"It's very important that you place rubble around the base of the plants," the man explained. "The leaves don't like to touch the soil itself. And can you blame them? These are very special plants, the only ones that can hack it here. They're smart enough to use as little of the soil as possible."
"What do you call them?" I asked.
"They're the only plants here. I just call them The Plants."
The Earth was sick and couldn't care for us.
"How much do you sell these for?" I asked.
"Well, certainly not cash! Legal tender, my ass. I'm a banker, can you believe that? What do you do?"
"I was a writer." I was a drifter.
"What do you have to trade?"
"I have buttons and needles," I answered meekly. "And an extra canteen."
"Needles. That will do."
At which point he glanced up at the dark red sky. "It will rain again soon. We need to protect the Plants and get inside. Help me get ready." He inspected me quite seriously then, and finally: "You can stay here for a while."