Freedom Lane: The House That Anal Love Built
“What did he do?” Rose asked.
“Him and that damn dog destroyed my Mr. Poopy!” Helen exclaimed.
“You’re what?!” Rose said, getting up from the couch.
Helen held up the head of a stuffed monkey. The face was made of hard, chipped plastic with red eyes and a toothy grin.
“Oh my God!” Rose said, putting a hand to her chest and stepping backwards from the face. “I thought you got rid of that thing.”
“Oh shit,” Helen said, hiding the monkey’s face behind her back. She had forgotten that Rose was scared senseless of Helen’s childhood monkey toy, Mr. Poopy. “They must have found it in the trash.”
“You were supposed to have thrown that out thirty years ago!” Rose said. “The nightmares still lasted for years after! Now I know why.”
Da’Quarius and Dutchie came in next. “You can’t do dat shit, Helen!” Da’Quarius shouted. “Dose were his toys! He could have been hit by a car!”
“What did you do?” Rose asked.
“She threw all of Dutchie’s toys in da street!” Da’Quarius said. “She left da gate open, and Dutchie went after ’em!”
“Helen!” Rose said. You should know better.”
“That dog killed Mr. Poopy!” Helen shouted.
“I don’t even know where he found dat creepy-ass monkey!” Da’Quarius said.
“He was in a burlap sack under my bed!” Helen shouted.
“Why is a toy monkey in a burlap sack under yo bed?” Da’Quarius asked.
“That thing was under our bed?!” Rose shouted. She stared off in horror as dark thoughts of Mr. Poopy living under her bed in a burlap sack.
“Your dog found my private stuff and destroyed it!” Helen shouted.
“He sensed the evil of that thing,” Rose said, still staring off. “He has vanquished it. He’s a good boy. Dutchie is a very good boy.”
“Stop taking his side!” Helen said. “I’m going to put them both to sleep!”
“Helen!” Rose said, coming out of her trance.
“I’d like to see you try, biddy!” Da’Quarius said. “It’s two against one.”
“It’s two on two!” Helen shouted, holding up the remnants of her stuffed monkey’s head. “The spirit of Mr. Poopy fights alongside me!”
“That thing has a soul?!” Rose exclaimed before breaking down in tears.
Helen started chasing Da’Quarius as Dutchie jumped all over everything, barking in a frenzy and trying to get the head of Mr. Poopy. Rose cried with her head in her hands, worried that Mr. Poopy’s evil spirit now haunted their house. Da’Quarius and Helen shouted threats and curses at each other.
Nobody noticed when Jolene Jolie from New Haven Child Welfare opened the front door with a police officer to see the Masters family at their very worst.
Season 5, Episode 6: The House That Anal Love Built
“Holy shit!” Tony said, rushing into the front door of Paulie’s Pizza on State Street. He grabbed a pitcher from behind the counter and filled it with water. He started chugging from its edge, barely stopping to breath.
“Whoa!” Paulie said. “Slow down before you drown! What’s going on with you?”
“Spider,” Tony said, putting down the pitcher with a splash of water going over the edge. He took another breath. “Up my dick hole.”
“So what’s with the water?” Paulie asked.
“I’m going to blast it right out of my dick,” Tony replied. “This eight-legged mother fucker ain’t laying its eggs inside of my balls!”
“Alright,” Paulie said. “Calm down. How’d you get a spider up your dick anyway?”
“I was nailing Claudette in my aunt’s shed,” Tony said. “When I pulled out, it jumped on it and crawled in.”
“Wait,” Paulie said. “Claudette? Your cousin?! What the hell is wrong with you?!”
“You heard me say I pulled out, right?” Tony asked.
“That’s not the point,” Paulie said. “Why are you having sex with your cousin Claudette in your aunt’s shed?”
“She didn’t want her mom to see,” Tony said, drinking from the pitcher again. “So we went into the shed.”
“Allow me to rephrase my question,” Paulie said. “Why, in the name of everything good on this earth, are you even having sex with your cousin to begin with?”
“Don’t get all high and mighty on me right now,” Tony said. “I have a damn spider in my damn dick hole!”
“Fine,” Paulie said. “Let’s go to the emergency room and see what they can do for you.”
“No way!” Tony said. “I don’t need them judging me about me and Claudette!”
