“Do you reckon I might ‘ave a word wiff you, loik?” the Countess Penelope of Arcadia asked in her Dickensian street urchin voice.
You remember Penny, darlings. Foul mouthed but lovable, fashion chameleon, accidental indulger in drug-laced banana bread, tends to speak the truth about difficult things far too often, and fancies herself something of a professional neologist.
“But of course, Penny darling,” I said with what mild enthusiasm I was able to muster on a Monday most unpleasant. “How can I be of service?”
“Well, iss loik, bein’ as it’s the very last Monday of the year and everyfink, I fought per’aps we might indulge in a repast most tasty and delightful, sticky and cinnamon-loik.”
Penny referred, of course, to cinnamon buns, and not just any cinnamon buns, but cinnamon buns from my favourite bakery in the village of Westdale, which just happened to be adjacent to my favourite coffee shop, where they did indeed serve hot apple streudel — though not schnitzel with noodles, nor brown paper packages tied up with string. Still, they did have some of my favourite things, and so Penny’s request was not unlike asking a Kardashian if they’d be willing to take their clothes off for money.
Still, I had to play it cool.
“Well, I suppose it is the very last Monday of the year,” I said. “And I do have to drag my ass into work this morning, and all that sugar and caffeine would certainly assist in that.”
“And I ‘ave it on good authority that ‘is royal ‘ighness, the Duke Spenser of Wellington, is partial to ‘ot apple streudel,” Penny urged. “And something bold and dark roasted to drink.”
I began to sense a change in the tone of this conversation, and a realization dawned on me. Maybe it was Penny’s devilish grin, maybe it was the fact that Spenser was still in bed, or perhaps it was that I suddenly noticed that while I was dressed and at least mostly presentable, Penny was still wearing the cozy pyjamas I’d gotten her for Christmas. I looked at the clock, and was struck by the revelation that I was not being invited to have coffee, but rather, being given a royal decree by the Countess (and it would seem that the Duke may have had a hand in it as well).
“So,” I said, “that’s how it’s going to be, huh?”
Penny looked at me with feigned innocence, and laid on the urchin even heavier.
“Beggin’ your pardon, mum, but, loik, I’m just a poor starvin’ wretch, I am, and nuffink would make me ‘appier than a bit o’ sweet pastry, loik. After all — iss Christmas, mum,”
“No, it’s not,” I countered weakly, and then grumbled. “You suck. The both of you. Having the whole week off while I have to work…”
I kept grumbling under my breath, but it trailed off into nothingness.
“I’ll get your cinnamon buns,” I said. “God forbid you actually have to get dressed today.”
“And a cuppa joe, mum!” the Countess added. “Loik, cheerio and such, ennit.”
“With extra spit in it, coming right up!” I replied, and Penny grinned back at me.
“I know where you sleep, Helena,” she said, dropping the urchin. “Don’t fuck with my coffee.”
“Sigh,” I sighed, sighing most sighetically. “I hate Mondays.”
“Yes,” Penny agreed. “But just think – it’s the last Monday of the year!”
I shrugged. “That’s the thing about Mondays, though. Next year, I hear they’re making a whole new batch of them.”
Penny nodded. “You know what I hear they’re making a whole new batch of?”
“Cinnamon buns,” Penny grinned. “I’d hurry if I were you. You don’t want to be late for work, and you’ve still got to come back here first and drop off cinnamon buns and coffee for Spenser and I. Go on now.”
“I hate you,” I said with a scowl.
“No you don’t,” Penny said, grinning an impossibly charming smile. “You adore me.”
“I do,” I said, shaking my head and grabbing my coat. “God help me, I really do.”