Freedom Lane – Two Girls One Mower
“Look,” Helen said, standing in the kitchen, arguing with Rose. “You’ve paraded a whole cast of houseguests in this home yourself, so don’t get all uppity.”
“Don’t act like you haven’t done this before,” Rose said. “What about the elderly porn star and your former cellmate? And now the latter’s niece is staying with us?”
“You forgot da’ time Helen let a clown stay here,” Da’Quarius added.
Rose shuddered and went pale. “Never bring that up.”
“It’s only temporary,” Helen said. “Besides, I owe Bea from when we kicked her out. It’s just a girl in her twenties. It was one of your guests that seduced Da’Quarius and took his virginity that time.”
“But it was one of yours that gave him chlamydia,” Rose retorted.
“Both dose statements are inaccurate an’ outta context an’ shit,” Da’Quarius said. “I don’t remember da’ first, an’ dat old porn star was wearin’ my underwear.”
“Nevertheless,” Rose continued, “I don’t know if Bea’s niece staying here is a good idea.”
“I know it doesn’t seem ideal,” Helen said. “But I can’t turn my back on one of Bea’s kin. I know her and I didn’t finish things well, but she wouldn’t ask me for a solid if it wasn’t serious. Besides, it’s only until she can get a job and find an apartment on her own.”
“So this will only be until she can find a job?” Rose asked.
“Yes,” Helen said. “And I’ll even help her look. I’ll make sure she takes the first opportunity that comes her way.”
“The very first opportunity?” Rose repeated, raising an eyebrow.
“The very first one,” Helen repeated.
Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow
Co-created by executive producer BluntSharpness
Season 11 Finale: Two Girls One Mower
“So you’re problem is solved,” Helen said, walking in the house, followed by their neighbors from across the street and one house up, Antonio and Manny Garcia. “I spoke with Eileen about your plight, and she’s more than happy to take the job. This is her right here, by the way. Eileen, meet your new bosses, the Garcia brothers.”
“What?” Rose asked, coming in from the kitchen. “You found her a job already. How did you…” She looked from Eileen to the the trio who had just come in. “Good lord. You are not letting her do porn.”
“We agreed,” Helen said. “Eileen was to take the very first opportunity that came around. I was looking through the employment ads, and I found one by our very good friends from across the street. Eileen is all for it, and these two are more than happy with her… qualifications. Also, I get to direct her first movie!”
“It was Helen’s idea after all,” Antonio said, smiling.
“Yeah,” Manny added. “She gave us the idea the first day we met you guys: Two Girls, One Mower.”
“What’s the plot of the film?” Eileen asked, standing up.
“It’s a porno, dear,” Rose said, rolling her eyes. “I wouldn’t worry much about plot.”
“I’m betting Eileen is a natural,” Helen added. “She’s going ride that mower and that other chick like there’s no tomorrow. I have so many ideas for this chick, you have no idea.”
There was the stomping of feet as Da’Quarius raced downstairs from his bedroom, his feet thundering on the steps. “Okay,” he said. “Start dis conversation over.”
The phone of Paulie’s Pizza on State Street rang on a Friday afternoon. Tony came from the back and answered it, getting his pad and pencil ready to take an order. “Paulie’s Pizza,” he said.
“Yeah,” the voice on the other end, an annoyed male, said. “Do you assholes know what ‘no tomatoes’ means?”
“What?” Tony retorted. “How about you come down here and ask me that, you friggin’ wise guy?”
“I asked for no tomatoes on my grinder,” the man on the phone replied. “There’s huge slices of tomatoes on this thing. Can you even listen to a simple request with all the pizza sauce in your ears?”
“How about this,” Tony said, “let me know where you are, and I’ll come pick them up. Then you can call me an asshole to my face and see what that gets you.”
“Hang up that damn phone!” Paulie snapped, storming form his office. “Do you think I can’t hear you from in there?!”
Tony hung the phone up. “It’s another one of these prank callers,” he said. “That’s the third one this week. I’m getting sick of their shit.”
“Then stop buying into it,” Paulie said. “It’s those damn college kids. They get off on smoking dope and harassing pizza places. It’s been that way since I opened thirty-five years ago. I don’t know why there’s a bug up your ass about it now.”
“I don’t know,” Tony said. “They’re just annoying is all, and they seem to be coming in more often since we’ve re-opened.”
The door opened, and Da’Quarius walked in. “What’s up, Unca Paulie,” he said, smiling. “Tony.”