“You stunad!” Paulie said. “You don’t have to tell them what you were doing when the spider crawled in your dick!”
“Then why the fuck would my dick be out in my aunt’s shed?!” Tony exclaimed.
“Madon,” Paulie said, running his hands through his hair. “I don’t have the patience for this.”
“I can’t believe they took him away,” Rose said, looking at the mounds of paperwork strewn across the table. “They took our boy away.”
“We’ll get him back,” Helen said, watching Dutchie. He had taken to sitting by the front window, watching for Da’Quarius to return. “We’ll do whatever it takes.”
“This list of offensives that Miss Jolie left is so long,” Rose said, reading the sheet that was left with them. “And it doesn’t even include what she witnessed today.”
“What the hell could she have possibly known?” Helen asked.
“For starters: your most recent arrest for assaulting that teenage boy,” Rose said. “That was a while ago, and it wasn’t exactly a secret. I wonder why it’s coming up now.”
“They can’t even prove that Da’Quarius was involved with that!” Helen said.
“Da’Quarius was involved with that?” Rose asked.
“What else is in there?” Helen asked.
“Everything I think,” Rose said. “Da’Quarius working for Paulie under the table, his involvement the New Haven riots, and various other incidents. I don’t even remember half of this.”
“Could his mother have done this?” Helen asked. “Maybe it’s another con.”
“Could be,” Rose said. “Weren’t her and Miss Jolie cousins?”
“Aren’t they all?” Helen asked.
“Wait,” Rose said. “This report is mostly about you, and it’s all petty stuff.”
“What do you mean?” Helen asked.
Rose held a piece of paper close to her face. “You’re an ex-convict, You cheat at bingo, you’re crass to your acquaintances, you enter illegal plants into gardening contests, and you screw over your business partners,” she said. “Sound like anyone you know?”
“Oh shit,” Helen said. “I know exactly who’s behind this.”
“I wanna go back to Rose an’ Helen’s,” Da’Quarius said as Miss Jolie walked him towards the house that would be his new home. She carried the bag that she packed herself while Da’Quarius had waited with the officer. “Dat was just a dumb argument. We almost never fight like dat.”
“I saw enough to remove you,” Miss Jolie said. “These kind people have agreed to take you in, and I suggest you act grateful for it.”
“We went straight from my house to here,” Da’Quarius said. “I don’t think what you’re doin’ is fully legal.”
“Well, I pulled a lot of strings,” Miss Jolie said. “Would you rather go back to the orphanage in the ghetto?”
“No,” Da’Quarius said, sighing.
“Good,” Miss Jolie said, ringing the doorbell. “One complaint and I’ll have you back there until you’re eighteen.”
The door opened and Da’Quarius saw two familiar faces. “You gotta be kiddin’ my black ass,” he said.
“Hello, Miss Jolie,” Lee Fuchs said in his lisp. He held out his hand like a dog asking for a treat. He was somewhere in his lower seventies, and had a head full of dyed hair.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Fuchs,” Miss Jolie said, lightly grasping his hand.
“Miss Jolie,” Harold Fuchs said with a nod in his nasally voice. He was older than Lee by a decade or so, and what little hair he had left was rapidly leaving his head.
“Mr. Fuchs,” Miss Jolie said with a similar nod. “You were completely right about the Masters home. I have removed young Da’Quarius here, and I am turning him over to your custody.”
“Oh,” Lee said, his folded hands in front of his chest. “Our little family is growing!”
“Come on in,” Harold said, taking Da’Quarius’ bag from Miss Jolie. “You need to get cleaned up for lunch. We’re having pasta and sausage.”
“You would,” Da’Quarius said as the door closed, thinking it would have been what Helen would say.
“I’ll friggin’ kill him!” Paulie shouted, slamming his office phone on the receiver.
“Calm down,” Tony said. “Please don’t kill anyone until you figure out how I’m going to get this spider out of my dick.”
“Enough with your dick spider!” Paulie said, waving a hand towards Tony. “The city took Da’Quarius from my sister!”
“That ain’t good,” Tony said. “What they do that for?”
“Some guy that hates Helen apparently handed over a laundry list of her wrongdoings over the years,” Paulie said. “Putana de eva! This is bad.”
