Freedom Lane – Sassy Casanova
“So Ronald Fowler croaked,” Helen muttered, reading the paper from her recliner on a Saturday morning. “Big whoop.”
“Don’t be like that,” Rose said, patting her arm. “He was a friend of ours.”
“Friend of yours, maybe,” Helen said. “All I know about him is he was a drug pusher.”
“Word?” Da’Quarius asked. “You guys knew a dealer?”
“No,” Rose sighed. “He ran a pharmacy.”
“Pusher,” Helen muttered. “Same damn difference.”
“That reminds me,” Rose said. “Did you remember to take your meds today?”
Helen took her pill caddy from her robe pocket and opened the tab for Saturday. She took the pills and tossed them into her mouth, chasing them with her glass of water. Once swallowed, she opened her mouth and stuck her tongue out, showing Rose.
“You don’t have to do that,” Rose said. “The wake and funeral are both tomorrow, so we won’t be around, Da’Quarius.”
“Why doesn’t he have to go, but I do?!” Helen snapped.
“Because he didn’t know Ronald,” Rose said.
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “An’ I can find a few things to do on a Sunday. I think I’ll be alright.”
“OK,” Rose said. “Just don’t stray too far.”
“Bah!” Helen said waving a hand. “This kid is going to get into all kinds of trouble.”
“Dat’s some bullshit!” Da’Quarius said. “I’m just gonna hang out around the ‘hood an’ mind my own business! For once nuttin’ crazy is gonna happen.”
Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow
Co-created by executive producer BluntSharpness
Season 13, Episode 2: Sassy Casanova
“So nuttin’ crazy is gonna happen today,” Da’Quarius said, leaning against the counter of Daq’s Bodega, the store owned by the Garcia brothers, who lived across the street from him. “That’s what I told da’ biddies, an’ I mean it, too.”
“I hear you,” Manny said. “Some days you just want to relax and hang out.”
“So ring me up, so I can get dis shit home an’ do it already,” Da’Quarius said, dropping a bunch of snacks on the counter in front of Manny. “Helen an’ Rose don’t let me buy this stuff usually, and they’ll be gone all morning.”
“Sure,” Manny said, ringing up Da’Quarius’s items.
“Wait,” Da’Quarius said. “I don’t wanna forget da’ sodas.”
“Check out the last fridge,” Manny said. “We got forty-ounce grape soda bottles in there.”
“Dat’s racist as fuck,” Da’Quarius said. He found the forty-ounces of grape soda and took one, deciding it looked good, racist or not. He noticed someone watching him, and he turned to look at her: a dark-skinned girl around his age who was so chubby she was almost a perfect circle. “Hey.”
“Hi,” the girl responded, smiling. “I’m Sassy. Sassy Casanova.”
“OK,” Da’Quarius said, taking his soda to Manny to ring up.
Helen followed Rose into the church, finding a pew near the back. They scooted in and sat down. It was only a moment until Helen locked eyes with her mortal enemy. “What the holy snot is that dildope doing here?”
Rose shushed Helen, painfully aware of those who here turning to look at them. She saw who Helen saw: Harold Fuchs, sitting with his husband Lee, and he was glaring right back at Helen.
“Who’s he think he is, showing up here like that?” Helen muttered.
“He’s just here like everyone else,” Rose said, “mourning with the rest of us. Can’t you let this feud go for just one day?”
“That’s the problem with feuds, Rose,” Helen replied. “They just don’t die, unlike that schmo in the casket.”
People turned to look at Helen again, and Rose wished she could shrink away. “Will you please stop making comments like that?” she whispered.
“He thinks he can out-mourn me?” Helen said, ignoring her wife’s request. “He didn’t even know Frank as well as I do.”
“Ronald was the one who died,” Rose said.
“Doesn’t matter in the slightest,” Helen said. “Harold didn’t know whoever, and he’s not going to win this.”
“Oh Lord,” Rose said, bowing her head and punching the bridge of her nose. “Do you really have to do this?”
“Don’t worry, Rose,” Helen said, patting her knee. “He won’t beat me at this game.”
“That’s not what I’m worried about,” Rose said.
Da’Quarius sat on his couch, watching TV with the sound all the way up. He had a bootleg copy of a vampire movie called Blood Drive that he had gotten from the bodega, and he was happy he can have some time to himself to watch it on the big TV rather than in his room like usual. His snacks were splayed out on the table in front of him along with his forty-ounce bottle of soda.
