Rose came into the living room of her Freedom Lane home in New Haven, Connecticut, holding a large bowl of buttered popcorn. “You guys ready?” she asked.
“Again with the popcorn?!” Helen exclaimed, putting her TV Guide down on the coffee table. “You know how that gets stuck in my dentures!”
“You need popcorn for family TV time,” Rose said, sitting next to her adopted son, Da’Quarius.
“You’re just giddy, because it’s your turn to pick what we watch,” Helen said.
“So what we watchin’ tonight?” Da’Quarius asked. “Nature documentary?”
“No,” Rose said, smiling. “I found this show on the British Channel the other day. It’s about two elderly women who have adopted a child from a bad neighborhood. Now they’re raising him despite the difference in age and culture.”
“Are you shitting me?!” Helen snapped. “That has got to be the dumbest premise for a TV show ever!”
“You don’t know wha’chu talkin’ ’bout,” Da’Quarius said. “British shows are weird. You cain’t understand half of what dey tryin’ to say.”
“Come on,” Rose said. “It’ll be fun. Broaden your horizons. British sitcoms are both clever and funny. Everything they put on TV after eight o’clock here is pure filth.”
“I won’t argue that point,” Helen said. “Just put the show on for God’s sake, Rose.”
“Alright,” Rose said, pointing the remote at the TV. “Here we go.”
Freedom Lane UK
Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow
It was a foggy morning on Freedom Lane in New Havenshire, Surrey, England. Helen was up with her life-partner, Rose, having a breakfast of cream tea and scones in the small nook overlooking their garden and hedges. They lived in the home where they used to run their bed & breakfast until they retired nearly fifteen years ago. They were enjoying their retirement and the sunset of their lives, but fate had other plans.
“Mornin’, mums,” their fourteen-year-old adopted son, Da’Quarius, said, nearly jumping in the room.
“Alright then,” the red-headed Rose said, smiling. She was seventy-three, and the idea to keep Da’Quarius when he was thrust upon them rather than send him back to the orphanage was her idea.
“Quit hopping around like you’re at a rugby match, you bloody hooligan!” Helen snapped, nearly knocking her cup of tea over. She was seventy-nine, and had grey, curly hair under her pointed sleep cap. “Why are you up so early anyway?”
“Good mornin’ to you too,” Da’Quarius said, grabbing an apple from the bowl on the counter. “I’m gonna help Unca Paul with some things at his fish and chips shop this mornin’. I told you last night, I did.”
“I remember,” Rose said. “Run along and help your uncle. That’s a good boy.”
“Cheers,” Da’Quarius said. He rushed through the back door, only taking the time to grab his Vagabond Saints hat from the coat tree.
“Bloody kid,” Helen mumbled, sipping her tea.
“Hush,” Rose said, lightly brushing Helen’s hand. “He’d be dead if it weren’t for us. An orphanage in Harlesden is no place for a boy to be raised.”
“It was all your idea,” Helen said. “I don’t know why I agreed.”
Rose was going to say something else, but their doorbell rang. “I wonder who that can be,” Rose said, getting up and walking out of the kitchen toward the front of the house.
“NO SOLICITING AT THIS HOUR!” Helen shouted through the house. “I’LL TURN THE HOSE ON THE BLOODY GIT!”
Rose ignored Helen’s shouting and opened the door. A man was standing there in a suit with a red tie and a trench coat. He was handsome, and his light-brown hair was nearly combed. “Good morning,” he said. “My name is Alistair Boyle. This may sound odd, but I had my honeymoon here in this bed and breakfast. I remember you too!”
“Oh my,” Rose said, blushing. “That’s lovely, but we’ve been retired for the last fifteen years.”
“Oh that’s a shame,” Alistair said, walking in and looking around the large living room with its old, wooden furniture. “The wife and I have fond memories of our stay here. The food was expertly cooked, and the hospitality was nothing short of exceptional.”
“WHO THE BLOODY HELL HAVE YOU LET IN OUR HOUSE!?” Helen exclaimed, walking into the living room. “I’m only wearing my nightgown for crying out loud. At least let me get a pair of knickers on before you start letting blokes in off the street!”
“I’m so sorry to intrude,” Alistair said. “I remember you as well from when I stayed here. I can’t believe you two are still living here.”
“Living, but not in business,” Rose said. “If you’ll excuse us…”
“Where are my manners?” Alistair said. “I didn’t mean to barge in like this. I have a proposition for you. My wife and I are celebrating our twentieth anniversary tonight, and I find myself in a bit of a pickle. You see, I forgot to plan anything.”
“Typical,” Helen said. “Enjoy the single life. Now get the hell out.”
