mean for the consumer,” Fisbee added
defensively. Why was he defensive, Fisbee thought, it was a wonderful idea.
Think how much money the consumers would save.
“Professor?” asked Henry, “Who else knows about this
and where are your records?”
“Well, I have these, of course,” Fisbee said, holding up his portfolio, “And my
computer, naturally. Possibly an assistant or someone at the company’s
greenhouses.” Someone sitting in the shadows got up quietly and left the room.
“These men here are giants in their field of business,”
Henry began slowly and thoughtfully. “They represent billions of dollars in our
economy. In fact, they are the economy. What would happen to Smackum Industries
if plants didn’t need any fungicide or insecticide?” The portly man glared at
Fisbee. “And what about Growtech that makes plant growth regulators and rooting
hormones? What about seed companies? What about the entire wholesale and retail
nursery industry? If plants don’t die or get diseased, what will they sell to
the consumer?” Numerous men around the table nodded their heads and there was a
dark murmur of agreement. “Plants have been good to us, Fisbee. We have been
good for plants. Now you want to come in and change all that, Fisbee? Are you
trying to destroy us?”
Fisbee was aghast. They weren’t accepting his great
scientific work. They wanted to stifle it. He was one of the greatest inventors
and scientists of all time. He should be honored and placed on a pedestal
alongside Newton, Galileo, Einstein, Marconi and Edison. This couldn’t be
“Hand over your portfolio, Fisbee,” Henry demanded, “It
must be destroyed along with all of your records. It’s for the good of the
country. We will compensate you, of course.” The men in the room stood up, all
eyes were boring down on him.
Fisbee wild eyed, backed up, clutching his portfolio.
“My work, my life’s work……”
“Would a million take care of things? No? How about two
million? Be a good fellow and hand it over now.”
Suddenly, Fisbee made a dash for the door and in a
moment he was running down the hallway. It was futile, Fisbee knew. His only
hope were the few plants that he had given to Rising Sun Nursery, a retail
nursery in the Sierra foothills. No one knew that he had given the owner a few
experimental plants and he would never tell.
“Don’t just stand there,” yelled Henry, “Get Fisbee!”