Freedom Lane: Jihad Pizza
It was a normal Saturday at Paulie’s Pizza on State Street in New Haven. It was sometime between the lunch and dinner rushes, and owner, Paulie, was having lunch with his nephew, Da’Quarius, and friend and employee, Tony.
“When’s that kid coming in?” Tony asked, sitting down with a plate of spaghetti and sausage. “Pimple Puss.”
“Pimple Puss will be in around five,” Paulie said. “Why do you need him here so badly?”
“I was going to train that kid in the kitchen,” Tony said. “Kid could make a few extra bucks helping out with the lunch rush too.”
“He does fine on tips delivering,” Paulie said. “You just want to slack off back there and make the poor kid do your share.”
“I just figured the little pizza face would make a good pie since he looks like one,” Tony added. Paulie laughed along with Tony.
“You guys ain’t cool,” Da’Quarius said. “Makes me wonder wha’chu say about me when I’m not around.”
“Don’t worry, kid,” Paulie said. “Anything I’d say behind your back I’d say to your face.”
“Bullshit,” Da’Quarius said. “I know you hold back on the racial slurs while I’m here.”
“Not true,” Paulie said. “When have you ever known Tony to hold back a slur?”
“You right on dat,” Da’Quarius said. “What’s his ginny ass lookin’ at anyway?”
Paulie turned to Tony, who was staring out the window. “Oh!” he said. “What’s so interesting out on the street?”
“Would you look at this mook comin’ over here right now?” Tony asked, not taking his eyes off the window. “Got a turban and everything.”
“Don’t stare!” Paulie said. “The last thing I need is that guy seeing you eyeballin’ him and starting some trouble. I don’t need any trouble from those people.”
“Those people?!” Da’Quarius exclaimed.
“Not your people,” Paulie corrected.
“Sorry,” Da’Quarius said. “Force of habit.”
“Oh shit,” Tony said, standing up. “That damn towel head is coming in!”
“I told you not to stare!” Paulie shouted. “And nix that towel head talk real quick.”
The door opened, and the dark-skinned man walked in. He was taller than the others in Paulie’s, and had a black and gray beard of coarse, curly hair that went down to his chest. A white turban rested on top of his his. “Hello,” he said in a thick Arab accent. “I am Nignoganiz Mahmoud. You can just call me Nignog.”
“You gotta be shittin’ me!” Tony exclaimed, bursting in to laughter.
“Excuse me?” Nignog asked.
“I apologize for my associate’s crass language,” Paulie said giving Tony a dirty look. “He means you no disrespect.”
“Clearly,” Nignog said, eyeing Tony as he walked back into the kitchen. “I came over to introduce myself. It seems that we will be neighbors of sorts.” Nignog motioned to the building across the street.
“You’re the new owner of the building across the street?” Paulie asked. “Thank God. That run down Thai place was an eyesore. What are you opening up over there?”
“A brand new fusion restaurant,” Nignog said. “Middle Eastern cuisine meets Italian.”
“Sounds interesting,” Paulie said, putting on a face that said otherwise. “Welcome to the neighborhood. What’s the name of your place?”
“Nignog’s Pizza,” Nignog said.
Paulie stared for a moment in disbelief. “You gotta be shittin’ me!”
Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow
Co-created by executive producer BluntSharpness
Season 3, Episode 2: Jihad Pizza
Helen walked from the kitchen with her Metamucil and medicine caddy to her big chair. Rose was already relaxing on the couch reading a magazine. Helen sat down to enjoy her drink, medication, and soap operas when Rose interrupted her usual morning routine.
“You should see what’s happening to society!” Rose said.
“What is it,” Helen said, putting down the heavily scotch-tape remote before she even turned the TV on. “Did another pope die?”
“No,” Rose said. “It’s this study about women being sexually assaulted all over the country. Every woman in the United States has been a victim of sexual assault, and most don’t even realize it. It turns out that even a man staring at a woman is considered rape.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Helen said. “How can you get raped by an eyeball? It couldn’t even penetrate you.”
“That’s not the point,” Rose said. “How many times have we been started at in public because of who we are? Did you know we were getting sexually assaulted?”
“No, because we weren’t,” Helen said. “Let it go! Please!”
Rose closed her magazine and put it on the table. “I need to read more about this,” she said. “I’m going on the computer. I can probably find something on the Facebook.” Rose went off to her small office adjacent to their dining room.
“You and and the damn computer,” Helen muttered when Rose was gone. “I’m going to throw one of you out the damn window one of these days.”
