In the next scene, we see Punky, Cherie, Margaux and Allen playing hide and seek in the snowy apartment courtyard. The broken refrigerator sits center stage. While Allen closes his eyes and counts in front of the tree house ladder, Punky and Margaux hide under the empty box for the new fridge. Cherie runs into the apartment building door just as Henry walks out and wanders aimlessly through the courtyard. No one sees Cherie immediately exit the building and hide inside the old fridge. Alan stops counting, looks around the yard, then gets ambushed by Punky and Margaux, who safely make it home free to the tree house ladder. But where’s Cherie?
Reenter Henry, who tells the kids he’s going to remove the fridge door before the Salvation Army comes to pick up this useless garbage. Thanks for your generous donation, Hank. But then it starts snowing, so he postpones his plan. Well, this is Chicago so looks like he’ll be taking care of that mid-May or so. He tells the kids to go in – and by the way, never, EVER play near the broken fridge – but they say they need to find Cherie first. Henry says, “I saw her inside. You’ll find her in there, c’mon.” Someone please explain to him how hide and seek works. The scene commences with an endless still shot of the broken fridge sitting in the silent snow, the sound of Cherie’s pounding and screaming unheard by any of her long-gone friends. I’m having heart palpitations. My husband, who has watched all of the last twenty seconds, says, “This is horrible, no one should watch this ever!” (Duh, that’s why I do this, so no one has to.) But truly, it’s excruciating. Cut to break. Thank goodness that’s over.
Back from break. We return to the courtyard and more of Cherie’s muffled sceams. My husband is freaking out, saying that our daughter can “never, ever be near an empty fridge.” I assure him they don’t make ’em like that anymore. Newer appliances may not be built to last, but at least they’ve stopped swallowing children.
Cut to Henry’s kitchen, where he’s showing off his new refrigerator to Betty. When he tells her he got it from Cheap-O Chester, she relates a story about how her cousin got “hoodwinked” by some “big ol’ country boy” scam artist. Such is Cheap-O Chester’s final moment of relevance, offering further proof that Hank is an idiot.
Cut to the kids searching for Cherie in Punky and Henry’s apartment. How this makes sense, I don’t know. But at least Betty catches wind of her granddaughter’s disappearance and becomes worried. Henry chuckles, “Relax, Betty. I saw her a couple minutes ago. She probably just found a good hiding place.” Someone please shoot this man. Fortunately, the kids are also concerned. Margaux argues, “Unlike me, Cherie is the worst hider in the North American continent,” as Punky and Allen nod in agreement. On the basis of that logic, everyone splits up to search for her.