They entered the loft cautiously; it was do or die. If they couldn't hide Andre, they were certain he'd wind up in jail: Julius Campion, crazy or not, would eventually tell the cops Andre was involved, that Andre had told him to drug the mayor.
The plan was set. Diego would enter first with Winifred. While they had Clarissa distracted, Henry and Shakespeare would hide Andre behind the magic door. They weren't exactly sure what was behind the door. Could it really be as Clarissa had said -- a portal to some other place, another dimension where the final stage of evolution would take place, where they'd all turn into slivers of light and become one with the universe? Henry shook his head fiercely, it wasn't possible, and yet his mother was so sure. But whatever was behind the door, the cops wouldn't find Andre there.
Diego tugged on Henry's sleeve. "Are you ready, Henry?"
"Ready," Henry replied as they stood at the entrance of the foyer of the loft that led to the main room.
Andre, right behind Henry, cried, "Oh my god! Oh my god! If she finds out we're trying to trick her she'll eat us all like Danish."
"Like Danish?" Shakespeare said, scratching his head.
"Whatever! Danish, cupcakes, whatever!"
Then Diego turned and breathed, "I haven't had a cupcake in forever."
Suddenly they stopped at the little voice rising from the stroller. "I haven't had a cupcake ever," Winifred cooed, her head resting against her little pillow.
Shakespeare slapped his head. "Why are we all taking about cupcakes? We need to hide Jumbo here."
Andre stepped on Shakespeare's foot. "Don't listen to him, little Winifred, if I ever get out of here I'll bake you a nice cupcake."
"Ouch!" Shakespeare cried, "What are you, nuts? You could kill me with that monster foot of yours."
Henry turned around quickly, stared at Andre and Shakespeare, and said, "All right already, you two, we have to move into action."
Then Diego gazed at Henry, batted her eyes and hushed, "That's more like it, captain."
"Captain?" Shakespeare snapped.
Henry's wing darted up. "All right, Diego it's time. Head in there with Winifred and we'll wait here for your signal. Remember, cough twice."
"What is it, a doctor's appointment?" Shakespeare mumbled.
"Now, Shakespeare we have to think positive or this won't work. Positive thinking can make all the difference in the world," Andre said while he patted Shakespeare on the head.
Then Shakespeare tilted his head up toward Andre. "Better than crazy thinking, like the thinking that made you drug the mayor, I guess."
Andre's nose quivered. "I did not drug the mayor! I told Julius to drug the mayor!"
Diego whispered, "Quiet big one and little one. Our mission is about to begin." Then she grabbed the handle of Winifred's stroller and she and Winifred headed in to the main room of the loft.
"Goodbye Daddy," Winifred cooed, as her stroller traveled against the parquet and the hay.
Sunlight streamed through the skylight. As Diego and Winifred drew closer into the center of the main room, they heard Clarissa approaching. First her tentacles moved across the floor, and then they saw her head rise high towards the skylight. Her furry brow bobbed and weaved in the sunlight until Clarissa became aware of Winifred's and Diego's presence. Then her head quickly darted down and she buzzed, "Why are Henry and Andre and Shakespeare standing in the hallway?"
Diego, not knowing what to say, simply replied, "They're not."
"I see," Clarissa buzzed. Her black eyes darted back and forth. "Well, anyway, look who is here -- it's little Winifred."
"Yes, your grandchild," Diego breathed as she wheeled the stroller back and forth.
"Whatever," Clarissa buzzed. Then she continued, "I hear you talk, Winifred?"
"Yes, Grandmother," Winifred cooed and gurgled as Diego picked her up from her stroller.
"Tell me, why are your father and Andre and Shakespeare standing in the hallway?"
Winifred, raised her little hands in the air, making little fists, and she said, "Because Andre is in big trouble for telling his friend Julius Companion to drug the mayor. The police will be after him. So Mommy and Daddy and Shakespeare decided to hide Andre behind your magic door."
"Ah." Clarissa's head weaved. "I heard reports on the news, but they said the mayor was shot."
Then Diego casually hushed, "He told him to drug the mayor, but the guy got confused."
"Thank you, Diego," Clarissa sharply buzzed.
Then Diego turned to Winifred and said, "Winifred, that was supposed to be a secret."
Abruptly, Clarissa's head darted up. "There are no secrets from Grandmamma."
Diego tucked Winifred back in her stroller and said, "Do you have any cupcakes?"
From her stroller Winifred shouted, making tiny fists again, "Cupcakes! I've never had a cupcake!"
Clarissa buzzed, lowering her head, "I see." She raised her eyes, and sigh-buzzed. "Now, Diego, tell me -- what was the plan? Or need I ask Winifred?"
"I was supposed to cough twice."
"Yes, twice, then they'd know that the coast was clear and they'd head for the door."
"Listen to me, Diego, Andre can't hide behind that door -- it's not time yet. If he goes behind that door now he will die instantly."
"Then I'd better not cough, I suppose," Diego breathed, staring at the hallway.
"I guess not. I will let Andre stay here in the loft until this blows over, just this once."
Then suddenly Winifred let out two coughs.
Clarissa and Diego stared at each other, and then they stared at Winifred.
Henry, Andre and Shakespeare raced past Clarissa's tentacles and ran down the hallway on the other side of the main room towards the magic door.
"God," Clarissa buzzed, "you're all crazy. Stop that yammering idiot before he kills himself." Her head swung and her tentacles began to shake as she mechanically made her way toward the hallway that led to the door, but Henry and Shakespeare and Andre, being smaller, were faster.
At that point Diego sprinted and leapt after Henry and Shakespeare and Andre, past Clarissa, leaving Winifred in the center of the loft in her stroller.
Standing in front of the door, as they all somehow managed to arrive by the door at the same time, Andre shouted, "I'm sorry, Clarissa -- you can't stop me! I need to hide! I'm going behind that door!"
Then Clarissa began to buzz when suddenly they heard Winifred crying.
Their heads turned.