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January 23, 2023

Dinner With Henry 8: The Sting

By Bruce Memblatt

"How about this hat, Henry? Diego whispered standing in front of the freezer posing.

"It is a little big, isn't it?" Henry said chomping on an apple.

"I don't want to scare the baby. I'm going to cover my scar with a big hat," Diego sighed.

"Don't be silly, Diego our baby will be like us. He'll probably have a wing like me and buggy eyes. "

"What do you mean he? I think I'm having a she. I feel a girl somewhere." Diego said gazing at the ceiling.

"Good morning, everyone," Andre said as he entered the kitchen. "Aw, look at the young lovers!"

"It must be spring because I have to sing about:
Love, soft as a sofa, love fresh as an evening breeze.
Two loves timeless and evergreen like peas!"

"Peas?" Henry said squinting.

"What's wrong with peas?" Andre jumped up, holding his spoon, smiling.

"I like peas. I think a girl, Henry." Diego breathed, tilting her hat before it fell to the floor.

"A boy," Henry returned as he took another bite from his apple.

"A girl," she said.

"A boy," he said.

"A mother always knows, a girl," Diego said touching her head.

"Ah what is the difference, boy, girl? What does it matter? Why are the young lovers fighting? It will be a cute little munchkin!" Andre said as he quickly arranged plates on the counter.

"With a tail!" Shakespeare cracked, rushing through the door quickly heading to the back of the kitchen.

"Where are you going so fast, Mr. Smarty pants?" Andre shouted to Shakespeare. "What do you think a boy, or a girl?"

"Gopher." Shakespeare said foraging through his locker.

"You're so funny, Shakespeare! Did you lose something like your marbles?" Andre called, pointing towards Shakespeare. "I think I lost my hat," Diego said as she marched to the freezer, stepping over her hat.

"Henry, what about names? What are you going to name the leetle chinchilla?" "How about Fluffy?" Shakespeare snapped from the back of the kitchen as silverware crashed to the floor around his feet.

Sincere, who was in the back of the kitchen near Shakespeare, separating big bars of chocolate from little bars of chocolate, stared at Shakespeare; she shook her head and she sighed.

"Shakespeare, what has gotten into you today? You are not funny today! You are a little sour puss! You know what Oscar Wilde said: 'Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.' You don't want to be like that, do you, Shakespeare? A causer of misery! You should cause happiness!"

At that moment Simpson entered the kitchen with a pained look on his face -- which he quickly covered with a smile when he saw Andre, Henry and Diego standing before him. Urgently he proclaimed, as he did every morning, "Can I have everyone's attention, please?" and then he paused and said "Everyone, please cook well today."

Andre, Diego and Henry looked at Simpson cross-eyed, before he quickly continued, his thin lips quivering. "Oh, Shakespeare I need to talk you in my office."

"Do I have detention?" Shakespeare barked, and then he scurried to the front of the kitchen and out the door. Simpson slowly followed Shakespeare, turning back and smiling as he stepped into the hall.

"I wonder what that is about? I just know trouble is looming." Andre said slowly with a sneer on his face, his eyebrows darting up and down like pistons.

In the meanwhile in Simpson's office: The only light in the room emanated from the small desk lamp that Simpson had shining on Shakespeare's face. A small clear glass of water nudged the edge of the desk. Simpson was chewing on a tuna fish sandwich, still partly wrapped in wax, as he posed his next question, and he went on. "Tell me, Shakespeare, when you were all out dining the other the night the phone went off in the kitchen. Walking by, naturally I answered it. There was someone on the other end of the line asking for "Shake," and he said he wanted to place a bet. Tell me, why would someone call the kitchen wanting to place a bet? "

"Um, maybe OTB was closed."

"Very funny, but why would he call you?" Simpson said sternly, holding his glasses in his hand, chewing on the tip.

"He was lonely?"

"Shakespeare, I found a little book in your locker stuffed with cash between the pages." Simpson said wrapping his knuckles on the desk.

"Some people don't believe in banks. What were you doing in my locker, you rat?" He scrunched his nose.

Shakespeare, are you a bookie? "Simpson said, pointing the tip of his glasses at Shakespeare.

"A what-ey?" Shakespeare smirked.

"Don't play coy with me, fess up. Really, Shakespeare I can't let you turn the kitchen into a casino. "

"Listen: with what you pay us we should be able to turn it into strip joint."

