"Henry open your mouth wider, and let your tongue out just a little more."
"How's that, Doc? "Henry garbled, as it wasn't easy to speak with his tongue hanging out.
"Oooh, that's quite a tongue you have there. Most of my other patient's tongues aren't quite so long and thin. I say most, because there's always Mrs. Cohen, but never mind..."
"So, um what's up, Doc?"
"I'm sorry, Henry I'm afraid you have strep throat. You'll have to remain in bed for a few days, and I'll write you a prescription for some antibiotics."
"A few days? Are you kidding me? What about work?"
"The dishes will have to wait. Please, Henry, don't give me a headache. I've got thirty patients back there, and my wife has been pestering me all week to paint the kitchen."
"At least you have a wife."
"Henry, go home. "
Simpson entered the kitchen in the mid-afternoon with a frown on his face longer than the frown he usually wore. "Can I have I have everyone's attention? Yes, you too, Sincere." At that moment Andre happened to be putting the finishing touches on a chocolate mousse. And Shakespeare was in the back of the kitchen frosting a batch of red velvet cupcakes with vanilla swirls. When he heard Simpson bellow he wiped the frosting off his nose and swaggered towards the stove."Hmm and where is Diego?" Simpson snapped.
"Eggs..." Shakespeare chortled.
"Eggs? Can we complete that thought?"
"Ah Mr. Simpson I needed more eggs for the mousse," Andre sighed waving his spoon in the air.
"But it looks like it's finished."
"Yes, I found some more under the counter after she left."
"Under the counter? Anyway, I'm afraid Henry isn't feeling well. He has strep throat. He'll need a few days of bed rest. So one of you will have to tend to the dishes in addition to your regular," he cleared his throat, "duties."
"Gee, I wonder who one of you is," Shakespeare winced as he held his nose.
"Now Shakespeare, you know Andre has to prepare the meals and Diego..."
"What does she do around here, anyway?"
"I'm not exactly certain," Simpson sighed. "Please, Shakespeare just do the dishes..."
"Yes, please, Shakespeare stop thinking of yourself. Henry is sick, why aren't we thinking of poor Henry! Like William Gladstone said, "Selfishness ..."
"Aw knock it off already Pagliacci!" Shakespeare said while he scooted behind Simpson.
"I'll have you know Pagliacci is a great opera. Why are you saying I'm a Clown?
I am not a clown!
You can write that down! "
Suddenly, to the room's surprise, Sincere began to speak. She pointed her hands in the air, "I love Henry so. He's such a good boy. I hope he's okay. Can I bring Henry a worm?" Her eyes were wide and blue, causing her grey hair to become more apparent.
"Um, that's very considerate of you, Sincere, but perhaps some other time." Simpson said rolling his eyes. "Okay, so if this is all settled I'll get back to my office and you people can get back to work. Someone please tell Diego when she returns about Henry, thank you," Simpson said before he turned around and marched toward the door.
"Okay, give me a dish," Shakespeare sighed.
"Aw that's very nice of you! See Shakespeare you're doing a good thing."
"Oh be quiet, Mother Teresa."
In the evening Andre walked into Henry's room. "Oh, poor Henry, look, I made you some chicken soup!
Henry tried to feign a smile as Andre drew closer. "Thank you, Andre that's awful sweet of you," Henry said while he pulled his pillows up against the headboard. Then he held out his hands for the soup.
"It's nothing, Henry. I couldn't find a chicken, so I sent Shakespeare out. You know him; he gave me an argument first. He called me Mussolini!"Andre laughed.
"Oh you know he loves you, so where was Diego -- why didn't you send her?"
"I sent her out already for the eggs. I was making a chocolate mousse and I ran out of eggs. Imagine! A chef like me running out of eggs! I have to do everything myself. I don't even have eggs in the kitchen. Eggs! How can a kitchen not have eggs! When I studied at Le Cordon Bleu we always had eggs. It would be crime if we ran out of eggs! You know what Maximillien Francois Robespierre said: 'Omelettes are not made without breaking eggs.' Can you imagine? I couldn't even make an omelette! Oh look at me, carrying on when you're sick. Shakespeare is right. I am a clown!"
"Well now that you mention it," Henry sighed, "I'm sorry, Andre, my strep throat is the least of it. My problems run far beyond the illusory physical canopy we all occupy. I am hopelessly in love with someone very close to us." Henry said with a tear in his eye.
"Henry, is that your secret? Love is a beautiful thing. Love is nothing to be ashamed of. Tell me who is your heart's desire?"
Andre started laughing uncontrollably, "No really, Henry, who?"
"Like I said, Diego."
"Henry, are you sure it isn't your strep throat?"
"No it's amour, Andre."
"Ah amour, "Andre sighed dreamily, "I'm so sorry, Henry. Look at me laughing at you right after I told you not to be ashamed! But what is it about Diego? She's always somewhere else."
"That's what I love about her. She appears to be lost in space but at the same time she's intently aware of everything. I find her illusion so attractive. And she always cuts right to the heart of any matter like a knife. I love how she looks off into the distance like she's in a painting. Diego is art. "
"I see," Andre said as a puzzled look flashed across his eyes. "Then you must tell her, Henry!"
"Yes you can, Henry, you must, if you don't you will never know if she returns your love.You'll spend your days pining away. This is not good, Henry! You must embrace love. Not hide from it!" Andre was so excited by his words he dropped his spoon.
Henry stared at Andre quizzically and placed his soup on the night table. He felt a sense of relief warm him because he finally told someone about his love for Diego, but how could he tell her? Which words would he chose? "By the way, where is Diego?"
