Freedom Lane: The Plumbing Game
Helen and Rose walked through East Rock park near sunset on a Friday evening. “See?” Rose said, holding Helen’s hand. “I told you a short walk would be nice.”
“Bah,” Helen replied. “It’s cold, and I’m going to be sore in the morning. You’re going to have to deal with me then.”
Rose sighed, enjoying the late-March dusk despite Helen’s promise to make her next morning a hellish one.
“Look who it is,” a nasally voice said. Rose turned to see Harold and Lee Fuchs walking perpendicular to them. She was so entranced with her walk that she hadn’t seen Helen’s enemy and his husband.
“Hi Rose,” Lee said in his lispy voice. He looked worried, perhaps dreading another verbal scuffle between Harold and Helen.
“The squirrels are out,” Helen remarked, still looking forward. “Scavenging for a couple of nuts, boys?”
“You’ve got some nerve,” Harold said. “Lee and I are just out for a lovely walk, and you ruin it with your crassness. I bet you think you’re clever too.”
“I’m very clever,” Helen said, “you cranky prick.”
Harold moved forward, but Lee tugged at his arm. “Come on, Harold,” he said. “You promised your therapist you’d try to move past this.”
“Therapist?” Helen said, turning to Harold with an eyebrow raised. “You’re finally going to get that noggin of yours fixed? I would have put it into the microwave if I was a daffy as you.”
“Helen,” Rose said. “That’s uncalled for.”
Helen shrugged and started walking toward the parking lot where Rose had parked. “Come on,” she said. “I think it’s time to head home.”
Rose gave Lee and Harold a sorry look as the two argued and followed Helen.
“Why’d you tell her about the therapist?!” Harold was shouting.
“I’m sorry!” Lee exclaimed, tears spilling down his cheeks. “I didn’t think it was a big deal.”
“It’s not a big deal any more,” Harold said, “because I’m not going back to that quack now that Helen knows about it!”
“Did you have to do that?” Rose said, getting in the car next to Helen. “They’re fighting now because of you.”
“Harold started it,” Helen muttered.
“He did not,” Rose said. “You’re going to make up with them tomorrow. I’m going to drive you over there right after breakfast, and you’re going to make peace with Harold. Even he didn’t deserve that.”
“You don’t simply make up with Harold Fuchs,” Helen said. “Don’t even try to bring me over there. You’re going to end up humiliated, and I am going to hate telling you I told you so.”
“We’re going tomorrow, and that’s final,” Rose said.
“What if there’s an emergency?” Helen said.
“Then we’ll deal with the emergency,” Rose said, “but don’t think one is just going to fall into your lap.”
Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow
Co-created by executive producer BluntSharpness
Season 10, Episode 5: The Plumbing Game
“I have an emergency!” Manny Garcia exclaimed, pacing around Helen and Rose’s den as they watched along with their adopted son, Da’Quarius.
“What happened?” Helen said, feigning compassion.
“My brother and I need some help,” Manny continued. “Can you guys come over. Your’e so good at getting of jams.”
“Sure thing,” Helen said, getting up with a grunt. “You better come with me, Da’Quarius.”
“Shit,” Da’Quarius said. “You cain’t even try an’ stop me. Da’ Garcias always have da’ funniest problems.”
“You are not going,” Rose said. “I told you we’re apologizing to Harold.”
“Oh, was that today?” Helen said.
“You know it was today!” Rose snapped. “I told you last night right after we left the park that we were doing this today.”
“But you said an emergency trumps apologizing to that prick,” Helen said. “And this young man has an emergency on his hands.”
Manny nodded, a look of dread on his face.
Rose sighed, knowing defeat was imminent but refusing to completely give up. “Fine,” she said. “Go help Manny and Antonio with their emergency. I’m going to go over to Constitutional Way myself and apologize on behalf of us both.”
“Good luck,” Helen said, walking to the coat tree and grabbing her coat. “I’m not going to enjoy telling you a certain something later. You coming, kid?”
Da’Quarius was already by the door, his black Vagabond Saints hat already on his bald head. “Let’s go, biddy.”
