Freedom Lane: A Riot of the Heart

Tonight’s regularly scheduled programming will not be seen tonight so we can bring you this special presentation of Freedom Lane.
 
 
***
 
“We are sick and tired of being oppressed by the police of this city!” Tyrone Pitt said to the crowd that had gathered outside of Paulie’s Pizza on State Street in New Haven. The crowd cheered at his words. It had been a little less than twenty four hours since the New Haven Riots started, but they planned on going forward with it for as long as it took for the City of New Haven to get the message. “This looting is their fault! Looting is our voice! They want to keep us silent?! NO MORE!” Tyrone raised his hands as the crowd went nuts. Smoke was billowing into the sky from a distant fire.
 
“And what sparked all of this?” Tyrone asked, lowering his voice to build suspense throughout the crowd. “The police threatening a young boy with violence.” The crowd booed and hissed. “An officer of the law threatening a young boy with a weapon if he didn’t move along. A twelve year old boy who was carrying no weapon, and had no way of defending himself!”
 
The crowd went into a frenzy once again.
 
“I have that boy here today,” Tyrone said. The crowd went silent. “He’s frightened and fears for his life, but he has decided to speak out!”
 
The news stations all went live. This epic speech was about to be broadcast throughout the country. Al Sharpton was in attendance. All of the cameras were positioned towards Tyrone and the soon to be revealed boy of whom he spoke.
 
“There’s nothing else I can say,” Tyrone said. “I want you to hear about this travesty from the boy who lived through it: Da’Quarius Lobsterclaw Sherman!”
 
Da’Quarius stepped up from behind Tyrone and stood in front of the microphone. The entire crowd was eager to hear him speak for the first time since the riots started.
 
***
 
Freedom Lane:
A Riot of the Heart
 
Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow
Co-created by executive producer BluntSharpness
 
***
 
Twenty-four hours earlier:
 
“Yo, Da’Quarius!” Tony called from behind the counter of Paulie’s Pizza. It was early Saturday afternoon, and Da’Quarius was cleaning the tables and booths per his usual Saturday at Paulie’s.
 
“Wha’chu need,” Da’Quarius asked.
 
“You know my friend Rocco Priolo?” Tony asked. “He comes in here sometimes.”
 
“Da cop?” Da’Quarius asked.
 
“That’s the guy,” Tony said. “He’s directing traffic for those clowns at the power company down by Humphrey Street. Can you bring him his lunch?”
 
“Where’s dat driver dat Unca Paulie hired?” Da’Quarius asked. “Wha’chu call him again?”
 
“Pimple-Puss,” Tony said. “He don’t come in until four. It’s only a few blocks away. You can keep whatever tip he gives you.”
 
“Shit,” Da’Quarius said. “Count my little black ass in. It’s ’bout time I made some dough outta dis place.”
 
Tony handed Da’Quarius the bag with the food inside. “Here ya go,” he said. “Bust his balls a bit for me as well.”
 
“You got it,” Da’Quarius said. “One sub and some ball busting coming up!”
 
Da’Quarius left Paulie’s Pizza and entered the bright Saturday afternoon sunlight. He turned left, and noticed someone sitting on the bench.
 
“Hey,” Da’Quarius said. “Aren’t you dat girl does two gay dudes adopted. Esmerelda?”
 
“Djou remembered my name?” Esmerelda said.
 
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “Why not?”
 
Esmerelda shrugged. She was wearing a black tank top and short white pants. He long hair was tied back in a large, squirrelly pony tail. “So djou work in the pizza place?” she asked. “Those old ladies who raise djou let djou do that?”
 
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “It’s my Unca’s place. Why wouldn’t dey?”
 
Esmerelda shrugged again. “Harold and Lee don’t let me do much,” she said.
 
“Shit,” Da’Quarius said. “Well you escaped for da afternoon. I gotta deliver dis sandwich down the road. You wanna come wit me?”
 
Esmerelda looked surprised. She didn’t say anything at first. She just stared at Da’Quaruis. “Si,” she finally said. “I mean yes. I’d love to go.”
 
Da’Quarius and Esmerelda walked west down State Street. They didn’t say much to each other as they walked side by side. Every now and then Da’Quarius noticed she was looking at him, but whenever he turned around she was watching the sidewalk in front of her. The power company trucks were easy enough to spot once they got close to Humphrey Street. He found Tony’s friend, Rocco, leaning up against a mailbox playing with his phone while cars went honky by him.
 
