Freedom Lane – Tony and the Country Club

It was Friday night, and Tony was spending it walking through Star-Mart, wearing his white tee-shirt and torn jeans, filling his basket with soap and shampoo. He turned down the aisle to make his way to check out when someone called his name. “Tony!”

“Who wants to know?” Tony asked, turning around. He saw someone he didn’t recognize. “Shit. Don’t tell me I nailed your wife or something.”

“What?” the man asked. “It’s me, Ira. Ira Friedman!”

“Holy shit!” Tony said. “I used to mess with you so bad when we were in school. What are you up to? You still pissing your pants at recess?”

“I’m fifty-five,” Ira replied.

“That’s not a ‘no’,” Tony said.

“I’m a lawyer now,” Ira said. “What are you up to?”

“I work at my buddy’s pizzeria,” Tony replied. “It’s pretty popular. You may have heard of it; Paulie’s Pizza. It’s down on State Street.”

“Sorry,” Ira said. “I haven’t.”

“Too bad,” Tony said, shrugging. “I guess we can’t all do what we love.”

“I need to run,” Ira said. “It was nice catching up with you.”

“Where’s the fire?” Tony asked.

“I’m on the board of my country club,” Ira said.

“Oh yeah?” Tony asked. “Which one?”

“I’m at McKinley Greens in Woodbridge,” Ira said. “I didn’t know you frequented country clubs.”

“I don’t,” Tony said. “I know that one. I always wanted to go inside. How about you set me up and give me the grand tour someday?”

“You?” Ira laughed. “You used to put ketchup in my hair at lunch, and you think I’d bring you, a pizza man, into my country club as a guest?”

“Jeez,” Tony said, rolling his eyes. “You were mister polite a minute ago.”

“I’m sorry,” Ira said, turning away. “They can’t just let anyone in McKinley Greens. A pizza man, too! Oh, wait until I tell the others!”

Tony watched as Ira walked off. “You friggin’ mook,” he said. “I’m gonna get into that snotty club of yours. Watch and see if I don’t.”

****

Freedom Lane

Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow
Co-created by executive producer BluntSharpness

Season 14, Episode 2: Tony and the Country Club

****

“So you bullied dis guy when he was a kid,” Da’Quarius said after hearing Tony’s tale of his shopping trip at Star-Mart the night before. “An’ now you wanna break into his country club just to prove you can get inside?”

“I wasn’t a bully,” Tony said. “Everyone messed with him. He was a little snot then, and he’s a big snot now.”

“So you bullied him,” Da’Quarius said.

“I wasn’t a bully!” Tony shouted, slamming a fist on the counter.

“Oh!’ Paulie said, exiting the bathroom, the paper tucked under his arm. “Cut the friggin’ shouting and slamming out before I bully you both!”

“Can you tell Tony he was a bully?” Da’Quarius asked. “He don’t believe me.”

“Who’d you ever bully?” Paulie asked. “You were a little squirt until you hit puberty in your twenties. You probably had your head dunked in the toilet every day when you were in school.”

“You didn’t know me!” Tony shouted. “I ran with a tough crowd. We were dunking kids in the toilets and dropping girls’ pants in the hallways.”

“OK,” Da’Quarius muttered. “You was both bullies, den.”

“Who were you talking about anyway?” Paulie asked.

“Ira Friedman,” Tony replied.

“Da’ lawyer from da’ TV?” Da’Quarius asked.

“What?” Tony asked. “Is he famous or something?”

“He’s always on TV,” Da’Quarius said. “He’s all like ‘I’ll sue for you!’ an’ shit.”

“He’s that sue-happy shyster?!” Paulie asked. “You keep away from that guy. He’ll sue anyone for anything. Don’t you bring any lawsuit onto my doorstep!”

“I can’t stay away,” Tony said. “I vowed vengeance, and I swear I’ll get into that country club!”

“Fine,” Paulie said. “Just don’t come crying to me when he takes you for everything you got.”

“Joke’s on him, then,” Tony said. “I got next to squat to my name.”

“You can get in dat place easily,” Da’Quarius said.

“I’m out,” Paulie said, walking toward his office. “I want nothing to do with this.” He went inside and closed the door.

“Go on, kid,” Tony said.

“Step one,” Da’Quarius said. “Make a pizza.”

***

The doorbell rang, and Helen opened her eyes, waking from the pleasant nap she had been taking in her favorite chair. “Who the hell is that?!” she snapped. Rose put her book down and got up, walking toward the door.

