Where’s Your Father?

“Suck it up, kid, you’ve just started,” barked Farlo sounding like a drill instructor.

Joey lied sprawled out on the grass in the back of his house. “I can’t move. I ache all over. Can I have a beer?”

“You’ve only done two pushups. You’ve got sit ups, burpees, jumping jacks, and cardio.”

“I quit. I don’t want to get in shape. I want my beer and cereal. I wanna go to work. I want you to leave. I want everything back to the way it used to be,” complained Joey.

Farlo turned his head toward Tina, “Joey has lots of things he wants. You think he’s going to get them?”

Tina barked twice. “Tina smarter than you, Joey. She said it won’t happen.” Farlo bent over and picked up small rocks and began throwing them at Joey.

“Hey, cut it out,” hollered Joey.

“Start exercising. You’ve got love handles. Your belly hangs an inch over your belt. You’re getting a double chin. I’ll put ten dollars you’ve had hemorrhoids in the past six weeks,” now start moving your lazy butt before I start kicking it.

“Ouch, I said cut it out. This kills, three. Fo .. fo .. four. Fi .. fi .. five. I did it. I did it. I did five. I met my goal,” a note of triumph in Joey’s voice.

“Congratulations,” the words from Farlo’s deadpan voice. He added, “My five-year-old granddaughter can do twenty. Roll over, time for sit ups.”

So it went for the next hour. Joey starting an exercise. Joey quitting. Joey hollering “ouch” when rocks hit him. Joey overjoyed when he hit the day’s goal. Farlo popping his balloon.

Forty-five minutes later Joey finished his oatmeal, fruit, and juice. “I’m still hungry. I need real food. Not this fast food stuff.”

“That’s all you earned. Now we’re going to work on your psychological profile. If I had a stamp, I’d stamp the sheet LOSER. Filo gets a feather up his you know what when I do that. He told me it’s counterproductive.”

“I already like Filo,” said Joey.

Farlo waved his hand as if he was smacking away Joey’s remark, “Don’t get carried away. He also told me if I had to, I could take drastic action with you. I don’t need preapproval.”

“What’s that?” asked Joey.

“You don’t want to know. If I told you, you’d soil yourself.”

“Huh?”

“First question, where is your father?”

Joey squirmed. He looked out the window. Then he turned back to Farlo, “In the state prison. He’s doing hard time.”

“For what?”

“Dealing, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, pimping, possession, selling stolen goods, and blackmail.”

“You want to end up like him, kid? Or, do you want to make something of yourself? You got a choice, you can be a bum or a blessing.”

“He never forgot me on Christmas when he wasn’t in the pen,” said Joey defensively.

“Next question, “Where’s your mom?”

“Women’s prison for the next twenty to thirty. She might get paroled after fifteen with good behavior,” said Joey.

“For what?”

“Forgery. Intimidation. Posing as a TSA agent. Dealing. Possession. Assault with intent to maim and kill, but she had a reason for the last one. She caught her girlfriend with her boyfriend.”

“You mean she was cheating on your father.”

“Okay, she’s not perfect,” said Joey.

Farlo took out his wallet, he handed Joey two twenties and a sheet of paper, “You’re going to the store and getting only the items on this list. Tina is going with you. She has creds as a therapy dog. If you try to run away, you’ll lose the use of your leg. Bring me back the change and the receipt.”

“You don’t trust me, do you.”

“That’s right. Now move out.”

“I do not work for you,” Joey said, his voice rising in anger.

“Tina!” said Farlo.

Tina growled.

Joey said, “Okay. Okay. I’m going. Tell Tina to chill. Do you have a muzzle? Where’s her leash?”

“She doesn’t need either one,” snapped Farlo.

“Can I get a pack of gum?” asked Joey in a conciliatory tone.

Farlo lifted his cane and gripped the end of it in one hand as if it were a club.

“I’m going. I’m going. Relax.”

Will Joey make a break for it? Will Tina stop him? Who’s Filo

Two More Gigs and You’re Grounded

Joey went into the bathroom. He kicked a towel out of the way. Took a step and kicked another towel out of the way. Took another step and crushed a beer can with his foot. He wasn’t wearing shoes. “Ouch, son of a …”

From outside the room, “You swear it’s a gig. Five gigs and you’re grounded.” Said Farlo. Then a bark, backing up Farlo.

“I’m not a kid. I can swear if I want to,” hollered Joey.

“Poor attitude. This will show up on your weekly evaluation,” said Farlo. Again a bark.

“Get out or I’ll call the cops,” stammered Joey.

