Five days later.
“Farlo! Farlo! I lost five pounds. Come here, you got to see this,” shouted Joey from the bathroom.
From the kitchen card table, “You’ve got ten more to go.” Tina barked.
Five minutes later from Joey’s bedroom, “Farlo! Farlo! My belly isn’t hanging over my belt. You’ve got to see this,” an excited Joey said.
From the kitchen card table, “You’ve got two more inches to lose to get rid of the love handles.” Tina barked.
“Farlo! Farlo! I’m ready for inspection,” hollered Joey.
Farlo bent over, rubbed Tina on the back of her head, “We’re making progress. But I don’t want him to get a big head.” Tina barked.
Farlo stood up and got off the beer keg being used as a kitchen chair. He grabbed hold of his cane, and walked with a bit of a limp to Joey’s bedroom. The door was already open. Joey stood ramrod straight as if he were a West Point cadet. Farlo walked up to him, examined Joey’s face. Nodded with approval at the military style haircut Joey got yesterday at Zip and Clip for ten bucks. He let his eyes move down to Joey’s t-shirt. It was clean.
Farlo growled, “Turn around.”
“Do I have to?” asked Joey.
“Okay, okay. But it’s clean. So what if it has some printing on the back?”
Farlo read the printing on the back of Joey’s t-shirt, “It’s Always A Happy Ending At Luis’s. Take it off and burn it. It’s not going to Goodwill.”
“But that’s where I got it. It’s just like new and it only cost fifty cents.”
“Do you ever lighten up?” asked Joey.
“I did once, twelve years ago and regretted it ever since,” growled Farlo.
Farlo and Tina walked slowly around the bed. Joey had hospital corners. The sheets were clean and pulled tight. What is that teddy bear doing on your pillow?”
“It’s not a Teddy bear. It’s the mascot for the Chicago Bears,” said Joey.
“The way they’re playing, they’re teddy bears. Losers,” barked Farlo. Then he added, “You passed inspection, your breakfast is on the card table.”
Joey waited until Farlo and Tina left the room. He made the sign of the cross for passing inspection. He took off his Luis’s t-shirt and tossed it in a trash can. He slipped on a plain white tee. Joey then went into the kitchen, pulled out his keg and sat down and stared at two pieces of whole wheat toast with avocado mashed on top of them. A glass of fresh orange juice was to the right of his plate. And, a bowl of plain strawberries to the left of the plate.
“Is this all I get to eat?”
“What is this green stuff? I don’t like the looks of it.”
“I don’t want to eat it. I might throw up.”
“Then go hungry.”
“You’ve got to learn to have more interesting conversations, Farlo. Anybody ever tell you that?”
“Yah, and after he picked his ass off the floor he apologized. I’m giving you a pass this once.”
Joey ate his strawberries. He drank his juice. He stared at the avocado covered toast. His stomach was rumbling. It needed food, fast. Out of sheer desperation, he picked up a piece of the green mushy covered toast and brought it near his nose and sniffed it. Tina liked his style.
Joey set it back down and took his fork and pick off a bit of the avocado and let it touch his tongue. He picked up the toast and took a bite. “What’s this green stuff called? It come in a jar? Do you have to special order it. It’s pretty good.”
Farlo, instead of answering Joey, turned to Tina, “Do you think Filo is punishing me by sending me here?” Tina barked.
Joey was working on his second piece of toast, his mouth partially full, he mumbled, “What are we going to do today?”
Farlo finished chewing his toast with avocado on top. After he swallowed he said, “The first thing you’re going to do is learn not to speak with food in your mouth. It’s bad manners. The second thing, and I’m taking a big risk but Filo insists. I’m taking you out on a small job with me.”
Joey started to speak, but saw Farlo and Tina glaring at him. Joey chewed, swallowed, and then said, “What kind of job?”
“It’s a minimum security job. It’s all you qualify for now.”
“I need a security clearance? Exactly, what kind of work do you do?”
“You already asked your quota of questions for today. Now, clean the table, wash and put away the dishes, brush your teeth and clean the bathroom, stat.”
“I wish you’d say, please.”
Joey got to work.
What kind of job is Farlo talking about? What exactly does Farlo do? Why would Joey need a security clearance? Who’s Filo?