Freedom Lane: Rose’s Protégé
Paulie sat alone in his home on Willow ST on Friday afternoon. Tony was running things at Paulie’s Pizza, but Paulie planned on being there for the dinner rush and everything afterwards. He was supposed to have the night off to have his nephew over and a couple of his friends, but he had Da’Quarius steer clear of him and his restaurant while the police and feds were snooping around following their call about the misgivings of Nignoganiz Mahmoud, former owner of Nignog’s Pizza across the street and terrorist organizer.
Paulie was ready to turn on his burglar alarm and leave when his doorbell rang. He opened the door, and two guys were standing on his doorstep. They were black teenagers, and Paulie nearly grabbed the gun from the back of his pants when he saw them.
“Dis Da’Quarius’ place?” one of them asked.
“This is Da’Quarius’ uncle’s place,” Paulie said. “Can I help you?”
The two teenagers walked in and looked around. “Where’s Daq?” the other asked. “He told us to come on by tonight.”
“Oh!” Paulie said. “Wait to be invited in at least! I don’t even know who you are.”
“I’m Eddard and he’s Kevern, but you can call him Vern.”
“‘Sup?” Vern said, nodding once towards Paulie.
“OK,” Paulie said, running his hands through his hair. “I hate to tell you this, but tonight is cancelled. Da’Quarius isn’t able to come over.”
“Dat’s cool,” Eddard said. “We can hang out wit’chu. Not a problem.” Eddard sat in Paulie’s recliner and put his arms behind his head. “Go get our stuff, Vern. Dis gonna be fun!”
Vern walked passed Paulie and back outside. “‘Scuse me,” he said.
“You gotta be freakin’ kidding me!” Paulie said.
Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow
Co-created by executive producer BluntSharpness
Season 3, Episode 4: Rose’s Protégé
Meanwhile, Da’Quarius wasn’t missing Paulie at all. He was being endlessly entertained by what was going on with his adoptive mothers, Rose and Helen Masters.
“She is not staying here!” Helen shouted.
“Will you quiet down a bit,” Rose said. “She’ll hear you.”
“I don’t care if she hears me!” Helen shouted. “That little tramp is in my home! I’ll say what I want!”
Da’Quarius sat on the couch across from Jean Okerlund. She had come by less than an hour earlier to talk to Rose. She had told Rose about how her mother and father had finally had enough of her lesbian lifestyle and kicked her out as Helen sighed loudly and animatedly turned the volume up on the TV. She had nowhere to go, so she came by looking to Rose for some kind of guidance. Rose had offered to put her up for a little bit until the dust settled. That’s when Helen turned the TV off and started shouting.
“So you must be Rose’s son, Da’Quarius,” Jean said, pretending that she didn’t hear Helen fighting with Rose over her staying there. “I think it’s so awesome that you came to be adopted by Rose and Helen.”
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “Helen didn’t want me staying her at first either, but I grew on her.”
Jean looked away, stung by Da’Quarius’ comment. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I really didn’t come here looking for a place to stay. I respect Rose and her experience. I figured if anyone could tell me what to do it was her.”
“There’s some homicidal hitchhikers that need a place to stay too!” Helen shouted, now walking into the den and towards the staircase. “Maybe you can set up a few cots in the basement for them.”
“You’re taking this way too far,” Rose said. “The couch folds out, and it’s only for a few nights.”
“First that kid and now the girl,” Helen said. “Take ’em all in. Fine! I’m taking a nap.”
Rose, Da’Quarius, and Jean watched as Helen slowly stormed upstairs.
“Da fuck she have to mention me for?!” Da’Quarius said, breaking the silence. “I didn’t do shit!”
“You guys can leave any time now,” Paulie said, politely. He had already called Tony to let him know he was on his own with the small Mexican kitchen and cleaning staff for the night. He was trying to be as polite as possible, but his guests would not take a hint.
“We cool,” Eddard said. He was playing some Xbox game with Vern. Paulie tried to keep up with it, but it seemed to be random acts of violence set to some loud rap music. Vern had brought in their Xbox and small sound system, deftly attaching it to Paulie’s TV.
“So how does Da’Quarius know you guys?” Paulie asked. “I thought his school friends were coming. Are you guys in your twenties or something?”
“We nineteen,” Eddard said. He didn’t elaborate on how he knew Da’Quarius.
“Watch out for dat mutha fucka!” Vern said.
“I see him, nigga!” Eddard said.
“You really shouldn’t use that word,” Paulie said. “Do you have any idea what you’re people have gone through?”
