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July 15, 2024

Dinner with Henry 5: The Betrayal

By Bruce Memblatt

Andre was standing by the stove. "Oh, today is the day we have the painter coming. I should put up some coffee. And maybe I'll make some sweet rolls too. Sweet rolls are so sweet! Oh, Andre you're so funny! That's me, funny Andre, the clown of the kitchen! I like coming to the kitchen early when no one is here so I can sing!

Oh I am the king of the kitchen. The King! The King! The King!

"Yeah whatever you say, Elvis."

"Oh, you are here, I'm so happy to see you, Shakespeare."

"Funny you don't sound happy." Shakespeare said as he started to walk to the counter in the back of the kitchen.

"What do you mean? Can't you hear me singing?" Andre said, holding his spoon up high.

"Yeah me and every dog in the neighborhood," Shakespeare snickered, as he took a box of sugar out of the cabinet above the counter.

"So today we have the painter coming. I like to paint, but not walls, Shakespeare! I like to paint pictures like Michael Angelo! Oh you should see me with my brush!"

"I guess you can do less harm with a brush than you can with a spoon." Shakespeare giggled.

"Now listen, Shakespeare. I wonder what the painter will be like? I hope he is not too bossy and full of himself. And I hope we don't have to move stuff all over the place. I don't like it when stuff is all over the place. I like everything to be where it belongs. So I can find it. I like being able to find things. And to tell you the truth, Shakespeare I really don't like the smell of paint."

"But you do like the smell of burning sweet rolls?"

"Oh nooooooooooo the sweet rolls!" Andre said as he pulled the blackened rolls out of the oven and blew the smoke away." This is unbelievable! I never burn anything. Imagine a chef like me burning sweet rolls! Oh now the sweet rolls aren't so sweet, they are bitter rolls! How could this happen? And now I have no rolls for the painter! Oh this isn't my day, Shakespeare! I'll have ..."

"Are you done yet?"

"No but my rolls are, the poor rolls. Oh, it is all your fault, Shakespeare. You and your funny mouth. You think you are funny? You're not so funny Shakespeare. This must be a sign like an omen. I just know something terrible and tragic is going to happen next." Andre threw the rolls in the garbage along with a spoon, a fork and Diego's missing watch.

"Um, did you ever consider pantomime?" Shakespeare said as he walked towards the stove when he heard Simpson and a stranger enter.

"Good morning, people. Could I have your attention? Everyone, this is the painter. His name is Felix." Felix was a rotund man with red hair. He wore white overalls and a cap, and he looked like a cross between Jackie Mason and Elmer Fudd. When Andre turned around and saw Felix he fainted and fell to the floor near the stove. Simpson and Felix gasped and they scrambled over to Andre. Immediately, Felix knelt down and began to slap Andre on the face crying "Hey, Chubblechunks wake up."

That's when Simpson said, "It appears you know our chef Andre, Felix?"

"You bet your ass! We guys go back years!" Felix said.

"I see you took the same elocution classes, too." Shakespeare cracked, holding Andre's head.

"Ella who? I don't know no girl named Ella." Felix said indignantly as Andre began to come around. Then he said, "What gives, Andre?"

At that moment Andre was whispering in Shakespeare's ear "just go along with me please, Shakespeare."

Suddenly Simpson who was standing above Andre cleared his throat and said, "Are you all right, Andre?"

Andre said "Yes I suppose I am fine," as he started to stand.

"Well if you're sure, Andre "

"I'm sorry Simpson. It is all my fault! First I bun the sweet rolls. I never burn anything. And then I faint like a little flower on the floor. Oh I am so embarrassed! I am a disgrace! A disgrace! Oh, woe is me. Woe is me."

"Woe is who? Are you okay, Andre?" Felix said, looking at Andre like he was from outer space.

"I am fine, Felix it is so good to see you," Andre said with a half- smile, "Oh Mr. Simpson can I please talk to Shakespeare for a moment in private. It will just be a minute; we'll be right back. I promise. Oh pleeeeease."

"Talk to whoever you like, Andre," Simpson said rolling his eyes and then he pointed to Felix and said "You can start anytime." He cleared his throat again and he began to walk out of the kitchen with a confused look on his face, but before he reached the door he scratched his head and said, "Where are Henry and Diego?" But no one responded so he scratched his head again and closed the door.

Shakespeare and Andre were huddled in the back of the kitchen whispering loudly.

"Chubblechunks?" Shakespeare giggled.

"Shakespeare, please listen to me I will explain everything later."