“What Helen means is we are retired,” Rose said. “I’m sorry, but we can no longer accommodate customers.”
“You must allow me to finish,” Alistair said. “I want to stay here: the same bed and breakfast we stayed in when we honeymooned twenty years ago.”
“Look, pal,” Helen said, stepping up to Alistair. “My wife said…”
“I can pay in advance,” Alistair said, handing Helen a cheque. “I’m quite well off you see.” She took it and read as Rose watched on.
“See you at three-thirty!” Helen said, smiling widely. “You and your wife will have a lovely stay with us here at Rose and Helen’s Bed and Breakfast!”
Da’Quarius walked into Paul’s Fish & Chips shop. Paul was inside, reading the paper at a booth. He was in his early sixties and had short grey hair and a wide face. He folded the paper and looked at his nephew as he walked. “‘Ello,” Paul said. “I just talked to Helen on the phone a moment ago.”
“Oh yeah?” Da’Quarius said. “What did the ol’ mum need?”
“You’re going to stay at my flat tonight,” Paul said. “Seems her and Rose ran into a bit of trouble with an old customer.”
“Old customer?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Yeah,” Paul said. “She didn’t give me any details. Just told me to watch you today and take you back to my place at the end of the night.”
“Damn,” Da’Quarius said. “Now I gotta hang out here all day with you and Tony.”
“Hey!” Tony snapped, looking over the counter. He was wearing his hairnet and white tank top as usual. He had black hair and was broad chested. He played rugby despite being over fifty. “You can always help cook, you know.”
“You’re a right bell-end!” Da’Quarius shouted. “You know I’m not allowed back there!”
“You watch that mouth a’ yours, kid!” Tony sad, pointing at Da’Quarius with his spatula. “I’ll jump this counter and toss you into the harbor, I will.”
“Stop it, both of you!” Paul said. “Tony, are those your mates coming toward us?”
Tony walked around the counter and looked out the window. “Bloody hell,” he said. “Thems the blokes I was tellin’ you about last night. They played us the other day, and they weren’t too thrilled when they lost.”
“Sore losers?” Paul asked.
“You can say that,” Tony said. “You can also say they weren’t too thrilled to find out we were cheatin’ too.”
“Well there’s four of them and two of us,” Paul said. “Plus they look like they’re in their twenties.”
“Experience trumps age in a good fight,” Tony said. “I’ve probably been in more fights than they have.”
“You guys better hide,” Da’Quarius said. “Experience or not, those blokes look like they’re out for blood. I shoulda brought my piece today.”
“Get behind us,” Paul said. “I don’t have to worry about them if you get hurt. Helen’ll kill me for sure.”
“They’re only sending one in,” Tony said. “That’s Will Donovan. Pretty much their team captain.”
Will walked into Paul’s. He wore a tight, striped shirt to show off his muscles. “Hey, old man,” he said. “I’m going to beat your face in for what you did the other night!”
“Come on,” Tony said. “Let’s do this. Right here.”
“Not right here,” Paul said. “Do it later, and not in my shop!”
“Fine!” Will said. “We’ll be back for the two of you at seven. Bring your mates. You’ll need them.” He kicked the door and went back out into the foggy morning.
“Me too?!” Paul said. “What are you dragging me into, Tony? I haven’t gotten into a scrap in years. Maybe decades!”
“What happened to all that talk about ‘experience’?” Da’Quaruis asked.
“Get home, kid,” Paul said. “I don’t need you here while this is going down.”
“But Helen said I gotta stay wit’chu,” Da’Quarius said.
“You can’t if these wank-stains are going to be coming back,” Paul said. “Get home, and I’ll call Helen.”
“Shit,” Da’Quarius said. “I was lookin’ forward to seein’ you guys get beat up by those rugby bastards too.”
Da’Quarius walked in the front door. Helen was standing there with their housekeeper, Carly. Carly came by a few times a week to help them keep the house clean. She was tall and had straight, black hair. Today, she was arguing with Helen.
“I will not wear this!” Carly exclaimed, holding a skimpy maid’s outfit and black, knee-high stockings. “Where did you even get something like this?”
“It used to be Rose’s,” Helen said. “Now try that on. I need to see if I need to alter it before our guest arrives this afternoon.”
“But everyone will see the slutty mole on my thigh if I wear this!” Carly said.
“I haven’t even seen your slutty mole, and I employ you,” Helen said under her breath. “Can you put it on so I can see it?”
“NO!” Carly shouted.
“Fine,” Helen said, feigning defeat. “I guess you won’t be assisting us tonight and getting your gratuity from our guest.”
“Gratuity?” Carly asked. “I’d be getting a gratuity?”
