Reginald loved peas; Reginald loved all forms of pea, from pea soup to eating them raw, straight from the plants in his back garden. Every year in his back garden all the borders were peas, there no flowerbeds full of spring and summer colour, just row upon row of peas. His long suffering wife would take a back seat to his beloved plants from spring through to the first chills of autumn.
She would nightly pray to whichever of the numerous gods up there that might just be listening, her payer was simple, all she asked for was one hard and bitter frost in early May, she was not bothered which day, just any day of early May. She was of course meaning before the tenth, she though, as from the eleventh of May was obviously the start of mid-May. Just as her husband would be relaxed about sowing his carefully nurtured babies in open land, he would not expect a snap surprise frost on the summers first gentle breaths, a freak weather front that surprises everyone, kill those little bleeders where they are planted, done, dusted and forgotten until this time next year. Was it wrong to be jealous of a pea crop? Was it wrong to spoil her husband’s year? Bloody right it was! Every year from February through to mid-May she would utter this wish every night and so far no luck.
This year had been no different; she had now reached the point of the year where multiple oral orgasms would bounce of every wall of their beige dining room, with the electric fire, fake flame effect, just to take the chill of the room before dinner. This was the summer though, so that ugly piece of 70’s tat just sits there catching dust in the rays of sunlight. His joy was brought on by his early harvest peas, and while she slaved over a hot stove cooking dinner, he would give an “ejaculation” of pre-cum ecstasy, every time he bit in to another pea, as he popped open the freshly picked pod and ate the contents one by one. She thought every time she saw him doing this, that he looked very rodent like, and there was born her minds salvation, every time she heard his name her mind would just convert it to Reggie rat, and when she was feeling like a pick me up, if he called her she would reply “Yes, Reggie” and then under her breath in a faintest of whisper, “Rat” this would always make her day as she chuckled to herself.
She knew well he hated being called Reggie, so that was a double bonus. He would moan on for hours about people he met, who would just assume they could soften his name down, his office door said Reginald, not Reggie, R-E-G-I-N-A-L-D!,he would sound off letter by letter, with a proper gymnastic dis-mount on the emphasised D, oh yes, she grinned, he hated R-E-G-G-I-E, she though, but he would lose his shit if she ever slipped up and added R-A-T, she let out a huge, but brief chortle while she cooked, and passed it off to her inquisitive husband as a sneeze, and then she exited the kitchen to enjoy the late evening sun in the garden, she sparked up a smoke and wandered down the path to the back fence where she proceeded to laugh herself to a stitch, and the need for a crafty piss behind the Leylandii, and this act made her laugh even harder in to full blown hysteria, and swirling silver stars in her eyes, drifting, and a coughing fit. Tonight, just as every night, she was cooking, dropping fag ash in to the bowl she had ready for his gravy, and hers would be the clean gravy from the pan. He had never noticed, and she often wondered if cigarette ash could cause cancer, and was it wrong to hope it did?.
Dinner had been nothing special, she had a continual laugh suppressed just below the surface, as she watched his rat like ways devour the last of tonight’s pods, before he started his dinner, pie, mash, marrowfat peas, petit pois and sugar snaps. Every night was a three pea night, but they must be different for three consecutive nights before any repeat type pea, and by no means cheat by using mange tout, they, in Reginald’s view, were just wrong. He couldn’t put his finger on his dislike of the mange tout, when he loved the sugar snap, but eventually put it down to the fact there always has to be one exception in anything, except accountancy, which was ridged black and white. Later that evening as she was half way through her first bottle of wine, she knew booze was not the answer, but she love that feeling of relaxation as it spread the closer she got to the bottom of the bottle. They were watching that awful thing about “celebs” so desperate for another fleeting go on the fame merry-go-round that they were willing to be tortured and eat bollocks just for a peek through the curtain of fame. She was lost on the internet on her iPad, chatting to some pervert who keeps asking her about her underwear, and she would play along, just for a little attention. When all of a sudden she noticed Reginald was moaning, she asked after him in her gentle caring tone, faked, he replied to her in a struggled sort of way,
“Do …oohh…ahah…have any…..ooohohohha…Ren-
“No” she replied confidently, “why?”
Whatever, she thought, like you would know, and then she ventured…
“We have some Crème de Menthe in the cabinet, might help, maybe even ginger wine, I have heard that works” she tried to sound knowledgeable, but she thinks that was right.