“You Rocco?” Da’Quarius asked.
 
“Officer Priolo,” Rocco corrected.
 
“Whateva,” Da’Quarius said. “Tony sent me wit’cho lunch.”
 
“That bozo is sending kids to do his work?” Rocco asked. “Tell him I said to get off his lazy ass and carry it himself next time.”
 
“He said he busy at yo’ mamma’s house,” Da’Quarius said, handing Rocco the bag. Esmerelda stood giggling next to him.
 
“Watch it, kid,” Rocco said, smiling. “Cops in this town don’t take kindly to that kind of talk.”
 
“Wha’chu gonna do?” Da’Quarius asked, enjoying making Esmerelda giggle again. “I bet’chu can’t even use yo nightstick until you wipe da donut glaze off it.”
 
“I can use it just fine,” Rocco said, still smiling. He pulled the nightstick out of his holster and wagged it playfully towards Da’Quarius. “I’m going to use this on Tony next time I see him for sending you down here to bust my chops.”
 
“Damn,” Da’Quarius said. “Dat thing still smells like Tony’s asshole from da last time you used it on him?”
 
Rocco started laughing along with Esmerelda and Da’Quarius. He opened his mouth to make one last retort, but he was cut off before the first syllable could come out of his mouth.
 
“OH MY GOD!” a woman shouted from her porch. “DAT COP’S ‘BOUT BEAT DAT KID!”
 
Everyone in earshot suddenly turned to look.
 
***
 
“ROSE!” Helen shouted from the living room. “Get in here! It’s happening!”
 
Rose Masters entered the living room of the home she shared with her wife and life partner Helen. “What is it, Helen?” she asked, apprehensively. “What’s happening?”
 
“The end of days!” Helen said. “They’re rising up! They’re taking over!”
 
“Who?!” Rose said, getting frustrated. “Have you taken your meds today?”
 
“Just look at the damn TV!” Helen snapped.
 
Rose turned to look at the TV. Helen had on the local channel that played her stories (she watched at the same time on the weekends regardless of what happened to be on). The news had cut into the program to bring reports of rioting and looting in New Haven.
 
“Oh dear,” Rose said, slowly sitting next to Helen.
 
“I told you!” Helen said. “This is it. First it’s New Haven. Then they’ll spread. Daddy was right all along!”
 
“Calm down,” Rose said. “That’s incredibly offensive!”
 
“Look at what’s happening!” Helen said, motioning towards the TV. “It started down on State ST, and now they are going crazy all over downtown! Rioting. Looting. It’s chaos in the streets!”
 
“Da’Quarius,” Rose suddenly said. “Oh my God. I hope he’s safe!” 
 
“Don’t worry about him,” Helen said. “Knowing him, this is probably all that little shit’s fault!”
 
***
 
“Holy shit!” Paulie exclaimed as he opened and quickly slammed the door shut of Paulie’s Pizza.
 
“What the hell is going on out there?!” Tony asked.
 
“They’re rioting!” Paulie said. “The whole city is going crazy. They’re flipping cars over. Smashing windows. Stealing from businesses. I just watched them flip a car over! It looks like World War Friggin’ Three out there! Madon!”
 
“What happened?” Tony asked. “They just started going crazy?”
 
“Some idiot cop threatened a black kid,” Paulie said, sitting down heavily. “After that, they all started going nuts.”
 
“What?” Tony asked. “Where?”
 
“Right down the road!” Paulie said. “Near Humphrey Street.”
 
“Humphrey Street?” Tony echoed. 
 
Paulie looked around the pizzaria. “Where’s the kid?” he asked.
 
Tony’s brain took a few seconds to put the pieces into place. “Oh shit,” he said.
 
Just then, Da’Quaruis came rushing in with a girl. “You better lock dis door!” he shouted.
 
Paulie got up and locked the door and the dead bolt. “Tony, go downstairs and get the boards we put up for storms. You help him out, D. We’re going to board up this place and wait this out.”
 
Tony went down the narrow staircase into the basement, followed by Da’Quarius. Paulie turned to the nervous girl that his nephew brought with him. “What’s your name?” he asked.
 
“Esmerelda Perez de la Hoya,” she said.
 
“That’s pretty,” Paulie said. “We’ll keep you safe here. I promise. Do you want to call your parents and let them know you’re safe?.”
 