“With what? I’m scrolling through your cell phone. I’m deleting your photos and videos. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

“They’re all over 18,” said Joey.

“Poor self-esteem to go along with a poor attitude. You may be my toughest assignment,” the sandpapery voiced Farlo said. Then, the barked agreement.

Joey stared into a stained toilet. He closed the lid, sat down on it, and stared at the concentric circles of rings in the bathtub. He turned his head to the right and looked at the small window. For a fleeting moment, he wondered if he could squeeze through and escape.

Farlo interrupted his thoughts, “You’ve got five minutes to clean the bathroom or I’m busting down the door and coming in to kick your ass,” said Farlo.

Joey hollered back, “Hey, that’s a swear. How come you can swear and I can’t?”

“I’m a grown up,” said Farlo.

“How am I supposed to clean the bathroom when I don’t have any stuff to clean it?” said Joey.

“Use your brain, it’s the thing inside your skull. You’ve got four minutes,” Said Farlo, then he banged the door with his cane. Tina growled.

 

Joey got up off the toilet seat. Flushed the toilet and lifted the lid to see if it was clean. No luck. “Damn, damn, damn,” said Joey.

“Two gigs,” said Farlo.

“Not fair,” replied Joey.

“I know,” said Farlo. Tina barked in agreement.

Three minutes later, Joey opened the bathroom door and stood face to face with Farlo. Tina sitting beside him. “Get out of my way,” said Joey.

“It’s inspection time. Go stand by the toilet while I inspect your work,” ordered Farlo.

“No. No. No.” said Joey.

“That’s your third gig, two more and you’re grounded,” said Farlo.

“Who’s gonna make me?” demanded Joey.

Farlo tapped his cane two quick times on the floor. Tina Sprang up. Her front paws resting on Joey’s chest. Her teeth bared.

Joey hollered, “Don’t let her bite me. My face. My face. It’s my treasure. I’ll stand by the toilet.”

Farlo tapped once. Tina sat on her haunches. Her eyes on Joey. Joey turned and walked across the towel and beer can less floor and stood in front of the toilet. Farlo puffed up his chest and walked into the bathroom as if he were General Patton. He stopped at the sink, wiped a finger in the sink bowl, brought the finger up to his face and shook his head. He looked at the towel rack. Shook his head, “The towel is uneven.”

Farlo opened the medicine cabinet. He saw hemorrhoid cream, aspirin, Tums, a condom, and three outdated prescriptions. Farlo shook his head in disapproval. He walked to Joey and stood in front of him. “Step aside and lift the lid.”

Joey took a half step to his left and lifted the toilet lid.

“You call that clean? It’s disgusting.”

“It’s the best I could do.”

“No, it’s not the best you can do,” said Farlo matter-of-factly.

Joey almost swore, but he didn’t want to be grounded.

What is happening? Who sent Farlo? What does Farlo want with Joey? Come by tomorrow.

Has She Had Her Rabies Shot?

The front door opened, Joey jumped back and shouted, “Get her out of here. It will not work. It will not work. Leave and take her with you.”

“You’re overreacting, Joey,” said the old guy.

Tina, a large German shepherd trotted in, walked up to Joey, now frightened and braced against a wall, and sniffed him. She sat in front of him. Her eyes on Joey’s eyes.

“Make her go away. I don’t like dogs. Has she had her rabies shot?” Joey nervously asked.
Joey gently moved his left foot six inches to the left and his back slid six inches with the foot.

Tina growled. Joey brought his foot back.

The old guy walked up and stood beside Tina. He patted her on the head with his left hand. He patted Tina’s head, “Good girl. Don’t let him leave.” The old guy reached into one of his cargo pants’ pockets and pulled out a treat. He fed it to Tina who wagged her tail and greedily looked for another treat.

“How long do I have stand against the wall?” Joey asked.

The old guy ignored Joey’s comment. Instead, he said, “I need to make proper introductions. Tina, this is Joey. He’s lazy. He’s in a dead-end job. No woman will date him; and who can blame them? What’s worse, he doesn’t know what day it is?”

“I do to,” said Joey.

“Yah, what day is it?” asked the old guy.

“It’s, it’s, it’s not Saturday or Sunday, I don’t work weekends. I worked yesterday so it can’t be Monday.”

“You have a four in one chance,” said the old guy.

“This is stupid,” said Joey.

Tina growled.

“Sorry,” said Joey.

“Sorry what?” said the old guy.

Joey thought for a moment. “Sorry Tina?” said Joey.

“That’s better. What day is it?”

“Hey, it’s a trick question. Can I Google it?”

