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January 23, 2023

Dinner With Henry 35: The Door

By Bruce Memblatt

Winifred lay in her crib watching a mobile with pink elephants spin around and around and around. She could hear her mother somewhere in the distance looking through the closet for her shoe, and she could hear her father pacing as he was prone do to when her mother was looking for her shoes. There was water running in the bathroom. And on the radio a Sinatra tune bopped through the air. Then out of the blue she heard a knock on the front door followed by her father's nervous footsteps, and the sound of the door swinging open.

And then came his voice: Andre, her first friend and confidant. "Henry I'm sorry I am early, but I was so excited to bring this special pineapple cream pie over that I have been slaving over in the kitchen for hours! Mind you, hours, Henry! Because I knew you and Diego would enjoy it so much for our little evening here, our nice little gathering!"

"Yeah, and I'm here too!" Shakespeare snapped.

"So maybe it won't be so nice." Andre giggled.

Henry waved Andre and Shakespeare in, calling, "Come in, guys. Diego is looking for her shoe, and Winifred is in her crib."

"Oh, Henry, oh, Henry!" Andre cried.

Then Shakespeare said, "What is he, a candy bar?"

"Ha ha, oh, Shakespeare, you're so funny," Andre said, his eyes rolling, "Anyway Henry! Can I see little Winifred, I love the many discussions we've been having lately."

"Soon Andre, let's sit down first." Henry said, directing Andre and Shakespeare to the couch.

"Yup there's nothing as stimulating as a conversation with a four week old, baby!" Shakespeare said as he brushed a pillow away and sat down on the sofa.

"Now Shakespeare," Andre said. "Oh Henry, take this and put it in the kitchen." He handed Henry a white box containing a pineapple cream pie. "Now, Shakespeare, Winfried is highly intelligent -- she's not your average four-week-old as we all know! Right, Henry?"

Henry called from the kitchen, "We're still trying to digest this. Who knows what the future will bring? We have so much to think of, like schools. Where will she go to school? She's far more mature than children her age. We can't send her to a nursery school."

Andre grabbed a candy from the coffee table. "Oh, Henry, it's too soon to be worrying about school."

"Why not send her to bug school?" Shakespeare said, reaching for a candy when Diego entered the room holding a shoe in one hand and a diaper in the other.

Diego whispered loudly, "Bug school? She is not a bug, little one!"

"Hey how long have you known me? My name is not 'Little One.'"

"People get the names they deserve," Diego sighed.

"Ha ha, good one, Diego!" Andre said slapping his knee. "So what do you say, Henry and Diego, can I go have a chat with Winifred now?"

Then Henry walked into the living room with a tray of cheese and crackers. "In a few minutes, Andre first let's all sit down and talk."

"But I talk with you all day, Henry. I want to talk to Winifred, please oh, pleeeeeeeez!"

Diego stared at the wall and whispered, "Oh let him go, Henry, or we will never hear the end of it."

"Yeah and that's one big end," Shakespeare snapped as Andre flew off the couch and marched down the hall to Winifred's nursery.

Winifred saw a big shadow on the wall and she knew her friend Andre had arrived. Then over a pink mobile she saw his face appear.

"Hello, Winifred, hello! It is your friend and confidant, Andre!"

Winifred rolled over and gurgled and said," I know who you are, silly."

"I know you know who I am. Awww! You're so cute, little Winifred."

"Of course I am. I'm a baby." Winifred said curling her little fingers.

Andre smiled. "So how are you doing today, little Winifred?"

"You don't have to call me 'little' -- that's redundant because I'm a baby, but I think I could use a new diaper."

"Um yes, you could," Andre said. His nose twitched. "But, anyway, have you been having nice dreams?"

"A few, but it's not just the dreams. It's something grandmother said."

"Oooh, really, what did she say?"Andre's eyes beamed in surprise.

"Well, when she took me to have that chat in the loft," Winifred said and suddenly her eyes lit up. "There was a door at the end of the hall. She said that no one goes through that door until it's time. I wonder what she meant? I wonder what's behind that door."

Andre's eyes sparkled. "Hmmmmm, well, your grandmother has all kind of ideas. Maybe it leads to a candy mountain!"

"Haha! There's no such thing as a candy mountain, Andre!"

"Of course there is, Winifred, of course there is!"

"Well, I am getting sleepy; you know babies sleep a lot," Winifred said, and she stretched her tiny hands and yawned.

"I know. I will go now! I'll see you soon Winifred!"

"Bye bye, Andre!" Winifred hushed, and her eyes closed.

With that, Andre returned to the living room, bursting with curiosity. When he entered, he saw Shakespeare and Henry and Diego seated on the couch. Diego seemed to be staring at the wall and Shakespeare and Henry were laughing about something.

"So what is so funny?" Andre said, his eyes eager, as he sat down on an overstuffed chair next to the couch.

"Oh it was just something Shakespeare said about your pineapple cream pie, Andre." Diego continued to stare at the wall.

"Why are you staring at the wall, Diego?" Andre said, picking up a cracker.

"Something is happening."She winced.

