Freedom Lane: A Very Garcia Brothers Cinco de Mayo
Tonight’s regularly scheduled programming will not be seen tonight, so we can bring you this special presentation of Freedom Lane.
Manny and Antonio Garcia paced the waiting room of the emergency animal hospital. Their oldest dog, Sneak, was inside, having a shoe removed from his rectum. He had eaten it whole while wrestling the Garcia brothers’ other pitbulls, Tango and Homicide. They thought this would innocently pass through him like so many other items he had eaten, but this one was stuck. Manny pulled and pulled at the shoelace sticking out of Sneak’s rectum, but it would just not come free. Finally, Antonio had to talk him into taking their beloved pet to the animal hospital.
Doctor Rothsfield came from the operating room. A grim look was on his face. “Sit down,” he said. “We should really talk about Sneak.”
“Is it good news?” Manny asked, sitting down.
Doctor Rothsfield sighed. This was the hardest part of his job. “No,” he said. “I’m sorry, but we couldn’t remove the shoe. Sneak passed away during the operation.”
“NO!” Antonio shouted. “TAKE ME, GOD! GIVE SNEAK BACK!”
“YEAH!” Manny shouted, shaking a fist at the ceiling. “TAKE ANTONIO INSTEAD, GOD, YOU COWARD!”
“I’LL COME UP THERE AND TAKE MY DOG BACK,” Antonio continued. “YOU SICK FUCK!”
“YOU JUDIO!” Manny added. “THIS WHAT YOU LIKE?! THIS GETTING YOU OFF?!”
Doctor Rothsfield cleared his throat loudly, getting the Garcia’s attention. The other people in the waiting room were now staring in both sadness and terror. “I’m sorry for your loss,” he said, “but can you refrain from cursing the lord until you’re in your own home?”
“Don’t tell me how to grieve, you cock-nosed fuck!” Antonio said. “You want me to break your fuckin’ jaw?!”
“Sneak meant a lot to us,” Manny added.
“I understand,” Doctor Rothsfield said, visibly shaken. “If you’d like, we can have Sneak cremated, and I can have him sent to your home.”
“Fuck no,” Manny said. “You are not turning my dog into oatmeal!”
“What?” Doctor Rothsfield said.
“He didn’t say cream of wheat,” Antonio said. “He’ll send us Sneak’s ashes.”
“Oh,” Manny said. “Makes sense. We don’t have to ruin a grill doing it ourselves like last time.”
“Very good,” Doctor Rothsfield said. “I’ll send them along with my bill.” With that, he went back through the door into the operating rooms, and a depressed Manny and Antonio Garcia left to make their trip home without their beloved dog.
“This sucks,” Antonio said, walking up to his Honda Civic. “Sneak was a good dog. He didn’t deserve to die.”
“We’ll have to have a doggy funeral too,” Manny said, “and with our family coming to join us and everything.”
“Shit,” Antonio said, opening his car door. “This is going to be the worst fuckin’ Cinco de Mayo celebration ever.”
“We’re Puerto Rican,” Manny said. “We don’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo like those filthy Mexicans.”
“Dude,” Antonio said, “just shut the fuck up.”
Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow
A Very Garcia Brothers Cinco de Mayo
“I’m so sorry,” Rose said, patting Manny’s shoulder. He and his brother came over Rose, Helen, and Da’Quarius’s home across from their own on Freedom Lane to tell them the bad news. “He was a good dog.”
“He was a great dog!” Manny wailed. “And now he’s dead!”
“Our Cinco de Mayo party is now a funeral,” Antonio said. “We’re going to smoke an entire ounce of Sneak’s favorite bud in his memory: Sour Diesel. You’ll all still be there on Saturday, right?”
“The fifth of May is on Thursday,” Helen groaned, “as in tomorrow.”
“But our party is on Saturday,” Antonio said.
“You mean your dog funeral,” Helen corrected.
Manny burst into a new fit of sobs.
“Well we’ll be there,” Rose said. “I can’t wait to meet your relatives too – even if the circumstances aren’t great.”
“Thank you,” Manny said, pulling Rose in for a tight hug. “You have no idea how much this means to us. Sneak loved you guys so much!”
“Come on,” Helen said. “Get off my woman before I get the hose.”
“We have to head home,” Antonio said. “We need to break the news to Tango and Homicide. They still don’t know.”
“Stay strong, nigga,” Da’Quarius said, pressing his fist to his chest.
“Thank you,” Antonio said, opening the door. “Your too.” The door closed, and the Garcia brothers walked back to their own house.