“I see you have a sense of humor, pathetic as it is,” said the old guy.

“I was serious,” said Joey. Then he added. “I really have to go to the bathroom.”

“Tina, he doesn’t know what day it is. Now he wants to go to the bathroom that probably smells worse than a Porta Potty that hasn’t been emptied in two weeks.”

“I was going to clean it over the weekend, whenever that happens.”

“Joey, life as you knew it is over. It’s a new day. Consider me your mentor. Consider Tina your guardian. Now my formal introductions, Joey, this is Tina, a trained killer. Once she accepts you, she’ll be your friend for life. As for me, call me Farlo.”

“I don’t need a mentor. I don’t need a guardian. Why are you here? Do you have a last name? Who are you? I really, really have to go,” said Joey squirming against the wall, his white face now turning a light shade of green.

“Farlo’s the name, straightening out losers is my game. You’re on the top of my list. You can go wee wee or tinkle, whatever. When you finish, start cleaning up. You don’t eat until the house passes inspection. Farlo lifted his can and knocked the bowl of cereal and beer out of Joey’s hand to the floor.

“Look what you did. You’re making a mess,” said Joey.

Who is Farlo and where did he come from? What’s his game and why did he choose Joey?

Your House is a Dump

The old guy stood in the living room. He looked over at the sofa. An opened pizza box rested on one of the cushions. A half empty bag of chips sat next to the pizza box. He shook his head. He looked at the floor. A dozen empty beer cans were scattered around. He turned to Joey and said, “Your house is a dump.”

“You haven’t seen the kitchen, it’s worse,” said Joey hoping the hold guy would take off.

The old guy maneuvered his way around the beer cans. He turned his cane upside side and swung at a can as it were a golf ball. The can lift off the floor and hit Joey in the stomach.”

“Hey, watch it,” said Joey.

“The next one is coming at your head,” said the old guy.

Joey hustled in front of the old guy and kicked two cans out of the way.”

“You don’t like my crib, you can leave. There’s the door,” said Joey extending his arm and pointing to partially open door.

“No, I not leaving. You are going to clean this up, or …”

Joey interrupted him, “Or what?”

The old man put his left hand to his jaw, thought about what he was going to say. The he said, “I don’t like violence as a first response. So, instead of teaching you a lesson. I have my friend who will be living with me make sure you clean this place.”

Joey looked around. He didn’t see anyone. “What friend.”

“She’ll be living with me. Don’t worry, we’ll share the same room,” said the old guy.

No woman tells me what to do. So, forget about it. I like this place just the way it is,” said Joey with an edge of anger in his voice.

“When is the last time you had a girlfriend, kid? Let’s see you’re almost thirty-four, going nowhere. I’ll guess the senior prom.

“I’m not a kid. That’s what you think. I’m a chick magnet when I go out.”

“I got ten dollars you can’t call a woman and get a date for tonight,” said the old man.

“Can,” said Joey.

“Where’s your ten?” said the old guy.

“I’m saving my money,” said Joey.

“You’re broke and payday isn’t for another four days. I’d call you a loser, but I don’t want to insult losers, kid,” said the old guy.

“I’m not a kid. That does it. Get out,” Joey took a step toward the old guy.

The old guy pivoted forty-five degrees and hollered, “Tina, come on in.”

Who is Tina? Will she straighten Joey out? Who is the old guy? And, why did he come to Joey’s house? Come by tomorrow to find out.

Changes Ahead For Scorpios

Joey Ginarco’s iPhone alarm went off. His room was still dark. He stuck his right hand out feeling around for his iPhone. He accidentally brushed it onto the floor. Joey cursed and turned toward the small table he picked up at garage sale for 75 cents and reached for the lamp. He knocked it over.

“Damn, damn, and triple damn,” Joey shouted.

He opened his eyes. He twisted his body a bit to the side and pushed with his feet. He was making progress. His head hung over the side of the bed. He reached down with his right arm and felt around for his iPhone. He felt the charging cord. Good. Joey grabbed hold of it with his hand. He reeled in the the charging cord the way a fisherman reels in a small mouth bass. He took hold of the iPhone with his left hand. The alarm was driving him nuts. With his right hand, he hit the snooze button. Then he turned on the iPhone’s flashlight and searched for his lamp. It was laying on a pile of his clothes. Right on top of his boxers. The boxers with baseballs, footballs, and basketballs all over them. Under his boxers were the same clothes he worn the day before and the day before that. He reached his right arm over the edge of the bed and reached for the lamp. It was just beyond his reach. He scooted another three inches forward. He stretched his arm out and his fingertips felt the base of the lamp. Joey pushed back with his right foot scooting him closer, and closer until …

“Damn, damn, and triple damn,” Joey shouted. He fell off the bed landing on his shoulder. It hurt like hell.