Esmerelda shook her head. “No,” she said. “They probably don’t even know I went out. They don’t really care about me.”
 
“That’s not true,” Paulie said. “I’m sure they care very much about you. They’re probably worried sick.”
 
***
 
Harold and Lee Fuchs sat on their couch huddled together, watching the drama unfold on the news.
 
“This is horrible,” Lee said.
 
“I know,” Harold replied. “Is Esmerelda here?”
 
“Yeah,” Lee said. “Probably playing with her dolls in her room or something.”
 
“Good,” Harold said, sipping his earl gray tea. “That’s good.”
 
***
 
Helen peeked through the drawn curtains of her home on Freedom Lane. She was now wearing a green army helmet and carrying a crowbar. Rose didn’t know where she got the helmet or the crowbar and was too afraid to ask.
 
“I don’t see them yet,” Helen said. “But they’ll come. You’ll see, Rose.”
 
Rose watched the phone. Helen forbade her from making any calls. She was getting very nervous about her adoptive son, Da’Quarius, and brother-in-law, Paulie. She hadn’t heard from them since the riot started.
 
“Helen,” Rose said softly. “Come and sit down. I’m worried about Da’Quarius.”
 
“He’s fine,” Helen said, repeating what she’s told Rose a hundred times. “He’ll probably be home with a new TV any minute now.”
 
Rose continued to watch the events unfold on TV. The story of the New Haven riots had spread from just the local channels to the mainstream media. It was now on all the major networks. Rose flipped from a local New Haven channel to CNN when the phone on the coffee table finally rang. She turned to pick it up.
 
“Don’t touch that phone,” Helen said, turning from the window. Her helmet became askew.
 
“It could be Da’Quarius or Paulie!” Rose said.
 
“And if it’s not?” Helen asked, walking towards Rose. “They’ll know we’re home.”
 
“Who?”
 
“Them! Those mobs outside!” Helen motioned towards the window. Rose watched as a squirrel ran by.
 
“This is crazy!” Rose said. She moved her hand towards the phone. Helen moved faster than she had in years, smashing the phone with her crowbar. Rose snatched her hand back. “HELEN!” 
 
“We are at war!” Helen said. 
 
“But Da’Quarius -“
 
“Is fine,” Helen said. “Trust me.”
 
A worried Rose nodded once.
 
“Good,” Helen said. “I love you, you know.” She took her post by the window back up.
 
***
 
“No answer at Rose and Helens,” Paulie said once the windows were all boarded up. “I hope they’re OK.”
 
“Dey alright,” Da’Quarius said. “Helen will scare ’em right off. She pulled a gun on a couple of my friends once.”
 
“She’s a tough old bird,” Paulie said. “I still wish I knew more about what’s going on out there.”
 
“If only Rocco didn’t pull that damn nightstick out,” Da’Quarius said.
 
“Wait,” Paulie said. “Rocco Priolo? You buddy did this, Tony?”
 
Tony didn’t say anything.
 
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius answered. “Mo’ fucker was just kiddin’, doe. He only took it out at me as a joke! Esmerelda will back me up. She was dere!”
 
“Wait again,” Paulie said. “You were the kid that started all of this nonsense?”
 
“In fairness, Rocco is da one that pulled out the nightstick,” Da’Quarius said.
 
“Why in the name of everything that is holy is your stunad cop friend taking his nightstick out on the kid in the middle of broad friggin’ daylight?!” Paulie exclaimed, turning on Tony.
 
“Don’t blame me!” Tony said. “I wasn’t even there! I just sent the kid to bring him a sandwich. How was I supposed to know that this shit would happen?”
 
“Fongool!” Paulie said, waving his hand in the air. “What a mess.”
 
“It wasn’t even Rocco’s fault!” Da’Quarius said. “If dat fat ol’ bitch on the porch hadn’t screamed nobody woulda gotten all upset.”
 
“What are we gonna do now?” Esmerelda asked, breaking the tension in the room.  “We live on pizza and sleep under tables until everything calms down?”
 
“We can use my apartment to shower and change and stuff,” Tony said.
 
“How we gonna get there? Da’Quarius asked.
 
“It’s right upstairs,” Tony said.
 
“You live at Paulie’s Pizza?” Da’Quarius asked.
 
“No,” Tony said. “I live in the apartment that is upstairs from Paulie’s Pizza.”
 