“Hello?” she asked, opening it. “Harold. What are you doing -”

Harold Fuchs shoved past Rose, making a beeline for Helen. “Don’t start any trouble with me,” he said in his usual nasally voice.

Helen sighed and stood. “You came into my house, numb-dick,” she said. “You’ve already got it unless you want to tell me why you’d risk death for trespassing.”

“I need your help,” Harold said, looking away. “I wish I didn’t, but Lee is too weak-willed to do what needs to be done.”

“I heard that,” Lee lisped, following his husband. “Hi, Rose. Sorry for Harold. He got out of the car and barged in before I could stop him.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Rose said. “Helen is pretty much the same. Do you want some tea while these two… talk?”

“Sure,” Lee said. “That will be lovely.”

“Go have your tea party,” Harold said, waving a hand.

“Did Lee bring his own doilies?” Helen asked.

“Let’s just get down to it,” Harold said. “We need to take down the mayor.”

Helen laughed, almost cackling. “The friggin’ mayor?!” she exclaimed. “You really do have a nut loose, don’t you?”

“Hear me out, you witch,” Harold said. “He’s planning on proposing major construction in our neighborhood, and he’s naming a new street off of State after Sandra Springer.”

Helen stopped laughing. “Do not use that name in my home.”

“That’s going to be the street’s name,” Harold said. “Sandra Springer Way. It’s right near your brother’s place, too.”

“Shit,” Helen said, sitting back down. “Looks like we’re going to have to kill the mayor.”

***

“I got a pizza,” Tony walked out of the kitchen area carrying a box. “Now what?”

“Just bring it to da’ club an’ tell ‘em you deliverin’ it,” Da’Quarius replied. “You couldn’t figure dat part out?”

“It’s genius,” Tony said. “Hey, boss!”

“What?” Paulie asked, coming out of his office.

“I’m making a delivery,” Tony replied. “Cover for me for a few.”

“The hell you’re making a delivery!” Paulie shouted. “Who the hell told you to start taking delivery orders in the middle of the friggin’ day?!”

Tony looked over at Da’Quarius. “Don’t look at me!” he shouted. “You a grown-ass man. You make your own damn decisions.”

Paulie sighed. “You’re both going now!” he said. “I won’t have customers complaining I didn’t make good on a delivery because my employee has half a brain. Just do it and get back here, OK?”

“Sure, boss,” Tony said. “If you insist.”

“And don’t make an executive decision like that again!” Paulie shouted as Tony and Da’Quarius left.

“That was slick,” Tony said. “He insisted we go to the country club and everything!”

“Yeah,” Da’Quarius said, rolling his eyes. “But he’s gonna be pissed when it takes you over an hour to make one delivery.”

“An hour?” Tony asked. “Once I get in that country club, I ain’t leaving!”

***

“I didn’t say we were going to kill the mayor!” Harold shouted. “We just need to discredit him enough to end this nonsense about the new street!”

Helen thought. “Yeah,” she said. “I hate to admit it, but you’re probably right about the assassination. You don’t have any ideas on how to go about this?”

“That’s why I’m here,” Harold said. “You’re the con, and you’re good at these things. I’m just a citizen.”

“No,” Helen said. “You’re just a sneaky conman who never got caught. I remember that little business of yours, and I know why you’re pissed about Sandra Springer.”

“Sandra Springer?” Rose asked, coming out of the kitchen, carrying a cup of tea. “You mean the female police officer who took down the organized crime ring? She was kind of a hero of mine when I was a police dispatcher.”

“She also ended Harold’s shady business,” Helen said, not taking her eyes off of her adversary. “She also put a huge chunk of my friends and relatives into the slammer, too, even before the feds started picking them off. Luckily for Harold, he got away. How did that happen again?”

“Always have a scapegoat,” Harold said. “That’s how you stay out of prison. But you didn’t know that, did you, Helen?”

“We are not doing anything illegal,” Lee said, coming out of the kitchen with his own cup of tea.

“And nobody is going to become the scapegoat for anything,” Rose added.

“You three are really tying my hands here,” Helen said. “But I have an idea. What’s the one thing no politician can come back from?”

“Being gay?” Harold asked.

“Bingo,” Helen replied. “We just have to make everyone think the mayor is gay.”

“Oh, lord,” Rose said. “Do I have to remind you two that you are both gay, or should I not even bother?”

“Quiet, honey,” Helen said, waving a hand. “I think I have a plan. Get in the car. We need to find us some twinks.”

Harold smiled. “I can do that.”

***

“Act cool,” Tony said, walking up to the main door of the country club.