Joey held the lamp with no lamp shade. What’d he expect for 25 cents at the garage sale. He turned the lamp on. The lamp turned on, it didn’t short out. It was the first thing that went right for him this morning.  He stood the lamp on it’s base and reached for his t-shirt. The T-shirt with a huge hamburger with cheese dripping over the sides and the meat too great for the bun to contain. On the other side of his T-Shirt was emblazoned, Tommy’s Tough, But His Hamburgers Are Tender. He pulled the armpits up to his nose and sniff. It had an odor, but not overwhelming to Joey. It passed the sniff test. He clothes were clean enough to wear another day.

Joey rose from the floor, iPhone in hand, set the lamp on the table, and walked to the bathroom. He turned on the radio. The sultry voice of Amy Brown greeted him, “Hey Scorpios, today is your day. You’re going to meet someone who is going to change your life. Keep your eyes open.”

Joey’s first thought, “I hope it’s you Amy.”

Joey’s shoulder was still sore. Not sore enough to go to work at the warehouse, but it was sore enough to call in sick. He deserved a sick day after all. That’s what Joey did, he called in sick, said he had a fever of one oh two.

Joey showered, cleaned up, put on the clothes laying on the floor. He sat on the side of his bed and pulled one athletic white sock on his right foot, then he pulled the other sock on the left foot. He looked at his feet, The big toe on his left foot stuck out through a hole in his sock. He slipped on a pair of Nike’s dirty enough that the N for Nike was only partially visible. He left the shoes untied and walked into the kitchen. He walked over to the sink to get a glass of water. All of his glasses were dirty and in the sink embedded with four days’ worth of dirty dishes. He gave a thought to putting them all in the trash and buying paper plates. It was a big decision, he had to think about it. He opened the cabinet door to the left of the sink and pulled out a box of Frosted Flakes. Since there were no clean bowls, he reached into a drawer and looked for a spoon. There were no clean spoons. He walked over to the sink, moved plates, glasses, and pans around, and found the cereal bowl he used two days ago. He ran water in it and set it on the counter. He found a spoon, wiped it off on his shirt and carried the cereal, bowl and spoon to his table.

Joey sat down, poured Frosted Flakes into his bowl, then stopped. He needed milk. He needed coffee. Why does life have to be so complicated he thought. He pushed his chair back, stood and walked over to the fridge. He opened it, he saw two bottles of beer. An opened jar of dill pickles. A wedge of cheese with blue stuff growing on it. And a piece of pizza. He couldn’t remember when he put the pizza in the fridge. No milk. He grabbed a bottle of beer.

He’d get his coffee later at the coffee shop.

He walked back to the table, sat down, opened the beer and poured some onto his cereal and some into his mouth. He his chest and belched. Joey dug his spoon into his cereal and took his first bite. He liked the taste. He made a mental note to write to Kellogg’s and tell them to push beer with cereal for a new taste. He might make some money. Before he took his second bite, the doorbell rang. And rang. And rang. Whoever was ringing the doorbell wouldn’t stop ringing it.

Joey carried his bowl of beer and cereal and spoon to the front door. He opened it, and standing in front of him stood a small stalky, fireplug looking guy with a gray burr cut. His cube shaped head was topped by a short crew cut. Age spots sprinkled across the man’s face. To Joey the guy looked ready for the mortuary, at least 80, maybe older.  Joey looked at the guy’s faded black and silver muscle shirt, a tattoo of a clenched fist on his right bicep, a long nasty scar on his left bicep. The pockets on his cargo pants bulged.

The old man leaned a bit on a wooden cane held in his right hand. He stared at Joey through black plastic rimmed glasses. “Well?” he said.

“Well, what? I don’t have any money,” said Joey taking another bite of his beer and cereal.

“I’m renting a room in your house. I want to see it first,” said the old guy.

“I not renting a room, what are you talking about?” asked Joey.

The old guy dug into on of his cargo pants pockets, fished around, and pulled out and torn paper with newsprint. “Says here you do. Now move aside and we’ll talk about it,” the old said motion Joey with his cane.

Joey, even without perfect posture stood a bit over six feet. He looked down at the five feet five inch man, “If you don’t leave, I’m going to kick you in the ass and toss you out in the street. Beat it.”

The old guy took a half step toward Joey and said, “You want this across your head?”

