La Mort D’Henri

Henri had dreaded this moment for many years. He’d finally submitted to the test—an EKG. In a few minutes Dr. Halpern would usher him down the hall and he’d step on a treadmill, Satan’s merry-go-round. Wires stuck to his chest via painful adhesives would measure the dismal retorts of his lumbering chest organ. He’d sweat, he’d gasp, he’d wheeze and sputter, he’d become red-faced and he might even pass out as gelatin legs struggled to keep him upright on the screaming rubber belt and Dr. Halpern looked on aghast and ashamed, until finally (if he survived) he’d be allowed to stop and the appalling numbers would be scrutinized like Richter scale readings after a tour of the damage. 180/126. Diatolic? Systolic? Systemic? Henri couldn’t remember these obscure medical terms! And at last, inevitably—Henri knew it would be so—Dr. Halpern would sit him down and issue the morbid verdict: no more cheese.

And because he was an honest man and because he feared his wife (who would find out Dr. Halpern’s orders anyway, despite Henri—somehow—she had ways), at home he would stand over the kitchen waste bin, weeping, and he’d deposit his stilton, Camembert, the triple-cream brie, the Irish cheddar, the Normandy Roquefort, and alas, for what? So that he could live?