"Sure the blind guy is always the last to know."

"I am sorry, Shakespeare. It is all my fault. I should have said something. Now my past has come back to haunt me just like Susan Hayward in "I Want to Live!" Oh bitter fate has found me, like Walter Scott wrote 'Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.'"

"Who is this guy Felix?"

"Just someone I know from before, Shakespeare."

Then Felix called to Andre as he threw a drop cloth near the freezer, "Hey Andre, you remember when we used to go bowling?"

"Ah yes." Andre sighed.


"Shakespeare, we better get back up there before Simpson gets ..."

"You are not my boss, Henry!" Diego yelled as she and Henry entered the kitchen.

"I didn't say I was your boss, Diego. You know I am getting tired of your accusations." Henry yelled back at Diego.

"My accusations? Henry where is the ..."

"Why are you always looking for something, Diego?"

"I guess because there is no man around here who can satisfy me," Diego cried looking at the door.

Shakespeare and Andre were still huddled in the back of the kitchen but their mouths were hanging wide open. Then Sincere dropped her can of worms and she said "Why is she yelling at poor Henry?" But no one seemed to hear her.

"I guess my mother was right!" Henry shouted.

As Diego was about to respond Andre and Shakespeare ran up to the front of the kitchen "Please, please, what is going on Diego, Henry? Why are you fighting? Oh my! This is just too much! First the sweet rolls and then Felix, and now there is a fight breaking out in the middle of the kitchen! Oh, I don't like fighting."

Felix, hearing all the commotion was unable to concentrate on painting the kitchen, so he walked over to Andre, nudged him and said. "Who is she? She is a pistol"

"Oh that is our Diego. She's usually softer." Andre said.

"Diego?" What a name. Hey, Andre, could you introduce me to her?"

"Oh, I'm so sorry, I'm in such a state today. Diego this is Felix. Felix, this is Diego and this is Henry."

Henry looked at Felix and grumbled out a small half-hearted "Hello," while Diego gazed at Felix longingly. "I am enchanted, what do you do?"

"He's a painter, Diego. He's painting the kitchen today. Look, he has a brush and a drop cloth," Andre shrugged.

Diego, still looking at the painter, said "I find paining fascinating. Could you paint me?"

Then Felix laughed, "Oh, I don't paint pictures, or nothing like that. I paint walls."

Diego continued to stare at Felix and she breathed, "Oh, I love walls."

"Yep, walls are really something," Shakespeare needled.

"I think I'm going to be sick," Henry said and started to walk towards the back of the kitchen. As he was leaving Diego yelled, "That's right, walk away, Henry!" Seeing Henry leaving the general vicinity Andre and Shakespeare scurried in his direction.

"Henry! Henry! What is going on here today? Has everyone lost their minds? I thought you loved Diego! Last night you were so heartbroken. What happened? It's like you're a different Henry. It's like you're not even Henry. Who are you?" Andre said waving his hands in every possible direction, almost knocking over a plate on the counter next to the sink, before his hands combined into a point.

"That was yesterday, Andre. It seems I was mistaken about my love for Diego."

"Oh no, Henry love doesn't lie; you must give it time, Henry."

"Love means never having to say you're sorry." Shakespeare giggled and then he pinched Andre.

In the meanwhile Diego and Felix were continuing their mutual enchantment in the front of the kitchen.

"I love blue. Do you like blue?" Diego said wistfully while still gazing at Felix.

"Blue is my favorite color. Your eyes are blue."

"I wish the walls were blue." Diego said, pointing to the floor.

"Your wish is my command," Felix said with a dopey grin on his face. Without hesitation he walked over to the side of the kitchen where he left his paint cans sitting. He switched paint cans and began painting the wall near the stove blue.

Then instantly, as if she had just fallen into a bed of poppies, Diego meandered over to Felix and watched him paint. "Oh, your arm is so artistic ..." She cooed.

Henry, becoming increasingly distressed by Diego's cooing zipped over to Diego leaving Andre and Shakespeare's huddle.

"Diego," Henry whispered, "I think they're buying it. They all think we can't stand each other."

"Do you like blue? Felix is painting the walls blue."

"Diego, what is going on between you and this Felix character?"

"Nothing, Henry. I'm just thinking about walls."

"Well don't forget we have to keep this up a little while longer, okay?"

"Up where?" Diego said as Henry scooted back to Andre and Shakespeare.

"Henry what is going on?" Shakespeare said, pointing his hands in the air.

"Nothing I was just trying to find out why Felix was painting the wall blue." "Oh I love blue. Did Simpson say we could have blue? Blue would be so soothing while I am cooking!"