Tony hung up the phone in Paulie’s office, chuckling. “This is gonna be good,” he said.
“Wha’chu doin’?” Da’Quarius asked.
“I just pranked that damn Sand Nignog,” Tony said.
“Oh!” Paulie said, entering his office. “Don’t call him that!”
“What’s wrong?” Tony asked. “Sand Nignog is trying to take business from you. We need to declare war on that Jihad pizza place.”
“Oh!” Paulie repeated. “Enough with the slurs. I don’t know what you’re doing in my office, but get the fuck outta here!”
Tony left, chuckling to himself once more.
“You sho you ain’t worried about dem across da street, Unca Paulie?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Not particularly,” Paulie replied. “Their too out there to take our customers. Even for New Haven, it’s whacked out. Give them time and we’ll gratefully be looking at an empty building again.”
“I dunno,” Da’Quarius said. “I see guys comin’ and goin’ all day. I think dey up to sumptin ova dere.”
“Don’t you start too with this Jihad pizza business,” Paulie said. The chimes of the front door echoed in the pizzeria. “I gotta get out there, kid. No more of this nonsense. You dig?”
Paulie left his office to find Nignog standing just inside the front door holding a pizza box. A look of extreme anger was on his face. Da’Quarius stood next to Paulie and Tony came out of the kitchen to see what was the matter.
“You think we don’t have caller ID?” Nignog asked.
“What are you talking about?” Paulie asked.
“Your boy here decided he was going to prank me,” Nignog said. He dropped the box on the nearest table with a thud. “Here’s the pizza your ordered. On me.”
Da’Quarius walked over to the box and opened it. He looked inside, dropped the cover, and scurried back to Paulie. “Mo’ fucker put scorpions on the pizza!” he exclaimed. “We told you! He’s putting a Jihad on us!”
“You ordered a scorpion pizza,” Nignog said. “It’s actually on the menu, you morons. I didn’t bring you your side of sand, but I figure there’s plenty between that little chimp’s ears.”
“Oh!” Paulie yelled. “I don’t give a shit what the kid did.”
“It wasn’t me,” Da’Quaruis put in.
Paulie ignored Da’Quarius and continued. “You don’t walk into my joint, drop bugged covered pizza, and call my only nephew a chimp. You wanna put a Jihad on me?! I’ll put a friggin’ Jihad on you!”
“You have no idea what you’re talking about!” Nignog said.
“Get the fuck outta here!” Pualie said. “And take your damn pizza outta here before the bugs infest the place.”
“The pizza is yours,” Nignog said, backing towards the door. “And I’d watch my tone if I were you. I’d make a powerful enemy.” Nignog left, but Paulie wasn’t done with him yet. He picked up the pizza and followed Nignog outside.
“I told you to take this disgusting mess with you!” Paulie said, throwing the pizza box like a frisbee at Nignog, who was halfway across the street. The box opened and pieces of scorpion pizza flew everywhere. The cars driving down State Street stopped, screeching their tires.
Nignog turned around and pointed menacingly at Paulie. “Mess with me again and I’ll call the labor board about that kid you have working there!” he said.
“Mess with me and I’ll call homeland security, you friggin’ gagootz!” Paulie shouted back. With that last exchange, both men entered their respective pizzerias.
Helen and Rose sat down for a quiet dinner with their adopted son, Da’Quarius. It was quiet because Helen and Rose weren’t currently talking. Da’Quarius wasn’t speaking either, but Paulie had sworn him to secrecy about their Jihad on the new pizza place across the street (as much as he’d love to get Helen going about it).
“You bitties are too quiet,” Da’Quarius said. “What’s up? Everything OK?”
“Yeah,” Rose said. “Everything is fine.”
“Don’t lie to the kid,” Helen said. “Tell him what’s bothering you.”
“What’s bothering me,” Rose said, calmly setting her fork and knife down next to he plate. “Is that there’s an epidemic of women being sexually assaulted in the United States, and they don’t even know about it.”
“I’ve actually sexually assaulted women, and I find this offensive!” Helen said, slamming a fist onto the table.
“This isn’t a joke, Helen,” Rose said.
“I’m not joking,” Helen said. “It’s eat or be eaten in prison. Take that however you want.”
“You’re being ridiculous,” Rose said.
“No,” Helen said. “I’ll show you ridiculous. Da’Quarius, have you ever sexually assaulted a woman?”
“Helen!” Rose shouted.
