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September 18, 2023

Dinner With Henry 41: Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens

By Bruce Memblatt

Andre stood at the counter next to the stove, furiously mixing the contents of a bowl. It was Wednesday. Fall was passing into winter. Sincere was in the back of the kitchen trying to remember the recipe for a potion her mother gave her to keep dark spirits and dandruff at bay. Shakespeare was approaching Andre with a question on his mind and cheap wine on his breath.

He said, "So whatcha doing, Andre?"

"Well, I think I'm a preparing a birthday cake for Winifred," Andre said, his eyes staring into the bowl, his lips quivering.

"But she's only a month old, porky."

"Already with the mouth! I know! I know! But I cannot wait a whole year! And regardless, she grew fast in one month."

"Yeah, it's been a long month."

Andre said, turning towards Shakespeare while he continued to stir, "But it's been a longer morning for you, hasn't it? Your breath smells like a brewery! Shakespeare! Shakespeare, why are you drinking so early in the morning?"

"I've got the blind midget blues."

Andre lifted the spoon from the bowl, waved it in the air, and said, "Oh Shakespeare! You have inspired me to song."

Shakespeare sighed.

Andre sang:

"I know it ain't news,
But I got them blind midget blues.
From my toes to my head
There only a three feet spread
I got them low down,
close to the groun,'
I'm the smallest cat in town,
bad news, blind midget blues!"

Shakespeare toppled over.

Sincere began to dance.

Simpson entered the kitchen

Andre bowed and smiled, holding his hat high. "I guess everyone was moved by my song."

"Moved? I was floored," Shakespeare said as he stood from the floor.

Simpson straightened his tie, cleared his throat, and said, "Andre, that was inspiring." He rolled his eyes. "Now, if I may have everyone's attention, today She would like something special, something a little, how shall we say, unique -- because She is bored."

"Oh my, She is bored! Oh dear, oh my my my! Oh, it must be my fault, every day the same menu, meringues, bruleés, cream pies, and parfaits! No wonder she is bored to tears. I will have to think of something new and exciting!"

Then Shakespeare snapped, "How about something that tastes good?"

"Ha ha, you are so funny, Shakespeare! You know everything I make tastes exquisite! You drunken, obnoxious leetle worm!"

"I may be drunk, but I'm not a worm."

"That's right, you are a snake!"

Simpson grabbed a pot and brought it down on the stove.

Then Sincere said, "Did someone mention worms?"

Simpson's head looked like it was going to explode; gritting his teeth, he said, "No, Sincere, now back to Her, please!"

Cautiously, Andre stepped towards Simpson. "I know, I will prepare her something not so sweet!"

"She's a bug," Shakespeare said, "a big ugly bug, make her some bug juice. Did I ever tell you about my mother? My mother wasn't a bug, but she was a bug."

Then Simpson intervened, "Shakespeare, go lie down somewhere and sleep it off, and I don't expect to see you drunk at work again. Remember where we are, Shakespeare."

"I'm trying to forget," Shakespeare said before he toppled over. He knew what was going to happen next. Andre was going to make a crack, then Simpson was going to disappear, and then Andre was going to say ...

"How did he do that!"

"Oh never mind," Shakespeare snapped.

At that moment a crazed look fell across Andre's face and he said, "Wait! Wait! I have an idea! An idea that is so brilliant in its conception, so simple, yet so unique! So out of the box! I like to be out of the box."

"That's because you can't fit in the box."

"Oh, you are so witty aren't you? You leetle toad."

"So what's the idea, Betty Crocker?"

"Oh yes! The idea! Here it is. I will make her nothing."

"Nothing? And they tell me not to drink."

"Now, wait, hear me out! She is bored, right? When she finds out she's getting nothing, her boredom will vanish, it will be replaced by hunger! She won't be bored, and in no time she will be begging us for a chocolate cream pie, or a meringue!"

"Or she might just eat us."

