Freedom Lane: Brothers in Arms

Da’Quarius sat in bed, coughing into his hand. He had a box of tissues on the nightstand and a plastic shopping bags full of used snot rags hanging from his nightstand drawer. Rose came to the door, wearing a face mask. “I just got off the phone with your uncle,” she said. “He’s sick too.”

 

“Dat supposed to make me happy?” Da’Quarius asked.

 

“You’re going to stay with him while you two recuperate,” Rose said.

 

“What?!” Da’Quarius exclaimed. “You’re gonna segregate my ass?!”

 

“It’s a quarantine!”  Helen snapped from down the hall, her voice muffled by her own face mask. “We don’t need you getting us sick and killing us with your germs!”

 

“She’s right,” Rose said before Da’Quarius could retort. “She’s crass, but right. It’ll be a lot worse for Helen and I to get the flu at our age.”

 

“I get it,” Da’Quarius said. “Just get me outta here, an’ over to Paulie’s so I can cough an’ puke over dere.”

 

“That’s the spirit,” Helen said. “The car’s out front. Hop in the trunk and we’ll have you there in a flash.”

 

 

***

 

Freedom Lane 

 

Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow

Co-created by executive producer BluntSharpness

 

Season 11, Episode 2: Brothers in Arms

 

***

 

Paulie greeted Da’Quarius by Rose’s car, his robe draped over himself. He was shivering from his own flu symptoms, but he came out anyway so Rose and Helen wouldn’t have to come into his germ-filled home. “I should have him back by the weekend,” Paulie said. “We’re probably through the worse of it.”

 

“Thank you,” Rose said, her mask still on. Helen was in the car, spraying the backseat where Da’Quarius sat with Lysol. “We’re going to spend the afternoon disinfecting the house, but we’ll call to check up on you two tonight.”

 

Da’Quarius stood with Paulie, waiting to go inside to continue his miserable bout with the flu.

 

“Give me a minute with them, Rose,” Helen said, exiting the car.

 

“Be careful,” Rose said.

 

“Don’t worry,” Helen said. “I’m not touching them or anything.”

 

Helen walked to Paulie and Da’Quarius. She reached in her pocket and pulled out a metal flask. She handed it to Paulie. “This is my own special flu remedy,” she said. “I used to brew this in prison during flu season.”

 

“Was dere anythin’ you didn’t do in prison?” Da’Quarius asked.

 

“Yeah,” Helen replied. “I didn’t snitch, ever.”

 

“So what’s in this?”  Paulie asked, looking at the flask.

 

“A little of this and a little of that,” Helen said. “Don’t drink too much of it.”

 

“How much are we supposed to take then?” Paulie asked.

 

“What am I, a doctor?” Helen retorted, shrugging. “Just take a shot or two every five or six hours. You’ll feel much better. But if you start to get sleepy; go to sleep.”

 

“Why?” Paulie asked. “Is there Ambien in here?”

 

“Just go to sleep,” Helen repeated. “Okay. I’m off before you two kill me. Goodbye.”

 

***

 

Tony stood near the counter of Paulie’s Pizza on State Street when a man came in wearing a suit and tie. He walked to the counter with a purpose. “Is the owner here?” he asked.

 

“He’s out for a few days,” Tony replied. “Can I get you anything?”

 

“My name is Tom Asher,” the man said. “I was actually wondering if I could rent this place out on Friday night. My buddy is getting married, and its a quickie marriage. His girlfriend is pregnant, and they’re catholic as hell. He loves this place. I’d be willing to pay whatever.”

 

Tony thought for a moment. “We don’t normally do this,” he said. “I would have to come up with a rental price, and food and drinks would be separate.”

 

“That sounds fair,” Asher replied.

 

“Tony!” Alice whispered, pulling him away from the counter by his arm and toward Paulie’s office. “You can’t rent this place out. What would Paulie say?”