"I think Simpson said kitchen white. I'll bet this is Diego's doing." Shakespeare said.

"Never mind the color of the walls," Henry said as his nose scrunched up. "Who is the guy Felix, Andre?"

"He's a painter. Remember we're having the kitchen painted today! "

"I think he knows that, Andre," Shakespeare sighed.

"I'm so sorry, of course Henry knows that, where is my mind today? But what about you and Diego, Henry? Give love a chance, Henry. Trust me, Henry. Trust love!"

"Love is an illusion, but where do you know Felix from?"

"Oh my shame comes back to haunt me. I will explain the whole thing to you and Shakespeare later." Andre said, holding his head down.

Suddenly Diego started screaming at Henry because she remembered he said they had to continue their ruse.

"You know, Henry. I think you are stupid!"

A curious look came over Henry's face like he just found a hair in his bagel and he then he remembered that he'd just told Diego they had to continue their ruse. So he walked over to Diego shouting, "You know something? You are heartless."

Then Diego yelled back, "Heartless? Look who is talking!"

At that moment Simpson walked in the door. He was so enraged by Diego and Henry's altercation he didn't notice that Felix was painting the walls blue. He began shouting."What is going on in here today? Diego, Henry? I want an explanation! "

"You are a louse, Henry! A louse!"

"I am not speaking to you, anymore, Diego! Like I said before my mother was right!"

Then suddenly Simpson realized Felix was painting the walls blue and his mouth started to open when he heard a blood curdling scream.

"Oh that's right it's Friday! Hello Alarm," Andre cried from the back of the kitchen.

At that point Simpson's face turned a peculiar shade of red and he hollered., "Out! Out! Everyone get out of this kitchen now!"

Andre jumped up and called, "But what about Henry's mother? Who's going to prepare her food!"

"I will send out for deli. Just leave, EVERYONE!" Simpson cried, holding the door open.

Everyone gathered in Andre's room except for Diego, who had gone upstairs to take a shower and Felix who had scrambled out of the kitchen after Alarm made her appearance. Andre was preparing coffee when he turned to Shakespeare and Henry and said. "My friends, my dear friends. I guess the time has come. I have a confession to make. I have to cleanse my soul!"

"Do you have any half and half?" Shakespeare said from the couch.

"Yes, of course I have half and half. I keep a well stocked kitchen. Oh the kitchen! What will happen tomorrow? Will Simpson let us back? Or will we be out on the streets like vagabonds scrapping for food? And I will tell you something -- this is not my fault, but I will take the blame because the chef is like the captain of a ship. And I was a reckless captain!"

"Andre, didn't you say something about a confession?" Henry said from the couch where he sat next to Shakespeare.

"Oh, that's right Henry. You are so observant. I can't thank you enough for bringing me back to my point. Even though I think it is good to just let things happen. Don't you think so, Henry? Spontaneity is such a valuable commodity like John McLaughlin once said 'Only in spontaneity can we be who we truly are.'"

"John McLaughlin?" Shakespeare snipped, putting his feet up on the coffee table.

"Yes John McLaughlin, what is wrong with John McLaughlin? I happen to like his music. Do you like music, Henry? Oh, that is right, I am getting forgetful! You have a love for Sinatra and you like to listen to him on your little radio! I had a radio just like yours when I was a child. Well not exactly like yours, but it was a small radio and I remember the joy of listening to it under the covers at night when it was past my bedtime. Oh, those days were so wonderful. There is nothing like nostalgia, is there? And you know nostalgia is a very big industry. There would be no TV Land, or oldies stations, or Sarah Palin if we didn't love nostalgia. The truth is we all want to go back, but we must push forward, mustn't we little Shakespeare? That is how this country was built by pushing and pushing like Abraham Lincoln once said..."

At some point between subjects Shakespeare and Henry realized that they weren't going to hear a confession from Andre so they quietly left for their rooms as the hour was getting late.

Henry was under his covers dreaming about Diego when he heard a knock on the door.


"Yes, Henry." Diego said dreamily as she stood in Henry's doorway.

"I didn't expect to see you tonight; I thought you'd be off with Felix."


"The painter, you know 'I love blue'?"

"I do love blue. You like blue, too, don't you, Henry?"

"Anyway, I think our plan is working, Diego. "

"Yes they think we detest each other when we are actually star-crossed lovers." Diego said as she entered Henry's room.

"We are lovers aren't we, Diego?

"Henry I have something to tell you."

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-05-03
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