“Mo’ fucker,” Da’Quarius said, “I’m always cool. You da’ one who’s always causin’ shit.”

“Quiet,” Tony said. He walked through the front doors with no problem, carrying the pizza in front of himself. He looked around the place. “This was easier than I thought. I could have just shown up and came in.”

“Just cuz da’ door was unlocked don’t mean we ain’t trespassin’,” Da’Quarius said. “Here come da’ golf cops now. Dey sensed my blackness.”

“Excuse me,” one of the security guards asked, a muscular guy in his early forties. “Can I help you?”

“Yeah,” Tony said. “I gotta pizza here for McKinley Greens. Am I in the right place?”

“Someone ordered a pizza?” the security guard asked. “We have a full kitchen staff. Who ordered it?”

Tony was silent for a moment. “They didn’t say,” he said. “So I’ll just wander around until I find them.”

“Why don’t you come with us?” the other security guard asked, who looked more or less the same as his counterpart.

“I’m really OK, boys,” Tony said. “Tell ‘em, kid.”

“Dude,” Da’Quarius said. “I’m too black to be messin’ ‘round here. I shoulda stayed in da’ car.”

“You told me you were cool!” Tony snapped.

“Come with us,” the security guard said.

“RUN!” Tony shouted, throwing the pizza box at the two guards, the pizza flying out and landing all over them and the floor. Tony ran past them, and Da’Quarius followed.

“Yo!” Da’Quarius said, racing after Tony. “Da’ Exit’s da’ other way!”

“I told you I’m not leaving that easily,” Tony grunted as he ran. “I’m gonna experience all this place has to offer.”

“You better be a ninja or some shit,” Da’Quarius said. “Cuz we gonna get kicked out or worse if you ain’t.”

***

Helen walked into the LGBT center along with Harold, followed by Rose and Lee. “Welcome,” she said, “to twink paradise”.

“These are kids,” Rose said, scolding Helen.

“Even better,” Helen said, stopping and looking around. “The mayor will be in more hot water when we photograph him hanging around with a bunch of teenage twinks.”

“How do you know about this place?” Lee asked.

“It’s not a secret that we have an LGBT center,” Rose said. “Helen came here for a weekend for community service. It didn’t really end well.”

“Enough with the history lesson,” Helen said. “Come on, Harold. Let’s find us some twinks.”

“I don’t think this is going to end well either,” Lee said with a sigh.

Helen and Harold walked around, sizing up everyone they passed. “How’s this one?” Harold asked, nodding to a boy sitting on a couch. He had noticed Harold watching him, and he looked uncomfortable with the attention.

“Too skittish,” Helen said. “He’d run off like a rabbit before he could be any good to us. How’s this one by the table?”

“The colored one?” Harold asked.

“Harold!” Lee shouted. “You can’t say that!”

“I can’t say the other word either, according to you,” Harold muttered.

“Can I help you?” someone asked, approaching. She was older than the others and had the air of authority about her.

“We’re just visiting,” Helen said, waving a hand. “Carry on.”

“You can’t just come in here unless you have a reason to be here,” the woman said. “Unless you have a reason you’re going to have to leave.”

“We’re shopping for twinks,” Harold said. “So leave us be.”

“You’re a moron,” Helen groaned. “Figured a practiced fruit like you would know a thing or two about picking up teenage boys.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?!” Harold snapped.

“Take it at face value,” Helen retorted.

“I’m calling the police,” the woman said, taking her cellphone out of her pocket.

“We should go,” Rose said, tugging at Helen’s arm. “You don’t need another strike.”

“Hell no I don’t,” Helen said, letting Rose lead her to the door. “You coming, Harold?”

“No!” Harold shouted, stomping his foot. Lee was trying to tug him away, but he refused to move. “I came here for some twinks, and I’m not leaving without twinks!”

“It’s your funeral,” Helen said. “Come on, Rose. Let’s leave these two to their perversions and get home.”

“We can’t just leave them here,” Rose said. “I drove them.”

Helen sighed. “Alright. Let’s go help Lee lay on the senile old homo bit to save Harold from the police.”

***

Tony placed a golf ball on a tee. “This is gonna be sweet,” he said.

“Hurry up and hit it already,” Da’Quarius said. “It’s cold as fuck out here.”

“Golf is a game of patience,” Tony said. “It takes concentration and quiet.”

“How da’ fuck do you know?” Da’Quarius asked. “You don’t even play golf.”

“I do today,” Tony said. He picked up the single club he had taken from a closet inside the country club after he lost security. He swung, hitting the ball as hard as he could. It went flying through the air, toward the green. “Now that’s a hit!”