“Let me make my point,” Helen said. “Answer me, kid.”
“No,” Da’Quarius said, nervously. “Never.”
“Please stop it,” Rose pleaded.
“Have you ever looked at a woman?” Helen asked Da’Quarius, ignoring Rose.
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said, looking at Helen but watching Rose from the corner of his eye.
“Have you ever looked a woman and thought that she was sexy?” Helen asked.
Da’Quarius didn’t answer at first. “Yeah,” he finally said.
“There!” Helen said. “You’re a rapist.”
“That’s not the point!” Rose said.
“It is your point!” Helen said. “You told me earlier that when I man looks at a woman and finds her sexy that it’s eye rape. By your definition, our son, Da’Quarius, is a rapist.”
“I have to go,” Rose said, pushing her chair back. “Maybe we need to go back to that LGBT center and get you educated again. I’m sure they know about this.” Rose went off into her office.
Helen and Da’Quarius were silent following Rose’s departure from the dining room table. “Look what you did,” Helen said, breaking the silence. “I thought I told you to get her off that damn internet.
“Don’t try an’ blame my black ass,” Da’Quarius said. “You just called me a rapist.”
“I just talked to my buddy Rocco the cop,” Tony said, leaving Paulie’s office. It was the Saturday following Paulie’s blow up at Nignog, and he hadn’t cooled off one bit. “He said we can call the police, but they can’t do anything unless we actually see something suspicious.”
“I see suspicious shit there all da time!” Da’Quarius said. “I see those guys with towels on their heads comin’ in and outta dere. I already told you dat!”
“Not enough, kid,” Tony said. “They need to see something like a trashcan fire or somthing.”
“A trashcan fire?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Yeah,” Tony replied. “Rocco said they might be burning important documents. They’d have to look into that.”
“Is Rocco telling us to start a fire and call 911?” Da’Quarius asked.
“No,” Tony said, getting agitated. “Rocco Priolo is an officer of the law, and he can’t tell us to do anything. He’s just telling us what we’d have to see if we wanted to make a legitimate call to the police department.”
“Oh,” Da’Quarius said. “I gotcha.”
“Do we really want to do this?” Paulie said, speaking up for the first time. “I don’t like the guy either, but I don’t want to report a crime if it ain’t happening.”
“Look at it this way,” Da’Quarius said. “If they aren’t terrorists, then they’ll be OK. If they are terrorists, they’ll go to jail forever.”
“Win win,” Tony added.
“Whoa,” Paulie said. “I only said that Nignog is an asshole. Not a terrorist! Don’t you put words in my mouth.”
“Why else would we call the police on him?” Tony asked. “You’re the one that put me up to asking Rocco.”
“I’m starting to have my doubts,” Paulie said. “Maybe I should give this more time.”
“Nuh-uh,” Da’Quarius said. “We have to act before they do. We didn’t go after Osama bin Laden until it was too late. Give Nignog the time and he’ll have shit flying through our windows and blowing us up! Don’t get all George W. Bush on dis shit.”
“You got a screwed up imagination, kid,” Paulie said.
“He ain’t wrong,” Tony said. “You know they’re over there plotting something. It’ll either be against us or against America. Do you want to be the one that fell asleep behind the wheel when there’s a manhunt for this mook?”
Paulie thought for a moment. “You stunads are getting in my head!” he exclaimed. “I have to think.” He picked up his newspaper and headed to the bathroom adjacent to his office.
“There he goes,” Tony said. “He always overthinks everything when he’s on the shitter.”
“I’m not going to let Sand Nignog sit over there plotting against us,” Da’Quarius said. “Gimme a book of matches.”
Rose and Helen entered the teen LGBT center in the early afternoon. Helen was surlier than when she was forced to be there for her community service a few weeks ago. They were quickly found by Jean Okerlund, a sixteen year old lesbian who helped run the center with some of her more liberal teachers from her high school.
“Hi!” Jean said cheerily. She was wearing a black shirt and torn up pants like the last time they saw her. Her black hair was tied in a pony tail. “I’m so glad you two could come back.”
“How you doin’, Mean Jean?” Helen asked.
“Please don’t call me that,” Jean said.
“I’m hoping we can help each other once again,” Rose said. “I’ve been reading up on this movement that states that all women have been unknowingly sexually assaulted by men at some point in their lives.”
“It’s disgusting, isn’t it?” Jean asked.