The doorbell rang, putting a pause to both the movie and Da’Quarius’s private morning. “Shit,” he said, putting the remote back down and walking toward the door. “I rarely get any time to myself, an’ someone gotta be knockin’ at da’ door.”
Da’Quarius opened the door, and the girl from the bodega stood on the porch. “Hi,” she said in a soft voice. “I don’t know if you remember me.”
“You was at da’ store,” Da’Quarius said. “Sassy somethin’, right?”
“Sassy Casanova,” Sassy replied.
“What’chu need?” Da’Quarius asked. “Wait a second… Did you follow me home?!”
“I’m sorry,” Sassy said, looking away. “I live a couple of blocks away. We were going in the same direction most of walk home, only you didn’t see me.”
“Oh,” Da’Quarius said. He was at a loss for words.
“I was wondering if you wanted to go for a walk or something,” Sassy said, finally looking back in Da’Quarius’s direction. “We can go by the park, or…”
“I’m kinda busy,” Da’Quarius said.
“Oh,” Sassy said. “OK.”
Da’Quarius waited for her to take the hint and leave, but she wasn’t getting it. He decided to give her one not so subtle. “OK,” he said. “Bye.” He closed the door firmly and walked back to the couch. Dutchie was already there, finishing what was left of his snacks.
“Dammit, Dutchie!” Da’Quarius snapped as his dogged stared back at him, not a single shred of guilt on his face, tail wagging. “What da’ fuck am I gonna do now?!”
“You gonna puke an’ have diarrhea later,” Da’Quarius said. “Wait and see if I’m wrong.”
The mass portion of the funeral was over, and everyone was stepping up, one at a time, to say their final goodbyes to Ronald Fowler. Helen timed her shuffle with the aid of her cane toward the alter to arrive at the same time as Harold.
“It’s a shame to lose him,” Helen said, placing a hand on the coffin. “He was a good man.”
“The best,” Harold said, placing his own palm on the coffin. “If all men were this good, there wouldn’t be wars.”
“There wouldn’t be any animosity in the world at all,” Helen said.
“Ants and men would be equals,” Harold said.
“Lions would play on the seesaw with wildebeests,” Helen said.
“Cats would blow mice,” Harold said.
“Alright,” Lee said, tugging at Harold’s arm. “Other people want to mourn.”
Harold grunted in protest as he was dragged away by his husband. Helen had a smug smile on her face as she pulled her hand away from the coffin. “See,” she said to Rose. “I had my hand there longer.”
Rose sighed. “Great,” she said. “Can we drop this now? You won.”
“The Fowler family want to invite you all to a memorial for Ronald,” Father McKracken said. “It will be held at Cold Spring Funeral Home directly following these services.”
Helen looked over toward Harold and Lee. “Look at them,” she said, “plotting their next move.”
“They’re arguing,” Rose said. She signed, realizing what they were arguing about, knowing there was no point in having the same argument with Helen. “Come on. We’ll get there before they do maybe.”
“Hot damn,” Helen said. “Let’s go.”
“Yo,” Da’Quarius said, walking into Paulie’s Pizza on State Street, across the street from the same bodega he had visited earlier that day. He found Tony at the counter, wearing his usual white tank top. “Where’s Unca Paulie?”
“He’s around,” Tony said. “What are you doing here today?”
“I’m tryin’ to watch a movie while Rose an’ Helen are out,” Da’Quarius said, “but my dog ate all my food.”
“So you walked all the way here for a free lunch, huh?” Tony asked.
“You got it,” Da’Quarius said. “Can I get a medium with lots of whatever on it?”
“Medium whatever,” Tony said. “I hope you like onions and olives.”
“You know I do, mo’ fucker,” Da’Quarius said.
“Hey, kid,” Paulie said, coming from his office. “You coming by for some lunch?”
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius replied. “Gotta get my movie in while Rose an’ Helen are still out.”
“I see,” Paulie said, nodding. “A man needs his alone time every now and then. It’s like I always say… Who the snot is that?!”
Da’Quarius turned to see where Paulie was looking, and he saw what he saw. Sassy was standing on the sidewalk, staring at him through the window, her hands on either side of her face to block the glare from imparting her vision. “Damn,” he said. “Dat’s dis Sassy girl who’s been followin’ me ‘round, lookin’ all like Precious an’ shit.”
“What makes her so sassy?” Paulie asked.
“No,” Da’Quarius said. “Dat’s her name. Sassy Casanova.”
