Freedom Lane

Freedom Lane – Bizarre Love Trapezoid

A large plumber with a gut like a powder keg walked out of the bathroom of Paulie’s Pizza, carrying a metal tool box. “She’s all set, Paulie,” he said. “She’ll be humming like she’s brand new. Just tell Tony to be careful what he flushes. Newspaper goes into the trashcan.”

“Thanks, Ralph,” Paulie said. “You’re a lifesaver.”

Ralph laughed. “You wouldn’t need me here so often if Tony knew how to use a toilet properly.”

Paulie chuckled. “That’s coming out of his paycheck. Don’t worry.”

Tony came down from his apartment, wearing his usual ensemble of a white tee-shirt and old jeans. “Hey, boss. What’s up with Ralph? Your toilet finally commit suicide?”

“No!” Paulie snapped. “You flushed a bunch of newspaper down there!”

“I was recycling!” Tony said. “Excuse me for thinking about the environment!”

“Madon,” Paulie groaned. “That’s not recycling. Maybe you’ll learn now that you’re paying to have it fixed.”

“What?!” Tony exclaimed. “That’s not even my toilet!”

“I don’t care!” Paulie shouted in return.

“Hey, Paulie,” Ralph said. “Can I ask you something before I go, and you tear Tony a new asshole?”

Paulie composed himself, taking a deep breath and turning away from Tony. “Sure, Ralph. Go ahead.”

“When you went out with Diane a couple of weeks ago,” Ralph began, “did anything weird happen?”

Paulie froze for a moment before answering. “No. Nothing out of the ordinary other than me having to put up with her snobby friends. Why?”

Ralph shrugged. “I was just wondering if she mentioned anything. She left me, Paulie.”

Paulie was silent. He didn’t know what to say. “I’m sorry, Ralph.”

“Is what it is,” Ralph replied. “Look. I gotta go. If you remember anything, let me know. OK?”

“Sure,” Paulie said as Ralph left.

“Hey,” Tony said, coming up to Paulie and putting his hand on his shoulder. “Looks like you’ve got a new girlfriend.”

Paulie slapped Tony’s hand away. “Don’t you have work to do!?”

****

Freedom Lane

Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow

Co-created by executive producer BluntSharpness

Season 15, Episode 4: Bizarre Love Trapezoid

****

“So Paulie takes this chick out on a date because her husband wouldn’t go,” Tony explained to Da’Quarius that afternoon. “Then, two weeks later, I clogged the hell out of Paulie’s toilet with newspaper. Then -”

“Wait,” Da’Quarius interrupted. “Why’d you clog Paulie’s toilet with newspaper?”

“I was recycling,” Tony replied.

“Dat’s not how recyclin’ works.”

“Anyway,” Tony continued. “Ralph fixes the toilet, and -”

“No. I really want to talk ‘bout da’ newspaper. Don’t da’ city give you a blue bin to recycle shit? Why are you flushin’ newspaper down the toilet, thinkin’ it’s gonna get recycled? Even for you, dat’s pretty nutty.”

“Damn, kid. You sound just like your friggin’ uncle.”

“I just wanted to make a point. Now finish yo’ damn story.”

“I lost my place,” Tony said. “It ends with Ralph, the plumber, telling Paulie that his wife left him.”

“So?” Da’Quarius asked.

“So,” Tony replied, “Ralph’s wife is Diane!”

“Diane who?”

Tony groaned. “Diane who Paulie took out on a date two weeks ago to some costume ball.”

“Like Cinderella?”

Tony waved a hand and walked away. “I ain’t doing this today, kid. You want to hear my story to make me repeat myself?”

“I get it,” Da’Quarius said. “Paulie took dis lady out, she left her husband, an’ you think it has somethin’ to do with Unca Paulie?”

“OH!” Paulie snapped, coming in from his office. “I don’t want to hear the two of you gossiping about me in my own pizzeria. Diane did not leave her husband for me.”

“Ralph was in here telling us she did!” Tony exclaimed. “You were standing right here when he said it!”

“He said she left him!” Paulie retorted. “He never said she left him for me!”

Tony walked toward Paulie from around the counter. “You went out on a date with her, and she threw herself at you.”

“She did?” Da’Quarius asked.

“She didn’t,” Paulie replied. “She tried to kiss me.”

“Ha!” Tony shouted. “Told you!”

“Madon,” Paulie sighed. “One! That doesn’t constitute her throwing herself at me. Two: At no point did she tell me she was leaving her husband for me, nor have I spoken to her since the night in question.”

“He says with a guilty attitude,” Tony added, crossing his arms across his chest with a smug look on his face. “I think you’re enjoying being in the middle of this bizarre love trapezoid.”

“Tony,” Paulie groaned. “You’re such a… Wait a second. A bizarre what?!”