“I agree,” Rose said. “But Helen doesn’t think so.” Helen gave Rose a quick dirty look from the corner of her eye.
“I just don’t know how they can make those claims,” Jean said. “How is a guy going to rape a girl just by looking at her? Girls look at guys too, straight ones anyway. Wouldn’t that mean that all men are sexually assaulted by women as well?”
“What?” Rose said, looking as if she was just slapped in the face.
“But what about catcalls or comments?” Helen asked, adding a lot of worry to her voice by imitating Rose. “Surely, those can be construed as verbal rape.”
“Please,” Jean said, rolling her eyes. “Sure, it can be annoying, but women are as guilty as men when it comes to the cat calling. The way I see it, if a woman doesn’t want to be ogled they should dress in something less form-fitting.”
“Maybe a tight shirt and ripped up jeans might be a little much too,” Helen said, under her breath.
“What?” Jean asked, not hearing Helen’s comment.
“Nothing, dear,” Helen said. “You’ve shown me the light, Jean. This feminazi movement is bunk, and I will no longer pay it any mind.”
“That’s good,” Jean said, looking as if she wasn’t sure if Helen was being serious or not. “I have to look into a few things, but feel free to hang around. I know some of the others were asking about you guys.”
“Thank you,” Helen said. She turned to Rose. “Happy now?”
Rose sighed and walked back out into the afternoon sun.
Paulie came out of the bathroom after his twenty minute break and sat back down with Tony and Da’Quarius who stopped talking when they heard the bathroom door open. “What the hell are you two plotting?” he asked. “It better not be any more about that Nignog character across the street. I’m done with this. Let bygones be bygones.”
“We thought you might say that,” Tony said.
“So we just called in a suspicious dumpster fire to 911,” Da’Quarius said, smiling. “Along with our concern that we saw some weird stuff over there.”
“We saw something, so we said something,” Tony said, shrugging.
“You did what?!” Paulie said, getting up. “You set a friggin’ dumpster on fire?!”
“They didn’t have any trashcans!” Da’Quarius said, getting up and following Tony to the main window. They looked out at the rising smoke and flames.
“Putana de Eva!” Paulie spat. “You set their whole friggin’ building on fire!”
“Oh shit,” Da’Quarius said, looking out the window. “I guess the dumpster was too close to the building after all.”
Paulie backed up and sat in down. He put his hands on his hair. “None of this ever happened, you dig?” he said. “None of this Sand Nignog business. None of this Jihad nonsense. None of it. Go home kid. You were never here today.”
“Damn,” Da’Quarius said, walking towards the back to sneak out through the alley and out on a parallel street. “Everything cool dat happens here ends up to never have happened.”
“I hope everyone was OK,” Rose said, watching the news of the fire across from Paulie’s Pizza on TV. “How could that have happened?”
“Damn towel head probably torched the place for insurance money,” Helen said. “Who wants to eat a bunch of scorpions and sand anyway? I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that guy was Al Queada too.”
Da’Quarius was eager to change the subject of the fire he was supposed to know nothing about. “You guys drop all that ‘yes all women’ stuff?” he asked.
“I decided not to dwell on it,” Rose said. “That’s a double edged sword, and none of it is based on anything real.”
“Sure!” Helen said. “I say it’s nonsense, and I’m wrong. Mean Jean says it’s nonsense, and it’s nonsense!”
“You won,” Rose said, getting up. “I don’t know why you’re so upset about it. I’m not even mad at you anymore.”
Rose walked into the kitchen and Helen stared after her.
“What are you doin’?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Sexually assaulting her with my eyes,” Helen said.
“You real fucked up, bitty,” Da’Quarius said.
“We have late-breaking news about the fire at a local New Haven restaurant,” the news reporter said. “Fire fighters recovered a fireproof safe in the wreckage and turned it over to New Haven Police due to 911 calls citing suspicious actions being seen at Nignog’s Pizza. Police have discovered that Nignoganiz Mahmoud was planning terrorist activity all around New Haven.”
“I told you!” Helen shouted at the TV. “Get in here, Rose! Al Queada is in New Haven!”
“The police have stated that several names of Mahmoud’s associates were listed in the files recovered,” the news reporter continued. “Dozens of arrests have already been made, and more will be coming.”
“Damn,” Da’Quarius said. “I knew dat Sand Nignog was up to no good all along too! Paulie’s gonna have to admit that he was wrong!”
“What are you babbling about, kid?” Helen asked.
“Nuttin’,” Da’Quarius said, crossing his arms.