“And I DON’T want you out here either!” Annie pointed at me,  when she announced she had company coming for tea.

She was dressed in her favorite tea time dress.   It was a long 1800’s deal, green with little pink flowers all over it.    She wore a huge white apron, as she brewed some stink weed tea on the stove.

“Annie Jr. put that little blue dress on,” Annie called.   “She will be here in a few moments.”

“I want to wear my big underhauls,” Annie Jr insisted putting her claw in the straps of her denim pants.

“Annie Jr. it’s bib overhauls.” I corrected.

“No, cause they are big and my shirt goes under it.”

“Into your dress,” Annie fussed, licking ice cream off Annie Jr. whiskers and a blot of ketchup off the top of her head.  “Did you practice?”

“Practice what?”

“I gave you that book,” Annie said.   Annie Jr. looked blankly at her.  “The Cursey Slimes, by Aunt Turkey?”

“Oh those, Slam says them all the time.   I know them all.”

“Good cause you will be reciting for my friend, and you need to play your banjo.”

“Please don’t show me on.   I hate it.   I get so embarrassed when you are a show on.”

“I am so proud of you honey!” Annie purred.   She buttoned Annie Jr. dress up the back.

“Perfect!”  Annie  announced as she stepped back to look at her clone.

Just then there was a soft knock on the door.   “She’s here! Omg she is here.”

Annie looked flustered and ran in a circle then finally pulled it together, hooked up her oxygen tank and ran to the door.   “Maddie, darling!” I hear Annie call from the kitchen.

I could almost see her doing the kiss kiss thing on either cheek.   I had to go look, I snuck out and peeked around the corner.   Maddie was a beautiful collie dog looking a lot like Lassie.   Figures, Annie loves that show.    She, too, wore an 1800’s type dress, it was bright yellow; the hoop so wide she could barely get through the door and it made Annie’s dress look that of a poor farmers wife.    She had a matching parasol and a little yellow clutch in her hand.   A pair of glasses were perched on the end of her nose and she dragged an oxygen tank connected to a tube in her nose behind her.    I shook my head.   They were both allergic to air yet breathing it straight.

“Come sit, I will get you a cup of tea.  I know this isn’t as beautiful a home you are used to, but it’s clean and ours.” Annie said, waving her arm around.   She brushed a bunch of her dirty laundry off the nearest chair, gave the seat a swipe with her paw and a pile of cat hair landed on the floor with a plop and a cloud of dust rose dancing in the sunlight streaming through the window.

Maddie sat down in the chair that still had several inches of cat hair and crossed her legs under her dress those took out one of those long cigarette things like Cruella Deville.   Oh my lord she was going to blow us to kingdom come if she lit it,  I thought, but she didn’t.    There was no cigarette in it.   She just waved it around and occasionally blew into it and bubbles came out and she and Annie giggled and tried to pop them.

Annie poured steaming stenchy tea into thin little cups with saucers.  She pulled her pipe out of the top of her dress and blew into it several times.    Bubbles filled the kitchen and when they popped an incredible stink filled the air , it smelled like rotten old turkey.   “Oh scented bubbles? May I?” Maddie asked.

Annie took out a bottle of bubbles and handed it to Maddie.   “This is a brand new scent I haven’t tried it yet.   It’s skunk die’a’rear flavor.” Annie explained.

“Oh my lordy!” Maddie cried.   “I die for skunks!  I just had all of my furniture covered in skunk fur.”   She pour some of the bubbles into her long cigarette thing and blew out some bubbles which poped and made the kitchen smell like rotten old turkey, and skunk smelling poop, the stink weed tea smell faded into the back ground.  “Wonderful!” Maddie exclaimed.   She dabbed a bit behind each ear.

“Annie Jr. come out and meet Maddie, one of my oldest dearest friends.”  Annie Jr. slunk into the kitchen.     She lifted her head a little peaked at Maddie and waved shyly.

“Now honey, recite those slimes, for Momma and her friend.”

Annie Jr lifted her head, cleared her throat and loudly began.   “Slickory Mickey and Doc lived with a Mouse in a sock. ”

“Oh I hate the way that one ends up,” Maddie interrupted. “What other ones do you know.”

“Frumpty Trumpty sat on a ball Frumpty Trumpty fell in a drawer.   His wife could eat no spleens.   So the cow jumped over a balloon.”  Annie Jr. recited.

“One more,” Annie coaxed.

“There once was a man from Nantucket,” Annie Jr. began.

“I don’t like how that one ends Annie Jr.” I said stepping into the room.

“Well it was kinda mean of him to be sleeping under a haystack while his blah blah orange sheep hadn’t any wood; and that sack that ran way with the fool.”

“Get out Slam!” Annie waved me away.

“No Annie,”  Maddie began.   “Have her step out into the light.   I have been hearing about this woman who went to the woodchuck school for years and I want to see what a true woodchuck looks like.”

I stepped out into the light.   “Mandy went to the woodchuck school.” I argued.

“His name is Candy.” Maddie replied, looking at me.   “Nah I’d rather be a sewer rat.   A dying breed now the schools consolidated.   The sewer chucks, bah.  Makes me so mad! Be gone with you!”

The stink was beginning to make me sick, So I returned to the other room.   I heard more giggling, Annie playing her banjo, more laughing.   Hours passed and then a knock on the door.   I heard Kiko’s voice, and Allie.   Annie and Maddie came running in.

The were both dressed now in leather pants, tight lacy red and black tops, their fur had been dyed several pastel colors, and spiked.   Their oxygen tanks were gone and they were wearing make up.

“Slam can you baby sit tonight? I know this is short notice but some friends dropped by and I want to show my bestie Maddie a good time.”  Annie screamed into my face, I turned and gagged smelling moose made.

“Annie are you wearing fake eyelashes?” I asked.

“Thanks, Sweetie,” Annie said biting the top of my head and they were all gone.   Leaving just me and Annie Jr. who had been snuggled up and sleeping next to me for the past hour.

I fell asleep and was awoken two hour before dawn with, Annie jamming in the kitchen with Maddie on her accordion.   Kiko and Allie joined in howling and Chad had joined the group and was playing his harmonica and letting loud ringing gas rip along in perfect tune with the music.   Annie Jr. sat up at attention ran over my face and grabbed her banjo.   I wish she wouldn’t wear Norbert’s baseball cleats to bed.

This continued for 55 minutes and then the poker game began and finally ended at 10 am after a huge breakfast of buck horn pancakes and vulture egg omelets.   Everyone left, Annie went to bed and I slowly made my way to the kitchen to clean it.

It was my life with Annie.





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