“Depends,” Helen said, shrugging. “How much do you think that slutty mole of yours is worth?”
“I’ll go try the dress on, m’lady,” Carly said, running up the stairs.
“That’s a good girl,” Helen said, sitting in her recliner, “BUT STOP CALLING ME ‘M’LADY’!”
“Cheers, mum,” Da’Quarius said, sitting on the sofa near Helen.
“And what the bloody hell are you doing back here?” Helen asked.
“Didn’t Unca Paul call you?” Da’Quarius asked. “He’s about to rumble with some rugby blokes Tony was shit-talkin’.”
“Shit,” Helen said. “Well you better make yourself scarce after our guest arrives. I don’t need you mucking about the house.”
“You cold as ice, mum,” Da’Quarius said.
“I told you not to call me ‘mum’!” Helen snapped.
“How do I look, m’lady?” Carly said, walking down the stairs in the maid outfit.
“Sweet lord,” Helen said, her mouth agape. “That mole is slutty!”
“I thought this was a bit trashy at first, but I really think I like it now,” Carly said. “I’m going to text a photo to Tony.”
“Don’t you dare!” Helen said. “That man is twenty-something years older than you!”
“Well I think he’s quite distinguished,” Carly said. “I’m going to take a photo in front of the big mirror upstairs for him.”
“Damn,” Helen said. “That girl is one tall drink of clunge.”
“Why you always tryin’ to keep her an’ Tony apart?” Da’Quaruis asked.
“I’ve been trying for years,” Helen said, “but that girl has a magnet in her minge for that git.”
“You sure you just don’t want her for yourself?” Da’Quarius asked.
“No,” Helen said. “I mean I wouldn’t do anything nasty to her. I’d just get a couple of stinky fingers is all.”
Rose walked in the living room from the kitchen. “We need to go to the shop,” she said. “Oh, I see Da’Quarius is home. Paul phoned to tell us he’d be back.”
“What do we need from the shop?” Helen asked.
“Well we don’t have anything to feed our guest and his wife,” Rose said. “Unless you want to feed him a TV dinner and some frozen chips.”
“Come on, kid,” Helen said, getting up with a grunt. “You’re coming along. CARLY! Make sure this house is spotless when we come back.”
“Aye-aye, m’lady,” Carly said, coming back downstairs. “I’ll have this place in tip-top shape.”
“Why are you wearing my maid’s outfit?” Rose asked.
Tony walked to Paul, who was sitting in one of the booths of his shop. “That’s the last one,” he said. “I called all of my rugby mates.”
“And how many are coming to fight tonight?” Paul asked.
“So far just you and me,” Tony said.
“What?!” Paul exclaimed. “You’re the ones who cheated in your match. Now I have to help you fight off four of these jacked-up knobs?! What a right mess you got us in.”
“It wasn’t all bad news on the phone, mate,” Tony said. “Wanna see this picture Carly sent me of her dressed as a maid?”
Paul looked at the picture on Tony’s phone. “Holy shit,” he said. “My sister might have to be chained down with her dressed like that.”
“Mind if I take my break?” Tony asked. “I got a hot date with this photo.”
“Go ahead,” Paul said with a sigh. “Just make sure you do it in your room upstairs, and try to call your mates again when you’re done.”
“Cheers, boss,” Tony said, nearly walking into the wall as he stared at his phone screen, walking towards the stairs to his apartment upstairs.
“That horny git,” Paul said. “It’s like he got a magnet in his bell-end for that bird.”
Helen, Rose, and Da’Quarius entered the grocery shop. “Alright then,” Helen said. “What are we making?”
“The normal fare for a guest on a Saturday into Sunday,” Rose replied. “Shepard’s pie for dinner and a fry up for breakfast.”
“Brilliant,” Helen said. “Let’s split up, so we can get through this quicker. You take the meats, and I’ll get the veggies and whatnot.”
“Great idea,” Rose said, taking a basket. “I’ll come find you in a few.”
“I’m surprised,” Da’Quarius said. “I didn’t think you’d want to shop for veggies on your own.”
“Look,” Helen said. “I’m going to teach you how to shop proper. I’m not walking around this bloody piss-hole all afternoon. We’re going to poach someone else’s carriage.”
“What?” Da’Quarius asked. “You’re gonna nick someone’s stuff.”
“We’re not nicking anything,” Helen said. “We’re going to pay for it. I just don’t want to be here for the next hour is all. Follow me.”
“Alright, mum,” Da’Quarius mumbled.
Helen walked into the vegetable section while Da’Quarius followed. She looked around until she spotted her prey. “Over there,” she said. “The carriage with the potatoes and carrots in it. It’s perfect once we take out the rubbish we don’t need.”
