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June 05, 2023

Dinner With Henry 105: Street Fare

By Bruce Memblatt

The first street fair of the new year took place on Delancey Street on a chilly Saturday afternoon. As usual, the block was blocked off from traffic, allowing the vendors to set up shop on the pavement, and allowing the crowds to walk down the car-free street without care.

The smell of sausages, hot dogs, calzones, tamales, ribs, corn dogs, and fried plantains filled the air, and Andre's nostrils.

"This is what people call food? This greasy common fare would never find its way into MY kitchen!"

"Oh boy, here we go again, every year always the same old shit," Shakespeare said, preparing himself for the familiar litany of remarks that would be falling from Andre's tongue.

Andre tightened his coat. "Now, Shakespeare, I am just saying, the common fare here is lacking." His nose turned up and his eyes sighed.

"Why, because it isn't eighty-five percent sugar?"

"Shakespeare, I object!"

"Sorry, ninety percent."

"Now cut that out! You know as well as I that there is indeed a very good reason why I have to prepare the meals with a lot of sugar."

"Yes, because we are the domain of a giant bug!" Shakespeare cried, trying to maneuver his way through the crowd.

Andre felt a hand tap him on the shoulder followed by a husky voice, "Hey, are youse two gonna move it along? I wanna take a look at those seashell ashtrays that broad is hawking over there!"

Andre didn't turn around and look at the man, he just leaned down and whispered to Shakespeare, "See what I told you? Common fare."

The man behind Andre began to shout, "Hey I heard that! You think you're better than us, fatso?"

Then the man's even huskier friend added, "Well, I guess we ain't even fit to walk behind this maven. We are so sorry, sir, please forgive us for breathin.'"

Shakespeare sighed, "Uh oh," while a siren was heard in the near distance, causing Shakespeare to silently wish it wasn't a harbinger of things to come.

Quickly Andre turned around, looked at the two men and said, "Gentlemen, please, I did not mean to even suggest that you two fine men were somehow beneath me. I was just saying to my little friend how the food here is really not up to my standards. You may not know this but I am a chef of some renown, so my palate is just a little more particular than most."

The man's face scrunched like he was losing patience. "Hey, pal, I heard what you said, so don't try to fancy it up now. Common fare, indeed! I'll have you know me and my buddy here are members of the Delancey Street Bowling League and Rifle Association!"

Andre, speechless, looked down at Shakespeare, and Shakespeare, who could never resist a snap, sarcastically said, "Oh my, Andre, you better be quiet -- we are dealing with armed bowlers."

This caused Andre to laugh out, "Yes, I wonder what they will do, pin us, then shoot us?"

That's when the second man shouted, "No, chubby, we'll just shoot you," and then he pulled a rifle out of the duffle bag he had strapped around his shoulder.

At once Andres' hair stood on end and he began to stammer, "But, mister, you can't just wave a rifle around on the streets of New York City. If the cops see you, it's off to what you call the slammer."

"We are off-duty cops, buddy, and it looks like you and your little friend here are jaywalking, so we might have to take you down to the station."

"What?" Andre shouted, "But this is a Street Fair, and the street is blocked off to traffic."

"What Street Fair?" The second man turned to the first man and continued, "Do you see any Street Fair?"

"No, Arch, I don't see any Street Fair."

Shakespeare slapped his head and Andre began to shout. "HEY NOW! YOU TWO SO-CALLED OFFICERS CANNOT GET AWAY WITH THIS!"

A crowd began to gather around Andre, Shakespeare and the two husky men.

The first man turned toward the crowd and said, "We are sorry for the trouble, but it looks like this individual and his little friend are disturbing the peace at a public event."

Then the crowd hushed and heads shook in affirmation.

This caused Andre to cry even louder, "YOU CAN NOT GET AWAY WITH THIS, YOU -- YOU -- YOU COMMON FARE!"

That was the moment Shakespeare kicked Andre in the leg, but it was too late, the men had already radioed a passing police car and within minutes Andre and Shakespeare found themselves in the back seat of the vehicle.

The car slowly pulled off to the side of Delancey Street, turned on its siren, and made a left turn on to the next block.

While the crowd was dispersing, Diego and Henry were just making their way to the Street Fair. Hearing the siren, Diego turned to Henry and said, "I hope that isn't a harbinger of things to come."

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2014-01-20
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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