He tried both, neither seemed to really help the pain, but it was not getting any worse, and he had to admit that it probably was helping, if only the pain was being disguised by intoxication. As Reginald moved to see if he could get anymore comfortable, his head swam, and he wobbled, and although it was only nine o’clock, he stood up carefully and announced in a strong slurred tone that he was going to bed, kissed his wife goodnight, he was glad she stood up as bending down to her would have surely ended in a long wait in casualty. So, off he toddled to bed, and once he was at the top of the stairs, she went to the kitchen for another bottle of wine, flicking on the pc in the conservatory, and sat down to Skype with a few of her gentlemen admirers and, although she could not put her finger on the reason why, some large breasted female to whom she would chat for hours to and maybe a little show and tell, like her husband would ever see her in the new expensive sexy bits. They had been in separate rooms since one of Reggie rats disciplinary hearings with a junior member of staff went a little off script, and Reggie rat ended up with a broken nose. His snoring which once had been controlled, albeit by an elbow to the ribs, was now louder and perpetual. So, now they both slept well, sometimes she would even take the iPad to bed with her, and Skype with the lady of the immense bosom, she could have a mariachi band in there, it still would not have woken ratty. Tonight she was to fall asleep above the covers in bed, listening to her music, in the room, now hers alone, the room she felt the most at ease in, her own personal space. Although she would have not even dreamt of it, this was to be her last night in this room.
The summer sunrise in full glory came streaming through her window, gently waking her from this heavy second bottle of wine sleep; she suddenly came alive with a start. There was something drastically different about this morning; it was unlike any other of the previous fifteen years of mornings. Her befuddled hung-over mind grasped at what was different; it was there, like a helium balloon just floating out of reach. She sat motionless not daring to breath, seven in the morning, and this house is silent. There was none of the usual clatter of her husband getting his breakfast and cup of tea, with all its rigmarole, the clink of the teapot lid being returned to the hole, the tea strainer being tapped on the bone china cup, the clatter of the teaspoon in the saucer. Her ears strained at the silence, she was sure she could hear something in the kitchen, a low guttural hummmmm, or was that just her hungover brain reverberating like a car straining with the wrong fuel. She wandered to the en-suit bathroom for a large splash of cold water, a huge vomit and that nasty moment when you can’t decide between cleaning excrement or vomit off the bathroom floor as both ends synchronise their desire to evacuate. So far, it was not a good Tuesday morning. She feared the worst as she slowly descended the stairs and the guttural growl grew louder at each step. As she rounded on to the final flight of three stairs, she could pinpoint the growl, it was coming from the kitchen.
There, before her very eyes was her husband struck in a pose that remind her of the first late night showing on channel 4 of the thriller video. He looked just like one of the zombies dancing, in a freeze frame, right there, in the middle of the kitchen, standing in a puddle of milk from the dropped bottle at his feet. His eyes were fixed on the celling and he was completely motionless, he did not even seem to notice his long suffering wife, just stared at the ceiling and growled. She kept asking if he was ok, three, maybe four times, but nothing broke his gaze or pose. Eventually she gave up, made a coffee, and for the first time ever, lit a cigarette in the house. As she sat and smoked he remained incapacitated, smoking in the house would have made him apoplectic, and this is when she thought she had better seek medical assistance.
She firstly called their GP; he was a friend of the couple and would surely be able to help. She called him on his mobile, rather than his office, he would see that a call at this hour of the day from her would be something serious, and there was no need to verbally wrestle with the doctors receptionist, who seemed to think she was a god. Indeed DR. Paul Phillips was perturbed by a call from his dear friend at this hour. She explained all the details from Reggie coming home last night, to the scene she came down to this morning, she even let him listen to the growl her husband was making. He finished the call by reassuring her that everything would be fine, and he would be there in ten minutes. She found Paul dashing, he was a single parent, the same age as her and her hubby, but Paul seemed, well, just seemed full of life and colour, while rat boy was more grey and limp, not at this moment, he was more rigid than she had seen him in years, and just to be naughty, she walk over to him, and shouted in his ear
“Hey! Reggie rat! You in there ratty, RAT BOY! Can you hear me”, nothing, not even a twitch. She went out in to the garden and finished her smoke and lit another, bang on her last exhale there was the latch to the back gate being lifted by her Heathcliff.
She led Paul to the scene of the crime, but to their amazed horror, there were now fresh green shoots curling out from each nostril, each ear and his mouth. The growl had also changed to a creaking, similar to their visit last year to the forced rhubarb sheds, in the rhubarb triangle. There, they were told it was the sound of the rhubarb stretching and growing, but these green shoot surely were not the same thing. Paul grasped at one of the shoots from the nostril and it broke away clean in his hands, he popped it in to a test tube, and sealed it with a cork. As they both gazed at it they were struck dumb to see it writhe and wiggle, then as they looked back to the nostril, the stump had sprouted two new shoots. Again, pinching both shoots out, and in to a fresh tube, the cork on, the tube held up, and again, both shoots seem to be writhing. Paul now picked up the first test tube and the original shoot, this one was now still, not even a ripple. They looked back again at the nostril there were now four shoots. Paul couldn’t help but admit he was absolutely baffled, and called for the air ambulance.
