Freedom Lane: Das Bootleggers
Abigail Agatha Abernathy finished texting her BFF, Jill, and climbed into bed. She put her retainer in her mouth and placed her phone on her nightstand to charge. She had finished all of her homework for her freshman algebra class, and needed to get some rest for tomorrow’s quiz. As soon as her head hit the pillow, the phone buzzed one more time.
Abigail reached over and picked up the phone. It said she had one new text from an unknown number. She pushed the little icon on the phone to open it. It was a picture of a naked man ( even older than her dad), standing with one leg up on his toilet. He had a disgusting, perverted smile on his face.
“DADDY!” Abigail shouted, throwing the phone across the bed. The picture of the nude old man with gray stripes on either side of his head was displayed when Abigail’s father and mother rushed into her bedroom to see what was the matter.
“What do you mean you didn’t get my pic?!” Paulie said in the privacy of his own home just off of Willow Street. “I texted it to you a minute ago!”
Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow
Co-created by executive producer BluntSharpness
Season 2, Episode 4: Das Bootleggers
“So everyone knows their assignments,” Mr. Hessman said, addressing his sixth grade social studies class. “Did everyone see the post to the message board last night?”
The class nodded and murmured in agreement. All except Da’Quarius Lobsterclaw Sherman, who fired his hand up in the air. “I dunno wha’chu talkin’ bout!”
“The class doesn’t know what you’re talking about,” Mr. Hessman said.
“I dunno where dis message board is at,” Da’Quarius said.
“You have to get the Homework Messages app,” Susie, who sat next to Da’Quarius, said. “It’s free for your smartphone, but it has ads.”
“What’s dat?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Wait,” Susie said. “You do have a smartphone, don’t you?”
“I ain’t got shit,” Da’Quarius said.
The class tried to stifle some laughter and a few more murmurs.
“It’s OK,” Mr. Hessman said. “Holding his hands up to quiet his class down. “Da’Qarius, I’ll make sure you have everything you need for the assignments.”
The bell rang.
“For tomorrow: Have pages 16-30 read,” Mr. Hessman said. “And I want to see some good discussions on the Homework Messages app tonight! I’ll be checking up on you there!”
“Da fuck you mean I cain’t get a cellphone?!” Da’Quarius shouted at Helen.
“Don’t you use that language with with me!” Helen shouted back. “Who the hell do you need to be talking to at all hours of the day, anyway?”
“It’s for school an’ homework an’ stuff,” Da’Quarius said.
“We already bought you a computer,” Helen said. “What else do you need? Cellphones are for drug dealers and prostitutes anyhow.”
“What Helen means is that we can’t afford one right now,” Rose said, resting her hand on Helen’s knee to calm her down. “Maybe if we saved for a few months -”
“A few months?!” Da’Quarius said. “The kids in my class had them since they was in diapers!”
“Well their parents are a bunch of show-off assholes!” Helen said, shaking a finger at Da’Quarius. “Those spoiled brats will all have have brain tumors before they lose their virginity!”
“I’m sorry, Da’Quarius,” Rose said, “but the answer just has to be ‘no.'”
“If you want a damn phone, you can make your own money,” Helen added, folding her arms across her chest.
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “I’ll do that. I brought the mail inside. Your social security check was in there.”
“Sweet,” Helen said. “Payday for my wrinkly ass!”
The Next day, Da’Quarius poked at his lunch while the other kids were talking, texting, or playing games on their cellphones. “Mo’ fucking bullshit,” he said under his breath.
“Mind if I sit here?” an asian boy said, standing on the opposite side of the table.
“Free country,” Da’Quarius said, trying to figure out how to get some money for a cellphone.
“I’m Qim Kwok,” the boy said. “But you can call me Flounder.”
“Why da fuck would I call you dat?” Da’Quarius asked.
“I dunno,” Flounder said, opening up his sandwich. “People just call me that I guess.”
“What kinda ese are you?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Ese?” Flounder responded.
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “Chinese. Japanese. Taiwanese. Dirty Knees.”
“Oh,” Flounder said, nearly choking on his sandwich. “None of those. I’m Korean.”
“Really?” Da’Quarius asked, picking his head up. “Do yo’ parents own a nail place or a dry cleaners?”
“My dad owns a dry cleaners and laundromat,” Flounder said. “It’s down on Foster Street. Why?”
“Jus’ wonderin’,” Da’Quarius said. “Mind if I met your dad tonight?”