“Don’t let me find out it’s you!” Tony exclaimed, pointing a finger toward Da’Quarius. “I don’t give a shit, kid. I’ll toss you off the roof if I find out it’s you calling here!”
“Da’ fuck you talkin’ ‘bout?” Da’Quarius said. “I ain’t callin’ yo’ ass.”
“Get back to work!” Paulie snapped to Tony. He turned to Da’Quarius. “What brings you here on a Friday afternoon?”
“I’m meetin’ a group from school for what my teacher calls a ‘social experiment’,” Da’Quarius replied. “Rose don’t want me ‘round while Helen is directing a porno across da’ street anyway.”
A car horn honked, and Da’Quarius turned and looked out the window. “Shit. My ride’s here early. Catch ya later, Unca Paulie.”
“Alright, kid,” Paulie said as Da’Quarius headed for the door. “Have fun.”
Da’Quarius was out in the afternoon sun when something struck Paulie. “Hey!” he called. “What did you say my sister’s doing?!”
“What on earth are you doing?” Helen asked Rose, who has a huge piece of poster board on the dining room table, making a sign with a sharpie.
“I’m protesting your porno,” Rose replied. “Ive stood by too long while those two made and peddled smut in the neighborhood in which I grew up. I don’t even know why I sat here and let them do it.”
“Because this is America,” Helen said. “Those two clowns have every right to peddle as much smut they want. I don’t understand much about computers or internets; but I know its full of fuck-movies, and that’s protected by our constitution.”
“Besides,” Helen continued, “you’re just jealous that they’re letting me direct.”
“I’m jealous?!” Rose exclaimed. “Don’t be ridiculous. If anything, I’m a little upset that you’d take on this project without considering how I’d feel about it.”
“I assumed you’d be thrilled!” Helen retorted. “It’s not like you and I have never watched an adult movie together.”
“Helen…” Rose said, blushing vividly.
“Remember the days of the VHS rental places?” Helen asked, smiling. “Every tenth rental was free. We had two free rentals a month, Rose.”
Rose giggled. “Stop it,” she said.
“What?” Helen said. “You and I had fun. We must have rented every girl-on-girl movie that place had, twice. Remember ‘Strap-On Susie’? That was a favorite of yours. I wonder what Susie’s up to nowadays. Think she’s still strapping one on and ramming it home?”
Rose laughed, but her smile faded. “I know what you’re doing,” she said. “You’re just distracting me long enough so you can formulate a way to tell me that I can’t protest pornography because I’ve watched it. It’s not that I dislike porno in general, it’s that I don’t want it across the street from my family and my teenage son.”
Helen scoffed. “Fine,” she said. “Protest then. I’ll be filming two girls humping each other on a rider-mower while you’re holding up your clever sign in the hot sun. Maybe I’ll buy you a lemonade when I’m done with my directorial debut.”
“Is dat really what dis is ‘bout?” Da’Quarius asked as his social studies teacher, Mr. Hessman, drove his Camry through the streets of downtown New Haven. He was joined in the car with his Korean friend, Flounder, who was alone in the backseat.
“I told you,” Hessman replied, “this is a social experiment. You’ll get an A-plus as a test grade, both of you. You’re doing fine, but Flounder really needs to get his average up.”
“My dad has me cleaning clothes every night until mom comes home,” Flounder said, looking at the floor.
“What happened to yo’ moms?” Da’Quarius asked. “Is e’rythin’ okay at home?”
“Regardless of your excuse,” Hessman continued, “you’ve slipped to a C-minus in my class. Da’Quarius, if you want to help Flounder out, you’ll take part in this experiment.”
“Fine,” Da’Quarius said. “Just so you know, Hess: you a dirty-ass mo’ fucker.”
“Noted,” Hessman replied.
“Tell us one more time wha’chu want us doin’,” Da’Quarius said. “I wanna make sure we got it before we start.”
“Okay,” Hessman said. “I’m going to find a corner full of hookers. I’m going to slow down just enough to get their attention. When they start looking around, you, Da’Quarius, will blast them with the paintball gun.”
“Got it,” Da’Quarius said, shifting the paintball gun that was sitting on his lap.
“Flounder,” Hessman continued. “You’re going to film the whole thing. Make sure you get the looks on their faces. I’ll only stay a moment go get their reaction before driving away.”
“Then we’ll write an essay on all this?” Flounder asked.
