Sunday, August 25, 2013
Must Love Fungus
by Juliette Adamson, from Sheila Connolly's "Kept in the Dark" (in Blood Moon, from Level Best Books http://levelbestbooks.com/)
You know, there are a lot of people who start off in one direction with their lives, and somewhere along the way they decide they hate what they're doing and go veering off in some other direction.
Not me. I grew up on my parent's mushroom farm in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. In case you don't know, Kennett Square is the world center for rearing mushrooms. Not just in this country—in the world. And raising mushrooms is a fascinating profession, particularly because it combines science and art. The science part comes in because fungi are sensitive little critters, and they like their conditions just so. The art part comes in when you try to grow some of the more exotic species, which are popular with restaurants locally. I've been working on those for a while now. Of course, the Holy Grail would be truffles, but I'm a long way from figuring out how to raise them.
Anyway, even as a kid I was fascinated, and that was when I was barely as tall as some of the growing beds and could look 'em in the eye, so to speak. When it came time for college, I studied biology and organic chemistry, both useful, and threw in a few business courses so I could manage the financial side of things.
All in all, I thought I was handling things pretty well, even in an uncertain economy. But that was before the body showed up in the mushroom cave. Definitely dead. I'd never seen him before, and I had no idea what he was doing there. I mean, between the darkness and the stink of horse manure and the fungi (which creep some people out), not many people want to sneak into a mushroom cave.
But crime scene investigator Jack Sheppard has a pretty good idea about who the guy was and what he wanted…darn him.
"Kept in the Dark" was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Short Story, and is currently an Anthony Award nominee.