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Freedom Lane – Rose Kills Someone

The backyard of the Masters’ home on Freedom Lane was covered in leaves of all colors. Autumn was in full effect, and a pit bull terrier named Dutchie was running around, trying to bite at the leaves as they fell from the tree. Da’Quarius came from the shed with a rake, ready to start neatening up the yard for his mothers.

“Isn’t it lovely?” Helen asked, sitting at a table opposite Rose.

Rose sighed, flipping the page of her book.

“What’s wrong, Rose?” Helen asked. “You’ve seemed a little off lately.”

Rose put her book on the table. “You’ve noticed, huh?”

“What? That you’ve been short with me and Da’Quarius, cranky, head buried in your books more than usual? Yeah. I tend to notice these things.”

Rose watched Da’Quarius as he raked the leaves. “Maybe it’s the change in seasons, but I feel like I’m in a rut. You, Da’Quarius, and Paulie are always getting into these situations, and I usually just sit back and react.”

“You’ve been involved in plenty of those as I recall. Do you want us to slow down for a bit?”

“No. I want to get into my own situation, corny as that sounds.”

Helen thought for a moment. “So go do it. Who’s stopping you?”

Rose shrugged. “I don’t know. How do you do it?”

Helen gave Rose a shrug of her own. “Just keep your eyes out for it and jump right in I guess.”

“OK. I’ll keep my eyes open.”

“Are you sure about this?” Helen asked.

“Yeah. What’s the worst that could happen?”

****

Freedom Lane

Created, written, & directed by Budgerigar Orville Bigelow

Co-created by executive producer BluntSharpness

Season 15, Episode 5: Rose Kills Someone

****

Helen stirred the pot of beans she was cooking for lunch. “Baked bean night at prison was the worst,” she explained to Da’Quarius. “On those nights, you could see a green cloud over the place. It smelled rancid.”

“Damn. Prison sounds disgustin’!”

Helen shrugged. “Shower time wasn’t too bad.”

Rose came in the room. “I got it!”

“Got what?” Helen asked, turning to her. “You don’t have one of those fancy sexually transmitted diseases, do you? They’ve gotten a lot stronger since we were young.”

“No,” Rose replied. “I’m going to be helping out some of the less fortunate through the church. Remember when I said I wanted to do something with my time? Well, this is it!”

“I thought you wanted to do something a little more risqué, like get a face tattoo or have your genitals pierced.”

“Damn,” Da’Quarius said. “She ain’t Mike Tyson! What are you gonna be doin’, Rose?”

Rose smiled. “I’m going to be helping someone right in our neighborhood. His name is Felix McKenna. He’s a bit younger, but he’s had some medical problems lately.”

“I’ll say,” Helen huffed. “The guy’s shot full of heroin up to his eyeballs.”

“No he isn’t!” Rose said. “Why would you say something like that?”

“Because it’s true!” Helen retorted. “I read the police blotter from three different papers, and I keep track of who around us is getting arrested for what. McKenna has been arrested a bunch of times for possession and driving on some kind of shit. Go thumb through my neighborhood scumbag journal if you don’t believe me.”

“I hate that scumbag journal of yours,” Rose muttered.

“Wha’chu gonna do?” Da’Quarius asked.

Rose sighed. “It doesn’t matter. He needs help now, and I’m still going to help him, regardless of his appearance in that horrid diary of Helen’s.”

“Good for you,” Helen said. “Just make sure there’s no needles poking up from his couch cushions. If you sit on one, you’ll get the AIDS.”

***

Rose put lunch on the table at Felix McKenna’s house. She had made a pot of ham and pea soup that was in a steaming bowl next to a glass of water. Felix moved around with the help of a cane thanks to a car accident, one that Rose was sure was in Helen’s “scumbag journal”. “Are you hungry?” Rose called.

“Sure am,” Felix replied, coming in from the other room, making his way slowly thanks to his pronounced limp. “Thank you so much for helping me, Rose. I really do appreciate it. The change in seasons really messes up my hip, and this hot soup will warm my bones right up.”

Rose smiled. “It’s my pleasure. I’ll straighten up your living room while you eat.”

“Thanks again.”