“No!” Hessman snapped. “Then I upload this to Twitter and watch me follower count soar. Don’t you dare write any of this down.”
“It’s a lil’ too early fo’ hookers,” Da’Quarius said. “You gonna be driving ‘ a while.”
“I figured I’d get you some burgers first,” Hessman replied. “How’s Five Guys sound?”
“Sounds good to me,” Da’Quarius replied. “I know Flounder’s good with dat. Right, Flounder?”
“I miss mom,” Flounder said, looking toward the floor.
Helen walked toward the back to the Garcia’s house. “Shit,” Helen said, looking around.
“What?” Antonio asked.
“I don’t know,” Helen sighed. “I expected more I guess. I thought you’d have beds all over with women diddling themselves, lesbians running around with dildos, the works.”
“We have some cam rooms upstairs,” Antonio said. “But a lot of the girls work from home.”
They finally made their way to a room with a large green screen. In the middle was a rider mower, and Eileen was already sitting in the seat, joking around with another woman with black hair and tattoos.
“This is going to be good,” Helen said, licking her lips. “How’d you get the mower in the house anyway?”
“We’re almost ready,” Manny said, coming up to Antonio and Helen. “This is going to be epic.”
“I have a suggestion,” Helen said.
“Shoot,” Manny replied. “You’re the director after all.”
Helen looked over the scene, her finger tapping on her chin. “This isn’t hispanic enough,” she said. “Do you have any sombreros for the ladies?”
“On it,” Manny said, running off.
“Paulie’s Pizza,” Tony said, picking up the phone near the register. “Oh yeah? How about you cut yourself instead. Start with your friggin’ head!”
“Oh!” Paulie said, nearly stampeding to Tony. “We got a pizzeria full of customers in front of you. Who are you threatening now?”
Tony held the phone to his chest. “It’s some mook who claims our provolone was too sharp and they cut themselves.”
Paulie smiled. “Just hang up,” he said. “They’re just kids. They’re going to keep calling to get a rise out of you. Don’t let me hear you yelling in here again.” He walked back to his office, chuckling at the joke about the sharp provolone.
“Look,” Tony said softly, putting the phone back to his lips. “Go cut your friggin’ muddah.” He hung the phone up.
“There they are,” Hessman said, driving his car past a group of hookers just on the outskirts of downtown New Haven. “I’m going to circle the block, slow down, and get their attention. Then you blast them, Daq. You film it, Flounder.”
“We got it,” Da’Quarius said. “Let’s do dis.”
“Ready, Flounder?” Hessman asked.
“Sure,” Flounder said, turning on the camera and getting it ready. “I could just hack your profile and get you as many twitter followers as you want, you know.”
“Those aren’t real followers,” Hessman muttered, driving around the block. “They need to be authentic or I might as well be tweeting to the wall.”
“What’s yo’ Twitter handle anyway?” Da’Quarius asked.
“Never you mind,” Hessman said. “Part of your A-Plus is you don’t ask questions.”
“Fine,” Da’Quarius said. “Just get me near da’ hookers so I can blast ‘em.”
“They’re coming up,” Hessman said, pulling up to the corner where the three hookers were congregating. Da’Quarius unrolled his window, getting their attention. Flounder recorded from the back, silent, too scared to breathe. The hookers approached, hoping for a willing john with a fat wallet. Instead, they were met by Da’Quarius popping up with a paintball gun.
“BREAK YO’SELF, HOS!” Da’Quarius shouted, opening fire. His aim was true, and he pelted the ladies of the evening with neon green paint. All three of them were hit, and were shouting obscenities.
“HEY!” someone exclaimed from a hundred feet away. Da’Quarius turned to see their pimp, a tall black man in a black coat and a matching fedora, approaching.
“Hess!” Da’Quarius shouted. “Get da’ fuck outta here!”
Hessman didn’t have to be told twice. He slammed his foot on the gas, peeled rubber, and drove away from the entire scene.
Rose stood outside the Garcias’ house, holding her sign. She had put out a plea to Facebook, and a few others had shown up in support. A woman with black hair carried a large crucifix and approached Rose. “It’s disgusting what they’re doing to our neighborhood,” she said. “Their house should be burnt to the ground.”
“Manny and Antonio are actually both very nice,” Rose said. “I just don’t agree with what they’re doing.”
“There’s nothing nice about peddling smut,” the woman said. “When Jesus returns, all smut peddlers, fornicators, homosexuals, and democrats will burn and rot.”
