WELCOME TO ALLIE’S WORLD.
The top prize of my local pub’s lottery draw sat in my armchair, eating chocolate peanuts through its snout, and flicking through the channels of the TV with my remote. It looked very much at home.
“When’s Judge Judy on?” it wondered.
“You know who Judge Judy is?” I asked, very much amazed that it could talk.
I looked at my watch. “It’s five after midnight. It’s too late for Judge Judy.”
“It’s never too late for Judge Judy. You got any pretzels?”
“You can sit down, you know. I don’t bite.”
“I hope that’s not an insult.”
“I mean, you’re sucking up those peanuts.”
“That’s what we aardvarks do. We suck.”
“But I thought you ate ants?”
“Among other things, yes. Please, sit down. You’re making this aardvark uncomfortable.”
I sat down, not taking my eyes from this strange creature. It put down the sweets and extended its hand, paw, whatever, to me.
“My name is Alistair Reginald Boothroyd lV, but you can call me Allie.”
I shook its..whatever it was. “I’m James, but you can call me Jimbo.I didn’t know aardvarks could talk.”
“But I can hear you.”
“That’s because you’re supposed to.”
“Jimbo, come on. You arrive into work this evening to find that the top prize in your bar’s lottery draw is an aardvark. Stuff like that doesn’t happen every day.”
He was right, it didn’t. Usually the top prize was cash, but ticket sales have been down since the economy went pear-shaped. So we rang up suppliers, asking them to sponsor the draw. Only one came through for us. Hence the aardvark.
The winning numbers were 2, 3, and 5, and there were three “lucky” winners of the top prize. All of them took one look at Allie and passed, taking instead the consolation prize of five free drinks. This left me, as stand-in organiser of the draw (the boss was on holiday), stuck with an aardvark. So I put him into an empty cardboard box and brought him home with me. I considered myself fortunate that I didn’t meet anyone I knew on the way back to my apartment.
“So why is it that only I can hear you?”
“The powers that be have decreed it so.”
“I don’t know. I may have made that part up. You got anything else to eat except chocolate peanuts?”
“I have cheese.”
“I can’t suck cheese.”
I looked in my fridge and found some yogurt. “Will this do?” I asked, showing Allie the carton.
I checked. “Blackcurrant.”
“Nice. I like blackcurrant yogurt.” I gave him — it was a “he” now, seeing that we’d been introduced — the yogurt. He tore off the foil cover and sucked up the contents. The sound was like that of a vacuum cleaner, sucking up clotted cream.
“I have to go to bed soon. Are you all right down here?”
“I’m fine,” he replied. “Leave your laptop open, if you wouldn’t mind. I want to check my Facebook.”
“You have a Facebook?”
“But you’re an —
“–aardvark, I know, I know. So you keep reminding me.”
I started up the stairs to my bedroom. I was dazed.
“You got any good books?” Allie called.
I stopped and looked down. “What do you read?”
“Just Cell and Lisey’s Story.”
“No Dark Tower?”
“Man,” Allie replied. “You’ve got to read the Dark Tower series.”
I sighed. “So people keep telling me.”
Ten minutes later, when I was about ready to put his whole episode down as some sort of elaborate hoax, I could hear the sound of jewels exploding, followed by hoots of joy.
“122,500 points. Jimbo, when I’m good, I’m very, very good.”
I pulled my pillow from under my head and buried my face in it. Tomorrow, I thought. I’ll sort this out tomorrow.