Deal's A Deal, A


By Ender

This isn't the story I had in mind when I started writing this chapter, but Tony and Mike decided to take a few paths I didn't forsee on their way. I hope it's interesting.

Mike Matthews had hung around the school waiting for football practice to end. He and Tony were going to walk home together so they could discuss the lifestyle changes Tony wanted Mike to make. While waiting Mike had called home to ask if he could bring Tony home for dinner and that Tony had offered to help him get into better shape. His mom agreed to have Tony for dinner but thought that they needed to discuss what Mike and Tony were planning. Not wanting to risk a repeat of the incident at lunch Mike waited for Tony on the far side of the school from the locker room entrance.

Tony was among the first out of the locker rooms. Water was still dripping from his hair and his un-tucked shirt was unbuttoned. As he sprinted to where he was to meet Mike, Tony slipped his backpack over his broad shoulders. Mike watched as Tony ran across the field in his direction his unbuttoned shirt flapping open to expose Tony’s chiseled abs and pectorals. Mike stared as the muscular teen came running up to him and thought, “Could I really come close to a body like that?” Without meaning to Mike sighed aloud, “I wish!”

Smiling Tony stopped in front of Mike and asked, “What?” Mike looked puzzled and Tony rephrased the question, “What do you wish?”

Mike turns beet red and stammers, “I…ahhhhm… I wish I could have a body like yours.”

“Hey that’s cool bro, I’m flattered. And that is the reason we’re here right?” Tony grinned.

Relieved, Mike asks, “Do really think you could get me to be like you Tony?”

Tony shook his head, “Sorry Mike I can’t, only YOU can make it happen. I can guide you, support you, advise you and help a little; but YOU have to do it. Can you get trimmed down and get lean and muscular? Yes! YOU can but only if YOU want it enough to do what it takes to make it happen…” And the mismatched pair of teens started their walk.

“You understand Mike that getting lean is mostly eating right…” Tony said, “working out will let you eat a bit more; and building muscle with raise your metabolic rate so you’ll burn more calories all the time and the extra muscle will help fill your skin keeping you from looking really flabby as the fat starts to come off. What makes that happen is taking in fewer calories than you burn. Once you get in the habit of eating right and working out you won’t be able to think of living any other way. At least that’s how it worked for me bro.”

“Say Tony,” Mike interjected, “that reminds me. My mom says I can invite you the stay for diner if you want…”

“Sure Mike, if you want and it’s cool with your mom. I had planed to grill a couple of chicken breasts and nuke some broccoli; I had to talk my mom into letting me cook for myself so I had control of what I was eating. You may want to make a similar deal with your mom. Let me call my mom and let her know I won’t be home for dinner.” Tony pulled out his cell phone and punched in the speed dial code. He chatted briefly and put the phone back in his pocket. “It’s cool with my mom and she offers to have you over tomorrow if you want.”

Tony put a hand on Mikes shoulder, “You want to change your body… that means you have to change your relationship with your body. You’re going to have to change your lifestyle, I did it a few years back and you CAN do it now. It’s going to feel really weird and alien for a while, but once you make it a habit you won’t understand not living that way… Not all habits and obsessions are bad,” Tony grinned. “In a few weeks you’ll be feeling better than you ever have and in a few months you’ll be a new person.” Mike grinned back and for the first time Tony thought he show a slight glimmer of confidence in Mike’s eyes.


As Mike and Tony approached the Matthews house Tony asked Mike to hold his gym bag so he could button his shirt and tuck it into his pants. When Tony took his gym bag back from Mike he noticed that Mike was a bit flushed, sweating and winded. Tony hah thought he had kept the pace slow enough that Mike wouldn’t have any problem keeping up. Gee man I’m sorry I didn’t mean to push you that hard, at least not yet, Tony smiles with concern.

Mike gives a weary smile and says, “‘No pain, no gain’, that’s what the jocks say to taunt me when I can’t keep up.”