“You gonna rough the guy up?” Tony asked. “Gonna break his fingers until he takes back what he said?”
“As much as I’d love to, it won’t do any good,” Paukie replied. “The kid’s fate is in the city’s hands. I’m sorry, Tony, but you’re on your own with this thing with your cousin and the dick-spider. I have to figure out a way to get Da’Quarius back.”
“Where did the kid end up anyway?” Tony asked.
Da’Quarius was waiting to be alone so he could get some kind of message to Helen and Rose to let them know that he was now living at the Fuchs’ house on Constitutional Boulevard, but Harold and Lee wouldn’t leave him alone for a moment. The house was much cleaner and tidy than he was used to.
“If you take your eyes off him, he’ll steal something,” Harold said. Da’Quarius wondered what he was worried about losing. Their TV was older than him and their house was decorated with ceramic clowns and horses.
“I wouldn’t get shit if I tried to sell yo stuff,” Da’Quarius said. “Quit standin’ on my dick and give me some space!”
“You ungrateful brat!” Harold snapped. “We took you in after Helen practically abused you!”
“How ’bout dat,” Da’Quarius said. “Miss Jolie somehow knew you guys would he looking to adopt too. I went straight from Freedom Lane to dis place. Seems to me dat you two were plotting this to fuck wit Helen.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Harold said, his voice shaking a bit. “We were looking to adopt a teenage boy, and your situation happened just at the right moment.”
“You a horrible liar,” Da’Quarius said. “Two gay guys askin’ da city to give dem a teenage boy usually sets off a red flag or two. Dere’s somethin’ goin’ on here.”
“Look,” Lee said, putting a hand on Da’Quarius’ shoulders and leading him down the hall. “I know it’s a big adjustment, and your defenses are up; but you’ll come to love it here. Just wait until you meet your sister when she’s home from camp.”
“My sister?” Da’Quarius asked. “You talkin’ ’bout Esmerelda?”
“Yes,” Lee said, a look of stars in his eyes. “My little Esmerelda Perez de la Hoya.”
“Have you actually adopted her yet, or are you still rentin’ her?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Here’s your room,” Lee said, darker than before. “Make yourself comfortable. Dinner is at six thirty.”
Da’Quarius waited for Lee and Harold to be down the hallway before taking his cellphone from his pocket and sending a text with whatever little alone time he would be allowed.
“Do you think we have a good defense here?” Helen asked. “I wouldn’t throw it past Harold to make stuff up.”
“I know,” Rose said, still going through paper work. “There’s an entire page here dedicated to his suspicions that we practice witchcraft in the house. My coven has been broken up for years, and we never even met here! How would he even have known about it.”
“There’s nothing wrong with witchcraft, dear,” Helen said. “Damn Christian media gave it a raw deal. He can’t prove that you were ever part of any coven anyway.”
There was a knock on the door, and Rose got up immediately. She was disappointed to see Antonio and Manny Garcia from across the street standing on her doorstep. “I’m sorry,” Rose said. “But this really isn’t a good time.”
“We just got a text from Daq,” Antonio said. “He wanted us to tell you that he’s living at the fucks’ house.”
“What fucks?” Helen asked.
“I don’t know,” Antonio replied. “I thought it would mean something to you.”
“Not the fucks,” Rose said. “He’s at Harold and Lee’s house. The Fuchs’!”
“Damn autocorrect!” Manny said. “Why is Daq living there?”
“Long story,” Rose said. “Thanks for letting us know. Can you send him a message back and tell him that we are working to get him back?”
“Sure,” Manny said, typing on his phone. “Can we do anything else?”
“No,” Rose replied. “Just let us know if you get any more information from him. We are trying to build a case to take to the City to get him home where he belongs.”
“It isn’t going to work,” Helen said, staring off. “Harold has bragged before that he knows some people in the Child Welfare department. It’s how he has that little tamale staying at their house without actually adopting her. If we want Da’Quarius back, we are going to have to fight dirty. You really want to help, boys?”
“Yeah,” Antonio answered.
“I’m in too,” Manny added.
“Good,” Helen said. “Paulie is going to be digging for information at the City of New Haven. He’s very good at these sorts of things. Leave this part to him, Rose.”
“What are we going to do?” Rose asked.
