"OUCH! GOD DAMMIT! May all you little tangles rot in the fires of hell!" Maria cried, dragging the comb through her hair.
It was early in the morning and Maria was relieved because not a soul seemed to be in the kitchen, except for perhaps Sincere, who always appeared to be somewhere in the back, though no one knew exactly where. She pulled the comb through her hair again. "OUCH! GOD DAMMIT!"
Suddenly she heard a familiar voice.
"Oh my! What is happening in here, Maria?" Andre said, barreling through the kitchen door.
It was then that Maria knew her morning would not be getting any better. She tossed her comb to the floor and said, "What do you think is going on in here? Can't you see I am combing my hair, you big lox?"
Andre stepped closer to Maria, who was sitting in a chair by the stove and said, "Well it sounded like someone was being strangled, don't you use conditioner?"
Her face scrunched and she waved her hands, "I don't like conditioner -- it makes my hair too limp!"
Andre grinned and said, "That is because you are using the wrong brand of conditioner, I'd wager."
Maria jumped out of her chair and pointing at Andre, comb in her hand she cried, "What is this? Are we doing a commercial for Clairol?"
"Hey, I did not mention a brand."
"Go away. I wish you were an illusion." Maria began to sob, and returning to her chair, she pulled a tissue from the pocket of her vest. "I wish you were all illusions."
Andre placed his hand on Maria's shoulder. "Sometimes I wish we were too, but someone has to do the cooking, someone has to take care of Her."
"Why?" Maria said, blowing her nose.
Andre's eyebrows jumped, and he loudly whispered, "What?"
"Oh never mind, I am going loco! Diego is driving me crazy, ever since Winifred returned from her first day at school she has been jumping on everyone, and if you so much as look at Winifred she chases her upstairs. It is utter insanity."
Andre bowed his head, sighed and said, "That is because she knows something is not right, even though Winifred has hidden her identification pin; Diego suspects something is up. You cannot hide things from Diego because she stares everywhere."
At once they turned their heads to a flurry of footsteps and giggles. Maria saw Shakespeare tugging on Winifred's arm and leading her through the kitchen door. "Oh no," she cried, "the blind midget has kidnapped Winifred!"
Shakespeare and Winifred scampered and stood before Maria's chair. It was a cloudy day on Delancey Street, causing the kitchen to look dingy and stark. Outside, on the windowsill, a lone featherless sparrow cried to be fed.
Winifred smiled at Maria and said, "Shakespeare did not kidnap me. I am a free individual in a free country, free to go wherever I please." Winifred's smile turned to a sad frown. "As long as I wear my pin."
"Do not worry, my little Conchita," Maria said, reaching her hands out to Winifred, "We will think of something. We always do."
"That's what I'm afraid of," Shakespeare snapped.
"Do not go snapping at me, you little peso," Maria snapped.
Shakespeare's eyeless head tilted up in a spooky pose, "Oh yeah, and just who is going to stop me?" Shakespeare snapped.
"You give me the creeps. You all give me the creeps. Except for you, Conchita and Her," Maria said, her eyes gazing at the ceiling in a prayerful glance.
It was then that Andre placed his arm on Winifred's shoulder and said, "Excuse me, her name is Winifred, not Conchita!"
This caused Winifred to scrunch her little face and say. "It is okay, Uncle Andre, please don't make a scene."
Shakespeare toppled over and laughed. "I'm afraid we've gone beyond making scenes years ago -- best you can hope for, honey, is nothing gets broken."
"Oh quiet, you little toad," Andre said, when suddenly the walls began to shake.
"Gee, I wonder who that could be," Shakespeare snapped while he grabbed onto Andre's leg.
Cabinet doors opened. Cans of syrup fell to the floor in sharp thuds across the linoleum. The florescent light above began to sizzle and blink like a strobe light. And there they saw Clarissa's tentacle swing through the door, and sweep across the kitchen knocking down chairs and stools in its wake.
Then they heard her piercing buzz. "I have just about had enough of these humans, and halfsies."
"Halfsies?" Shakespeare snapped.
Maria's bracelet's shook as she pointed to Shakespeare. "Oh, you know what she means."
Andre removed his hat and laughing said, "Yes but still, even you, Maria, must admit that it is funny hearing someone as large and foreboding as Clarissa say halfsies."
Maria smiled and said, "Hey, well perhaps a little."
Then Shakespeare joined in and giggled, "Maybe a lot."
At once her tentacle lurched wildly across the floor.
They scampered and ran behind the stove.
And She buzzed. "You are all imbeciles; I am surrounded by imbiciles except for you, my little buggy."
Shakespeare's head popped out from behind the stove. "Little buggy?"
At that point, hoping to avoid another altercation, Winifred scurried up to her grandmother's tentacle, patted it and said, "I love you, Grandma."
"Well, aren't you going to tell Clarissa 'her name isn't Buggy, it is Winifred,' big mouth?" Maria was saying, shaking her fists at Andre when Clarissa began to buzz again strangely "There is someone else in this room. Someone who is here but isn't."
Nervously, Andre, fidgeting with his hat said, "What, Clarissa?"
Shakespeare kneed Andre's leg and whispered, "She must be losing it again."
Then her black eyes jumped. "Do any of you know someone named Fransau?"
All heads turned toward one another, stared, and in unison they replied, "Nope," except for Winifred, who was staring at her grandmother's leg.
And somewhere on Delancey Street, Diego sighed.
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