"What does that mean?"

"I don't know. You're making me nervous, Dick Tracy."

"Shakespeare, this has to stop. Do you understand me? If I find out one more bet has been placed from the kitchen I'll have to let you go. Now get back to work." Simpson said folding his glasses in his hands.

In the meanwhile back in the kitchen: "I wonder what I should do ... add more egg whites, or more butter? Egg whites, butter, egg whites butter. Hmm, I think I will just add both, and now I stir!"

"Oh how I love to stir
Till the sauce looks like a blur.
When I add some sorbet,
You will have to pray!"

"Is my hat in there?" Diego breathed as she passed by.

"What do you think of Frederick for a name?" Henry shouted to Andre from the sink.

"You mean, Fredericka silly one," Diego said, her eyes panning the floor near the door.

"Oh here we go again! Both names are perfect. Oh, isn't it fun picking out names for the baby! I think it is a special time here in the kitchen ..."

Suddenly Shakespeare flew by.

"Oh look who is back -- the Lone Ranger! Well, what did Simpson want? Tell us, tell us pleeeeeeeeease!" Andre said whooshing his spoon in the air like a sword.

"He busted me." Shakespeare cried, going through his locker.

"He what-ed you?" Andre said tasting the sauce.

"For taking bets from the kitchen."

Andre shook. "Taking bets? Oh my goodness! I knew there was trouble looming. You know something? I knew from the way you shuffled that deck of cards, when I had you and Henry over. Shuffling like a pro, like a real big shot gambler, that you had a dark side, a sorted past. I knew it!"

"I have a sorted present, Chubby."

"Listen shrimp toast! I always knew there was something fishy about you!" Andre pointed his spoon at Shakespeare.

"Andre, it is so hard making ends meet here. I thought I could make a few bucks on the side to help out, what is so terrible?" Shakespeare said shrugging.

"Well, it is true we are severely underpaid, and with the ten dollars a week we have to pay now to cover that ridiculous fine from that fascist inspector! I know I am having trouble making ends meet, too. But I did not resort to something dark and illegal! You could get us all fired! And I know that's just what's going to happen the way my luck has been going. What has become of you, Shakespeare? How do you look in the mirror?" "Watch it, Chubblechunks!"

"And whatever happened to our raise? Henry! Henry, do you remember when you arrived here we laid out a sophisticated plan. Shakespeare thought the whole thing up, of course." He sneered at Shakespeare. "Remember, you were going to ask Her for a raise? Whatever happened to our raise? You must remember, Henry! " "I kind of got sidetracked when I found out She was my mother." Henry's wing fluttered.

"Well, Henry, now with the baby coming I think she is sure to give us a raise! How could She not? I think that is something any mother would do. Don't you think so, Shakespeare? Like Agatha Christie once said, 'A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity. It dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.' Um ... well, perhaps this is not the most appropriate quote." Andre squinted.

"Uh oh, I haven't told her about the baby yet."Henry said holding his head down.

Andre dropped his spoon.

In the meanwhile, in the loft:

She raised her head high in the air toward the skylight hissing. Her black eyes darted and her tentacle crept across on the floor, pushing hay in its wake. With a tripedal gait she mechanically sprung across the room lowering her furry head towards the object on the floor.

"Clarissa have you seen my hat?" Diego breathed.

"You didn't come here looking for your hat," She buzzed into Diego's brain.

"I guess you know about the baby?" Diego said, clenching a strand of hay in her mouth.

"I know everything that goes on with my son." Her black eyes jittered from side to side.

"Are you going to give us a raise?"

"I will give Henry a raise." She said moving her head up and down.

"But the rest will get envious." Diego said, stretching her hand into the distance.

"Yes, and then maybe Henry will get rid of you." She warned slowly, spreading her wing across the room.

"What about our child? Your grandchild," Diego hushed.

"Just another human baby, the world is filled with humans," She said, her eyes fixed on Diego.

"But the baby will be bug too."

"Like I told Henry, half bug won't do." She spat.

"You are heartless." Diego sighed.

"I am a bug, but still I employ you all out of the goodness of my heart." She darted closer.

"Please, who else could you find to work for a bug? You employ us out of necessity." Diego said looking at the floor.

"We are all brought together out of necessity. Go." And she turned and began to stomp away.

"Do you have a tissue?" Diego whispered.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-06-14
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