“The apartment is attached to the pizza restaurant,” Esmerelda pointed out.
 
“It’s an apartment with its own address,” Tony said.
 
“But the sign out front says ‘Paulie’s Pizza,” Da’Quarius said. “Not Paulie’s Pizza an’ Tony’s shitty apartment.”
 
“You won’t be runnin’ your mouth when you want a hot shower in the morning, you little wise ass,” Tony said.
 
“Enough!” Paulie said. “Thank you, Tony. We appreciate that. We should at least go up to the roof and see if things have calmed down.” The four went up to the roof where there were some chairs set up and a small table. “What’s going on up here?” Paulie asked.
 
“I entertain sometimes,” Tony said with a shrug. “Rooftop drinks the only part of living upstairs from a pizzeria that gets the chicks wet.”
 
“Oh!” Paulie said. “Not in front of the kids.”
 
“It’s OK,” Da’Quarius said. “We know he means dat dey get rained on.”
 
“You want me to toss you off this roof?” Tony asked.
 
“Just what we need to calm da riot,” Da’Quarius said. “A white guy tossing a black kid off a roof. Tony, you’re a genius.”
 
“Shaddup!” Paulie said, looking out into the city. They could see smoke rising from burning cars. They heard the screams and breaking glass. Shouts were coming from the cops in riot gear as they tried to get the crowds to disperse.
 
“Madre di dios,” Esmerelda said, stepping next to Da’Quarius and putting her hand on top of his. “This city is tearing itself apart.” 
 
“Bound to happen,” Paulie said, sullenly. “This city was just looking for an excuse.”
 
Da’Quarius looked towards Paulie, and, for the first time, he felt sorry for his part in unintentionally starting the riots.
 
***
 
Rose watched TV in the dark as Helen slept in her easy chair by the window. She had only left the window to use the bathroom. Rose made her a sandwich for dinner and brought it to her so she could watch the riots from the comfort of her seat. So far, none of the crowds had ventured down Freedom Lane, but Helen was adamant that they would soon be in their neighborhood.
 
“We’re coming live from Downtown New Haven,” the reporter from CNN said. “Earlier today, a police officer threatened a young boy, and the people of the city decided that they’d had enough. Here’s what some of the residents had to say.”
 
The scene cut to a large, black woman standing in front of the damaged store front. “This isn’t about violence or looting,” she said as a man ran down the street balancing six blu-ray players on top of each other. “We’re fed up of white cops treating the black community differently. What did that boy do to that cop to warrant such a threat?”
 
The scene changed to a man standing in front of a broken up gas station. “I seen the whole thing!” he said. “Dat boy was only walkin’ down the street when the cop pulled out his nightstick and told him he had to leave. All the kid do was axe why, and den da cop started swingin’ at his head! The boy was lucky enough to get away!”
 
“There you have it,” the reporter said. “More to come from New Haven after -“
 
Rose flipped the channel over to Fox News.
 
“The streets of New Haven are in chaos as the people rage against a white policeman who pulled  his nightstick on a black boy,” a male reporter said from an office over looking the dark streets of New Haven. “Reports are now coming in that the boy was threatening the cop with violence. There are even eye witnesses calling in to tell us that the boy in question was part of a small mob of hooligans that were throwing rocks at the police officer.”
 
The scene changed to a rather fat, white man standing in front of his house while his wife watered her flowers. “I saw it!” the man said. “That boy came running outta nowhere with a brick in his hand! That boy was lucky all he got was a scolding. If I were that cop I would have whacked him silly! He was well within his rights to give that kid a -“
 
Rose clicked through the channels randomly. She stopped on a black, female reporter addressing her audience from her news desk. “The reverend Al Sharpton plans to be in New Haven by the morning,” she said. “He said he plans on helping the citizens of New Haven against the threat of racism from the white police and the community that supports this behavior. He also stated -“
 
Rose shut off the TV. She got up and walked to the window. She looked out into the dark street. There was still no sign of the rioting on Freedom Lane, but she knew Da’Quarius was out there somewhere. Probably scared out of his mind. She prayed that he was unharmed. “Come home to us,” she said, pressing her hand against the cool window. “Please. Come home safe and unharmed.”
 
Helen let out a fart that made Rose jump. “The kid’s probably stolen a house by now,” she said, drifting back to sleep.
 
