Fiction. Corvey Versus Padell by Michael Trafford. Image: the silhouette of a man on a bicycle cycling directly towards a large black truck.

corvey versus padell

‘Corvey Versus Padell’ is an extract from the forthcoming novel, Human Tragedy.

Reading time:

Inside the cafe are two youngish women with lots of teeth and a pair of tureens and a glass counter full of rolls and loaves. One of them’s poking a ladle into a steaming mulligatawnyish thing. Each time a chunk of meat bobs to the surface she prods it back under. My mouth waters so much so suddenly I think I’m going to throw up. It’s just appetite though.


Two of that please says Jill rightly not bothering to consult me.


The woman without the ladle is so enthusiastic that I want to leave. She starts going into details about breadstuffs and I try to stop listening. I sit down at a table and notice the other customer. He’s the fattest man I’ve ever seen. Maybe not fat exactly. He swells hugely in the middle. Partly to the front and rear but largely to one side sinister while round the head neck shoulders thighs calves and ankles he’s still more or less slim. He’s wearing stretchy gym wear in what must surely be the largest available size. Something about him suggests that at other times he’d tend towards smart-casual.


No doubt you’re wondering he says and he says it solemnly.


Sorry I say. My eyes are a bit.


Don’t worry he says. Of course you’re wondering. I’d be wondering if our positions were reversed.


I’m wondering too says Jill and sits down beside me on the bench seat so we’re both facing him.


Well there hangs a tale he says.


It’s a good one says the soup lady putting down our soup.


I never get tired of it says the one at the tureen. She gives some meat a prod.


You didn’t see him on the news then? says the first one. He’s quite the cause celebre.


Jill and I are as innocent as each other.


Well says the swollen man if you’re sitting comfortably I’ll begin. Two months ago I was not as you see me now. It was a Tuesday morning. One moment I was crossing the road from the car to my office and the next there was a sudden noise and then darkness and a vague sense of pressure. I woke to find myself in a hospital bed – or rather a pair of beds pushed together as I later realised. Every part of me hurt but it all seemed still to be there and still to be working which as you can imagine was a relief. The only problem apart from the pain was this.


He pats the swelling.


So I found the call button and pressed it a few times and a few times more and finally a nurse comes in and says Good morning, Mr Corvey, how are you feeling? And I gave her my thoughts and asked how long I’d been unconscious and she said a week and a half and I waited for her to tell me what had happened and she didn’t so I asked what had happened and she said a doctor would be along in just a moment to explain everything and would I like some water. She got me some and then cleared off and about a decade later a doctor comes in. Middle-aged. Older than me which is always reassuring once you’ve cleared forty. Anyway he doesn’t muck around.


You were in a traffic collision, Mr Corvey he said.


I don’t remember I said.


That’s not uncommon he said. The other circumstances though . . . In most respects you were very lucky. Nothing but bruising. There is however the other party. You see it seems there was a bicycle courier – his name is Charles Padell – who was hit by a large fast-moving truck. At the same moment you yourself were also hit by a different large fast-moving truck travelling in the opposite direction. Consequently each of you was flung through the air and it seems that you struck one another with great force.


Is he alive? I asked.


Yes. Yes. And in a stable condition. And like yourself relatively unscathed. Remarkably so considering.


I’m glad to hear that I said.


Yes he said. Yes. Look, Mr Corvey, am I right in thinking that you’ve been using a dietary supplement called … ah … SolydGaynz?


Yes I said not understanding the sudden change of topic. For a few months I said. It’s protein powder.


Yes he said. Yes. Protein and a few other things.


Yes I said. Vitamins.


Yes. Vitamins. And also a self-described herbal supplement with the brand name Flexotine which claims to promote flexible joints and ligaments.


Yes I said. I remembered something about that from the packaging.


Yes. Well, Mr Corvey, you see this supplement has not yet been approved by any regulatory body. And there are a growing number of cases suggesting it has significant side effects. Or perhaps that’s not quite right. Rather that its intended effects are far stronger than it claims and far stronger than anyone would want.


What does this have to do with my accident? I said.


Well, Mr Corvey, it seems . . . and we’ve had to work this out after the fact from your injuries as there’s no documentary evidence and the witnesses and the drivers have given somewhat contradictory accounts . . . It seems that Mr Padell struck you pretty squarely in the urethra and somehow the tissues of your penis dilated to accommodate him. What’s even more extraordinary is that the bones of your pelvis seem to have become sufficiently plastic – and our best guess at present is that this is an effect of the supplement – as to have allowed them to do something similar.


I didn’t really follow all this but let him continue.


Mr Padell seems to have come to rest in your bladder. Like your penis and your pelvic bones the bladder shows no real signs of traumatic damage. Rather it has expanded to an appropriate size.




To Mr Padell. And now we come to the really extraordinary part. Had this been the end of things then of course Mr Padell would have suffocated even before the emergency services arrived.


Of course.


But somehow – and we’re quite at a loss as to how – this is a medical marvel – entirely unprecedented. It opens up whole new avenues of research. Somehow your circulatory systems seem to have become connected to one another such that your blood is flowing into and through his veins and sustaining all his vital functions. Providing him with all the oxygen and nutrients he requires. Remarkably your bladder seems still able to function. You may notice that you’ve been fitted with a catheter. You continue to excrete as normal.


