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December 05, 2022

Dinner With Henry 9: The Last of Sheila?

By Bruce Memblatt

Henry, unable to sleep, reached for his radio and turned up the dial. He liked how the moonlight just touched his wing, and it fluttered. He yawned before he sighed and thought about Diego, and the baby and his new raise. He knew he'd have to have a talk with his mother about the rest of the gang, eventually. Mother was different. But on that night nothing was on the radio except some preacher talking about how the world was going to hell, and his thorax ached something awful. He straggled out of bed and searched the small refrigerator in his room for milk .Then it came to him, Shakespeare had borrowed the last of it that morning. He grabbed his robe, scratching his head, and fumbled out the door to the kitchen.

Walking down the hall he noticed the door to Simpson's office was open and the light was burning. He heard voices, Simpson and someone, maybe Alarm? He thought it sounded like Alarm, but then again, he'd never heard Alarm's voice when she wasn't screaming. He took a deep breath and quietly stood by the side of the door, grabbing a peek; it was Alarm all right, and she and Simpson were involved in what seemed like a deep exchange.

"You have to stop this," Simpson said pointedly, standing over Alarm.

"I can't," she cried, sitting in the chair across from Simpson's desk.

"She said it has to stop. She can't stand your high- pitched yell anymore." Simpson said leaning on the side of his desk.

Outside in the hall Henry oohed.

"It is your fault I scream, you are the one who left me at the altar on a Friday at noon." She said as she wiped her eyes with a tissue.

Outside in the hall Henry oohed again.

"Listen Sheila, I told you my wife wouldn't give me a divorce."

Outside in the hall, Henry nearly fell over his wing.

"A fine time to tell me -- on the night before the wedding," Sheila whimpered and she raised her hand toward Simpson.

"That was years ago, this has to stop."

"Will you ever marry me?"

"Maybe one day," Simpson said looking directly into Sheila's eyes.

"And maybe one day I will stop my screaming."

"Please, I promise if you stop screaming I will think about it."

"You have no heart." Sheila said as Simpson walked towards the door and shut it.

Henry not knowing what say, or do suddenly remembered why he was in the hall and scrambled to the kitchen.

* * *

"Good morning, everyone!" Andre called as he entered the kitchen. He looked around and he realized no one else was there. "Ah, alone in the kitchen again, time for a leetle song!

"I am a chef, who likes to cook and sing a lot,
But there's just one thing I haven't got.
I haven't got a baby to call my own,
Or an Iphone!

"That's two things, garlic breath," Shakespeare said as he scurried into the kitchen.

"Ah the funny man arrives, right on schedule, but I won't let even you, Shakespeare, enrage me on this glorious morning, because it is Friday! Soon the weekend will be here!" Andre sung as he placed a pot on the range.

"You say that like we get weekends off, "Shakespeare said looking through his locker.

"Oh you just want to spoil a beautiful morning. That is the way you are, Shakespeare. You are a pessimist. On the other hand, I am an optimist, to me the glass is always half full."

"So is your pot with detergent," Shakespeare giggled.

"Oooh I poured in the wrong bottle! Oh is a good thing you noticed, Shakespeare. Imagine if She tasted this? Oh my god! We would have been canned!"

"Or eaten."

"Now now, Shakespeare she is not so bad. Okay, maybe she's a little moody and a leetle cheap."

"You can say that again."

"Maybe she's a little moody ... " Andre said with a grin, stirring.

"Very funny," Shakespeare popped.

"Hey that is my line, Shakespeare, but really we must try to understand her. She comes from a completely unique background, like another world, one that is exotic and mysterious."

"She's a bug."

"Not just a bug, Shakespeare, she is a big bug! She sees the world from an entirely different angle." Andre said swinging his spoon in the air.

"High?"

"Not just high, but I believe she has a unique historical perspective. She could be a great philosopher like a Rousseau, or a Sarte." Andre said slowly, his eyebrows quivering.

"To me she's a bit more Ayn Rand," Shakespeare sighed.

"Well, perhaps, but we must try to appreciate her extraordinary ... Oooh, Henry is coming, shush."

"Shush, yourself! I want a raise!"

"Good morning, Henry! How are you? You look a bit tired, did you get enough sleep last night?"

"Not enough," Henry said, yawning, "I woke up in the middle of the night with a tummy ache."

"Probably from guilt." Shakespeare snapped.

"Now, Shakespeare, don't blame Henry. It is not his fault!"

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree or in Henry's case, the leaf," Shakespeare said scurrying behind Andre.