***
 
“The actions of the New Haven Police are deplorable!” Al Sharpton shouted at the crowd that had gathered in the New Haven green to see him speak. Paulie, Da’Quarius, Tony, and Esmerelda watched on TV from Tony’s couch in his small apartment. They had slept in various locations around the apartment, and Paulie got up every two hours or so to check on the Pizzeria downstairs, especially when he thought he heard some rioters or looters running by.
 
“We will not sit by and let the police threaten our children with violence!” Al Sharpton shouted at the crowd. “We will not allow such a travesty!”
 
“Bullshit,” Paulie said. “This stunad is always trying to stir up trouble!”
 
“That was reverend Al Sharpton from the New Haven green,” the news announcer said. “He’s reacting to the photo of the young boy that was threatened yesterday afternoon.”
 
“Oh shit,” Da’Quarius said.
 
The screen changed to a photo of Humphrey Street. The camera got the back of Rocco holding his nightstick towards Da’Quarius and Esmerelda. Da’Quarius’ face was clear in the photo.
 
“We’re on TV!” Esmerelda shouted.
 
“Reverend Sharpton’s words this morning marked the beginning of another day of riots,” the reporter continued. “The end may not come soon for the riots that are ravaging this once peaceful city.”
 
Paulie turned the TV off. “This ain’t good,” he said. “You better lay low for a little while.”
 
“Yeah,” Tony said. “No inciting riots!”
 
“Ah fongool!” Paulie exclaimed. “I mean hide out, you stunad!”
 
“I didn’t rob a liquor store!” Da’Quarius said. “I can’t hide from dis! I’m all ova the TV!”
 
“I’m gonna go check on the front door downstairs,” Paulie said. “Then I’m gonna go to my private office for a bit.” Paulie left to the staircase downstairs.
 
“Private office?” Esmerelda asked.
 
“He’s gonna take a shit,” Tony said. He left without explanation for the roof.
 
“This is really weird,” Esmerelda said. “I’m really sorry, Da’Quarius.”
 
“It’s OK,” Da’Quarius said. “Not your fault.”
 
“I know,” Esmerelda said. “I wish there was a way to make it right.”
 
“Make it right,” Da’Quarius said. “Dat’s it! I can make this right. Now dat my face is out there I have to!”
 
“Where are djou -” Esmerelda said as Da’Quarius left. She was transfixed for a moment by what she saw, then she chased after him.
 
***
 
Helen watched TV while Rose showered. It was hard to pull Rose away from the TV, but Helen promised to stopped staring out the window while she cleaned herself up. She had the channel her stories usually aired on hoping they would stop with all the news coverage and put them on (even thought it was Sunday), and she was shocked to see what came up on the TV.
 
“Once again, here’s the photo of the boy who was threatened by the police yesterday afternoon,” the TV announcer said. “There’s no word on whether or not he’s made any kind of statement, and the New Haven Police haven’t released the name of the police officer or the boy the threatened.”
 
“It can’t be,” Helen said, squinting her eyes to see. “That could be any kid. All of these little punks look the same.”
 
Helen removed her glasses and rubbed her eyes. She put her glasses back on and leaned closer to the TV. There was no mistaking it. “You little shit,” she whispered. “I knew it was you!”
 
Suddenly, Helen heard Rose coming down the stairs. Helen switched the TV off quickly.
 
“What happened?” Rose said. “I thought you were watching the news.”
 
“TV’s out,”  Helen said. “Damn hooligans knocked out the cable.”
 
“That was rotten of them,” Rose said. “I’ll go get the radio. I’m still worried about Da’Quarius out there.”
 
“You and the rest of New Haven,” Helen muttered under her breath.
 
***
 
Paulie walked back upstairs to Ton’y apartment and was surprised to be by himself. “Oh!” he shouted. “Where is everyone?!”
 
“I’m comin’!” Tony shouted. He came in from the door that led to the roof. “What are you shouting for?”
 
“Where the hell are the kids?!” Paulie said. “You shoulda been watching them!”
 
“What am I?” Tony said. “A glorified baby sitter?!”
 
“Puttana d’ Eva!” Paulie said, wrenching at his hair with his hands. “There’s a freakin’ riot goin’ on! You can’t keep an eye on two kids?!”
 
“What about you?” Tony asked. “You left me to watch your nephew and his girlfriend to take a twenty minute dump? What a great role model.”
 
“Shut that hole in your face!” Paulie said. “I’m going after them.”
 
“You can’t!” Tony said.
 
