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February 19, 2024

Dinner With Henry 25: The Arrival

By Bruce Memblatt

The street was dark. The wind picked up.

"God Dammit. God Dammit! GOD DAMMIT!"

"Honey, it's just one more block to the hospital," Henry plead, his arm wrapped around Diego's shoulder.

"Henry I can't see, GOD DAMMIT!" Diego thrashed her arms.

A lid flew off a trash can and rattled down the sidewalk.

"She's got quite a vocabulary," Shakespeare snapped.

"Now, Shakespeare, she is in severe pain, the pains of birth. But we must keep in mind that this is a happy occasion. It reminds us without pain there cannot be joy!" Andre said. His steps grew slow.

"Shut him up, Henry, shut the big one up or I'll deck him! GOD DAMMIT!"

"It is okay, I understand, Andre will not say a word. Silence will be my watchcry! When Andre is silent you can hear the fleet of a pin drop. Oh look, everyone, there, behold, the light from the hospital!" Andre waved his hand and pointed toward the end of the street. Before their eyes, the glint of dimmed light from a dangling emergency room sign.

"It doesn't look very bright. GOD DAMMIT, HENRY!"

"It's generator light, Diego. Don't worry, everything will be fine," Henry said. He held his arm tighter around Diego.

A cat screeched. "Sorry, little cat. Andre can't see where he is going. You are not a magic cat, are you?"

"Yeah, and I'm an elf, and we're on our way to Candy Land," Shakespeare barked.

"Shakespeare, don't bark at me. I swear, it was a talking cat, he said my name and he snapped very much like you," Andre said slowly. His lips quivered.

Diego flailed her arms and cried, "I won't make it, Henry. I'm going to die on this black street listening to him yammer! GOD DAMMIT!"

"We're just a few feet away, Diego. Hang on," Henry said, grasping Diego's hands.

"My focal point, Henry where is my little bird?"

"Her what?" Shakespeare asked.

Henry turned to Shakespeare. "It's something we learned in Lamaze class. An object Diego focuses on when she feels pain. She has a small ceramic bird that she named Lola."

"Lola?" Shakespeare shrugged.

Andre jumped and said, "How clever! Diego, I am not a bird, but look at me and imagine I am. I can be your focal point. I will even pretend my arms are wings, and flap them." Andre flapped his arms.

"Oh, look, it's Very Big Bird," Shakespeare giggled.

At that point Diego produced a scream that sent shutters flapping, and cats tearing down the street. Fortunately, they'd just arrived at the doors of the hospital.

As they pushed through the entrance a security guard called, "Can I see your ID?"

"ID?" Andre gasped. "Isn't this a hospital? Can't you see there is a woman about to give birth here?"

"Listen, Big Bird," the security guard gruffly said, "in case you hadn't noticed we are experiencing a blackout. This is what you might call an emergency situation we have here. And in emergency type situations we require an ID. And particularly, when I see what appears to be some half-bug half-man kind of creature and a midget without eyes entering the premises, not to mention a fat lady with a missing ear." The guard sneered and he began to walk towards Shakespeare.

Shakespeare bobbed his head up and said, "Sir, what do you mean 'with'? If it's missing then it's not 'with', you mean 'without an ear.'"

"Listen, funny man, I don't need no lectures from a blind shrimp."

"GOD DAMMIT!" Diego shrieked, and she rushed towards the security guard. "Get out of my way or you'll be with a missing leg!" The lights flickered in the hallway.

To Diego's delight, the security guard trembled like a school girl. "Whatever you say, miss. Whatever you want, by all means." Then he turned and whispered out of the side of his mouth, "I can't stand to see a woman shriek."

Henry quickly approached the guard. "Excuse me, Bugman speaking, my name is Henry and this is my wife Diego -- as you can see she's about to have our baby. IS THERE A FUCKING DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE?"

"YOU TELL HIM, HENRY! GOD DAMMIT!" Diego roared and wriggled in pain.

Suddenly a nurse came marching down the hall waving her arms, reaching for a whistle that hung around her neck. "What's all the running around and shouting going on here? This is a hospital, not a saloon!"

"Are you sure? Because I wouldn't mind a shot of whiskey," Shakespeare cracked.

"Oh a funny one, eh? Listen, Jerry I'll handle this, you watch the door."

The security guard meekly stepped back and said, "sure thing, Winifred."

The nurse stared and said, "Now what's going on here?"

"Well," Andre gestured, "As you can see this woman has gone into labor, and this being a hospital, we thought it just might be a good place to take her."

"Quick thinking, Sherlock." The nurse cracked her gum.

"I like her," Shakespeare giggled.

The nurse beckoned to Diego and said, "So what's your name, honey?"