“So what’s yo’ problem?” Da’Quarius asked, walking into Manny’s house, across the street and one house up from his own. “You lose a bottle cap inside one of yo’ porn chicks or somethin’?”
“That I can deal with,” Manny said, leading Da’Quarius and Helen through his house. “This is much worse.”
“Did one of your girls get eaten by an alligator?” Helen asked.
“What?” Manny asked. “Why would we have an alligator in here?”
Helen shrugged. “So what are we working with here?” she asked.
“It’s Mickey,” Manny replied, “our boom mic operator”
“What happened to dat wonky-eyed, loud-mouthed asshole, Joey?” Da’Quarius asked. “I thought he did yo’ mic stuff.”
“He died or something,” Manny replied. “I dunno. Fuck him anyway.”
“So what’s wrong with da’ new guy?” Da’Quarius asked.
Manny stopped outside a closed door and sighed. “You’re gonna have to see for yourself,” he said, opening the door, pushing it open, and stepping aside. Da’Quarius and Helen looked inside to find Mickey with his pants off, sitting on the toilet, huge gut hunched forward, dead.
“Dis shit is gonna fuck me up,” Da’Quarius muttered, “like some deep-ass psychological shit.”
“Oh shit,” Helen said. “You guys shoot some freaky porno over here.”
Rose stood in front of the door of Harold and Lee Fuchs. She reached out to ring the doorbell, but she hesitated. She knew apologizing was the right thing to do, even though Helen wasn’t with her, Harold would have started the fight if Helen hadn’t beaten him to it, and he had a track record of being nasty every chance he got. She also wondered if Helen would even bother to follow up if she just told her she visited the Harold and Lee and went straight home. She knew she couldn’t lie, so she pressed the white button, listening to chime of the doorbell.
The door opened a moment later, and Esmerelda, the little girl Harold and Lee fostered when convenient for them, answered the door. “Hi,” Rose said, smiling. “Are your dads here?”
“Those putas aren’t my dads,” Esmerelda said. “But I can get them if you want.”
“Please,” Rose said. She waited at the door.
“Come in,” Esmerelda said, realizing Rose had been waiting to be invited. Rose obliged walking into the Constitutional Way home.
“Who was at the door?” Lee’s voice asked from the kitchen. “It wasn’t that pesky mailman, was it?”
Esmerelda said something to Lee, but she hadn’t raised her voice like he had, so she didn’t hear. Lee came into the den. “Rose!” he exclaimed, smiling a smile that was more than likely fake. “What brings you to our home?”
“I want to talk to you and Harold if that’s okay,” Rose replied. “It’s about what happened at the park last night.”
“Oh,” Lee said, the smile leaving his face. “It’s best not to dwell on these things. Harold is taking a nap now. With luck, you can get out of here before he -”
“Who the hell are you chatting with?!” Harold bellowed, coming down the stairs in his automatic chairlift. “If it’s that mailman again, tell him I’ll be more than happy to write the postmaster general like the last time!”
“Oh dear,” Lee said. “It’s too late.”
“Da’ fuck happened to dis guy?!” Da’Quarius exclaimed.
Manny shushed Da’Quarius. “Keep your voice down,” he said. “We need to move him quietly into one of the spare rooms for a little while.”
“And you figured an eighty year old woman and a thirteen year old boy were the best accomplices?” Helen asked.
“At least tell us what happened,” Da’Quarius said.
“Alright,” Manny said. “We were stuffing Mickey full of fast food to get him to shit and clog the toilet. He ate enough to feed five people in one sitting. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Why da’ hell did you do dat?” Da’Quarius asked.
“We’ve been hiring plumbers to fix our toilet,” Manny replied. “Once they show up, we try and get some of our cam girls to fuck them on hidden cameras for GarciaTube. Antonio freaked out when I tried to call nine-one-one. We have a plumber coming right now!”
“Couldn’t you just tell da’ plumber da’ toilets were fucked up?” Da’Quarius asked.
“What?” Manny asked. “Why?”