"Oh, she wouldn't do that, we are her staff, she needs us!"

"We can be replaced."

"Maybe you can be replaced! Andre cannot be replaced."

Suddenly, Simpson appeared and said, "Yes you can." And then he vanished.

Andre slapped his head."Did you see that? Did you see that?"

"I see nothing," Shakespeare said, before he toppled over again.

Sincere stepped out of the back of the kitchen and said, "Why don't I just lay a little spell on her. I could make her think she's a chicken." She smiled a crooked smile.

Shakespeare said, "Listen, sister, she's a sixty-foot bug, do you want a sixty-foot bug making like a chicken? Go take your black powers and scram!"

Andre stepped forward. "Shakespeare, do not tell Sincere to scram! Now listen, Sincere, I tell you what, if she looks like she's about to devour us, you can turn her into a chicken."

Then Sincere's smile grew wide and she quietly stepped to the back of the kitchen.

"I wonder about her," Shakespeare said, standing from the floor.

"Well, if we're really not going to make her anything," he threw his hands in the air, "then we can just chillax."

Andre smiled, "Chillax, Shakespeare? I see you have turned into a ghetto blind midget."

"Hey, baby, I'm from the hood," Shakespeare said.

Andre snapped, "You are a hood!"

"By the way, where are Henry and Diego and their bug baby?"

Andre pointed toward the door. "They went to the park today. They should be back later."

"Yeah, they'll come back and see an empty kitchen and our shoes lying on the floor," Shakespeare said, pointing toward the linoleum.

"Shakespeare, she is not going to eat us!"

Suddenly the kitchen began to shake, pots rattled, cups broke, a bowl fell and crashed against the floor. Then her tentacle came through the door.

Andre shouted, "Oh my! She is here, and She is hungry!"

Her tentacle began to reach for Shakespeare.

Andre ran over to Shakespeare, pulled him from the floor, and carried him to the stove. "Oh my! The bowl I was preparing Winifred's birthday cake, it crashed to the floor! She is ruthless!"

"She is hungry and she's going to eat us!" Shakespeare cried, "Any more bright ideas?"

Then She buzzed, "I am hungry. I am bored, little humans. Didn't Simpson tell you to change my menu?"

Andre smiled broadly, his hands nervously shook, and he said, "Ah ha, yes, dear Clarissa, he did, so I had an idea. Listen, you're going to love it. I thought in order to end your boredom we would make you nothing."

Her tentacle thrashed and she buzzed, "You are an idiot, Andre."

At once, Sincere began to thrash her hands, and speak in magical tongue:

"Chicken chicken hurry now quicken."

Suddenly Clarissa's tentacle began to jump up and down and she bawked and clucked and squawked like a chicken.

Andre jumped back. "Oh my god! Oh my god! She is a chicken! She thinks she's a chicken! Oh my god! What are we going to tell Henry, Diego, Simpson, Winifred?"

Shakespeare toppled over again and laughed, "Maybe we should feed her some feed."

"That is not funny, Shakespeare, she is Henry's mother, oh dear, and I don't think we have any feed lying around. Did I ever tell you about the time I lost my corn cob pipe? When I was younger I had a corn cob pipe."

"Corn cob pipes stink." Shakespeare snapped.

"Yes it is true, they do have a certain, shall we say, fragrance, but if you take care of them it's not so bad, anyway."

Then Shakespeare sat down and said, "My mother had a corn cob pipe."

"I did not know your mother smoked a pipe. "

"She was an unusual woman."

"Tell me more, Shakespeare."

Shakespeare began, "Well, it all started back in nineteen -seventy -five, back then the world was different, the sun was brighter, the air was fresher ... "

"Not with a corn cob pipe, it wasn't."

Shakespeare waved his hands and said, "You are always interrupting me!"

"I know, I can't help myself."

"Anyway, as I was saying ..."

Sincere smiled.

Clarissa clucked.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-05-23
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