“Do you?!” Eddard said, pausing his game.
“As a matter of fact, I do,” Paulie said. “Allow me to elaborate…”
The morning after Helen’s big hissy fit was when Da’Quarius saw her again next. She came downstairs moments after Rose emerged to see how Jean had slept on the pullout couch. “Good morning, Da’Quarius,” Helen said, passing Jean without so much as a glance as she walked into the kitchen in her pink robe.
“She’s still upset?” Jean asked.
“Don’t worry too much about her,” Da’Quarius said. “She might not have seen you if she hasn’t had her glaucoma meds.”
“I just don’t want to cause any drama,” Jean said.
“It’s OK,” Rose said. “We know you have nowhere else to stay. Helen will warm up to you. Don’t you worry about her. Da’Quarius, why don’t you go see if you can scrounge up some breakfast.”
“Sure,” Da’Quarius said. “Have me go in there to face da dragon alone.” Da’Quarius left and entered the kitchen where Helen was eating her dry toast and weak tea with only her pill caddy to keep her company. “Can I pull up a seat?”
“Sit where you want,” Helen said, grumpily. “I have no control over what any of you do in my damn house.”
“Don’t be like dat,” Da’Quarius said, putting some Pop Tarts in the toaster. “She only gonna be here for a day or two.”
“You don’t understand what’s going on here, kid,” Helen said. “This has been going on since we first went to the damn gay club of Jean’s. Rose is taking this chick under her wing. How does a seventy nine year old woman compete with a teenager?”
“Is dat what dis is all about?” Da’Quarius said, putting his Pop Tarts on a glass plate and sitting next to Helen at the kitchen. “Shit. It ain’t like Rose is close to that girl’s age bracket either. She’s in her seventies and Jean is like sixteen or seventeen. You got nothing to worry about. I’m closer in age to her than either of you biddies.”
“You are,” Helen said, taking a sip of her tea. “Aren’t you…”
Paulie got up and stretched. He didn’t want to fall asleep before Da’Quaruis’ friends went home, but he did. He listened to the silence in his house and smiled. They must have seen him sleeping in his recliner and went home. They weren’t bad kids after all.
“Yo, nigga!” Eddard said, his voice echoing through Paulie’s house. “Where does this guy keep his cereal?”
“I found some eggs,” Vern replied. “You want an omelet?”
“You know how to make an omelet, nigga?” Eddard asked.
“Yeah, bitch!” Vern said. “Take some eggs, put em, in a pan, put some cheese and shit up in dat bitch, and fold the mutha fucka over!”
“Then fuck yeah I want an omelet, egg bitch,” Eddard said.
“What the hell are you two mooks doing in my kitchen?!” Paulie said, walking into the kitchen. “Scratch that. What the hell are you two mooks still doing in my house?!”
“Makin’ breakfast,” Vern said, setting the pan on the stove and turning the burner on high. “Da fuck it look like?”
“Rule number one in my house,” Paulie said, holding one finger up. “Nobody cooks in here but me.”
“Shit,” Eddard said smiling. “In that case, I like bacon on my omelet.”
Eddard and Vern walked passed Paulie back into he den where they started playing video games once again. “I gotta get rid of these two,” Paulie said, turning the heat on the stove down. “Damn stunads are gonna burn my house down!”
Rose walked back into her house on Freedom Lane with Jean right beside her. “…and that’s how I came out to my parents,” Rose said. “My father was mad for a while, but he got over it. I just wished my mother lived long enough to meet Helen and see how happy she made me.”
“That’s too bad,” Jean said, sitting on the couch as Rose did.
“Do you have anyone special?” Rose asked.
“No,” Jean said. “Yes. I don’t know. There’s this girl. Simone. We’re dating then we’re not… I don’t know what to think. I’m so confused.”
“You’ll know when things are going to get better,” Rose said, patting Jean on the knee. “Trust me.”
“I just want what you and Helen have,” Jean said. “I know she must hate me….”
“Helen doesn’t hate you!” Rose said. “She’s a little crass sometimes, but she doesn’t hate you. She’ll open up. You’ll see.”
“Look who’s home!” Helen said, entering the living room with a tray of cookies and three teas. “I thought you’d be home by now, so I made us some tea and cookies.”
“Thank you,” Jean said, reaching for a cup.
“No, dear,” Helen said, lightly slapping Jean’s hand. “That one is mine. I have to have decaf at this time of day or I’ll be up all night. This one will attest to that.”