Rose went to work in the living room like she promised and sighed while she straightened up. She was looking for a challenge, something like the others were constantly putting themselves through. Taking care of Felix was a lot like taking care of the home she and Helen shared, but it was a lot more boring. She decided that maybe an adventure wasn’t in her cards, until she came across a small box full of needles.

“Oh my. Helen was right. Felix really is a heroin addict.”

She considered calling the police and letting them sort it out, but she remembered her resolve to be more like the others.

“I’ll take care of this. You’re detoxing Felix, whether you like it or not.” She stashed the needles in her purse. She paused for a moment and took Felix’s cell phone too, so he couldn’t call his dealer for another “fix”.

“I’m going, Felix! I’ll check on you tomorrow, OK?”

“Alright!” Felix called from the kitchen. “Thanks for everything, Rose!”

Rose smirked as she left. “You’re welcome,” she whispered, locking the door behind her.

***

“You found his stash?!” Da’Quarius exclaimed during breakfast the next morning after Rose had told them what she had found at Felix’s home.

“I found his needles,” Rose admitted. “I didn’t find his full stash, but hopefully it’s enough to keep him from injecting his veins with that junk.”

“And where are they now?” Helen asked.

“They’re in my purse,” Rose replied, “and I’m getting rid of them, so don’t go getting any crazy ideas.”

Helen huffed. “Like I need that friggin’ addict’s AIDS needles.”

The doorbell rang, and Rose got up to get it. “Felix doesn’t have AIDS, Helen. Just because someone is a drug addict doesn’t mean they’re swarming with diseases. Felix is a good man who has made some mistakes. Once the drugs are out of his life, he’ll be on the up and up. You’ll see. Felix McKenna is going to live life to the fullest.”

Rose opened door to find a somber Father McKraken. “Good morning, Rose. May I come in?”

“Yes, of course,” Rose replied, stepping aside and letting the priest inside. He walked into the den, where he was joined by Helen and Da’Quarius, who wanted to see what was happening.

“You’re better from your fall into the dildo dumpster I see,” Helen said with a smirk. “Did all the dick-shaped bruises heal?”

Father McKraken sighed. “I wish I was here for your jovial ribbing, Helen, but I really need to speak with Rose.”

“What’s wrong?” Rose asked.

“It’s Felix,” Father McKraken replied. “We believe you were the last person to see him alive.”

Helen huffed and dropped her bottom into her recliner. “So much for that damn junkie living life to his fullest, eh Rose?”

***

“Oh my God,” Rose gasped, sitting on the couch with Father McKraken. “What happened?”

“Felix had a condition called ‘Super Diabetes’,” Father McKraken replied. “He went into a diabetic coma and died. It looked like he was searching his house for something, and the police and paramedics say his syringes and cellphone were missing. He couldn’t take his medicine or call for help. He collapsed in his living room where he died in an extreme amount of pain over the course of several hours.”

“Insulin!” Helen said. “Dammit, why didn’t I think of that?”

Father McKraken turned back toward Rose. “You didn’t notice anything odd when you were there, did you? I just don’t know where those items would have gone. The police think some drug addicts could have stolen them and taken his phone for good measure, but I just don’t know how they would have targeted him. There was almost no one in Felix’s life. You were the only person to see him in days.”

Rose looked away. “I didn’t notice.”

Father McKraken sighed. “I guess we won’t know anything for now. Maybe we’ll find out at some point. Poor Felix.”

Helen rose with a grunt. “It’s time to go, Padre. We’re sorry your pal went and croaked himself, but these two old ladies got shit to do.”

“Oh,” Father McKraken said, getting up. “Call me if you remember anything, Rose. Any little detail could help us figure out how this could have happened.”

“OK,” Rose said as Helen ushered the priest out the door.

“Bye now,” Helen said.

“Thank you and God Ble-”

Helen slammed the door and turned back toward her family. “Kid, you’re on evidence. Get rid of that phone and those needles, right the frig now.”

“On it!” Da’Quarius replied, rushing toward the kitchen.

Helen sighed and sat next to Rose. “Here comes the hard part,” she said, putting an arm around her wife’s shoulders. “Let’s get your alibi straight make damn sure you stick to the script.”

Rose looked up, tears in her eyes. “Oh my God, Helen. I killed someone!”