“Where?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Right there,” Helen said, motioning quickly with her hand. “The specky twat in the sweater-vest and his wife in the red blouse.”
“I see ’em,” Da’Quarius said, spotting the couple. “Now what?”
“Now I need a distraction,” Helen said.
“Thank you,” Rose said, taking the wrapped-up ground beef and adding it her basket. She turned around and was startled by two faces staring at her. They belonged to two elderly men she knew well: Harold and Lee Fuchs.
“‘Ello, Rose,” Lee said in his usual lisp. He was the taller of the pair, with a head of dyed brown hair. He was dressed casually in a light-blue polo shirt and khakis. “Making your famous shepherd’s pie?”
“I am,” Rose said, forcing a smile.
“I would love to come by and sample a piece myself,” Harold said, nasally. He also wore a polo shirt and khakis, but his shirt was red. He was older, and what hair he had left was turning white.
“Or we can exchange recipes over tea this afternoon,” Lee added, beaming. “That would be lovely.”
“It’s been so long since we’ve caught up,” Harold said. “We have tons of stories about our fox hunts we are dying to share with you and Helen.”
“Your’e still fox hunting?” Rose asked. “I thought you’d be banned for life by now.”
“Because of the hounds?” Harold asked, looking annoyed.
“None seem to come back alive,” Rose said. “I think you’ve shot more hounds than foxes.”
“Rose,” Lee said, putting a hand on his husband’s shoulder. “Those were accidents, as far-fetched as those stories are.”
“Little Melville fell into a bog!” Harold snapped. People were turning to look. “He never learned to swim as a puppy!”
“Alright,” Rose said. “I didn’t mean to upset you. We can’t do anything this weekend, though. We have a guest staying tonight.”
“A guest?” Lee asked.
“Your bed and breakfast is open again?” Harold asked, a smile creeping onto his face.
“Oh bollocks,” Rose said.
“‘Ello,” Da’Quarius said, stepping in front of the bespectacled man and his wife. He was holding a box of cereal. “Do you like Frosted Tea Lumps?”
“I guess,” the man said, giving Da’Quarius a queer look. “I haven’t had them since I was a lad.”
“I love Frosted Tea Lumps!” Da’Quarius said, opening the box. He poured the cereal into his mouth and chewed what wasn’t falling to the floor while the shocked couple watched. They couldn’t look away, and they didn’t notice Helen walking behind them and stealing their carriage.
“There you are,” Rose said. “You two sure filled that carriage fast.”
“We knew what we needed,” Helen said with a shrug.
Rose reached in a pulled out a package. “We certainly don’t need this bag of lollies,” she said.
Helen looked at Da’Quarius. “I fancied a sweet,” he said.
Rose looked at him questionably. “You can have one lolly on the way out,” she said. “You don’t need an entire bag.” She put the bag on the nearest shelf. “You lot ready then?”
“Ready,” Helen said, pushing the cart to the checkout. She started to unload the contents of the cart onto the belt.
“Don’t look,” Helen said. “It’s those two poofs, Harold and Lee. I don’t want them to hear that we’ve taken a guest.”
“Why not?” Da’Quarius asked as Rose stayed silent.
“They’ve wanted to stay a weekend at our place for years,” Helen said. “If they find out, they’ll blackmail us to have them over too.”
“What do they have to blackmail you with?” Da’Quarius asked.
“We’re not exactly running the place legally right now,” Helen said, looking around as she lowered her voice. “We don’t want to get pinched running a bed and breakfast without papers.”
Rose cleared her throat as she paid for their groceries. “It wouldn’t be so bad if we had an extra two guests,” she said, “even if it’s Harold and Lee.”
Helen was silent for a moment, measuring Rose. “They got to you, didn’t they, love?” She asked. “What did you let slip past those pretty lips of yours?”
“That’s them!” someone exclaimed from behind them. The robust manager of the shop stood next to him and his wife. “That boy distracted us, and the old lady nicked our cart!”
“We bought this stuff fair and square,” Helen said.
“You know you’re not allowed in here, Helen,” the manager said, crossing his arms.
“Oh right,” Helen said. “Forgot about that bit with the carriage poaching the last time I was here. Won’t happen again. Ta.”
“Give us back our stuff,” the woman said. “You stole our groceries.”
“Give it back, Helen,” the manager said. “You can’t nick other people’s things.”
“I didn’t nick anything,” Helen said, “but if you’re willing to give me a full refund for the groceries I just purchased, then do it. I can take my business elsewhere if my money isn’t good enough for this shop.”
