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September 26, 2022

Dinner With Henry 32: The Big Nothing

By Bruce Memblatt

It was Friday. Andre entered the kitchen with his usual cheer and pathos. In his head he heard birds chirp. He turned on the sink and filled it with soap. Bubbles popped as he washed out his coffee pot. He began to sing in soapy delight.

"It's a wonderful day in the kitchen.
A wonderful day for a friend.
Would you me mine?
Could you be mine?"

"Could you shut up?" Shakespeare snapped as he walked into the kitchen, his hands covering a yawn.

"Oh, Shakespeare. What is wrong with you? Don't be such a pooh. It is Friday. It is the morning. Be happy, don't worry."

"I was born to worry," Shakespeare said. He walked to the other end of the kitchen and placed a package in his locker.

"What was that, Shakespeare?"

"A bomb."

It was then that Henry and Diego marched into the kitchen.

"Good morning!" Henry cried, while Diego searched the kitchen with her eyes and sighed. She said, her head tilting, "I sense something plain in the air."

Shakespeare retorted, lifting a bowl of whipped cream, "That's Andre's strudel."

"Careful, or I'll break your noodle," Andre waxed in a German accent.

"Funny," Shakespeare sighed and shrugged.

Andre lifted his spoon and winked, "So Henry, Diego, where is leetle Winifred today? She must be such a grown up to be on her own, eh?"

"She's at my mother's," Henry said, picking up a dish.

Shakespeare giggled. "Well, it was nice knowing her."

"Shakespeare, stop it! Please don't mind him, Henry. So she will be all right, Henry?"

Henry looked stunned at Andre.

"She will be fine," Diego breathed and waved her hand slowly in the air. "This will be a day when nothing happens."

Andre looked in the air, "But something has to happen, Diego. Something always happens, for instance it is Friday. At noon Alarm will come screaming through the kitchen.

"She does that every Friday," Diego sighed. "Otherwise nothing will happen today."

"Okay," Shakespeare said, pointing at Andre with a she's nuts gesture. Andre looked back at Shakespeare and searched the air again with his eyes.

Then Henry said something that stunned the kitchen. He said, "I think she's right, nothing will happen today."

Shakespeare's and Andre's heads searched the air again.

Diego turned to Andre and Shakespeare. "See I told you, nothing will happen today."

Suddenly, Andre became frustrated. He cried, "THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE. Even in the vast nothing. In the nothing of nothingness, in the deepest vacuum of space something happens, even if it is a small something. SOMETHING HAS TO HAPPEN. There is no such thing as nothing happening!"

Diego shrugged, "He's very literal isn't he, Henry?"

"All day I've been sensing it," Henry said. "A lull."

Andre jumped. His hat teetered on his head. "A lull is one thing, Henry, but nothing? N-O-T-H-I-N-G? Here, I will prove something will happen today. Shakespeare, tell us all, what is in that package you threw in your locker?" Andre smiled in satisfaction.

"My laundry."

Andre's smile vanished. Ah, I see." His face turned red. "Well um ... you plan on doing your laundry today. Well, that is something."

"Yeah, something dull." Henry said.

Shakespeare pulled the package out and waved it in the air. "Dull? A blind midget's laundry is never dull."

"That is not the point. You are all missing the point," Andre sighed. His lips quivered.

"Well, what is the point, Andre?" Simpson said, straightening his tie.

Andre threw his hands in the air. "Oh my god. He did it again; popped in out of nowhere!"

Simpson leaned against the stove. "Of course, I did, but it was, ahem, nothing." He smiled and vanished.

Andre jumped. "Did you all see that? Simpson -- he vanished into thin air. Tell me that is nothing. Go ahead tell me that was NOTHING!"

Shakespeare, Henry, and Diego shrugged in unison. "That was nothing."

"Really," Henry said casually drying off a dish, "he does that every day."

"He does?" Andre's eyebrows rose. His nose quivered. "And yet I have never noticed it. And I notice everything."

"Guess you don't, Sherlock," Shakespeare snapped while he picked up a pair of socks that rolled to the floor.

Andre walked to the back of the kitchen and tapped on Sincere's shoulder. Sincere was peeling an apple at the time. No one knew why.

"Sincere," he whispered, " Is it true nothing will happen today?"

"Yes," she returned, pulling a worm out of the apple.

Andre cried, "You are all mad! Something will happen! Something has to happen!"

Diego slowly waved her hands through the air. Her eyes appeared unusually clear. Her hair fell over her shoulder. "Why, Andre? Why? Please tell us, why does something have to happen?"

Out of her hands popped a sparrow.

Andre slapped his head, and cried, "What did you do? How did a bird pop out of your hands?"

"Henry, what is he talking about?" Diego breathed and placed the sparrow behind her back.

"I don't know, Honey. What are you talking about, Andre?" Henry said, looking at Andre with concern.

Andre threw his hat off. "WHAT AM I TALKING ABOUT? I'm talking about the little sparrow that just popped out of Diego's hands."

Shakespeare tugged on Andre's leg and whispered, "Think you're about due for a visit to the happy doctor."

"Listen, Shakespeare, you couldn't see it because you're blind, but a sparrow just popped right out Diego's hand. I don't know why Diego and Henry are denying it. But I saw it clear as a bell. Clear as anything I've ever seen. Now, I know you are blind and therefore could not witness the sparrow, but I have, and therefore something has happened today!"

Diego stepped slowly over to Andre and said, "Only if it really happened. If it didn't, then nothing happened."

Shakespeare rolled over on the floor and cried, "Will everybody please stop!"

Henry stood over Shakespeare and said, "Stop what?"

Shakespeare suddenly got up, wiped off his pants and snapped, "Nothing!"

Andre pointed. "You see, Shakespeare something is very odd today. There isn't plainness in the air there is oddness in the air. A strange mixture of mystery and suspense. If nothing has happened today then it is my fervent wish that nothing happens every day."

"What are you talking about?" Shakespeare said, and then he walked over to Andre and stepped on his shoe.

Andre shook his foot. "Why did you do that, you leetle toad!"

"I don't know. Think of it as a strange mixture of mystery and suspense," Shakespeare answered.

"Shakespeare, I don't like it here in the kitchen today. Let's go for a walk, come with Andre. We'll pick up bagels."

"Bagels?"

"Yes, with cream cheese."

"Okay," Shakespeare said and they left the kitchen leaving Diego, Henry, and Sincere behind.

Once they were gone Henry turned to Diego and whispered, "Do you think it worked?"

"I think so, Henry."

Henry continued, "He hasn't had a vacation in ten years. Everyone needs a vacation."

"He'll go," Diego sighed.

"By the way where did you get the sparrow?"

Diego winked. "What sparrow?"

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-03-07
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