Tony shakes his head and smiles, “Most people, especially the “Dumb Jocks”, don’t understand what that really means. Yes, you need to push yourself to grow but you don’t want to hurt yourself.” Tony took Mike’s wrist and held it while looking at his watch and then said, “Not high for your age but I lot higher than what I think you should you should do until we get you trimmed down a bit and you get your body used to being pushed.” By this time Mike’s color had returned to his normal pallor, the sweating had stopped and he had caught his breath. The pair was still a couple of blocks from Mike’s house. Tony put a hand on Mike’s shoulder as the pair began to walk again at a slower pace than before. Tony continued, “The thing is there’s ‘good pain’ and ‘bad pain.’ The ‘good pain’ means you are pushing yourself hard enough to grow and the ‘bad pain’ means you’re doing something wrong and are hurting yourself.”

The two teens reached Mike house, he let himself and Tony in and yelled, “I’m home and I brought Tony with me.”

Mike and Tony had come in through the kitchen. “We’re out here Mikey, come introduce Tony to us,” replied Mike’s dad. Mike led Tony into the family room where Mike’s folks were watching TV and having a drink. Mr. Matthews used the remote to turn off the TV. As he stood up he smiled and afforded his hand to Tony saying, “You must be Tony, Mikey doesn’t kids home very often.” Tony smiling grasped Mr. Matthews’ hand firmly but not threateningly. Mike’s dad tightened his grip and Tony matched Mr. Matthews’ grip. After vying against Tony briefly Mr. Matthews realize that lean, muscular young man was more than a match for him and if Tony had intended to hurt him he could have easily, he grinned and slackened his grip saying, “you’ve got quite an grip there son.” Tony immediately released his grip and stepped back a pace.

“Little Mikey told me you stood up for him when some older boys were teasing him at lunch today,” Mike’s mom said.

Tony thought to himself, “Mikey? Teased? Older boys? Mike is a senior like me… And he was being assaulted, not teased… his folks still call him ‘Little Mikey…’ Do they have a clue?” Looking puzzled Tony looked over to Mike.

Mr. Matthews said, “Nora, Mikey’s older sister should be back with dinner soon, why don’t you boys have a seat and we talk about what you boys are planning.”

Tony and Mike sat down on the couch adjacent to the pair of recliners occupied by Mike’s parents. Mike started, “That’s not exactly what I said happened Mom. Four football players were ‘playing catch’ with me, and I was the ball!” Tears came to Mike’s eyes.

“I know the four that had Mike and unless Mike skipped a few grades before high school, two of them were a year younger and the others were two years younger. I play on the football team with them.” Tony interjected.

Mike picked up the story again, “Tony went up to them by himself and told them to leave me alone and they stopped pushing me around so bad. Then when some of Tony’s buddies came to back him up they let me go.

“So since Tony knows who the boys are all we need to do is report them to the school administration and they will discipline those involved,” said Mike’s mom. Mike went somewhat paler than normal and looked at Tony with a level of panic in his eyes.

Tony shook his head and said, “Mrs. Matthews I would tell you their names if it would make a difference. But it won’t, it will just make things worse for Mike and put a target on my back too. The guys that roughed up Mike get their kicks by messing with the guys that are different from them and can’t are won’t stand up for themselves.” Tony looked over at Mike and then back to Mike’s parents. "That I’m afraid is Mike in spades, he’s fat, weak and has no self confidence. They or their buddies will go after Mike again and the next time it will be worse for Mike. And they’ll come after me because they’ll know it was me that identified them.”

Mike’s dad cleared his throat and said, “So you want to teach Mikey how to ‘defend’ himself… how to fight with the other boys…”

Tony shook his head, “No! I’m not suggesting Mike try to fight those goons what I want to do help Mike peel the target off his back so he’s less likely to attract their attention in the future. And to feel good enough about himself that he can stand up for himself. Those goons are cowards; unless the odds are overwhelmingly in their favor they won’t bother someone that will stand his ground against them. They always choose the weakest prey.”