“Terribly sorry, folks,” the manager said, turning back to the couple. “You’re just going to have to fill another carriage. She’s already payed.” The couple started to argue.
“Typical greedy shopkeep,” Helen said, pushing the cart. “Threaten a refund, and they’ll look the other way every time.”
“Let’s just go,” Rose said. “I’m so bloody embarrassed right now.”
“Don’t pull that with me,” Helen said. “Don’t think this gets you out of what you said to the poof brothers!”
“Hey!” Da’Quarius said, getting the man’s attention as he continued his argument with the shop manager. “That’ll be ten points from Gryffindor, Potter!” He gave him the V’s, blew a raspberry, and followed Helen and Rose to their car.
Tony moved the blinds to look out of the window of Paul’s Fish & Chips shop. “I don’t see ’em,” he said.
“Of course you don’t,” Paul said. “They’re not supposed to be coming back for hours still. Calm down. You’re scaring away the customers.”
Tony went back to the kitchen. He stayed in for a moment, then came right back out. “Bollocks!” he exclaimed. “I’m not sittin’ around here all day to get my ass kicked in when my mates won’t even back me up!”
“What are you going to do?” Paul said, shrugging. “You cheated. Take your lumps and get it over with.”
“Bollocks to you too, Paul,” Tony said. “You’re my best mate, but you’re going to be there with me!”
“Are you having a laugh?!” Paul shouted. “I didn’t cheat at a rugby match. You’re on your own!”
“You heard the bloke,” Tony said. “He’s looking to kill my mates too. You’re the only mate he’ll see. What do you think is going to happen?”
“Bollocks,” Paul sighed. “You really are a right git.”
“So what now?” Tony asked. “We need somewhere to hide. Your sister and Rose live in that old bed and breakfast. I bet we can use a room for the night.”
“No way,” Paul said. “They’re having some guest or whatever. I’m not intruding on that. Besides, it’s Saturday night.”
“Fine,” Tony said, crossing his arms. “Stay here and face Will Donovan and his friends. Fergus will be here to run this place at five until close you know.”
Paul looked at Tony for a moment. “Shit,” he said. “Close it up, Tony.”
“Closin’ it up, boss,” Tony said, running to the back.
Da’Quarius was texting on his phone when Helen came downstairs dressed in her finest suit, looking suave and sophisticated. “Do a shit now if you’ve got to,” she said. “I don’t need anyone stinking up the toilets after our guests arrive.”
“Duly noted,” Da’Quarius said.
“You got the bloody house clean yet?” Helen asked Carly, who was finishing her cleaning regimen in anticipation of the first guests Rose and Helen’s Bed and Breakfast have had in fifteen years.
“Almost,” Carly replied, bending over to dust the coffee tables.
“Blimey,” Helen said. “I can just about see your fanny.”
“What did you say, m’lady?” Carly asked, turning around.
“Nothing,” Helen said quickly, “and stop calling me ‘m’lady’.”
“Dinner will be right on time,” Rose said, leaving the kitchen. “I just hope there’s enough to go around.”
“There would be,” Helen said, “but you added two guests tonight. I can’t believe you invited those benders, Harold and Lee Fuchs, for fuck’s sake!”
“Do you think they’ll bring Esmerelda with them?” Da’Quarius asked.
“I’m sure they will,” Rose replied with a sigh. “They don’t usually go anywhere without her.”
“I thought I told you to hide until our guests leave tomorrow,” Helen said, giving Da’Quarius the stink-eye. “Go on then. Bugger off to your room.”
“No,” Rose said. “We are not hiding our son away like some dirty secret.”
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said, continuing to text on his phone. “I’m really hurt that you would do such a thing, mum.”
“Oh, shut your gob,” Helen said, “and stop calling me ‘mum’. Just make sure you make yourself scarce if you can’t make yourself invisible.”
“I’ll do what I can,” Da’Quarius said, “but I ain’t promisin’ fuck-all.”
“Well then at least get off that bloody phone and clean something,” Helen said.
“Whoa,” Da’Quarius said. “We goin’ back to the slave days?”
“We never owned blacks as slaves,” Helen said. “You’re thinking of the Americans.”
“Oh,” Da’Quarius said. “Carry on then, mum.”
There was a knock on the door, and Rose went to open it as Helen stared daggers at Da’Quarius. “Welcome,” she said, letting Alistair and his wife inside. She was a foot shorter than her husband with a head of red hair.
“I told you they haven’t changed a thing,” Alistair said as his wife looked around. “This is my wife Madeline, by the by. Maddie, this is Rose and Helen.”
“I gathered,” Madeline said. “How do you do?”
“This is our housekeeper, Carly,” Rose said, motioning to Carly. “She’ll be assisting us this weekend.”