“A love trapezoid!” Tony replied. “You know!”

“I don’t know,” Paulie said.

“I don’t either,” Da’Quarius added. “Da’ fuck you talkin’ ‘bout?”

Tony sighed. “It’s when you’re in love with this woman, OK? But she’s in love with someone else, like her husband. Then you come along and fuck it all up for the both of them, putting yourself in the middle of a love trapezoid.”

“Do you mean a love triangle?” Paulie asked.

“No.” Tony shook his head. “I mean a trapezoid, like you’re in the twilight zone or something.”

“It’s called a love triangle because there are three people involved,” Paulie explained. “A triangle has three sides. A love triangle has three people. Get it?”

Tony turned to Da’Quarius. “What’s he not getting?”

“A trapezoid is a shape,” Da’Quarius said. “It looks like a wonky square. I don’t know what da’ fuck you think it means, doe.”

“You two are both talking out of your asses,” Tony said, waving a hand. “I don’t even know why I’m wasting my time with triangles and squares when Paulie’s dating a married woman!”

“I can’t win with you!” Paulie exclaimed, throwing his hands up. “I don’t even know why I ever bother having a civilized conversation with you. You got a one-track mind, and -”

The bells above the door rang as someone came in from the outside. The three of them turned to see the tall brunette walking in their direction. “Hi Paulie.”

“Diane,” Paulie stammered putting some footsteps between himself and the others. “What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to talk,” Diane replied, “but it’s not a conversation I wanted to have over the phone.”

Tony chuckled. “Told ya, boss.”

***

“See what you did?!” Da’Quarius snapped. “Paulie kicked us out, an’ now we cain’t hear shit!”

“Relax, kid,” Tony said. “This is just the sitting area. We can hear just fine as long as we’re quiet.”

“What’s going on?” a voice asked from behind them. They both jumped. It was Alice, Paulie’s head waitress. “Who’s that woman Paulie is talking to?”

“That’s the woman who left her husband for him,” Tony whispered in reply.

“No she didn’t,” Da’Quarius said. “She left her husband, but not for Paulie.”

“Didn’t you hear her?!” Tony argued. “She definitely left that plumber for Paulie.”

“That’s Ralph’s wife?” Alice asked, squeezing between the two. “She’s hot for a woman who’s married to a plumber.”

“Oh,” Tony said, turning to Alice with half a smile on his face. “You gonna go all lesbo for her now or something? Because I’m OK with that.”

Alice slapped Tony. “Shut the hell up, you friggin’ asshole. I want to hear what they’re saying.”

***

“I left Ralph,” Diane blurted.

“I know,” Paulie replied. “He was in here earlier today, and he told me about it. He’s pretty broken up over you, Diane.”

Diane let out a short laugh. “No he’s not. All he did when I told him I was leaving was say, ‘it is what it is.’ ”

“He said that here too. You know guys like Ralph don’t do emotion all that well. I’m a guy, a guy’s guy, and I could tell that he was hurting on the inside.”

“Come on, Paul,” Diane sighed. “We both know he’s an unappreciative oaf. He refused to go to my niece’s wedding because it coincided with WrestleMania. Who does that?!”

“He’s a dedicated fan is all,” Paulie shrugged. “That doesn’t mean he loves you any less.”

“How he feels doesn’t matter. I don’t love him, and that’s what does matter. I don’t want to be with someone who shows me, day in and day out, that I mean so little to him. I’ve given this a lot of thought, Paul. Ralph and I just aren’t meant to be.”

“And you came all the way down here to tell me this in person?”

Diane laughed. “That’s not the only reason.”

Paulie sighed. “OK. I get it. You’re trying to use the tears to get a free pie out of me. What do you want on it?”

“That’s not why,” Diane replied, smiling, “but I appreciate you trying to make me laugh. That’s what was missing in my marriage. You know how to treat and respect a woman. That’s why I want you, Paul.”

“Diane…” Paulie stammered. “I’m flattered, I really am, but…”

“Stop being so nervous!” Diane exclaimed. “I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve here, and I just want a straight answer out of you, even if it’s you rejecting me. All I want is an honest answer that doesn’t involve Ralph.”

Paulie took his time trying to come up with the right words. When he couldn’t, he let out another sigh. “Look, Diane. The truth is that I-”

Paulie was interrupted by the jingle of the bells over the door. Ralph came in, hitching up his pants by his belt as he walked through the pizzeria. “Hey, Paulie. I think I left my snake behind your shitter.” Ralph paused when he saw his wife standing there. “Diane?! What are you doing here!?”

“I came to talk to Paul,” Diane replied. “It’s no concern of yours.”

“Like fuck it ain’t!” Ralph shouted.

Paulie groaned. “Madon.”

