I came home after work, only to find Annie running around the kitchen with a bucket of water.    Annie Jr. is at the sink filling another bucket, screaming, “Mom-mom can I hook up the hose now?”

“One more bucket sweetie,” Annie hollers as she runs by; water sloshing out of her bucket all over the floor that is currently soaked with water.   “If these two buckets don’t work we will get the hose.”

For a moment I think maybe the house is on fire, but as Annie runs past me she yells, “Hi Slam,” then stops dead.   “Don’t move Slam.   I got him Annie Jr.” then she throws a bucket of ice cold water on me.   “Darn missed again!’

“Annie what is going on?” I spit water out of my lungs as I yell.

“I am trying to catch a fly, Slam!” Annie yells like I am the dumbest person in the world.

Annie Jr. throws her bucket of water then turns on the hose squirting it all over the kitchen.   “Annie Jr. turn the water off!” I scream shaking off my glasses.   “Why didn’t you use the fly swatter, Annie?”

Annie looks at me and shrugs and says, “I dunno!”

“All of this mess for one fly? And you haven’t even caught it yet?”   I yell throwing my arms around.

The fly buzzes around the room as if it is mocking the Annie’s then Snoopy wanders into the room spies the fly and brings his large orange paw down on it then promptly eats it.

“Why?” I scream shaking water out of my hair.

“Grandfather hates bugs!” Annie Jr. screams.

At that moment Grandfather walked into the room with a super soaker squirt gun and wearing scuba gear.   “You get ’em, Annie?” He asked.

“Snoopy ate him!” Annie announced.

“Good job son!” he said.  He patted Snoopy on the head and walked out the flippers on his feet flapping as he walked.

I shook my head.   “Besides, Slam,” Annie shrugged.   “I can’t have flies around for my company picnic tomorrow.”

“What company picnic?”   I asked.

“The one I am having tomorrow,” Annie said.

“Everyone from the factory will be there!” Annie Jr. screamed, jumping up and down.   Then she ran off really fast and returned pulling a huge wagon filled with gallon sized jars.

“Here are the ants, Mom-Mom.  I used a little sugar like you said.”

Each jar was jam packed with ants.   “I used up the rest of your sugar Slam,” Annie Jr. said.   “We need more.   I have ten more jars to fill.”

I had just bought a fifty pound bag.    Since Annie announced she had ‘die-a-beat-us’ she gobbles it by the glass full.    “Ants!” I screamed.   “Fifty pounds of sugar for ants!”

“Only forty Slam,” Annie said.   “I had a couple glasses.”

“You ruin my kitchen for one fly and you have 75 jars of ant!”

“forty-eleven,” Annie Jr. corrected.   I sighed thank goodness she would be going to school finally.

“Why?” I screamed.

“Can’t have a picnic without ants, Slam,” Annie said.

The next morning, each one of the cats came to me and asked for money.   I finally asked Mary Jane what was going on.   “It’s for the picnic,” she explained.

“You have to pay to get in?” I asked.

“Yes two dollars to get in.”  She nodded.

“But you all asked for $14,” I said.

“Yes it’s $4 for lunch and $8 for supper.”

“It’s going on that long?”   I asked.

“Annie wanted to start at 5 am and charge for breakfast too, but Spam and Duh-Wayne couldn’t get here that early.”

“They don’t work at the factory!” I said.

“I know, Annie said Spam makes a mean bucket of birds pizza so she is cooking and Duh-Wayne is collecting money at the door.”   Mary Jane said.

“Is she paying her?” I asked.

“Yeah Spam is paying her $50 and Duh-Wayne is paying $75.”

“What?” I asked shocked.

“Duh-Wayne gets to be the bouncer once everyone gets here.” Mary Jane replied like that made sense.

“Why are you even going?” I asked.  “You hate Annie and the poop factory and you are giving up your Saturday and borrowing money to go.”

“We have to it’s mandatory or you get fired.”  Mary Jane explained.

“Then get fired!” I said.

“I can’t I need the money to pay Annie back.” she said trembling.

“For what?”  I asked.

“Being born,”  Mary Jane said.

I shook my head.   Annie and her money making schemes.

Spam and Duh-Wayne arrived at 5:15 am.   Spam began cooking shooing me out of my kitchen and Duh-Wayne was setting up tables and chairs on the gaming floor.   Rows and rows of tables.    At each seat he placed a card and put a large handful of bingo chips next to it.

Spam came in with a large silver tray laden with all the things Annie loved for breakfast.   Annie was still sound asleep.    Annie Jr. came running through with a frozen mouse on a stick, licking it rapidly.

