“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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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.
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