“I have the beginnings of a plan in my head,” Helen said. “But there are still too many X factors involved. I need you two to work some recon at the Fuchs’ house. Text Da’Quarius before they take his phone away and have him clog the hell out of their toilets. You guys go in disguised as plumbers when he texts you to tell him that they’ve made the call.”
“Roger,” Antonio said nodding. “We’ll use our cousin, Berto Jr’s, van.”
“Then we have to pray on two things,” Helen said. “Pray that Paulie finds something good.”
“What’s the second part?” Rose asked.
“The part that I’m least worried about,” Helen said. “That Da’Quarius causes a shit ton of trouble for those two fruit bats.”
“What are djou doing here?” Esmerelda said, coming home to find Da’Quarius sitting in her living room.
“I live here now,” Da’Quarius said.
“What?” Esmerelda said. “Those maricons really did it?”
“I guess,” Da’Quarius said, shrugging. “I don’t know what dey really did. Why’d you call dem dat name?”
“Maricon?” Esmerelda asked. “That’s what they are. I hate them.”
“Don’t dat mean faggot?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Yeah,” Esmerelda said. “They take it in the mouth and ass. Otherwise they’d be bugarons.”
“Don’t hate dem two because dey gay,” Da’Quarius said. “Hate dem because dey a couple of vindictive and sneaky assholes.”
Esmerelda looked at Da’Quarius. “OK,” she said. “I’ll call them putas instead.”
“Dat means bitch, right?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Bitch or whore,” Esmerelda said with a shrug. “I think it fits.”
“Dat works,” Da’Quarius said. “Putas it is.”
Da’Quarius’ phone buzzed in his pocket. He took it out and read what was on the screen.
“Be careful,” Esmerelda said. “Those two putas don’t allow cellphones in their house.”
“I figured I won’t have it for too long,” Da’Quarius said. “So I’ll use it while I can. Come on. Let’s find some stuff to clog dese putas’ toilets with.”
“I have just the thing,” Esmerelda said. “These two keep buying me maxi-pads in bulk, even though I keep telling them that I only get my period once a month.”
“Got the text,” Antonio said, looking at his phone. “That kid is quick. They’re looking in the phone book to find a plumber now.”
“Get over there and look the part, for God’s sake” Helen said. She handed Antonio a wad of large bills. “Make sure you get some tools too.”
“We’re on it,” Manny said, getting the door. Antonio left and Manny followed.
“Where did you get that money?!” Rose said.
“It’s from my rainy day fund, doll,” Helen said, putting on her green army helmet. “And it’s fuckin’ pouring.”
Paulie looked around in the Child Welfare office. He knew that Jolene Jolie was a heavy-set black woman with a short haircut based on Helen’s description, but there seemed to be a lot of them working in this particular office. He was going to have to snoop around extra carefully if he wanted to remain unnoticed.
He finally found the door marked ‘J. Jolie’, and he went inside. The office was empty. Jolene had a spectacular view of the alley between her building and the next. It was no wonder that she spent so much time in the field. He looked over the pictures on her desk, scanning for one of Lotasha. Helen and mentioned they were cousins, and he only needed proof.
“What are you doing in my office?” a voice said from behind Paulie.
“Oh,” Paulie said, turning around. “I’m looking to adopt a kid, and I was told that you would be best suited to help me out.”
“Who sent you?” Jolene said, sitting at her desk.
“John,” Paulie said sitting down. “Said he knew you from way back.”
“John Samson?” Jolene asked.
“That’s the guy,” Pauile said, smiling. “He said there was a way to bypass any red tape.”
“You’re kind of old to be considering adoption,” Jolene said. “How old are you?”
“Look,” Paulie said. “Let’s cut to the chase here. As I said, I want to bypass red tape, and I was told that you are the one to see. You not only helped people adopt without going through the normal rigamarole, but you’ve helped people older than me.”
“If you’re talking about the situation I think you’re talking about, then you should know that it has been rectified,” Jolene said. “Are you from the New Haven Herald? About the Sherman kid?”
“I am not,” Paulie said. “But I am interested in adopting him if he needs a home.”
“He has already been placed in a new home,” Jolene said. “There are other kids if you are interested, but I don’t usually discuss these things in the office.”
“Good point,” Paulie said. “How about we discuss this over dinner?”
