Mid-Friday mornings were always particularly joyful on Delancey Street. With the weekend approaching, Andre had taken to experimenting on a new dish for Clarissa, while Henry quickly washed the plates and Shakespeare grudgingly prepared a parfait.
"Ah, let me see, perhaps I should add just a leetle bit more sugar. This is the first time I've tried making caramel strawberry pancakes!" Andre said as he padded a pancake, in a frying pan with a spatula.
"Sounds good!" Henry shouted as he pulled a dish up from the sink.
Shakespeare snapped, "Sounds like arteries clogging to me."
"Oh really, Shakespeare," Andre said, flipping a pancake in the air, "and what do arteries sound like when they clog? Please, tell me, if you don't mind."
"They sound like your singing," Shakespeare grumbled as he pulled a parfait glass from the cabinet above the counter.
Then Andre stepped away from the stove and stood in the middle of the kitchen and began:
"I will never stop singing
I will never stop singing
I will never ever ever stop singing,
Never never never never never
Never never never never never
Never never never never never..."
At that point Henry cried, "Please Andre, Winifred is sleeping!"
Andre slapped his head and said," Oh my! You are right. I am so sorry, Henry! I am just a big buffoon." Andre looked at Diego standing over Winifred's stroller and he sheepishly smiled, and then he walked back to the stove and picked up his spatula, and said, "I think, yes, a little more sugar," while he held a caramel strawberry pancake to his lips.
"So Andre, how's about an encore, Shakespeare snapped.
"You know you are just a little trouble maker aren't you?"
And just as Shakespeare grinned, there was a knock on the door.
"I wonder who is knocking on the door? "Andre said, flipping a pancake.
"Um, maybe someone should answer it," Henry said while he wiped the suds from a dish.
Andre sighed, put down his spatula, and said, "Well, I guess like everything else, it is my job."
Andre walked to the door. He thought about his caramel strawberry pancakes as he turned the knob. When he swung the door open a police officer's mug filled his view.
Andre's hands shook. They officer smiled and said "May I come in?"
All eyes stared at the door.
Flustered, Andre said, after a long pause, "Of course! Of course! Come in sir, I mean, officer, I mean come in, please come into our humble kitchen."
The officer marched through the doorway smiling and tipping his hat. "Greetings! I was wondering if any of you fine folks, and ladies," he smiled again, looking at Diego, "would like to buy some of these here tickets to our Spring Police Ball."
Then Shakespeare snapped from the counter, "With what they pay us here, we're gonna have to throw our own ball."
The officer grinned while Andre said, "Oh, don't mind him officer, he's just a grumpy blind midget.
Then the officer turned and gazed at Henry. "Say, aren't you one of dem half-bugs?"
Henry tuned from the sink, a dish in his hand and said, "Half-bug, half-human -- it's all relative."
The officer pointed his finger at Henry and said, "What is that, some fancy kind of bug talk?"
Andre waved his hat. "Now, now, officer, Henry is just trying to say the glass can be half empty or half full."
Then the officer snarled, "Hey, are you a bug too?"
"In a manner of speaking," Shakespeare snapped.
Then the officer stared at Henry again. "You know, seeing you reminds me that we are on the lookout for an unregistered half- bug, can I see your ID, bug guy."
Henry began to walk over to the officer. Andre, Diego, and Winifred in her stroller carefully watched as Henry made his steps.
"My name is Henry, not bug guy," Henry said, and then reached for his wallet and pulled out his ID.
The officer took it, looked it over and said, "Well, this checks out ok. You sure there aren't any other of youse in this here kitchen?"
Henry didn't know how to react. He wasn't going to tell the officer Winifred wasn't registered. He began to stutter when Diego marched over.
Diego looked the officer straight in the eye and she said, "Can I see your badge?"
Henry tapped Diego on the shoulder and said, "Honey, it's on his chest."
"But how do we know that it's his badge, Henry?"
The officer barked, "Lady, why would I be wearing someone else's badge?"
"Maybe you lost yours?"
"Then I'd get a new one."
"What if you're an imposter?" Diego said, twisting her hair.
"Lady, you're starting to get on my nerves."
"And you're starting to get on mine," Diego breathed, staring at Winfred's carriage.
The officer noticed Diego staring at Winifred's carriage, and he said, "Say, what's in that carriage?"
"Our Winifred is, Henry and mine."
Then suddenly the clock rang twelve and Alarm began to sweep though the kitchen, her cry like a lonely siren. The train of her wedding gown trailed through the kitchen in folds of sorrow.
Everyone stood at attention, except for the officer who cried, "What the hell is going on here?"
Andre was about to speak when Simpson appeared.
"He has popped out of nowhere again!" Andre cried through Alarm's sad song.
"This is getting me tired," Shakespeare snapped.
Then Simpson cleared his throat and said, "What the devil is going on here, officer? She is a lonely sparrow, a cry in the lonesome night. She is Alarm."
Silently, everyone bowed including the officer, as Alarm's dress trailed off into the hallway.
The officer abruptly turned to Diego and said, "Now where were we?"
Henry said, "I'll tell you where we were, officer."
"You tell him, Henry," Diego cheered, raising her hand in a fist.
"Uh oh," Shakespeare said, as he tugged on Andre's leg.
The officer watched Henry cautiously.
Then Henry spoke. "You were about to inquire if that sweet child resting in that carriage over there, my daughter Winifred, you were about to ask if she was half-bug, and not registered. Weren't you?"
The officer twiddled his thumbs on the dessert counter and said, "Well, yeah."
"How do you live with yourself? How do you sleep at night?"
Suddenly Shakespeare grumbled. "I haven't slept in weeks."
"Shush, Shakespeare, Henry is speaking," Andre said.
Then Diego breathed, "I've been having trouble sleeping lately too."
And the officer said, "Well, actually I've been in the same boat lately. Must be these crazy hours."
At that point Henry cleared his throat and then he cried, raising his voice. "If you prick a half-human does he not bleed? What if it was your child, officer, what would you do?"
"I wouldn't be having no half-bug baby, now all's I have to know is if this baby in this here carriage is a bug baby."
Then Diego approached the officer. "We haven't finished talking about your badge, you imposter."
The officer sputtered, reaching in his pocket, "Lady, I am not an imposter. Do I look like an imposter?"
"I don't know, what does an imposter look like?" Diego asked, as she put a stick of gum in her mouth.
"Lady, an imposter looks like someone who is trying to impost."
Shakespeare slapped his head and said, "Oh boy."
"Impost? What does impost mean?" Andre said, his eyes quivering.
Then the officer's eyes curled, and he shouted, "I don't know! I don't know! All I know is I have had enough of you lunatics!"
He began to walk towards the door, shaking his head, and said, "Listen, I'm leaving, but if I find out there was any shenanigans in this here kitchen and that baby is an unregistered bug I'll come back and I'll put you all in the clinker!" He slammed the door shut.
Afterwards, there was much sighing and sounds of relief in the kitchen.
Then Winifred, said, rubbing her little eyes, "Mama, what's a clinker?"
"I'm not sure," Diego sighed.