“Order up!” Paulie shouted to Tony and the small kitchen staff of Paulie’s Pizza. It was a weekday afternoon, and the short but sweet dinner rush was just starting. “One large sausage pie and two meatball grinders!”
“Coming right up!” Tony shouted back.
Paulie turned back to his customers. There was a teenage girl standing with her parents. They all had the look of shock on their faces. “Will that be all for you today?” Paulie asked.
“Oh my god!” the girl said. “It’s him daddy! The man from the picture!”
“What picture?” Paulie asked.
“No,” the mother said. “Wait… It is him! Look at the gray stripes in the hair!”
“Oy,” Paulie said, starting to get annoyed. “You something else here? I got other customers waiting!”
“You sent me this picture!” the girl said, holding her phone to Paulie’s face.
“Oh, Madon,” Paulie said.
“I don’t appreciate you sending my daughter those pictures!” the father said.
“I’m so sorry,” Paulie said. “I meant to text that to my girl!”
“Well you sent them to mine!” the father said, raising his voice. The other customers were beginning to quiet down and look towards Paulie.
“Look,” Paulie said, lowering his voice. “This is all just a big misunderstanding. How about I make this meal on the house. One large sausage and two meatballs, right?”
“You pervert!” the mother said, storming out of Paulie’s.
“This used to be a nice place!” the father said, dragging his daughter out as well.
Tony came up from behind Paulie with an order to go. “What the hell was that loud mouth going on about?” he asked.
Paulie just stared at the door. “Puttana d’ Eva…”
“What do you want from me?” Flounder’s dad asked.
“I know what you’re up to here, Mr. Kwok,” Da’Quarius said. “I know you got da goods, an’ I want in.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Mr. Kwok said. “I’m running a family business here!”
“I ain’t no cop,” Da’Quarius said. “I know you want’cho goods in my school, an’ yo’ son ain’t sellin’ shit. If you wanna expand yo’ business, then I’m da’ nigga you gotta talk to. You give me da’ product, I sell, I bring you da’ profit, an’ you cut me whateva you want. Deal?”
Mr. Kwok eyed Da’Quarius before turning to Flounder. “Is this boy on the level, Qim?” he asked.
“Yes,” Flounder replied. “If anyone in my school can do it, it’s him.”
“So, we got a deal or what?” Da’Quarius asked.
“We have a deal,” Mr. Kwok replied.
“Good,” Da’Quarius said. “Mind if I sample da’ goods?”
“I don’t see the harm,” Mr. Kwok said, smiling. He led Da’Quarius and Flounder to the back room of his dry cleaners. He closed and locked the door behind them. “I keep the product back here. Just so you know, if I catch you stealing or informing on me, I’ll cut off your hand.” He looked over Da’Quarius again. “Your good hand.”
“I ain’t no double dealer, and I ain’t no snitch,” Da’Quarius said.
“OK,” Mr. Kwok said. He brought a large box out from under his desk and opened it. “Here’s just a small sample of my goods.”
Da’Quarius looked in the box. He reached in for a closer inspection. “Dis some quality stuff,” he said. “I should have no trouble pushin’ dis.”
“Oh yes,” Mr. Kwok said. “I only sell the highest quality of bootleg DVDs.”
“You got the new Ninja Turtle movie?” Susie asked Da’Quarius in study hall, keeping her voice low.
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius whispered back. “Dat’s twenty. Meet me after school behind da’ bleachers.”
“Charlie wants to know if you have the new Transformers too,” Susie addes.
“Yeah I got dat shit,” Da’Quarius said. “Twenty. After school. Bleachers.”
“Quiet down, you two!” Mrs. Kotter shouted to Da’Quarius and Susie. “This is a study hall!”
The bell finally rang, and Da’Quarius got up to leave. As he passed Mrs. Kotter’s desk, she signaled for him to stop. “Do you know why I stopped you, Da’Quarius?” She asked.
“Nope,” Da’Quarius answered.
“I spoke with Mr. Hessman,” she said. “How much for the last X-Men movie. It’s for my grandson.”
“Teacher discount,” Da’Quarius said. “For you: ten bucks.” Mrs. Kotter handed him two fives. “I’ll have it here by the end of the day.”
“How’s it going?” Flounder asked.
“Pushin’ yo dad’s product,” Da’Quaruis said. “I stand to make one-ten today. Dese rich kids got holes in dey pockets. By da’ way, you gotta bring Mrs. Kotter a copy of da’ new X-Men.”
