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September 25, 2023

Dinner With Henry 29: Up On The Roof

By Bruce Memblatt

Panic broke out on Delancey Street. Police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks surrounded the warehouse.

Clarissa hung over the roof of the building, dangling Simpson over the edge in her tentacle.

A short officer with a bullhorn began to shout at the crowd that had gathered in the street. "Everyone remain calm, it seems we have an unusual situation on our hands ..." when suddenly She began to drop Simpson.

The crowd in the street oohed and hushed, before she pulled Simpson back up.

Once again, the officer called into his bullhorn, "Like I said -- please, everyone remain calm."

Pushing through the crowd, Andre rushed up to the officer. Shakespeare was at his side.

"She's our boss, Clarissa!" Andre shouted.

The officer pulled the bullhorn away from his mouth. "You work for a deranged giant bug?"

Andre, throwing his hands in the air, replied, "Yes, it is a long story; in the meanwhile, she has Simpson!"

"What's a Simpson?"

"The thin man she is dangling. He's our other boss."

"And who's the blind midget standing next to you?"

"That would be our pastry chef, Shakespeare."

A tall officer ran up to them and cried, "So Ryan, what have we got here?"

Ryan pointed to Andre. "Not certain, but the big guy here seems to be involved. Him, and the blind midget."

"Oh really?" the tall officer slowly said. His lips quivered.

Startled, Andre jumped. "What do you mean involved?"

She began to lower Simpson again, teasing the crowd. Writhing over the edge of the roof she crazily buzzed, "Baby baby deedle- deedle -dee baby!"

Squinting his eyes, the short officer said, "Baby baby deedle- deedle- dee?"

Andre waved his hands. "Like I said, it's a long story. Ever since her granddaughter was born she's been behaving quite peculiarly. Isn't that right, Shakespeare?"

"Yeah," Shakespeare snapped, "She's nuts."

"Whaddya mean nuts? "The tall officer whispered.

At that point the crowd began to hush in horror because She began to stomp on the rooftop and wave Simpson around in the air like he was a yo-yo.

Ryan grabbed his bullhorn and pointed towards the roof shouting, "Clarissa, can we talk to you? Just talk."

Quickly, She stood still, frozen on the roof holding Simpson over her head. Her beady black eyes became beadier and strange.

Andre cried, "Please, officer may I have the bullhorn?" Grudgingly, the officer passed it to Andre. Andre held the bullhorn to his mouth and cried, "Clarissa, Henry will be here soon with Winifred!"

Instantly, to Andre's surprise, She placed Simpson down on the rooftop, covering him with her tentacle.

"Who's Henry? Ryan said, waving an ambulance through the crowd.

Andre cried above the noise, "He's her son. He is a half-bug due to experimental treatment. He married Diego our one-eared nurse and they had a baby girl."

"So she's upset because he married a human? I can dig that."

At that point Shakespeare lifted his arms and said, "See?"

"Now, Shakespeare, and ahem Officer Ryan, love knows no boundaries. They fell in love, so they had a child and tied the knot."

Then the tall officer stepped over and cried, "Enough of this namby- pamby talk -- we have to get her down off that roof!"

Ryan shouted, "What do you mean namby-pamby? This broad Diego married a bug, can you imagine a bug?"

"Half bug!" Andre hollered, throwing his hat to the ground, "half bug! I am getting so excited I can hardly contain myself. Why do these things always happen to me, to poor Andre?"

"Listen, we don't have any bugs in our family, half or not!" The tall officer said, shaking his fists.

Then Ryan cried, "What about your brother Sid?"

"He's not a bug he's a worm."

Suddenly, Shakespeare pulled his fingers into his mouth and exhaled a loud whistle. "Hey, what about the giant bug and the thin man?!"

As the argument intensified, chunks of bricks began to crumble and fall off the roof. The crowd started to scream and back away.

Andre held his chest and said. "Oh god, oh god, the building. What if the roof of the warehouse can't hold her? What will happen then? I don't want to see. I don't want to know. I want to hide my head and run from the world."

That's when the tall officer said, "You can't hide from the world, big guy."

Ryan cried into the bullhorn, "Everyone remain calm, we have things under control."

One man in the crowd shouted, "The hell you do!"

Ryan shot back, "Oh yeah, you think you can do better, big shot?"

Chunks of bricks continued to fall from the roof. Fire engines began to circle the building. Still the crowd remained, hushing and oohing, and occasionally screaming. She lifted Simpson over her head again, buzzing her eerie chant, "Baby deedle- deedle- dee baby."

Andre pointed at the roof and sighed. "Lord, I wish Henry and Diego would get here already!"

"They're just up the block, "Shakespeare said as he tugged on Andre's leg.

"How do you know, Shakespeare? How do you know?"

"Blind midget ears are very powerful."

"So is your cell phone," Ryan snickered.

"Rat," Shakespeare snapped.

Henry and Diego turned the corner. Henry held his hands over his eyes trying to block out the sun, which was brilliant that day on Delancey Street. Up on the roof he caught the sight of his mother on top of the warehouse holding Simpson over her head. His wing darted. His thorax sunk.

Diego spotted Andre first and elbowed Henry. "There he is, there's the big one."

"What are we going to do, Diego? I can't believe this is happening. We should have let her see Winifred."

Diego breathed, "Well, now she can see whoever she wants, but it was Elvira's idea."

"I know, Elvira said she was acting strangely." Henry sighed.

"I wonder what she meant?" Diego shook her head and sighed as she pushed Winifred's stroller through the crowd.

Up ahead, the tall officer was calling through the bullhorn, "Let them through. Let them through!"

A broad smile came over Andre's face when he spotted Henry and Diego and Winifred zigzagging through the noisy crowd. He threw his hands in the air. "Henry! Henry, thank god you are here!"

The crowd screamed because Clarissa was dangling Simpson over the roof again.

Diego said, "Henry, she is nuts. She might drop him."

Ryan ran up to Diego. He poked his head in the carriage and beamed. "Cootchie- cootchie- coo. You know maybe I was wrong. She is kind of cute for a bug-baby."

"Her name is Winifred," Henry said, stepping up to Ryan.

Ryan turned and sneered, "And I suppose you are the half- bug who caused all this trouble?

Andre intervened, "Now, Officer, Henry didn't do anything wrong -- it's not his fault his mother is a ... shall we say ... a tad eccentric?"

Suddenly Diego began to walk away.

"Where are you going, Diego?" Henry said as he grabbed the handle of Winifred's stroller.

Diego sternly looked at the roof and said, "I am going to talk to her, Henry," which caused Shakespeare to throw his hands over his head.

At that point Diego walked up the stairs to the warehouse and entered the hall. She marched to the elevator and hit the button that said "roof."

Stepping out on the roof, Diego looked from side to side. She saw Clarissa near the edge of the roof dangling Simpson, but as she neared Clarissa her eyes caught a view of a Goodyear blimp circling the neighborhood.

A few minutes had passed when She buzzed in Diego's ear. "What do you want?"

Mystified, Diego turned around and said, "Um, oh, I want you to knock it off. Put Simpson down and I'll bring up the baby."

"Okay." She buzzed, "baby- baby- deedle- deedle- dee- dee- baby."

Diego breathed, "I wonder how I could get a ride in a Goodyear blimp."

The crowd hushed as She lowered Simpson onto the roof. Then her black eyes spiraled, and she buzzed, "Now, bring me the baby."

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-02-14
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