“Oh,” Paulie said.
“Your pie is in the oven,” Tony said, coming back from the kitchen. “What are you two talking about?”
“Da’Quarius has a stalker,” Paulie said.
“How cute,” Tony said. “I remember my first stalker.”
“You mean the first woman you stalked,” Paulie said. “I remember when the police came in here, and they had a very different version of the story than what you had told me.”
“That was all bullshit, and you know it,” Tony said. “The kid’s girl looks cute. You should take her out.”
“Hell no,” Da’Quarius said. “I’m not rewardin’ her for followin’ me to my house an’ shit. Besides, I’m not attracted to black girls.”
“What are you, gay?” Tony asked.
“Oh!” Paulie snapped. “Don’t talk like that in my place. My sister is gay!”
“Yeah, yeah,” Tony said. “But she’s a woman, so it’s different, right? It’s an easier choice for them.”
“Go check on the kid’s pie, will ya?” Paulie said. “Madon, I can’t believe him sometimes.”
“But what am I gonna do ‘bout dis girl?” Da’Quarius asked. “I can’t have her followin’ me forever.”
“You’re going to have to talk to her,” Paulie said. “Let her down gently.”
“And what if she doesn’t let up?” Da’Quarius asked.
“I don’t know,” Paulie said. “The women Tony stalked all got restraining orders eventually. One guy did too, which was odd.”
“Not for Tony it ain’t odd,” Da’Quarius said. “Maybe you don’t see it, cuz you’re too close to him.”
“OK,” Tony said, coming from the kitchen again. “I can explain that last one at least.”
“IF THAT FRIGGIN’ PIE BURNS I’M GONNA WRING YOUR NECK!” Paulie shouted, shaking his fist in the air.
“Look,” Helen said, entering the Cold Spring Funeral Home. “There’s Frank’s widow, and I don’t see that loser Harold at all.”
“You mean Ronald,” Rose said.
“No, his name’s Harold,” Helen said. “Trust me, I’ve known that slimy bastard for years.”
“OK,” Rose said. “We beat him here. Can we go now?”
“Not yet,” Helen replied. “I need to console the grieving widow first.”
Helen walked up to the woman, who was wearing a black dress and matching veil. “I’m sorry for your loss,” she said.
“So am I,” Harold said, cutting Helen off and holding the widow Fowler’s hand. He was out of breath from rushing over.
Helen have Harold a sideways stink-eye as she reached out and put a hand on the widow’s shoulder. “If you need anything, I’m here for you.”
“So am I,” Harold said. “I’ll bring over a casserole or two. My Lee loves to make them.”
“I’ll make sure your house gets cleaned,” Helen said. “My son can do your yard too.”
“I can help you get your bills in order,” Harold said.
“I can rub your feet,” Helen said.
“You can have my organs,” Harold said. “Except my kidney. I only have one since the other died inside me.”
The widow Fowler looked disgusted. “I’m sorry, but do I know you two?”
“Yeah,” Helen replied. “It’s me, Rose Masters.”
“Alright,” Rose said, pulling Helen away by her arm. “Impersonating me is my limit.”
“I couldn’t think of another name quick enough,” Helen said. “And you just let Harold win! Just look at his smug face!”
“Come on,” Rose said. “You wanted to come to the memorial, now you’re sitting through it.”
“Good idea,” Helen said. “It’s one to one, and we’re not done yet.”
Rose sighed. “I just had to try to punish you…”
Da’Quarius left Paulie’s, carrying his pizza. Sassy was waiting outside on the city bench, just like he knew she would. She looked genuinely excited to see him, and he wondered how well Paulie’s advice to let her down gently was going to go.
“Hi,” Sassy said, getting up and walking with Da’Quarius. “Sorry to keep following you, but I really wanted to talk. I like you.”
Da’Quarius sighed. “Look,” he said, “You don’t even know me. We met today at da’ bodega, an’ you’ve been followin’ me all day. I know you think you like me an’ all, but dat’s creepy as fuck.”
“Oh,” Sassy said. “Sorry.”
“Shit,” Da’Quarius said. “I was supposed to let you down gently. I just don’t know what to say right now, you puttin’ me on da’ spot an’ all.”
“Sorry,” Sassy said.
“Stop sayin’ you’re sorry,” Da’Quarius said. “I don’t know why you’re so attached to me anyway.”
“I just moved here,” Sassy replied. “You’re the first kid I’ve seen that I might have anything in common with.”
