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The Genome Kunstler (standard:other, 6430 words)
Author: Austen BraukerAdded: May 25 2010Views/Reads: 1766/1231Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A story.


(Genome = a complete set of chromosomes in a gamete Kunstler = German
for an artist) 

Crane wasn't sure exactly why, but he stayed in Germany after the war.
He had come to know the countryside quite well as a driver, and the 
differing characters of the little towns along the way. He enjoyed 
finding new places and often just wandered aimlessly. One place in 
particular caught his eye. He stumbled upon it by sheer accident, while 
exploring, lost and happy to be that way. A lush green park led past a 
river to some old buildings with strange and interesting architecture. 
It was a University, complete with expansive botanical gardens, which 
amazed him. Plants were friends. He had learned many of the different 
herbs from walking in the Michigan woodlands with his Grandma. The 
garden piqued his interest. It had been slowly getting easier for Crane 
to get along in this foreign environment. His German was improving, but 
Crane found out that it was more beneficial to try to speak the 
language in a real situation. He became a regular at a local butcher 
shop and eventually gained a job there. It was hard to study in written 
German, at first, but the butcher at the shop where he worked always 
had uplifting words that helped him to gain insight. The man was a 
bohemian. “A good butcher sharpens his knives sometimes. A poor butcher 
sharpens all the time. A great butcher lets the knife do the work, lets 
it flow to the perfect place and invites the flesh to separate. The 
greatest butcher of all never has to sharpen.” He pointed his knife 
blade upward to the ceiling, indicating god, and then brought his 
blades together and sharpened them off of one another as if it were a 
genuflection. He winked at Crane and laughed deeply. The metal made a 
tone of C sharp. The butcher's chuckle made Crane respond with a laugh 
of his own, in the same key. “What kind of butcher will you be?” the 
carving master added, still laughing. Crane continued working, holding 
a smile on his face. He had skinned animals with regularity since he 
was a boy. It was second nature. After working at the small butchery, 
he had become quite good at the job. The butcher saw a natural skill in 
him. Crane cut the meat into precise little chunks. He did it at a 
blurring speed. The knife only lightly touched the wooden block before 
it rose again for the next cut. “There you go.” the butcher said, 
pointing to Crane's work. “You're on your way!” He pointed the blade 
toward god again and laughed all over. Crane smiled back and kept 
carving. He was glad to have met the butcher, though their relationship 
extended no further than the workplace. The man's wife made it clear 
that she did not want the Indian at their home. She avoided the shop 
when Crane was working, never knowing why he scared her. There must 
have been thousands of plants in the gardens, each with a small tag 
indicating its species. The common and Latin names were listed. Crane 
came upon a particularly pungent plant, which sparked a memory in him. 
He was away in his mind, hunting at home where he and his uncle Al used 
skunk cabbage to block their human scent, before setting out for deer. 
That is what this plant reminded him of, the spray of a skunk from 
slightly down wind. The leaves were long serrated fingers reaching out 
an invitation. Crane looked for the identification tag but couldn't 
find it. Across from him, on the other side, a student was measuring 
one of the large tertiary buds of the same plant. “Excuse me.” said 
Crane. “Could you tell me the name of this plant?” “Cannabis Sativa.” 
Said the student, noticing Crane's American accent and dark skin. “Are 
you an American Indian?” He had only seen pictures. He stared at 
Crane's brown face and pitch-black hair. “Yes. I am an Odawa.” stated 
Crane. “Fascinating.” Said the student. “I have never met a real Indian 
before.” The young man's name was Wilhelm. He was studying plant 
medicines, looking for a panacea. His sand blonde hair held onto his 
glasses, draped over his head and perched on his ears. Wilhelm's blue 
eyes gleamed in response to Crane's interest in what was one of his 
favorite plants. Science and philosophy were Wilhelm's passions. He 
eagerly began a dissertation of his knowledge about Cannabis properties 
and potentials, for Crane's benefit. “This plant contains certain 
alkaloids, which when smoked, produce a state of euphoria. It is a 
psychoactive plant, but has mostly been cultivated for its utilitarian 
purposes such as for rope and oil.” He stopped for a moment. “I'm 
sorry, let me introduce myself.” He held out his arm. “My name is 
Wilhelm.” He said, and shook Crane's hand. “Crane.” He responded and 
shook back. Wilhelm was amazed at the practical knowledge Crane had of 
plants. He had actually been taught the uses of plants in a hands-on 
way, which Wilhelm found to be of profound interest. It was fascinating 
for him to learn the various native uses for the same species he was 

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