“Well I ain’t going on Saturday,” Da’Quarius said.
“You have to!” Rose said. “Those two love you, and it will kill them if you’re not there.”
“Flounder and I are going to the movies to see Heathcliff vs Garfield: Dawn of Catnip on Saturday,” Da’Quarius said. “Paulie gave me the day off for it. Tony already saw it, and he’s dying to spoil the ending for me.”
“This is more important than some movie,” Rose said.
“But it’s Heathcliff vs Garfield!” Da’Quarius whined. “Maybe I can come after.”
“No,” Rose said. “You’re going to be there for them. All of us will be.”
“But I’m not wearing a damn suit!” Helen snapped. “Friggin’ dog funeral. Madon.”
“Did you see Facebook?” Antonio asked Manny, who was sitting on the couch with a corona. There was a puddle in front of him on the carpet where he spilt some for Sneak. “Victor is coming up from Florida.”
“That right-wing punk?!” Manny said. “Fuck him!”
“He’s still our brother,” Antonio said, “and you know Sneak was his favorite.”
“But he’s a pastor,” Manny groaned, “and he’s against the porn industry in general. He hasn’t spoken to us since GarciaTube went live.”
“Myrna is coming too,” Antonio said, scrolling through the Facebook invites on his phone. “She’d probably get along with Helen.”
“If they don’t kill each other,” Manny said, laughing.
“Uncle Jimmy too,” Antonio said.
“The pervert?!” Manny exclaimed. “Why did you even invite his ass?!”
“I had to invite them all,” Antonio said. “Uncle Herminio, his hottie wife, and his son Nate are coming. So is Uncle Berto and Little Berto. I don’t remember the last time this many Garcias got together in one place.”
“Leave it to Sneak,” Manny said, raising his bottle to the ceiling. “In death, he brought our family together.”
“Amen,” Antonio said, opening his own corona, holding up, and pouring a bit on the carpet in front of him.
The backyard of the Garcia Brothers was all set up for their combination Cinco de Mayo party and Sneak’s funeral. Colorful streamers and tablecloths decorated the Garcia brother’s backyard. Rose, Helen, and Da’Quarius walked to the back from the street.
“I still don’t get why you wearin’ green,” Da’Quarius said to Helen.
“Because it’s Mexican Saint Paddy’s Day,” Helen replied.
“We’re going home, and you’re changing,” Rose said, turning and taking Helen’s arm.
“Bah,” Helen said. “I’m fine. Besides, those two idiotas saw me already.”
“Just can the Mexican comments,” Rose whispered. “These two aren’t even from Mexico.”
“Then why are they throwing a Cinco de Mayo party?” Helen asked.
“Shush,” Rose said. “Here they come.”
Manny and Antonio approached the Masters, grinning. “Welcome to our Cinco de Mayo!” Antonio shouted with his arms spread.
“Garcia style!” Manny added.
“Does Garcia style mean nobody showed up?” Helen asked.
“Don’t listen to her,” Rose said, handing Antonio her bowl of potato salad. “We know we’re early.”
Tires screeched and everyone turned to look at the street. A bright blue Honda Civic pulled up, its tires smoking from the stop it just made. “Dear God,” Helen said grimly. “It’s happening.”
The doors of the car opened, and three people got out. The first was a middle-aged man with sun glasses and a thin mustache. A smaller version of him came out next, this one in his early twenties. They were followed by an older robust woman with black, curly hair. They were all wearing colorful clothing.
“That’s our Uncle Berto and his son, Little Berto,” Antonio said. “The woman is our great aunt, Myrna.”
“Great Aunt?” Helen said. “She looks the same age as the others.”
“You think they’re the same age?” Da’Quarius asked. “They’re definitely from three generations.”
“Those people have kids way too young,” Helen said.
“Didn’t you have Paulie when you were fourteen or something?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Shut your mouth,” Helen said. “You keep that to yourself!”
“And she was fifteen,” Rose added.
“Manny!” Myrna roared, hugging Antonio.
“Close enough,” Antonio said, hugging his great aunt back. “How have you been?”
“Good,” Myrna replied. “It was a long drive from New Jersey. How about you show me where the toilets are.”
“Right here,” Antonio said, leading Myrna inside. “We’re living large. Three shitters!”
“I brought exotic meat,” Berto said, nodding to Manny. “I hunted it myself.”
“Creep might’ve brought some people meat,” Helen added.
“Stop it,” Rose whispered harshly.