“Sounds good,” Jolene said, smiling. “Can you pick me up at seven?”
The doorbell at the Fuchs’ residence rang, and Lee opened the door immediately. Da’Quarius ran to see if it was who he hoped it was. He saw Manny and Antonio, wearing navy blue jumpsuits with large, fake mustaches. “Yo!” Manny called out. “My name is Mario, and this is my brother Luigi. We’re real plumbers. Yous guys called about a clogged shitter?”
“We did,” Lee said, sounding panicked. “Both of our toilets are spewing water uncontrollably!”
“Did he just say ‘shitter’?” Harold asked, sipping tea at his dining room table and reading the newspaper. “This is why I have you deal with this blue-collared crassness, my dear Lee.”
“Oh!” Antonio said, doing and even worse impression of an Italian accent. “Let me whip out my snake and have a go at that bad boy!” Antonio put his tool box on the front hall floor and started rummaging through it. He pulled out a brand new plumber’s snake, still in the package.
“Wouldn’t you want to do that in the bathroom?” Harold asked, not looking up from his paper.
“Hey!” Antonio said. “Do I come to where you work and slap the pickle from between your buns?”
“Excuse me?!” Harold said, putting his paper down.
“Aren’t you the guy from the deli down the block?” Manny asked, covering up his brother’s comment.
“Do I look like I’m from the deli down the block?” Harold asked, rolling his eyes. “Morons.”
“Hey, Mario!” Manny shouted. “Get your snake unwrapped and shove it down their holes already!”
“Sure thing, Luigi,” Antonio said, trying to open the packaging for the plumbers’ snake with his bare hands.
“Did they just switch names?” Esmeralda asked.
“Shutup,” Da’Quaruis said. “Dis shit funny as fuck.”
“You got a pair of scissors or something?” Antonio asked.
Harold sighed and left the room. Lee went to the drawer and began rummaging for a pair of scissors. Da’Quarius watched from across the room with Esmerelda (who was fighting hard to keep from giggling).
“Hey, kid!” Manny said. “You got a switch blade or something over here?”
“Yeah!” Antonio said. “I can use a knife over here!”
“Over here!” Manny added.
“Nah,” Da’Quarius said. “I left all my good shit at me real house.”
“Why did you bring a brand new snake?” Lee asked, handing Antonio the scissors. “That seems like something you would have on your truck, ready to go.”
“You don’t want the other one,” Antonio said.
“Yeah,” Manny added. “It’s covered in chunky diarrhea.”
“OK,” Lee said, looking visibly nauseous. “Just unclog the toilet please.”
“What did you learn?” Helen asked as Manny and Antonio returned.
“I leaned two things,” Manny said. “My brother can’t use a plumber’s snake for shit, and those two flush a ton of maxi pads.”
“Maxi pads?” Rose asked.
“For their bleeding rectums,” Helen said. “I meant about Da’Quarius.”
“He’s there alright,” Antonio said.
“We already knew that,” Helen said. “What else did you find out?”
Manny and Antonio looked at each other.
“Da’Quarius was definitely there,” Manny said.
“You stunads!” Helen exclaimed. “Get the hell out of my house!”
“Call us if you need us again,” Antonio said, leaving with his brother.
“Well that was a waste,” Rose said.
“Not entirely,” Helen said. “The kid knows we’re working on getting him out now, and he’ll see that the key is to make Harold kick him out. Why else would I send those two?”
“We go pray,” Helen replied.
Paulie walked into the East Rock Catholic Church, dipped his fingers in the holy water by the door, and sat in the pew next to his sister, Helen. “You find anything?” she asked.
“Why are we meeting in church?” Rose asked.
“Paulie’s going to get deep in the shit,” Helen replied. “He can’t be seen at our house for a while. What did you find, Paulie?”
“I ran into this Jolene Jolie woman that took D,” Paulie said. “It was completely by chance, but she’s working sloppy. She thought I was from the paper at first. She asked if I was looking for him.”
“What?” Rose asked. “Why?”
“I don’t know that yet,” Paulie said. “All she would say about him was that the situation had been rectified. Have you found him yet?”
“He’s with Harold and Lee Fuchs,” Helen said. “We sent those Garcia boys in there to stir up Harold’s anger. With luck, he’ll be kicking the kid out soon.”
