Freedom Lane: Orange is the Old White
“What’s with all this nonsense?!” Helen exclaimed. “Just turn on the TV and pick a damn channel. This new TV is too complicated!”
“We wouldn’t need a new TV if you hadn’t destroyed our old one with your booby trap,” Rose said.
“You’re the one who stepped on the trip wire,” Helen said under her breath.
“All set,” Da’Quarius said. “You guys wanna watch Orange is the New Black again?”
“We just watched that garbage last night,” Helen snapped.
“We can watch the new Full House they have up,” Rose said. “You always liked the old one.”
“That show where the two homos raise the girls?” Helen asked.
“They weren’t homos,” Rose said.
“Sure,” Helen groaned. “We’re not watching that either.”
“It’s Netflix,” Da’Quarius said. “Dey got like fifty episodes of Orange is da’ New Black you can watch whenever if you don’t wanna watch it tonight.”
“But I like that show,” Rose said. “I love prison stuff, and it’s quirky too.”
“Prison wasn’t like how it is on that show,” Helen said. “They got it all wrong.”
“Maybe you had a different experience than others,” Rose said. “I like this show.”
“You already said that, little-miss-prison-fetish,” Helen said, snatching the remote and turning the TV off. “Let me tell you a real story about prison life.”
“Fuck yeah,” Da’Quarius said, getting comfortable and watching Helen intently. “Tell me how you biddies were on da inside.”
Rose sighed. “Fine,” she said. “But I’m watching another episode of Orange is the New Black when you’re done.”
“My story is better,” Helen said. “It all started in a sunny prison yard on a chilly March afternoon….”
Season 7, Episode 5: Orange is the Old White
“I hate March,” a young, curly-brown haired Helen Ventriglio said, standing in the Havenville yard with Bea, her cellmate. Bea was tall and butch with a head of dark, spiked hair. “The weather doesn’t know what the hell it wants to do.”
“We have business today,” Bea said. “Don’t forget.”
“I forget nothing,” Helen said. “I’m just making an observation about the weather. I know what needs to be done. You going to back me up?”
“You know I will,” Bea said with a smirk.
“Good,” Helen said. “Clam up. Here come the others. I don’t want them to know anything until the deed is done.”
“Hi guys,” Betty said, coming ahead of Rue and Estelle. She had curly brown hair like Helen’s (only puffier) and was a little shorter than the others. “Did you hear what’s going on?”
“No,” Bea replied. “We got our own stuff going on here. Why don’t you just spit it out already.”
“Have you heard of the female comedian Greasy Ding-Dong?” Betty asked.
“Pretend that we’ve been in prison and haven’t gotten to the comedy club in a while,” Helen said.
Estelle sighed and stepped forward. She had short hair, glasses and pointed nose. She was doing time for multiple B&E charges. “Greasy Ding-Dong is an asian woman who makes racial jokes about the asians and women,” she said.
“So she belittles her own gender and people for the sake of a joke?” Bea asked.
“Pretty much,” Estelle replied.
“That’s the best kind of joke!” Bea exclaimed, laughing.
“What’s this have to do with anything?” Helen said, looking as sour as ever.
“The warden has Greasy coming in for a show!” Betty said, folding her hands under her chin and jumping up an down. She always had a wide, toothy smile and short, blonde hair. “They’re going to let her perform for us. Isn’t that great?!”
“I don’t think so,” Rue added under her breath.
“Sounds magical,” Helen said, her expression unchanging.
“We’re going to get the place ready for her,” Betty said. “We want to make sure the auditorium is clean and everyone shows up, ready to laugh. It’ll be a long time before something like this ever happens again.”
“Do you need the two of us for anything?” Bea asked.
“Good,” Helen said before anyone could answer. “Bea and I have some shit to do. Holler if anyone gives you gals trouble.”
Bea and Helen walked off, back into Havenville.
“Those two are odd,” Estelle said, watching.
“Watch it,” Rue said. “Those two are the reason why we can get around without any trouble.”