The old guy waved his wooden can at Joey. Joey instinctively stepped back. The old guy stepped into Joey’s living room.

Joey thought about it.  He could charge the old guy. Make him clean the house. He might be better than having a dog. Joey said, “Okay, but leave my beer alone.”

Who is this guy? What is going to say to Joey? Is it Joey’s lucky day?

 

I Love To Cook – Really?

Okay, I get it. Everyone who cooks loves to cook. That’s my take from watching he Food Channel. Reading food blogs. And, checking out recipes on Pinterest. I take a sip of my truth serum, Starbucks with added red eye. For the non-coffee drinker, a red eye is a shot of espresso. Make it a double, por favor. Me? It’s not that I don’t like cooking, I like so many other things so much better. I like watching ESPN. I like exercising. I like drinking coffee. I like staring at sunsets. I like staring at my iPhone. I place cooking on the same level as flossing and brushing. I have to do it. It’s good for my health.

For me, cooking comes down to choices. I can choose to go out to eat or I can cook at home. If I choose to eat out, oh the choices. I’m not paying for a heart attack on a plate or stuffed into a to-go bag. I don’t want salmonella wrapped in a large tortilla. I want to eat as healthy out as I eat at home. This is where the rubber hits or the road or the skillet sits on the stove. I think about my choices, until ….

I read the San Antonio Health Department inspection reviews. You a fan of horror stories? Check them out. You like to live on the edge? You can put your life on the line with any D rated restaurant. I’d rather skydive. Swim with killer sharks. Or, babysit. Let me help you make the decision. The following are word for word from the city’s health inspection site:

  1. Observed tortilla dough stored in grocery bags.
  2. Vegetables from the field, not processed to remove dirt and bacteria, should not be stored above ready to eat and processed vegetables.
  3. During the time of inspection raw bacon was being stored alongside uncooked biscuit dough.
  4. Not clean. Food debris was observed on inside surface of lids on top of the cooler where lettuce, tomato, and other condiments are stored are not clean.

The reports are from four different restaurants with respectable reputations. Who calls the toilet first? It is for this reason when I go to a restaurant, I slowly sip my drink and watch the people with whom I’m dining dig in. I give them a minute before I sample the cuisine. If I don’t see any adverse reaction. It’s okay to eat. Do you think I’m being a bit tacky? I’m the safety net. I have my iPhone in hand. I punched in 911 and all I have to do is call. Caution is the operative word. I don’t want to get descriptive on what the downside looks like. Although, I know some guys who went to high school with me might like that kind of humor.

Here’s what I don’t like about cooking. I really, really try hard to cook healthy. The health inspector will give me an A if I had a surprise visit. It takes me anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour to prepare and cook my dinner. He’s only cooking for one you say. I hear you. I need an efficiency expert. Where is Bobby Flay? Raise your hand. Not you. You’re not Bobby Flay. You’re Bobby Filet. That’s not the way he spells his name. Security!

I set the table. I treat my food with respect. I say grace before I eat. I raise my drink and toast Babe. I eat. fifteen to twenty minutes later I’m done. It takes me a half hour to clean up, make sure the kitchen area is germ-free for breakfast. Let’s add it up. Ninety minutes of not eating time. Fifteen minutes of eating time. Thinking about this, I moved cooking ahead of brushing and flossing. I moved it ahead of cleaning the shower. It right up there with cleaning the ….

 

My Heart Loves Coffee

I had a lengthy conversation with my heart this morning

“Good morning heart, hope you have a great day.”

“Give me my morning coffee Ray. I’m not awake yet. I’m running on automatic pilot. Did you know coffee helps to protect from heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and may even help the Red Sox win the World Series?” my heart says groggily.

I scoop out Starbucks and put it into the coffee maker. I want to make the ticker happy.

“Hey, I don’t care for the name ticker. I know what you’re thinking. Remember, I’m connected directly to your scatterbrain,” says my heart.

“Don’t get fresh, your coffee will be done in five minutes.”

“Let’s think ahead Ray. Put the coffee maker on autopilot when you go to sleep. It will be ready when you awake. Better yet, move the coffee maker next to the bed.”

“That’s all I need is to smell coffee all night long,” I say.

“What’ for dinner?” says heart.

“Dinner? I thought we were talking about coffee.”

“Unlike you, I can juggle more than 1 ball,” says heart.

“Coffee’s done, heart. I hope it turns you into a kinder, gentler person.”

Nothing is spoken for a bit.

“My, you’re looking good Ray. Coffee is my miracle drink. Let’s enjoy the day and life.

CHEERS!

coffee.jpg