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September 25, 2023

Dinner With Henry 69: Just Like That

By Bruce Memblatt

Andre, Shakespeare, and Henry stood stunned in front of the doorway.

"Did that really happen?"

"Simpson is gone so fast, just like that."

"That is how it happens, just like that," Andre said and then he burst into song:

"You're crossing the street and a bus comes along.
Just like that.
You step into an elevator and it's not there, buddy, so long.
Just like that.
Your waiting for a subway train and someone pushes you onto the track.
Just like that ..."

"Okay we got it," Shakespeare snapped.

Then from behind, they heard Her approaching. The walls in the hallway shook. Henry's thorax shook. Andre's belly shook. One painting of Henry as a full-bug baby fell to the floor.

Her black head reared toward the ceiling and she buzzed, "Oh well, no time for human sympathy, what's dead is dead."

That is when Henry raised his hands and cried to his mother, "But he was so loyal to you, mother!"

"Simpson got paid well, and he was terrified of me."

"She's all heart," Shakespeare snapped while he stood between Henry and Andre, scratching his head, wondering how much exactly Simpson got paid.

Then Andre's eyebrows rose, "Well, look who is talking, you have never said one kind thing about Simpson, ever, Shakespeare!"

Shakespeare whispered, "Psssst come here," and Andre lowered his head. "Simpson wasn't a worker, he was an exploiter, a bourgeois mouthpiece for the big and powerful."

"Compared to you everyone is big and powerful."

Then Henry peeked his head down and chimed in. "He was just a dude who managed the warehouse for my mother, get a grip, Shakespeare."

And Andre said, "Henry is right, Shakespeare," when Clarissa's head began to swoop down and She buzzed, "Knock it off, humans and half-humans, you are wasting time eulogizing Simpson. I have someone new lined up to replace him. She will be here soon."

Andre's eyebrows rose and his nose twitched. "She?"

And Shakespeare whispered, "She works pretty fast."

"Almost too fast," Andre said peering up toward Clarissa, running his eyes across her expansive frame.

Then Henry stretched his legs and said, "Bugs work fast."

Andre's arms fell to his sides, while he intently looked at the closed door, "But Henry, it is as if She knew this would happen! Could it be? Can She be such an extraordinary creature that She can gaze into the future?"

She cocked her head and buzzed, "It all has to do with mathematics. I calculate all the possible outcomes after plugging in all the possible variables constantly. Bugs don't waste their time on emotions; it frees us up for the important stuff. Anyway, like I said, I have somebody lined up. She used to work for me when I lived in Brooklyn. She'll be here soon enough. I'll send her to the kitchen when she arrives. Now go humans! The day is wasting away and I'm hungry!

They started to leave the loft when Andre turned around and said, "By the way, what is her name?"

Clarissa buzzed, "Her name is Maria Conchita Chiquita Carmelita Johnson."


"It's a long story, now go!"

They began to make their journey down the long hallway to the kitchen. All Henry wanted was to catch some sleep after spending most of the day on his feet in front on the door where Simpson vanished -- he couldn't believe forever, but there it was, the stone cold truth, not that he particularly admired Simpson, but over the years he had gotten used to him. And after all, Simpson was the first one he met at the warehouse. Simpson hired him, even if he did knowingly.

Andre's nose began to twitch, "What is that awful stench?"

Shakespeare held his nose and snapped, "Must be some buggy odor."

Henry quickly cleared his throat and coughed, "Sorry, shrimp, that is the ammonia we smelled before, only much stronger.

Then Andre said, "Yes, Shakespeare, Henry is right!"

And Shakespeare repeated his words mockingly, "Yes, Henry is right, Henry is right, Henry is right. How many times have you said that?"

Andre pointed his fingers at Shakespeare, "Apparently not enough, because indeed, Henry is right!"

Shakespeare gave Andre the finger.

"Well, obviously someone has had the floor in this ominous hallway mopped," Andre said, his eyes opened wide, "but who? Simpson is gone."

Henry sighed. "I haven't the foggiest, I'm just wondering how I'm going to explain this all to Diego."

"Oh my goodness, poor Henry, where will you start?"

Then from behind they heard a woman's voice with a Latin accent say, "You will start at the very beginning that's a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A-B-C..."

They turned around, and standing behind them was a tiny Spanish woman with a scarf wrapped around a head of red hair, and bracelet after bracelet jingling on her wrists.

"Oh my god, Andre cried, "It must be Maria Conchita Chiquita Carmelita Johnson!"

"And apparently she likes The Sound of Music," Shakespeare snapped.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-06-25
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