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November 27, 2023
"Mes de los Muertos"

Dinner With Henry 80: Epiphany

By Bruce Memblatt


Maria sat in a chair in front of the freezer, her hands over her bowed head, her feet tapping on the floor, "How much degradation and humil- ee - A- tion must I suffer after a lifetime of such?" Her silver bracelets weakly jangled as if they were a car running out of gas. She raised her head and held her hands in the air like she was praying, "God grant me the serenity, because I can not believe after all my trials and tribulations it has come to this; being a servant to a bunch of lunatic gringos while a human head sits in that freezer before me! WHY? WHY? WHY? WHAT DID I DO? WHERE HAVE I GONE WRONG?"

"Would you like me to draw up a list?" Shakespeare snapped, tossing a beer can into the garbage pail.

Maria waved her finger back and forth at Shakespeare and said, "I liked you hombrecito, and now you have to go and ruin it, and you don't even know me that well!"

"I think I can safely say after knowing you just a few weeks that you are trouble: t-r-o-u-b-l-e."

Then suddenly Andre walked into the kitchen, grinned, raised his hat and cried, "With a capital T!"

"Oh my god," Maria shook her hands, "it's the other one, a twisted pair the two of them, no doubt there is much going on between them we can only guess at."

Shakespeare's nose tilted, looking at Andre, "Hey, just what is she insinuating?"

"Never mind, little Shakespeare, it is just a mere diversion to get us off the topic of her, and her shady past. Why, I am not surprised there are not ten human heads in that freezer!"

"Oh please, chubby you would eat them for lunch. My god, is there no hope for me? Is there none at all?" Maria's body shook in her chair. Her eyes searched the room as if she would find salvation in the empty air before her gaze returned to the freezer door.

Shakespeare heard the shuffling of shoes. Henry and Diego strolled into the kitchen carrying shopping bags in their arms, and headed toward the freezer. When Henry reached the door he glanced at Maria and said, "If you don't mind, Maria, we have to put this food into the freezer."

Maria pointed to her chest, her eyes widened with sorrow and she said, "Mind? Why should I mind? Why should I mind anything? After all who am I? I am nothing. Sure go ahead put the food away next to the skull in the freezer. What do I care I am only a hired hand? Ay ay ay ..." She lowered her head and moved her chair out of the way of the freezer door.

Henry and Diego began stuffing cartons of heavy cream into the freezer. Diego began to stare at the skull, and she whispered to Henry, "Henry? Does he look familiar to you?"

"NO," Henry said and then he turned to Andre, who was standing behind Maria with his jaw open like he'd just seen Barack Obama in the nude. Very quickly, Andre responded, "Nope, never seen him before. Never."

That's when Shakespeare tugged on Henry's leg and said, "Uh oh."

Maria, just about at her wits' end began to cry, "MY GOD WHAT WILL BECOME OF ME? DEAR ANGELS IN HEAVEN TAKE ME NOW!"

Diego ran over to Maria and said, "Why are you getting so upset? It looks like Andre is the one in trouble here."

"Oh no, that big loudmouth is not going to steal my moment again! THIS IS MY DAY TO BE UPSET! THIS IS MY DAY FOR ATTENTION!" Maria's shaking hands returned to her sides and tears began to fall from her cheeks.

Andre, turning red ready to bust a gut, pulled the head out of the freezer, almost knocking a carton of heavy cream out of Henry's hand, and he shook it front of Maria's face shouting, "DO YOU THINK I WANT THIS? YOU CAN HAVE THIS, LADY! DO YOU THINK I WANT THIS TROUBLE? GOD, ALL THE DEMONS OF HELL HAVE COME TO TORMENT ME!"

That is when Maria knocked the skull out of Andre's hands and cried, "YOU ARE NOT GOING TO STEAL MY MOMENT! NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU YELL!" Her bracelets shook like tambourines.

Diego lunged for the floor and picked up the skull saying, "Henry we must do something. The skull is getting dirty."

Henry gazed at the ceiling, bent over, took the skull from Diego's hands and said, "Hey, why don't we just take the thing and put it in the oven and cook it till it's cinder?"

The room gasped. Andre's jaw dropped. Shakespeare's jaw dropped. Diego's jaw dropped. Maria broke out of her chair, grabbed the head out of Henry's hands, threw it in the oven and said, "Okay."

Suddenly, they heard a knock on the side of the kitchen door, and then a large man in brown shorts carrying a medium-sized box in his hands said, "Got a delivery here. Anyone want to sign for it?"

Andre began to walk towards the kitchen door saying, "Well, after all, I am the chef, making me in charge of the kitchen, so I will sign for it."

This caused Maria to march past Andre shouting, "Oh no, buster, I am the manager. She has put me in charge! Remember, I have stepped in for Simpson, so I am above all of you and I will sign for the package. GOT IT?"

The man in the brown shorts placed the box in Maria's hand said, "Here, lady" and quickly made his exit.

Then Maria gritted her teeth and said, "Why, I didn't even get to sign."

Diego shouted, "Who cares, just open the damn box!"

"All right, all right," Maria said, walking to the counter. Then she placed the box on the Formica and opened it up, reached inside. and under a bunch of old newspapers was another head. She pulled it out of the box crying, "My life! This is what my life is -- a punch line! My life is a punch line for some sick joke!" She spat on the floor.

Henry's jaw dropped. Andre's jaw dropped. Shakespeare's jaw dropped.

And Diego sighed.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-11-26
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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