Kansas City, MO 1937

Miss Edith approves of the new toy.

It is called a vacuuuuuuum cleaner. Its proper name is "Hoover Model 700". I know this because its name is right on the side. It has a long hose like an elephant's nose. And a bag on the side. It also has a head that sucks up things.

Miss Edith likes the vacuuuuuuuuuuuuuum cleaner because it cleans.

Miss Edith is very clean.

So is Drusilla.

Even when we have rat all over our face.

Drusilla found the vacuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum cleaner in the closet of the nice house our Spike stole for us after gobbling up the old woman who lived inside.

It was hiding.

It was shy.

Drusilla plugged the vacuuuuuuuuuuuum cleaner into the wall and then it wasn't shy.

It was loud.

It snorted.

It sucked.

It sucked a lot.

It sucked up a whole ball of string, twiddlediddle shloop!

It sucked up some pennies, rattarattarattarattaratta!

It sucked up some marbles, bang bang!

It sucked up a throw rug and choked, grrr grrr raaaaaaak!

The noise woke our Spike up and he said, "Bloody hell, Dru, a bloke's tryin' t' sleep here. Play with that soddn' thing some other time!"

He pulled the plug on the vacuuuuuuuum cleaner.

Then our mean Spike threw our new friend into the closet and locked the door like he does his Dru when she's being really, really naughty.

We pouted, "You never let your pretty ebon darling do anything!"

"Not when it's bedtime, plum. Now, get back into bed like a good girl. You can play with your new pal after sundown."

I lay beside my dark star. My dark star is a deep sleeper. My dark star doesn't need to breathe but my Spike still makes noises with his nose like the vacuuuuuuuuuuum cleaner did when it sucked up ten pennies.

I don't like my dark star's nose noises. They keep me awake.

I miss my new toy, my new best friend, the vacuuuuuuuuum cleaner.

So does Miss Edith.

I put a spider in my Spike's mouth to make the nose noises stop.

My dark star sat up with a yell, spitting.

His Drusilla looked innocent. So did Miss Edith.

"Bloody hell!" he said along with many other dirty words that Drusilla is too much a lady to repeat, "Did you do that, pet?"

"No." we said looking like a lemon cream pie all innocent and fluffy, "But we watched it come off of the dirty ceiling, creepy creepy creepy creepy gulp!"

Miss Edith agreed.

"This place is not clean." I said sweetly. "It needs cleaning. It needs cleaning with the vacuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum cleaner, slurp whoosh!"

My dark star gave me a look. I smiled at him with my prettiest smile. Miss Edith smiled at him with her prettiest smile. She does that all the time: smile. This is because her mouth is made of china and can't move. He gave me another look, pulled on his trousers and said, "All right ducks, but if I ever catch you doing such a thing, I'll beat you all black and purpley with my suspenders."

"Really?" I can't wait to find another big brown hairy spider!

I didn't have long to wait.

A really big brown hairy spider ran across the wall, "Bloody hell, but the filthy old hag what we stole this house from wasn't very house proud!" My boy picked up his shoe and smacked the eightlegged creepitycrawly hard.

He made a dent in the nice pink wall.

The creepycrawly eightlegged beastie scuttled off limping. My dark star said some more bad words and chased it, swatswatswatswat - splatttt!

Then we saw another.

And another.

And another.

"Bollocks! The soddin' things are all over th' place. We can't stay here!" he jumped up and smacked another one on the ceiling. Plaster fell down on the rug. "But it's high noon and no shade anywhere. I don't fancy spending the rest of the day wi' these things crawlin' all over us."

I picked one out of my hair and ate it, "Pet, don't do that, it's disgustin'!"

"Spiders are nice. They taste of strawberries."

My Spike gagged. It's hard to make my Spike gag, but eating spiders in front of my Spike will make him gag. And they do so taste of strawberries, don't they Miss Edith?

"We can suck up all the spiders, whoosh! with the vacuuuuuuuuuuuuum cleaner!"

My dark star stopped smooshing spiders with his shoe, "Now there's an idea."

So my dark star let the vacuuuuuuuuuum cleaner out of the closet and said, "Here, pet, have yourself some fun."

I chased spiders everywhere. I chased them up the hall. I chased them down the hall and up the stairs. I chased spiders across the parlour and all over the ceiling.

Then my dark star took the vacuuuuuuuuuuuuuum cleaner away from me, "You're havin' too much fun, ducks, let me have a go at it!"

