Gaargh, these be the words of me ship’s cook, the ignoble Monty McBuboe, muttered in’s sleep. He’s no letterin’ of his own, nor digits suffice to the task. Proud leper and gourmet of the rat-infested, weevil-ridden ship’s stores he revealed to me his hopes and fears while snorin’ around his necrotisin’ tongue.
Twas a night o’ summeritude, and ye Grim Bastard lolled in a peaceable wake. I meself dozed in me hammock, or rather limb-net. Ye see the fro-in’ and to-in’ o’ the ship can quite disassemble me once common figure, and ye nettin’ keeps it all close by for ye ease of glue and staplin’.
I were awoked by a thin wail what pierced me aural tunnel. I did me limb count and left the galley (in which I sleeps, for ye mates’ve fear o’ inhalin’ me leprosity whiles they yawns). On tip toe (for that’s what I got) I crept to the store-room door. Tis locked, to keep ye rogues without; within lies ye foodstuffs and ye grog. Ye keyhole be sufficient to admit me eye. She’s been loose some months now, and with a teaspoon I can dislodge her orb an’ so I popped ‘er through the lock.
The insides were as dark as an angel’s orifice, for though shadowed twere shot through with flashes of a violent green. The pulses was quite blindin’ to me dislocatered peeper, so I jerked ‘er back into me socket. With a bit o’ fiddlin’ I got it rightways though me blinkin’ had some drag. Luckily me forefinger (I’ve only the left left) had recently whittled itself bony, an’ were an ideal skeleton key.
I’d no choosin’ but to leave the key in the lock, but the door swung gently into the slowly rottin’ fish with which I’d be brewin’ some fine Brain Tenderiser in a half-moon or so. Ye glow warmed me further’n the season’d managed and ye shrill whistle were tauntin’ me again. I follered the fine flautistry to a barrel under the cockle-sack.
Though I does ye chefferin’ hereabouts, tis Barry who’s ye quartermaster and does our shoppin’ when we’re at anchor. O’ course he’s a weakness for the dresses and’s been known to expend ye ration pence and return to the ‘Bastard cased in sequins with feathers in’s hair. So the findin’ o’ mysteries and inedibles be no surprise an’ rarely bars the makin’ of soups.
This cask’d the look o’ luxuries and the sparkle brought to me mind one o’ Barry’s finest deck shows as Sharon; twirlin’ and twinklin’ to the siren song. Ye exotic yellow surface were patterned with neat swirly sigils and cracks leakin’ with the emerald ooze which was soakin’ up into the sacks an’ parcels around it. Arr, a bit o’ gribble’ll merely soften ye vittles but I’d not want ‘em to spoil so I hauled the barrel out and over the side.
With a loaf o’ bread I mopped up ye excess slime for the mates’re oft off-put by the sight o’ such squeamies. The loaf I returned to ye bread bin for we were down to our last few. The whistlin’d passed so I returned to me bunk, lickin’ the oddly tasty green sauce off me odd-matched fingers.
Twas some days later when in me increasin’ desperation for somethin’ edible to pop in ye suppery gruel I were clamberin’ about the storeroom and came upon a startle – a throbbin’ heap o’ fresh peppers, radiant with health. Surroundin’ them was a ring of muscular-lookin’ cockles which bounced in a menacin’ way when I loomed upon ‘em. I takes no nonsense from me grub and twattled ‘em with a ladle into a pot for broilin’. Ye peppers looked right juice-some and destined for the captain’s table.
All day I bragged o’ the meal to me noble cap’n and the delight’s his face’d experience before the night were out. Ah, how I loves to overcome his innate scepticism. I must admit ’tis rare that I succeed an’ that night far from bucked ye trend.
Me galley fairly hummed with culinary froth, and the aromas of a dozen arguably gangrenous ‘gredients. Almost all of me digits’d survived the dicin’ and escaped the pot. All was traversin’ the cookery ocean smoothly until the first cockle exploded out of the pot, punchin’ a hole through the wall. I heard a cry and a distant splash; I turned back to me work. The rest of the ballistic bivalves soon left me a new colander and a gap in me menu.
I turned me favoured blade to the peppers. Arr, their red flesh parted before the knife’s virtue; it made me scrofulus skin itch – tis me art and me craft to cook. And yet when I peered at its innards ye familiar glow fell on me face and that eerie wail resumed from me nighttime wander.
Ye could but imagine me amazement, ‘cept I aims to describe it to ye – within the crimson peach lay an homunculus pepper, singin’ its little bell heart out. Each of I penetrated with me fruit-sword held another of the vege-warblers. They were a delight, their chorus near made me fingernails re-grow and me septum cease its wobblin’. Enchantin’… The magic was shattered by the bellow of my hungry captain. Full well dilemma’d – the cockles’d cocked off and me sweet pepper main dish was serenadin’ me. The cockles I could swap with octopus eyeballs or the cartilage in me knees, but the taste of a pepper’d no compare.
I served up to me captain them darlin’ pepper mites. The grillin’ stopped their singin’ and me one remaining tear duct overflowed to salt ‘em just right. The meal was a success but I could scarce stop the tears that coursed down me right cheek. I hobbled off to bed where I both celebrated and commiserated with meself with a tot of Brain Tenderiser.
Arr, I cannot now look a pepper in the eye for memory of their song. Ye cockles returned by the by and the cupboard whence they now dwell is forever denied me.