“The hell I can’t!” Paulie said. “My sister will kill me if anything happened to him! Lock the door behind me. I’m gonna find that kid and drag his ass home by his dreadlocks.”
 
“You sure about this?” Tony said. “That kid ain’t exactly innocent, if you catch me.”
 
“He’s just a kid,” Paulie said. “Who knows what hell he’s going through out there.”
 
***
 
Da’Quarius shoved the homeless man into the street with his boot. He had come running up on Esmerelda, so Da’Quarius gave him a shot in the balls via his Timberland.
 
“Where are we going?” Esmerelda asked, glancing over her shoulder at the bum clutching his groin and moaning in the street.
 
“I didn’t ask you to come wit me,” Da’Quarius responded. “You should go home to Bert an’ Ernie now.”
 
“I want to stay with you,” Esmerelda said.
 
“OK,” Da’Quarius said. “But umma make dis right.”
 
“Djou said that before,” Esmerelda said. “What does that mean?”
 
“Look at what’s goin’ on,” Da’Quarius said. “Tear gas. Fires. Looting. All cuz some idiot thinks some white cop was going to beat a black kid. It ain’t right.”
 
“But aren’t the police shitty to djour people?” Esmerelda asked.
 
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “Dis be a long time comin’. I just don’t wanna be the poster child for it.”
 
Esmerelda nodded, and the pair walked in silence for a bit. Finally, Da’Quarius found what he was looking for.
 
“Hey!” Da’Quarius shouted at the news van parked near Humphrey Street. “You bitches wanna git me on TV or what?”
 
***
 
“Outta my way!” Paulie shouted. “I gotta find my nephew!”
 
“You in da wrong neighborhood,” some said to Paulie’s left.
 
“I was raised in this neighborhood!” Paulie said. “I just want to find my nephew and bring him home.”
 
“Dis ain’t about your nephew, bitch,” another man said. “Dis about the black man!”
 
“My nephew’s black, stunad!” Paulie said.
 
“Bullshit,” the voice said.
 
“He is!” Paulie said. He reached in his pocket and pulled out the photo he grabbed from his office. It was of him and Da’Quarius making pizza in his pizzeria. 
 
“Dat’s the kid who was getting threatened by the cop!” the man said, grabbing the picture.
 
“Give that back!” Paulie said, snatching the photo. “I need to find him!”
 
“Is that kid really your nephew?” someone asked.
 
“Yeah,” Paulie said. “Have you seen him?”
 
“Oh yeah,” he said. “Didn’t you hear? He’s making a big speech outside that pizza place on State Street.”
 
“Madon,” Paulie said. “What pizza place?”
 
“Paulie’s.”
 
***
 
“You ready for this?” Tyrone asked. Da’Quarius had ran into Tyrone after hooking up with the news team drinking coffee outside of their van. When Tyrone saw Da’Quarius talking to them, him and his boys ‘looted’ the van and cameras. They quickly went to work setting up the spot in front of Paulie’s Pizza per Da’Quarius’ request.
 
“I’m ready,” Da’Quarius said. “Da people have to know what happened.”
 
“True dat!” Tyrone said. “I’ll get the crowed warmed up. I was on the debate team back in high school. I’ll introduce you, and you can tell the crowd what that cop did to you.”
 
“OK,” Da’Quarius said. 
 
“YO MUTHA FUCKER!” Tryone shouted. “GIT CAMERA TWO POINTED AT THE GOTDAMN PODIUM!”
 
“Djou sure you want to do this?” Esmerelda asked.
 
“I gotta,” Da’Quarius said. “Dis will keep on going until dey know.”
 
Esmerelda leaned over and kissed Da’Quarius on the cheek. “Good luck,” she said.
 
“Luck?” Da’Quarius said. “Mutha fucker, I got the truth.”
 
***
 
Paulie fought through the crowd as Tyrone Pitt shouted about oppression and violence. The crowd was rabid and was ready to see more destruction and mayhem. Paulie knew from the atmosphere that is this went wrong the rioting would go on for days. The City of New Haven might just end up burnt to the ground.
 
“I want you to hear about this travesty from the boy who lived through it,” Tyrone said as Paulie approached the front of the crowd. “Da’Quarius Lobsterclaw Sherman!”
 
