My Alarm Didn’t Go Off

It’s 5 a.m., Joey’s alarm is set to ring at 6:30. He doesn’t have to be at work until 8. Right now, Joey’s lying on a beach chair, tanned, clothed in a bathing suit. His beach chair sits on a white sandy beach in Jamaica. Joey takes one look at the bluest bit of ocean water you’ll ever see. Then he turns his head to the beach chair next to him to marvel at one of the world’s wonders, a scantily clad native beauty who’s smiling at him, her red lips and sultry look tell Joey all he wants to know. They’re drinking margaritas. Joey knows where the afternoon is headed, until . . .

“Wake up low life. Rise and shine. You’re snoozing you’re losing.” A series of angry barks followed. He felt the covers ripped off him.

He pulled his pillow over his head, kicked his legs and feet at an elusive enemy, and screamed, “Get out of here. My alarm didn’t go off. I don’t have to be to work until 8.”

“Five seconds, that’s all you got, you piece of work to get up. I’m feeling generous, you got fifteen minutes to shave, shower, do your business, make your bed and stand for inspection,” barked Farlo in a baritone voice mixed with the sound of a jackhammer and lawn mower.

“I’m not getting up. Get used to it,” uttered Joey’s muffled voice. Then he added, “What are you doing? Are you nuts?” said Joey jumping out of bed soaking wet. His sheets and mattress soaked. He rubbed his eyes with his fists. He opened his eyes, his arms by his sides, his fists clenched, and stared at Farlo.

Farlo stood rim rode straight in front of him. Farlo held on to his cane with his right hand and an empty two gallon water bucket in the other. Tina sat next to Farlo on her haunches. To Joey, it looked like Tina was laughing at him.

“You look like crap. You have fifteen minutes and counting. The clock is ticking. Make sure the bathroom is the way you found it or your ass is grass and I’m the lawn mower,” snarled Farlo sounding like an irritated pit bull.

Joey took a step toward Farlo, Tina let out a growl. Joey stepped back and said, “At least get out of my room.”

Farlo stared at Joey, “Don’t worry about work. I called in for you and told your supervisor you quit. You’ll get your check in next week’s mail.”

“I, I, I’ve been there for five years. I was building a career portfolio. I need that job,” Joey snapped.

“It’s a dead-end job kid. You’re working for me. You’re going to thank me for getting you out of a loser’s job. This is the first day of the rest of your life. Now, move out.”

“But, but, but . . .”

“Tina!” said Farlo.

Tina stood up. She set herself to attack Joey. Joey stepped back and walked a wide circle around Tina and Farlo and headed to the bathroom.

Sixteen minutes later Joey went into the kitchen. He saw Farlo sitting on one of his two chairs, actually empty kegs. On the table in front of Farlo sat a bowl of oatmeal, container of Greek yogurt, dish of fresh fruit, and coffee.

“Where’d you get that food?” asked Joey.

“Filo had it delivered at oh four hundred.”

“What time is that?” asked Joey.

Joey walked over to the table and sat down on the other keg. He looked at the empty space in front of him, “Where’s my food?”

“What do you think you’re doing, kid? You haven’t stood for inspection. Go back to your bedroom and call me when you’re standing as straight as a lamp pole,” said Farlo. He paused and took a sip of his coffee.

“This is not fair,” said Joey.

“I know,” said Farlo.

Joey turned and went back to his bedroom. A moment later, he called, “I’m ready.”

Tina walked in the bedroom first followed by Farlo. “Check it for drugs and weapons girl.”

Tina slowly walked around the bed sniffing the sheets and mattress. She stopped when she reached the other side of the bed. Her head stared directly at Joey’s pillow. Farlo walked past Joey and around the bed. Joey turned his head.

Farlo barked, “Eyes front.” Joey turned his head toward the door.

Joey heard a ripping sound. He heard the rustling of a pillow case and saw feathers floating over his head. He heard, “Aha, weed. Are you a pothead? Is this what I’m dealing with? You’re going cold turkey. No drugs, no alcohol. Forget coffee. You’re on a restricted, cleansing diet, water, fruit, spinach and kale and whole grains for two weeks. If it doesn’t work, you’ll get a juice enema.”