“Don’t be so sure,” Paulie said. “If he’s motivated by revenge on you, it may take a lot. You better hope the kid doesn’t end up in another home, but if I play this right; it’ll be mine.”
“What’s your next move?” Helen asked.
“Jolene became quite smitten with me today,” Paulie said. “We have a date tonight.”
“Good,” Helen said. “We meet back here at four tomorrow afternoon if there is still no resolution.”
“Understood,” Paulie said standing up. He turned and walked towards the door. He caught a glimpse of Tony cupping his hand in the holy water and putting it down his pants.
“What the hell are you doing?” Paulie asked.
“I figured it out,” Tony said. “The spider is God’s punishment for me having sex with my cousin. I’m trying to get some holy water up there to kill it.”
“Have you stopped to consider that your imagination made up this whole spider thing because of your own suppressed guilt about what you’ve done?” Paulie asked.
“No,” Tony replied.
“Didn’t think so,” Paulie said. “I still don’t have time for this spider business. Good luck.”
“Wait,” Tony said. “Where are you going?”
Paulie turned back to Tony. He removed his sunglasses from his shirt pocket and put them on. “Dinner,” he said.
“Why’d you just put on your sunglasses inside?” Tony asked.
“Dinner is ready!” Lee exclaimed, setting a round platter in the table.
“Da fuck is dat?!” Da’Quarius exclaimed. “Egg pie?!”
“It’s my quiche,” Lee said.
“Lee’s quiche has won awards,” Harold said, holding his plate out to Lee.
“Thank you,” Lee said, putting a piece onto Harold’s plate.
“Harold called it snot surprise last week,” Esmerelda said as a piece was put on her plate.
“Esmerelda Perez de la Hoya!” Lee exclaimed. “Harold would never say such a thing!”
Harold looked away.
“Harold!” Lee said, staring down his husband. “How could you!”
“You make it every damn week!” Harold said, pushing his plate away with his fork. “Every now and then is OK, but I can’t eat egg pie once a week!”
“It’s a quiche!” Lee said, crying. “It’s not an egg pie!”
“Looks like an egg pie,” Da’Quarius said, poking his with his fork. “You sure dese are chicken eggs?”
“You’re all monsters!” Lee said, flailing his arms as he ran out of the dining room.
“Look at what you two did,” Harold said, getting up. “Now I’m going to have to comfort him before I choke down this quiche.”
“You used to choking stuff down for him I bet,” Da’Quarius said under his breath.
“What was that?” Harold said, turning.
“He said you’re the catcher,” Esmerelda said.
“Catcher,” Harold muttered. “I’m the damn pitcher in this relationship.”
Harold shuffled out of the room after Lee and Esmerelda and Da’Quarius roared with laughter.
“Would you like another glass of wine?” the waiter asked Jolene Jolie as she sat across from Paulie as they dined at a quiet little Italian restaurant called Giuseppe’s.
“One more,” Jolene said, smiling at Paulie. “So tell me how you came to want to adopt a child, Paul.”
“I just want to help out,” Paulie said. “I won’t be around forever, and it would be nice to have someone to carry on my legacy.”
“What do you do?” Jolene asked.
“I’m a plumber,” Paulie said. “I own Paul’s Plumbing, operating just off State Street.”
“A business owner,” Jolene said. “Impressive. What made you curious about the Sherman boy?”
“I met him a while back,” Paulie said. “I was doing a job for the two women that were raising him, and he took a real shine to the plumbing business.”
“Da’Quarius?” Jolene asked, being taken aback. “Really?”
“Oh yeah,” Paulie said. “I heard that those two got in trouble and the kid was back in the system, so I figured I could help him out.”
“And cut through the red tape,” Jolene said, assuming that she was finishing Paulie’s sentence. “Which is how you found me.”
“And I’m glad I did,” Paulie said, noticing how tipsy Jolene was becoming as her glass quickly drained. “So tell me, Jolene, how did Da’Quarius get placed so quickly after his mothers got in trouble? If you don’t mind me asking that is.”
