“Yeah we do organic farming” the young man said with just a trace of a smile..
“The boss is very particular about the crop and about the harvest. We only select when absolutely ripe.”
“The ones we discard get put to other uses, we don’t waste a thing if we can help it.”
He was picking his teeth which made me feel slightly sick. I had a lousy headache anyway and this rather repulsive youth was not helping.
“Can I speak to the boss?” I asked “I was hoping that someone could help me get my car out of the ditch.”
“He’s on the phone, won’t be long.”
It really was the limit. Bursting a tyre on some Godforsaken stretch of road. Trekking miles to some scabby apple farm just to get a tow and now this pimple on legs was making me wait.
“Look can’t you just fire up a tractor and give me a tow?”
The kid shook his head vacantly “boss wouldn’t like it, you have to wait.”
Finally, the lad put up his thumb. “He’s arrived I’ll just go see.”
Once he had scuttled off I took a good look around.
The apples were magnificent, big and red and juicy. I reached out to pick one and it bit me on the thumb. It genuinely did.
To my horror I realised that it had a face, a little wizened face with big soulful eyes. There was a label too, it said Homer Price.
I stepped back, Jesus, I knew a Homer Price one of my business rivals. Big fat guy dropped down dead about 6 months ago.
People said it was his heart but anyone who knew Homer soon realised he didn’t have one!
A cough from behind made me jump. There was a figure in the distance wearing dungarees and a farmers hat.
I couldn’t quite make out his face, then I did and it made my blood run cold. It was a grinning skull.
Welcome I heard him say although his mouth never moved. This is my farm I hope you like apples Mr Kirk.
Then he explained!
He farmed souls. Very organic these days, even death has to move with the times.
The ones that were worth keeping got recycled. The really really bad ones went into the furnace to keep hell toasty.
The rest were here in the Orchard. In time he would decide if the apples were good or bad ones.
Apparently this was where I was going, after my seemingly fatal car accident.
It didn’t seem too bad hanging around on a tree in the sunshine. After a rather naughty little life. It looked like the easy option to me, so I was happy. Smug you could say.
The boy with the pimples looked at death.
“Mr Kirk seems pretty happy being an apple. Are you sure we shouldn’t be torturing him a bit more.
I’m sure he’s enjoying himself and that can’t be right because I looked in his file and it isn’t pretty!”
Death just grinned. Well there was a bony idea of a grin anyway.
‘You worry too much Tyson” he said. The fathomless eye sockets glittered for a moment.
“But we can’t have the damned going round all happy, it looks bad.”
“Oh I don’t know said death looking over at a granite press. “I can’t see him smiling much when we make the cider!”