Jack and the Beans Talk

Fiction

by G. Nash

COMING OUT ONE EVENING from the Purple Garbanzo, an entourage of lords and ladies of the House of Bean (with equivalents in German [bohne], Dutch [bon], and Swedish [bona]) manage rather fortunately to bump into one Jack Bauno, a commoner, who tells of finding the bean in the slice of twelfth-night cake he'd been served earlier that evening at his employer's annual dinner. Jack, obliged now to host next year's party, does not consider his finding of the bean good fortune.

"Well, dear Jack," advanced the head of the krewe, "old bean — if I may employ a colloquial expression of good-natured familiarity — let's not forget our Latin: Omni grand ha la sua semola – Every bean has his bad day at the races! It's the nature of the beast, if you catch my whiff. So, Nemo sine vitis nascitur — If you don't forgive yourself, no one will."

This overblown fellow farting within such close range of Jack’s olfactory does not impress Jack. Lord Silunt Butdudley, reveling in the laughter of those in his party, does not miss the sneer on Jack's visage. "What say we, Jack, regarding the purity of youth that spends its prime philosophizing about love for a vegetable . . . worse, a legume?"

Jack relaxes, smiles — as if he'd just noticed the words of the loud speaker. "How're things with the Brahmin-flavored Boston Baked Beans?" More laughter, and this time it favors Jack.

As the younger of the Bean family revelers take Jack in, he spills the beans on his predicament. To soothe the ruptured Lord Butdudley, Lady Allison Flaire promises something to the steaming lord, nodding her entire presence his way, her eyes entrancing him. "Be silent, Dudley, remember we're here for fun." As she fans the darkness back into the night, Lady Flaire turns her gaze to Jack. "I'll be the host of next year’s gathering — and we'll dance to the musical fruit!” She adds with a flourish, “Are there any other attachments, a la Plato, for a bashful young potato, or a not-too-French French bean?" Lady Flit, extending her invitation for next year's bash — no longer Jack's responsibility — declares it will be at the Cargamentos.

Jack, figuring his fate has changed for the better, joins the ladies. The rest of their crowd joyfully heads for three or more libations at The Seventh Bardo, where Lord Butdudley goes in search of a translator to translate: S'il me donne des pois, je lui donnerai des feves, the Bean's family motto. He finds a cousin of Jack's, though the lord doesn't know that she is Jack's mother's niece; and she, done up in blonde, tells him it means, "If he gives me peas, I will give him beans." Brewer, the bartender, expounds on the looseness of such a translation. "Fever, which many might recognize as fava, refers not to any gusto in the bean but to its tasteless protein. The fava’s a lowly bean, despite Hannibal’s penchant for them with Chianti."

Across the room, at the closest of the tightly packed tables, one Corby Kummer enters the debate, exclaiming in a faked higher voice, "Why fresh favas are far sweeter and fresher than lima beans. They are absolutely delicious when dressed for a salad or you could even eat hem out of hand with wedges of the sheep's milk cheese pecorino." The crowd disperses upon such flatulence.

The ladies take Jack into the Purple Garbanzo asking him if he'd consider a couple of recipes from the Idaho Bean Commission. Lady Allison Flair recommends the Vermont Baked Beans; and "for those so inclined," Lady Flit declares as she adjusts her bustle, "A Vegetarian Chowder with white beans and wren's eggs."

Jack nods to one of the townsfolk, who'd stood asleep blocking his way, and says, "Well, the weather's not been worth a bean. And I'm tired of being without a bean, penniless." Lady Flit slyly acknowledges Jack's reference to beans as slang for money, a sovereign, a guinea . . . from the French biens, meaning property. She slips a few beans of her private stock into Jack's front pocket. Lady Flit, thinking that Jack was referring by his mention of bean, to venery, that indulgence in or pursuit of sexual intercourse; that is, to abstain from beans is akin to keeping the body chaste. She quickly shares some of hear bean-ness with Jack then proceeds toward her promised sharing with Lord Silunt Butdudley.

Lady Refried enters the Garbanzo to retrieve the ladies wearing a brand new necklace of love beans, a gift from Pythagoras. Her Maine yellow eyes could easily recount the vote, cast bean by bean in any official helmet. Her perfume of bean-flowers makes Jack light-headed. Lady Refried frolicked as fresh as a spirited horse in good health whispers to Jack, "Ride on, Appaloosa."

Lady Allison Flaire figures that Jack knows how many beans make five. He's no fool! But how many blue beans make five white ones? (The correct answer: "Five — if peeled!") Jack, not wanting the lead shot in his pocket to be mistaken as blue beans, discovers the gifts from the ladies.

Back in the after hours of the Seventh Bardo, everyone reunited, one of Jacob's chattel chortles, "Hey, who farted?" Patience, one of the barmaids, confesses, "It was I, and I'm sorry for bothering you, for reminding you of your fate." Jack, raising his glass — toasting his being toasted inhales. "Hey, don't worry. Passing wind is a natural reaction to concentrated fat." Lord Pinto enjoins, "Merely oligosaccharides, mostly water soluble, hence the soaking." And Lady Yellow Beans follows with sound advice, "Ah, it's always best to boil them for a few minutes, then let them sit and soak for half a day," adding with a faraway look in her eyes, "swelling more than two and a half times."

"Well, I'm sorry," murmurs a European soldier, "but the stink makes me want to tap a kidney. It makes me want to join the navy." The crowd roars, "Let's give him beans" — which translates as "Let's give him a thrashing." Roland repeats the cheer to Ned Oliver, oblivious to the arguments of historians, who then responds, "But I'm hungry." Jack sees the moment, carpe diem, and silently exits the establishment and heads back to the country of nine rows thumbing the ladies' gifts of six beans, genetically-engineered, in hand. And what happens the next morning and afterward is a story well known. Finis.

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