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"Mes de los Muertos"

Dinner With Henry 65: Cat on a Hot Tin Stove

By Bruce Memblatt

A trash can in the alley between the warehouse and the next warehouse toppled over. A small crash ensued, and a small black cat scurried out of the can. The cat ran across the alley, leapt up the stoop and ran through the front door of the warehouse, which happened to be open because Simpson was checking the mail. Then the small black cat dashed across Simpson's shoes and down the hall where he scrambled through the first open door he saw -- which as fate would have it, led to the kitchen.

Andre saw him first.

"Oh, who do we have here this fine morning? Hello, Mr. Cat."

The little black cat jumped on the stove, stuck his neck up, and peered at Andre.

"That is indeed very cute, kitty, but I am afraid no cats are allowed on the stove," Andre said, and then he proceeded to turn the burner up high.

The cat scrambled off the range and hid under the table adjacent to the stove, licking his tail.

Then Shakespeare snapped at Andre, "If you are done playing with your imaginary cat, maybe we can get a little work done here."

"Imaginary? I do not think so, Shakespeare. How would you know, regardless -- you are just a blind midget!" Andre said and he stuck his tongue out at Shakespeare.

"Don't stick your tongue out at me, Chubby."

"Excuse me, oh blind and tiny one, " Andre said while he lowered the flame on the burner, "if you are actually blind, and I am beginning to have my doubts, ahem," he cleared his throat just like Simpson and he coughed, "then how did you know I was sticking my tongue out at you? Huh? Tell me, will you!"

Then Shakespeare slowly stepped over to Andre, and he whispered, "My ears still work, dummy. Don't you know blind people have highly developed hearing?"

Andre looked down at Shakespeare, nose in the air, and he sneered, "Then why, oh big ears, did you not hear the cat?"

"Cats are very quiet," Shakespeare said when they quickly turned their heads.

The cat ran out from under the table and jumped back up on the stove, knocking Andre's frying pan over in his wake.

It rattled on the floor.

Andre stared at the cat, smacked his lips and said, "Not as quiet as you may think, Shakespeare."

"So what are you gonna do, burn his tail again?" Shakespeare said while he tugged on Andre's apron.

"No no no, silly Shakespeare, this time I will try reasoning with him," Andre said and reached his hand toward the cat. His eyes, nose, and lips quivered.

As Andre's fingers passed above the cat's head the cat hissed and his teeth jutted out like he was about to turn Andre's hand into something Freddy Krueger spat out.

Suddenly they heard Diego's voice wafting and breathing across the kitchen, "Well, so much for reasoning."

Shakespeare snapped, "Listen to her, Andre, she ought to know."

Andre jumped. "My goodness, now she is popping out of nowhere, too, just like Simpson."

The cat darted off the stove and parked himself by Diego's shoes.

And Andre pointed to Diego and said, "Say, Diego, do you know this cat?"

"I have never laid eyes on that cat before in my life," Diego said, but as soon as the words escaped her lips the cat began to rub himself up against Diego's legs and purr.

"A likely story, sister," Shakespeare snapped. "It looks like there is much more going on between you and this kitten than meets the eye."

Suddenly, Andre got all excited like he left a souffle in the oven too long. He threw his hat down to the floor and he cried, "Just what are you insinuating, you sick twisted blind midget! Why, I ought to ring your fat little neck!" Sweat dripped from his head and his face turned red.

The cat ran on top of the sink knocking a pile of dishes on to the floor. Scrambling onto the counter, the cat began to bite his rump.

Diego quickly turned to Andre and said, "Looks like someone has lost his marbles lately."

Andre squinted at Diego for a second like he had just seen a space ship from Mars land on the refrigerator, and he said, "But I was only trying to defend your honor, Diego. Are you saying I have overreacted? Are you saying I am insane when I only tried to help you? Oh my God! Why are you and Shakespeare STARING at me!" More sweat poured from his brow.

"I can't stare at anyone, Bozo," Shakespeare snapped.

Then Andre looked below and he hollered, "YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN, SHAKESPEARE."

Diego, standing next to the stove, pushing Winifred's stroller, waved her hand like she was Greta Garbo preparing to take a long drag from a cigarette and she breathed, "Perhaps it is time for a time out, big one."


Then, out of the blue, Winifred's head popped up in her stroller. She pointed her little hand at the counter and she said, "Oooh, Mommy, can we keep the kitty, please?"

Upon hearing Winifred's words, the cat said, "Not a chance," and he jumped off the counter and scrambled out the door. And then he raced down the hall towards the loft.

Miffed, Andre turned to Shakespeare and said, "Wait a second, did that cat just talk?"

Shakespeare slyly grinned, smirked and said, "Sure, sure, Andre. Hmmm ... maybe you should get back to your time out."

But just then Winifred made little fists with her tiny hands and she said, "But he did, he did! He is a talking cat!"

This caused Diego to lean into the stroller and say to Winifred, "We are not having a talking cat. Understand?"

"Yes, Mommy," Winifred sighed and then she laid her head against her little pillow.

"But you don't understand, Diego," Andre cried. "This is a talking cat! We must get him back here!"

Andre ran to the kitchen door. He peered down the hall. He saw the cat run into the loft.

He turned around and cried into the kitchen, "Oh my God, he just ran into the loft. Henry's mother will have him for lunch!"

"She may as well," Shakespeare snapped, by the time she gets a meal out of you today she'll starve to death."

"Shakespeare, this is serious! Now come with me -- pleeeeeeeeez, or you will never hear the end of it!"

"All right, all right," Shakespeare grumbled. "I'm coming," he said and then he scrambled to the door and began to follow Andre, who had already begun making his way down the hallway toward the loft.

Diego grabbed onto Winifred's stroller and she cried, "Wait, we are coming, too!"

As Andre, Shakespeare, Diego and Winifred made their way down the hallway they could feel the tension mount.

When they finally reached the doorway, they gazed at the enormous interior of the loft, the greenery that covered the walls and the skylight that covered the expansive ceiling. There wasn't a sign of Clarissa, but they did see the cat scamper down the hallway on the other side of the loft.

So they raced across the main room of the loft and down the hallway where the cat had ran.

At the end of the hallway lay Clarissa's infamous door.

They watched in horror as the cat jumped on the door, pushing it open. Then their jaws dropped as the cat escaped behind the door, and it slammed shut behind him.

They stood in the hall and stared at the door. Diego nervously pushed Winifred's stroller back and forth.

Andre, who was, at this point, sweating profusely and biting his nails, cried out, "Oh no! Oh no! This can not be happening. Oh dear God, what is going to become of all of us! I can't even begin to comprehend the horror that is about to land on us for letting that little cat go behind THE DOOR!"

"Oh please," Shakespeare said, "it's just a stupid broom closet."

Then suddenly the walls began to shake and the loft rumbled.

And the door swung open.

They gasped.

Then came a mighty roar, and before them stood a lion.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-04-02
1 Reader Comments
04:13:45 AM
"Dinner With Henry" has come so far from the first episode, where Henry, half-bug and half-man, dispiritedly seeks employment. I don't know if I'd call the warehouse a "crucible" of character, but it surely is a bakery of philosophy, individualism, and food fights!
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