“Your mean cuz I’m black?” Da’Quarius asked.
Sassy shrugged. “And I haven’t seen you at school either,” she added.
“My moms send me to a private school,” Da’Quarius said. “It kinda sucks, but they’re paranoid I’ll get killed in public school. It was kinda racist of ‘em, but dey old school like dat, where dey don’t realize it.”
“Oh,” Sassy said. It was clear that she didn’t understand most of what he was talking about, just starting out as Da’Quarius’s stalker that morning and all.
“Dis ain’t gonna happen with you an’ me,” Da’Quarius continued. “You can’t just start followin’ people home and hope for da’ best. I wouldn’t mind bein’ yo’ friend if we see each other ‘round da’ neighborhood, but I’m not interested in datin’.”
“Why not?” Sassy asked.
“I’m just not attracted to black women,” Da’Quarius said. “I don’t know why. I just never have been.”
“Isn’t that racist?” Sassy asked.
“I dunno,” Da’Quarius said. “It’s just what I like. I can’t help it. A lot of people have stuff like dat. Look at my Unca Paulie. He mostly likes black women, the chubbier da’ better.”
“Your uncle?” Sassy asked.
“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said. “He’s da’ guy who I was talkin’ to at da’ pizzeria. Dat’s my Unca Paulie.”
“Oh,” Sassy said. “I better go. I’ll leave you alone.”
“OK,” Da’Quarius said. “If you say so, Sassy.”
“Bye,” Sassy said, running off in the other direction.
“Dat was easier than I thought it would be,” Da’Quarius said to himself, continuing his walk home. There was a quiet hose and a movie waiting for him.
“Thank you all for coming,” the funeral director said to the people sitting in the parlor. “If anyone would like to say anything about Ronald, you can stand up and do so now.”
The parlor was silent. Either enough had been said about the departed already, or everyone was too embarrassed to go first. Helen decided to seize the opportunity and stood. Rose tried to pull her back down, but it was too late. Harold saw her, and he stood as well, using his own cane to help him rise.
“He was a great man!” Helen said, walking away from Rose, toward the front of the parlor. “He was taken too soon from us!”
“God took him too soon!” Harold said, shaking his first toward the ceiling.
“DAMN YOU, GOD!” Helen shouted, shaking her own fist. “WHY MUST YOU TOY WITH OUR EMOTIONS LIKE YOUR LITTLE FLESH PUPPETS.”
“WHY MUST YOU TAKE THOSE WE LOVE!” Harold exclaimed. “YOU DIRTY BASTARD!”
“I’M GOING TO COME UP THERE, GOD!” Helen retorted. “I’LL KICK YOU IN THE CROTCH AND KNOCK YOU OFF YOUR CLOUD!”
Harold was ready with a retort. “I’M GOING TO KICK YOUR ASS IN AND TOSS YOUR BODY IN A SWAMP!”
“I’M GOING TO SLICE YOUR NECK WITH YOUR OWN HALO!” Helen shouted.
“Alright,” one of the funeral directors said, seizing Helen by the arm. “It’s time to go.”
“You too,” another said, coming for Harold. “Let’s go, pal.”
“Let me go!” Helen exclaimed. “I’m not done mourning!”
“I win!” Harold shouted. “You got pulled out first!”
“Like hell I did!” Helen said. “I got the last word in!”
“TAKE ME INSTEAD, GOD!” Harold shouted.
“FRANK!” Helen shouted, being pulled from the room. “I’LL AVENGE YOUR DEATH WITH BLOOD AND FIRE!”
Rose and Lee met by the door, embarrassingly looking at one another. “I never knew funeral homes had bouncers,” Rose said.
“Thank God they do,” Lee said. “They would have gone on all day.”
“Do you want to get some tea while they sort Helen and Harold out?” Rose asked. “They have some in the lobby.”
“That sounds lovely,” Lee said. The two of them left, stared at by the memorial attendees.
“Order up,” Paulie said, bringing a freshly made pizza to a table. “Small mushroom and pepper?”
“That’s mine,” Sassy said, smiling. “You’re Paulie, right?”
“That’s me,” Paulie said, setting the pizza down in front of Sassy. “The name on the sign gives it away. Can I get you anything else?”
“No,” Sassy replied, smiling at Paulie. “Not right now anyway.”
“Good,” Paulie said, returning his customer’s smile. “Let me know if that changes, OK?”
“I will,” Sassy said as Paulie walked away. She sighed contently, watching him. “I will, Paulie…”