“Pleasure,” Carly said, giving a slight bow and showing her cleavage in the low-cut maid outfit.
“Oh my,” Madeline said.
“I take back what I said earlier,” Alistair said. “That definitely wasn’t here the last time we stayed.”
“And who’s the strapping young lad?” Madeline said. “He looks a little young to be working here.”
“I live here,” Da’Quarius said. “You guys stayin’ in da room next to me.”
“Shut it,” Helen said, stepping between the guests and Da’Quarius. “Run along now. You know the saying about boys not being seen or heard, right?”
“No,” Da’Quarius said. “Enlighten us.”
“Boys shouldn’t be seen or heard,” Helen said.
“Cheers, mum,” Da’Quarius said, taking his phone back out of his pocket and texting from his spot on the couch.
“Show our guests to their rooms then, Carly,” Rose said. “Tea will be set up in the back garden if you fancy it, and dinner will be a six-thirty. We’re having shepherd’s pie.”
“Brilliant,” Alistair said, smiling. “Isn’t it everything I said it would be?”
“Quite,” Madeline said, looking around as they followed Carly up the stairs.
“I told you to be scarce!” Helen snapped in a harsh whisper to Da’Quarius. “You can’t be scarce if you’re sitting on your arse, pushing buttons on that bloody phone of yours!”
“I ain’t hidin’ from your prat of a guest,” Da’Quarius said, “so just get used to seein’ my smiling face while you pamper the bloke and his bird.”
Rose looked on, ready to say something as she closed door, but something was blocking it. “I’m sure you didn’t mean to knock the door into my foot,” the voice of Harold Fuchs said from the other side. Rose opened the door, letting Harold and his husband, Lee, into their home.
“Welcome,” Rose said. “Our housekeeper is busy with the other guests, but she will be down shortly to show you to your room.”
“Your home is so charming,” Lee said, looking around.
“It’s quaint,” Harold said, carrying a stuffed foxhound.
“Did you have to bring your dead dog?” Helen asked.
“She has a name,” Harold said. “It’s Esmerelda.”
“It’s a dead mongrel,” Helen said.
“Esmerelda was the finest foxhound we’ve ever had!” Lee ejaculated.
“Now she’s a toy,” Helen said.
“I got those two settled in nicely,” Carly said, walking back from down the stairs. She saw Harold and Lee. “Oh. You must be the Bender family.”
“Excuse me?!” Lee said, holding his hand to his chest.
“This is Harold and Lee Fuchs,” Rose said.
“Oh,” Carly said, losing her voice to a whisper everyone still heard, “but they are the benders m’lady was talking about, right?”
“Be a dear and show them to their room,” Rose said.
“Follow me, gentlemen,” Carly said. “I have a room with a nice bed with lots of room for you and your doggy.”
“This was a horrible idea,” Helen said, sitting back down next to Da’Quarius.
“Well it was yours,” Rose said.
“I just wanted the bloke and his bird,” Helen said. “You’re the one who got blackmailed by those two bummers.”
“You’re gay too,” Rose sighed. “I really wish you’d stop calling -“
Rose was interrupted by the doorbell. It rang twice, and the door opened. Paul and Tony walked in. “How’s my favourite sister?!” Paul exclaimed with a huge grin.
“I’m bloody pissed,” Helen said, “but I’ll be a tad better when you tell me why you’re here when you know we have a guest.”
“We’re staying too!” Tony said.
“We don’t have much more room,” Rose said.
“So you’re hiding from those rugby blokes then?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Pretty much,” Tony said. “What’s for dinner?”
“Shepherd’s pie,” Da’Quarius said.
“Cheers,” Tony said. “Are we too late for tea?”
“And why couldn’t you hide at your house, Paul?” Helen asked.
“Yeah,” Paul said. “Why did I let you talk me into coming here instead, Tony. Those twats don’t know where I live. They only know where the shop is.”
“‘Ello, Tony,” Carly said, coming back in. She had her hands folded in front of her as she pushed out her chest.
“‘Ello,” Tony said, looking Carly up and down. “You look fit. Better than any prostitute I’ve ever seen!”
“Brilliant,” Paul said sarcastically. “Well we’re here, so we may as well stay for dinner.”
“Oh yes,” Helen said sarcastically. “Please come to the garden for tea. Who else is coming by for the night? The bloody queen!?”
Rose brought out the shepherd’s pie and placed it in the middle of the table for everyone. “Where’s Carly?” she asked. “She was supposed to help me put out the food.”
“You should ask why Tony isn’t here either,” Paul said, rolling his eyes.
“I just saw them snogging in the garden,” Da’Quarius said. “You want me to bring them in?”