“Wow,” Rose said to herself as the woman walked away. “Glad she didn’t ask anything about me.”
“What you’re doing is great,” a man said, coming up to Rose. “I can’t wait to have them evicted from our neighborhood.”
“Oh,” Rose said. “I don’t want to see them kicked out. I just want them to not shoot their movies here.”
“Pornographers are disgusting people,” the man said, his scowl becoming more prominent. “I don’t even consider them human beings. It doesn’t help that they’re Mexican too.”
“They’re actually Puerto Rican,” Rose corrected.
“Same difference,” the man said. He walked off, shouting about the horrors of sex as an elderly couple walked their dogs past their house.
“Jeez,” Rose muttered. “I’m not really in good company out here, am I?”
“Now we’re cooking with gas,” Helen said as Eileen and Julie put on their sombreros.
“This seems a little racist now,” Antonio said.
“You’re the two who hired white women for my hispanic porn,” Helen retorted, giving him the stink-eye.
“Eileen was your actress,” Antonio said.
“Fine,” Helen said. “Now I see Eileen straddling the mower as Julie comes into the shot and says -”
“We have a problem,” Manny interrupted, looking at his phone.
“What?” Antonio asked.
“There’s apparently a protest going on outside our house,” Manny said. “A bunch of religious nuts and shit.”
“That’s not all,” Helen said. “Rose is there too.”
“Why would Rose protest us?” Manny asked. “I thought she liked us.”
“She bakes us cookies!” Antonio said, looking as if he were slapped in the face.
“She’s acting out of jealousy,” Helen said. She put on her green army helmet. “But she has no idea what she’s started.”
“When did you bring that helmet in?” Antonio asked.
“Think we lost him?” Hessman asked, speeding down the streets of New Haven.
Founder looked out the beck window. “No,” he said, his voice panicked. “He’s following us in a black car. Why’d you make me do this?!”
“Nobody forced you!” Hessman snapped. “Either of you!”
“I’m not sayin’ a thing,” Da’Quarius said.
“You’re right,” Hessman said, turning a corner quickly without signaling. “You’re awfully calm about it while Flounder is almost pissing himself back there.”
Da’Quarius shrugged. “Dis almost seems normal at dis point.”
“I have no idea how I’m going to lose this pimp,” Hessman said.
“Might as well pull over and let him cut you,” Da’Quarius suggested. “Get it over with while we’re still near da’ hospital.”
“That’s a little too dark,” Hessman said. “Besides, you’re the one who shot the hookers.”
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said, “but I bet he’s more apt to cut da’ adult chaperone den da’ kids in da’ car.”
Hessman sighed. “You’re probably right. How we looking back there, Flounder?”
“I didn’t pee myself,” Flounder replied.
“I mean the pimp,” Hessman said. “Is he still behind us?”
“Yeah,” Flounder said. “He’s still there.”
“Shit,” Hessman said. “I’m going to try to get out of downtown so I can move a little faster. Maybe if I head toward Westville I can lose him in the neighborhoods.”
“I dunno,” Da’Quarius said. “He’s just gonna have less obstacles between him an’ us.”
“Alright,” Hessman said. “Let’s go down some one-way streets the wrong way and give him the slip.”
Flounder groaned in the back.
“Do it,” Da’Quarius said.
“You’re way too excited about this,” Hessman said.
Paulie sat in front of the computer of his office, going over his numbers and the following week’s orders. His head was aching from a long day, and he just wanted to duck out and head home. He was hoping to finish up soon and let Tony close up. That was when he heard the shouting.
“How about I put that large sausage up your sister’s ass!” Tony shouted.
“Madon,” Paulie groaned, getting up. He stormed out of his office and found Tony by the counter. “Hang up the friggin’ phone!”
Tony did as he was told, putting the phone down. “You wouldn’t believe these assholes,” he said. “They’re calling here now, asking for a large sausage. When I ask where they want it delivered to, they tell me my mother’s ass.”
Alice, Paulie’s head waitress, stormed in from the seating area. “Can you please stop yelling obscenities?” she asked. “The customers in there can hear you, and they’re complaining.”
“You don’t understand how it is!” Tony exclaimed. “These mooks have been calling all night!”
“I already told you,” Paulie said. “They’re calling because you keep flipping the hell out. Just hang up, and they’ll stop.”
“I tried,” Tony said. “They’re tying up the phone with this nonsense too.”