“Step aside,” Helen said, pushing Manny in the chest with her hand. “You’re lucky I’ve had to hide a body or two when I was on the inside. I’m going to need the following items: a hacksaw, a hammer, an awl, latex gloves, a shower cap, a few dozen feet of plastic sheeting and two… make that four trash bags, the black ones.”
“No,” Manny said. “Don’t cut him up! We just want him moved until everyone leaves. We don’t need plumbers and our cam girls freaking out over this! We’ll call nine-one-one after the shoot.”
Helen sighed. “Alright,” she said. “Let’s hope this guy already emptied his bowels. Get under his other shoulder kid.”
“What are you doing here?” Harold asked, crossing his arms across his chest, staring daggers at Rose. “Did you come to torment me some more?”
“I wanted to apologize for what happened last night,” Rose replied.
Harold huffed. “And where is Helen then?” he asked. “Am I right to assume she doesn’t share your sentiment?”
“Helen…” Rose said. “She had an emergency. She couldn’t make it.”
Harold huffed again, turning toward Lee.
“Why don’t you hear her out,” Lee said. “Maybe you can finally bury the hatchet with Helen once and for all.”
“Oh, I’ll bury the hatchet alright,” Harold said, “right between that butch bitch’s eyes.”
“Come on,” Esmerelda said, piping up from outside the adults’ conversation. “How long are you gonna hold onto d’jour hate?”
“Long enough to drive you back to that Bridgeport orphanage,” Harold said. “Lee, get my keys.”
“D’jou don’t even drive,” Esmerelda muttered, crossing her arms. “Puta.”
“I’ll tell you what,” Rose said. “Maybe we can make a deal of some kind that will put this whole feud between you and Helen behind all of us.”
“I’m listening,” Harold said.
“Ready?” Helen asked. She had Manny get under one of Mickey’s armpits and Da’Quarius on the other. She was willing to help heave him too, but Da’Quarius had talked her out of it, worried that she was going to hurt her hip or back or both. She agreed to supervise.
“Ready,” Manny and Da’Quarius said in unison.
“Heave!” Helen said. Manny and Da’Quarius tried to lift, but they fell short. Mickey’s body only lifted a half a foot from the toilet before he fell back on it with the slap of his dead cheeks on the seat. The sound of a wet balloon deflating filled the bathroom as his bowels emptied. It lasted a full thirty seconds. Manny flushed the toilet after it finally stopped.
“Damn!” Da’Quarius said. “Dis floor is too slippery. Can we put down a rug or somethin’.”
“I don’t have any spare rugs,” Manny said, breathing heavy. “This is useless. We’re gonna get caught. I’m just going to come clean. Help me eat some pot plants before the police find them!”
“Stop freakin’ out!” Da’Quarius harshly whispered. “Tell him to calm down, Helen… Helen?”
Helen was transfixed on Mickey’s body, specifically the lower part. “Holy shit,” she said. “This faggot has a snatch!”
“What?” Manny said, walking next to Helen to see what she was looking at. “There’s no way that Mickey… This faggot has a snatch!”
“You shouldn’t call him a faggot,” Da’Quarius said. “Dere’s better words.”
“I know a snatch when I see one,” Helen said, “and that is one, big, hairy snatch.”
“Lemme see,” Da’Quarius said, walking over. “Holy shit!”
Helen and Da’Quarius looked at each other, then burst out laughing.
“He was always talking shit about trannies and calling them faggots,” Manny said, “and it turned out he was born a bitch the whole time.”
“At least we know where the stench of rotting fish is coming from,” Helen muttered.
“I still can’t believe how anti-trans he was,” Manny said. “He posted shit on Facebook all the time saying trannies shouldn’t use regular bathrooms or some shit. He wanted them to piss and shit in the bushes.”
“Let’s just get him out of here,” Helen said. “Get ready to lift his fat ass again.”
“Why’d you feed him all dat shit?” Da’Quarius said, getting into position. “He weights two tons now, an’ he stinks like what shit would shit if shit had a digestive system.”
“We’re almost done here,” Manny said. “All we have to do is get him up and into the -”
The doorbell rang, and Manny froze, looking toward the front of the house. “I thought the plumber was already here,” he said.