“I got raccoon and possum,” Berto said. “No skunk.” He laughed, creepily.
“Where we blazin’ up, bros?” Little Berto, who was over six feet tall, asked.
“Basement,” Manny added. “I’ll show you.”
“Shit,” Da’Quarius said. “I’ll follow.”
“You will not,” Rose said, grabbing Da’Quarius by his collar. “I don’t want to see you anywhere near that basement.”
“I’m just’ playin’,” Da’Quarius said, “but da movie theater woulda been far enough away from dat basement.”
The rest of the Garcia family showed up shortly later. “Come on,” Manny and Antonio’s uncle Jimmy said to Rose. “I’ll teach you how to salsa dance.”
“No thank you,” Rose said, staying in her seat next to the sour-faced Helen. “I’m enjoying watching the others dance.”
Jimmy looked around animatedly. “Nobody else is dancing,” he said.
“Then take the friggin’ hint,” Helen said.
“Let’s get this party started,” Jimmy said, pulling Rose out of her seat. She yipped in surprise as he started dancing with her. She tried to keep up, but he was too fast, and she didn’t know the moves.
“I’m going to have to cut someone today,” Helen muttered. She watched as Jimmy’s hands moved to Rose’s hips, leading her in a dance away from Helen’s small table.
“Is this yo entire family?” Da’Quarius asked, standing next to Antonio by his grill.
“Not all of them,” Antonio said, looking around. “We’re still waiting on my brother, Victor.”
“I never knew you guys had a third brother,” Da’Quarius said. “I just thought it’s just da two of you.”
“We never talk to Victor,” Antonio said, watching the burgers on the grill as he talked. “He doesn’t approve of the porn business, and he became a minister to spite us. We’re hoping he does Sneak’s eulogy tonight at the cemetery.”
“I hope he shows up,” Da’Quarius said, looking around the crowd of Garcia family members.
“So do I,” Antonio sad, flipping the burgers. “You want a raccoon burger?”
“Sure,” Da’Quarius said, shrugging. “Never ate one of ’em mother fuckers before.”
Helen watched Rose dancing with the Garcia Brothers’ uncle Jimmy, her rage building to a boiling point. His hands were all over her, and she clearly wanted to get away. She threw her napkin over her plastic knife, making to get up to shank Jimmy.
“Sit your old ass down,” a woman said, sitting across from Helen. She put down her paper plate with a hamburger and some strips of roasted pork on it. “Jimmy is harmless. Let him dance with your woman for a bit.”
“And who the hell are you?” Helen said, glaring.
“I’m Myrna,” Myrna said. “We met earlier.”
“Nice to meet you, Myrna,” Helen said with a look that said it wasn’t nice to meet her. “Now tell me why I should let that perverted bastard feel up my woman while we make small talk.”
Myrna swallowed her mouthful of pork. “One: you aren’t shanking anyone with that cheat-ass picnic knife,” she said. “Two: it’s a party. Let them have fun. If Jimmy touches your woman inappropriately, I’ll cut him open myself.”
Helen observed Myrna while she decided what to do. “You do time?” she asked.
“Three years,” Myrna said, “upstate in Havenville Women’s. Been out for ten years now.”
“Well, hello,” Helen said, smiling. “I did eight in Havenville when I was in my twenties. Cell Block A.”
“I was in C,” Myrna said.
“No shit,” Helen said, nodding. “I used to fight with the bitches in C all the time.”
Myrna laughed. “A and C are still fighting,” she said. “Some things never change, I guess.”
“You wanna settle this the old way?” Myrna asked.
“You mean how we handle disputes over women?” Helen asked.
Myrna pushed her plate out of the way. “Sure,” she said, placing her elbow on the table. “We’ll arm wrestle for her. I win: Jimmy can dance with your woman to his heart’s content. You win: I’ll let you break them up with your plastic knife.”
“This brings back memories,” Helen said, leaning over the table, putting her elbow down, and grasping Myrna’s hand with her own.
“I won’t go easy on your because you’re an old woman,” Myrna said.
“Wouldn’t expect you to,” Helen said. “Start whenever you’re ready, sweetheart.”
“Hey!” Paulie said, walking from down the street. “Sorry I’m late. Is this the party.”
“Paulie’s Pizza!” Manny shouted. “Did you bring pizza?”
“No, you stunad,” Paulie said. “You invited me to your party. You didn’t call for delivery.”
“Oh,” Manny said, a look of disappointment on his face. “Come meet the family then… I guess.”
