I came downstairs the following morning and found Allie grinding coffee beans. The sound system was on. Coldplay were singing Violet Hill and the aardvark was doing his best Chris Martin impersonation.
“Your taste in music is…”
“What?” I asked, sensing an urgent need for caffeine. It had become clear to me that Allie was neither a prank nor a figment of my imagination. He was here, in my living room, organising breakfast.
“Depressing.” Allie broke open some eggs into a bowl and began whisking. “We can use some of the cheese for the omelettes. I hope you like them runny.”
“I don’t normally eat breakfast,” I said. “Mornings are hit-and-run for me. I hit the shower, then I run out the door.”
Allie’s snout drooped. “I know. I had to go out and buy some provisions. Just because you skip the most important meal of the day, it doesn’t mean I have to.”
I opened the fridge and took out a bottle of Coke. Allie rolled his eyes. “That’s healthy,” he said.
“You sound like my mother,” I replied.
“I’ll take that as a compliment. Did you sleep all right?”
“Good enough. Once I got over the whole talking aardvark thing, I pretty much conked out.” I thought of something just then. “Did you say you went out?”
“Yes,” Allie replied. He was now stirring the omelette mix in a pan. To my surprise, I found I was getting hungry. “You hadn’t any eggs and you were low in milk. I hope you don’t mind. The receipt is on the table.”
“If I’m the only one who can hear you, how did the people at the shop know what to give you?”
Allie shook his head. “Jimbo, Jimbo, Jimbo. Ever hear of a shopping list?” He scooped out the omelette, divided it up into two plates, and handed one to me. He took his own plate and sat himself down in an armchair beside my CD and DVD shelves. He sucked his breakfast slowly, appearing to savour every morsel of egg and cheese. “I wrote out what you needed and and picked them up at the Spar.” He giggled to himself. “I caused a bit of a stir, let me tell you.”
Ballybough Community Centre
“I’d say you did. We don’t get many aardvarks in Ballybough.”
“I think it was more your Stetson.”
“You wore my Stetson?”
“Yup. Black goes well with blue.” Did I mention that Allie was blue? I am now. “How was your breakfast?”
I swallowed the last of them. “It was good,” I answered. “I have to get ready for work soon. Then I have to figure out what to do with you.”
“What’s to be done with me?” He gave me a concerned look. “I hate to say this, Jimbo, but you’re stuck with me for the time being.”
“But there has to be some kind of law that says I can’t.”
“I checked on the Internet.”
“There isn’t. Unless there’s an antiquated Domestic Aardvark Act that I’ve missed somewhere along the line, you and I are a team.”
I put down my plate. “Well if that’s the case, you better come along with me.”
“To your job?”
Allie’s front paws and snout rose in exultation. “Yippee! I have a job. What do you want me to do?”
I looked at the coffee pot which had just finished brewing. “You can start by getting me some coffee.”
Allie saluted an aardvark salute, which involved both paws and snout meeting at the centre of his forehead. “Aye, aye boss.”
I sighed — again. “No need to call me boss, Allie.”
“Okay, boss,” he grinned. “Can I wear your Stetson again?”
(C) James McShane