"Okay."Andre said: his nose quivered, "Anyway, Henry! Henry! You'll never guess what Winifred said!"

"She said to stop bothering her?" Shakespeare snapped.

"Always with the jokes, Shakespeare. Someday a joke will land on your head!"

"What does that mean?" Henry said pointing his cracker at Andre.

Diego sighed, "I know what that means, Henry."

Then Andre became more flustered than usual and huffed. "She said there's a door, Henry, that your mother showed her. A door at the end of the hall in the loft, and she told Winifred no one was to go through that door till it's time! Such mystery! Such intrigue! I wonder what's behind that door? What could it be? Maybe it is a portal through history and time!"

Shakespeare echoed Andre's words mockingly, "A portal through history and time? I've always wanted a portal thorough history and time."

"You should get a portal through the sewers, you little toad!" Andre said. His eyes bulged.

Then Diego said, turning toward, Andre. "How exactly would that work?"

Henry, standing from the couch and sensing Diego was having an unusually odd day, said to her, "What did you mean when you said something is happening, Diego?"

"Well, Henry I sensed something before past the wall, and now they are talking about a magic door."

"Yes, but that's just my mother. You know her and her imagination."

"I don't know, Henry. She seems to know a lot," Digeo breathed.

"Yes!" Andre shouted, but remembered the incident on the roof of the loft? Maybe Henry is right! Maybe it's nothing, but how? How will we find out? How will we ever know for sure?" Andre's eyes, nose and lips quivered slowly.

"We'll have to sneak into the loft and find out," Diego sighed, grabbing a cracker from the table. "Say, Henry is that pineapple cream pie I smell?"

"Uh oh, I smell trouble." Shakespeare snapped.

"You are trouble," Andre said smirking.

And then Henry said, "I don't know if this is a good idea, Diego. If she catches us, she may go nuts again, and after all -- she is my mother."

Andre became all flustered again. "Henry, normally I would agree with you ... but ..."

And they went on, for hours, until the final decision was made: to sneak into the loft.

As made their way into the loft, it was agreed that Diego would act as a diversion while Henry and Andre would check out the door. Shakespeare would remain at the front door of the loft in case a quick exit was required.

They spotted Clarissa in the main room of the loft where it seemed she liked to spend most of her hours searching the sky. It was night and the moon shone bright through the skylight. Diego being the designated distraction stepped up to her first.

Clarissa, seeing Diego and Andre and Henry below her, immediately buzzed, "Curious ... what brings you all here tonight?"

"Well," Diego said, "I don't exactly know, but I felt a strange urge to see you, Clarissa and so I am here."

She buzzed, "Hmmmm, and you brought Henry and Andre too? Hello Henry."

"Hello, Mother." Henry sighed.

Then Andre peered up toward Clarissa. "Hello, Clarissa it is so good to see you on this fine moonlit night! Don't you love the moon?"

"Okay," she buzzed. Her black eyes swerved from side to side, her antennae stiffened. "What is up? I think something is afoot."

"Nothing is afoot, Mother," Henry said.

And then Diego quickly intervened, lifting a piece of hay from the floor. "Clarissa, do you have any thoughts on evolution?"

"You know I have many thoughts on evolution, Diego," She buzzed. "Did you suddenly come here to discuss evolution?"

"Yes," Diego hushed.

Clarissa buzzed, her head weaving down towards Diego, "ah, then I will tell you all of them."

Her head reared. That was the moment Henry and Andre decided it would be the perfect time to sneak down the hallway, and they began to do so. In the meanwhile, Diego stood below Clarissa, listening attentively and staring at the wall.

Making their way down the hall, Henry noticed the sterile quality of the passageway. It was much like the hallways in the rest of the warehouse; white walls, white lighting and white floors, almost like a hospital.

Andre said, "The walls, the floors -- everything is so white Henry, like a hospital."

Henry replied, "I was just thinking the same thing."

"Well, I guess she likes things neat and tidy," Andre said, stepping carefully down the hall.

"Mother was never one for messes," Henry said, and then spotting the door, he nudged Andre and said, "Look, it's the door."

"Yes, Henry I can see it's a door."

They stood still.

Henry stared at Andre and said, "Well, of course, but I just wanted to point it out in case you missed it."

Andre began to holler. "How could I miss it? IT IS A DOOR, HENRY!"

"Will you stop shouting, Andre!"

"NO, I will not stop shouting. I am tired of everyone treating me like I'm some kind of IDIOT!"

Henry turned red. "NO ONE TREATS YOU THAT WAY!"

"OH NO! THEN WHY ARE YOU POINTING OUT A DOOR WHEN I CAN SEE IT IS A DOOR!"

Then suddenly Clarissa buzzed, making her way down the hall.

Henry and Andre shook. Then they slapped their heads and said, "uh oh." in unison.

She darted her head and buzzed, "Oh, Henry! Like I told Winifred, no one goes through that door until it's time. HA! Thought you'd all fool me with that silly diversion."

Then Digeo shouted, "What about Isaac Newton?"

"Honey it's too late." Henry sighed.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-04-04
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