“Don’t sound too excited,” Paulie said.“You gotta meet my Uncle Herminio!” Manny said, bouncing back from his fast bout of depression. “He owns his own pizza joint down in Florida.”
“Hispanic pizza?!” Paulie said, laughing. “You’re right. I have to meet this guy.”
“Uncle Herm!” Manny said, grabbing a mustached man in a bright, Hawaiian shirt. “This is. Paulie’s Pizza!’
“Paulie Ventriglio,” Paulie said, extending his hand. “This mook thinks my last name is Spizza.”
Herminio shook Paulie’s hand. “Good to meet you,” he said, his stomach shaking as much as his hand. “You need to try some of my recipes. You ever make a roasted pork pizza?”
“Can’t say I’ve thought to do it,” Paulie said. “How’d you get into the pizza business anyway?”
“I married one of your people,” Herminio said. “Got a nice Italian broad, and we came up with the menu together. Herminio’s Pizza is the place to go if you’re ever in Miami, hermano.”
“I’ll have to try some of your stuff,’ Paulie said. “You make anything for this shindig?”
Herminio smiled. “Right this way, amigo,” he said. “My wife and I made pernil, and it’s to die for.”
“Here comes the hard part!” Jimmy shouted, trying to twirl Rose. “Hang on to me if you think you’re going to fall.”
“I really think I’ve had enough,” Rose said.
“Nonsense,” Jimmy said. “You’ve got the energy of a woman half your age, and we’ve only just…”
“The lady said she doesn’t want to dance,” Helen said, holding a plastic knife with dip on the end of it. “Back off, bean breath, or I’ll see how much damage I can do with this.”
Jimmy looked surprised. He saw Myrna sitting at the table, and she gave him a nod. He backed away. “Alright,” he said. “She’s all yours.”
“Ha!” Helen said. “That took care of that stunad.”
“Thank you,” Rose said. “You could have been a little more gentle though.”
“I had to arm wrestle that big broad over there to save you,” Helen said. “She almost had me, too. Lucky for you I still got something in the tank. By the way, we’re having a three-way with her tonight.”
“What?!” Rose exclaimed. “We most certainly are not!”
“Come on,” Helen said. “We haven’t even done that since the nineties!”
“And you remember how that ended,” Rose said, “horribly.”
“Well if that broad didn’t get all handsy with you!” Helen said.
“You can’t have a three-way if you can’t stand to see another woman touching me!” Rose retorted. People around them started to watch.
“Then there’s no point in arm wrestling anymore,” Helen said, raising her arms and dropping them in annoyance.
“Let me sit for a bit,” Rose said, leading Helen by her arm to two free chairs.
“Sure,” Helen said, “but you have to break the news to Myrna first.”
“What news?” Rose asked.
“Tell her the three-way is off,” Helen said. “You’re the one kicking her to the curb after all.”
“Fine,” Rose said, rolling her eyes. “I’m sure she’ll be devastated, but I’ll tell her the three-way is off.”
Da’Quarius stood with his back up against the house watching the party. He was bummed about missing his movie, and there wasn’t much for him to do now that he had eaten and bullshitted with Antonio. Another boy – around the same age as him – stood next to him. “I’m Nate,” the boy said. “What’s there to do around here?”
“You mean you’re not into dis party?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Nah,” Nate said. “I brought this movie over to watch with Manny, but he’s busy with everyone. You wanna sneak inside and watch it with me?”
“Wha’chu got?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Bootleg of Heathcliff vs Garfield: Dawn of Catnip,” Nate replied. “Heard it’s off the hook. Have you seen it?”
“Fuck no I haven’t,” Da’Quarius replied.
“We can burn one in these guys’ TV room and watch it,” Nate said. “We have enough time between now and the funeral.”
Da’Quarius looked around, and saw that Rose and Helen were busy with some kind of heated discussion with Manny and Antonio’s great aunt Myrna. If he ever had the chance to sneak away; this was it. “Even better,” he said. “Umma call my friend Flounder over. Lead da way, nigga.”
“Flounder gonna smoke up all my shit?” Nate asked.
“Nah,” Da’Quarius said. “He just gonna get a contact high sittin’ with us. He can’t even handle second-hand shit.”
A black car pulled up to the curb. Antonio put the lid down on the grill. “Manny!” he shouted. “He’s here.”
“Santa?!” Manny said, looking up from his plate.
“No,” Antonio said. “You smoke too much weed! It’s our brother, Victor.”
“Victor’s here?” Manny said, now standing next to Antonio. “I didn’t know he was coming.”