 

“Paulie put me in charge because he trusts me,” Tony replied. “And I’ve known him a lot longer than you have. He’d be more pissed if I turned down the money and a guarantee of a packed restaurant. And it’s a stag. You and your staff are gonna make out great on tips.”

 

“Can you handle this?” Alice asked.

 

“If I can’t, it’s on me,” Tony replied. 

 

“Fine,” Alice said. “But I’m not stripping!”

 

“Nobody’s asking you to,” Tony said. He turned back to Asher. “I think we can make this work.”

 

“Excellent,” Asher said. “There’s just one more thing: there’s going to be a theme for the party.”

 

Tony looked puzzled. “What’s the theme?”

 

***

 

“So what are we gonna do?” Da’Quarius asked, sitting on Paulie’s couch, wrapped in a blanket.

 

“I don’t know,” Paulie said, sitting on the other side of the couch with a box of tissues in front of him. “I don’t suppose we’ll agree on anything to watch on TV.”

 

“Don’t you got a smart TV?” Da’Quarius asked.

 

“Yeah,” Paulie replied. “So?”

 

Da’Quarius picked up the remote and went into the TV’s menu. He pulled up Netflix and put in a user name and password. “Here,” he said, flicking through the list of available shows. “Flounder hooked me up with a password, so we can watch whatever we want.”

 

“Wow,” Paulie said. “I never knew that was on my TV. What’s that movie there? Draken, Son of Drog?”

 

“Dat’s a good one,” Da’Quarius said. “I saw dat when it came out last year. What ‘bout dis? You ever see dis show?”

 

“Brothers in Arms?” Paulie replied, looking at it. “That’s the biker gang show Tony used to watch and rave about all friggin’ day. I had to hear about these bikers dealing coke and solving all their disputes through arm wrestling for months at a time. I thought they ended it three or four years ago.”

 

“Dey have da’ whole series on here now,” Da’Quarius said. “You can watch da’ whole thing from start to finish.”

 

“Put on episode one, and we’ll see where it goes,” Paulie said. “But first, we should take a little medicine.” He grabbed Helen’s flask from the table.

 

“You really gonna trust dat stuff Helen made?” Da’Quarius asked. “I don’t even wanna know what she put in dat. I’d take da’ apple from da’ witch from Snow White before I drank some of Helen’s homemade medicine.”

 

“She wouldn’t give it to us if she didn’t swear by it,” Paulie said. “It’s more than likely a mixture of medicines she had and a bit of liquor. I’ll go get a couple of shot glasses while you get the show on.”

 

“Fine,” Da’Quarius said. “But dere ain’t no princes dat’ll kiss you when dat shit knocks yo’ ass into a coma.”

 

***

 

The bachelor party at Paulie’s Pizza began, and Asher stayed by the front door, greeting his friends and taking tickets and donations, putting the money in a metal case on the table near the front door. “Welcome to Larry’s stag!” he said in a booming voice.  He was wearing a leather jacket and torn jeans, as were the guests coming in. Some had eye patches and bandannas, keeping the motif of the biker gang themed stag Asher had in mind for his best friend’s bachelor party.

 

Alice showed the guests to the main area. Tony and Sal had moved the tables around so they were in a circle, giving the group an easier time to move about and talk. The waitresses went around, taking pizza orders and bringing out pitchers of soda. Some of the bachelor party goers had brought their own beer or liquor, which was one of Tony’s stipulations since Paulie’s didn’t have a liquor license.

 

“This is actually working out nicely,” Alice told Tony.

 

“I told you,” Tony said. “What kind of nerd wants to have a stag at a pizzeria anyway? There’s no way these guys are going to get too crazy. I bet they don’t even get a stripper.”

 

Alice laughed. “Well Paulie should be happy with you on this one,” she said. “I don’t want to jinx it, but you did good.”

 

“Yeah I did,” Tony said. “Will you look at these mooks though? They’re all dressed like bikers, but not one of them rode a hog here. They’re just a bunch of posers.”