“No,” Helen said. “Let them act like dogs in the garden if they’d like. I’ll turn the hose on them after dinner so that tart will do the dishes.”
“This is lovely, being back here after all these years,” Alistair said, scooping a large serving of Shepherd’s pie onto his plate. “Don’t you think so, Maddie?”
“It’s charming,” Madeline said. “Almost as charming as you throwing this together last minute as if you think it’ll make up for you all of a sudden going to New York for a month.”
“I told you,” Alistair said, “that’s for work.”
Madeline grunted. “I’m sure your yank whore will understand,” she said.
“There is no yank bird!” Alistair said. “It’s just work.”
“I didn’t say ‘bird’,” Madeline said, putting a small bit of Sheapard’s pie on her plate. “I said ‘whore’.”
“I can see why he booked so suddenly,” Rose said to Helen.
“What?” Helen said, not bothering keeping her voice down. “Do you mean because of his yank whore?”
“Sorry I’m late,” Carly said, coming into the kitchen, flushed. She had a bit of grass in her hair. “Everyone all set then?”
“Dinner’s ready!” Tony said, coming in a moment later. “Shepherd’s pie! I’ll take a plate.”
“You guys are really inconspicuous,” Paul said.
“You want some dinner?” Harold asked, pretending to spoon-feed Esmeralda as she at on his lap.
“For fuck’s sake!” Helen sighed.
“I was OK with you bringing that in,” Rose said, “but I am not OK with you feeding it at the table.”
“Esmerelda passed more than twenty years ago,” Rose said. “Harold was the one who shot her!”
“I’ve never seen Rose this harsh,” Da’Quarius said.
“Well I’m passionate about dogs who are needlessly murdered,” Rose said. “That’s all.”
“Especially by daft poofs,” Helen said.
“Them being poofs has nothing to do with it,” Rose said. “Oh God. I didn’t mean to say ‘poofs’.”
“Oy,” Harold said, looking up from Esmerelda. “Don’t call us poofs, you bloody squirrel munchers!”
“Don’t you call my sister and her wife squirrel munchers,” Paul said, “you bloody bum bandits!”
“Thats enough name calling!” Rose exclaimed.
“Poofs,” Helen muttered as took a sip of water.
“Lovely anniversary gift, Alistair,” Madeline said. “Let’s do it again next year.”
“I’m getting a Guinness from the kitchen,” Tony said, pushing his chair back. “Anyone else fancy one?”
“Yeah,” Paul said. “Bring us a pint.”
“Shit,” Helen muttered. “There goes my Guinness.”
After everyone went their separate ways about the house after dinner, Da’Quarius sat in front of his laptop, typing a paper for school. He was distracted by the shouting in the room across the hall. Alistair was in there having a row with his wife about everything from his choice of anniversary gift to the way he looked at Carly’s tits.
“Bollocks to this noise,” Da’Quarius said, unplugging his laptop and putting it under his arm. “I’ll get more work done sitting in the bloody garden.”
Da’Quarius opened the door to his room as Alistair left his own. The two stared at each other for a moment. “X-box?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Brilliant,” Alistair said with a shrug. “Anything to distract me from that shrew for an hour.”
Da’Quarius tossed his laptop onto his bed and led Alistair back downstairs.
“I think I’ve had too much Guinness,” Paul said, sitting on the bench in the garden. “How many pints was that, Tony?”
“I don’t know,” Tony said, “but we’re all out.”
“Brilliant,” Helen said, sitting down between them. “You two blokes interrupt our night, shag my housekeeper in the garden, got pissed off my Guinness, and now I bet you want to sleep here too.”
“This is a bed and breakfast,” Tony said with a belch. “You got the bed, and I got the breakfast.”
“What are you having for breakfast?” Paul asked.
“I don’t know,” Tony said. He turned to Helen, putting his face an inch from hers. “What are you making for breakfast, Rose?”
“You’re a right tramp,” Helen said, giving Tony the stink-eye. “We’re having fry up and continental fare in the morning. You’re welcome to a bed if you promise not to piss in it. Rose will probably make me put you up anyway.”
“Cheers,” Tony said. “You have my word as a gentleman that I won’t piss in your bed.”
“I guess I’m proper fucked then,” Helen said, getting up. “I’ll have Carly get the bedpans from the basement just in case.”
“Tell her to wait for me too,” Tony said, chuckling.
“You stay out of my housekeeper’s minge,” Helen said. “Bloody mongrel.”
“Goodnight, sis!” Paul called as Helen walked inside.
“We’re turning in for the night,” Lee said, coming up to Helen as soon as she was in the house.