“I don’t mind you asking at all,” Jolene said. “It’s a very interesting story. Da’Quarius Sherman was a special case. Don’t repeat this, but his mother is my cousin. She asked me to place him somewhere out of the way, but he was bounced from foster homes repeatedly. I thought he finally found a permanent spot with the Masters until I received a laundry list of complaints. The day I made a surprise visit; one woman was trying to kill Da’Quarius and the other was curled up in a ball and sobbing. I had no choice.”
“But why move him so quickly?” Paulie asked. “Shouldn’t the two women have a chance to fight it. It could have been a misunderstanding.”
“The terms of the complaint file I received was that the boy was to be moved to his home if I found anything suspicious,” Jolene said.
“Why?” Paulie asked. “I know I’m not in the child welfare business, but this all seems a little whacked to me.”
“I’ll tell you if you pick up the check and we take a ride to your place,” Jolene said, leaning over the table.
“Sure thing, doll,” Paulie said motioning the waitress.
“You see,” Jolene said, whispering while slurring. “The Masters should have never been able to adopt Da’Quarius to begin with. This Harold character knew it, because he’s doing the exact same thing.”
The following morning, Da’Quarius awoke to find Harold and Lee standing in their den. Harold had his arms crossed and looked furious. Lee didn’t look to happy either. “‘Sup?” Da’Quarius asked, nodding in their direction.
“Sit down,” Harold said. “It’s about time we lay some ground rules.”
“What’s going on?” Esmerelda said, coming down stairs to join.
“You sit down too,” Lee said. “This pertains to you both.”
“No it doesn’t,” Harold said. “Go to your room, Esmerelda.”
“I’m staying,” Esmerelda said, sitting next to Da’Quarius.
“There are going to be some changes around here,” Harold said after a long sigh. “Da’Quarius, you are to stay in your room the moment you get home from camp or school. You can only come out for meals or potty breaks.”
“What’s dis?” Da’Quarius asked. “Prison?”
“If you shape up; you will be allowed to come out,” Harold added. “Fat chance of that happening though.”
“I don’t think so,” Da’Quarius said. “I know Esmerelda and me aren’t the first two here.”
“What are you talking about?” Harold asked.
“I’ve been doing some digging here since the moment you two putas had me brought here,” Da’Quarius said. “I know about Emma.”
Lee looked taken aback. “That’s nobody,” he said quickly.
“Emma?” Harold asked. “Who the hell is Emma?”
“Da other girl that lived here,” Da’Quarius said. “What happened to her. You killed her, didn’t you?! You sick bastards!”
“There was no other girl,” Esmerelda said. “Emma is Lee.”
“What?!” Harold said, turning on Lee.
“You promised not to tell him!” Lee said.
“Oops,” Esmerelda said with a shrug. “I forgot.”
“Tell me what,” Harold said, staring daggers at Esmerelda.
“Lee was going to doctors for a sex change,” Esmerelda said.
“It’s called gender reassignment surgery,” Lee corrected.
“What?!” Harold exclaimed. “Why would you even consider that?!”
“I want to feel as beautiful on the outside as I do on the inside,” Lee said.
“You think I want you with a pair of fake tits and a set of roast beef curtains between your legs?” Harold said, shivering at the thought.
“They denied me anyway,” Lee said, beginning to cry. “What does it matter to you? You can’t even get it up for twink porn without your little pills anymore!”
“Oh shit!” Da’Quarius yelled. “Mo’ fucker be talkin’ ’bout twink porn an’ shit!”
“Get these two to their rooms,” Harold said. “Then we can talk without interruptions from this little ni…”
The door suddenly opened, and Helen, Rose, Paulie, and Jolene were coming into the house on Constitutional Way. “What is this?!” Lee exclaimed.
“Look,” Paulie said, approaching Lee and Harold. “You blackmailed this big-mouthed woman with her horrible deeds to get Da’Quarius for some sort of revenge plot against my sister. A few glasses of wine, and she spilt the entire story and then some. Now, I’m blackmailing her to get even with you!”
“Dis is your plan?” Da’Quarius asked. “Damn, Uncle Paulie!”
“Tell them, Jolene,” Paulie said.
“I can’t believe I slept with you,” Jolene said.
“Tell them!” Paulie yelled.
“Mr. and Mr. Fuchs,” Jolene said with a sigh. “I hereby grant Da’Quarius Sherman Masters custody of Rose and Helen Masters effective immediately.”