“Why me?!” Flounder exclaimed.
“Cuz it look suspicious if I went to see a teacher after class an’ it not bein’ detention,” Da’Quarius said. “Jus’ do it. I need to keep da’ teacher’s happy so dey don’t rat me out.”
“Hey,” someone said from behind Da’Quarius. “You got any PS4 games?”
“Sorry, dude,” Da’Quarius said with a shrug.
The boy ran off, and Da’Quarius turned back to Flounder. “Shit,” he said. “See if yo’ dad can get some video games too.”
Paulie looked at his phone sitting on the other side of his desk. He knew he shouldn’t try and make things right with the family whose life he turned upside down with the picture of himself posing nude in his bathroom, but he felt compelled to do so. “Tony!” he called.
“Yeah?” Tony asked, walking into Paulie’s office and drying his hands on his filthy apron.
“Do you know that family that was upset with me over the picture?” Paulie asked.
“Oh yeah,” Tony replied. “That’s the Abernathies. They order from us all the time. It’s too bad the husband had to go all wacky on you. His wife, though. I’d take a large sausage to that broad any day, if you catch me.”
“Shaddup!” Paulie said. “I don’t need the image of you and your swinging sausage floppin’ around in my head! You know where they live?”
“I know,” Tony said. “We send a couple of pies to their house every Friday night. Used to, anyway. Why?”
“I need to settle up with a dissatisfied customer,” Paulie said. “That’s all.”
“Well tell Mrs. Abernathy I said ‘hi,'” Tony said. “Tell her with your tongue.”
“GET DA FUCK OUTTA HERE!” Paulie shouted. “And go get me that address!”
“We have a surprise for you,” Rose said, handing a box to Da’Quarius.
“What’s dis?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Open it, you ungrateful little snot,” Helen said.
Da’Quarius opened the box and found an old yellow phone about the size of a thermos. “Da’ fuck is dis?”
“The phone you’ve been whining about, potty-mouth,” Helen said. “I’ll take it back if you’re going to use that kind of language!”
“Do you like it?” Rose asked, her hands on her chest.
“Where did you get dis?” Da’Quarius asked.
“I found it at a tag sale,” Rose said. “The nice boy who sold it to me said you just need call up the phone company and they’ll put texts on there for you.”
“I think you got ripped off,” Da’Quarius said, handing the box back. “See if you can get’cho money back. I ended up gettin’ one on my own anyway.” Da’Quarius pulled a large smart phone out of his pocket.
“The fuck is that?!” Helen exclaimed. “That looks like a small TV.”
“I get TV on here,” Da’Quarius said. “Games, internet, text, Twitter, an’ all sorts of cool shit. I was able to do it on my own like you said, Helen.”
“How much was that?!” Rose asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” Da’Quarius said “I got a part time job dat pays for it. I gotta jet. Later, biddies.” Da’Quarius ran off to his room with his over-loaded backpack.
“Shit,” Helen said. “Do you think it’s drugs or hookers?”
Da’Quarius sat in Mr. Hessman’s social studies class, waiting for it to start. He had already made two hundred dollars before class started, selling his DVD’s as soon as the kids got off the bus. Flounder had brought some new titles that the kids had been waiting for. It was shaping up to be a good morning for the pair.
“We’re going to do something different today,” Mr. Hessman said. “I want to take you all to the nineteen twenties, where bootlegging was prevalent.” Mr. Hessman’s eyes grazed Da’Quarius as he said the word ‘bootlegging’. He got the meaning loud and clear.
“Bootlegging liquor was a huge deal for nearly a decade,” Mr. Hessman continued. “It was where most mafia and crime syndicates were born. It was a major issue until lawmen started watching where the liquor was coming from.” Again, Mr. Hessman eyed Da’Quarius when he mentioned the lawmen. Da’Quarius nodded once to acknowledge that he got the gist.
“Bootelggers also dealt in what we now call ‘vintage pornography’…”
“Take da’ rest of my stash and dump it,” Da’Quarius told Flounder the moment class was over.
“What?” Flounder said. “Why?”
“Dey onto me,” Da’Quarius said.
“You’re crazy,” Flounder said.
“You heard Hessman,” Da’Quarius said. “He was tryin’ to warn me. We gotta ditch the goods.”
Flounder tried to argue more, but he ended up losing. He took the cache of DVDs they had left and dumped them into the dumpster outside. “Dad’s going to be really upset,” Flounder said.