“We had an entire conversation about him accepting our invite on Facebook,” Antonio said. “How much have you drank or smoked?”
“This is how I grieve!” Manny said. “Oh shit. Is that Uncle Herminio’s pernil?”
Victor Garcia exited his car and walked past the house, greeting anyone he passed. He wore dark glasses and a tight, black tee shirt. He spotted his brothers and made his way over to them. “Hi guys,” he said, taking off his sunglasses. “It’s been a while.”
“Fuckin’ right it has,” Antonio said. “Five long years, bro.”
“Has Brother Victor learned how to forgive yet?” Manny asked.
Victor sighed. “Look,” he said. “I know I blew up at you when you started this pornography business, and I want to tell you that I know I was wrong.”
“Finally!” Manny said.
“Wait,” Antonio said. “So that right wing streak is gone?”
“It’s not,” Victor said. “I still don’t like what you’re doing; especially the fact that you host gay porno on your site, but I can look past it to be part of your life.”
“Look,” Manny said. “I hear you loud and clear. How about you dump this whole God gimmick and get into the lucrative world of pornography.”
Victor sighed. “What do you think you just heard me say?” he asked.
“God sucks, bro,” Manny said.
“You need to lie down,” Antonio said. “I’m sorry, Vic. He’s really broken up about Sneak, and he may have hit the rum and Sour Diesel a little too hard.”
“Do Methodists still eat worms during mass?” Manny asked.
“Poor Sneak,” Victor said, ignoring Manny. “I remember when he was just a rambunctious little puppy. He used to chew my socks if I refused to play with him.”
“I’m so glad you came,” Antonio said. “We invited cousin Ralph too, but he’s way too right-wing. Puts you to shame, Vic.”
“Yeah,” Manny said. “He won’t even talk to us since he found out Antonio payed for that stripper’s abortion.”
“Dude,” Antonio said. “Stop telling people about that! That’s how Ralph found out!”
“Ralph is an asshole,” Manny said. “He has a masters in theology. Who the hell has a masters in theology?!”
“A self-absorbed asshole,” Antonio said. “That’s who.”
“Hey,” Victor said. “I am a minister as well, you know.”
“But you did it without having a fancy-ass degree,” Manny said.
“We’d be honored if you’d do the eulogy during Sneak’s funeral tonight,” Antonio said.
“Consider it done,” Victor said, smiling widely. “What are brothers for anyway?”
Victor and Antonio locked in a hug, and Manny joined in a moment later, draping his arms around both of his brothers.
“What’s the church’s stance on smoking a little bud with your brothers?” Antonio asked.
Victor laughed. “God said: ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth’.”
“So yes?” Manny asked.
“That’s a yes,” Victor said. “Let’s lower our heads in thanks and burn some Sour Diesel in the name of the lord.”
“Amen,” Antonio and Manny said in unison.
Two hours and thirty-five minutes later, Da’Quarius, Nate, and Da’Quarius’s chubby Korean friend, Flounder emerged from the back door of the Garcia house. “Holy shit,” Da’Quarius said. “Dat movie was like seven hours long.”
“They really went all out on the special effects,” Flounder said. “The 3D was great too.”
“That wasn’t in 3D!” Nate said, laughing. “You’re really fucked up, bro!”
“What?!” Flounder said, looking around. “Where am I? Didn’t I come to your house, Daq?”
Da’Quarius laughed. “No,” he said. “We at the Garcias’ house across da’ street.”
“Why don’t I remember any of this?” Flounder asked.
“Because you got fucked up!” Nate said. “You were right, Daq. I love this kid!”
“Wait,” Flounder said, looking all around him. “Am I high?!”
Nate laughed, but Da’Quarius looked serious. “Don’t blow up our spot!” he snapped. “I told Helen an’ Rose dat I wouldn’t.”
“Am I gonna get lost?” Flounder asked. “I don’t know where I am.”
“Just hang with us,” Da’Quarius said. “We’ll make sure you come down before you go back to your father’s place.”
Flounder looked horrified. “My father,” he said. “He’s going to whip me raw!”
“I don’t know about that,” Nate said. “Just gonna get me a couple of hot dogs with onions.”
“Me too,” Flounder said. “I’ve never wanted anything more in my life.”
Antonio, Manny, and Victor sat under a tree, Sneak’s urn in front of them. “Remember when he humped your pillow?” Manny asked.
“Yeah,” Antonio said. “Remember when he humped the side of the couch?”
“Which time?” Manny asked, laughing.
“Do you have any memories of Sneak where he’s not humping inanimate objects?” Victor asked.