"I don't eat leaves. By the way, Shakespeare you owe me some milk." Henry wiped his eyes.

"See how they get once they get a little money." Shakespeare snapped. "It is okay, Henry, just go to the refrigerator take all the milk you want!"

* * *

In the meanwhile Diego was uptown at a bridal shop ...

"Madame, that one is perfect." the clerk said as she put a white dress on a hanger.

"I don't know,"Diego breathed, "it's a little roomy."

"Well Madame, I can get you something a little tighter."

"Can you get me a bagel?" Diego said, staring at the handles of the doors in the dressing room.

"Madame, we don't serve food in the dressing room, but there is a lovely café across the street. I encourage you to visit after we've picked your gown."

"Is it a gown, or a dress?"

"You can get a wedding dress or a bridal gown, whichever you like."

"Well I just need one." Diego sighed.

"Madame, try this one on."

And in the meanwhile, back in the kitchen:

"Funny, it is noon isn't it?" Andre said looking at the clock on the wall.

"So?" Shakespeare buzzed

"It is Friday, Friday noon, don't you notice it is a little quiet around here? Where is Alarm?"

"Maybe she forgot to set her alarm," Shakespeare needled.

"Ha ha, no, Shakespeare! She has never missed running through the kitchen screaming in her wedding gown on Friday at noon, ever. That is why we call her Alarm. It just crossed my mind what an interesting little group we have here." Andre looked at the ceiling. "But anyway something must be up! Something must have happened to Alarm! I just know something terrible has happened --

"Ding dong ding dong
Where has Alarm gone?

"That doesn't rhyme, Mr. Sondheim."

"This is no time to be worrying about rhymes, Shakespeare!" Andre waved his arms in the air.

Henry didn't know if he should say anything, but he couldn't help himself and he said, "Um, I kind of know something about, something about ... "

"Well spit it out, speedy."

"Okay, I probably shouldn't say anything. Can you guys keep a secret?"

"Can we keep a secret! Oh, Henry there are things I know that would curl your toes. Did I ever tell you about my years with the Foreign Legion? My lips are sealed. You know me, Henry. I am like Fort Knox with a secret."

"Oh, just tell us anyway, Henry you know you want to, come on, come on!" Shakespeare said, jumping up and down.

"Okay, remember I told you I couldn't sleep last night?"

"Yes." Andre and Shakespeare said in unison.

"Well, like I said before I ran out of milk, because I lent my milk to Shakespeare."

"Yes. "Andre and Shakespeare said in unison.

"That's getting kind of annoying. Anyway, as I was walking to the kitchen I noticed Simpson's door was open and the light was on. So I listened outside the door. He and Alarm were having a conversation, an involved conversation."

"Oh my I knew something was going on between them I just knew it. I wonder what they were doing so late in the evening!" Andre said as he wrapped his knuckles on the counter.

"They were arguing. Simpson told Alarm that my mother didn't want her screaming in the kitchen anymore."

"No!" Shakespeare and Andre said in unison.

"Wait, it gets better. Her real name is Sheila, and she and Simpson were supposed to get married but his wife wouldn't give him a divorce. And that's how she got left at the altar."

"My God! I knew it! What a snake that man is. You know I never liked him. Something about him always rubbed me the wrong way. I just knew he was a scoundrel from the first day I worked here."

"You were saying, Andre?" Simpson said, tapping his toes.

"Oh my God! Oh Mr. Simpson! I didn't see you I was just talking, you know, kidding around with Shakespeare and Henry here. You know how we love to kid around, right, Shakespeare?" Andre turned around and saw Shakespeare and Henry in the back of the kitchen snickering.

"Just get back to work, Andre. Please, everyone get back to work." Simpson said, and then he quickly marched out of the kitchen slamming the door behind him.

"You two are very funny I could have gotten fired! "Andre said, pointing at Henry and Shakespeare.

"She is turning into a real pest." Shakespeare snapped.

"Watch it," Henry said, his tail darting.

"Now, Shakespeare, she is Henry's mother and our employer."

"First our raises, then Alarm -- what is next? What is next?" Shakespeare said raising his hands in the air.

"I wonder if we will ever hear Alarm's gentle scream again?"Andre said with a tear in his eye.

Suddenly Diego entered the kitchen. "Henry, should I get a wedding dress, or a bridal gown?"

"Get both, honey!" Henry grinned. He said, turning to Shakespeare and Andre, "Pardon me, everyone I'm going to have a little talk with my mother." He smiled and scampered out of the kitchen.

At 12: 57 Alarm ran through the kitchen in her wedding dress screaming.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-06-28
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