“Noooooo,” whimpered Joey.

“You don’t even know how to make a bed. You are a shipwreck. You’re standing in the middle of the tracks and a speeding train is about to reduce you to rubble. Burn the linen. It hasn’t been changed and washed in six months. Now let me look at you.”

Farlo paced around Joey until stood six inches from Joey’s face. “Listen up. No grunge, short haircut, use a brush on your fingernails and for God’s sake, trim them. I didn’t see any floss in your bathroom. I’ll make you a shopping list. You can sit and watch me eat.”

“What about me?” asked Joey.

Farlo ignored Joey’s comment. “Wait until I’m finished eating. You have to exercise before you eat.”

“What?”

“Filo told me you were a Cat 5 project. That’s as high as the numbers go. That’s the worst case of all the worst cases. Nothing to worry about. I never fail.”

“Who’s Filo?” asked Joey.

Who is Filo? I have the same question. What are Filo’s plans for Joey? Why was Joey chosen? Come back tomorrow to see how Joey’s doing.

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Three Weeks of Unwashed Laundry

Farlo sat at the clean kitchen table. Not exactly a kitchen table, it was a card table Joey picked out of a dumpster. Joey sat across from him. Tina lied on the floor next to Farlo’s feet.

“What’d you think? My house looks awesome,” said Joey beaming with pride.

“If I told you what I think, I’d hurt your feelings. So, I’ll sugar coat it because you are a baby in the world of grownups,” said Farlo.

“You’re negative. Can’t you say anything nice?” asked Joey.

“You want positive, I’ll give you positive. You took the trash off the floor. The carried the trash out to the trash can. You washed the dishes, dried them and put them away. Now, reality. The floor has more stains than a Chinese restaurant with a D rating from the board of health. You have three weeks of unwashed clothes in your closet. Don’t think I didn’t find them hiding behind four crates filled with empty beer cans. When was the last time you bought a toothbrush? Need I go on?”

“So? It’s my house and I’m happy with it. You know where the door is,” said Joey.

“Gig, poor attitude. You’re up to four gigs. One more and you’re grounded. Right now, you’re on level four correction,” said Farlo.

“What’s level four?” said Joey.

“I’m holding your cell phone for two weeks,” said Farlo matter-of-factly.

“I am not a child. You don’t give it to me, I’ll call the police,” said Joey.

“With what? I have your cell phone,” said Farlo.

“Who are you? Why are you here? Who sent you? What can I do to make you leave me alone?” said Joey.

Farlo looked down at Tina, patted her on the head, then he looked back up at Joey, “You look disgusting. You smell disgusting. You’re fifteen pounds overweight. You’re soft. I’m giving you a pass on your appearance today. Tomorrow morning you’ll stand inspection. Who am I? I’m your best friend, only you don’t know it. Why am I here? The boss said you’d be a tough case, but he thinks you’re worth it. He’s got a job for you to do. Me? I’m your mentor, best friend, life line, or drill instructor, I’m getting you ready. Who sent me? Filo. And, there’s nothing you can do to make me leave.”

“Who’s Filo?”

“I’ll tell you if you agree to a lobotomy. No answer? Get cleaned up. That’s means shave, shower, and put on clean clothes. We’re going out to dinner.

“I want delivery pizza,” said Joey.

“Pizza’s off the menu until further notice,” said Farlo.

“Does that include elephant ears, fried dough, and hotdogs?”

Farlo gave Joey a what do you think look.

Noooooooooo,” screamed Joey.

Tina growled.

Will Farlo straighten out Joey? Who is Filo? Come back tomorrow and see where this is going.

Have You Had Your Flute Shot?

La Flor’s eating the omelet LC prepared for her. LC is working on leftover pizza heated in the microwave. Lil Carlo is having a difficult time chewing his Pop Tart with his uppers and lowers sitting on a plate on the table. Me? I wish a cable network would pick up this reality show and add to my cash flow. Instead, a knock on the door. At this hour? Who could it be? The answer comes quickly, too quickly. Ready on to find out.

“Open up, it’s da police. I mean da cops? I means do use have donuts?”

