Peter occasionally takes pen to paper and writes short stories. He wrote this one in about ten minutes for the daugher of a friend of ours and I think it's really sweet...
The Story of the Useful Pea
In the old Red Shop, on the High St, across from the Bank and next to the Police Station, Mr Carter had everything. He has pots, pans and spades. Tools, toys and trophies. Hats, coats and shoes. Pumps, spanners and hammers. Drums, flutes and trumpets.
Everything had to be useful and that was the rule of the shop – only useful things could or would be sold by Mr Carter.
Mr Carter sold stuff and bought stuff. He had people come in to the shop and ask if he had something; if he wanted to buy something and sometimes if he wanted to swap something. He did all of those things.
One day, about half past three on a Thursday, a tiny little man came in to the Red Shop with a screwed up brown paper bag and asked to see the owner. Mr Carter was the only person there and he said he was the owner.
The Little Man asked “Do you buy things”?
“Oh yes” said Mr Carter, “but only useful things”
“Good” said the Little Man “for I have no money, no food and need to sell my last dried pea”.
“A pea?” asked Mr Carter “A pea is not useful sir. I cannot buy that I am afraid”.
“What?” asked the Little Man, shocked “a pea is very useful. I had a large bag once and I ate them, played games with them and even put them in shoes for a joke. This is my last pea my best pea. I will sell this you to put here in this wonderful shop.”
Mr Carter was curious and a kind man. “Sir, may I see this pea please”? he asked.
And the Little Man opened the bag and pulled a large (for a pea) rather brown and wrinkled sad pea. This he handed to Mr Carter, with a proud grin on his small face.
“My” said Mr Carter, turning the pea around in his finger and thumb “this is indeed a pea - a fine dried pea”. And he placed it down onto the polished wooden counter of the shop, beside a shiny copper kettle and the grand golden cash register.
“Well sir, how much would you want for this wonderful dried pea” asked Mr Carter.
“Ten pounds, and the pea is yours. It is worth at least double that”. Said the Little Man firmly.
“Gosh, that is a lot for one pea” said Mr Carter
“Ah, but” said the Little Man “this pea is useful. It will save someone’s life one day and it will be well worth having, trust me”.
Mr Carter was very unsure of this statement but did not want to see the Little Man hungry so he said “Sir I cannot pay that much but I will give you £5 and also ask the manager of the café along the street to make you a free breakfast. That really is my best offer”.
The Little Man, stroked his chin, stepped back from the counter and studied the pea, still resting grandly on the counter. “I agree” he said, quickly, as if this was a very big decision “but you must promise that is you see a person in need of help or in distress, you will give them this wonderful pea, without doubt or hesitation”.
Mr Carter could not think how this might happen, but he smiled and reached over to his big Cash Machine, and pulled out a £5 note, which he passed to the Little Man and said ”Sir, I will”.
Both men smiled, shook hands and they went over to the cafe. Soon, Mr Carter picked up the pea, looked at it again, shook his head and then reached up to a shelf to his left, removed a small pink box and placed the pea inside, putting the box and pea back on to a different shelf behind him.
Many weeks later, with many useful things bought and sold, it was summer and the shop door was open to try and catch some cool breeze.
Mr Carter was reading a book when in rushed a Policeman looking very worried and concerned. “Mr Carter, you must help me. I am in massive trouble”. He said, coming up to the counter. Mr Carter put down his book and the Policeman reached into his top pocket of his uniform. “I have an emergency call from the bank, I need to call for help and my whistle is broken. Look”. He showed Mr Carter the whistle and it was clear that problem was that the pea had fallen out – it would not work!
Mr Carter smiled, looked up at the pink box behind him and got it down. He placed the box on the counter next to the broken whistle. The Policeman was looking out the door at the bank, even more worried and then Mr Carter reached into the box, pulled out the pea and placed it into the whistle, and handed that back to the Policeman.
He took the whistle, shook it and heard the rattle of the pea, nodded his thanks to Mr Carter and said “how much do I pay you”? “Nothing” said Mr Carter. The Policeman ran out, over to the bank, blowing his loud whistle hard.
Well, thought Mr Carter, that really was a useful pea after all – how right the Little Man was!