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December 05, 2022

Dinner With Henry 19: The Joining

By Bruce Memblatt

Henry stood in front of his mirror adjusting his tie. It didn't look quite right. The stripes looked a little too busy, so he pulled another tie from the pile of ties that were sitting on the ottoman next to the mirror. How many ties had he tried on already? He wondered while he wrapped the next tie around his neck. This one looked all right, he thought; the blue wasn't too light, or too dark. It was a nice powder blue. It would go well with the green around his eyes. Then he wondered when he'd become such a peacock.

He thought about Diego who was, hopefully, getting ready in their new apartment upstairs. He hoped she'd remember to bring the blue handkerchief he'd given her. He peeked at the clock. He had to pick up his pace, so he grabbed his pants from the chair. As he pulled his pants up to his thorax, they felt a little tight. Was Mushkin going blind? Then he remembered the special hole Mushkin made for his wing. Suddenly he heard a thud upstairs; he hoped it wasn't Diego. But considering the odds, he assumed it was Diego. He laughed; she'd probably knocked their luggage over.

He walked into the bathroom and sprayed on a touch of the cologne Andre had given him. Andre and his cologne ... He thought of the times Shakespeare razzed Andre about his cologne. His mind leapt back and he recalled he first night he arrived at the warehouse and the strange song Andre sang. He still remembered the lyric: Welcome to our kitchen. Go away. I'm Andre. That was also the first time he saw Diego. The shock he got, when he noticed her scar. Now her scar was just as commonplace to him as his wing. Funny, he didn't even like her much back then. The way she always seemed to stare into the distance, her weird thoughts.

He brushed his jacket off and he began to walk toward the door when he spotted the radio on the bed. He thought about the song they played the night he climbed up Diego's fire escape, and he remembered how Diego kept repeating "But who is throwing sticks at my window?" He began to chuckle and then his mother's words entered his mind, "half-bug won't do." Frustrated, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a Tylenol and popped it into his mouth. There was a photo album next to the radio on his bed. He'd been meaning to look through the photos. Elvira had brought him the album when she came to visit one afternoon. There was no time for a trip down memory lane, but he thought about Brooklyn and the bridge he'd scurried across every day as he opened the door and peered into the hallway.

The hall seemed unusually quiet that day. Not a sound came from the kitchen. And the walls in the hallway seemed conspicuously white and shiny as did the titles on the floor. He stared down the hall at the door to the loft. Once he walked through that door his life would change forever. There was still time to run, he laughed, but suddenly his laugh didn't seem so funny. Maybe he should run, maybe it was all a horrible mistake, maybe his mother was right? No, that was impossible, his mother was rigid and wrong, but she was huge. He was still amazed at how tall his mother stood. The door grew larger as he moved closer, seemed more terrifying with each step he took. He grabbed a tissue from his pocket and wiped the sweat from his vertex. He pushed the door open.

The loft was different that day. There were rows of chairs occupied by people in the center of the loft. Some he recognized, some he didn't. He saw Andre's niece Yvette sitting next to Andre and two people he didn't know, he guessed they were Yvette's parents. Then he laughed inside because Shakespeare was wearing a tux. Across the aisles, he saw Simpson, and strangely enough, Alarm was sitting right by his side. Then he looked above and he saw Elvira and his mother watching over the proceedings. He prayed his mother didn't have any tricks up her sleeve.

He looked straight ahead beyond the rows of chairs and he saw Diego standing by the altar. She looked beautiful: her white dress, the flower in her hair, covering her scar. Her belly was getting larger, but the round shape of her stomach added a soft feel to the luminescence of the image, as the sun streamed down through the skylight. If she weren't staring down at the floor it would have been perfect, but then in a way it was perfect. Then suddenly he heard the sound of an organ pumping, and a hush fell over the room. This was it, he guessed. This was the moment. He could feel the muscles in his thorax churn.

Andre stood up from his chair and walked to the front of the crowd. He prayed Andre wouldn't sing anything too strange as he heard Andre clear his throat. Then Andre began to speak.

