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August 15, 2022

Dinner With Henry 37: Somewhere Over Delancey Street

By Bruce Memblatt

It was a dark and stormy night. The light from the nine hundred inch TV screen in the loft flickered across the main room. Above, She watched intently. Her black eyes widened at the news report that blanched on the screen. It revealed how the half-bug population was rapidly increasing in the city. She glistened. All the signs were falling into place, first Winifred, and then this news. Surely her children would have to believe her now. Her head bobbed and weaved near the edge of the skylight when suddenly a crash of thunder hit the glass, and the window popped open, and smacked her in the head.

Her body fell to the floor of the loft. In her mind she saw a woman that resembled Diego riding a bicycle, in front of a door in mid-air, outside the window. Then she found herself transported to a colorful magical land inhabited by creatures that resembled people she knew. But all the while that she was there she only had one goal, one wish; she had to find the door; the magic door that she told Winifred about.

She lay on a dusty road and she stretched her antennae and sighed as she saw a house fall to the ground near her tentacles. Then, from high above, a witch riding on a broomstick careened out of the sky toward her head, but as the witch drew close Clarissa realized how similar she was to Sincere.

The witch stood near her head, eating a worm from a can and she said, "Oh you're a big girl, aren't ya? I don't know if you'll fit in here, love."

Her head spied around and she buzzed, "Oh you're right, I agree, I won't fit in here at all. What I really need is to find the door. Show me to the door and I'll leave."

"I'm sorry, Dearie, it's not all that simple: in order to find the door you must learn a valuable lesson."

"But I don't have time and there's not enough room in this magical land for me."

"Not to worry we'll make room. There's room in Zo for everyone," she said and then she smiled and pulled a worm from her can.

"Zo?"

"Yes, Zo! Now take this red can I'm going to give you, and don't you ever lose it to the wicked witch."

"Wicked witch?"

"Yes, my evil sister, but don't worry, she only shows up Fridays at noon."

Clarissa's head bobbed against the road and she buzzed knowingly, "Ah, she reminds me of someone."

"I'll bet we all remind you of someone, but heed my word -- don't lose the red can or you'll never find the door." The witch said and then she formed into a bubble and vanished into the violet sky.

Clarissa watched her disappear, and then her head bobbed down to see three blind midgets on the edge of the road. She stretched her tentacles toward them.

And they said in unison in tiny voices, "Honey, you're blocking the road."

She reared back and she buzzed, "I know, but I seem to be stuck in this magical land, and all I really want to do is to find the door. If I don't find the door I'll never be happy, never. And I'll never be able to leave. And as you can see I am HUGE. Won't you three help me find the door?"

They spun their heads and they said "Well, what kind of door is it?"

"It's a magic door."

Then they shrugged and they snapped, "Um, okay..."

The middle one rolled his eyes and said, "Sister, there's only one man in town who can help you find the door, and that's the wizard."

"Oooh where is he? Where is he?" She buzzed and her antennae swirled around on the top of her head.

"You'll have to follow this road."

"Does this road have a name, like say The Yellow Brick Road?"

The blind midget on the right said, "What kind of stupid name is that? Nope we just call it the road because it's the only road in town."

"I see," she buzzed and her head drooped.

"Well, hurry up," the blind midget on the right said, "we haven't got all day and I'm late for my pedicure."

And the middle one began to sing, Follow the road.
Then the one on the right repeated in song, Follow the road.
And the one on the left joined in, Follow the road. Follow the road. Follow, follow, follow the road.

So Clarissa began her journey down the road under the violet sky. She hadn't taken two steps, which was quite a distance considering her size, when she came upon a man tied to a stick in a garden in the forest. The man had thin lips, he wore glasses and she thought he seemed kind of wimpish.

Ah, this must be Simpson's manifestation, she thought as he began to whine, "Can someone get me down from this stick? Please help me."

"How did you get caught on a stick?" She buzzed. Her head pointed down peering at the stick.

"I was mugged by three blind midgets. They took my money and then they tied me to this stick, laughing all the while like hyenas, nasty little things."

She smirked and buzzed, "One can't be too careful nowadays. I know if I could just find the door all my cares would be over."

"I'd like to help you find the door, but I haven't got a sense of direction."

"Oh dear," she paused and then she buzzed, "Well, I'm going to see the wizard, and he's going to lead me to the door. I'll bet he'd give you a sense of direction too."

"Do you think so?"

She gazed at the violet sky. "Sure, why not?"

"Oh If he could! If he just could!" The man on the stick cried, and then he burst into song.

"If I had a sense of direction
I'd know every intersection
From here to Timbuktu
I'd be happy, I'd be chipper
I wouldn't be such a knipper
If I only had a sense of direction."