Da’Quarius ran to the window at the end of the hall and looked toward the street “Oh shit!” he exclaimed. “Da’ fuckin’ cops are here!”
“Well shit,” Helen said. “Maybe it’s a good thing we didn’t start carving this fat fuck up after all.”
“So let’s hear it,” Harold said, sitting in his easy chair with a grunt. “What’s this deal of yours?”
Rose wracked her brain, trying to come up with something on the spot. She knew Harold would be difficult to sway, but she wasn’t expecting such hostility without Helen witch her. Finally, she figured out a deal. “How about dinner?”
“Dinner?” Harold asked. “Is that your big solution?”
Lee sighed. “She’s trying to reach out,” he said.
“I like dinner,” Esmerelda said. “Will Daq and I be invited?”
“You’ll be eating gruel at the orphanage!” Harold snapped. “I’m not taking this bribe anyway. A meal can’t erase the years of torment wrought upon me by that foul woman.”
“Please just come by for dinner,” Rose said. “In all fairness, you’ve given Helen your fair share of torment as well.”
There was a sharp intake of breath from Lee, and Esmerelda watched the two, transfixed to the spot as if her feet were nailed to the floor.
“Are you suggesting,” Harold said, standing up and grinding his false teeth, “that I am responsible for the bad blood between Helen and me?”
“Not entirely,” Rose said. “I’m suggesting that both of you are responsible.”
“You have some nerve,” Harold said, glaring at Rose.
“At least consider it,” Lee added. “You said this long-standing feud started when -”
“Not another word,” Harold snapped. “Don’t you dare bring up what happened!”
“All I’m asking is to give Helen a chance,” Rose said. “I’ll talk to her and make sure she gives you the same chance in return. Come by tonight at six for dinner.”
“I will not!” Harold shouted, slamming a foot on the floor. “I will not come into that witch’s den, allowing her to poison me and bury me in her backyard!”
“Harold…” Lee said, approaching slowly.
“She’s Satan!” Harold shouted.
“You’re a little out of line, Harold,” Rose said, finally losing her patience. “Helen may be a little crass at times, but she is not Satan. You’re a crazy old man, Harold. I see why Helen doesn’t like you.” Rose’s hand, now out of her control, flashed, slapping Harold in the mouth. She reeled back a second later, surprising herself at what she had done.
“Rose!” Lee snapped.
“Ah!” Harold said, holding his mouth. “I bit my tongue!” He spat into his hand, checking it for blood.
“Oh my,” Rose said. “I’m so sorry Harold, I didn’t mean to -”
“Get the hell out of my house!” Harold said, pointing a finger. “So help me God, you red-dyed hippy, I’ll rain down eighty years of rage upon your life. Don’t test me, girly!”
“Fine,” Rose said. “I’ll leave.”
“Rose…” Lee said as Rose past him.
“It was lovely seeing you again,” Rose said, addressing Lee. She turned to Esmerelda. “You too, dear.”
She left through the front door, slamming it harder than she had intended.
Da’Quarius watched from the window as the police office waited for someone to come to the door. “Shit,” he said. “Dat’s Rocco.”
“Who?” Manny asked.
“Tony’s cop buddy,” Da’Quarius replied.
“Do you think he’ll help us out?” Manny asked.
“Not if he finds a dead body!” Da’Quarius snapped.
“Calm down,” Helen said. “Hopefully this idiot’s idiot twin can keep the cop from coming up here.”
“Antonio isn’t my twin,” Manny said.
The door opened, and the trio upstairs moved over to the top of the stairs to hear the exchange on the first floor. “What can I do for you, officer?” Antonio asked.
Rocco looked through the door. “Do you mind if I come in?” he asked.
“Not at all,” Antonio said, obviously nervous. He moved aside, allowing Rocco to enter. He looked around.
“Someone from this house dialed nine-one-one,” Rocco said. “Nobody picked up when the dispatcher returned the call, so they sent me to check up on you. Good afternoon, ladies.”
There was a greetings from some girls.