“Fuck yeah!” Da’Quarius said, coming over to Helen and Rose. They hugged him.
“No!” Harold said. “You give him back right now! You think I won’t make that phone call to the New Haven Herald?!”
“Come off it,” Lee said. “You were a couple of seconds away from kicking him out anyway, and I don’t want him here either. None of this worked out to your stupid revenge plan against Helen.”
“Shutup,” Harold said. “They didn’t know about the plan.”
“My plan was better,” Helen said.
Manny and Antonio came in next, dressed in their navy blue jumpsuits and fake mustaches once again. “It’s a me, Mario!” Manny exclaimed. “You guys called for a plumber?”
“Yeah!” Antonio said, brandishing a plunger. “You need your pipes cleaned out?”
“You idiots,” Helen said. “I told you to wait in the car until we called you!”
“But it’s hot out there!” Manny said.
“I don’t think your plan was much better than Harold’s,” Rose said. “It kind of fell apart in the end; but we got Da’Quarius back, and that’s what matters.”
“Not so fast,” Harold said. “I can still blackmail Jolene Jolie too, you know.”
“No you won’t,” Helen said.
“Yeah!” Da’Quarius said. “We’ll tell everyone how Lee wants to be Emma!”
“There’s nothing wrong with that!” Rose exclaimed.
“Fine,” Harold said, throwing his hands up and walking away. “Just get out of my home. All of you!”
“What?” Lee said. “There’s nothing wrong with what I am! This is who I am on the inside! I’ll always be Emma on the inside!”
“You and Emma need to get a room!” Harold spat, getting in his chair to lift him upstairs.
“I’m glad this is all over,” Paulie said. He turned to Jolene. “Hit the streets, sugar-tits. We’re all done here.”
“You people all deserve each other,” Jolene said, walking between Manny and Antonio to leave.
“I’m glad everything finally worked out,” Rose said.
“Paulie!” Tony said, coming into the Fuch’s house. “I think I blasted the spider right out of me. I jacked it right out of my balls. The holy water really worked!”
“How the hell did you know I was here?” Paulie asked.
“Your car is parked outside,” Tony answered. “Anyway, I’m done with Claudette. No more sex in her mother’s shed.”
“That’s good,” Paulie said. “I’m proud of you, Tony.”
“Let’s go home,” Helen said.
“Wait,” Da’Quarius said, approaching Esmerelda. “It’s not too late, Ez. We can still catch up to Miss Jolie an’ blackmail her to get you outta here too.”
Esmerelda sighed and looked in the direction of Harold and Lee. “No,” she said. “I’m going to stay here.”
“What?” Da’Quarius asked. “Why? You told me dat you hated dose two.”
“I do,” Esmerelda said. “But in a fucked up way; they’re my family. Don’t djou understand?”
Da’Quarius looked at Rose, Helen, Paulie, and Tony. “Yeah,” he said. “I understand.”
“We have a lot of catching up to do,” Helen said as Da’Quarius settled in after their ordeal at the Fuchs’ house. “You’ve missed a lot.”
“I was barely gone two days!” Da’Quarius said. “Besides, I have a present for you.”
“What?” Helen asked. “How’d you get my a present?”
“Don’t tell Rose, but I had Esmerelda fix up dat monkey of yours dat Dutchie destoryed,” Da’Quarius said. He took the stitched up body of Helen’s monkey, Mr. Poopy, out of his bag. He was full of white and red thread, holding his body together. “She didn’t have any black thread, so we had to improvise. You just need to sew da head back on if you have it.”
Helen’s eyes welled with tears. She reached into a drawer and pulled the disfigured head of Mr. Poopy out. “Don’t tell Rose,” she said. She sat the body and head on the couch. “Let’s go look for my sewing kit. We’ll fix and hide Mr. Poopy while Rose is gardening.”
“Cool,” Da’Quarius said, following Helen into the kitchen.
A moment later, Rose came in from her gardening to get a quick drink of water. She turned to see the stitched-up body and detached head of Mr. Poopy, looking at her from her couch. The red eyes and tooth-filled grin of the hard plastic face stared daggers at her.
“Dear God no,” Rose said, slowly backing away in terror. Tears began to spill from her eyes. “How is it still alive? How?!”