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September 26, 2022

Dinner With Henry 15: On the Sunny Side of the Street

By Bruce Memblatt

Shakespeare sat alone on the street. In one hand he held a cup and in the other hand he held a bottle of the cheapest wine one could find this side of the Mississippi. The sun beat down on his head. Debris blew by him in the breeze and scattered down the pavement. An old alley cat crawled past him and hissed. The streets were an unfriendly reminder that day; it was a lonely town and a sad day for a blind midget without a job.

He called out. "Does anyone have a quarter?" And not a soul answered. He pulled the bottle of cheap wine up to his mouth and he took a swig.

In the meanwhile in the kitchen Andre sang a sad song.

"The world is cruel
I hate my pot
There is no sun anymore
I am a lonely fool ..."

"Simpson is a madman and idiot!" he screamed to the empty kitchen. He reached for his hat and threw it to the floor and crushed it with his shoes. He began to stir a sauce when Simpson entered the kitchen.

"Listen, Andre, I had no choice. I told Shakespeare in no uncertain terms that if he did it one more time ..." Simpson said, pointing at Andre.

"Listen," Andre said, "but he is our Shakespeare, you have thrown the kitchen into turmoil and darkness, and Shakespeare is homeless. Okay, so he's sitting on the stoop outside. But he is still homeless. He is homeless in front of our building! Have you no heart?"

"Rules are rules, Andre."

"You and your rules, did Thomas Edison pay attention to rules? If he did we'd all be sitting in the dark. Well, we are in darkness today, but that is because of you and your rules. You are what is wrong with the world today, you and your bourgeois rules!" Andre yelled, stepping on his hat again.

"Andre you are forgetting who is who again."

"So what are you going to do, fire me too? Hey, why don't you fire all of us? Well, except for Henry, you wouldn't dare fire Henry! Oh hello, Henry," Andre said as he saw Henry walking through the door.

"What's all the commotion? Is Shakespeare still fired?"

"Yes, Henry, Yes, this this person with all the rules over here won't take Shakespeare back."

"Mr. Simpson, what if I had a talk with him?" Henry said and he pulled on his wing because it was stuck in one the of the kitchen drawers.

"Are you okay, Henry?" Simpson asked, staring at Henry's wing.

"Yes, about Shakespeare?"

"Like I told Andre, rules are rules," Simpson said and briskly walked out of the kitchen.

Andre turned and said, "I have had enough of this! I'm going to bring Shakespeare some breakfast." And he grabbed a tray and headed into the hall. He slammed the door behind him.

A peculiar look crossed Henry's face and then he walked to the sink. He grabbed a dish and he said, "I guess it's going to be just me and the dishes today."

Suddenly he heard a whisper behind him. "I'm here too," Henry," Sincere said pulling a worm out of her can, grinning.

That's when Diego walked in. "Henry Henry," she whispered as she marched over to the sink.

"Diego Diego," Henry whispered back.

"Henry, maybe you should talk to your mother about Shakespeare," Diego said, reaching for a stick of gum.

"I don't know if it will do any good with Simpson so determined."

"I still hate gum. Is the little one still outside?"

"Yes, Andre brought him breakfast."

"I could use some breakfast."Diego said.

In the meanwhile in front of the warehouse:

"So how does that taste, little Shakespeare? Andre said as he watched Shakespeare take a bite of the pancakes he had brought him.

"Fine," Shakespeare said.

"I wish there was something I could do to help, Shakespeare. This is just ridiculous! How could that monster do this to you, that barbarian, that -- that scoundrel." His eyebrows quivered.

"I don't know," Shakespeare said as he took another bite. Then he reached for his bottle and he took a swig again.

"Oh, Shakespeare, do not drink that stuff. It will kill you!"

"So what? What does it matter?"

"Try to cheer up, Shakespeare," Andre said as he sat down on the stoop next to Shakespeare.

"Easy for you to say, you have a job and a place to live."

"We will get you your job back, Shakespeare, don't you worry."

"Sure," Shakespeare said.

"Poor Shakespeare, you don't even sound like you. Where is the Shakespeare I know -- the one with the wisecracks all the time? Where are you hiding, Shakespeare?" Andre sung as he searched his head for his hat, until he realized he had left it on the kitchen floor.

"I don't feel like making wisecracks. I may never make another wisecrack again." Shakespeare hung his head to the ground.

Diego marched out of the front door of the warehouse and looked around.

"This is so depressing! Something must be done about this, oh hello, Diego!" Andre said, catching Diego coming down the stoop in the corner of his eye.

"I'm hungry, do you serve breakfast out here?" Diego breathed.

"Here have mine, I'm not hungry anyway." Shakespeare sighed and took another swallow from the bottle.

"Shakespeare, you need to eat. I will get more for Diego."

"Oh, these look good," Diego said as she grabbed the plate out of Shakespeare's lap. "Do you have extra syrup?"

"Oh, I can't take this anymore! I am going to do something about this! I do not know what but I will think of something. Hey, what is that across the street? I think they are filming a movie! I love the movies. I haven't gone to a movie in such a long time. Oh my goodness is that Barbra Streisand? Oooh maybe she is making a sequel to Yentl!"

