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"Mes de los Muertos"

Dinner With Henry 40: A Small Matter of Privacy

By Bruce Memblatt

The shadow of the mobile drew figures that danced along the floor of the nursery. Winifred cooed in her crib.

Henry twirled her pink mobile around some more, the one with the small giraffes on it.

She gazed up at her father and said, "Dad, you're making me dizzy."

Then a soft voice came across the nursery. "Henry, stop twirling that thing, you'll give her gout."

"Gout?" Henry winked, and whispered to Winifred, patting her on the head.

"You know Mom," Winifred giggled and smiled.

Henry smiled back. "Yeah, it's a good thing she's not a doctor."

"Oh, Daddy, you're so funny. Say, do you think we could go out today?"

Diego's head popped over the crib and she said, "We are all going for walk in the park. And Henry I need to stop at the store for some personal things."

Winifred's ears perked. "What kind of things, Mom?"

"Personal things. Now, Winifred, you don't need to know everything at once."

Winifred grinned. "Okay, Mom. I'll learn them separate."


Henry scratched his head and walked over to the dresser and pulled out a warmer for Winifred. At the same time Diego stepped into the hall to grab her coat from the closet.

Winifred lay in her nursery alone, watching the pink giraffes twirl down. She stretched her little arms and yawned, a mischievous smile crossed her face, and then she whispered, "I must learn everything at once."

Soon four eyes popped over the crib and Winifred saw Diego and Henry reaching for her.

"I'll take her, Henry."

"It's okay. I got her."

"No, Henry I got her."

Winifred pointed her little index finger and said, "why don't you just break me in half?"

Henry sighed as he watched Winifred leave the crib in Diego's arms.

Throwing her coat around her shoulders, Diego pushed Winifred's carriage through the apartment. Once they were in the hall, while Diego was locking the front door, Henry leaned over Winifred's carriage.

Winifred looked up, pounded her fists and whispered to her father, "Hey, Dad, what is personal stuff?"

"Stuff that's private, Winifred, you know, like your Pampers."

A look of shock flew across Winifred's face. "Mom wears pampers?"

"No, no, no, but you get the point, don't you, Winnie?"

She gurgled. "Who said you could call me Winnie?"

Then Diego appeared and took the handle of the carriage. "C'mon, let's go, family," she breathed. And they strolled onto the elevator.

As they stepped out on the first floor, Andre was walking past the elevator doors carrying a waffle iron. As soon as he spotted Winifred he cried, "Oh, look who is here! Little Winifred!" The waffle iron fell from his hands while he ran to her carriage.

Henry shouted, "Andre, Andre, you dropped your waffle iron!"

"It is okay, Henry," he said as he lifted Winifred from the carriage. "It is a broken waffle iron. I would ask for a new one, but why bother? I know what that tight-fisted Simpson will say. Oh, the things I have to go through! The hurdles I have to climb! I am sorry, little Winifred." He kissed her on the cheek and then he returned her to her carriage.

"It's okay, I've heard the stories," Winifred cooed, stretched her hands, and stared at her fingers.

Andre smiled and looked down at her. "So where are you going today, lamb chop?"

Diego said, straightening Winifred's blanket, "We're going to the park."

"And to the store, too, Mommy? For your personal things."

Suddenly Andre's eyebrows arched, "Ah, personal things, I see." His nose and lips slowly quivered.

"Do you?" Diego sighed.

And then Henry stood next to Diego. "C'mon, honey."

"Okay, okay, I guess I will go then!" Andre hurriedly said and backed away from the carriage. "See you later, leetle squirrel! You too, Diego and Henry!" Then Andre waved and continued down the hall.

"Leetle Squirrel?" Henry whispered to Diego.

"Don't you like squirrels, Henry?" Diego said while she reached for the handle of the carriage.

They strolled through the park. Winifred's eyes scanned the trees as her carriage traveled along the gravel trail that ran down the side of the park. As they strolled past a family of squirrels, Diego gave Henry the handle of the carriage. Then Diego went off and took a walk by herself.

Henry and Winifred watched Diego as she stood at the edge of the wood and stared off into the distance. Casually, Henry leaned into the carriage and said to Winifred, "Honey, we're having our pictures taken today."

"Really, Dad? Where, in the park?"

"No, sweetie, after the park we're going to a place not far from here."

"Doesn't Mommy need personal stuff at the store?"

"Not really, not today. Today we're going to have our pictures taken."

"Mommy, too, is she having her picture taken?"

"No, honey just us, mommy will watch."

"Hmmm," Winifred said with a mysterious look in her little eyes.

"Now, I have to ask you something, a favor, Winifred."

Her eyes shot up. "Yes, Daddy?"

"When we get there, you can't talk ,Winifred, they won't understand --not yet. Can you do that for me?"

Winifred shook her head sadly and said, "Yes, Daddy, I understand."

Then from behind Diego surprised them. "She may understand, but I don't, Henry!"

Winifred and Henry gasped. Henry looked at Diego and Winifred and he didn't know what to say. What could he do? What could anyone do? His wing hung low. He calmly said, "I'm sorry, Honey, for now we have play the game. It's bad enough we have to get the cards. But if they find out Winifred can talk, who knows what would happen? Maybe they'd take her away!"

Winifred became startled, "Away? Away?" She cried, "No, I don't want to go away!"

Diego reached into the carriage for Winifred. She cradled her, and said, "You're not going anywhere."

"Listen to your mom," Henry said and he embraced the two.

After a few moments they left the park. Not many words passed between them as they pushed through the doors of the building. Winifred didn't make a sound.

And that's the way things happened on the day Henry and Winifred had their photos taken at the new Center for Half-Bug Half-Human Administration.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-05-16
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