Maria slid the paint brush back into the bucket, yawned, and then ran her hand across her sweaty forehead, leaving a huge white paint stain on her brow that made Andre laugh.
"Maria, you are making me laugh," Andre said while he flipped a chocolate chip pancake over in the griddle.
"This is not funny, not any of it, Andre. This is probably THE lowest point of my entire life, and you make jokes, you and your wretched little sidekick," Maria snarled, and she reached for the paint brush.
"Hey, I didn't say anything," Shakespeare said while he grabbed a spoon from the counter drawer just above him.
Maria poked the wet paint brush at the air in Shakespeare's direction, "But you were about to, you little cockroach."
"Please, you must admit, Maria, this is all your fault," Andre said. "If you hadn't tried to kill Clarissa, not just once or twice, but three times, she wouldn't have made you paint the kitchen as your penance."
Then Shakespeare chimed in, "Actually, you're getting off pretty easy, Maria. You're lucky she didn't eat you like she ate your beagle."
Maria threw the paint brush to the floor crying, "I knew you two would gang up on me. Just like you always do!"
It was then that Diego descended on the kitchen, hands waving, teeth chewing. "Why is it every single time I walk into the kitchen someone is arguing?"
Andre grinned, flipped another pancake, and said, "That's because we are always arguing, you know that, Diego. It is what makes life here interesting."
Diego rolled her eyes and said, "Oh, I thought it was the giant bug."
Then Shakespeare snapped, "And the lousy cuisine."
Andre tugged on his hat, smiled, and said, "No matter what you do, you will not make me angry today. I am not letting you get to me today, Shakespeare." Then he leaned over and patted Shakespeare on the head.
Sunlight streamed into the room when Maria, who was standing by the window in the back of the kitchen, pulled up the blinds and screamed out the window, "ONCE AGAIN AS YOU ALL CAN SEE THEY FORGET ABOUT ME AND INVOLVE THEMSELVES IN THEIR OWN PETTY SQUABBLES!"
Suddenly a window on the warehouse across the street opened, and a burly-looking man began to shout, "YOU ARE ALL FUCKING LUNATICS, AND IF YOU DON'T CUT THAT NOISE OUT I'M CALLING THE COPS!"
The window slammed shut and Maria turned around and scrambled back toward the stove. "The people in this neighborhood are very sensitive."
"No, Maria," Andre said, "it is you. You are a TROUBLE MAKER! That is why you are in this position in the first place -- it is all your fault!"
Tears suddenly rushed down Maria's cheeks, she kicked the paint bucket and cried, "You're right, you're right. You are all so right. It is my entire fault!" She pulled her shirt up to her head, and began to wipe her cheek, leaving another white paint stain on her face, "But what am I to do? It seems all I do is bang my head against wall after wall after wall."
It was then that Diego elbowed Andre and hushed, "Tell me, what is Maria doing with the paint, and paint brush?"
Andre grinned and said, "She is painting herself into a corner. No, really, did you not hear? This is her punishment for trying to kill Clarissa. She has to paint the kitchen."
Diego's eyes snapped toward Maria and she said, "Oh, please, you really can't expect that tiny crazy Mexican woman to paint this entire kitchen, can you?" She grabbed her cell from her pocket, dialed, and pulled it to her ear. "Henry, get down here fast. We have to help Maria paint the kitchen."
"Well, screw that," Shakespeare snapped, "it's her punishment, not mine." At that moment Maria picked up the paint bucket, carried it over to Shakespeare and dumped it on his head.
"WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? YOU CAN'T PAINT THE BLIND MIDGET!" Andre cried.
Then Shakespeare, completely taken back and wet, began to charge after Maria, but unable to see, he ran into the side of the kitchen counter instead, knocking the plate of pancakes Andre had just left on the counter to the floor
"OH NOOOOOOOOO! OH, LOOK WHAT YOU HAVE DONE! MY BEAUTIFUL PANCAKES DESTROYED!" Andre threw himself to the floor and began banging on the linoleum.
Diego just shook her head back and forth saying, "I think you have all really done it this time. You have all lost your minds."
Then Maria, now still standing in the spot where she threw the bucket of paint over Shakespeare, seemingly frozen in place, began to cry again.
It was at that moment that Henry walked into the kitchen, gazed into the chaos that faced him and softly said, "What is going on here?"
"Well, Henry," Diego said while she stepped toward Henry, "it seems Maria is supposed to paint the kitchen as punishment for trying to kill your mother, and she had started, but then things began to get out of hand when ..."
Henry shushed Diego and said, "Thanks, honey. I don't need to hear the whole story; please, it will only confuse me, or worse. Okay, we are going to do this. We will tell mother Maria painted the kitchen and that's that. She will never know anyway, she hardly comes down here, and when she does, she's too big to fit. So in other words -- problem solved."
Immediately, Maria rushed over to Henry, put her hands around his waist hugged him hard, and kissed him, over and over, saying, "Henry you are the best! The best that ever was -- ever ever ever ever ever!"
Then Diego, tall and cool, tapped Maria on the shoulder and whispered. "That's enough."
Maria immediately retreated, leaving Henry's face covered with white kissy paint stains.
And Diego sighed.