They both agreed, without a doubt, it was a pea shoot, but that was not what was bothering them, it was why?, how?, really?, or just plain disbelief. As they both sat there shaking their heads and making conversation, waiting for the air ambulance to arrive, there was a new sound, although the creaking had increased in volume, just behind that noise was a sound of ripping fabric, and as they looked at Reginald’s posterior, there, where his bum should be was what looked like a root system hurriedly descending through ripped blue Y-fronts and black pinstriped trousers. They hit the floorboards at a rate of knots, smashing their way through, and growing thicker and sturdier by the minute at Y-front level. It was at this point that the shoots that had been growing quite slowly began to sprout quicker and bushier and spread out looking for light. They smashed through the ceiling as easily as the roots did the floor boards, it was at this point they evacuated the kitchen and made their way to the bottom of the garden.
The last time they both saw Reginald alive was as they looked back at him from the kitchen doors on to the garden, it was a sight that neither of them would forget, as the lower stem expanded, the ripping sound now sounded louder than before, and, well, wetter. This is what made them both look back, just in time to see her husband split in two like the halves of pig available at the local village butcher, he seemed to explode in a mist of atomised blood, and the two halves of him lying feet to feet with a big thick green trunk between them. Once they had reached the end of the garden shoots burst from everywhere all at once, and what was once her home, was just a pile of rubble with the world’s biggest ever pea shoot growing up from amongst it. By the time the air ambulance arrived, Paul had been on to the local council to report this incident, and try to convince this official at the parks department the pea shoot was a danger to aircraft, and if he didn’t believe him he should come down a see for himself.
Reggie’s wife, Helen as she will be now know, as her split with her husband had been sudden and final, made her first phone call to the local and national newspapers and TV companies, she even hired a publicist, who was a horrible slimy little man, but she could not fault the amount of money he would have sold her story for a few weeks down the line, there was even a US tour of talks about this weird phenomenon. Soon, everybody wanted her to tell her story. Helen was shrewd, and knew by the end of the summer her fame would be wrapping up the last of the seaside fish and chips, before the trudge towards Christmas. She took every opportunity offered to her, and Paul joked that if asked she would even turn up for the opening of an envelope if there were reporters and cameras there. The US tour, became a world tour, every chat show wanted her as a guest, even a few comedy panel shows booked her. Her publicist walked away a rich man, and he only took ten percent. She was able to start a fresh life.
She made her fortune from her husband’s misfortune, and her new lover, Paul, helped her wisely invest her ostrich size nest egg in commodities like gold and diamonds, silver, platinum and palladium. They were able to retire to the coast once the furore died down, and for the first six months in their new home someone in the neighbours would ask to hear the story, but once the novelty wore off, they lived their remaining time together in virtual solitude, they had the weekly dinner party/ barbecue events, which was more than enough socialising for them both, and they could be found most nights relaxing on the deck watching the sun go down. I should have mentioned, the coast they moved to was on the end of the toe of Italy, it was heavenly at sunset, sunrise, well it was heaven twenty four hours a day, and Helen mused to herself that this kind of love and attention was what she had been missing all those years, and this time she was going to make the most of her good fortune. She was guessing that all her prayers over the last 15 years for that early summer hard snap frost, must have accumulated and been heard all at the same time, a bit like making a complaint, and when not being given the answer you wanted, you get in touch with the CEO and all of a sudden people are tripping over themselves to keep you happy. She and Paul had a lovely income from the book they wrote together to keep them in luxury until the nest egg hatched in a few more years. They named the book “The story of Reginald and the pea that turned”
If you were wondering of what happened to the pea shoot, well, it was a hazard to low flying aircraft. It was dismantled piece by piece, eventually. The council tree surgeons refused to do it because it was a pea shoot not a tree, and the gardeners refused because for all intents and purpose it was a tree sized pea shoot and fully in the realm of the tree surgeons. Eventually, like I said, they worked the project together, and then killed the roots with gallons of industrial weed killer. Several hand gliders, more than a few news helicopters, and a Cessna or two were recovered from shoots that sprouted as it grew skyward. Today on this spot stands a touching statue of Reginald and the pea shoot; the dried dead stump that was left behind has been varnished and used as a plinth for this commemoration to stand on. It is said that on this spot at night there is a green shrouded figure who howls on the westerly winds……..
“I bloody hate peas, me, bloody hate them” in its eerie and ghostly voice.