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December 05, 2022

Dinner With Henry 12: In the Beginning

By Bruce Memblatt

It was mid-afternoon when Andre and Diego found themselves alone in the kitchen.

"So when do you think Henry and the little one will be back?" Diego sighed.

"I love how you call him the little one, Diego. It makes his nose curl." Andre said, whipping a bowl of cream.

"It makes his nose curl,
Into a little swirl.
I saw it once stick out like a tree
I thought I was gonna pee."

"He is little isn't he? "Diego breathed," so I can call him the little one."

"Yes but ... oh, never mind, I am always calling him little, too! It's funny -- when Shakespeare first arrived here he was so shy. Can you imagine! Shakespeare without his wisecracks! He was a completely different midget. I am just kidding, I was making a leetle joke, oh there I go again," Andre said as he threw strawberries into the bowl.

"I remember, I was here too." Diego said directly and she reached for a stick of gum from her bag.

"Oh of course, I'm so sorry. How could I forget! You arrived here around the same time as Shakespeare. I remember you had just been reale ... I don't know details. It's okay because I am not a detail person, I am more of a big picture person. I think Henry is more of detail person than me, and Simpson he is a minutia person!"

"I loathe gum," Diego said and then she spat her gum out.

"Don't worry, Diego you will quit smoking in no time flat! Hey since we are sitting here reminiscing like old friends, I was wondering if you could tell me something? That is if you don't mind of course, if you mind then that is okay too!" Andre smiled and shrugged.

"I'd prefer a cigarette." Diego coughed. "What do you want to know?" Diego said as she pulled her hat down over her eyes like she was Mata Hari.

"I think I will just blurt out what I want to know. You know I hate when people beat around the bush and go on and on. When I have something on my mind I just like to spit it out. That is one thing I like about Simpson, he is direct! He doesn't waste his time getting to a point. He is always making his points fast like lightning; do you know what I mean?"

Diego leaned into Andre and said, "The question?"

"Ah yes, you know, Diego you have a way of getting to the point too! Okay, my question is, how did Henry become half a bug?"

"I don't know."

Along the aisles in Greenbaum's, a local discount store, Henry and Shakespeare were searching for a new dishwashing machine; the latest upgrade for the kitchen. Simpson said they could get one as long as it didn't cost too much money.

Shakespeare turned to Henry. "So see any cheap dishwashers, besides you?" Shakespeare snickered.

"Um, not really, well there is one but it looks kind of rundown." Henry said, pointing towards of a row of dishwashers that were lined up against the back wall of Greenbaum's under a large dangling fluorescent light that sizzled like it was an electric chair.

Shakespeare shrugged. "I say lets skip it and get a mechanical bull instead."

"I don't think we're going to find a mechanical bull at Greenbaum's. Say, Shakespeare can I ask you a question?" Henry said while he lifted the top of one of the dishwashers.

"Shoot."

"Were you always without your eyesight?"Henry said holding his hands in his pockets.

"Blind you mean, Squiggy? I lost my sight working at a circus."

"Really how?" Henry scratched his head.

"The guy who ran the place was one tough cookie." Shakespeare said and he made a fist with his hand.

"How so?"

"One night he had a fight with the bearded lady and she threw a glass of battery acid at him, but she was nearsighted and I happened to be standing under Wally and bang! -- right into my eyes."

"What was she doing with a glass of battery acid?" Henry said and his wing jumped.

"I don't know, but if you think my boss was a tough cookie, you should have seen her." Shakespeare threw his hands in the air.


In the meanwhile in the loft:

"Clarissa, Clarissa, yoo hoo." Andre sang as he entered the loft. He didn't see Her at first, so he continued walking around the loft singing yoo hoo yoo hoo. Suddenly, her black furry head swooped down and Andre jumped.

"Oh my, you sure do make an entrance," Andre said trying to catch his breath. "I hope you don't mind my coming to see you unannounced, Clarissa! I, of course, normally wouldn't be so brazen so, how you say? Direct?, but I was curious about something and Henry isn't here now so I thought, maybe I could ask you, of course, if you don't mind that is?" Andre smiled, his teeth glistened.

Her eyes darted back and forth and she buzzed, "Oh, you must be the chef who doesn't stop talking."

"That is me, Andre the chef who doesn't stop talking, I sing too." He said sighing and then he lifted his hat.

An uncomfortable pause followed and then she buzzed. "So spill it, big mouth."