Paulie sighed. “Alice,” he said, turning toward the waitress, “would it be possible for you to start taking orders over the phone too on top of managing the waitstaff?”
Alice looked a little surprised. “You mean come into the main area?” she asked. “Like the big leagues?”
“I’m going to assume that was not sarcasm,” Paulie replied.
“No,” Alice said. “It wasn’t. I can handle the phone while you’re busy.”
“No way,” Tony said, waving his arms. “I take the calls when you’re busy. That’s how it’s always been.”
“You’re disrespecting my place and my name,” Paulie said, pointing a finger toward Tony. “People don’t come in here to hear you screaming over the phone to some kids playing telephone tough guys. You’re off the phone, Tony. Alice, you’re on.”
“Fongool,” Tony muttered, heading back toward the kitchen.
“I won’t let you down, boss,” Alice said.
“I hope not,” Paulie said, heading back toward his office. “Now let me finish my work in peace, for the love of all that is holy, please.”
The phone rang and Alice picked it up, pulling a pen and pad toward herself. “Paulie’s Pizza,” she said. She listened. Tony crept back from the kitchen.
Alice put the phone near her chest, blocking the receiver. “The want to know where the other guy is,” she said. “They want grinders. Two meatballs and a sausage, delivered directly to your own ass.”
“Hey,” Tony said in a surly tone, walking back toward the kitchen after a quick shrug. “You wanted to talk to these assholes. Enjoy the big leagues, babe.”
Alice put the phone back to her mouth. “Eat shit and die slowly, you fuckin’ morons,” she said, hanging up.
“Fornication on film is not part of God’s plan!” a man shouted, motioning toward the Garcia brother’s home. “All fornication should only take place on the marital bed of two straight adults!”
The small crowd, now numbering more than ten people, nodded and murmured in agreement. All except Rose, who felt more and more embarrassed as the protest she had started went on. She thought about sneaking back home and hoping Manny and Antonio would never find out she had something to do about it. Maybe Helen would forget that Rose had planned this after all. She was due for her senility to give her a memory lapse.
“GET LOST!” Helen said, coming from the front door, wearing her green army hat and brandishing a baseball bat. “This is a legitimate business these fine young boys are running! Nobody is doing anything they don’t want to to do!”
“Good lord!” the man with the megaphone said. “Is that the lady who curses during church?!”
“She defiles Bingo too!” an older woman shouted. “She cheats!”
“You just suck at it!” Helen snapped. “Rose, tell your posse to get out of here!”
The small group all turned to look at Rose, who was standing near the sidewalk, embarrassed by the group and Helen at the same time. The time she was brave enough to lead a group of stranded people through the woods to safety seemed a long time ago.
“She’s with you?” the man with the megaphone asked.
“She is!” the old Bingo lady added. “They’re together, a couple of the gays!”
“Oh!” Helen exclaimed. “Don’t throw around accusations like that unless you want me to slap you around!”
“Come on!” megaphone man shouted. “Planned Parenthood is only a few blocks away on Whitney. Let’s go protest there while our hate is still righteous.”
The crowd all agreed, and they started making their way to their cars.
“Well?” Helen asked. “Are you happy now?”
Rose looked at Helen, tears swimming in her eyes. “No.”
“He’s still there,” Flounder said as Hessman sped around a corner.
“I see him,” Hessman said, looking in his rearview mirror.
“I told you not to leave downtown,” Da’Quarius said.
“But there are less police out this way,” Hessman retorted.
Da’Quarius laughed. “I think da’ police would be yo’ friend right ‘bout now.”
Hessman huffed, turning another corner, followed by the black sedan.
“Oh shit!” Da’Quarius exclaimed, so suddenly he almost made Hessman drive over a curb.
“What?” Hessman asked.
Da’Quarius was already clicking away on his phone. “Umma call Rocco.”
“Who’s Rocco?” Hessman asked.
“Tony’s buddy,” Da’Quarius replied. “He’s a cop, an’ he helps us out of jams all da’ time.”
“Who’s Tony?” Hessman asked.
“Rocco,” Da’Quarius said, putting the call on speaker. “It’s Da’Quarius. I got a little problem.”
“What is it?” Rocco asked.
“Some pimp is chasin’ us right now,” Da’Quarius said. “We kinda shot up his girls with paintballs.”
There was a long sigh from Rocco. “What the hell would even possess you to do something like that?”
“It’s a social experiment,” Da’Quarius replied. “I think it’s goin’ well. Right, Hess?”