“OK,” Da’Quarius said. “Now you gonna get a cart and go after it?”

“No way,” Tony said. “I just want to hit the balls. I don’t want to go chasing after them like some kind of demented asshole.”

“I told you you don’t know shit about golf,” Da’Quarius said.

“I’m going to hit another one,” Tony said, reaching in his pocket for another tee and ball.

“Fuck dat,” Da’Quarius said. “Umma do one. Gimme da’ club.”

“You had your chance!” Tony said. “You should have thought to take a pocket of balls and tees and a club. Now you’re gonna sit there and whine because I’m having so much fun and you’re not.”

“Let me hit one ball,” Da’Quarius said. “You dragged me all da’ way da’ hell out here. Least you can do is share yo’ club.”

“Fine,” Tony said. “Here’s the club, you baby.”

Da’Quarius snatched the club from Tony and stood in front of the tee. He took little time to measure his shot and whacked the ball. It flew in the same direction as Tony’s landing on the other side of it, rolling toward the green. “Fuck yeah!” he exclaimed. “I got farther than you, bitch!”

“I’ll show you,” Tony said, taking another ball and tee out of his pocket. He was about to place it on the ground when he was interrupted.

“Hey!” The security guard shouted from the deck of the country club. “I found them!”

“Oh shit,” Tony said, dropping his ball and tee and running. Da’Quarius did the same, dropping the club.

“You ready to head home now?” Da’Quarius asked.

“Fuck no,” Tony said. “I want to try the food here, then we can go.”

“Shit,” Da’Quarius said. “We gonna spend da’ night in jail.”

***

“I am never teaming up with you again!” Harold said, being led to a chair near the entrance of the police station. “I can’t believe that went so badly.”

“Who taught you how to lie?” Helen asked, being led to a chair next to Harold’s. “You don’t go in there telling them exactly why you’re there. That was your fault, and you got me dragged in here with you.”

“Bah!” Harold said, waving a hand. “I’m not done. I’m getting this street taken down before it even goes up.”

“Well good luck with that,” Helen said. “I’m out. I’ve had enough of your shit. Officer, I’m ready to talk.”

“Right this way,” the officer said, leading Helen off into an office.

“Where did Helen go?” Rose said, coming into the area with Lee.

“She’s gone,” Harold said. “Hopefully they’re delousing her before they chuck her ass in a cell.”

“Harold!” Lee snapped. “This is as much your fault as it was hers.”

“She’s the one who brought us there to gather some twinks!”

“Doesn’t matter,” Rose said. “We talked them into letting the two of you go. Once Helen’s out we can leave.”

“LET ME GO!” Tony shouted, being dragged in by two police officers. “I wasn’t trespassing, dammit! The door was unlocked!”

“Tony?” Rose asked.

“Rose!” Tony exclaimed. “Call Paulie. Tell him he needs to come down here and explain to them I was just delivering a pizza! He needs to bail me out.”

“Hey, Rose,” Da’Quarius said, walking in. “What are you doin’ here?”

“I was about to ask you the same thing,” Rose said, looking down at Da’Quarius with her hands on her hips.

“I helped Tony on his delivery,” Da’Quarius said. “Only he decided to walk around, an’ security grabbed him while he was cooking himself a steak in da’ kitchen.”

“And you had nothing to do with it?” Rose asked.

“I’m just an innocent minor,” Da’Quarius said. “I told them I had no idea Tony was gonna act like an asshole, an’ I tried to stop him.”

“Don’t say anything else, kid!” Tony shouted.

“What’s with all the shouting?” Helen said, coming from the officer’s office. “Da’Quarius? What did you do?!”

“You da’ one in da’ office, biddy,” Da’Quarius replied. “What you do?”

“Never you mind,” Helen said. “Come on, Rose. Let’s head home.”

“What about Lee and Harold?” Rose asked.

“They might be here a while,” Helen said. She walked toward the exit with Rose and Da’Quarius as an officer came out to see Harold.

“Mister Fuchs,” the officer said. “Do you mind telling me about the porno you’re filming with the kids from the teen center?”

“Always have a scapegoat,” Helen muttered as she left. “I told that wrinkly fruit that the moment he asked for my help.”

“Oh, Helen,” Rose said.

“Maybe you should’ve told Tony dat too,” Da’Quarius said.

“I know my rights!” Tony shouted. “You call Ira Friedman and tell him I got a good lawsuit for him to file!”

The End

****

Edited by Katherine J Marshall

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