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September 26, 2022

Dinner With Henry 98: Z

By Bruce Memblatt

"Henry, Henry, straighten up," Clarissa buzzed, peering down at her son standing on the floor in the main room of the loft, looking up at his mother with cautious concern, as he always did. "Henry, we have no slouchers in our family -- bugs don't slouch."

Henry arched his back and said, "Okay, Mother, is this better?"

"Yes, Henry that's better," she buzzed; her black eyes blinked, and then her head swooped downward in Henry's direction. "Henry, I couldn't sleep last night, so I turned on the TV. There was a movie about these creatures called zombies, which are really just human beings after they're dead, can you imagine? They're even more terrifying dead than alive!"

"Mother, humans aren't terrifying, and don't forget I'm half human myself."

Her furry black head swooped back up, she gazed at the skylight and she shook, and then she buzzed, "I hardly need reminding of that, Henry. I am the proud mother of a half-bug, and grandmother of one too."

Henry raised his hands in the air. "Now, you love Winifred very much!"

She shook her head. "Love is a word for humans; I feel a bond with her as I do with you Henry, but it doesn't steal my eyes from the ugly and unfortunate truth." She buzzed and spat.

Henry sighed; he would never get through to her. He knew she was too set in her ways, too unchangeable, just too -- BIG. "All right, Mother, thank you for sharing this bond with me."

"Whatever, Henry," she buzzed, her cool black eyes staring at Henry as if he had broken some long standing code of tradition, "now can we get back to the topic of these zombie creatures? Do you suppose they can exist, Henry?"

Henry, a bit surprised that his mother was taking the notion of zombies so seriously, then remembering she was just a tad bonkers, began to stare back at his mother with the same look of surprise she had given him.

"Mother, of course not, the film is just a work of fiction. Zombies are as mythical and as real as unicorns."

Clarissa's head shook again and she buzzed, "You mean to tell me, Henry, you have never seen a unicorn?" Then she buzz-laughed, "How ridiculous, Henry!"

A sparrow landed on the skylight.

"Mother," Henry said, growing a bit impatient. He could feel the headache approaching -- the one that always arrived during visits with his mother. "There are no such things as unicorns, and no such things as zombies."

"Really, Henry? Well maybe we should ask Maria about that."

"Mother, Maria is crazy!"

"You are just saying that because she has a hot Latin temper like me!"

"You are not Latin, Mother!" Henry cried and shook his fists in the air.

Clarissa trembled, causing the walls in the main room of the loft to shake. Pictures fell and mice scurried.

"I have news for you -- you don't know everything, Henry! What if these zombies are real? What if they ever choose to attack us? Living people I can deal with, but zombies? Even a big being like me wouldn't faze the stupid things. They'd just keep coming at me in numbers so large I would be destroyed inevitably. And I can't hold a gun, so I couldn't even shoot them in the head! What would I do then, Henry? What would I do?" The walls of the loft continued to shake as Clarissa continued to rock back and forth.

Henry's hands flailed and he hollered, "First off, you would stop shaking!"

"I can't! I am too upset, you know how bugs are! Get me Maria!"

With that Henry scrambled out of the loft in search of Maria.

In the meanwhile, Clarissa stood and stared at the skylight and thought of zombies.

The sparrow that landed on the skylight began to jump up and down erratically as if it were doing the Monster Mash.

Clarissa, still staring at the skylight, began to panic. Thinking zombies were on their way, she rocked harder and harder causing the glass on the skylight to crack. The refraction of the light that resulted from the crack in the glass made the sparrow's shadow appear much larger than it actually was. Clarissa shriek-buzzed, "Henry Henry, they are at the gates!"

And the sparrow continued to jump harder and harder, its giant shadow bouncing across the walls.

Henry and Maria ran into the loft. Henry, not knowing what to think with all the commotion, in addition to the giant shadow and rustling coming from the skylight, began to conclude his mother was correct, even though he knew it wasn't possible. But Henry quickly came to his senses and he cried, "Mother, you have to stop shaking so we can find out what is going on!"

Clarissa loudly buzzed at Henry. "It is zombies, you idiot! Where is Maria?"

Maria rushed past Henry, and flailing her hands at Clarissa, her bracelets jangling wildly, she said, "I am here, My Lady, and I can save us from the zombies. A spirit I know in Acapulco can get rid of zombies just like that!"

"But what do we do now, Maria?" Clarissa buzzed, still shaking like a drunken bat.

That's when Henry said, "We shoo the sparrow from the skylight is what we do."

Suddenly Clarissa's eyes darted up and she stopped shaking. Her head quickly swooped down toward Henry and she buzzed, "I am so embarrassed, Henry, I am such a fool. I am a crazy giant bug fool."

Before Henry could answer Maria cried out, "No, you are not, My Lady! Zombies are just as real as unicorns, and I tell you if I can make this trip we will never have to worry about zombies again."

"Okay, Maria go!" Clarissa buzzed and then she sighed.

And again before Henry could speak, Maria ran past him and out the door of the loft.

"But Mother, all she wants is a free trip to Acapulco," Henry said, looking at his enormous mother like she was a jigsaw puzzle he'd never solve.

"I know, Henry but what does it matter? I have lived much too long for a bug. Zombies or not, I will die sooner or later, and then what will become of all of you?"

Henry didn't know how to respond, so he stared at his mother, shrugged, and silently walked away.

Clarissa watched Henry as he traveled out of the loft and she thought about zombies.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2013-09-23
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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