 

“They’re not posers,” Alice said. “It’s just a theme. Haven’t you ever been to a theme party?”

 

“Like one of those sex things where you have to wear a mask?” Tony said. “Because that was only once, and it wasn’t even in this country.”

 

“No,” Alice said. “You known that’s not what I mean.”

 

“You mean like those furries?” Tony said. “I saw a documentary on those assholes. They dress like giant stuffed animals and bang. It’s sickening.”

 

Alice sighed. “Maybe it’s not a guy thing.”

 

“You know what this reminds me of?” Tony asked. “Remember that show ‘Brothers in Arms’?”

 

“That biker show with the all the arm wrestling?” Alice asked. “I never saw it. It looked really dumb.”

 

“It was great,” Tony said. “But I can’t see getting crazy over it like these bunch of losers.”

 

Two men walked in as Asher held the door, each carrying the side of an arm wrestling apparatus, similar to the one in the Brothers in Arms bar in the show of the same name.

 

“Look at this,” Tony said. “If they start betting real money I’m gonna hustle them good.”

 

Alice rolled her eyes. “I’ll be waiting tables if you come up with any more bright ideas.”

 

***

 

“Put on another episode!” Paulie exclaimed as the credits rolled after their fifth straight hour of Brothers in Arms. “This show is fuckin’ great!”

 

“On it,” Da’Quarius said, hitting play on the next episode. “I feel great too. This medicine Helen made is da’ shit!”

 

“It’s time for another dose too,” Paulie said. He carefully filled two shot glasses and handed one to Da’Quarius. “Salud.”

 

“Salud,” Da’Quarius repeated, downing the shot of Helen’s medicine. “Damn, dat tastes gross as fuck.”

 

“Wait a second,” Paulie said. “Pause the TV. I gotta go get something.”

 

Da’Quarius did as Paulie asked, pausing the TV as the show opened. He waited a few minutes, and Paulie returned, wearing a leather jacket and jeans.

 

“Yo,” Paulie said. “Check me out. I’m Elias Peabody. Where’s my money, Silvia?!”

 

“Holy shit,” Da’Quarius said. “Lemme wear it too. I wanna be Elias Peabody next!”

 

“You can have it if you beat me,” Paulie said, kneeling on the floor and leaning on the coffee table, putting his elbow down. Da’Quarius did the same, locking hands with Paulie. “Ready?”

 

“Ready,” Da’Quarius replied. The two arm wrestled, their arms pushing against each other. Paulie grunted, giving it all he could, pinning Da’Quarius’s hand down. “Damn!”

 

“That’s how it goes,” Paulie said. “We’ll get you a headband and you can be Tommy Mash.”

 

“Cool,” Da’Quarius said.

 

Paulie yawned. “Maybe we should get some rest.”

 

“But we already started dis episode,” Da’Quarius said.

 

“Alright,” Paulie said, sitting on the couch. “One more episode, but we have to get some shut-eye right after.”

 

“Deal,” Da’Quarius said, hitting play.

 

***

 

Two men dressed as bikers arm wrestled in the table in the center of Paulie’s Pizza dining area. There was a rope across the door leading there, letting the foot traffic customers know it had been reserved. Most who came in were okay sitting in the main area or taking their food to go. Some people even peered into the area to watch the men arm wrestle in their leather jackets and torn jeans.

 

“Pizza’s up!” Tony called as the waitstaff started bringing pies out to the tables. The men cheered and got ready to eat, each one pulling their own personal pizza toward themselves. Paulie was going to be very happy after Tony settled their bill and got paid for his night’s work.

 

Sal, Paulie’s chef who worked directly under Tony, walked from the back, wiping at his brow with his forearm. “These guys sure can eat,” he said in his monotone voice to Tony. “I don’t remember the last time we had to make so many pizzas in such a short amount of time.”

