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…. To her left was the herb shelf, shrouded in the heady scent of skunk. To her right, a young Polish woman was cleaning a squashed melon from the fruit aisle floor. She looked up at Sophie and, at seeing the look of shock on her face, was overcome by a feeling of inexplicable terror herself. It’s not that Sophie’s face was so bad… although she had just been for her 6 monthly top up of botox, and her right cheek, in trying to flinch, had moved a half inch closer to her eye and remained there. The left side of her face, quite frankly, looked to Rosa like rigor mortice had set in. Rosa had been a mortician in her home land before fleeing following a ‘misunderstanding’. And, for a fleeting moment, Sophie glimpsed the totally messed up melon, and she looked Rosa straight in the eyes, which was a strange experience for Rosa who, being severely cross-eyed since birth, had never had to deal with eye-to-eye contact before.
Sophie pulled herself together as much as she could given that she had little control of the various parts of her face and neck. Her jaw had dropped so far that, when she tried to close her mouth, it wasn’t possible to get her lips to meet up in the usual way. Her motionless bottom lip moved upwards, towards it’s shapeless partner, with a jerky motion.. completely missing the top lip, jutting forward like a bull dog, and landing just below the tip of her nose. Rosa looked in astonishment, wondering why this otherwise quite normal looking English woman was staring so aggressively at her. Sophie’s brain asked a question and, about 10 seconds later, words formed on her rigid lips…. ‘How the hell did that melon get so messed up?!’
Rosa was suspicious, she looked in fear and loathing at the stiff upper lip before her. Then she pointed towards the organic fruit section and stuttered, ‘It was those b-b-bastards!’ She was quite definitely pointing at the organic bananas… who looked innocent enough. ‘I saw them… laughing. Th-th-they th-threw her across the f-f-f-f-floor, laughing! They d-do it to give mmmme work to do! B-bastards’. Sophie’s brain said “run!” and, about 10 seconds later, her arms began to swing, followed by her legs, until she was transported, with much relief, away from the insane woman scooping up squashed melon from the floor, with one roaming eye firmly fixed on the bananas. She brushed past the herbs, briefly stopped to pick up the smouldering basil, and sniffed it. Yes, it definitely had the aroma of cannabis… She popped it into her shopping basket.
Guiltily moving on, she continued down the fruit aisle looking this way and that, at all costs avoiding catching Rosa’s eye again (or not). She reached the Oriental Vegetables, and there, at precisely 19.13 hours on that Friday 13th, 2010, she found herself looking across the Shitakes and coming face to face (or not) with John McNab, Battersby’s Security Guard. He looked in pained despair, she raised her neatly plucked eyebrow, and it stayed there. He glanced down, so she glanced down; he whistled, and she blushed as she watched him urinating onto the pak choi!
She was feeling strangely warm, in spite of the chill in the air. She looked across to the herb shelf, and with an inappropriate degree of zestfulness, loudly observed: ‘Isn’t it a little odd that we eat fruit and monkeys eat fruit?’
Old green eyes had been snoozing, bored with his day thus far. He wouldn’t normally raise his lazy, hazy head to respond, afterall there was nothing in it for him. “What the heck”, he thought… as he shouted back: ‘Because they are our closest relatives,’
On hearing Basil’s laid-back but slightly ear-shattering voice (of course, she has no ears!), she wobbled a little in her crate. ’So why don’t apes mess up the planet like us?’, she responded.
‘Because they haven’t evolved a fore-brain… only basal ganglian. So they don’t really make choices….not yet anyway.’ By now she was beginning to roll quite noticeably.
‘We have basal ganglians? Sounds very.. erm… very …sexy!’ By now, her rugged, veined skin was positively moist!
Basil pricked up: ‘Are you by any chance picturing hangy bits and lumpy things of a base nature?’ His leafy outgrowth was full, lush and alive now.
At which point, at precisely 19.11 hours on a hot Friday evening, Ocimum Basilicum leapt over the organic fruit display, grabbed Melony and squashed her until she exploded …. Leaving just a little puddle of juice and some rather messy pink flesh on the floor, concealed behind the sign which read, ‘FRUIT AISLE’. And so it was.
Basil straightened his stalk, dragged himself between the legs of Mr McNab, the store security guard, and, as he laid back amongst all the other herberts, he rolled some grass.. and in a moment of primitive, but nonetheless significant, speculation he considered the following ….
‘If there’s a herbivore god, would It consider healthy botanical cross-fertilisation to be immoral?’ He pondered this for about .037 of a second then decided,’ What the heck, screwing a melon is no bad thing, and it beats sucking a lemon’.
Sophie LeBoeuf entered Battersby’s Fruit Aisle at 19.13 hours on a balmy Friday evening in June, hoping to meet the man of her dreams. She raised her neatly plucked eye-brow as she picked up a bunch of smouldering Sweet Basil, and was overcome by the rather heady smell. As she looked up she saw something that she will remember for the rest of her life!
Sophie was 69, on that summer’s afternoon in 2010, the year of our Lord.