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June 17, 2024

Dinner With Henry 57: Meet the New Boss

By Bruce Memblatt

There was a bright haze over Delancey Street. A man with a small wing, pushing a stroller, grinned as a taxi pulled away. The taxi was taking Simpson to the airport to tend to some unspoken family business he refused to speak of. While he was gone, he left Henry in charge of the kitchen, much to Henry's delight and much to his dismay.

As Henry ventured back into the kitchen, a queasy feeling took hold of his belly, which was already doing flip-flops from the Chinese breakfast Diego had prepared for him. He pushed the stroller next to the stove and he tucked a sleepy Winifred in even further.

There he saw an empty pot on the stove, but Andre wasn't anywhere in sight. Then he turned his head and he spied Andre across the kitchen talking to Shakespeare.

It was then on that day in lower Manhattan when Andre noticed the strange way Henry was eyeing him.

"Henry, oh Henry, what is wrong? And please don't tell me nothing is wrong, Henry, like I don't know that very special look on your face. I know that look, Henry, you are concerned about something. Something is in under your skin. Go ahead, Henry, please confide in me. I will not tell a soul. Not even Shakespeare."

"You can tell me if you want, I don't give a shit."

"Oh my, Shakespeare, oh my! You have used profanity in our kitchen, in our and in Her sacred workplace!"

"So, what the fuck?"

At that point Andre was so upset he couldn't contain his emotions. His eyes started to bulge and he threw his hat on the floor repeatedly stomping it with his shoe, like he was killing a large cockroach, or some other ugly creature.

Henry began to scratch his head and he thought about the long talk he was going to have with Simpson when he got home.

Then Henry said, "Andre, I think we're all adults here, except for Winifred who is sleeping; we can handle a few curse words."

"Henry, Henry! If I may be as so bold to say; we never had profanity here when Simpson was in charge! Could you imagine if one of us said what the fuck while Simpson was giving us one of his morning talks? Could you imagine the repercussions?"

Shakespeare slapped his head profusely. "What repercussions? What do you think he'd do, fire us? Don't forget She needs us! Where on earth would she find cheap labor that would keep her secret, and work for a creature like her?"

Henry cried, "Now wait just one minute, Shakespeare ..."

"Please, please, Henry," Andre said, "he didn't mean it! Shakespeare, you are forgetting Simpson fired you when he caught you gambling repeatedly. How soon we forget! I guess that is our nature." Andre's lips quivered.

"Aw, that was just because he didn't get a cut, and besides, look how quickly he hired me back! Why are you supporting the Man, Andre? Do you know why Henry was looking at you like that before? Not because he had some deep dark secret he was thinking of confiding in you, but because he thought you were slacking off when he came in here and didn't see you at the stove."

"Now, Shakespeare you are being ridiculous! Henry knows no matter how much I gad about I always get my meals done, get his mother's food cooked."

Shakespeare lifted a parfait glass up and said, "Oh yeah? Ask him, Chubby. Maybe a blind midget sees more than you think."

Henry tuned to Andre with a serious nod and said, "I'm afraid so. I'm sorry, Andre. But I have a responsibility now to make sure everything gets done."

"But Henry! HENRY! Have you ever known a time when I did not get my work done? How could you not have faith in Me, Henry? I can not believe this! After all, Henry I've been here a lot longer than you -- for shame, Henry, for SHAME!"

Henry, hands around his waist, said, "Well, Andre, I still don't see anyone near the stove cooking."

"See what I told ya?" Shakespeare snapped. "He can't help it -- he's the son. It's all about connections and bread. Like I've always said, it's about who butters your bread."

Then Diego entered the kitchen. Staring at the cabinets, she spotted Shakespeare and she breathed, "Funny you should mention butter, little one, I've been looking for butter."

Andre cried, "Oh Diego, please be quiet, can't you see me and Henry are involved in an altercation!"

"Andre, there's no need to be rude to my wife!" Henry said, his wing getting stiff.

"Henry, Henry!" Andre said, tossing his hat in the air, "You are right, Henry, I am so sorry, Diego, Please forgive me."

"Do you have any butter?" Diego said, twiddling her thumbs on the dessert counter.

"Actually, there should be some in the refrigerator; you should know that, Diego. Here, let me get you some!" Andre said and he quickly scurried towards the appliance.

While Andre was foraging through the refrigerator he murmured, "You know, Henry, I haven't seen you doing any dishes today! You are telling me to work. Well, why don't we see you working? Huh, Henry? Huh?"

Then he pulled out the butter and handed it to Diego.

And Shakespeare snapped, "Um, oh, bright one, he doesn't have any dishes to do. You haven't started cooking yet. Everything is still clean."

"Oh yeah," Andre said, holding a plate to his nose, "well, I see a spot on this dish!" Suddenly he threw the dish to the floor and he cried, "What am I doing? What am I DOING?"

Shakespeare snapped, "Well, you're not washing it, and you're still not cooking."

Then Andre turned red and said, "Oh fuck you, Shakespeare." And he stammered out of the kitchen slamming the door behind him.

A cup rolled off the counter and fell to the floor.

Henry and Shakespeare sighed.

Diego called the deli.

Winifred giggled.

In the meanwhile, across the hallway, in another part of the warehouse, the walls began to shake.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-11-28
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