"She looks kind of short." Diego hushed, "I loved her in The Sound of Music."

"What are you talking about, Diego?" Andre said, squinting his eyes.

"UM," Shakespeare snapped.

"Oooh was that a snap, Shakespeare?" Andre smiled.

Henry began to walk down the stoop. Before him he saw Diego, Shakespeare and Andre pointing at the warehouse across the street. In front of the warehouse he saw little trucks with spotlights, a few trailers and one short lady. His wing stood up and he cried, "Oh my, isn't that Barbra Streisand?"

"Shush, Henry, don't yell, you might scare her off," Andre loudly whispered.

"I wonder if she's making a sequel to Yentl?" Henry said with a curious grin on his face.

"Henry it is funny -- I was wondering the same thing."

"She should make a movie about a blind midget who gets fired," Shakespeare snapped.

"Oooh did you snap again, Shakespeare?" Andre said, smiling at Shakespeare.

"He has a good idea," Sincere said as she crept up behind them.

"Hello Sincere, "Andre said, "I have never seen you outside before."

"I go out often to find worms." She said pointing her shaky hand at Andre.

"Oh, I see." Andres's eyebrows rose. "Oh, I just thought of something. Shakespeare did have a good idea! We should tell Ms. Streisand about Shakespeare's plight. I'll bet she would do something. She is this voice of the people. Always, she is talking up causes! This would be the perfect cause for her!" Andre cried and he stood up from the stoop and waved his fist in the air.

"Oh sit down, Che, she's won't be interested in a silly blind midget. Like I always tell you, it's all about whose bread is being buttered," Shakespeare said, taking another drink from his bottle.

"The little one is right," Diego breathed, then looked wistfully across the street.

"It might be worth a shot, though," Henry said, "and maybe we'll get to talk to Barbra, oh my God!" His wing fluttered.

"What do you say, everyone, let's at least try like Henry suggested. The worst she could do is say no, right? Oooh and maybe we can get autographs too!

"Barbra can you hear me?
Barbra it is Andre.
In the ..."

"All right, Chubblechunks, let's go." Shakespeare snapped.

"Oooh he snapped again."

Andre, Diego, Henry, Shakespeare, and Sincere walked across the street. There was much merriment and slapping of knees and a light feeling in the air as they made their way across the pavement. Shakespeare even tossed away his bottle. When they hit the other side of the curb there was a man standing with clipboard and a megaphone waving his hands in the air and shouting. "Who are you people can't you see we're filming a movie with Her?"

"Isn't Her Henry's mother?" Sincere whispered.

"This is a different Her, Sincere."

"Sir," Andre said, "we promise not to take much of your time. But we know how much She likes to take up causes. Barbra is the voice of the people! Well, my friend Shakespeare here. He's right down there," Andre said and he pointed to Shakespeare, "this poor blind midget was fired from his job in the kitchen we work in across the street, and now he is homeless and lost and turning to drink."

Shakespeare waddled around and formed a pathetic look on his face.

"That's very good, Shakespeare," Andre said.

"Yes, we're hoping Barbra can help us," Diego murmured.

"And we wouldn't mind a few autographs too," Henry said, smiling.

"Listen, I will ask her," the man said, "but I ain't making any promises." He huffed and walked away.

"See! See! I'll bet Barbra will do it!" Andre shouted.

"Are you sure it isn't you who has been hitting the bottle?" Shakepeare said and then sat down on the curb.

"Maybe Andre's right this time, Shakespeare," Henry said.

"We will see. In the meanwhile, where did the little one throw the bottle?" Diego said searching across the street with her eyes.

"Nobody needs that bottle. Everything is going to be fine. I can feel it in my bones! Can't you feel it, Shakespeare!" Andre said and then the man with the megaphone returned.

"Barbra wants you people to leave, she said you're blocking her light, so scram!"

Their jaws dropped and they stood standing frozen for a moment in silence.

Then Shakespeare cried, "I told you so, Chubby." And he began to march across the street.

"Now now, we'll think of something, Shakespeare," Andre said. "Miss Streisand is an artist and she needs her light. We probably interrupted a moment of unparalleled genius. She can't be bothered with our little problems when she is creating! Would we disturb Michaelangelo when he was painting his ceiling? It is perfectly understandable. I know how she feels because when I am baking a cake I hate interruptions. We artists have to stick together!"

They all walked back across the street. There was much mumbling and groaning and kvetching.

In the meanwhile in the loft:

Her head darted back and forth. Her tongue snapped in and out. Her black eyes bulged as she looked down at Simpson on the floor. "I am hungry," She buzzed.

"I'm sorry, Clarissa. They're all outside with Shakespeare. There's not a soul left in the kitchen."

"I am hungry," She buzzed again. "You have to do something about this."

"Well, speaking from a strict business perspective this could be very bad publicity for us. If people start talking ... if he's out there every day ... People could start asking about the loft and its rather large inhabitant."

"This sounds like blackmail, Simpson. I didn't know you liked the little freak. Okay, hire him back," She buzzed, and she lifted her legs mechanically, making her way to the other end of the loft.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-09-27
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