“Good for you,” Helen said. “You want the queen to knight you for your valor?”
“I’m so excited,” Harold said, walking behind Lee while stroking Esmerelda’s head. “I always wanted to make love in your bed and breakfast.”
“Too bad you didn’t come before your cock stopped working then,” Helen said. “Ta, gents.”
Helen continued her walk, finding Da’Quarius talking to Alistair in the main room, playing video games. She concluded his wife must’ve already gone to bed, angry about the conversation during dinner.
“There’s a trick to it,” Alistair said, mashing the buttons on his control. “You need to get caught doing something not so bad a few times. Make her think you’re cheating; but go out with your mates instead, and make sure she finds out. That way she’ll feel like a fool to suspect you’re actually out with another bird later.”
“You got a great system,” Da’Quarius said, “except for the New York thing.”
“She’s just mad now,” Alistair said. “I’ll be up there giving her the shagging of a lifetime in a bit.”
“I thought I told you to make yourself scarce, Da’Quarius,” Helen said.
“Aw shit,” Da’Quarius said, pausing the game. “She only uses my name when she’s pissed.”
“Look,” Alistair said, putting his control down and standing up. “It’s quite alright. I don’t mind -“
“Fuck off,” Helen said.
“Excuse me,” Alistair said. Rose heard the commotion and came in to try and stop any altercation.
‘I said ‘fuck off’,” Helen said, “but I don’t see you fucking off.”
“Bollocks to this,” Alistair said. “My wife is waiting upstairs.”
“Yeah,” Helen said. “Go give her a good shagging for me then.” She made the V’s and blew a raspberry as Alistair walked upstairs.
“Now then,” Helen said, turning to Da’Quarius. “I specifically remember telling you numerous times to make yourself scarce while we had our guests staying with us.”
“An’ i told you I ain’t hidin’,” Da’Quarius said.
“I agree with Da’Quarius,” Rose said. “We shouldn’t have to hide him away from anyone. I don’t care if we have a guest. Da’Quarius is our son.”
“That’s not it,” Helen said with a heavy sigh. “I could tell the minute that twat wandered into our home, flashing his money and demanding to stay, he was a twat. I didn’t want Da’Quarius around him, learning how to be a twat himself.”
“Alright then, mum,” Da’Quarius said. “I was takin’ the piss just now. You think I don’t know a twat when I see one?”
“You’re sweet,” Rose said, kissing Helen on the cheek. “But next time just tell us, love.”
Helen grunted. “Let’s get to bed,” she said. “We’ve got to do a fry up in the morning.”
Rose and Helen served the fry up, cream tea, scones, and crumpets for breakfast the following morning. Tony and Paul were nursing hangovers, Alistair and Madeline weren’t talking, and Harold was pretending to feed Esmerelda a crumpet while Lee drank his tea.
“Come on, Esmerelda,” Harold said. “Eat up. You’ll need your strength for the big fox hunt today.”
“Why are you serving dem breakfast?” Da’Quarius asked. “What happened to Carly?”
“I’m sure you’re not happy with that tart’s absence,” Madeline said, giving her husband a sideways glance.
“I didn’t even say anything!” Alistair said.
“Twat,” Da’Quarius said, faking a cough. He looked at Helen, who was hiding a smile behind her teacup.
“Carly won’t be around this morning,” Tony said. “Poor bird was feeling under the weather, so she headed back to her flat.”
“Under the weather?” Paul asked. “Covered in your piss after she decided to sleep in your bed more like.”
“Oy!” Helen said. “Did you piss in my bed?”
“He pissed on your housekeeper too,” Alistair added.
“Bet you wish you did that,” Madeline added.
“I asked for that one time!” Alistair said. “You bloody woman. I can’t wait to go to the States.”
“Neither can your best mate,” Madeline said, sipping her tea. “Texted him last night while you were bragging to the boy about your prowess.”
“I put the sheets in the laundry,” Tony said.
“I’ll call the service,” Rose said, patting Helen’s hand. “I think we need all the rooms thoroughly cleaned anyway.”
Helen looked over at Harold and Lee as they giggled to themselves. “Burn the sheets,” she said. “The mattresses too.”
“Anything else?” Rose asked.
“Yeah,” Helen said. “Knock me out with a crowbar if I ever agree to do this again.”
“Oy,” Tony said, looking at his phone. “Fergus texted me last night. Those rugby twats showed up causing trouble, and the shop was full of bobbies on their break. The whole lot a’ them got hauled off.”
“Brilliant,” Paul said. “All is well then.”
“What a lovely weekend this was,” Da’Quarius said. “We need to do this more often.”
“No we bloody don’t,” Helen said.
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