Penny & Alba


Well …, “Get up you two lazy

bones,” shouted Uncle Harold

from downstairs in the

McCutcheon kitchen. “Pancakes and bacon

are almost ready and there’s nothing better

than your Uncle Harold’s monogrammed

buttermilk and blueberry pancakes.”

Now a monogrammed pancake may sound

unusual to you and me but it was Uncle

Harold’s specialty. After cooking one side,

Uncle Harold made a light batter and

dribbled the girl’s initials onto the cooked side

after the pancake was flipped over. He then

flipped it back over for a short time just so the

initial was lightly browned. Uncle Harold was

always looking for unusual things to do.

Penny and Alba were sleepily waking up as the

smell of the breakfast wafted into their

bedroom on Oak Street. First Alba opened

one eye and then looked over at Penny.

Although Penny didn’t move, Alba knew she

was faking sleep because there was a

“lumberjack” (slumberjack) amount of snoring coming

from Penny’s bed and Penny, who was 10

years old, wasn’t even close to lumberjack

size. Penny may have even snored a little bit

but this wasn’t a little snoring. No, this was

much bigger snoring-sometimes even approaching this

kind of SNORRING. Wuzzykins, Alba’s ratty old

stuffed wabbit (quite unstuffed really) came flying across

the room, bouncing off Penny’s headboard, ricocheting

from the bedside table and plunking Penny on the back

of the head.

“This means war,” shouted Penny who had been

secretly plotting her own attack on her younger sister.

She jumped on the bed, placing Wuzzykins on her head

and immediately started to chant the mischievous cry of the

infamous Wuzzykins gang.

“Wuzzykins,  Hugga wump,

Smell a skunkie’s fuzzy rump

Worms and slugs slide down your head,

Fill your panties and your bed”

And with this, Penny leaped from her bed over to Alba’s

and they both started to play fight the way they always

did in the morning …

and in the afternoon …

and at nighttime.

Mr. McCutcheon would say that it looked like the two

of them were bitterest enemies but the truth is that they

were the best of friends-pretty surprising for two

sisters. But you can’t be the best detectives in all of

Centreville if you don’t work together.

Pillows went flying in all directions. Both girls were

waiting to hear their mom or dad call from downstairs

telling them to knock it off. But no one called because

Mr. and Mrs. McCutcheon and Aunt Helen had gone to

an auction and Uncle Harold had agreed to look after the

girls. Without any parental intervention, Alba told Penny

that she would knock it off and she’d put Wuzzykins on

Penny’s head and then knocked it off with a pillow.

Before you knew it, Penny would counter attack and the

girls would end up laughing and giggling in Alba’s bed.

Eventually they would get up in a somewhat more graceful

way. They knew that they shouldn’t fight but they both

knew that they were best friends so they could do lots of

things that normal people wouldn’t normally do.

“On the count of three,” Alba said “lets jump out of bed

and the first one to the kitchen is the wiener”.

Alba always said wiener instead of winner and both girls

fell down laughing each time she did. You’d think it

wouldn’t be funny after the ten gazillion millionth time

she said it but it’s surprising what can make an eight and

ten year old kid laugh.

“One, two … four” said Penny and Alba went tearing

down the hallway until she realized that Penny had

tricked her again. She slinked back into the bedroom

and got up on the bed just as Penny shouted “three,” threw

the blankets over Alba and tore out of the room. Alba

grabbed Wuzzykins and raced down the hall. They slid on

the carpet at the top of the stair, jumped on the banister

and took the upside down and backward view of the

descent from the second storey to the first storey.

Alba tied Penny as they banged open the swing door into

the kitchen and Alba shouted “Uncle … ”

“Fire! ” shouted Penny.

Now usually the girls didn’t call their Uncle, “Uncle Fire”, but

just as Penny entered the kitchen she saw that the bacon

was on fire and billowing clouds of black smoke were filling

the kitchen.

Wonder, Uncle Harold’s dog (they called him a wonder

dog because everyone wondered why Uncle Harold had

chosen him) started to bark excitedly and run around in


Uncle Harold had left the bacon on the stove and gotten

under the sink to fix a leaking pipe. And typically for Uncle

Harold, he had forgotten what he was doing and the bacon

grease had caught on fire.

Alba shouted “Fire!” again.

And Penny called 911 for the fire department.

Wonder dog called “ruff, ruff’ which I suppose is fire in

dog language and then dashed across the kitchen

running directly into Uncle Harold’s bum. Uncle Harold

yelled and jerked up only to hit his head on the kitchen

sink so hard that the pipe he was fixing sprung an even

bigger leak causing water to shoot everywhere. Uncle

Harold crawled out from under the sink and wobbily

got to his feet. He finally saw the fire and shouted

“Bacon” so loud that Wonder got excited again and

crashed into Uncle Harold’s knees causing him to do a flip

on the kitchen floor.

Penny quickly used the knowledge she had learned at

her baby sitting course and threw open the kitchen

cupboard, found the baking soda and dumped it on the

flaming pan to smother the flames. Using oven mitts,

she took the pan off the stove and carried it into the

sand box in the back yard. There she quickly doused the

smoldering pan with sand.

Uncle Harold tried to get up again but this time he hit

his head on the open kitchen cupboard and clunked it so

badly that he collapsed to the floor just as the fire trucks

were pulling into the McCutcheon driveway.

Sirens screamed and Wonder skidded across the wet

floor and crashed into Uncle Harold’s feet pushing him

across the slippery floor into a garbage can full of last

night’s left over Chinese food. Alba thought, 9.5 at the

Olympics for that one. She slid over to help Uncle Harold,

just as the fireman burst into the house with their axes,

hoses and fire extinguishers. They threw open the swinging

kitchen door and clobbered Uncle Harold once again as he

was trying to get up to see if everything was alright.

Within minutes, the smoke had cleared and the danger had

passed. Penny and Alba cleaned the kitchen floor and the

firemen helped them turn the water off.

Two hours later, when Mr. and Mrs. McCutcheon and

Aunt Helen came home from the auction, they walked

in the front door and everything was back to normal.

“Well girls, I hope you weren’t too much trouble for

your Uncle Harold” stated Mrs. McCutcheon. “We’re

lucky that we have such a responsible adult to take care

of you when we go out Saturday mornings.”

Both girls said “Yes mom, it’s a good thing he can take

care of us.”

And at that moment, all three adults spotted Uncle

Harold sitting quietly in the darkened living room. He

had a hot water bottle on his head, an ice pack on his

elbow, bandages totally covering his hands and an extra

pillow under his bottom. Wuzzykins was sitting on

Uncle Harold’s lap, trying her best to comfort him.

Mr. McCutcheon turned to the girls who were sneaking

out the back door and shouted “Penny … Alba, I think

we better have a little talk.”

Uncle Harold could only groan.