“Let’s go,” Betty said. “We need to get this place ready for Greasy’s show!”
Helen and Bea walked down the center of the cell block, getting stares from the various inmates and cliques as they made their way to the mess hall and kitchen area. “Slow day,” Bea mused.
“Indeed it is,” Helen agreed. “Nobody’s trying to step up.”
“Doubtful they will,” Bea said. “Not after Rhea got sent to the infirmary in a coma last week.”
A large female guard named Riddichios gave Bea a nod as her and Helen passed, and Bea promptly returned it. The brass at Havenville had no idea that Riddichios was actually Bea’s cousin’s ex-wife’s aunt. The two had a deal worked since the day Bea started working in the kitchen.
“Is the stuff packed and ready?” Bea asked as the workers stopped to look at her as they entered.
“Si,” a hispanic woman said, placing an unmarked package on the counter in front of Helen. Within the space of a second, the package was inside Helen’s jumpsuit and invisible.
“Same quality as last time?” Helen asked. “If you gave me shit like that bitch…”
“It’s good stuff!” the hispanic woman said. “I made sure it was checked as it arrived. The good stuff goes to you and the other stuff stays here for our own distribution. We don’t break the chain, Miss Helen.”
“Good,” Helen said. She turned and put a hand on Bea’s shoulder. “We’re good. We can go.”
Bea gave one more menacing glare to the prisoners who made up the kitchen staff. “Payment will be made the usual way in the usual place,” she said. “If you are not there; you do not get payment.”
The kitchen staff nodded in unison as Bea left the kitchen to follow Helen to their next stop.
“Put more streamers up!” Betty called as Rue and Estelle hung some paper streamers on the wall of the auditorium from between their two stepladders. “This is going to be so fantastic!”
“This is ridiculous!” Estelle snapped. “This place looks like a damn prom!”
“How often does this happen?” Betty asked. “Never! We are finally getting some kind of show here, and I want to be the best show Havenville Womens has ever seen!”
“Sounds like a scam to me,” Estelle said. “You sure they aren’t just luring us all here to gas us up and roger us silly?”
“I don’t know why we’re having that zipperhead here,” Rue added, not looking at the others as she spoke. “I had boyfriends who lost friends to the japs in the war.”
“You’ll never let me forget that, will you?” Rue said with her hands on her hips. “Go to prison for being a whore and stabbing one john in the eyeball, and you never hear the end of it!”
“Stop fighting!” Betty yelled. “I won’t have any bickering on Greasy Ding-Dong day!”
“Greasy Ding-Dong!” Estelle said, throwing her hands up. “I’m getting sick of hearing that name!”
“Watch your mouth!” Betty said. “You’ll be laughing your tits off when she gets here!”
“What’s with you and this broad anyway?” Rue asked.
Betty sighed and sat down. “I never told anyone this before,” she said, pulling a cigarette from between her breasts and popping it in her mouth and lighting it. “I tried my hand at comedy when I was still on the outside, but there’s not many people that want to see a funny woman on stage.”
“Is that why you drove your husband’s car over his mother?” Estelle asked.
“That’s not why,” Betty said, sneering at Estelle, “and she knows it.”
Bea watched for trouble while Helen counted the morning’s take from the kitchen. The amount and quality changed often, but that couldn’t be helped when doing business this way. She wished there were easier ways to smuggle these kinds of goods into the prison, but she would take what she could get.
“What’s the count?” Bea asked curiously as Helen scribbled the numbers in her small, black notebook.
“Sixty and twenty-two,” Helen replied. “Not good, but it’ll have to do. I think we have enough for tonight.”
“What’s tonight?” Bea asked.
“Didn’t you hear those dingbats?” Helen asked. “That damn comedian broad is doing the show. We can distribute throughout the night and collect tomorrow.”
“You think it’ll work?” Bea asked.
“Come on,” Helen said. “You think I can’t move sixty peanut butter packets and twenty-two jellies during an hour show?”
“Peanut butter is for the bottom bitches,” Bea said, sneering. “I don’t get why these girls use it for cunalingus time.”