 

“Sorry about that,” Tony said. “But business is business, right?”

 

“That it is,” Sal replied. “I just wanted to see the party. I have to go back to work. Delivery calls are still coming in too.”

 

“You do that,” Tony said. “You’re doing good, Sal. I appreciate your hard work tonight. I know it’s been a bitch, but you’re a monster. I mean that in a good way. I’ll let Paulie know too when he comes back to work.”

 

Sal beamed and went back to the kitchen to continue working.

 

“You too Alice,” Tony said as Alice passesd, carrying a pitcher of soda. “You and your staff are doing great tonight. I’ll let Paulie know that too.”

 

Alice blushed, speechless, and brought the pitcher to the table.

 

“Shit,” Tony said to himself. “I should call Paulie and see if he wants me to send him some dinner or something.”

 

The opened suddenly, and Paulie sauntered in, wearing sunglasses, a leather jacket, and pants that looked like he had just cut holes in them. Da’Quarius was with him, wearing one of Paulie’s ties around his forehead like a headband.

 

“What’s this?!” Paulie asked, looking around. “What’s going on in my place of business?!”

 

“Paulie,” Tony said, coming from behind the counter. “I can explain.”

 

“No need to explain,” Da’Quarius said. “It’s ‘bout time you get taken out back an’ stripped of your rank.”

 

“What?” Tony asked. “What are you talking about?”

 

“Your rank as a brother,” Paulie replied. “Your know the rules. Nobody questions the boss.”

 

“Aren’t you supposed to be sick in bed?” Tony asked.

 

“He just questioned you again, Elias,” Da’Quarius said. “You want me to beat da’ shit outta him now?”

 

“Wait a second,” Tony said. “Are you guys doing Brothers in Arms too? How’d you know about this party?”

 

“Did he just question you again, boss?” Da’Quarius asked.

 

“Sounds like it, Tommy,” Paulie replied. “And nobody has a party at Brothers in Arms without the boss present. I think I’ll mingle a bit, ya dig?”

 

“Boss,” Tony said. “This is a private party.”

 

Paulie pulled down his sunglasses and glared at Tony. “Strike three,” he said. “Bust him down to size, Tommy.” He walked past Tony into the party as Da’Quarius tried to give Tony a thrashing.

 

***

 

Paulie walked through the party, looking around as he went. Alice and Sal watched nervously from behind the counter. Asher got up and walked to him. “Hey,” he said. “If you’re here for the party, you need to buy a ticket.”

 

Paulie scoffed. “I don’t need to buy a ticket to get into my own place. Step aside, junior.”

 

“You’re the owner?” Asher asked. “Do you always give people attitude who pay cash to rent your place out?”

 

Tony came over as quick as possible, limping. Da’Quarius trailed.

 

“I tried to stop him, boss!” Da’Quarius called.

 

“It’s alright,” Paulie said. “I got bigger fish to fry. There’s a guy in here who thinks I need to pay to get into my own club.”

 

Asher looked over Paulie for a moment. “You’re doing Elias, aren’t you?” he asked, a smile sneaking on his face. “You had me there for a minute, too, you -”

 

“Shut up,” Paulie interrupted. “Don’t come into my place and disrespect me.”

 

“Then with all due respect,” Asher said. “This is my best friend’s stag, and we were having a good time.”

 

Paulie chuckled dryly. A moment later Da’Quarius added his own. “You think you’re going to set the rules in my place?” he asked.

 

“Take him outside,” Da’Quarius said. “Do a strap match!”

 

“What’s a strap match?” one of the guests asked.

 

“It’s from season one,” another replied. “It was where Elias strapped his arm to Carlito’s, and they had their fist fight. Dude, did you even watch the show?”

 

“We don’t need the strap,” Paulie said. “Looks like we can settle this right here.” He sat on one side of the arm wrestling apparatus. “If you can beat me, you can not only stay here, but your party is on me. You won’t have to pay one red cent.”