***

“See!” Tony exclaimed. “Ralph is back, and Paulie’s full-on inside the trapezoid now!”

“Stop sayin’ dat trapezoid bullshit!” Da’Quarius snapped. “You don’t even know shit ‘bout geometry!”

“What’s maps and stuff have to do with this?” Tony asked.

“Dat’s geography!”

“Stop it, both of you!” Alice said in a harsh whisper. “This is getting good, and you’re going to get us caught!”

“What are you three doing?” a deep monotone asked from behind them, causing them all to jump. They turned to find the huge frame of Salvatore, Paulie’s secondary chef, watching them.

“Do you always have to sneak up on people like that?” Tony sighed. “You’re going to give me a friggin’ heart attack one day.”

“Are you spying on Paulie?” Salvatore asked.

“Paulie’s dating a married woman,” Alice explained. “She came in to talk to him about it, and now her husband showed up!”

“Dammit, waitress,” Da’Quarius said. “Paulie ain’t datin’ no one. And she ain’t with da’ plumber either. She left him.”

“For Paulie,” Tony added, nodding.

“NO!” Da’Quarius exclaimed. “Wait… Yes, but Paulie ain’t goin’ for it.”

“I’m confused,” Salvatore said. “But you shouldn’t be spying.”

Alice rolled her eyes. “You’re no fun, Sal. It’s juicy. Let us have this.”

Salvatore turned and walked back toward the kitchen area. “I will be working if anyone else wants to.”

“In a bit,” Tony said. “Think they’ll fight?”

“Not in here,” Da’Quarius replied. “Paulie always makes sure to take it outside. He never fights inside.”

“What’s there to fight about?” Alice asked. “She left her husband and wants Paulie. End of story.”

“You know what needs to happen?” Tony asked. “Ralph needs to proclaim his love for his wife. Then, Paulie needs to proclaim his love for Diane. She’ll decide who she wants after that.”

Alice sighed. “That makes no sense to this situation. Diane left her husband. What part aren’t you getting?”

“I just think Ralph should fight Paulie is all.” Tony shrugged. “If he wants his wife back, then he needs to show her that.”

“By kickin’ Unca Paulie’s ass?” Da’Quarius asked.

“Exactly. You’re brighter than you look, kid.”

“Umma kick yo’ ass, mo’ fucker,” Da’Quarius muttered.

“Shush,” Alice interrupted. “I want to hear.”

“You got it, waitress,” Da’Quarius said.

“My name is Alice.”

Da’Quarius shushed Alice. “Don’t’cha wanna hear?”

***

“I’m still waiting on an explanation,” Ralph said, his meaty arms crossed against his man-boobs. “You’re too good to eat a peasant’s meal like pizza, so what are you doing here?”

“Hey!” Paulie snapped. “Who the hell are you calling a peasant?!”

“Stay outta this!” Ralph shouted.

“Oh, I’m in it!” Paulie shouted back.

Ralph lowered his arms and squared his shoulders in front of Paulie. “What’s that supposed to mean, pizza man?!”

Paulie stared right back at Ralph. “Whatever you want it to mean, shit-kicker!”

“Enough!” Diane interrupted. “Ralph, I came here to talk to Paul, alright? It’s none of your business what I do and who I do it with.”

“You’re my wife,” Ralph growled. “Who you do whatever you’re doing it with is exactly my business.”

“OH!” Diane said, rolling her eyes. “Now you care all of a sudden? It’s over Ralph. Sign the paper when it comes to you, and we can all move on with our lives. Leave Paulie alone while you’re at it.”

“He doesn’t have to leave me alone,” Paulie added. “How many plumbers give you discounts if you throw the occasional pizza their way?”

“I’m guessing all of them,” Diane replied.

“What’s it to you, Diane?” Ralph mocked. “I can work for Paulie, eat his pizza, and invite him over for wrestling pay-per-views if I want!”

“I’m not doing the wrestling thing,” Paulie muttered.

“I came here to tell Paul that he’s the one I want to be with,” Diane said. “Regardless of whatever plumbing for pizza the two of you have, he’s respectful, attentive, and charming, everything you aren’t. You were fun when I was young and looking to piss off my hoity-toity parents, but I matured over the years, Ralph. You didn’t.”

“And Paulie’s mature?” Ralph asked.

“Yes,” Diane replied.

“Did he tell you that his pizzeria makes dick-shaped pizzas for bachelorette parties?”

“He does?”

“Tony!” Paulie shouted. “What the hell?!”

“Sorry, boss!” Tony called. “In my defense, it’s less ingredients, and I charge a lot more.”

Paulie sighed. “You friggin’ stunad!”

“Wait…” Diane said. “Is he over there listening to us?”

“We just want to see if you and Ralph are going to take it outside,” Tony said.

“We?” Diane asked. “Who else is over there?”