Helen shushed Rose gently and held her close. “Don’t say things like that, dear. The cops will pick right up on it.”

***

“All set,” Flounder, Da’Quarius’s Korean-American friend said, closing the program on his computer and taking the cord out of Felix’s cellphone. “If the police ping the phone’s location, it will show up in France.”

Da’Quarius took the phone back from Flounder and put it in his pocket. “You da’ man. I’ll toss da’ old phone in da’ swamp on my way home.”

“Rose is really upset about this, huh?” Flounder asked.

“Yeah,” Da’Quarius replied. “I’ve never seen her dis upset. I wish there was some way I could help her.”

“Me too,” Flounder said. “Rose is so nice. I wish there was more I could do to help.”

Da’Quarius let out a sigh. “Me too, man.”

“My dad always gets happy when he hears bad people get killed. Maybe something bad will turn up with this McKenna guy, and she won’t be so upset he’s dead.”

“Or we can make it happen ourselves.”

A look of confusion washed over Flounder’s face. “What do you mean?”

“We got work to do. Get yo’ speedo.”

Flounder’s eyes grew wide. “No! I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not doing it!”

“C’mon! You just said you’d do anythin’ to help Rose. ‘Sides, we won’t use your face.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

Flounder sighed. “Fine. I’ll wear my blue speedo then.”

***

Helen walked through Felix McKenna’s home, holding an old bag. She looked out the window to make sure she wasn’t followed. She reached in her bag, took out a brick of saran-wrapped white powder, and shoved it under the couch cushion.

“Biddy?” a voice asked.

“GODDAMMIT!” Helen jumped, grasping her chest. She turned to see Da’Quarius, standing by the staircase with the Korean kid he hung out with. “What the hell, kid? You almost killed me! You shouldn’t sneak up on old women like that!”

“We were standin’ right here,” Da’Quarius said. “You walked right past us.”

“Oh,” Helen said. “Wait a second. What are you two doing here, and why’s your Chinook buddy in his undies?”

“We tryin’ to help Rose. I’m takin’ pics of Flounder lookin’ all provocative an’ shit. I’m gonna plant ‘em so dis Felix guy looks like a pedophile, an’ Rose won’t feel so bad dat he died.”

Helen looked down and shook her head. “Good God, kid. I wish I thought of that! I’m planting fake drugs, so he looks like an addict who’s selling shit to school children.”

“I’m Korean, by the way,” Flounder muttered, “not Chinese.”

“How are you gonna make it look like he’s sellin’ to kids?” Da’Quarius asked.

“I put some Ziplock bags with cartoon turtles on them with the drugs. I like your idea better, though. I say we do both and see which turd sticks to the wall.”

“Agreed. We’re just gonna get some good shots with Flounder in dis dude’s bed and bounce da’ fuck outta here.”

“I don’t wanna roll around in a dead man’s bed!” Flounder whined.

“Shut your trap, kid,” Helen scolded. “The asshole died on the floor right here anyway.”

Flounder looked at the floor, the color draining from him.

“Let’s go,” Da’Quarius said. “We still gotta get da’ pics publicized an’ shit.”

“Good luck,” Helen said as Da’Quarius and Flounder went upstairs. “I’ll see you at home.”

***

Rose shut off the evening news, taking in a breath and letting it out silently. Helen and Da’Quarius shared a look as Rose placed the remote on the table in front of the couch.

“Wow,” Helen said, breaking the silence in the room. “I can’t believe it.”

“I know,” Da’Quarius added. “You think you know a guy, an’ he ends up bein’ a drug dealer an’ a pedophile.”

“Oh stop!” Rose snapped. “I don’t know how you two got that on the six o’ clock news, but you must think I’m really stupid to think I’d fall for it.”

“Whatever do you mean?” Helen asked.

“I noticed the empty bags of flour you threw away, Helen, and I know that boy in the pictures was Flounder, Da’Quarius.”

“How? We blurred his… I mean, dat was Flounder?!”

“Go to your room,” Rose sighed. “I’m going to talk to Helen, then I’ll try to figure out what I’m going to do with you.”

Da’Quarius shared a worried look with Helen before heading upstairs.

“Don’t be mad at the kid,” Helen said. “He’s just following my example, and we both want you to be happy.”