Manny and Antonio looked at each other. They both shrugged at the same time.
“Hey,” Manny said. “Remember when your ex-girlfriend Misty passed out in the living room, then Sneak humped the shit out of her from behind?”
Antonio snorted with laughter. “That was the funniest fuckin’ thing I’ve ever seen!” he exclaimed. “She dumped me when I showed her the video of it we took.”
“For God’s sake, guys,” Victor said. “Really?!”
“Hey,” Antonio said. “Misty was not inanimate.”
“Yeah,” Manny said. “She was a stripper.”
Victor sighed. “It’s just about time,” he said. “You guys ready to head to the cemetery?”
“Yeah,” Antonio said. “We paid them for the plot and the time after all.”
“Let me gather everyone,” Manny said, getting up. “HEY EVERYONE! GET IN YOUR CARS! WE’RE TAKING THIS SHIT TO THE CEMETERY!”
The Garcia family and their fiends cheered over the salsa music, raising their drinks.
“Shit,” Manny said. “They shouldn’t be happy about that.”
“I think it’s the way you said it,” Victor said.
“Oh,” Manny replied. “HEY EVERYONE! WE’RE GOING TO THE CEMETERY TO BURY OUR DEAD DOG!”
Again, everyone cheered and raised their glasses before draining them.
“Shit,” Manny said.
“Why do you sound like a dog funeral is a pen extension of the party?” Victor asked.
“Maybe we should’ve done Sneak’s funeral before everyone got drunk and stoned,” Antonio said.
“Let me try,” Victor said, standing up. He cleared is throat loudly. Everyone stopped talking, and Little Berto turned the music off.
“Thank you,” Victor continued. “We are going to go to the Saint Juan Diego Cemetery for the Christian burial of Sneak Garcia.”
The partygoers turned and walked toward their cars in sullen silence.
“Wow,” Manny said. “That priest voice is great.”
“We know how to get things done,” Victor said. “Come on, brothers. This is the worst part, but you’ll feel better when it’s over. I guarantee it.”
Manny, Antonio, and Victor walked through Saint Juan Diego Cemetery followed by their family and closest friends. Manny and Antonio held Sneak’s urn together as Victor walked behind them in his priestly robe, carrying a bible. The walking procession was stopped when two employees of the cemetery stepped out in front of them.
“Whoa,” one of them said, holding up his hand. The name on his jumper said ‘butch’. “What’s this now?”
“We’re here to put our dog in his burial plot,” Antonio said, “so step aside, Butch.”
“Look,” Butch said. “We have no funerals scheduled for today.”
“We’re a people cemetery too,” the other one said. His name tag said ‘Luigi’.
“I assure you that my brothers had made this appointment,” Victor said, “and does it matter what kind of soul departs this world for the next?”
“Dogs don’t have souls,” Luigi scoffed.
“Mira, huele bicho canto de maricon cagar Te en madre hijo de la gran puta!” Manny exclaimed.
“It’s OK,” Victor said, placing a hand on Manny’s shoulder. “I will handle this.”
“Minister-Jedi mind trick,” Antonio said, nodding. “Do it, bro.”
“You, sirs, have insulted my family,” Victor said, stepping toward the two men. “I am a man of God, but I am also a Republican. Do you know what that means?”
“No,” Victor said with a heavy sigh, “and my family and I are American, so we will never be deported. What I meant was that I do not take any garbage from two jumpsuit-wearing imbeciles who refuse to allow a man of God to help his brothers get closure after a treasured family member passes away.”
“Look, pal,” Butch said. “Rules is rules.”
“Yeah,” Luigi added, “so lecture walking the other way, padre.”
“Can you count?” Victor asked, trying hard to keep his composure.
“What’s that supposed to mean?!” Butch said, puffing out his chest.
“Maybe not past ten,” Victor continued. “But you can clearly see how many of us have come, and there are only two of you. I am a man of peace, but do the people behind me look like a group of people who will let two men stop them from burying their dog’s ashes in a plot they purchased?”
“Oh shit,” Manny said. “I forgot to buy the plot!”
“HA!” Helen exclaimed from the crowd of Garcia’s. “Friggin’ stunad.”
“So you have no business here,” Butch said, crossing his arms.
“That’s no longer the point,” Victor said. “You will let us pass, allow us to say some words about Sneak Garcia, and spread these ashes wherever we feel like.”
“Not gonna happen,” Butch said.
“Oh yes it will,” Victor said.
Butch breathed in menacingly. “Not. Gonna. Happen.”