“Slam!” she said jumping up and down, frozen mouse slime running down her arm.   “Aren’t you excited!   We are playing Annie-O!”

“Annie-O?” I asked.

I walked over to look at the card on the table.   Each card had the letters A, N, N, I, E and O on it.   The letter N’s had a little 1 and 2 next to it.   Each card had the same numbers under it.   A 1-5, N1 1-5 and so on and every card was the same.   I looked confused.

“Mom-Mom picks a ball,” Annie Jr. explained.   “then she yells like A 1 and if you have it you put a chip on it.   The first one to cover their whole card wins the big prize!”

“But all the cards are the same!” I said.

“Yeah,” Annie Jr. nodded, like it made sense.

“It will take 10 minutes,” I said. “It’s only one to five. Thirty balls and the game is over and everyone wins.”

“No it goes one to 100, Slam.” Annie Jr. said.   “You don’t put all the numbers on the cards.”

“So 600 balls.” I thought.   “How long could it take?”

I soon found out.   Her workers started showing up at 7 am each paying $14 at the door to get in.   Some even brought their families, but mostly because their families either worked in the factory or were too young to stay home alone.    One cat came in with her 8 kittens, their eyes were not even open.   She played their cards because they couldn’t see.    Tables filled up rapidly, Annie was perched on a pile of money as she told jokes gearing up for the game to start.

Spam came around with a tray of moose made, $2 a bottle, water was $6.  There were bowls of free snacks on every table, bowls of cheesy eye balls, over salted rat tails, stale bird beaks and tasty skunk claws.   Annie had finally found a use for that truck load of expired snacks she bought eight years ago.

The stench  of buckets of bird pizza sauce, that was cooking in the kitchen began to fill the air.   I never got used to the smell of bird guts simmering in blood sauce and limburger  cheese.   ‘Thank god it would be over before lunch,’ I thought.

Duh-Wayne walked in.   “All here Mum,” He said to Annie.   “Except, Harold. He passed away last night.   Walked into a city bus.”

“Fire him!” Annie screamed.

“Already taken care of,” Duh-Wayne said putting on his bouncer badge.

“Ready,” Annie screamed.

All 9,576 players picked up a chip.  Annie turned the button on the machine and balls started bouncing around like pop corn.   It seemed to be a huge machine and lots of balls were in it.

“O 99,” Annie hollered as she looked at the first ball and then dropped it into a bag next to her.   “N2 44.  I 6.”

The crowd sighed at the closeness of their first number.   “Z 82,” Annie called.

“Z?” I yelled from the door where I was watching.  “There aren’t any Z’s.”

“Slam you have all the letters, Twice cause there are two N’s” Annie explained.   “Now shut your chug hole or get out!”

“Twenty six times two, times one hundred!” I thought.    “Omg!”

“A 1,” Annie yelled.

The crowd screamed and most of them put chips on their cards.    Which was weird because they all had the same cards.   Annie made one card and copied it, Annie Jr. had told me.

“A1 1,” Annie called.   She kept calling numbers.   I knew it would take all day.   I went to the bathroom and took a long soaking bath but not relaxing as there was a line to the cat litter box which was also in the bathroom.

When I came back into the room, a cat named Fester asked if Annie had called D 52 yet.   D 52 wasn’t on the card.   I looked for the big light up board that showed all the numbers called so far, it had to be huge.   But there wasn’t one.

Annie yelled into her microphone to hold up.   Her pile of money had risen so high it was hard to even hear her since the microphone was so far from her mouth.   “Hold up. Folks. ”   She then pulled out the bag she had been putting the numbers in and began looking through each one, dropping each ball back into the machine as she looked.

“Nope,” she said, as she dropped the last ball back into the machine.

“Annie you put them all back,” I screamed.

Annie glared at me and hissed, “Shut your chug hole Slam!” then, “Start over.”

Everyone cleared their cards.   “I had two numbers too,” one sighed.   “I had six,” said another.   “I just needed L 78!” someone from the back screamed.

The game went on all day.   Lunch was one pizza for every table and supper was lunch leftovers, a half a pizza for every table.   At two AM finally someone called Annie-O but they didn’t have it.   At 4 am another one called Annie-O and had it right.   They won the grand prize one thin dime from a package of fake money Annie ordered off the internet with my magic card.

People stretched and got up to leave, thanking Annie for the best company picnic ever.   Spam and Duh-Wayne left.  The gazillion ants Annie released earlier were even leaving, taking crumbs of left over food along with them dropping money on Annie’s pile.

Annie curled up in a ball on her pile of money, she opened one eye and said, “Clean your house, Slam!”

I looked around at the mess and began cleaning.




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