“Can you help us out?!” Hess called, keeping his eyes on the road. “We’re near Edgewood and Forest Road.”
“You’re on your own tonight,” Rocco said. “I’m not working right now. Call nine-one-one.”
“But they’ll send da’ real police,” Da’Quarius said.
“I am the real police!” Rocco snapped. “I’m just off duty. I gotta go. Good luck.”
“Rocco!” Da’Quarius shouted as Rocco hung up. “Damn. I thought we were cool, mo’ fucker.”
“I got an idea,” Hessman said. He cut the wheel suddenly, knocking over some trashcans with the front of his car. He drove down an empty driveway, through a fence, coming out on another street via someone else’s yard. He made a quick right and another left, speeding away. He pulled down a dark street and parked swiftly, losing his passenger side mirror against a tree. He killed the engine and the lights.
“Holy shit,” Da’Quarius said. “Dat was hardcore as fuck.”
“Quiet,” Hessman said, lowering himself in his seat. “Get down.”
They all lowered themselves, not saying a word. They heard cars passing on a perpendicular street, but there was no way to tell if it was the pissed off pimp. After a few minutes, Hessman raised his head and looked around. “I think we actually lost him.”
“Better chill for a few more minutes,” Da’Quarius said. “Just to be safe.”
“Good idea,” Hessman said, finally calming down. “I haven’t felt that alive in years. I love that fuckin’ adrenaline rush!”
“You real fucked up, Hess,” Da’Quarius said. “How you doin’ Flounder? You’ve been quiet back there for a minute.”
“Is it okay if I step outside to puke?” Flounder asked.
“Flounder,” Hessman replied, “ I’d prefer it if you did.”
Flounder left the car, closing the door behind him. He went behind a tree and retched.
“I think I owe you two an ice cream” Hessman said.
“Fuck yeah you do,” Da’Quarius said.
“Well,” Hessman said, taking his phone from his pocket. “Let me call the wife and let her know I’ll be home in an hour or so.”
“So talk,” Helen said, staring at a silent Rose, standing outside the Garcia brother’s home. “Isn’t this what you wanted? Did you want to be here with the scumbag underbelly of the christian community?”
“It was horrible!” Rose said suddenly, the tears finally coming. “These people were so awful. I’d rather associate with what you’re doing inside that house than the people against it outside.”
Helen nodded, the smallest smug smile on her face.
“Oh stop,” Rose said. “You know how these church nuts are. I try to stop one porno movie, and they come out, crying about fornicators, the evil of homosexuality, and killing fetuses. Hell, I think one of them told me all liberals are going to burn in hell.”
“I won’t argue the last part,” Helen said, taking off her helmet, “but I do think you’d be in good company inside. I want you to be part of this, Rose.”
“You do?” Rose asked.
“Why wouldn’t I?” Helen asked in return. “I would have asked you from the get-go, but you were so against Eileen doing it.”
Rose sighed. “I’m sorry I overreacted,” she said. “Maybe I was a little jealous of you taking Eileen under your wing and introducing her to the world of pornography.”
“Listen,” Helen said. “This thing is harder than I thought. I could really use a creative consultant on my team.”
“Really?” Rose asked.
“Yeah,” Helen replied. “I got these girls in sombreros right now, but something still feels off.”
“Well I’d love to lend you a hand if you really need one,” Rose said, wiping a tear and smiling.
“I really do,” Helen said. She put out her arm. “Ready to go make these two girls fuck each other on film for money with me?”
“There’s nothing I’d like more,” Rose said, taking Helen’s arm.
Paulie left his office with his coat on. “Tony!” he called.
“Yeah, boss,” Tony replied, coming from the back.
“I need to head home a little early,” Paulie said. “I got a headache the size of a friggin’ wrecking ball. I need you to close up for me tonight.”
“I got it, boss,” Tony said.
“Thanks,” Paulie said. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“See you later,” Tony said.
Paulie walked toward the door when someone came in, walking past him and going right to the counter. “Who’s the guy who’s been answering the phone all night?” he asked.
“Madon,” Paulie muttered. “If I had just left two minutes earlier…”
“What’s up?” Tony asked, giving him a curt nod. “You that mook having fun on the phone all night? Want to have a discussion outside?”
“Tony,” Paulie said, coming back to the counter, his headache threatening to tear his head a new asshole.
“I’m an intern from the Morning BJ Show on WPRW,” the guy said. “I have some paperwork for you to sign.”
