Andre had a decision to make, because his niece Yvette was coming for an unexpected visit, and he'd already told Winifred he would spend Saturday with her. Henry and Diego were planning on taking the opportunity to see the new Batman movie. Batman was Henry's favorite fictional character.
"So, Shakespeare, what should I do?" Andre said, rolling some dough out on the counter.
Clouds had covered the sky all morning. The threat of rain hovered over Delancey Street with a dark sneer.
"What's so difficult, chubby, take them out together," Shakespeare snapped, chopping sugar, sighing at the thought of the next sugar cube and the one after that.
"I would, but I'm afraid of personality clashes. They are both small girls with big egos."
"Ha, nothing to worry about, Andre, look at us."
Andre glared at the fluorescent light above the stove and sighed, thinking of how many hours left in the day he'd have to spend with Shakespeare.
* * *
Saturday morning arrived with the flurry of little girls excited, full of expectations about their outing.
They planned to meet on the steps in front of the loft early in the morning. The sun smiled with shine. Diego dropped off Winifrid in her stroller, and then Diego yawned, stretched her arms, pinched her hair curlers, went upstairs and got back into bed with Henry.
Winifred sat in her stroller and waited for Andre and Yvette.
A pigeon hopped down the steps and stared at Winifred. Winifred stuck her tongue out and stared back at the pigeon.
It wasn't long before the front door of the loft opened and Yvette and Andre came marching down the stoop steps. Andre smiled as he walked with Yvette over to Winifred's stroller. Yvette was wearing a short black skirt, a pink headband wrapped around her dark hair. She looked at Winifred, who was staring intently at Yvette and holding tightly onto her blanket, and said, her nose in the air, "Uncle Andre, she can't even walk. What are we going to do with her? Why am I cursed?"
Suddenly Andre's arms flailed in the air, his eyes bulging. "You are not cursed, Yvette!"
Then Winifred said, "It's true. I am!"
Andre was beside himself. "Neither one of you are cursed! And, Yvette, in fact, Winifred is able to walk. Show her, Winifred."
"What, am I a trained seal?" Winifred snapped while she slowly stepped out of the stroller.
Andre leaned down, smiled and said, "No, you are not a trained seal, you are a beautiful young lady."
Smirking, Yvette put her hands on her hips and said, "Give me a break. I knew she was going to steal all your attention with her baby charms, Uncle Andre."
Andre stepped away from Winifred for a moment. "You both have my attention. Please, Yvette, let's have a nice day."
Upon hearing Andre's plea, Yvette struck a dramatic pose and said, her bangs falling to the side, "Have a nice day? Of course, everything will be nice, and we'll all be nice, and the streets will be nice, the trees will be nice. EVERYTHING WILL BE NICE NICE NICE NICE! WON'T THAT BE NICE, UNCLE ANDRE!"
That is when Winifrid stepped up to Yvette and said, her eyes meeting Yvette's knee, "A little high strung, aren't we?"
Yvette's face turned red, her eyes bulged, and she cried, "Get that pint-sized shrew away from me!"
Then Andre, more flustered than he could imagine, raised his hands in the air, and said, "Now now now, Yvette!"
"Now now what? Get Shirley Temple away from me!"
Andre took a deep breath and tried to control his nervous reactions, which caused his eyebrows to rapidly flinch.
A dog ran down the street.
"What's wrong with your eyebrows, Uncle Andre?"
Winifred, pointing her little finger at Yvette, said, "You're making him nervous -- that's what's wrong with his eyebrows."
Yvette stood inches away from the steps and sneered, "Who asked you?"
Then Andre threw his cap to the ground, and cried, "EVERYONE PLEASE! OKAY, OKAY!" His eyes glared. "We're going to start from the begining. Just like none of this happened. Ladies, to your corners."
Yvette and Winifred stepped back from one another.
Then Andre grinned and said, "Good morning. Yvette, this is Winifred. Say hello to Winifred."
Yvette slowly walked over to Winifred and said, "Nice to meet you, Winifred."
Winifred in kind said, "Likewise," and smiled and proceeded to walk down the street.
Andre said, "Where are you going, Winifred?"
"Away, I cannot live with this charade." She continued to walk. A garbage truck clanked down the street.
Yvette pulled on her hair, glared at Andre and said, "Well, go after her Uncle Andre, she is just a child!"
"You don't even like her," Andre cried whilst he chased Winifred down the street.
"But she is right! We are living under a delusion, everything is rotten."
Upon hearing Yvette's manifesto, Winifred turned around and began to race back towards the steps.
Andre stood in the middle of the street, staring in awe. His eyes followed Winifred as she traveled. A mailman tipped his hat and smiled at Winifred as she passed.
Yvette and Winifred sat down on the steps and groaned.
Andre stood before them and said, "My girls, you are both wrong. Listen to my song," And he began to sing:
"Cheese can get rotten,
And fleas can be rotten,
Bees can be rotten,
But when life gets rotten,
Don't let it be forgotten,
All you have to do is sneeze,
And your troubles will melt with the breeze.
And then you'll be snappy and happy till you die."
Afterwards he bowed his head, smiled and looked at Winifred and Yvette and said, "See, what did I say?"
They both cried, "That's a lie," and they began to bawl and they bawled and they bawled and they bawled and they bawled.
Suddenly the front door of the loft opened. Diego marched down the steps, looked up at a second floor window and shouted, "What did I tell you, Henry -- two hours and they're still here."
Then Diego sighed.