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May 27, 2024

Dinner With Henry 61: Down and Out in the Lower East Side

By Bruce Memblatt

Clarissa's bulbous head continued to careen toward Andre, Shakespeare, Henry, Diego and baby Winifred.

Henry usually didn't take his mother's hysterics seriously, but at that moment, with her enormous form racing down flailing towards them, immediately following the sad spectacle of her toying with Andre and tossing his body in the air, he didn't know what to think anymore.

Then they heard it; like the scraping, clunking sound an engine produces when it's about to break down.

And before they knew it, with an enormous thud, Clarissa was stretched out across the floor of the loft, her black eyes closed shut, and her tentacles upside down reaching, grasping, frozen in the air.

Suddenly, Andre jumped up and he shouted, "Oh my god, is she, Henry?"

"Don't you love his subtlety?" Shakespeare snapped.

"Well, what do you want me to say, Shakespeare?" Andre said, pointing in every direction, "Look at her strewn across the floor."

"I can't, dummy."

"Is this my fault, Shakespeare? But if you could see that's what you'd see."

Shakespeare just threw his hands in the air and then Henry said, "Sorry to disappoint you, Andre, but no, she's not."

Then Diego turned around and breathed, "Why is everyone talking in codes. Is she dead or not?"

And Winifred began to cry.

Henry rushed over to her stroller and said, "Don't worry, she's going to be fine, Winnie."

So Winifred raised her tiny hands in the hair, making cute little fists and she said, "And just how do you know this, Daddy?"

Diego, who was staring at one of Clarissa's legs, which happened to land just inches away from Shakespeare's toe, turned around and said, "He doesn't, honey, but your father is experiencing a form of denial because he can't deal with the fact that your grandmother's body is strewn across the floor of this loft like so much lint."

Henry, clearly enraged at Diego, who more and more had been confronting him in front of the group, hollered, "REALLY, DIEGO? LIKE SO MUCH LINT?"

Winifred began to cry again and said, "Oh no, oh no, Mommy and Daddy are yelling at one another!"

Andre rushed over to Winifred's stroller, telling her, "Do not worry, sweet little Winifred, mommies and daddies will yell from time time but they still love eachother. One day when you are older you will understand this."

That's when Shakespeare hauled back and kicked Andre in the shin.


"One day when you're smarter, you will understand." And they turned around because they heard a sound, the familar sound of something large entering the room. At first Henry shook his head because he imagined it was the sound of his mother,but then they gazed up to see Elvira's large canopy enveloping the room.

She towered above them and she buzzed, "Hello, Brother. Why is everyone arguing when mother is strewn across the floor?"

"Because that's what everyone does best here!" Diego snapped.

Shakespeare toppled over and began to laugh.

Andre shook his hat. "You know something? All of you, this is not funny! Poor Clarissa is strewn acrosss the floor and we have done nothing, not one single thing."

Clearing his throat, like Simpson would do, Henry stood as erect as he could, and he looked up toward his sister and said, "It's all my fault, Elvira, I have been engaging them when I should have been controlling them."

Suddenly a gleam appeared in Andre's eye and he said, his nose twitching, "Oh, isn't it too much, he is too much, engaging them? Get off your high horse, Henry."

Then Diego sighed, "You know, Henry, the big one has a point."

It was then that Henry felt a sick feeling in the pit of his thorax and he cried, "You know, Diego I am tired of you humiliating me in public!"

"Oh, Henry, please," Diego said "You came up with this engaging stuff, like you are better than anyone else."

Then Winifred puckered her lips and cried, "Oh no, Mommy and Daddy are at it again!"

"I guess he's engaging us again when we clearly need to be controlled," Shakespeare snapped.

And at once from on high Elvira flailed and reared her head and shriek-buzzed, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!"

They ran for cover as if a tsunami was just about to strike, and as they were hitting the floor Henry realized he'd gone too far. " I'm sorry for what I said guys, I didn't mean it."

"Henry, this is no time for apologies, your sister is exploding," Diego breathed as they landed on the parquet.

Henry bit his tongue. It was no use -- Diego was Diego, and even worse, she was usually right, he thought as he dug into his tongue harder, and he sighed and said, "You're, right dear, but I still don't know why we're running for cover. You know Elvira isn't going to hurt us."

"How do we know that?" Diego breathed.

Then Andre squinted and said, "Oh, I get it now! Henry, she is doing the contrary thing. No matter what you say she will disagree. This would be very cute if your mother wasn't strewn acrosss the floor and your sister wasn't about to eat us!"

Henry just scratched his head. "Is this true, Diego?"

"No," Diego turned and said.

Shakspeare toppled over and he began to laugh again as Elvira moved her head down closer to her mother and she buzzed, "Why does everyone keep saying strewn? Doesn't anyone have a thesaurus?"

Suddenly Andre stood up and he began to laugh, "Your sister is funny, Henry -- thesaurus?"

"What's a thesaurus?" Diego sighed as she stared at Elvira's wide wings.

Andre grinned a toothy grin and said, "I think it is a kind of dinosaur."

Shakespeare stopped laughing and slapped his head.

Diego, who was still staring at Elvira's wings, said, "Well it's been a while, and she is still out like a light. I guess she is."

At that moment Elvira's wings spread further, and she began to cover her mother, and she buzzed with great force, "No she is not!"

Diego said,"You know something, Henry, your sister is a lot like you."

Henry slowly paced toward his sister's wings. He looked up at her and said, "I'm afraid it my be too late, Elvira."

"No, it can't be, it just can't be, Henry."

Andre, who could hardly contain his stress any longer, rushed over to Henry's side and said, his hands shaking, "It can't be is true, Henry! As I've often said, your mother is special. She is a window to our past and to our future. She is destined to bring about great change. She must survive or we are all lost. I am at my wits' end, what can we do?"

And Shakespeare snapped, "Oh please don't sing!"

"Sorry, Shakespeare, I must," Andre said, and then he cleared his throat.

"If there's a way
We will find it.
If there's a day
We will remind it.
If there's an hour when all is told,
We won't be sold,
Because there will always be more to see

Little buggy come back to me
Little buggy deranged as you may be.
With ugly tentacles, you're still the She!
So don't be dead, you're too well fed.
Open your eyes and see ..."

And with Andre's dulcet tones, Clarissa's eyes sprung open.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-01-23
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