Freedom Lane: Gourmet Sugar
“I see them,” Sam said, glancing in his rearview mirror to see the flashing red and blue lights of the New Haven police car. He was bigger than Charlie, and had his head shaved so the red and black swastika tattoo on the back of his head could be seen. He cut the wheel to turn down a side street, narrowly avoiding a mailbox.
“We can’t outrun them,” Charlie said. “Not on the backroads here.”
“I’m trying to get to the highway!” Sam snapped.
“I’m going to ditch the stuff,” Charlie said. “They can’t nail us on holding and intent to distribute if they can’t find the stuff.”
Sam thought for a moment. He turned down another street. “I’m going in circles,” he said. “Toss it now! Before they come around the corner.”
Charile tossed the Whole Foods bag out the passenger side window of the Mustang, where it landed in some bushes. Sam drove off, trying to get to the highway where he’d have a better chance at losing the police. The police chased after Charlie and Sam, never relenting in their pursuit.
Nearly an hour later, Rose Masters walked by on her way home from the small italian market on Orange Street. She spotted the bag near the bottom of the bush. “Oh no,” Rose said, picking it up. “Someone dropped their groceries. She looked around and saw nobody. “I guess whoever dropped this is long gone.”
Rose’s curiosity got the best of her, and she peeked inside. She looked puzzled as she pulled out a brick of white powder wrapped in Saran Wrap. “Wow,” she said. “Must be some gourmet sugar from Whole Foods. Probably locally farmed and distributed based on the packaging. It’s probably pretty expensive too.”
Rose looked around one last time before picking the bag up and carrying it with her own. “Finders keepers,” she said with a shrug, walking to her home on Freedom Lane.
Season 7, Episode 4: Gourmet Sugar
“Hey, Paulie!” Tony shouted, coming out of the kitchen of Paulie’s Pizza on State Street. “I gotta run upstairs for a few minutes. Mind taking charge of the kitchen for me?”
“Madon,” Paulie said, walking in the back. “You think I don’t know how to run my own pizzeria? Go do what you gotta do, and get your ass back down here pronto.”
“Sure thing, boss,” Tony said, running to the back stairwell that would lead to his apartment upstairs. As soon as the door was closed, the bell in the front rang. A group of six or seven customers came in for a late lunch.
“Welcome to Paulie’s!” Paulie exclaimed. “What can I get for you?”
“Two large mushroom pizzas,” one of the customers said, walking ahead of the others. “And a pitcher of Coke.”
“Two large mushrooms and a pitcher of Coke,” Paulie said, writing down the order. “Sit anywhere you’d like, and I’ll have that Coke right out to you in a minute.”
“Thank you,” the man said, walking with his group to one of the booths.
Paulie looked through the tray of pizza toppings, and was shocked to see the little metal tray for the mushrooms was almost empty. “Dammit, Tony,” he said to himself. “You’re supposed to tell me when we’re running low. You better have some more around here.”
Paulie opened the large refrigerator in the kitchen and started rummaging through it. He almost started rehearsing his apology to the customers when he came across a ziplock bag in the back full of cut up mushrooms. “Why the hell are you hiding these way back here?” Paulie asked the baggie of mushrooms in his hand. “They’re chopped small, but it’ll be fine if I mix them with the others.”
He dropped the baggie on the counter to bring his customers their Coke before he started on the pizzas.
Rose had all of her ingredients and cooking utensils laid out on the table, ready to bake something. She stood near the counter, flipping through her old recipe book.
“What’s all this?” Helen asked, walking into the kitchen with the aid of her cane. “Is there a bake sale at the church I don’t know about?”
“No,” Rose answered, smiling slyly. “I got some gourmet sugar, and I just felt like baking today. Maybe I’ll make a nice desert for you, me, and Da’Quarius for after dinner.”
“Gourmet sugar?” Helen said, looking at Rose’s ingredients until she spotted the large brick of white. “How much did that set you back?”
“I got it for free,” Rose said, flipping the page to find a recipe for a pineapple upside-down cake. “This looks good. I hope we have canned pineapples.”
“How’d you get that for free?” Helen asked, still looking at the package suspiciously.
“Never you mind,” Rose said. “Don’t you want some pineapple upside-down cake after dinner tonight?”
“Hell yes I do,” Helen answered.
“Then let me do my baking,” Rose said, kissing Helen on the cheek. “Watch your stories and let me work.”
“Fine,” Helen said, shuffling back into the den. “But I’m licking the beaters when you’re done using them.”
Tony came back down from his apartment. “Sorry about that, boss,” he said, tossing his apron back over his head. “All set. It wasn’t too busy while I was gone, was it?”
“Not at all,” Paulie said, wiping down the counters. “Just a couple of pies. Got a group of customers eating now.”
Tony looked into the dining area and saw the people eating. “Three chicks,” he said. “I’d do the brunette on the left and the blonde.”
“You’d do anyone,” Paulie said, rolling his eyes. “By the way; let me know when you’re low on supplies so one of us can make a run. I almost had to tell those people they couldn’t have two mushroom pies.”
“I got extra mushrooms when I went out yesterday,” Tony said. “Bottom shelf in the fridge in a blue container.”
“Oh,” Paulie said. “I hope the ones I found in the back of the fridge weren’t too old.”
“What mushrooms in the back of the fridge?” Tony asked.
“The ones in the plastic baggie,” Paulie said. “You had them cut so small I had to mix them in with the others so I had enough for two large pies.”
“You used the mushrooms in the back of the fridge?!” Tony exclaimed. He opened the fridge and started looking through the back, hoping to see that he was wrong about what Paulie had taken. “Holy shit, Paulie!”
“What?” Paulie asked. “They weren’t bad, were they?”
“Excuse me,” one of the men who had just left Paulie’s bathroom said, approaching the counter. “I just wanted to let you know that there’s a snake in your bathroom.”
“What?” Paulie said, twisting his pinky in his ear. “Did you say there’s a snake in my bathroom?”
“Yeah,” the man said. “It’s crawling all over the ceiling. It has the head of Ice T.”
“Ice T?” Paulie asked.
“Yeah,” the man answered. “You know. The black guy from Law and Order: SVU.” He walked back to his table like he had just said something perfectly normal.
“Tony,” Paulie said, slowly turning back to his oldest friend and employee. “What the hell have you been keeping in my refrigerator?”
Rose had her cake in the pan, ready to cook. She had worked diligently on the pineapple upside-down cake, using extra of the gourmet sugar for taste, and she set the timer on the oven to see the fruit of her labor. She figured she would get a quick rest in before she had to start cleaning the kitchen, but she felt a surge of energy.
“I bet I can get this entire kitchen clean before the cake is done cooking!” she exclaimed to the empty kitchen. She carefully put away her gourmet sugar (she had transferred it into a tupperware container so she could store it) and began piling the bowls and utensils in the sink to scrub them.
“Rose!” Helen shouted from the den. “You still baking?!”
“I am!” Rose crooned back.
“Can you stop for a minute and make me some lunch?!” Helen shouted.
“Sure thing!” Rose said. “Coming right up, Helen!”
Rose pulled an empty plate from the cabinet, put it on the table, and started going through the refrigerator and cupboards, making Helen a lunch she’d never forget. She stopped to put the teapot on for herself.
“I bet that gourmet sugar tastes great in tea!” Rose said excitedly. she pulled a mug and put a teabag inside of it, letting it sit next to the teapot as she started slicing some leftover roast beef to make Helen a monster of a sandwich.
Paulie locked the door and turned the open sign to closed. He then started closing the blinds. “Just let them go,” Tony said. “You don’t want them here when they peak.”
“No,” Paulie said. “It’s our fault they’re going through this. Well, mostly your fault. I’m not letting them leave until it’s out of their system.”
“I’m going to get some buckets,” Tony said.
“For what?” Paulie asked.
“Those mooks are gonna puke their guts out once they start to trip,” Tony replied, walking towards the supply closet. “They’ll have a short peak since they ate the shrooms with so much pizza, but it might take some time to get them there.”
“Why is the only thing you’ve ever sounded smart about magic mushrooms?” Paulie asked, rolling his eyes.
“It’s common knowledge!” Tony shouted from the closet.
“Who did your wallpapering?” the blonde woman asked, coming up to Paulie. “I want to know how he made the horizontal lines move and glow like that.”
“An uncle of mine did this,” Paulie said. “You should see the paper in the bathroom of my house. The clouds really float by and rain on you while you shit.”
“Wonderful!” the woman said, nearly dancing back towards her table of friends and coworkers. “Did you hear the owner? He has cloud wallpaper that rains on you while you poo!”
“Don’t mess with them,” Tony said, coming back in with two old buckets that looked like they’d spent a couple of decades full of dirty mop water. “They’ll go nuts when they peak if you start putting ideas in their heads.”
Paulie chuckled dryly. “I hope it’s soon,” he said. “I don’t know how long I can keep these people here.”
“Are you alright in here?” Helen said, coming into the kitchen. “You said you were making me a sandwich, and that was twenty minutes ago.”
“Just finishing,” Rose said, cheerily. The put a glass plate on the table with the sandwich she had made for Helen. It was thick cut roast beef on a large chunk of italian bread, layered with cheese, gravy, and onions.
“Holy shit!” Helen exclaimed. “That’s a sandwich that would make the founder of Arby’s blow one off in his shorts! I can’t eat all that.”
“Just do your best, Helen,” Rose said. “I’m going to start cleaning up and making a snack for Da’Quarius for when he’s home from school.”
“Where’s all this energy coming from?” Helen asked. “Cake and giant sandwiches and snacks and cleaning? What’s with you?”
“It must be this gourmet sugar,” Rose said. “I added some to my tea earlier. It’s giving me loads of energy, but my mouth is kind of numb. Maybe I made it too sweet after all.”
Rose started cutting up chicken breast for Da’Quarius’s snack as Helen watched suspiciously. She then looked over at the tupperware container with Rose’s ‘gourmet sugar’. Helen put some on the tip of her pinky and pushed it to the tip of her tongue. “No,” she whispered to herself. She took a little more and rubbed it on her gums. “Oh shit.”
The front door opened and Dutchie began to go crazy, signalling that Da’Quarius had come home from school. “There’s my boy!” Rose said, beaming.
“I’ll go get him,” Helen said, putting the top on the ‘sugar’ and tucking it under her arm. “I’ll let him know that we’re in here having our snacks.”
“Thank you,” Rose said, adding salt and pepper to the chicken she was cutting up. She started humming as she worked.
Helen shuffled into the den as quickly as she could, handing the tupperware container to Da’Quarius. “Hide this in the shed when you take your dog outside,” Helen said. “Don’t let Rose see.”
“What is dis?” Da’Quarius said, looking at the container. “Heroine?”
“It’s cocaine, kid,” Helen said.
“Da fuck you doin’ with cocaine, biddy?!” Da’Quarius asked.
“Hush up!” Helen snapped. “Rose got it somehow, and she thinks it’s sugar. She put it in her tea, and she’s been prancing around the kitchen for hours.”
“Shit,” Da’Quarius said, looking towards the kitchen. “I gotta see dat.”
“Hurry up and hide that, then get your ass back in here,” Helen said, looking more serious than Da’Quarius had ever seen her. “We need to calm Rose down before her heart gives out.”
“The pizza monster is upon us!” one of Paulie’s tripping customers yelled while hiding under the table. “He has pepperoni eyes and mushroom teeth!”
“The walls are moving!” another said, watching the still patterns of Pauile’s walls.
“Where did the Ice T snake go?” another asked. “He owes me twenty bucks!”
“They just about done?” Paulie asked, looking outside. “I don’t want them to ruin the dinner rush, ya dig?”
“They’re peaking now,” Tony said. “They should be able to leave soon.”
“Good,” Paulie said. “I hope none of them realize what happened.”
“What?” Tony asked. “You think they’ll go about their business after seeing a snake with Ice T’s head in the toilet?”
“I don’t feel so well,” the blonde woman said after vomiting in Tony’s bucket. “What happened?”
“Here it comes,” Tony said. “They’re starting to come down. They should be OK if you get them out of here. Better think of something to tell them quick though.”
Paulie stared for a moment, trying to think of something to say to the seven patrons that had spent hours tripping on shrooms within the walls of his pizzeria. “I…” Paulie stammered.
“That was the best pizza I ever had!” one of the guys said, standing up.
“Me too!” another said. “Best in New Haven. Fuck Frank Pepe!”
“Yeah!” one of the women agreed. “The freshest ingredients!”
“I’m glad you liked it,” Paulie said, feeling relieved. “That’ll be thrity-two seventy-five.”
The group reached in their pockets and collectively gave Paulie over sixty dollars as Tony quietly unlocked the door. “Keep it,” one of the men said. “We’ve spent the last few hours chatting it up in here. The least we can do is pay a little rent, right?”
“Sure,” Paulie said, putting the cash in the register as the group started to leave. “You guys enjoy the rest of your day!”
“Tell the Ice T snake I said goodbye!” one of them exclaimed as he walked out the door.
“You’re going to give me the tip money, right?” Tony asked. “You did give them all of my shrooms.”
“You stundad!” Paulie said. “Don’t keep that garbage down here. You’re lucky I don’t put your head through a friggin wall.”
“Must have been some really good shrooms too,” Tony said. “They actually enjoyed your cooking!”
Da’Quarius and Helen entered their kitchen, where Rose was furiously scrubbing a pot with a sponge. “You’re home, Da’Quarius!” she exclaimed. “I made you a snack!”
“Wow,” Da’Quarius said, looking at the pile of sliced and fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and biscuits. “That’s enough to make Colonel Sanders bust a nut up in his drawers!”
“I want you to sit and relax,” Helen said, slowly approaching Rose. “You’ve been going like a mad woman all afternoon. It’s time you take a breather.”
“Nonsense,” Rose said, waving Helen off. “I haven’t felt this energetic in years! I could use another cup of tea though. This sugar is… Where’s the sugar?!”
“I’ve moved it,” Helen said. “I’ll explain once you calm down.”
“I need that sugar!” Rose said. “I wanted to make a whipped topping for the pineapple upside-down cake. I had a wonderful idea to beat the whipping cream while adding… adding…”
“Rose?” Da’Quarius asked.
“You alright?” Helen asked. “I really wish you’d…”
Rose looked around as if she didn’t know where she was. A moment later, she was on the floor, staring at the cieling.
“Rose!” Helen shouted, kneeling next to Rose, despite her sore hip.
“I’ll call nine-one-one,” Da’Quarius said, running towards the phone.
“No time!” Helen said. She turned up her hearing aid as high as it would go and put her head near Rose’s chest. “She’s still with us, but not for long if we don’t act. Run upstairs in my bathroom, and bring down the first aid kit. Hurry!”
Da’Quaruis did as Helen asked, running upstairs faster than he ever had before. He was back downstairs in a flash, handing Helen the kit. She had already unbuttoned the top buttons of Rose’s blouse and marked a spot on her chest with a sharpie.
“You ever see Pulp Fiction, kid?” Helen asked, piercing the foil top of a bottle of clear liquid with a syringe.
“No,” Da’Quarius replied.
“Then this will be new to you,” Helen said, handing Da’Quarius the needle. “Pay attention. This is adrenaline. You need to stab Rose in the heart with this and push the plunger down the second you break through her breastplate.”
“What are you doing with adrenaline?” Da’Quarius asked.
“I’m an old lady,” Helen explained. “I have lots of medicine. Shut up and stab Rose in the heart!”
Da’Quarius brought his fist down, stabbing Rose in the chest with the needle. As soon as it was in, he pushed the plunger. Rose sat up immediately with the needle sticking out of her chest. She breathed rapidly. She looked down and saw the syringe. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“For Christ’s sake, Rose,” Helen said. “Tell me where you got that fucking sugar.”
Paulie needed a break from the pizzeria after the long day he had just had, so he left Tony in charge for the dinner rush and decided to pay his sister a visit. “Hello?” he called as he entered the house and hung his jacket on the coat tree. “Where is everyone?”
Paulie walked through the den and into the kitchen. He saw Helen, Rose, and Da’Quarius in the backyard through the window. It looked like they were burying something. A moment of panic struck him, but he saw Da’Quarius’ dog, Dutchie, lying by a tree. “Thank God,” he breathed.
A pineapple upside-down cake caught Paulie’s eye. He looked at it for a moment and then looked back outside. “What the hell,” he said to the cake. “A little piece before dinner won’t hurt.” He grabbed a plate and cut a small slice.
Paulie ate the cake while Helen, Rose, and Da’Quarius started to walk back to the house after a short conversation. “This cake ain’t too bad,” he said to himself. “Needs more sugar, though.”