“When’s the last time you saw feminine hygiene products other than a bar of soap and a filthy washcloth?” Helen asked. “Trust me. It helps.”
“Not for you,” Bea said, smiling at Helen.
“Stop the flirting, Bea,” Helen said. “Help me pack this in my jumpsuit. I’ll need to pull it out quick tonight.”
“Sure thing,” Bea said, going to work, putting the packets of peanut butter and jelly into the hidden pockets within Helen’s orange jumpsuit.”
“Save me a couple of jellies for my private stash,” Helen said. “Strawberry.”
Helen and Bea walked into the auditorium. They were the first to show up other than Betty, Rue, and Estelle. “Looks like a hispanic prom,” Bea said, looking around.
“Some human piñata is going to bust her cherry in here tonight,” Helen added.
“You don’t like it?” Betty asked. “The girls and I worked really hard on it.”
“It’s fine,” Helen said. “It’s perfect to set up shop.”
“Shop?” Betty asked. “For what?”
“I got peanut butter,” Helen said. “The good stuff too. I’m gonna make a lot of scratch tonight.”
“No,” Betty said.
“Betty,” Rue whispered. “Stop.”
“I’m not having them ruin tonight for me!” Betty said, stomping a foot. “For us! We’ve needed Greasy Ding-Ding far too long to have it stripped away if the warden gets word of this peanut butter smuggling operation.”
“I won’t get caught,” Helen said. “Now shut that pretty mouth of yours before I rip your lips off. One more word and I’ll make it so Greasy Ding-Dong ends up dragged into the showers on my block after her show.”
Betty had heard enough. She attacked Helen, slamming her shoulder into Helen’s gut, forcing her to the ground. She jumped onto Helen’s torso, raising both her fists above her head, but she was picked up one-handed by Bea and tossed to the hard floor.
“Want this garbage taken to the dumpster?” Bea asked, stepping over Betty.
“No,” Helen said. “Betty is a friend. You get that one for free, sweetheart, because I like you so much. It’s been a while since I’ve been taken down like that. I might just use some jelly on you.”
“You got jelly?” Estelle said, getting excited.
“You win, Betty,” Helen said. “I won’t distribute peanut butter during your show.”
“Helen?!” Bea said. “You need to…”
“She smashed it all when she sacked me!” Helen snapped. “There’s nothing to dole out now. It’ll be a week or more before another shipment comes into my hands.”
“The dumpster is still an option,” Bea said. Betty nearly turned pale white with fright.
“I said she gets a free pass this time,” Helen said, “and I’m a woman of my word.”
“Thank you,” Betty said.
“You’re just going to have to help me get this peanut butter off in the shower,” Helen said, smirking at Betty.
The Greasy Ding-Dong show was ready to start. Rue and Estelle had to finish without Betty as she helped Helen wash off the peanut butter she had squashed. A huge sign that said “WELCOME GREASY DING-DONG!” hung across the stage.
“Where are they?” Rue asked as the other inmates started filling the seats. “It’s nearly time to start.”
“Maybe they decided to wise up and skip the show,” Estelle said with a shrug. “I wouldn’t blame them.”
“Dammit, Estelle,” Rue said. “You know how much this means to…”
“I’m here,” Betty said. She looked exhausted and looked as though she hadn’t yet dried her hair.
“What took you so long?” Estelle asked.
“There was a lot of peanut butter,” Betty replied with a shiver.
“We gonna do this or not?” Helen asked, walking into the auditorium, licking jelly from her fingers. Bea followed close behind. “I just watched this broad lick my entire stash of peanut butter off of me, and I’m ready to laugh over here.”
“You did what?!” Estelle said. Her and Rue both turned to look at Betty.
“Where is she?!” Betty said, turning away from Rue and Estelle. “Greasy should’ve been here by now.”
“I’m not used to this kind of a welcome,” someone said. The quintet turned to look at the Asian inmate who was standing just outside of their circle. She had high cheek bones, extremely squinted eyes, and long, black hair. “Do they do this for all of the new inmates?”