“Fuck him!” Da’Quarius said. “It’s my black ass on da’ line here!”
“Do you have any copies of Godzilla?” a girl asked Da’Quarius as he reentered the school.
“Fuck off,” Da’Quarius muttered, shoving her out of his way.
In less than an hour after they tossed the DVDs, there was a random locker search. Da’Quarius wasn’t surprised to find that he was among the first lockers searched.
“He’s clean,” Principal Johnston said, closing Da’Quarius’ locker. “You find anything?”
“We found some of the DVD’s in some of the kids backpacks,” Mr. Slater, the gym teacher said. “But no stashes big enough to nail whoever is selling them. We confiscated everything we found.”
“Good,” Mr. Johnston said. “Movie night at my house?”
“Fuck yeah,” Mr. Slater said. “I’ll bring a thirty pack.”
“You know I’m still here, right?” Da’Quarius said.
“Get to class!” Principal Johnston said. Da’Quarius didn’t need to be told twice.
“What do you mean you’re out?!” Mr. Kwok exclaimed. “You get some heat on you, and you think you’re done? Just like that?!”
“Dat’s what I said,” Da’Quarius said. “I’m done, son. Here’s what I owe you from today.” He tossed a rolled up wad of bills on the counter.
“You’re not out,” Mr. Kwom said. “You’ll never be out. You think I’m just going to let you end our business relationship? I do not think so.”
“I do,” Da’Quarius said. “You’re a gotdamn dry cleaner with a DVD burner. You ain’t a gangsta. You ain’t gonna do shit.”
Mr. Kwok shrugged. “You’re right,” he said. “Sounded cool, though. Can I have the phone back at least?”
“Nuh-uh,” Da’Quarius said. “Dis my payment for keepin’ my mouth shut ’bout’cho operation here. I’m sure da’ FBI would love to see yo’ downloadin’ history. You best keep me on your family plan too, bitch.”
Mr. Kwok furrowed his brow. “You are a sneaky little brat,” he said. “I hope you dishonor your family with your death some day. When I die, I will have my spirit haunt you and make this wish a reality.”
“Rose wants me to pick up her dress while I’m here,” Da’Quarius said, handing Mr. Kwok a ticket.
Mr. Kwok took the ticket and shouted in Koren. “My wife will bring it right out for you,” he said, smiling. “Have a good day, and please come again.”
Paulie followed Tony’s directions and found the Abernathy home a little after eight PM. He got to the door and hesitated before ringing the doorbell. “What am I doing?” he said aloud. “I’m just asking for more trouble. I should just let it go.”
Paulie started to walk back toward his car, when he heard something. He turned back toward the house and listened. He heard it again, and it sounded like someone was in trouble. He rushed around the house and peeked into the side window where he thought he heard a woman in distress. He stood in the bushes and saw Mrs. Abernathy, lying on the couch, nude, watching a porno.
“Holy shit,” Paulie whispered to himself, unable to take his eyes off Mrs. Abernathy. Judging by her actions on the couch, she had just gotten to her favorite part of the movie.
There was the sound of a car driving by behind Pauile. He ducked down and watched to make sure he hadn’t been seen. When it passed, he got back up and looked into the the window again, but the woman he had been watching was gone.
“Looking for someone?” a voice behind him asked. Paulie jumped and turned around. There stood Mrs. Abernathy, nude as the day she was born.
“Madon!” Paulie exclaimed. “I didn’t mean -”
“Shutup,” Mrs. Abernathy said. “You’ll wake my husband.”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Abernathy,” Paulie said.
“Call me June,” June said.
“My husband works long hours,” June said. “He’s too tired to take care of his own wife, so I sit up and watch these movies when he goes to bed. Sometimes I have playmates over.”
“What are you talking about?” Paulie asked.
“Don’t play dumb,” June said. “I saw the picture you sent my daughter. I know you’re as kinky as I am.”
“I just wanted to apologize,” Paulie said. “But I can see you aren’t interested in hearing it.”
“Not in the slightest,” June said. She turned to looked by her pool area. “You know, Paulie, I’ve never made love on top of a Barbie raft next to a pool house before.”
“Well, there’s a first time for everything,” Paulie said. June took his hand and led him to the raft that was lying on the ground near the pool. She lowered herself onto it and looked up at Paulie.
“By the way,” Paulie said, joining June on the small raft. “Tony says ‘hi.'”