Sorry I said. Let me get this straight. He’s inside me?


Yes he said.


In here?


Yes he said.


Why haven’t you taken him out?


Ah. Yes. Now here’s the thing. After numerous consultations – and the involvement of perhaps every specialist in the country in every separate field on which the case touches – the consensus opinion is that Mr Padell will die if he’s surgically removed from his current position.


I see.


His brain function indicates that he is only in the lightest of comas however so we’re very confident that within the year he’ll manage to find his way out naturally.




Perhaps not the happiest choice of words. I mean that he’ll make his way out the way he went in.


You mean . . .  You mean he’ll come out through my cock?


I might not have put it quite like that. But yes.


How would you have put it? Won’t it kill me?


No no no, Mr Corvey. We think it very unlikely that the process will cause you any more harm than the original accident. Less in fact since it may be presumed that Mr Padell will leave your body in a more controlled fashion than that in which he entered it.


It may be presumed may it?


There’s no need to be sarcastic, Mr Corvey.


There’s not? You tell me there’s a man living in me and want me to just accept it as the new normal?


I understand, Mr Corvey, that this must be a bit of a shock . . .


A bit?


But there is simply nothing else to be done.


Of course there is. Look I’m sorry for – Charles was it? – but you need to take him out right now. Of course please try and save him but try and save him outside my body.


Mr Corvey, we can’t do that.


Yes you can.


Mr Corvey, it would be murder.


Murder? There’s a man in here! How can it be murder to get him out? If a man tried to force his way up your own cock how do you think you’d react to that?


Mr Corvey, I don’t see how this is helping . . .


You know bloody well how you’d react. You’d fucking murder him wouldn’t you? Except it wouldn’t be murder would it? It’d be justifiable self-defence. And even if it is murder I don’t care. His right not to get murdered is nowhere near as significant to me as my right to remove objects from my own body that I don’t want pushing their way out of my cock!


We’re confident that it will be within the year.


He’ll still be pushing his way out of my cock!


And as I say we’re quite confident that you will survive.


Quite meaning very or quite meaning not very? What are my odds?


Well this being new territory we can’t give you precise numbers.


I bet you can’t. What about the pain?


That unfortunately I can’t speak to.


Perhaps you’d make a guess?


Oh it would be unprofessional of me to do so. But we’ll certainly be able to provide you with something to mitigate it. And in the meantime there’s no reason you shouldn’t continue to live a normal life.


Are you joking?


I never joke about professional matters, Mr Corvey.


At this point Charles Padell moved inside me. I felt sick. I was sick. The doctor took the opportunity to leave saying he’d get the nurse and that we’d talk more later.


Jill and I finish our soup. I don’t know how.


And here we are says Corvey.


My God says Jill. How long’s it been?


Since the accident it’s been four months three weeks and a day.


And he’s still there.


Your eyes do not deceive you.


And the media’s got hold of it?


Once I went to court it was inevitable. I think the two of you might be the last people left in the country who haven’t heard of us.


And what have the courts said?


We’ve been ruled against twice but are appealing again. After the first ruling I was tempted to take matters into my own hands. Made myself enormously drunk the first night in the dim hope that I might find the courage to do . . . I don’t know. Something. But that got Charlie drunk too and he got pretty boisterous in there. Wasn’t much fun for me in the end. I tried hitting him. Still do occasionally. But he just starts hitting back and I’m pretty sure I come off worse.


One of the soup women’s phones rings. Her ringtone plays part of Rapper’s Delight. Sorry sorry she says and tries to turn it off but in her haste only manages to turn it up. Corvey’s swelling pulses visibly in time to the beat. One particularly big movement hits the table edge and rattles his side plate.


He likes music says Corvey. I try to avoid it. The ladies here are very accommodating but of course accidents happen.


What do you think of your chances in the appeal? I say.


It’s hard to know. My lawyer thinks fifty-fifty. Public opinion seems fairly evenly divided as well. The police think I might need the full Salman Rushdie if I win to protect me from the religious lunatics. Though – he looks around as if checking for lurking journalists – to be honest at this point I don’t think I’ll go through with it.


The appeal?


The surgical extraction. Look it’s important to establish the legal principle. A man’s right to bodily autonomy and all. But – I know it sounds daft and everything – but I’ve been carrying him around these months now and to be perfectly honest I’ve started feeling responsible for the poor bastard. Now you must excuse me but what with the soup and Charlie here I’m in pretty desperate need of a piss so I’m going to head home since I can’t fit into the broom cupboard they’ve got back there.


Corvey rises and turns to edge through the space between the tables. Obviously still not used to his new circumference he knocks the handle of the spoon in his bowl.


Farewell, ladies he says waving without looking back. See you tomorrow in all likelihood.


He goes through the door sideways and lumbers unevenly off up the road.


He lives just up there says the woman at the tureen. He comes in most days. Pretty worn out I think and doesn’t have the energy to go much further.


Do you know if he’s still taking the supplement? asks Jill.


Ooh good question says the soup lady.


Jesus I hope so.

michael trafford

Michael Trafford is a writer. 


He lives in Essex, England.

Love this?

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter

Read next: