Little Orphan Annie thought everything was going to be fine once she ended up in Daddy Warbuck’s mansion. What she didn’t know was that Daddy Warbucks often had a whim where he devoted all of his attention to a new project only to quickly lose interest shortly thereafter. His plan to adopt an orphan was purely for publicity and to focus attention away from his shady financial dealings and his close relationship with the president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When Annie first learned that she was to move in with the millionaire and live in his house staffed with butlers, cooks, maids and his lovely personal secretary, Miss Grace Farrell, she thought her troubles were over. They were just beginning.
Oh sure, the first few weeks were a dream. She has tennis lessons with Don Budge and an indoor swimming pool. Her dog Sandy was fed roast beef and the two of them slept in a feather bed with velvet pillows. Daddy Warbucks would shower her with gifts and the two of them would dance and laugh but after about four months, the attention started to wane. The staff that at first seemed so excited to meet Annie soon grew tired of her incessant cheerfulness and began to resent all the extra work that came with having a child and a dog added to the household. Of course Mr. Warbucks didn’t increase their salary even though the workload had certainly increased. At the beginning, the cook, Mrs. Pugh, made Annie’s favorite things for dinner but when she noticed that her boss didn’t seem to care what Annie ate anymore, Annie’s meals turned into sandwiches and leftovers. Drake the butler no longer delivered her food to her room and instead Annie had to eat in the kitchen if she could persuade someone to open a can of soup for her. Even Miss Farrell’s attention faded. She hated kids even more than Miss Hannigan did and the only reason she was ever nice to Annie was because she was in love with Mr. Warbucks and she wanted to please him. Once Miss Farrell discovered that he was banging one of the maids, Cecil, who picked out all of Annie’s clothes, she let her hatred for Annie shine through. Many times, Miss Farrell would stick Annie with a safety pin making her cry out in pain and disturb Mr. Warbucks when he tried to read the paper.
One year after Annie had arrived at the mansion, Mr. Warbucks needed some new good press so he went back to the orphanage and picked out a new orphan. This time he picked out that little cry baby bitch, Molly. Of course it made all the papers and people suddenly forgot what a dirty millionaire businessman Mr. Warbucks was and all they saw was a wonderful man who loved orphans. “What a crock of shit,” said Annie as she sat in the corner and watched the staff give Molly the same old song and dance she had gotten only twelve months before. It was then that Annie decided to run away.
But where could she go? She couldn’t go back to the orphanage. She hated that place and she couldn’t face the idea of sleeping in her old bed that had more bed bugs than bed springs. The orphanage was run now by Lily St. Regis who had copped a plea deal and sent Miss Hannigan and Rooster to prison. Annie could never forgive Lily for pretending to be her real mother and knew if she ever saw her again, she would cut that bitch’s face. Annie heard on the street that her old nemesis, Pepper, had started a tent city under a bridge on the Lower East Side. She took Sandy and headed downtown to face Pepper and ask her is she could stay with her until she got her feet on the ground. Of course Pepper was happy to see that Annie had come crawling back. “I knew you’d never make it any place other than the street, “Pepper said. “You’re trash. Always have been and always will be.” Annie held back the tears, but inside she knew Pepper was right. Her parents were dead and gone and she was foolish to have ever thought they were coming back for her and even more foolish to think they collected things like ashtrays and art. The only thing Annie’s parents collected was dust as they lay rotting in Potter’s Field.
“Please, Pepper. I’m sorry I was so mean to you. Can I just stay here for a few weeks until I find a job? Bet your bottom dollar you won’t even know I’m here, I promise,” begged Annie.
Pepper crossed her arms and smiled. She had Annie right where she wanted her. “Yeah, you can stay here, but if you aren’t bringing money into Peppertown within one week, your ass is outta here. And once you do get a job, I get 50% of whatever you make.” She reached out to shake Annie’s hand and as soon as Annie lifted her hand to return the shake, Pepper pulled away from her. “Dumb ugly ginger bitch. Go sleep on that pile of newspapers and shut the hell up. And if that stupid mutt of yours makes one sound, I swear to God I will skin it and make a coat out of him.”
Annie sat on the newspapers and wiped the tears from her eyes. “The sun’ll come out tomorrow,” she said to Sandy. “I just know it.”
The next day Annie hit the pavement looking for a job. She was only 13 years old, but she had developed early and could easily pass for a 16 year old. She saw a restaurant called Bottom Dollar Diner and went inside. The special of the day was sunny side up eggs and hash. It seemed like the perfect place to work. “I’m looking for a job,” said Annie to the fat balding man with the greasy face who was sitting at the cash register and reading a newspaper that had a picture of Molly and Daddy Warbucks on the front page.
“Ain’t got no jobs,” answered the cashier/owner without even looking up.
“But I can clean anything you need. I can cook or wash dishes or bus tables. And I can sing songs too! Listen: the sun’ll come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that-“
“We don’t need no singers here or any dishwashers either. Go away.”
“But I’ll do anything,” Annie pleaded. “Anything at all!”
“Anything?” The man looked up from the newspaper revealing crooked yellow teeth and a cold sore. “Whatdaya mean, ‘anything’?” He put down the newspaper and walked towards Annie.
“Anything at all, mister! Smile darn ya smile! Anything at all!”
The man led Annie to his office where he told her he would find a job for her to do. Ten minutes later, Annie was the new waitress and the man was buckling his pants and smoking a cigarette. It wasn’t the ideal way to get a job, but Annie was proud that she had found a way to earn her keep at Peppertown. Her knees were dirty and her jaw was sore, but she had a job!
She stayed at Peppertown for two months and eventua
lly was able to afford her own room in a boarding house. By the time she was 17 years old, she practically ran the Bottom Dollar Diner. She dreamed of the day that Fat Sam, the owner, would sell her the restaurant and move away. She had faith that sooner or later it would happen and she saved every penny she earned so that when the time came, she would be ready. In the meantime, she waited tables seven days a week. One time she saw Molly on the sidewalk outside the restaurant selling apples. “It’s a hard knock life, Molly,” she thought. She went outside and bought three apples from the little street urchin. Molly didn’t recognize her which was fine with Annie. She took the apples inside and began to make them into a pie that would be the special the next day. “The sun’ll come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun,” she sang softly as she peeled the apples.
“Arf,” said Sandy.
“Good boy, Sandy, that’s a good boy!” said Annie. She petted her loyal companion on the head. “Some day, we’ll own the Bottom Dollar Diner and you and I will live happily ever after, I just know it. The sun will come out tomorrow, I just know it!”