"Oh yes my question, I almost forgot I came here with a question! I am so silly! Okay, if you don't mind and I know this must be a sensitive topic for you, but okay, I will just say it, I will just blurt it out like a direct person! How did Henry become half bug?"

Her tentacle swiped across the floor. Her head swung up in the air, and she buzzed, "An experiment, experimental treatment. I warned him not to take it but Henry always wanted to be human. Crazy I know."

Andre's eyes grew large, and then he whispered, "So what happened, I mean with the treatment?"

Her head shook. "He was supposed to become fully human, perish the thought, but the treatment was a failure. They told him they could turn him back to all bug but he refused. Like thousands of other insects who took part in the experimental treatment Henry thought and still believes one day he will become all human. That will never happen, but being half -human he holds on to his foolish hopes."

"Well, you never know.""Andre waved his hand and smiled cautiously.

"I know," She buzzed.


In the meanwhile back in the kitchen:

"Diego, have you seen, Andre?" Simpson said, huffing on his glasses.

"He went to talk to Clarissa."

"He what?" Simpson jumped backward, almost knocking over a pile of dishes.

"He wanted to know how Henry became half a bug." Diego said while she swirled a glass of orange juice in her hand.

"Oy vay." Simpson said, holding his hands over his head.

"Do you have a butterscotch? I didn't know you were Jewish?" Diego hushed.


In the meanwhile back at Greenbaum's:

"Shakepepreare, I think this one might be okay." Henry said pointing to a dishwasher.

Shakespeare turned and kicked the machine.

"Not that one, this one." Henry smiled

"Oh why didn't you say so, Bugman?" Shakespeare kicked the machine and the door fell off. "I guess it doesn't come with a door."

Henry sighed. "And I was so hoping for one with a door. Maybe we should try another store?"

"I say we forget the dishwasher and get us a big screen TV." Shakespeare snickered.

"You're starting to sound like Rosanne Barr."

"Roseanne who?"

"Oh, never mind. So Shakespeare, I guess after the circus, the kitchen was the perfect job for you."

"Well, it's an easy job -- even a blind midget can do it."

"Henry groaned, and his wing titled down.


And back in the kitchen:

"So how long has Andre been in there, Diego?" Simpson said anxiously.

"Time, what do I know from time, all I know is nine months, that is all I know." Diego swirled her orange juice."

"I wonder if she's eaten Andre," Simpson said, scratching his fingers under his chin.

"No, she won't eat him, but she may turn him over to the dark side," Diego said looking wistfully at the door.

"Oh, Diego, she's not that bad." Simpson said. His eyebrows rose.

"Have you ever eaten lunch with her?"


And back in the loft:

"So Clarissa tell me, how many rooms does the loft have?"

"Twenty."

"My goodness! You could have a lot of guests! Hey -- you know you could have all of us living here right in the loft with you. Although, I suppose, under such close quarters we could get under your nerves. I guess this is best! Though when the baby comes, he, or she will have a lot of rooms to play in. And won't that be fun for you! There is nothing like having little feet running around the house, though I have never had a child of my own but my niece Yvette visits occasionally, you remember Yvette don't you? She came and had a little chat with you the last time she visited, do you remember? Children can be so therapeutic, running around, asking questions, making messes! Yes, they can be noisy too, but it is the sound of life! Ah the sound of life like Henry Feilding once said, 'When children are doing nothing, they are doing mischief. ' Speaking of mischief, have you seen ... Clarissa? ... Clarissa? Oh no, I think I have put her to sleep!

"Lullaby and good night
Sleep tight, Henry's mother."


Shakespeare and Henry were coming down the hall carrying a big thin box when they ran into Simpson on his way to the loft.

"That looks like a very thin dishwasher, Henry." Simpson said coyly.

As Henry and Shakespeare placed the box down on the floor, Andre came running down the hall and he began to shout.

"Henry, Shakespeare, Simpson! What is everyone doing in the hallway! Oh, Henry I just had the most wonderful talk with your mother. She is the most interesting woman, and such a gracious host!"

"Andre you really shouldn't have ..." Simpson began to say.

Oh do not worry about anything, Mr. Simpson, we had the most wonderful time and she is sleeping now just like a little baby!"

"Okay, Andre," Simpson said turning towards his office, "but don't do this again, at least without asking me first." He walked into his office and shut the door behind him.

"Yes, Mr. Simpson, yes yes yes, so, Henry, what's in the box?"

"Would you believe a curling iron?" Shakespeare grinned.

Ten minutes later, the door to Simpson's office opened and he stuck his head out into the hall. He sighed and shook his head and closed the door.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-08-09
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