Part One: JJ is trying to paint Thelma but she keeps dancing to 'the music in my head.' She wants to quit, but JJ says he will give her tickets to a Marvin Gaye concert. She goes back but then she sees herself seven feet tall. They start arguing, and Florida comes in panting because she had to walk up 17 flights of stairs because the elevator is broken. They don't notice her until she slams the door. She then says she always knows which apartment is hers: 'I just pick up kids screaming and come in on automatic pilot.' JJ says that they tried to put up an out of order sign, but every time they tried to nail it up, they brought down a wall. Thelma says she can't put the food in the refrigerator because it broke down. When Florida says all her food will spoil, JJ tells her the heat went off earlier. Florida then yells 'Damn!' The kids are shocked and Florida asks God to forgive her because 'Under the circumstances, that is the politest word that comes to mind.' She then tries to call the building manager, but Thelma says that all she will get is a message to leave a message at the beep; Florida calls and says that it just beeped. JJ then picks up and leaves a nasty message signed 'Mayor Daley or Muhammad Ali, whichever scares you the most.' Willona then comes in and says that she just came from the laundry room. She shows one of her dresses that came out of a washer with holes in it. Florida says she got the machine with a special setting: wash and tear. Everyone is discussing it as James comes in panting. They ignore him until he slams the door. He complains about the conditions. Then Florida offers to make some tea because the stove is working, and James says 'Hallelujah!' Florida then tells him to take it back because the water isn't working. James says he had better conditions in Korea. JJ then says they'll have to use the bathroom at the gas station, and only on odd-numbered days. Florida says they should complain again, but James says they won't listen. Thelma says that Michael has written 11 letters to the newspapers complaining about the conditions. James asks how he could afford the stamps and JJ says the last six letters, he painted them on. Willona leaves to watch something that's sadder than the building: the four o'clock news. Florida has JJ go downstairs to get some water. James and Florida then recall a date James had while he was courting Florida; a real heavy date that weight 350 pounds. JJ comes back in saying that 'someone mugged my buckets.' James then trips over a tile in the floor that came loose because it was so cold in the apartment. Michael then comes in and says that the Chicago Defender printed one of his letters. JJ asks if it was one that he painted an Eisenhower stamp on. When Michael says yes. JJ says that the post office isn't too bright, because he painted Eisenhower black. Michael reads the letter about the conditions of the projects and the lack of repsonse to complaints. His parents are upset. Michael asks if they aren't supposed to fight for their rights. Florida then says that they had to wait two years to get into the project and the apartment is still better than the cold water flat they lived in before. Michael doesn't remember being cold, and Florida says that he was warm in her belly. The housing authority then calls and says they want to talk to the famlily about Michael's letter and they will be there at five o'clock. Florida fears that they will be thrown out.
Part Two: A William Stonehurst from the housing authority arrives, panting because of climbing the stairs. He says that someone was being mugged on the 14th floor. JJ says that he's lucky the mugger was busy or he'd be the muggee. Mr. Stonehurst apologizes for being late, saying he couldn't get a cab because when he gave the address they would refuse him. He tell James(thinking he's Michael) that he should not have written the letter. He says that all they are trying to do is satisfy the tenants and keep the buildings in the black. As he is about to leave, Willona comes in to say that two rival gangs, the Warlords and the Dukes, are having a rumble and that his cab left going 60 miles an hour on three wheels. Stonehurst realizes that he will have to stay for dinner and calls his wife. However, he mispronounces the food, saying they are having 'fat greens and turnip backs.' Florida and James stifle laughter at that. Stonehurst has a headache so he asks for aspirin. However, there's no water to take them with. James then gives him some muscatel to take the aspirin with. Florida asks him if he has been around black families, he says no but he does have a black maid. He then takes the muscatel and enjoys it. When dinner is served, the family tells him about the various things that aren't working in the apartment. Stonehurst says that that the housing authority gets so bogged down in paperwork that they lose connections to people. James says that they have been trying to talk to the buidling manager and got nowhere. Stonehurst says he works at the district office and says he can get things done. However, just as dinner is about to be served, Willona pops in and says that the rumble is off and Stonehurst makes his way toward the door. The family asks what he will do about the apartment and he says he will get right on it and everything will be fixed...im over a year. Disappointed, the family goes back to the table.
Epilogue: The table is being cleared, and the water comes back on by itself. James says that with the heat still off, he could take a bath in his overcoat. He then tells Florida to keep him warm. Then he says he could always trade her in on Emmaline Watson.