"Ladies and Gentleman and other creatures ..." Henry's thorax lurched. He fidgeted with his tie as Andre continued. "Since this is a very special day, and of course a very special occasion. I have prepared a song I have written myself specifically for the wedding of Henry and Diego. Just give me a minute to find my key. Mmmmmmmmmm ... hmmmmmm ... mmmmmmm Ah, there it is."

Henry wished he'd just begin as he held his thorax.

"Love is like water sometimes you get wet
You bet.
And it's pouring today because Henry and Diego
Are all set to tie the knot.
The rain is falling hard, it's soaking their skin.
This is their one shot.
Let it pour, let them get soaked, let the rain fall.
Let the skies open and the clouds gather ..."

Henry noticed the confused faces on the crowd, save for Sincere who was sitting in the front row tapping her toes. Then he saw the preacher step forward and nod toward him. He'd have to pick up his feet and begin his walk to the altar. All he had to do was move his feet one step at time. Cautiously he took the first step. He prayed he didn't fall, or do anything stupid as he proceeded to walk through the aisles. He could still hear Andre and the organ play as he took his steps. Okay, this really is it, he thought. He could see Diego watching him as he drew closer. He saw the eyes of the preacher peering above the book he held in his hands. There was still time. He could still turn around and run. He could run forever. Then he saw Diego's confused smile and he knew he couldn't run.

The preacher began. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the face of this company -- to join together this half-man-half-bug and this woman in holy matrimony."

Did he really say that? Henry thought. He turned and looked at Diego. She smiled at him and scratched her head. Then he gazed at the crowd. He saw Shakespeare approaching, carrying their rings in his hand.

The preacher continued. " Do you take Diego to be your wife -- to live together after God's ordinance -- in the holy estate of matrimony?"

He felt the pit of his thorax churning like a freight train, still he said it. "I do."

Then the preacher turned to Diego. "Do you take Henry to be your husband -- to live together after God's ordinance -- in the holy estate of matrimony?"

He stared at Diego's face. She stood frozen and then she sneezed.

The preached smiled and said. "God bless you."

Was she going to say it? Where was she now? He wondered, and she suddenly picked up her head like she was stepping out of a dream. "Ooops, sorry, I do."

Phew, it was almost over, he thought, just a few more minutes and they'd be married.

The preacher went on. "What token of your love do you offer? Would you place the rings in my hand?" Then he saw Shakespeare step forward. The preacher bent down and took the rings. He thought he heard Shakespeare giggle but he wasn't sure. The preacher turned and handed them the rings. All he had to do was place the ring on Diego's finger when it stopped shaking.

The preacher said. "Repeat after me: with this ring I thee ..."

Suddenly, Henry saw the preacher rising in the air. He looked up and he saw Clarissa arched over, carrying the preacher away with her tentacles.

The crowd went "oooh." Then they grew silent.

What on earth was she doing? He had to do something. He looked at Diego. She was staring up at Clarissa like everyone else in the loft. "Mother, no!" he shouted.

Then she buzzed loudly, "This is an abomination, Henry! A sin against nature!"

She pulled the preacher higher. She began thrashing, knocking tables and chairs over. The crowd stood. Some people began to run toward the door. Elvira tried to stop Clarissa, but she was out of control. The sound of glass crashing filled the room.

Then he noticed Sincere standing up and waving her hands. What was she doing? he wondered. She continued to wave her hands. He saw her stand on her chair. Her hands still waved, then out of the blue, Clarissa contorted and her tentacles wrapped and tightened around her own body. He saw the preacher begin to fall until, like a miracle, he floated down to the altar. Henry looked at Sincere. She smiled proudly with her arms crossed. Everyone in the loft stared at Sincere. Then he saw Andre waving his hands, smiling and he heard him say, "Well, what is everyone waiting for -- are we going to have a wedding or not?"

He saw the remaining crowd sit down. He turned and looked at Diego. Diego still stared up in the air. He looked at his mother. She was still safely imprisoned by her own tentacles.

He gazed at Diego, and said, "Well, where's my ring?"

Without missing a beat she placed the ring on Henry's finger.

He heard the preacher say, "I now pronounce you man and wife I mean half-man-half-bug and wife."

He heard his mother buzz. "Don't say I didn't warn you, Henry!"

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-11-22
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