***
 
The crowd went eerily silent as Da’Quarius stood in front of the microphone. Tyrone’s boys pointed the cameras at him. They were oddly adept to working the equipment and raising the satellite dish of the news van. Still, Da’Quarius wondered if anyone other than the crowd would hear him. He noticed that Al Sharpton was at the back of the crowd having makeup applied by an assistant, and he suddenly knew that the world would hear.
 
“My name is Da’Quarius Lobsterclaw Sherman,” Da’Quarius said. The crowd cheered. “Yesterday, I was walking down the street to bring a police officer his lunch. He pulled his nightstick out and showed it to me. He had no ill intent. It was a joke.”
 
Da’Quarius stopped to let this sink in to the crowd. There were a lot of murmurs. “Mutha fucka, you know what’s at stake?” Tyrone whispered. Da’Quarius looked to see Al Sharpton muttering with a look of shock and betrayal on his face.
 
“Y’all a bunch of ignorant mo’ fuckers!” Da’Quarius said. “Ya’ll jus’ lookin’ for an excuse to act like a bunch of assholes! You wanna destroy your own neighborhood and blame the police, then go right ahead. Jus’ don’t try and sayin’ you doin’ it for me, cuz I think you’re all dead wrong.
 
“Dat cop is a friend of a friend. I was bringin’ him his lunch, an’ we was jokin’ around. Some bitch starts yellin’ dat he’s threatening me, and the rest of you start smashing shit up and flipping cars over. What da fuck is wrong wit y’all!
 
“An’ you, Sharpton,” Da’Quarius said, pointing towards Al Sharpton. Sharpton pointed to himself and mouthed the word ‘me?’.
 
“Yeah you,” Da’Quarius said. “Da loud-mouthed bitch with da stupid-ass hair! Stop exploiting your own people! You make me ashamed to be black a lot more than any white cop ever could! Get your shit and get da fuck outta my city!”
 
The crowd began to clap and cheer a bit as Al Sharpton turned towards his limo, but a group of rioters had successfully turned it upside down. The crowds cheering increased as he rushed down the street with his entourage of makeup artists and PR people.
 
“An’ the rest of you go home!” Da’Quarius continued. He saw Tyrone from the corner of his eye with his head bowed. He knew Da’Quarius was right. “You did enough damage to prove your dumb-ass point. You wanna riot tomorrow or next week; you can go right ahead. Jus’ don’t do it cuz of me. I’ll be home wit my family.
 
PEACE!”
 
Da’Quarius kicked the mic stand over and joined his uncle Paulie in front of the crowd. The two left the area with cheers.
 
***
 
“I’m glad that ordeal is over with,” Rose said, passing the mashed potatoes around the table. It was Sunday night, and Rose decided it best to have her family over for dinner. Helen, Da’Quarius, Paulie, Tony, and Esmerelda all thought it was a good idea as well.
 
“I’ll be fine if I never see another riot in my honor again,” Da’Quarius said.
 
“Amen,” Paulie said. “Pass the salt.”
 
Tony passed the salt over to Paulie. “That was quite a speech kid,” he said. “I was watching from the roof.”
 
“Too bad we missed it,” Rose said. “Our cable went out for the day.”
 
Helen coughed and gave a queer look around the table.
 
“Why’d you make them do it outside of Paulie’s,” Tony asked. “That was nuts.”
 
“Shit,” Da’Quarius said. “Everyone saw dat shit on TV. Your restaurant gonna be nuts tomorrow!”
 
Everyone at the table laughed. Esmerelda looked over to Da’Quarius. “I’m jus’ glad everything turned out OK,” she said. “Djou did great.”
 
“Esmerelda,” Rose said, softly. “You sure you don’t want to invite Harold and Lee? There’s plenty of food. They must be worried sick if they haven’t seen or heard from you since Saturday afternoon.”
 
“They’re fine,” Helen said. “They’re too busy trying to fart out the mice to notice.”
 
“Helen!” Rose said, her hand darting to her mouth and her fork clanging on her plate. The entire table burst into laughter.
 
***
 
Lee Fuchs turned the TV off. “You ready for bed?” he asked.
 
“Yeah,” Harold said yawning. He got up and sat in the chair that would lift him upstairs. “Race you up?”
 
“I’d like to see you beat me in that thing,” Lee said, smiling. 
 
“Loser swallows,” Harold said, nasally.
 
“Harold!” Lee exclaimed. “Esmerelda will hear you!”
 
Harold looked confused. “Who?”
 
 
 
The End

 

 
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