“What the hell are you talking about?’ Tony asked. “And why aren’t you going outside?”
“They’re release forms,” the intern replied. “We’ve been recording the phone calls. You’re hilarious. We want to play them on the radio on Monday morning.”
“Wow,” Tony said, beaming. “Where do I sign?”
“Right on the dotted line,” the intern said, taking a contract out and holding it out. “Print your name and date it as well.”
“Absolutely not,” Paulie said, walking between the two. “This is my place of business, and I won’t have it disrespected on that perverted radio show.”
“It’s all in fun,” the intern said.
“No,” Paulie said.
“We worked all day and night calling here,” the intern said, looking genuinely upset.
“I noticed,” Paulie said. “Do you have any idea how much of my business you’ve disrupted with this friggin’ nonsense?”
“Come on,” the intern said, waving his arms. “My bosses are going to be pissed if I wasted all that time making those calls and can’t get a consent form signed.”
Alice came from the seating area to see the argument. The intern spotted her, a smile creeping up his face.
“I need one from you too,” the intern said, taking out another contract and holding it out to Alice. “You’re the woman who called me a fuckin’ moron, right? That was gold.”
“Really, Alice?” Paulie asked, looking at her. “I thought you’d be better than Tony with these mooks. I expected better from you.”
Alice looked down in embarrassment.
“Just sign,” the intern said. “I won’t even use the name of this place on air. It’s really standard -”
The intern was cutoff by Paulie grabbing the papers from his hands and tearing them up. “I’ve had enough of this shit tonight to last me a friggin’ lifetime,” he said, turning the release forms into useless shreds of paper and confetti. “Fuck your radio show, and fuck you. Get the fuck out of here before I drag you out by your hair.”
Those who were left at Paulie’s were giving the owner their full attention. The intern looked angry and offended by Paulie’s actions. “You son of a bitch,” he said, seething. “How dare you lecture me about your business and trash-talk mine.”
“I today to get the fuck out of my pizzeria,” Paulie said, pointing toward the door. “Now.”
The intern had no notion of leaving in peace. He shoved Paulie, hitting him in the chest with both arms. Paulie staggered back a step, laughed once, lunged, grabbed the intern by the hair, and dragged him toward the front door. The intern screamed for help as Paulie opened the door with his other hand and dragged him outside.
“Holy shit,” Alice said, as the chimes above the door rang as it closed, muffling the screams of the radio show intern. “Has Paulie gone off the rails like this before?”
Tony leapt over the counter, sprinting toward the door. “I ain’t missing this for anything!”
Alice watched him go as Tony sent outside and the rest of the patrons crowded the windows to watch. She could hear Paulie yelling, but she couldn’t understand the stream of obscenities as Paulie beat up the intern who had shoved him. “Fuck it,” she said, walking toward the door. “I’m not missing this either.”
Da’Quarius, Hessman, and Flounder sat in the State Street Diner, waiting for their sundaes. “You sure you’re okay to eat again?” Hessman asked.
“Yeah,” Flounder said. “I lost most of what I had at Five Guys already.”
“I’m just glad dat’s all over,” Da’Quarius said. “Doe your car looks like shit now.”
Hessman shrugged. “I got a guy who owns a body shop,” he said. “Nothing a couple of hundred bucks can’t fix. It’s worth it for the exposure I’ll get from that video. But I’m glad that’s all over too.”
Da’Quarius looked toward the entrance as it opened. “Oh fuck,” he said. “It ain’t over yet.”
Hessman turned to see the pimp they pissed off walking toward them, still wearing his fedora and fur coat. “Did you think I wouldn’t recognize yo’ fucked up car?” he asked, standing at the end of the table, staring down at the trio.
Flounder gulped, a long fart emanating from his bottom.
“You wanna go take care of that?” the pimp asked.
Flounder nodded slowly.
“Then go, mo’ fucker,” the pimp said. “Wet some doo-doo paper and clean dat fat ass up.”
Flounder scrambled up, running toward the restroom, holding his bottom, leaving a stench in his path.
The pimp sat across from Hessman, staring at him. “That was funny,” he said, not hint of a smile on his face, “having this kid here shoot my girls with paint.”
“It was a goof,” Hessman said, talking quickly. “A joke. I didn’t mean to offend or upset you. I’ll make it right. Whatever you want. Just say it.”
The pimp laughed. “I’m fuckin’ wit’chu, honky,” he said. “I actually do think it was funny as shit. I just wanted to catch up wit’chu an’ tell you dat I want in.”