I walked to the front door. I didn’t bother to ask for ID. I know who it is. It’s O’Leary. The donut eating, crappy coffee chuggy, portly Irish defective. Oops, I mean detective.

“Hey, O’Leary, what’s up?” I said.

Before O’Leary can step foot in the door. I heard LC’s voice from the breakfast bar, “How they hanging O’Leary?”

I hollered back, “LC, it’s a family blog! Knock it off?”

“Get a life, Ray,” said a protective La Flor.

Those two are deep into each other. I didn’t see it coming. It was the Francine Peony  that fused their emotions and lit a five alarm fire.

O’Leary hollers to LC, “I’ll let use know after I has a jelly donuts. I’m going off my diet. Life’s too short not to enjoy da finer tings of life.”

A jelly donut is a finer thing of life? Go figure.

O’Leary and I walked to the kitchen, dining room area, which fused together in what used to be my cozy, just the right size open space home. I said, “What was so tough about the glazed donut diet?”

“Use don’t wants to know. But I will tells use anyhow.”

He’s right, I don’t want to know.

“Foist, use wouldn’t tink so, but the glaze on the glazed donuts increased my appeals to the opposite sex I was fighting them off wit both hands. At foist, I taught it was my poisonality (this is how O’Leary talks, no grammar police, por favor).”

“It wasn’t?” I said to move the conversation along. We reached the breakfast bar.

“I gots admit, I has a poisonality women that attracts women.”

He’s delusional.

Before O’Leary continued, he saw Lil Carlo, known to O’Leary as Dr. Funguli, “Good morning Doc. Use making a house call?”

Lil Carlo looks at O’Leary. He slipped his teeth in, and said, “It’s da flute season. I’m here to give flute shots. Use had yours?”

O’Leary said, “No tanks, I gots my flute shot wit a piccolo booster last month.”

Are they all nuts?

LC got off his bar stool went to the counter and brought over a tray of assorted donuts for O’Leary. LC said, “I gots use the finest donut buffet Joey can make.”

“O’Leary’s eyes glazed over, just like the donuts. Whatever his next thought was, it left him. He pulled two breakfast bar stools together and sat on them. Yes, he need two stools, one for each cheek. O’Leary took a strawberry powdered sugar donut in his right and a cream filled, powdered sugar donut in his left. He alternated bites.

Over at the table, Lil Carlo was playing with his gun. His teeth were back out.

La Flor quit eating her breakfast. A mild look of nausea on her face.

“What’s wrong, La Flor?” I whispered.

La Flor whispered back, “O’Leary is making me sick. Look at the strawberry jelly dripping out of his mouth. He rubbed his hair with the powdered sugar all over his hands, now he’s gray. We’ve got to do something.”

“What?” I asked.

“I don’t know. You’re the blog writer,” said La Flor.

At that moment door crashed against the wall, my reinforced hinges snapped off. I heard a large ka thump on the floor. It could mean only one thing …

“Hey, Ray. It’s me, Big Carmen.

“Daddy!” shouted LC

“The second most handsome man on the planet,” exclaimed La Flor.

“Boss,” said Lil Carlo.

“Doc, you works for Big Carmen?” said O’Leary.

Lil Carlo said, “I’m da official company physician.. Today I’m giving physics. Use wants one?”

“No tanks, Dr. Funguli,” said O’Leary stuffing another filled donut into his mouth.

“I’ve come wit exciting news,” said Big Carmen.

I can hardly wait to hear it. What bank are they going to knock over? What warehouse are they going to hit?

Everyone but O’Leary who was busy eating looked at Big Carmen, “Tomorrow, not tonight, we is all heading to Sicily for a family reunion and extended vacation,  while the heat blows over if use knows whats I mean.”

O’Leary’s ears perked up, “Use guys are so lucky. Dis hot spell is a killer. Makes sures use guys takes sunscreen.”

“I’ll sends use a postcard O’Leary from da boss of bosses,” said LC.

“Gives him my best, he must own a big pizza chain,” said O’Leary.

“Use could say dat,” said Big Carmen.

La Flor turned to LC, “Take me shopping my handsome stallion.”