He chased spiders up the wall. He chased spiders underneath the bed. He chased spiders in the pantry. He chased spiders in the parlor. He even sucked up a mouse. The old lady that we took this house from was a very, very naughty housekeeper. She let the spiders and the mice and us take over her wee little house and make it dirty! She even ignored my new friend, the vacuuuuuuuuuuum cleaner. He could have saved her from all those delicious spiders, right Miss Edith? But she couldn't have saved her house from me and my dark star. Right Miss Edith?

We ran out of spiders.

I wanted to open the bag and eat them all for tea right there.

My Spike wouldn't let me.

He said, "No pet, I told you that's disgustin'. I won't kiss a dark poppy what's got all them legs stickin' to her pretty fangs."

I could hear all those delicious spiders scuttling around in the bag. My tummy growled.

"Can't your Drusilla have just one?"

"No!"

I could still hear them going all tickity-tickity scuffly scuffly in the bag; sweet strawberries and oh so very many!

"Pretty please, just one little spider? It would be like a walk in the park with balloons and a pony ride?"

"No Dru, it's disgustin'. I won't have it!" Our Spike started getting mad. His Drusilla doesn't care; she wants strawberries!

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." His Drusilla said, "But I want them!" Right Miss Edith? All nice and crunchy, sweet and sticky, with legs all over still wiggly tickling my throat as they go down?

"No, no, a thousand times no! But we can't have the bloody things 'round. Can't throw the vac out the window, might attract these yokel's attention. We don't need that right now, ducks, not after you attacked that policeman last night right in front of everyone at the movie palace on Country Club Plaza and set fire to his car."

"He was being mean. He wouldn't let me play with that nice little boy and his sister."

"Nasty things, all creepy crawly... might get out and swarm all over the place... don't fancy swallowing another one. Right pet?" Our Spike said as he went into the kitchen with my friend the vacuuuuuuuuuuum cleaner, "Here's a thing," He opened the oven and pinched out the little blue flame in the back. I could smell lovely, lovely gas - gas makes my head go alllllllll lovely and light so I breathed deep, "I'll suck up a bit of gas and kill 'em and we'll go back to bed. No more spiders, right pet?"

So my Spike turned on my best friend and whooooooosh, started sucking up the lovely, lovely gas that makes Dru's head all nice and woozy.

The spiders stopped dancing, poor spiders!

Dead spiders don't taste very nice, not like the live ones, all sweet and crunchy. Dead spiders are stale.

I started to cry because I wanted to have nice crunchy spiders for my tea.

So did Miss Edith.

"Ahhhh, pet, I'm sorry." My Spike turned off the mean old stove and the vacuuuuuuuum cleaner and gave his Drusilla a kiss, "This place is filthy. I'll steal you a nicer one tomorrow in a better neighborhood."

Then he locked the vacuuuuuum cleaner and my dead tea back away in the closet, "C'mon pet, let's try to get some sleep. We have a lot of nastiness to do tonight."

I was sad, so we played sweaty games to cheer me up.

After that my Spike lay there smoking a cigar.

The cigar is nasty.

I don't like the cigar.

Miss Edith doesn't like the cigar, nasty thing, big smelly dirty dog's business, stinking up the place! Making the house smell bad!

Sometimes I think our Spike loves the cigar more than he loves his Dru because he won't throw it away when his Dru asks him to.

He says, "What? Throw my stogie away? Bloody hell, pet, this beauty's a five-dollar cigar that I nicked from the mayor of New York himself. I'm going to smoke it until there's nothing left but ashes!"

Soon my Spike fell asleep with his best friend in his mouth all smelly smoky spilling itchy ashes on the bed.

So I got up and freed my best friend, the vacuuuuuuuuum cleaner.

I plugged in my best friend the vacuuuuuuuum cleaner.

I tiptoed very quietly to our bed.

I turned on my best friend the vacuuuuuuuum cleaner.

I sucked up my Spike's best friend the cigar.

Shloop!

"Bloody Hell!"

Then my best friend the vacuuuuuuuum cleaner got mad. I don't know why. Maybe it was all the dead spiders in his tummy? Maybe the cigar didn't agree with my best friend the vacuuuuuuuum cleaner's delicate digestion?

My best friend the vacuuuuuuuum cleaner got so mad he exploded - whoomp! All blue-flame bright white light broken windows mad!

We spent the rest of the day hiding in the storm cellar behind the house while the nice firemen put out the fire.

My Spike was very cross with me. He beat me with a broken shovel he found in the cellar and called me ugly names.

I don't know why.

His nose and eyebrows will grow back.

They did the last time after I tried to trim his mustache with hedge clippers.

Mean old Spike!