Escargot A Go-Go

Gene Weaver always had a big idea. Selling snail dreams was to have been his last hurrah.

"Damn good fish bait," he says.
Ralph Lewis has not come to this point yet. After Weaver's arrest, he went ahead and finished his barn, and he's trying now to rebuild the herd that was destroyed in the flood. He's spent more than $20,000 so far and hasn't sold a thing, but he's hoping maybe snail eggs can be the next caviar.

The Ghormleys, too, are still growing snails, still hoping to get 60 cents apiece for them. They don't regret getting into the business. Shoot no, said Charles Ghormley. "Snails is no worse than Watusis."

What's that?
"Exotic cows."
Made any money on your Watusis?
"No -- not yet!"

On April 22, Gene Weaver is scheduled to go to trial on 32 counts of theft by deception. His parole has already been revoked, but he's risking the rest of his life in prison by once again not bargaining with the prosecutor.

"I know in my heart it wasn't my intention to defraud anyone," he explains.
He still believes he can make a fortune on the Helix aspersa -- says he'll give it another try just as soon as he gets out of here. If snails don't make him rich this time, Weaver's going into the funeral business, he says. He imagines his parlors in every strip mall. It'll be just like Office Max, except that instead of furniture, Gene Weaver will sell you a cheap casket.

He cupped his hands and held them forth.
" 'Look at this,' I'll say. 'Could I have money for this?' And I'll get money.

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