"That was interesting. Can we go now?" She lifted her leg and pushed him off the stick

"Ouch! Not so hard!" he cried.

"Sorry, I don't know my own strength," she buzzed and they continued down the road.

Follow the road. Follow the road Follow, follow, follow the road.

"I'm getting tired," he said as they reached a thick brush of woods. "How much farther do we have to go?"

"I don't know. They didn't tell me how far it was."

"If I had a sense of direction I'd know."

Suddenly a torrent of winged monkeys filled the air. Clarissa and The Man Who Was No Longer On A Stick hid under the brush. Which was kind of hard for Clarissa considering her size, but she was determined to get to the wizard to find the door.

And under the brush they spotted an interesting creature that was half-bug, half-man.

She spied down at the creature and she buzzed, "You are a crime against nature!"

The Man Who Used To Be On A Stick agreed with her, and he said the same thing to the half-bug, half-man, "You are a crime against nature!"

The half-bug, half-man cowered and shivered and then he sadly said, "I know ... if I only had a way to become all one, or the other ..."

Then Clarissa's black eyes darted and she buzzed, "Come with us, we're going to the wizard. He's going to lead me to the door, and he's going to give him a sense of direction."

"A sense of direction?" The half-bug creature said. His eyes squinted.

"Yes," the man said, blushing.

Then Clarissa reared her head. "When you're all bug, you'll be as tall as me."

"That's if I choose to become all bug, and not all human"

"You know something? You are annoying," she buzzed.

Suddenly the winged monkeys grabbed The Man Who Used To Be On A Stick and the half-bug, half-man, and they took them to the evil witch's castle.

Clarissa stared at the violet sky and she buzzed, "Tch ... now I'm going to have to go get them."

In the stone castle, dressed in black, the evil witch stared at her crystal ball. Below in her dungeon the half-man, half-bug and The Man Who Used To Be On A Stick were tied up. Furry guards guarded the castle carrying torches and humming.

The witch got up from her chair and she said, "I wonder if we have any babka in the castle."

With that a winged monkey said, "Nope, sorry, we're out of babka."

Then she said, "I wish we had a decent chef here." And she stared at the wall.

And as she stared at the wall it began to crumble and Clarissa's tentacles popped through the bricks.

"Give me my Man Who Used To Be On A Stick and the half-bug, half-man, or I'll tear this castle to the ground." She fiercely buzzed.

"Go ahead," the Witch said, "it's getting boring around here, anyway."

"Do tell?" She buzzed.

"Always the same thing, spells, hapless creatures lost on the road trying to get to the wizard. I'll tell you something, that wizard is just a big bag of wind."

"Hmmm," she buzzed, shaking her head up and down, "I'll bet I know who he is."

"Yeah, he used to be a chef somewhere. Used to make great babka, now all he does is sing strange songs and shoot his mouth off."

Suddenly the door to the castle opened and in walked the wizard. "Hello, I was just in the neighborhood. You know how I like to take afternoon strolls. It is such good exercise. Anyway, I was going through the thick brush in the wood when I said to myself, Maybe I should drop in and say hello to the Wicked Witch, so here I am. I see you have a guest, a large guest. Who, pray tell, is this magnificent creature?"

"Oh brother," The wicked witch sighed.

"I'm Clarissa and I need to find the door, if I don't find the door I will never be happy."

"Hmmm," the wizard said, "would this be the magic door? I love magic!"

"Yes that's the one, the magic door."

"Do you have the red can?"

"Oh my, I do, I thought the Wicked Witch was going to try to take it from me but she didn't."

"What's the point?" The Wicked Witch said, shaking her head and sighing.

"Okay then," The Wizard lifted his hat and he said, "Rub the red can three times and then say 'There's no door like this door.' Remember: three times."

She shook her head and she buzzed, "You mean I could have done this hours ago?"

"You could have, but you had to learn a valuable lesson first."

"What did I learn?"

"By coming to this dangerous castle to rescue your friends, you learned how to be courageous and caring, and you learned there's nothing like a good babka."

Then the witch chimed in, "Speaking of babka ..." "Just a moment, please, Wicked Witch!"

At that moment Clarissa pulled the red can from under her tentacle and rubbed it three times repeating, "There's no door like this door. There's no door like this door."

Then came smoke and fog and hazy lights and the door assembled at the end of a long tunnel, and Clarissa passed through it.

Beyond the door appeared deep space filled with stars dotting a dark horizon. And in that horizon and all around her she saw sparks of light. Then, magically, She changed into a spark of light and she moved through the sky with all the sparks of light in the universe. And her heart filled with joy because she was no longer bug, or human, or mother, or boss. She, like all the other sparks of light, just was.


Then Henry and Diego knocked on the door of the loft.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-04-18
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