“What are you talking about?” Hessman asked. “You’re not going to cut me?”
“Do you wanna get cut?” the pimp asked.
“No,” Hessman replied, the beads of sweat on his forehead becoming more prominent.
“Then I ain’t gonna cut’cho ass,” the pimp said. “You just need to add my info on yo’ video before you post it online. You are posting it, right.”
“Yeah,” Hessman said, nodding at the same time. “Unless it’s a problem.”
“Mo’ fucker,” the pimp said, leaning back. “I just told you it ain’t no problem. Now go get the waitress an’ order me some meatloaf an’ fried onions.”
“Sure,” Hessman said, getting up and nearly tripping over his own feet. He sprinted toward the waitress on the other end of the diner to give him the pimp’s order.
“An’ a Diet Pepsi with no ice!” the pimp shouted.
The pimp turned to Da’Quarius next. “Dat was some good shootin’,” he said. “You ever do a drive-by before.”
“Dat was my first,” Da’Quarius said. “I never seen Hessman panic like dat. You really scared his ass.”
“What’s he doin’ wit’chu kids,” the pimp asked. “He ain’t tryin’ to touch you an’ shit, is he?”
“Nah,” Da’Quaruis said. “Hess ain’t like dat. He’s our teacher, and he uses some of da’ kids to do his biddin’ sometimes.”
“Dat’s kinda fucked up,” the pimp said.
Da’Quarius shrugged. “E’rythin’s a little fucked up,” he said. “I don’t have enough time to explain, nigga.”
“You seem like a cool kid,” the pimp said. “To do this shit fo’ yo’ teacher. Maybe we should keep in touch. You ever think of learnin’ da’ pimp game?”
“I’ve thought ‘bout just dabblin’ a bit,” Da’Quarius said. “I think my moms an’ unca would get pissed if I became a full fledged pimp. They’re all white. You know how it is.”
The pimp laughed. “We’ll maybe we’ll run into each other,” he said. He reached in his pocket and handed Da’Quarius a card like a businessman. “Call me for all yo’ prostitute needs an’ otherwise. I have a wide range of businesses.”
Da’Quarius read the card. “Yo’ name is Lobsterclaw?”
“Yup,” the pimp replied. “Lobsterclaw’s da’ name, an’ pimpin’s da’ game.”
Da’Quarius stared at Lobsterclaw. “Dat’s a cool as fuck name,” he said. “Used to be my middle name ‘til I changed it.”
“Word,” Lobsterclaw said, smiling. “Remember my motto: pimpin’ is easy unless you a dumb fuck.”
“Cool,” Da’Quarius said. “You’re alright, Lobsterclaw.”
Hessman returned. “She’s putting your order in now,” he said.
“Good,” Lobstersclaw said. “You owe me thirty bucks to replace da’ bitches’ clothes, by the way.”
Da’Quarius returned home to find Rose and Helen just settling in for the night. “Sorry I’m late,” he said. “Hessman took us out for ice cream after his little social experiment, an’ you guys weren’t answerin’ da’ phone.”
“It’s alright,” Rose said, a look of happiness on her face. “We’re just getting in ourselves.”
“How did the da’ tapin’ go?” Da’Quarius asked. “Rose looks happy, so I’m bettin’ she stopped it from happenin’.”
“On the contrary,” Rose said, “it turns out Helen needed a creative consultant.”
“And Rose was more than happy to agree,” Helen said, putting her hand on Rose’s arm. The two looked at each other, smiling. “The movie came out beautifully too. If pornos could win Oscars ours would win.”
“How was your project?” Rose asked, reluctantly turning away from Helen. “Did it go well?”
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “I shot up some hookers, but I think I made friends with a pimp.”
“Well,” Rose said, getting up and walking toward the stairs. “I’m going to head to bed if you’re going to make up far-fetched stories. Don’t forget to take Dutchie for a walk before you come up. Goodnight.”
“Get some sleep, kid,” Helen said, following Rose. “Oh, and take that dog for an extra long walk. I think being a creative consultant on a porno made Rose a little… Frisky. Goodnight.”
“Damn biddies,” Da’Quarius muttered, getting his dog’s leash from the coat tree, causing the dog to go crazy at the prospect of a nighttime walk around the neighborhood. “Dey’re makin’ porn ‘cross da’ street, but what I’m doin’ seems far-fetched.”