***

“Dammit, Tony,” Da’Quarius said. “Why can’t you just keep yo’ mouth shut?”

“What?” Tony asked. “I’m not gonna sit here and let him trash talk my dick pizzas. It’s bad enough Sal refuses to cook them, the big homophobe.”

“I don’t cook them because they’re not on the menu,” Salvatore said from behind them.

Tony jumped. “Shit! Stop doing that!”

“Sorry,” Salvatore muttered.

“Why are you back out here anyway?” Alice asked.

“I wanted to see if they fought too,” Salvatore replied. “I didn’t want to be the only one not knowing.”

“I’ll remember that next time you accuse me of being a gossip,” Alice muttered.

“Oh!” Paulie shouted from the other area. “Are you rats gonna scatter away, or am I going to have to get the broom!”

“Shit,” Tony said, walking toward the kitchen. “Come on, Sal. We got work to do!” Sal rolled his eyes and followed Tony.

“That was a good way to spend the start of my shift,” Alice said. “I’ll see you later, kid.”

“Sure, waitress,” Da’Quarius replied. “Until next time an’ shit.”

***

“Where were we?” Paulie asked as their audience dispersed.

“We were talking about Tony making dick pizzas,” Ralph replied.

“No we weren’t,” Diane sighed. “Can’t you be serious for more than a minute!”

“No!” Ralph retorted. “You knew that when you married me!”

The bells chimed above Paulie’s door, and a smiling couple walked in.

“And I knew you had a little dick too!” Diane shouted.

The smile on the couple’s face faded as they turned around and left.

“Look,” Paulie said. “I’m open for business here, and I can’t have either one of you shouting this bullshit for God and my customers to hear. Ralph, get your toilet snake and get out of here. Diane, just get out of here.”

Diane looked like she was slapped in the face. “But Paul…”

“You’ve said what you wanted to say,” Paulie interrupted, “but I have to think about it. You’re great, you really are, but Ralph is a friend. I don’t know if it would be right or not. I’ll call you.”

Diane left, and Ralph went to the bathroom to retrieve his snake. Paulie sat in one of the booths, exasperated. Da’Quarius came from the sitting area and sat across from Paulie. “Women, right?”

Paulie laughed. “Yeah. They’re all a little nutty if you ask me.”

Ralph came from the bathroom with his snake. “Found it,” he said with no inflection. “About this whole thing with Diane… I’m sorry our marital problems became your problem.”

“It’s fine,” Paulie replied, waving a hand. “No hard feelings, right, you gagootz?”

Ralph shook his head. “None.” He paused for a moment watching Paulie, weighing his next statement. “Diane’s a good woman. You should call her.” With that, he left into the New Haven afternoon.

“Madon,” Paulie groaned, putting his hands on his face. “This day, I swear…”

Tony came out of the back. “It’s all over? You guys aren’t gonna go fight for Diane’s honor or anything cool?”

Paulie huffed and got up, looking Tony in the face. “So, you’ve been making dick pizzas in my pizzeria, have you?”

“Oh shit,” Tony said, backing away.

“Oh shit is right,” Da’Quarius added, rubbing his hands together. “I finally get to see someone’s ass get kicked.”

***

“Are you gonna ask her out or what?” Da’Quarius asked, sitting at the booth with Paulie. “Sounds like her husband don’t even care.”

“I don’t know, kid. Today was really messed up. I don’t know what I want, ya dig?”

Da’Quarius nodded. “I get it. You don’t wanna be in da’ middle of da’ love triangle.”

“Trapezoid,” Tony corrected, coming to the table with a metal tray. “But don’t worry about it, kid. Here’s the pizza, guys. As promised: Tony’s Dick.”

Paulie sighed. “We can’t call it that. Can’t you be subtle or something?”

“I don’t even know what that means,” Tony said, dropping the tray on the table with the dick-shaped pizza on it. “But here’s the pie to end all pies. The balls are covered in pepperoni with onion pubes. The shaft has a generous sprinkling of sausage, and the head has extra cheese. I give you: Tony’s Dick!”

“I said we’re not calling it that,” Paulie muttered.

“Well it’s been on the Paulie’s Pizza secret menu for ten years,” Tony retorted.

“If dis yo’ dick,” Da’Quarius said, “you got problems.”

“Ten years?!” Paulie exclaimed. “Ten friggin’ years you’ve had a secret menu?! Madon, I don’t even want to know what’s on it.”

“Ready for a taste?” Tony asked, grinning widely. He started cutting up the pizza as Paulie and Da’Quarius cringed at the site of Tony attacking the pizza version of his own penis with a pizza cutter.

“Who wants some of the shaft?”

****

Edited by Mel Westcott

****

Pick up your very own Freedom Lane tee-shirt!

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