The next day La Flor, LC, Big Carmen, Carmela, TT, and Lil Carlo all boarded a private jet and took off for Rome for a connection to Sicily. La Flor asked me to leave her alone for a few weeks – will do. A new and exciting story begins tomorrow.

 

 

Everyone Loves Me

I’m a man on a mission. My sanity depends on my success. Failure is not an option. I’m on a mission to help La Flor discover her rightful place in the alt ego universe. If she finds it, her two puppies, Little Carmen and TT will follow her. I will be out of rough waters. I’ll have crossed the bridge. I’ll have parachuted and landed safely. I know I’m mixing metaphors faster than a Ninja blender makes my smoothie; if it makes you nervous, try it, it’s soothing as a mountain stream. Thought I’d toss in a simile.

La Flor and I sat across from each other at the table sipping coffee. I made my own. Little Carmen and TT, her two puppies, did a Starbucks run because La Flor wanted a specialty drink, a caramel macchiato. Little Carmen and TT also sat at the kitchen table across from each other. Little Carmen fixated on his dripping biscotti dunked into a cup holding four shots of espresso. TT sipped a chai latte. They promised not to speak while La Flor and I talked.

“Excuses me,” said Little Carmen holding his biscotti over the top of TT’s chai latte and watching the slow drip, drip, drip of espresso into TT’s drink.

“You promised not to talk,” I said.

“Use didn’t start. I recollected use said, once I starts to speech, no interpreters. Am I right? Besides, I wants to give use a heads up. TT will soon have the bee hives because he is allergics to espresso. Right, TT?”

TT scratched his arm and the back of his neck, then nodded.

I need an interpreter to decipher what Little Carmen said. I said, “Don’t pick on TT. What do you want?”

“It makes TT feels like he is one of us, which he is as long at the beautiful, tough, and edgy woman agrees. Now, use asks what I wants? Nothing. I was seeing if use started,” said Little Carmen. Then he put out his fist to TT for a fist bump. TT initially winced thinking Little Carmen was going to hit him.

I mouthed the words, ‘fist bump’ to him. TT stuck out his skinny forearm with what appeared to be a ball peen hammer at the end. The sledgehammer bumped the ball peen hammer and almost knocked TT over.

“La Flor, what you want to do with your life,” I said.

“Oh, finally getting to me after a bunch of paragraphs. I’m not important enough to start off the blog? And, may I add, only write about me? She said with an edge to her voice.

Little Carmen sensed her hostility the way a German shepherd senses a stranger is within a hundred yards of his home. His ears perked up. The hairs hanging out his large nose shot straight out. He began taking deep breaths and exhaled slowly.

“La Flor say something before I pass out,” I said.

She glanced at Little Carmen, “Easy big fellow. It’s okay. When you breathe, put your hand over your mouth and nose.”

Little Carmen’s ears dropped a notch, his nostril hairs retracted, and he placed his hand over his nose and mouth, thus deflecting his garlic breath.

“Let’s start La Flor, what are your strengths?” This was a good a place as any to start I mistakenly thought.

“Well, I am beautiful. Everyone loves me. Most of the girls are jealous of me. I set the fashion trends. I’m also smart, tough, and edgy. Did I mention, I don’t have an equal?”

“It looks like you qualify for anything you want to be,” I said realizing my mistake thinking an interaction with La Flor was to be meaningful.

“I need to go shopping, let’s get this done, close the chapter, cut to the chase, get out of here, I’m getting the willies cooped up in the slammer,” she said reaching into her handbag and pulling out an emery board and began working on her nails.

I’m usually good on my feet. I can go with the flow. Jump hoops. Wing it. I wondered if I should title this blog Mixing Metaphors.

“Tell me what you want to do with your life besides shop, be adored, have people cater to your every whim,” I said.

“Is there something else to life?” she asked sincerely, then worked on her cuticles.

I looked at Little Carmen, he shrugged. I looked at TT, he shrugged.

La Flor said, “I’m bored, Ray. Can we talk tomorrow? Boy’s tag along with me while I show off my new edgy look at the high-end stores and then we’ll scoot on over to Dino’s Vino. Dino always comps me with his best wine.”

“Yes, princes,” I muttered under my breath.