Peas Porridge Shot
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Maybe some like it hot, maybe some like it cold, but only very silly people would want their pease porridge in or out of the pot when it's nine days old. I tried some once and it was waaay bad. I didn't really go so far as to actually eat any, though. It was just too gross.

What happened was, my Mom made up this big old pot of pease porridge, which is dried peas and water and some kind of meat and some other stuff she shakes out of those little boxes and bottles she has up on the little shelf next to the stove, and cooked it all afternoon while Dad watched the football game on television and Mimi—that's my little sister—and I played Fearful Monsters of the Dark on our game machine across the room.

And then the doorbell rang. Mom opened the door and some man outside shouted "Congratulations, Mrs. Boomer! You've just won..."

I didn't hear the rest of what he said because Mom was screaming at Dad: "Clyde! Clyde!"

Dad's name is Clyde.

Well, Dad got up from the couch and went to stand in the doorway with Mom and then this guy outside said, "You have children, don't you Mr. and Mrs. Boomer?"

So Dad fetched Mimi and me into the doorway, and we could see out in the street a bunch of trucks and bright lights and crowds of people and somebody holding what looked like a great big cardboard dollar bill except it had a whole lot of zeros on it. And there was cheering and shouting and they loaded us all up into this big, long, black car and drove us downtown to a fancy hotel and made speeches.

And for one reason or another, we didn't get back that night at all.

The next day, when we did get back, Mom and Dad were still pretty weird, and nobody bothered to check out the pease porridge. It was a good think Mom had turned the burner off under it or who knows what would have happened.

For the next couple of days, we didn't eat at home at all. Mom took us shopping and bought us a lot of new clothes and then we met dad at this auto showroom and we all climbed into this big new car and started driving around to visit friends and relatives, staying in motels and with grandmoms and aunts and uncles.

I began to understand something about money, which is what the man had come to give Mom and Dad a bunch of. When you suddenly get a lot of it, you get real busy telling other people about it and spending it and worrying about it. You forget all sorts of other things.

Like a pot of pease porridge, now about a week old. Mom had been too busy to clean out the pot, so she stuck it out on the back porch where we collect all the trash and junk we plan to throw away. Which is where Mimi and I found it.

"What's that?" said Mimi, pointing at the big, black soup pot.

"I think it's Mom's pease porridge," I said.

Mimi lifted the lid and a kind of dark greenish haze came oozing out of the pot. "Eeuw!" she said. "That's gross!"

I wanted to see inside so I started to take the pot lid out of Mimi's hand.

"Oooh don't!" she said, and tried to hang onto the lid. But I was curious. We wiggled the lid back and forth between us, and Mimi's elbow—or maybe it was mine—knocked a bunch of stuff off a shelf and into the pot.

"Oh-oh," said Mimi. Now we're gonna get it."

"Why?" I said. "It's just old junk that's gonna be thrown away anyway." But I put the lid back on the pot and we went off to play at something else. The only things I could be sure were gone were an old alarm clock radio that didn't keep time, Dad's broken electric razor, and a string of burned-out Christmas tree lights.

We didn't think anything more about the pease porridge until a couple of days later when, just after breakfast on Tuesday, we heard this awful scream from the back porch. We all rushed out to find Mom standing beside the pease porridge pot with the lid off, green smoke pouring out of it. "Help!" she screamed. "What is it, Clyde?"

Dad took one look in the pot and said some words I can't even spell, and grabbed Mom and Mimi and me and shouted, "We gotta get outta here! It's gonna blow!"

But by then I'd had a peek inside the pease porridge pot, now nine days old. And the weird stuff bubbling and boiling in there, the strange things wiggling and squirming, the odd lights and sparkles, were all kind of familiar.

"Mimi!" I shouted. "Quick! The game controllers!"

And we ran into the living room, grabbed our joysticks for Fearful Monsters of the Dark, ran back to the porch, and dropped their plugs into the pot of pease porridge. A quick flick here and a twist there of our controllers, and the bubbling slowed, the whirling and wiggling stopped, and the green smoke calmed down to a little wisp.

And as Mom and Dad looked on, full of pride at what their kids had done, Mimi and I took a bow.

What about the pease porridge in the pot, nine days old?

It was all gone. The only thing left was a kind of low, scary hum.



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