“See?” Rose said, giving Jean a huge smile.
“What are you two talking about?” Helen said, stirring some splenda into her tea.
“Nothing,” Rose said, smiling at Helen now.
“How did everything go?” Helen asked.
“Not too good,” Rose answered. “Rose’s parents were home, but they weren’t answering the door. Looks like Rose will have to stay here another night.”
“Unless there’s a problem,” Jean said, looking towards Helen.
“No problem, Jean,” Helen said, a smile spreading across her wrinkly face. “Your no problem at all. Have some tea. It’ll help you feel better. Always works for me, anyway.”
“Thank you,” Jean said, sipping her tea. “This is good.”
Rose smiled, sipping her own tea. She knew things would work out.
“OK,” Paulie said, trying to usher Eddard and Vern out his door. “It’s time for you guys to get outta here.”
“Come on!” Eddard said. “We were just starting to have fun.”
“Yeah,” Vern said. “We just ordered a pizza from Paulie’s.”
“Paulie’s?” Paulie asked. “That’s my place, you stunad! That’s where I need to be. It’s Saturday friggin’ night, and I don’t have the time to babysit you two.”
“We nineteen,” Eddard said. “We don’t need no baby sitter. We middle-aged for our hood.”
“Boo freakin’ hoo,” Paulie said. “Now get out. The both of you! I gotta get to work.”
“Not until we get some dinner,” Vern said. “Da’Quarius said he’d have pizza here.”
“You got shit in your ears?!” Paulie exclaimed. “I own Paulie’s. I’m Paulie! Come down there and I’ll give you guys a large pizza and we can part ways.”
“Large pizza?” Eddard said.
“With anything we want on it?” Vern asked.
“Yeah,” Paulie said. “On me.”
“What are you waiting for?” Eddard asked, getting up. “Let’s go.”
“Hey!” Helen whispered as Da’Quarius came inside. “Where the hell have you been, kid?”
“I had a game tonight,” Da’Quarius said. “You an’ Rose didn’t show up. Figured you guys busy fightin’ about that Jean girl.”
“Oh yeah,” Helen said, getting up from the couch. “I forgot. You know my memory. You win?”
“Hell no, we didn’t win,” Da’Quarius said. “I’m da only black kid on the team.”
“That’s too bad,” Helen said. “Here. Have a juice box. I know it makes you feel better.”
“Thanks,” Da’Quarius said, taking the juice box from Helen. He poked the straw in and started drinking while Helen watched quietly. “You OK, Helen? You actin’ weird right now.”
“Me?” Helen asked. “I just have something to show you in your room.” Helen started walking yo the stairs to the second floor, followed by Da’Quarius.
“Wait,” Da’Quarius said. “Where’s Rose an’ dat girl?”
“Come see your damn surprise!” Rose snapped, pushing open Da’Quarius’ door. On his bed was Jean in her tank top and torn jeans, writhing.
“What the Hell, Biddy!” Da’Quarius exclaimed. “Why you always druggin’ people? Where you gettin’ dat shit anyway? Your doctor prescribin’ you roofies?”
“Just shutup and get in there,” Helen said. “And wear one of these.” She handed Da’Quarius a box to Trojan Magnum condoms.
“Nu-uh!” Da’Quarius said. “This shit ain’t right.”
“You know the first time’s always the best,” Helen said.
“You ain’t right either,” Da’Quarius said.
“How’s that juice box kid?” Helen asked.
Da’Quarius looked at the juice box that he had almost finished. “Damn, biddy,” he said. “You drug me too?”
“Maybe,” Helen said, shrugging.
“Shit,” Da’Quarius said, finishing his juice box. “Might as well now. If Bill Cosby can do it, why can’t I?”
“Oh!” Tony yelled as Paulie entered Pualie’s. “Where the hell you been? I was gonna change the sign out front to Tony’s if you didn’t show up today!”
“I’m sure you were fine,” Paulie said. “Get these two fellas a large pie with whatever they want on it. On me. I gotta go to my office for a couple of minutes.”
“Sure thing, boss,” Tony said. “What do you guys need?”
“Large pizza,” Eddard said.
“With pepperoni,” Vern said.
“And mushrooms,” Eddard added.
“And two meatball subs.”
“Wait,” Tony said, stopping his mad scribbling. “So you want two meatball subs too?”
“No,” Eddard said. “On top of the pizza.”
“I ain’t doing that,” Tony said. “If you want the subs, they’re separate.”