"Well she hadn't returned yet, when we closed the kitchen. Perhaps she went to get her hair done, or to movie! You know Diego. I'm sure she'll be marching around the kitchen like a little solider in the morning!"
"I love how she marches," Henry sighed.
The kitchen was quiet the following morning when Shakespeare entered. Water was slowly dripping from the faucets. Most of the lights were off, giving the room a haunting luminance, as what little light remained gave the copper pipes that ran behind the stove and the faucets on the sinks a candle lit glow. When Shakespeare placed his hand in the sink he could feel the new pile of dishes and he grimaced.
"Shakespeare!" Andre shouted as strolled into the kitchen, "All the lights are off!"
"And how am I supposed know that, Anne Sullivan."
"Oh no! I am so sorry, Shakespeare! My mind is elsewhere, I'm thinking of Henry and his passion."
"Maybe I shouldn't say anything, but I have to tell someone! Promise me, Shakespeare you won't tell a soul."
"All right, I promise."
"Henry's heart burns with passion for someone very close to us. He's afraid to reveal his love. He sits and he pines away like a lost soul. It is tragic." Andre bowed his head down as he grabbed a roll.
"Someone close to us? Who? It's not me, is it?"
"No, silly it's... please promise you won't laugh, Shakespeare."
"All right, already, who is it?
Shakespeare toppled over and fell on the floor laughing hysterically.
"Shakespeare you promised!'Andre knelt down on the floor and looked at Shakespeare scornfully.
"I'm sorry it's just... Diego?"
"I know, but this is how love is, Shakespeare. Like they say love is blind!"
"Has anyone one seen Diego yet?" Andre and Shakespeare quickly turned in surprise when they heard Simpson's voice.
"I didn't even see you come in, Simpson," Andre said while he stood from the floor. He reached down again to pick his fallen cap up and the half eaten roll.
"Obviously, now where is Diego? She didn't return to her room last night."
"The plot thickens..."
"Shakespeare, this is not game or a play. Diego hasn't been seen since Andre sent her out for eggs yesterday."
"Oh my God. It is my fault! This is terrible, and now with Henry..."
They felt the kitchen rumble and saw the pots on the walls began to shake. The freezer door flew open and packages of meat fell across the floor. The lights began to flicker. They all jumped. A large tentacle darted in and out under the kitchen door. Simpson turned pale and clenched his hands and cried, "Clarissa!"
"Clarissa?" Shakespeare snapped as he held on to Andre's leg.
"Henry's mother, "Simpson hushed, covering his mouth with his hands.
"Oh my God, It is She! Oh Madame, what an honor it is to have you visit our humble kitchen. I'm Andre. I prepare the meals..." Suddenly Andre heard a high piercing voice in his brain. Shakespeare and Simpson heard it too.
"Where is Henry? I can tell he's not feeling well, a mother always knows." Simpson answered quickly "Clarissa, he's in his room with a case of strep throat. He'll be fine in a day or so. I didn't want to upset you, I'm sorry."
"Hrmph" she buzzed, and then her tentacle retreated and the pots on the walls resumed shaking as She returned to her loft. A dish rolled off the counter and cracked across the floor.
"Not exactly liberal with the words is she, Simpson?" Shakespeare grinned and swaggered towards the door almost tripping over a pot that fell from the wall.
"No, Clarissa's a woman of few words. She's never done this before. Never, I'm stunned. Forgive my unusual display of humanity, but she must love Henry very much."
"Of course she does! A mother is a mother no matter how powerful! And you know there is something to be said for brevity. Like the other Shakespeare wrote: 'therefore since brevity is the soul of...'"
"Oh shut up!" Shakespeare and Simpson cried in unison.
"Oh, Henry!" Andre sing -sung as he entered Henry's room."You'll never guess who came to visit the kitchen today! Never never never!"
Henry wearily looked up from his bed, his wing stretched limply over the sheets."Let me see... was it my mother?"
"Oh no! I'll bet that scoundrel Shakespeare told you!" Andre cried, waving his hands in the air.
"Nah, let's just say a son always knows."
"Is it some kind of bug thing? But Henry it means she loves you. She loves you very much!"
"That's not the kind of love I yearn for I yearn for..." Henry's wing began to flutter.
"Oh my word, oh no! Oh Santa Lucia! We were so surprised by your mother's visit we forgot about Diego! Oh this is terrible, just terrible!" Andre moved to the edge of the bed and got on his knees.
"What's so terrible?"
"She didn't come home last night. We don't know where she is! Oh this is a tragedy beyond compare! This is not like her at all. What are you doing?"
"What do you think I'm doing? I'm going to find her! I have to find her. How could all of you forget my love Diego!" Henry shouted halfway out of the bed. He stared at the picture of Diego he had on his wall.
"We are pigs! We are animals we don't deserve to live. Oh Henry, I can't tell you how awful I feel. I feel like I can't even sing. That's how bad I feel about what we've done. Henry, listen to me, I have to cleanse my soul..."
"You'll have to cleanse it later. We have to find Diego!" Henry ran to the closet and grabbed his coat.
"But you're sick, Henry. You can't go out like this. What if something happens to you too? Oh my lord. This day is too much for me. I can't even think about it!"
"Are you coming with me, or not?"
Her head felt like lead when she awakened on the hay that spread across the floor of the loft. She scratched her leg and saw the immense tentacle holding it down. She looked up and watched the black eyes darting back and forth like sharp knives scraping and then the voice entered her brain.
"You'll stay away from my son, do you hear me? You whore."
"Sure, do you have a cigarette? ..."
The Piker Press moderates all comments.
Click here for the commenting policy.