"Diego, GOD DAMMIT."

"You don't have to curse, lady. And I suppose he's the father?" she said, eying Andre.

Andre began to speak. "Ha, I am afraid ..."

"NO, him!" Diego cried and pointed at Henry.

"Hmmm, I see, well, there's a nice veterinary clinic down the street." Diego moved deliberately towards the nurse. "What are you, some kind of comedienne? GOD DAMMIT WHERE IS THE DOCTOR? HENRY!"

The nurse cracked her gum again and said, "Okay, okay, don't get your buns in a knot, I'll call the doctor and we'll get you strapped in."

"Strapped in?" Diego breathed before she lay down on the floor, writhing.

Henry zoned out for a moment. In his mind he pictured the baby coming out of Diego with giant wasp wings and a twenty foot tongue, hissing. He smiled.

The lights flickered again.

Diego shrieked, "Henry! HENRY!"

Henry quickly turned around and knelt over Diego whispering, "I'm sorry, Honey I zoned out for a second there."

"Henry, this is no time to be zoning out," Diego sighed and then she pulled on her stomach and screamed, "GOD DAMMIT."

Andre ran over to Henry and said, "She is right, Henry. This is no time to be zoning out. This is a time to zone in, to concentrate."

Quickly, Shakespeare scampered next to Andre and slowly said, "Think about this, are you sure?"'

"Shakespeare this is not a time for your leetle obnoxious jokes."

"Eh, whatever happened to your watchcry?" Shakespeare barked.

"GOD DAMMIT ..." Diego shrieked.

They heard squeaky footsteps and at once they saw Winifred marching down the hall.

"People, people," she blew her whistle and shouted, "PEOPLE!"

On the floor Diego turned to Henry and said, "Why is she shouting, Henry?"

The lights flickered more.

Winifred continued, "I've contacted the doctor. He's preparing a room on the third floor. Now ..." she stared down at Diego, "honey, you have to get up off the linoleum."

"Yeah, easier said than done, and I hate floors!" Diego cried. Without hesitation, Henry began to help Diego off the floor.

"Here I'll take her other arm," Andre said gesturing at Henry.

Diego screamed as she stood, "GOD DAMMIT THE BABY IS COMING!"

"We know," Shakespeare cracked.

"I mean, NOW!"

The lights went out.

"Uh-oh." Andre muttered.

"Oh shit," Winifred muttered.

Henry ran over to Winifred and cried, "What do we do now? What do we do NOW?"

"Well handsome, the generator is out which means the elevator is out which means you wife is having your baby on the floor."

"NO, HENRY!" Diego shrieked.

Winifred stepped over to Diego and said, "Afraid so, Sugar. Now back down on the floor."

"Better listen to her, Honey."

"But, Henry, I hate floors and I can't see! GOD DAMMIT."

"Down, Sister." Winifred said, helping Diego down to the floor.

Bewilderment grew in Andre's voice. "Oh my. Oh my. What is going to happen next? How much more can I take? Can we take? What will become of us? What will become of us all? I shudder to think."

"The big one is at it again, Henry."

"I'm sorry, Diego, Henry, little Shakespeare. What can Andre do? What can Andre do?" He paused for a moment and put his finger in the air. "Water... I'll boil some water."

"Honey, this is no time for coffee," Winifred cracked.

Then Shakespeare giggled, "I really like her."

"We don't need water, Chubby, but if you could grab some sheets from the linen closet at the end of the hall ..."

Before she could finish Andre felt his way down to the end of the hall.

They heard a crash.

"I forgot to tell you to be careful, Chubs. I have some flashlights at the station, I'll go get them. In the meanwhile Bugman, you keep her comfortable on the floor."

Henry sat on the floor next to Diego and held her hand. Instantly, Diego dug her nails into Henry's palm. "I'm sorry, Henry." Diego whispered.

"That's okay, Diego, I've got another hand. We're going to be parents soon."

"Sooner than you think, Henry."

Diego's legs stretched. She pushed. She pulled. She writhed. She screamed. She grimaced. She cursed and she cursed again, and out popped a baby.

Amazed, Henry slowly reached for the child. They both stared at it in the faint and waited and waited and waited.

They heard the baby cry.

Happily, they sighed and oohed. Then, suddenly, they saw the beam of a flashlight moving towards them and Winifred's face behind the beam.

"Well lookie lookie what we have here. Look at you three." Winfred said, smiling as she knelt down next to Diego and Henry. She pointed the flashlight at the baby."It's a girl."

"I told you, Henry," Diego said stretching her arms and smiling.

"That you did."Henry said.

"A perfectly normal human girl," Winifred said.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-01-17
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