“And you too, sir,” Rocco added. There was a gruff hello from whatever plumber was there with Antonio and his cam girls.
“I dialed by accident earlier,” Antonio said. “I meant to dial four-one-one to get the number for a plumber. I must’ve been on the other line with them when they called back. My bad.”
“No problem,” Rocco said. He walked around a little bit more. “There’s only one more question I need to ask.”
“What’s that?” Antonio asked.
“Can I use your bathroom?” Rocco asked.
Manny grasped Da’Quarius’s shoulder hard as all three of them held their breath. They were doomed unless Antonio could talk Officer Priolo into putting off the relieving of his bladder.
“Sure,” Antonio said, causing Helen to curse under her breath. “But use the downstairs bathroom. The one upstairs is all fucked up right now.”
“Thank you,” Rocco said. He walked off, led by Antonio to the downstairs bathroom.
“You have two bathrooms?” Helen asked, giving Manny the stink-eye.
“Yeah,” Manny said. “Why?”
“You could have closed this door and not let anyone up here here at all,” Helen said.
Manny stared at Helen.
Helen sighed. “Friggin’ stunad.”
“I sure hope everything is alright over there,” Rose said, closing the curtain. She was watching the Garcias’ house. There was now an ambulance and two police cars in front of it. “Is this what their emergency was about?”
“No,” Helen said quickly. “They needed us to plunge a toilet.”
“Those two don’t know how to plunge a toilet?” Rose asked.
“I don’t know how they get along without any common sense or skills,” Rose said with a sigh.
“So how’d your talk go with the twinkle-toe sisters?” Helen asked.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Rose replied. “But it was… uneventful.”
Helen was about to ask a follow-up question, but the doorbell rang. Rose moved forward and opened to see Rocco Priolo standing on the doorstep in his police attire. “Hi, Rose,” he said. “I need to talk to you about your slapping of Harold Fuchs.”
“Ha!” Helen said.
“He was saying the most horrible things,” Rose said, tearing in up as she addressed Rocco. “I don’t even know where the slap came from.”
“I talked him out of filing an assault charge after I caught him lying to me several times about the severity of the ‘attack’,” Rocco said, “but I want you to be careful about slapping people in the future.”
“Yes,” Rose said. “I mean ‘thank you’, officer.”
“You ladies have a good evening,” Rocco said, tipping his hat and walking back toward his cruiser.
Rose turned, to see Helen’s smiling face watching her. She wanted to turn away in her embarrassment, but she felt it better to own up to what she had done. “I think I deserve an ‘I told you so’ from you,” she said. “That man is insufferable to say the least.”
“Maybe later,” Helen said, giving Rose a small pat on her bottom. “Is dinner about ready?”
“Da’Quarius,” Rose said, turning her blushing face away. “Can you set the table for dinner?”
“Sure,” Da’Quarius said. He ran off into the kitchen to get plates. A moment later, the doorbell rang.
“Can you get that Helen?” Rose said, walking toward the kitchen. “I’m going to get dinner out of the oven.”
Helen huffed and got up from her recliner. She shuffled toward the door and opened it up, finding Harold and Lee Fuchs standing outside. “Hi, Helen,” Lee said. “Harold has something he wants to say to you.”
Harold looked at his feet, muttering.
“I can’t hear what you’re whispering to your shoes,” Helen said.
“Lee and I would like very much to have dinner with you and your family,” Harold said.
Helen peered at Harold. “Why?” she asked.
“Lee thinks it’s time we made peace,” Harold said with a long sigh at the end for effect. He looked into Helen’s face. The look on it told her more than his attitude had. She wondered if he really wanted to start anew.
“Sorry,” Helen said. “We don’t serve food out of mens’ anuses.” She slammed the door. Walking away from it, she muttered: “Friggin’ snitches.”
“Who was that?” Rose said, bringing dinner to the dining room table.
“A couple of roofers,” Helen said. “They’re soliciting for work.”
“Oh,” Rose said. “I thought… Never mind. Ready to eat?”
“Yes I am,” Helen said, walking toward the table.