“Alright,” Victor said. “I forgive you.”
“What?” Butch asked, being taken aback.
“I also forgive my family for what they’re about to do,” Victor said. He stepped away from the two men, followed by his two brothers and their urn. The crowd of Garcias approached the two men as they backed away.
“And dogs do have souls,” Victor said. “You were thinking of cats.”
“Wait,” Luigi said, putting his hands out. “I think we were wrong, Butch.”
“Yeah,” Butch said. “Come on in.”
“Too late for that,” Myrna said, cracking her knuckles. “Better start running, putas.”
Nate, Da’Quarius, and Little Berto dug a small hole near a tree in the center of the cemetery with shovels they found next to a shed. “Not too deep,” Da’Quarius said. “I don’t wanna hit some old, forgotten skeleton.” With a small hole about three feet deep, the trio stepped away, satisfied with with their work.
“Thank you,” Victor said. “It’s perfect.”
Manny and Antonio stepped next to the hole, placing the urn inside.
“A member of our family has departed this world,” Victor said, addressing the teary-eyed crowd, “but he did so to wait for his masters and family in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
“Is he talking about us?” Helen whispered to Rose.
“No,” Rose whispered back. “He didn’t mean ‘masters’ as in our last name.”
“Good,” Helen whispered back. “I didn’t know why their dog would be waiting for us.”
“We give Sneak back to the earth,” Victor continued, “so he may become part of this planet as his soul becomes part of heaven. He will wait loyally and patiently for Antonio and Manny to join him. We all must die; man and beast alike. We are separate species, but we are the same in death. A soul is a soul, and our souls live on forever in the kingdom of our lord.”
“Amen,” the crowd of Garcias said. Manny and Antonio knelt next to the hole with the urn at the bottom, looking down. They started pushing the dirt back in, burying Sneak’s ashes. They stopped, motioning for Victor to join them.
“Come on,” Antonio said.
“Yeah,” Manny said. “You loved Sneak too.”
A tear rolled down Victor’s cheek as he knelt with his brothers, placing his bible on the ground. Together, they pushed the rest of the dirt over the hole. When it was done, they stood, dusting their dirty hands on their pants.
“We will now have a moment of silence for Sneak,” Victor said, “as we light one up for our dearly departed canine brother.”
The cemetery was silent except for the sounds of lighters clicking. There was the sound as every inhaled, then blowing out their smoke in unison, sending out a gray cloud above the mourners.
“Shit,” Da’Quarius said. “Dis is how I want my funeral when I go.”
“We’re at a funeral?!” Flounder exclaimed.
“Shut up,” Da’Quarius whispered harshly. “We in the cemetery right now.”
Flounder’s eyes opened wide as he looked around. “GHOSTS!” he shouted, running away.
Half an hour later, the crowd of Garcia family members and their friends were back in the Garcia Brothers’ backyard, celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a sense of reverence after Sneak’s funeral.
“Bro,” an older Garcia shouted at an old lady standing by the table of food, “you think this is a fuckin’ game?! I did twenty years in Attica! I’ll slit your fuckin’ throat right here!”
“Yeah, bitch,” Helen said, standing just to the side. “Better do what he says.”
“Don’t instigate,” Rose groaned. “I’ll go get Antonio or Manny.”
“Snitch,” Helen muttered.
“Fine!” the older Garcia man said, backing away. “Take the last deviled egg. I’m going to chug that rum anyway.”
“Choke it down, essay!” Helen shouted, cackling as he walked away. She grabbed the last deviled egg and popped it in her mouth. The old lady scowled at her and walked away.
“Oh Helen,” Rose groaned.
“What?” Helen asked. “You snooze: you lose.”
“I think it’s about time you and I get going,” Rose said. “I’ve been on my feet all day, and they can use a rest.”
“I’ll second that,” Helen said.
“Oh!” Paulie said, walking toward them but holding a conversation with Herminio. “I don’t think I can handle another game of dominoes”
“Come on!” Herminio exclaimed. “How about we go best out of twenty-one?”
Paulie spotted Helen and Rose, getting ready to leave. “I have to help my sister home,” Paulie said.
“OK then,” Herminio said. “Don’t forget to check out Herminio’s pizza when you’re down in Miami.”
“Sure,” Paulie said. “Will do.”
“What was that about?” Helen asked as Herminio walked away.
“That friggin’ mook wouldn’t let me walk away from the dominoes table,” Paulie said. “We played seventeen games.
“Oh my,” Rose said.
