Harvey wasn’t our first choice after the old man died. Harvey was a ring-in but he was appropriate under the circumstances.
No, Little Red, a diminutive, delicate and beautiful thing was the first choice. And she lived a pacific sedentary life with the old woman. Fifteen years they said, and when Little Red’s time was up, she passed on with not so much as a whisper.
The old woman apparently had stopped caring and didn’t really appreciate that Little Red’s demise was due to her own apathy. A bright young thing, malnourished, grew to her potential and then, like the old man slipped the mortal coil. Nobody’s fault.
Fifteen years. It seemed like the natural span for surviving the old woman.
But Harvey went one better. Harvey outlived the old woman – but only just.
When the old woman died, Harvey came to live with us. Stoic about her passing, Harvey was a prickly customer and was immune to the old woman’s profound indifference. Harvey’s needs were basic, and if not always fulfilled, they were not life threatening in the omission.
Harvey was resourceful and frugal and he flourished within the confines of his terra cotta world. Harvey grew almost despite the old woman. And when she died, he came to live with us, as I said.
We felt sorry for Harvey. So we lavished on Harvey all the care we imagined would somehow compensate for at least some of the neglect. Perhaps not the neglect of Little Red, though.
A few years passed. It was Harvey’s business alone that something was stirring and we should not have been so surprised when it eventually became apparent that things were indeed afoot.
He had been looking pale for weeks. Well, that was understandable. It was winter. It was the winter of Harvey’s discontent. Not really discontent.
At one level Harvey was completely contented.
Harvey was with child, or more accurately, was with children.
The spike was half a metre long when I noticed this huge asparagus-like spear thrusting up from Harvey’s middle. His, or maybe her leaves were more yellow and less variegated that they had been in all the years we had known Harvey and as the quick whip through Wikipedia revealed, this agave had had its time in the sun and was about to fire its parting shot- a huge flower spike with dozens (if not hundreds) of little Harvey’s dispersed through the garden.
She was unambiguous in her assessment of the situation. Harvey was going to die no matter what. Cut off a few of Harvey’s little suckers. Pot them out and then put Harvey out of her misery.
I killed Harvey. It was a mercy killing. Like the old man, Little Red and the old woman, Harvey’s days were numbered too. Harvey knew that puberty was the sign that his time was drawing to an end. And he knew what to do about it.
I broke down Harvey’s carcase with a Swedish steel sabre saw and put his remains in the green bin. Waiting patiently, as always, through a cold night on the nature strip.
Attention over, the woman quietly slipped the suckers in with the dismembered Harvey.
It was goodbye for good, Harvey the Agave.