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September 26, 2022

Dinner With Henry 120: And They All Had a Real Swell Time

By Bruce Memblatt

Sirens, helicopter spotlights, and crowds still arrested the night when Henry arrived on the scene. His mother's ominous figure shadowed the roof of the warehouse, nearly eclipsing the full moon.

"Here," the cop said while he handed Henry the megaphone.

Henry grabbed the instrument, wiped the sweat off his brow, and he pulled it to his mouth. "Mother, Mother, please, you've got to come down."

Almost immediately they heard her buzz, "Well, it's about time, Henry. Do you know how long I have been up here? Where were you?"

The cop turned to Henry and whispered, "Your mother sounds a lot like my mother. You have my condolences."

"She's not that bad. She just likes to have her way."

"When someone's that big they usually get it," the cop responded when Clarissa buzzed again.

"Well, Henry, did you come out here to talk to me, or to make new friends?"

The cop pulled in his chest and cleared his throat, while Henry said, "Sorry, Mother."

"Henry, I am not coming down so long as we have to move. I am not being thrown out of my home by Macys!"

Suddenly the crowd cheered, and Clarissa, beaming, raised her head high above them.

Henry, the megaphone shaking in his lips, cried, "Mother, we are not on The View. This is a serious situation you are provoking here."

"Me, provoking, Henry? I am not provoking. I just want to stay in my home." Her tentacles slithered across the top of the roof, knocking debris onto the crowd below.

At first the crowd hushed, and then people began to scream.

More debris fell from the roof. She writhed, almost baying at the moon.

"Mister, please say something to her," the cop said, when Henry saw Andre, Shakespeare, Maria and Diego pushing their way through the crowd towards him.

"Oy oy oy," Maria cried, her bracelets shaking. "This is unbelievable, Henry."

Diego rushed to Henry's side and breathed, "What does she want, Henry?"

That is when Andre intervened, "What do you think she wants, Diego? She wants to stay here. She doesn't want to move and I don't blame her!" He raised his hat in the air. His eyes, nose, teeth and lips quivered.

"You are a big help," Shakespeare snapped.

Andre shook his fists. "At least I am honest. None of us want to leave. Let her raise some hell. What's the worst that can happen?"

Anger filled Henry and he glared at Andre. "My mother is up on the roof, Andre. There are crowds below. Debris is falling. We don't want to find out what the worst thing that can happen is."

The cop stared at Andre, then turned to Henry and said, "This guy is a troublemaker, isn't he?"

"Ay, you don't know the half of it," Maria said before Henry could respond. "And he never shuts up, never!"

Then Diego breathed, "That little one is no picnic either, always egging him on."

Shakespeare started to smirk when her buzz filled the air again, "ALL OF YOU HAD BETTER KNOCK IT OFF OR I'll NEVER COME DOWN!"

More debris fell from the roof. The crowd began to scream again. People ran. Sirens went into high gear. Henry knew something horrible could happen if things didn't quiet down. He grabbed onto Diego's arm for support and he shouted, "Mother, please, Mother. This has to stop!"

"Henry, you know I can't leave this warehouse because my door is here. This is where it will all happen, Henry, I can't leave my door."

This caused the cop to look at Henry like Clarissa had just landed from Mars and he said, "Her door?"

Suddenly, Maria said, "It is her own personal gateway to the other side. It is very important to her. That's where the evolution will occur."

"The what?" the cop said. His eyes crossed.

Then Andre said, "You will never understand, officer, but several people have already disappeared behind that door."

That's when Shakespeare kicked Andre in the leg and said, "Sorry, officer, this man is obviously delusional."

"I think you're all nuts, the whole lot of you, and I would lock you all up, and throw away the key, if I could, but I can't." The cop walked away, disappearing into the crowd.

About to explode, Henry cried at his mother, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! YOU COME DOWN, MOTHER!" And then he threw the megaphone to the ground.

The crowd erupted with cheers.

And Clarissa buzzed, "There is only one way, Henry, only one way. You all have to agree to come with me behind the door tonight."

Diego whispered to Henry, "Tell her yes, Henry. What have we got to lose? There is nothing behind that door anyway, but mice."

Maria agreed, "Yes, Henry, tell her we'll go, and let's just get this over with already."

"I don't know, Henry. I don't know! The whole thing scares me!" Andre cried.

Then Shakespeare snapped, pointing at Andre, "What doesn't scare you?"

"You don't, you leetle toad."

* * *

Later that night in the loft, they all stood in the hallway and faced the great door. Clarissa's tentacle slithered up and down, and across the floor in anticipation of the opening of the gateway.

Candlelight flickered throughout the hall. "We must have candles," Clarissa buzzed, "and we must have quiet because soon it will begin."

They all stared at each other like Clarissa had just landed from Mars, except Andre, who began to shout. "I can't do it! I CANT! We're all going to die!" And he began to run.

Suddenly, Clarissa's tentacle lurched and grabbed Andre and she pushed him through the door.

They gasped.

Then Henry cried, "Mother, was that necessary?"

And from behind the door they heard Andre singing.

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 immediately recognized the song, because it was the creepy song Andre sang to him the first night he had arrived on Delancey Street.

"Oy curmumba!" Maria cried as she marched toward the door, "Please people, let's just get this over with."

Then Henry turned to Diego looking forlorn, and they followed Maria through the doorway.

Shakespeare was the last to enter.

Surrounded by darkness, they continued to walk deeper into the empty space as if in a dream. Then suddenly, one by one, they burst, and changed into bright beams of light. Each one of them a single light and then they joined, and just as quickly, they each vanished into the everything and they finally became part of the everything that eluded them when they lived. The great everything that cradles everything.

Outside, the crowds still in the street watched on as the warehouse exploded. Flames and sirens and cries filled the night until the morning sun lit Delancey Street.

* * *

Once upon a time there was a singing chef named Andre, a blind midget named Shakespeare, an old worm-eating witch named Sincere, a one-eared nurse named Diego, and a half-bug-half-man named Henry Wallace who lived in a warehouse on Delancey Street with a giant.

The End

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2014-10-27
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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