“Did you think I’d find it sweet that the two of you tried framing a dead man for horrid things, and that it would make me feel better about killing him?”

“Yes?”

Rose sighed. “I know you two have my best interest at heart, but there’s a right way to do things and a wrong way. This was the latter.”

“I’ll talk to the kid. I’ll let him know I’m not the best of role models. Then you can ground us both if you want.”

Rose nodded. “How come your little adventures end with you losing your temporary restaurant job or getting a hand job from a masseuse, and I end up killing someone?”

“You think I haven’t killed anyone by accident?” Helen asked.

“I know you haven’t done that, jokes aside.”

Helen shrugged. “Maybe you’re not cut out for the nutty adventures. Maybe the sidekick gig is better suited for you. Batman needed that fruity kid in pantyhose dogging him all the time. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?”

Rose gave Helen a small smile and leaned into her. “I guess not. Being Robin isn’t so bad as long as you’re my Batman.”

Helen put her arm around Rose. “Who the snot is ‘Robin’?”

***

“Well,” Da’Quarius said, coming down from his room later that evening. “I guess we won’t be seein’ Flounder for a while.”

“Why?” Rose asked. “Is he OK?”

“Oh, he’s fine,” Da’Quarius replied. “He’s just grounded for a long-ass time cuz his dad saw his speedo pictures on da’ news.”

“How’d he know it was his son?” Helen asked. “Didn’t you blur his face?”

“Flounder’s dad saw his fortune cookie shaped birthmark on his thigh.”

“That’s racist,” Helen muttered. “Damn kid isn’t even Chinese.”

“Don’t think you’re off the hook just because your friend’s in trouble,” Rose said. “As soon as I figure out a suitable punishment for you, I’m going to enforce it. I may just make you clean out Felix’s house with the church, so you can help clean up the mess you’ve made with his life.”

“Death,” Helen corrected.

“You’re not out of hot water either!” Rose added.

Helen put her hands up. “Yes, warden.”

“More strange news is coming out of a small eastern New Haven neighborhood tonight,” the anchor on the news said. “We reported earlier about a deceased man whose home turned up evidence of pedophilia and selling fake drugs to schoolchildren. It’s now been discovered that Felix McKenna had donated to an American Nazi foundation for the better part of the last decade. He had even started doubling his donation following the twenty-sixteen election when -”

Rose turned off the TV and put the remote on the table.

“Nazis!” Helen shouted. “Why couldn’t I think of Nazis! My head goes straight to drugs and pedophilia. Every friggin’ time!”

“Damn Nazis,” Da’Quarius muttered. “In my own hood too! Wish I coulda beat his ass while he was still alive!”

“And the two of you had nothing to do with this?” Rose asked.

Helen and Da’Quarius looked at each other.

“No,” Rose said, putting her hands up and standing. “I don’t want to know if you did. Sounds realistic to me. I knew there was something strange about that guy!” She got up and walked into the kitchen.

“She’ll be fine,” Helen said. “Was that you?”

“No,” Da’Quarius replied. “I thought it was you!”

“Shit,” Helen muttered. “A fuckin’ Nazi, right in my neighborhood! What a fucked-up world we live in!”

Da’Quarius nodded. “Word.”

“Alright, guys,” Rose said, coming from the kitchen. “I’m heading to bed. Don’t worry about cleaning up Felix’s house, Da’Quarius. I don’t need you finding any Nazi memorabilia.”

“OK,” Da’Quarius replied. “Goodnight, Rose.”

“I’ll see you up there,” Helen added. She waited for Rose to be gone before turning back to Da’Quarius. “See? She’ll be fine.”

“Cool,” Da’Quarius said. “Really, doe, da Nazi thing was you, right?”

Helen got up from her recliner with a grunt. “Take that mongrel of yours out and get up to bed too.” She gave him a wave before walking up the stairs.

“Helen!” Da’Quarius called. “Was that you?”

Helen turned back to Da’Quarius and shook her head. “It sure wasn’t.”

Da’Quarius looked away and walked to get his dog’s leash.

“Hey,” Helen said.

Da’Quarius turned to look at her.

Helen laughed. “It was me, you little stunad. Don’t tell Rose.”

The End

****

Edited by Mel Westcott

****

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