“Did you win anything?” Helen asked.
“We were only playing for pocket change,” Paulie said. “We mostly swapped pizzeria stories and recipes. We didn’t even realized we missed the damn dog funeral.”
“You didn’t miss much,” Helen said. “Let’s get out of here. You want to gather Da’Quarius up?”
“No,” Rose said. “He can make it home. I can trust him not to get into any trouble.”
Da’Quarius blew a torrent of smoke into Flounder’ face. “Oops,” he said. “Didn’t see you dere.”
“I need to go,” Flounder said. “My parents are probably worried.”
“I called them for you,” Nate said. “You lent me your phone earlier. Remember?”
“Oh yeah,” Flounder said. “Can I have it back now?”
Nate handed Flounder his phone. “Your mom called while I had it,” he said. “I told her you were sleeping over my house.”
“Am I really?” Flounder asked.
“No,” Nate replied. “I live in New Jersey.”
Da’Quarius doubled over with laughter. “Tell him who you said you were!” he said between fits of giggles.
“I said I was the Albanians from the movie Taken,” Nate said. “She totally believed me too.”
“Oh,” Flounder said. “Did my father threaten to come after you?”
“No,” Nate said. “He wanted me to tell you to enjoy Europe.”
“Your father has a very specific set of skills,” Da’Quarius said. “He will find dem, and he will get da’ spaghetti sauce stains out of their funeral suits.”
Nate and Da’Quarius laughed as Flounder watched, worry growing on his face.
“Shit,” Da’Quarius said. “I need to get dis outta my system before I go home.”
“You wanna watch Dawn of Catnip again?” Nate asked.
“Fuck yeah I do,” Da’Quarius said. “Let’s head back to Manny an’ Antonio’s home theater.”
“Can I sleep here?” Flounder asked.
“Sure,” Da’Quarius said, “but you know this isn’t my house, right?”
Flounder looked around. “This isn’t your house?!”
“All’s well that ends well,” Victor said, laying back on a chair on the deck, holding his corona toward the setting sun. “That was a great party, guys.”
“I’m glad you can come all the way up here,” Manny said. “I know it must have been tough to swallow your pride and admit that porn is not only righteous but lucrative as fuck too.”
“You don’t remember anything I said, do you?” Victor asked.
“He’ll remember tomorrow when I explain it to him,” Antonio said. “We’re sinners, but you’re our brother. You forgive us while not condoning what we do.”
“Right,” Victor said.
“That’s what I said!” Manny shouted. He took a large swig from his beer, finishing it off. “Shit. I need one more.”
“No way,” Victor said. “What you need is a nap. Go to bed, and we’ll get some pancakes in the morning before I head back home.”
“Fuck yeah!” Manny said, getting up. “Pancakes!” He took one step, falling off the deck and into the bushes. Antonio and Victor rushed to the edge and looked down. Manny slept on top of the bushes, snoring away.
“Do you want to get his feet and bring him inside?” Victor asked.
“No,” Antonio said, sipping his beer. “Maybe sleeping in the bushes will get him to learn a little self control.”
“Will he be OK out here?” Victor asked, watching his brother sleep in the bushes.
“Sure,” Antonio said with a shrug. “I’ll spray him with bug spray before we go inside.”
“Thanks again,” Antonio said. “I know it isn’t easy for you to come up here, knowing what we do. It meant a lot to us that you did Sneak’s eulogy today.”
“We’re brothers,” Victor said. “I may have partook a bit too much today. Do you mind if I crash on your couch?”
“Sure,” Antonio said. “You can use our guest room.”
“Have you ever filmed an adult movie in that guest room?” Victor asked.
“The couch it is,” Antonio said.
Manny walked through his house the following morning. He woke up in the bushes, and he had no idea how he got there. All he knew is that he smelled like bug spray, booze, and bud, so it must have been a helluva time. The sun was just coming up when he wandered around, looking for a place to crash since he wasn’t sure if his legs would carry him up the stairs to his bedroom. He made his way into his home theater in the basement with the couches surrounding their large TV. He saw a chubby Asian boy sleeping as he spooned with a couch cushion.
“What the fuck?” Manny asked.
The Asian boy’s eyes opened, and he looked scared. “Where am I?” he asked.
“ANTONIO!” Manny shouted. “Come down here, quick! Someone left their Chinese kid in our house!”
“I’m Korean,” the boy said.
“That’s what I said,” Manny said. “You like pancakes?”
“Yeah,” the boy replied. “I’ve never wanted anything more in my entire life.”