06/12/2012 05:15 pm ET Updated Aug 12, 2012

Betty's (Little Basement) Garden : Excerpt

He stood in front of the door. "I'll cut to the chase. There are a lot of smart, innovative people out there who grow cannabis. It's not all a bunch of burned out stoners and hippies. Some of these guys know more about botany and the complex structure of the cannabis plant than any professor out there. There's a shit load to know about growing the herb."

"You call it an 'herb?' You're not growing chives, sweetheart."

"But it is an herb. And it is medicine. Hey, you can't grow Valium or Prozac -"

Betty heard Buddy's footsteps walking across the roof and descending the ladder. "You can't be talking about this in front of Buddy."

Peyton smiled. "Buddy? Your roofer dude's name is Buddy? Bud? Don't you see? It's like a sign from God."

"Back in Houston, my next door neighbor was Mary Jane Blunt. Was that a sign, too?"

"I appreciate your wanting to help me, Peyton," she whispered. "But this is not something I can do."

"Why are you whispering? Betty, you're acting like it's some back alley deal. It's not. It'll all be above board. First, you'll get your red card -- your medical marijuana card -- so you can legally grow for yourself and five other people. You'll designate yourself to be a caregiver -"

Betty backed into the credenza. "Peyton, for God's sake! You don't know me. You don't know who I am and what I believe."

"Actually, I think I do know you. I wouldn't have come back here today if I didn't know that in my heart. The problem here is I don't think you know who you are. Maybe you're holding onto beliefs that aren't even your own? Maybe you should do some research?" He stopped, realizing he was overpowering Betty. "You still got your son in the drawer?"


"You ever talk to him?"

Betty was nonplussed. "Excuse me?"

"Okay. I read that as a 'yes.' What do you think your kid would say if you asked him about this?"

"You must be joking. He was a drug addict. What do you think he'd say?"

"I don't know. Why don't you ask him?"

"This conversation is making no sense." She walked past him. "Please, Peyton. I really do need to go."

"Me too. Let me walk you out to my car."

After locking the front door, Betty cautiously followed Peyton to his silver Prius. Sitting in the front seat was a gentle, grey haired woman who appeared to be in her late seventies. He opened the passenger door and helped her out of her seat.

"Betty, this is Gladys. She's one of my patients."

Betty tried her best not to look shocked. Gladys was slightly stooped over, moved carefully and could be the archetype of anybody's grandmother, not the epitome of someone who used cannabis.

Peyton explained that he helped out his patients whenever they needed a drive to the doctor's office, market, etc. Betty listened, but was still trying to envisage this darling, elfin woman chomping down on a cannabis brownie. Something about that seemed quite bizarre, and yet there she was. Gladys seemed happy as a clam and quite in touch with her surroundings.
The conversation quickly veered onto "the herb." Gladys put her hand on Betty's arm. "My blood pressure has dropped to almost normal since I began medicating."

Betty needed to check herself. Here they were, standing in the bright sunlight, discussing how marijuana was such a hit. Weren't these discussions usually done in the shadows of night?