“Greasy Ding-Dong?” Betty asked.
“In the yellow flesh,” Greasy replied.
“What are you doing here like this?” Betty asked. “I thought you were doing a show tonight.”
“No,” Greasy said. “I’m doing ten to fifteen. Ba-dum.”
“When did you come in?” Rue asked.
“This morning,” Greasy replied.
“You’ve been here all day,” Helen asked, her smile starting to spread across her face. “These broads have been setting up for your comedy show all friggin day, and you’ve been getting processed as an inmate?!”
“Yeah,” Greasy replied.
Helen burst out laughing. “These dizzy broads!” she wailed. “They thought you were coming to put on a show for us! I love you bitches!”
“Wait,” another inmate said, rising from her folding chair. “You sayin’ there ain’t no show tonight?”
“Hey,” Greasy said, spreading her hands. “I’m not here to perform unless it’s in the showers. Am I right, ladies?”
Helen’s laughter doubled, and Greasy smiled wider too.
“They call me Chow Mien now that I’m on the inside,” Greasy said, “because after you eat me; you’ll be hungry for some more in an hour!”
“Oh shit!” Helen exclaimed, nearly doubling over with laughter.
“There’s no show!” the large black woman bellowed. “I’m going to kill this chink bitch!”
“Bea,” Helen said, starting to control herself, “knock this bitch’s lights out for me.”
Bea didn’t hesitate. She threw her large right fist into the woman’s face, knocking her back onto the chairs and other inmates. Within seconds, the auditorium was full of flying chairs and fighting inmates. Helen clotheslined a woman who was gunning for her from the corner.
“I think our work here is done,” Helen told Betty. “Good job. I haven’t laughed like that in a long time.”
“Come on,” Estelle said, kicking a woman in the teeth who had fallen down in front of her. “Let’s get outta here before they tear gas this place.”
“I agree,” Rue said, Running through the riot with her arms over her head. “Welcome to Havenville, by the way.”
“You guys do this stuff often?” Greasy asked, being ushered from the rioting crowd by Helen.
“Not often enough,” Helen replied. “Bea! We’re leaving!”
“What are you in for anyway, Greasy?” Helen asked.
“I burnt down my cheating boyfriend’s house,” Greasy said, “and I tried to cut his dick off. I would have had it in my wok until the damn police showed up.”
“Damn,” Helen said. “I think you’ll fit in just fine with our little group, Greasy. Just fine.”
“And that’s how Greasy Ding-Dong became a member of our group,” Helen said, finishing her tale as Rose and Da’Quarius listened intently. “Nothing passes time on the inside like laughter after all.”
“Wow,” Da’Quarius said. “Prison sounds awesome.”
“No it doesn’t,” Rose said. “I’ve never heard of this Greasy Ding-Dong before. How do I even know she’s real. This whole story seems far-fetched.”
“You know the jelly part is real,” Helen said, giving Rose a look that turned her bright red.
“Still,” Rose said, composing herself. “I just don’t think anyone like Greasy Ding-Dong ever existed.”
“Holy shit,” Da’Quarius said, looking at his phone. “She’s not only real, but she did time in Havenville around the same time Helen did. It’s on Wikipedia. Shit. She goin’ on a retirement tour right now! She comin’ to Foxwoods casino in a month!”
“Get us tickets!” Helen said. “I never did get to see her perform that day. Maybe she’ll recognize me and we can catch up.”
“Hell yeah,” Da’Quarius said, pushing more buttons on his phone. “Umma snag us four, so Paulie can some see dat shit too.”
“This is going to be great!” Helen exclaimed. “I can’t wait to catch up with Greasy.”
Rose crossed her arms and sat back in her seat. “Can we watch Orange is the New Black now?” she asked.
“Oh yeah,” Helen said, waving a hand at Rose as she looked at Da’Quarius’ phone. “Just give us your credit card and you can turn your show on.”
Rose sighed, got up from her chair, and went to go get her purse.