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November 27, 2023
"Mes de los Muertos"

Dinner With Henry 95: The Gulls

By Bruce Memblatt

The sun cooked the sand.

Andre pulled a bottle of lotion out of the burlap bag lying next to him that Maria had brought along for their Saturday at Rockaway Beach. Shakespeare sat on the blanket next to Andre, bored and hot, while Henry, Diego and Winifred, walked along the shore. The squawk of seagulls and the sound of waves crashing against the sand could be heard in the near distance.

Maria meandered over to the blanket where Andre and Shakespeare sat. Wearing an enormous straw hat, and a tank top which revealed a tattoo of Justin Bieber, she grinned and said, "Andre, please, may I have some of that lotion?"

Andre pointed at Maria and laughed.

"What is so funny, Andre? I'd like some lotion," Maria said, standing right above Andre, kicking her sandals against the sand.

Andre continued to laugh. "You have a tattoo of Justin Beiber!"

"And you have a pot belly!" Maria waved her arms; her bracelets jingled.

"Very funny," Andre said. His nose curled and his lips pursed like he had just bitten into a lemon as he handed Maria the tube of lotion.

"Oh, I see," Maria said, pointing her finger in the air. "You can make fun of me, but when I make fun of you it is a different story, isn't it, muchacho?"

Shakespeare said, "He's very sensitive about his weight."

Andre bowed his head and turned red while Maria cried, "And I am very sensitive about my Justin Beiber!" She looked toward the sun, removed her big hat and sighed out, "I love you Justin!"

"Oy vay." Andre looked at the sky and said, "Shakespeare, it's a good thing you can't see this."

Then Maria threw her hat to the sand, spat on the ground and said, "It's a good thing ju can't see his big fat belly, too!" Quickly, she turned and began to walk away.

"I hate the beach. Why are we at the beach?" Shakespeare snapped while Maria marched towards the shore.

A seagull landed near the waves and began to furiously peck at the sand with his beak.

Andre, casually eyeing the seagull, responded to Shakespeare, "We are at the beach because beaches are fun and inexpensive ways to spend an afternoon in the summer; for example it only cost you a subway token to get here."

Shakespeare pulled a shell out of the sand and tossed it. "Oh yeah, how much did you pay for that bottle of sunblock?"

"Thirty dollars."

"Well, So much for inexpensive ways to spend the afternoon," Shakespeare said, while another seagull landed next to the first seagull and began to furiously drill into the sand like the first one.

Andre waved his hand as if to say oh please. "I would have needed the lotion regardless, Shakespeare."

Shakespeare snapped, "Yes for all those afternoons you spend sun bathing on Delancey Street."

"You know something, Shakespeare, I never liked you." Andre said and he kicked the sand with his sandals. Then he stood and shook the sand out of his blanket.

"I hate sand," Shakespeare said, twiddling his thumbs.

"I hate sand too, but it's at the beach, such is life."

"We don't have to be at the beach," Shakespeare said.

"Yes we do. It is summer."

"I'm not talking to you anymore," Shakespeare said and then he stood, took off his sandals, and poured the sand out of them.

Andre laughed, "You are a sandy blind midget."

"And you are a dummy," Shakespeare snapped back and he sat back down on the blanket and pulled a can of beer out of the cooler. "Oh, by the way, how much did all this beer cost?"

"What do you care? You're drinking it, aren't you? You drunken blind obnoxious midget!" Andre said and then he kicked the sand again and stood, noticing two more seagulls had landed next to the first seagull. All were furiously digging at the sand.

On the shore Winifred tugged on Henry's hand, and pointed at the seagulls. Henry quickly turned around, and so did Diego, who began to stare intently at the sky while saying to Henry, "The sky is very open today."

Henry just continued to stare at the gulls. Now twenty had gathered on the shoreline.

Maria jumped in the air and cried, "ITS A SIGN FROM GOD -- A SIGN FROM GOD!"

Winifred looked up at Maria, shook her little hands and said, "More like Alfred Hitchcock, I'd imagine."

"You are a very smart child," Maria cried back to Winifred, "but you are wrong. THIS IS GOD'S WORK!"

Henry glared at Maria and said, "I think you'd better calm down, Maria, they're just a bunch of gulls digging in the sand."

"What would ju know about it, bug?" Maria shouted at Henry, taking her hat off again and tossing it onto the wet sand.

Shakespeare heard Maria shouting and then he felt Andre patting him on the shoulder. "Ha, look at Maria; she is jumping up and down all excited about a bunch of seagulls." Then he slapped his knees and began to laugh.

"Why are you always telling me to look at things?"

Back on the shore, Henry waved his hands. "Oh please, they're digging for something to eat, Maria, haven't you ever been to the beach before?"

Then Maria paused, looked at the sky, and tears began to roll down her cheeks. "No, my mother never took me to the beach when I was a little girl in Mexico. In fact, she always told me beaches were horrible places, so I never went, not until today, and now I see mother was right."

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2013-08-05
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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