“Look,” Vern said, stepping towards Tony. “Dat man seems like a man of his word. He told us he would buy us a pizza with whatever we wanted on top, and we want some mutha fuckin’ meatball subs on top of our mutha fuckin’ pizza. Or do you want to insist that your boss isn’t a man of his word?”
Tony breathed in a sighed. “Fine,” he said scribbling.
“And some chicken cutlets,”
Paulie came out of the bathroom adjacent to his office twenty minutes later with the newspaper tucked under his arm. He was hoping that Eddard and Vern had gotten their pizza and hit the road. He nearly jumped when he saw them sitting there, eating a huge pile a food.
“What in the name of all that is holy is that?!” Paulie exclaimed.
“Dis our pizza,” Vern said, picking a grinder off the top of the ‘pizza’ and taking a huge bite. “Dis shit really good.”
“What the hell, Tony,” Paulie said, turning to Tony. “Why didn’t you just dump a whole tray of sausage and peppers on there while you were at it!”
“Hey!” Vern said, picking up a slice of pizza with spaghetti hanging off it. “We’re not pigs!”
“OK,” Paulie said, running his hands through his hair. “Finish that monstrosity of a pizza and get out of my place. I’ve had about enough of this.”
“OK!” Eddard said. “We’re sorry. Daq said you were cool.”
“Really?” Paulie said. “The kid said that.”
“Yeah,” Vern said. “We wouldn’t have chilled wit’chu all weekend if you weren’t. Shit.”
“Oh,” Paulie said. “Then take your time with that. I didn’t mean to be short with you guys.”
“Can we get two pitchers of Coke with no ice?” Eddard asked.
Paulie looked at the pair for a moment. “Get the fuck out.”
Rose woke up the next morning feeling incredibly well-rested. She walked downstairs in her blue robe and stretched in the morning light, pausing only for a moment when her back creeked. She went into the kitchen to find Helen already up once again and making some toast and tea.
“Good morning,” Helen said. “You look well.”
“I don’t remember the last time I slept so well,” Rose said. “I don’t even remember falling asleep last night.”
“You poor dear,” Helen said. “You fell asleep watching TV. I nearly had to drag you to bed. You must have exhausted yourself looking after that girl.”
“That girl?” Rose asked. “Jean! I didn’t even see her. Did she leave?!”
“I don’t think so,” Helen said. “I forgot she was still here. I didn’t see her on the couch when I got up.”
There was a short scream and commotion from upstairs. “What was that?” Rose asked.
“Da’Quarius must be up,” Helen said, sipping her tea.
“That sounded like a woman,” Rose said. “Oh no. Jean!”
Rose got up and ran back towards the living room and the stairs that led to the second floor. She got there just in time to find Jean coming down the stairs getting her shirt over her head. “Rose,” she stammered, surprised to see her standing at the bottom of the stairs. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what happened last night.”
Rose stared, not knowing what to say. “Da’Quarius,” Rose whispered, putting her hand on her mouth. “You didn’t. Tell me you didn’t, Jean.”
Jean looked at the ground. “I don’t know what happened,” Rose said. “I… I’m gay.”
“Not gay enough,” Helen said, standing next to Rose with her arms crossed. “I know your still a teen yourself, but Da’Quarius is only a boy.”
“I think you should leave now,” Rose said, crossing her arms as well.
“But…” Jean said, near tears.
“You heard the woman,” Helen said. “Get out of our home.”
Jean looked horrified as she turned to leave, her shoes in her hands.
“I can’t believe it,” Rose said, shaking her head. “You think you know somebody…”
“You can’t blame yourself,” Helen said.
“What about Da’Quarius?” Rose said. As if he was summoned by her inquiry, Da’Quarius began walking down the stairs.
“What went on last night?” Rose asked.
“I have no idea,” Da’Quarius said. “Last thing I remember was coming home after my game. Next thing I know, I’m waking up to a screaming white girl in my bed. What da hell happened?”
“That girl is a damn pervert is what happened!” Helen said.
“I need a cup of tea,” Rose said.
“I have some hot water on the stove,” Helen said. “Make yourself a cup, and I’ll be right in. I’ll deal with Da’Quarius.” Rose left and went into the kitchen.
“Good job, kid,” Helen said softly. “I knew I could count on you to keep your mouth shut.” Helen left and followed Rose into the kitchen to comfort her wife.
“Keep my mouth shut about what?” Da’Quarius said. It took a few seconds, but it finally dawned on him. “Shit, biddy. You cold as fuck.”