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Henry wakes up with a bad hangover. Nothing a tall glass of coke, two fried eggs and 6 or 7 Tylenol's can't fix. Like an animal sniffing the wind, he walks in several directions before heading to the bathroom. He brushes his teeth with the Happy Gums 2000 and washes his face with a freshwater sponge. He walks to the neighboring room and falls lethargically onto a beanbag. He is not alone in the room. His regret appears in a distinct form that walks the carpet around him. He chats with it a while, debating it's necessity and smiling at the insanity of consistency. Contemplation: It rhymes with masturbation and these two actions do share more than a few characteristics. However, neither one will guarantee you salvation from the tyranny of your mind or your sex organ. Henry is a thinking man. He mulls over most every action. Grass contemplation. He chews the cud. There is a place where one can view things and acknowledge them without shooting flares into the air, a bird hide in the woods of rationality. Let it slide boy. It has happened many times before but this one hurts in a different way. He does not always forget to flush but he does it at the most inopportune times. Girls just don't like finding evidence of that nature in their lavatories. There never was any thought of it being an accident - a result of a mental imbalance in a singular field of human interaction. They always jumped straight to the conclusion that he's a disgusting human with the etiquette of a crippled slug. It is unfair to be ostracized for an innocent little social problem.
"Maybe I'll go for a walk", he thinks to himself. The idea splashes waves of calm onto his beached brain.
Upon his return, Henry finds two messages on his phone message taking system. The first is from Rudolfa apologetically retracting her offer for the apartment. This is no big shock. It had been harder to accept the possibility that Patrick Ewing might never win a ring. The second message is from his friend Sid:
"What is up Henry you unbathed monkey? This is Sid. Me and my woman are gonna be at the que tip flipping championships, down by the big concrete block all afternoon but I know you wanted your nice pants and your collection of world grains today so I left the key under the rug for you. There's a cake in the fridge. It was a gift from the avant-garde chaplain in 7b. That stuff's not for me so help yourself. Lockup when you leave and try not to break anything."
Henry needs his pants for the drinks with his parents and the Ruffenbachers that evening. He kind of has to make a superficial good impression for his dad who has never had the confidence to entertain with any great success. Sid's place is located in a geographically under- privileged area of the city. There's always a murky quality to the air over there. The keys are under the rug as Sid had mentioned. There is nothing really charming about the place except for the baskets of lizard tail potpourri hanging on the walls. Henry does not want to stay in this lack luster prison for more than a few minutes. He searches for his nice pants and finds them in a metal closet drawer at the bottom of a large pile of dirty athletic underwear. The fridge opens with a well-oiled squeak. There is nothing in the top three compartments except the cake. It is a large layered cake quite obviously baked with discipline and love. It looks delicious and since he has permission from Sid he takes the whole cake. Why not impress the folks and the Ruffenbachers with a cake? There are a lot of beers in the bottom drawer of the fridge. He grabs a few of those too.
The clock strikes nine. It's time for dinner with four people over the age of 75. Henry's parents live in a socially impressive area of town. Their apartment is well furnished with all the things that appear on 'the list of socially impressive house ware' as found in the June issue of Cosmopolitan (Chapter 5, Verses 9 to 14). Mary-Beth and Felix-Gunther Ruffenbacher are already present, chatting lightly and falsely with Chip and Olga Langdon. The Ruffenbachers are similar in appearance. They both have sloping foreheads and pear shaped noses. Felix talks as if he is asphyxiating on a cluster of fishhooks. Mary-Beth's laugh has a disturbing quality to it. Her slimy giggles are projected to every corner of the room and Henry does not like it. The room smells old. The talk is sterile and the vodka tonics are weak. Time to bring out the cake. He had forgotten what a beautiful specimen of cake it was. Large and round, white, pink and brown. "May this cake bring me dunlap bags of praise," whispers Henry as he unveils the whale.
"What a lovely cake!" exclaim the elderly in unison. "How very very nice of you to bring a cake for us all to enjoy. We like cake very very much."
His plan to make a good impression is apparently working. Henry slices the cake himself dispensing a chunk slice to everyone, as there are only five eaters. They all seem to love cake. He had known that Chip and Olga loved cake, but the Ruffenbachers show evidence of an even deeper infatuation. Mary-Beth makes grunting noises while stuffing mass after mass into her mouth. Felix eats slowly, grinning and savoring. They are straight folk. No real danger or 'sin' in their lives. They hardly ever drink, do not smoke, sleep around or do any drugs. They are serious about their religious faith and try to avoid swimming after a large meal. Sunscreen and insect repellant travel everywhere in the handbag and they have a very distinct yet cliched vision of what is right and what is wrong.
As Henry takes a bite of the cake, he tastes something peculiar. It is good- no doubt about it, but there is a noticeable taste that he cannot quite place. When half of his chunk is already in his stomach, the realization hits him with the force of sixty bald bison butchers. It is a hash cake. It's a perfectly baked hash cake! Sid had given him a lethal space cake and he has just fed it to his parents and the prim and proper Ruffenbachers. Henry looks around at each of their plates. Three are empty and Felix is enjoying his last bite. Henry takes the cake away to make sure no more is consumed.
"Excellent cake boy. What is the secret ingredient which gives it that special flavor?" says Felix with chocolate cream dripping from his lips. Henry does not answer the question wondering just what the hell is gonna happen now. Four old folks who might never have experienced anything vaguely mind bending are at the mercy of the demented desert. They are completely unsuspecting of course. He cannot deny it. A large quantity of hash must have been consumed. He throws the rest of his piece away in an attempt to avoid the unavoidable and sits at the table. There is nothing left to do but wait and see.