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June 17, 2024

Dinner With Henry 58: The Big Chill

By Bruce Memblatt

The kitchen was dim that afternoon due to a few blown out light bulbs. And there was a chill in the air that no one could explain. As usual something sweet was cooking on the stove.

Then came a sudden rumble in the loft. Henry was the first to notice it. He turned his head and he poked Diego.

She coughed, "What is it, Henry?"

Andre was still standing next to the stove. He grabbed his chest and he cried, "Jeeze, didn't you hear it, Diego?"

Then Henry grinned and before Shakespeare could snap, Diego said, "Um, Chubby, did you just step off the plank? That's Clarissa."

"What are you talking about, Diego? Whatever do you mean, 'plank?' Why would I be walking on a plank? On a piece of wood? Am I an idiot?" Andre said, scratching his head.

The expressions on Shakespeare's face ranged from a grin to a sigh; it wasn't his birthday, and yet Andre had just given him a shiny new present. Too easy, he sighed, and he lowered his eyeless head and said, "That is a good question."

A quizzical look flashed across Henrys' face and he said to Shakespeare, "Are you okay?"

"The little one seems to have taken a few steps on the plank too," Diego breathed.

Then Shakespeare snapped, "Listen, Cybil, you didn't even get the saying right! It's did you just get off the boat? Not did you just step off the plank."

"And why would I be getting off a boat, tell me, PLEASE?" Andre loudly kvetched.

Two events happened in that instant; Shakespeare slapped his head and the warehouse rumbled again. Pots fell from the wall above the stove, a mouse tripped in the wall, and Andre cried, "You see what I mean, it's different! Something is different!"

"Yeah," Henry said, "it's the first time these walls have rumbled."

Diego giggled, "Oh that is a good one, Henry."

Then Andre and Shakespeare sighed. And another rumble rumbled and shook the kitchen.

Now confidence multiplied in Andre and he said, "Do you see what I mean? These are not the ordinary rumblings and stirrings of Clarissa, this is something larger."

"There is nothing larger," Shakespeare snapped.

Diego giggled again.

"What is with her today?" Andre cried, throwing his hands in the air.

Henry stepped toward Andre and said, "What is wrong with my wife having a sense of humor?"

"Not a thing, Henry, not a thing," Andre said, more flustered than usual. "It's just that we're not used to her giggling and guffawing with such intensity. Anyway, Henry this is off the subject. Perhaps now we should all travel over to the loft to see what's up with your mother, no?"

"We might as well, Henry you know he's not going to stop until we do," Diego said and she started to march toward Winifred's stroller, which was parked next to the door.

Shakespeare quipped, "She's starting to make sense today, too."

Then Andre threw his hat to the floor and cried, "NOW JUST A MOMENT, EVERYONE! I AM NOT A CHILD!" And in the way these things have been known to happen in the past, the rest of the room erupted into laughter.

When Shakespeare picked himself up from the floor he said, struggling through his last remaining giggles, "And I am not a blind midget."

And Diego said, "And I am not a one-eared former nurse."

And then Henry said, "And I am not a half-bug half-human man."

Rattled, Andre just grabbed his hat from the floor, placed it on his head like he was a poodle in a dog show, and yelped, "Well, what is everyone waiting for? Let's go!"

"Well, regardless," Diego sighed as she pushed Winifred's stroller, "he always gets his way, anyway."

Henry followed Diego out of the kitchen. Then Shakespeare followed Henry. Andre made sure he was the last to leave the kitchen, as if to say he didn't care, as a way to dispel Diego's accusation. As he shut the door behind him the walls in the warehouse rumbled again.

Surprisingly enough, Diego was the first to get startled; that combined with the fact that Diego never seemed to get startled led Henry to get startled, too, when Diego cried out, "Oh shit!"

Seizing the moment, Andre smugly grinned, and said, "My oh my, how the biscuit turns."

"What is he talking about?" Diego whispered in Henry's ear.

Then Shakespeare spat out, "Another minute, another botched saying around here."

Suddenly a pipe fell from the ceiling and Shakespeare jumped and tugged on Andre's leg causing Andre to say, "Well, well, what do we have here? Are you frightened, little Shakespeare?"

"No, I'm just happy to see you," Shakespeare snapped as he released his grip on Andre's leg.

Then at the other end of the hall, near the entrance to the loft, they saw another pipe fall, while the floor rumbled beneath their feet. Henry turned to Diego and said, "I don't like this, Diego."

"And we do? And we do?" Andre quickly responded, "But we can't be like the little chickens, Henry, we must act."

Diego looked down at the stroller and said, "I can't believe she slept through this whole thing."

"Mommy, I wasn't sleeping," Winifred poked her little head up and said," I just couldn't think of anything to say."

Then Andre stepped up to Winifred's stroller and cried, "OH HOW CUTE SHE IS even when we are under attack!" causing Winifred to giggle.

"Oh, Uncle Andre, you're cute, too! I wonder -- do we have any guns to thwart our assailants?"

Diego tucked Winifred in and she said, "We don't need a gun for Her, we need a psychiatrist."

At that point there was little anything or anyone could do to prevent Shakespeare from laughing uncontrollably and toppling over, at least, until the door of Her loft flung open and a gust of cold wind burst like a typhoon across the hallway.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-12-12
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