 

“Come on, boss,” Tony groaned. “I put a lot of work into -”

 

“Deal,” Asher said, sitting across from Paulie. He held the handle with his left hand and extended his right to Paulie. They grasped palms and Da’Quarius stood between them.

 

“GO!” Da’Quarius exclaimed.

 

Paulie and Asher arm wrestled. Their arms moved back and forth as they struggled against each other’s strength. Paulie had the upper hand, bringing the back of Asher’s hand toward the padded mat, but Asher resisted, straining as he fought back.

 

Then several things happened at once.

 

Paulie coughed, sneezed, and farted at the same time, sending a stream of saliva and snot into Asher’s face. He lost his strength when he did this, and Asher smashed his hand into the mat, beating him. 

 

“What the hell?!” Asher exclaimed getting up, his face covered in Paulie’s bodily fluids.

 

“Boss,” Tony said. “Did you just shit yourself?”

 

Paulie turned and looked at Da’Quarius. “I think we need to go home and get some sleep.”

 

***

 

Da’Quarius came back into his home on Freedom Lane a few days later, feeling better from his bout with the flu. “Welcome home,” Rose said, smiling. “How was Paulie’s?”

 

“It was fun,” Da’Quarius replied. “We mostly just watched Netflix.”

 

“Good,” Rose said.

 

“How’d the medicine work?” Helen asked. “I told you that stuff works wonders.”

 

“Dat shit was hardcore, biddy,” Da’Quarius said. “You had me an’ Paulie thinkin’ we were characters on a TV show!”

 

“What did you give them?” Rose asked.

 

“My homemade flu remedy,” Helen replied.

 

“Oh no,” Rose said. “Last time you got me to take that I thought I was Anne Frank, and I hid from the Nazis in the attic for twelve hours.”

 

“Why does nobody listen to me when I tell them to go to sleep while on it?” Helen asked. “There’s on rule! It’s not my fault you can’t sleep off your hallucinations like normal people.”

 

“You didn’t do anything too crazy, did you?” Rose asked Da’Quarius.

 

“I’m okay,” Da’Quarius replied. “I’d hate to be Paulie right now, doe.”

 

“Why?” Rose asked. “What did Paulie do?”

 

***

 

Paulie stood in the main area of his pizzeria, facing Tony, Alice, and Sal, all staring at him with their arms crossed. “I can’t express how sorry I am,” he said.

 

“You should be,” Tony said. “I put a lot of work into that night, and it would’ve went off without a hitch if you didn’t show up all goofy off of cold meds.”

 

“Sorry,” Paulie said. “I screwed up.”

 

“Well you didn’t make a dime off renting the place, and they didn’t pay for the food they ate,” Tony continued. “So the night was a waste.”

 

“Sorry,” Paulie repeated.

 

“The waitstaff didn’t even get tipped,” Alice added.

 

“Sorry,” Paulie repeated again.

 

“The kitchen staff worked extra hard to make you a good profit,” Sal said. “We all hope you’re happy.”

 

Alice and Sal all walked off, leaving Paulie with Tony.

 

“You gonna say your sorry again?” Tony asked.

 

“No,” Paulie said. “I just have to figure out how to make things right for you three.”

 

“I’m fine,” Tony said. “You screwing up and getting reamed by me for a change is enough.”

 

Paulie laughed. “I guess the loss of the night is a fine punishment too.”

 

Tony laughed, but it soon turned into a coughing fit.

 

“Shit,” Paulie said. “I got you sick too. Better take some time off.”

 

“Alright,” Tony said, wiping his nose with his forearm. “Just do me one favor.”

 

“Sure,” Paulie agreed.

 

“Get me some of that flu medicine your sister makes,” Tony said.

 

 

 

The End

 

*******

 

Coming soon: an adventure so big it can only be…. 

 

Freedom Lane da’ Movie 2 in Space!

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