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June 17, 2024

Dinner With Henry 100: The Gathering, Part 1

By Bruce Memblatt

Andre raised his glass in the air, and he scanned the room with eager eyes. It had been ages since he served everyone dinner in the kitchen. At the table, centered between the freezer and the stove, Maria was wearing her best scarves, Diego had a diamond earring hanging from her one ear, Shakespeare looked like the usual Shakespeare but he was smiling, Winifred was wearing purple ribbons in her hair, and Henry had his hair cut. Indeed, it was a small celebration of sorts for no specific reason except the desire to have a special night together.

Andre raised his glass in the air, and smiling, he said, "I'd like to propose a toast, but first, a little song."

That's when Shakespeare tipped his eyeless skull and said, "Please do, Andre, you know how we adore your improvisations."

"Yes, please," Maria concurred, and then Diego and Henry followed suit.

Everyone smiled, and gazing at Andre, they waited for him to sing.

And they waited.

And waited.

And waited, but Andre just stared into space until Henry cleared his throat and said, "Yoo hoo, Andre."

"Oh my dear, please forgive me -- I was lost in thought!"

Henry put down his glass and said, "So what were you thinking about?"

All heads turned toward Andre, who still stood at the head of the table, champagne glass in hand.

"Actually, Henry, I was thinking about you, and the night you arrived here so many years ago. Remember the song I sang?" Andre said and then he sang:

"Our kitchen is a beautiful place for nothing.
But do nothing and you will become a toad.
Welcome to our kitchen. Go away. I'm Andre."

Henry was taken aback, because he did actually remember the song. His eyes lit like lamps and he cried, "I do remember it! You scared the shit out of me that night, you too, Shakespeare!"

"Must have been my beautiful eyes," Shakespeare grinned.

Then Maria, pointing wih her fork, said, "What kind of lyrics are those? What kind of thing is that to sing? 'I'm Andre. Go away.'"

And all eyes then leapt toward Maria sans Shakespeare, who at that point was amused beyond belief, in contrast to Diego who turned toward Maria, yawned and breathed, "Oh, who cares, why we are always dwelling in the past?"

Henry stared at Diego and for a split second he imagined her taking a drag on a cigarette, but his tiny daydream was quickly intrupted by Andre's cry, "A wise man once said those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it." Then Andre drew his glass down on the table hard and glared at Diego.

And Diego sighed, "You can't repeat the past, regardless."

Suddenly Maria cried, "Well, are we going to have a toast or not? This must be the longest toast in history!" Then she muttered under her breath, "And these lunatics have the nerve to call me crazy."

"That is because you are bat shit crazy," Shakespeare said. "You have more personalities than Sybil."

Then Andre, clearly frustrated, because all his appendages were twitching, nearly dropped his glass while he said, "What are you talking about? Who is Sybil?"

Little Winifred then stood from her chair, raised her hand and said, "Sybil was the title of a 1973 book documenting the multiple personalities of Shirley Ardell Mason. Sybil Dorsett was the name of the main personality, out of sixteen known personalities belonging to Shirley Ardell Mason, but nonetheless, what concerns me is that you all promised to be on your best behavior tonight." Then she pouted and sat back down in her chair.

Candlelight flickered across the table catching the glow in Diego's eyes when she said, "I'm afraid this IS our best behavior, Winifred."

Everyone chuckled except for Shakespeare, who said, "What are you talking about? I haven't snapped once this night, not once. Blind midgets never get credit!"

That is the moment when Maria stood and said, "What are you talking about? You called me 'bat shit crazy' just a few minutes ago, you little maricon."

"That wasn't a snap, that is the truth!" Shakespeare said.

"Oh what is the use? I cannot even keep a promise to a little girl because of you!" Maria cried, then she picked up her knife and pointed it at Andre. "Listen, Chubby, you say your goddamned toast already so I can eat and get the hell out of here!" Her bracelets jangled like cymbals.

Andre sneered and said, "No, I will not say a toast under duress."

That's when Shakespeare, doing his best Groucho Marx impersonation, feigning puffing on a cigar, said, "Listen, I don't care what you're wearing, we need a toast."

And then Henry, smiling, said, "With jam or jelly?"

This made Diego laugh loudly and smile at Henry. "Henry, you are so funny."

"Hey, it was my joke," Shakespeare said, tapping his cigar-less fingers on the table.

"None of you are amusing. You have broken the spell. Please, already, someone say a toast!" Maria said still standing, pointing her knife.

Then Andre said, waving his hands in the air, "Okay, okay, I give up! Please, sit down Maria, and you will have your toast."

Maria quickly sat down. And all eyes turned once again to Andre.

Andre cleared his throat and said, "I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to sing my toast." He cleared his throat again. A feeling of anticipation filled the air, and he began to sing:

"My dearest dears ..."

Suddenly, a loud crash. Plates began to fall from the shelves. The ceiling cracked. Everyone jumped and ran from the table as Clarissa's tentacle came crashing through the florescent lights.

Then plaster fell like hail, the table broke in two and her tentacle stretched across it, twitching.

To be continued...

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2013-10-28
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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