Tony smiled at Mike and continued, “I used to be a chubby little nerd, but I was lucky and grow out of it. And I had some help along the way… I want to help Mike to partially repay the debit I owe the people that helped me… When I started lifting weights during the summer between eighth grade and high school after I shot up nearly 10 inches and my weight dropped by almost 20 pounds. Yeah I went from short chubby nerd to tall flabby skinny geek almost over night, well I was in my garage thinking that I was working out, well one of our neighbors saw me and came over to talk. He was a fairly cool guy for an adult. He said he had been lifting since he was about my age, and he looked it. A bit shorter than I was but he must have been near twice my weight and nearly all of it was muscle. He gave me some pointers and offered to train me. He wanted me to talk to my mom about it. Well my mom checked the guy out; he was a widower that had loss his wife and son in a car wreck. His son had been about my age when he died. My dad had died in a car wreck when I was seven, so since he seemed to be okay and my mom thought an adult male influence would do me some good she said it was okay for me to spend time with him. At first he helped me workout in my garage after a few weeks I wasn’t flabby looking anymore. In a couple of months I started to see muscles under my skin. In another couple of months I had out grown my plastic and concrete barbells, and he started taking me to his gym. By late spring I had gotten big enough to catch the eye of the football coaches. Well bit over a year ago Dave got a transfer at work and moved away, he taught me how to lift right and eat right to build muscle and burn fat. Without his help I wouldn’t be starting quarterback and captain of the football team or have this body. When I said goodbye to him, I asked him what I could do to thank him and he said to pay it forward, to help somebody the same way he had helped me. It seems to me that Mike could use a friend and a helping hand, I want to give that to him.” Tony turned to Mike, smiled and said, “If he wants it.”

Mike’s parents shook their heads but before they could speak Mike was on his feet, tears filled his eyes and he said, “Mom and Dad, I want this! And Tony is willing to help me. I’m tried of being a fat.”

Mrs. Matthews broke in saying, “Mikey dear you’re not fat you’re just big boned.”

Mike cuts her off saying, “Okay Mom, I’m big boned but those big bones have a whole lot of fat and very little muscle on them. I don’t want to be like this anymore, Tony thinks I can change and he’s willing to help me.” Tears flowed freely from Mike’s eyes but he raised his head and with a pride and determination that Mike’s parents had never seen in their son. “And I’m Michael or Mike from now on, I don’t want you to call me ‘Mikey’ and especially not ‘Little Mikey,’ I’m not a little boy anymore,” Mike said emphatically.

Clearing his throat Mr. Matthews stood and said. “Tony I think this is a family matter and it would be best if you went home now. Mikey why don’t you show your friend to the door and we’ll discuss this matter in private.”

Mike stared defiantly at his dad and calmly said, “Father, my name is ‘Michael’ or ‘Mike’! It is NOT ‘Mikey’! In the future I do not want to be addressed as ‘Mikey’!”

Mr. Matthews replied, “Alright ‘Michael’ if you would kindly see your friend out, we will discuss this matter further.” Tony stood and walked with Mike to the door. Mike opened the door and followed Tony out.

On the lawn Mike drops to his knees and gasps, “I can’t believe I just did that…”

“I didn’t expect that out of you either Mike,” said Tony as he pulled Mike back to his feet. “When you let your folks call you ‘Little Mikey’ I had some doubts about you but what you did took balls man. It feels pretty good to stand up for yourself, doesn’t it?”

Mike grinned and laughed, “It sure does Tony but doing it is still scary”

Tony chuckled, “It will get easier the more often you do it. If I read your folks correctly right now they’re a bit shocked and hurt that you don’t want to be their ‘Little Mikey’ anymore. But then it will likely switch to shame and guilt for having force you to conform to their little boy concept of you when you had long since out grown it. Then they will accept you as more of an equal they’ll realize it’s your life and let you live it for yourself. You just grew up a lot there. Hold your ground and I think you’ll get what you want. Now you better get back in there before they come looking for you.”

“Yeah you’re right Tony,” Mike trotted back to the door and said with a grin said, “See you tomorrow.”

“Right Bro, drop me an email, IM or call me later, so we can figure out what to do in the morning,” said Tony then he gave Mike a thumb up gesture that Mike returned as he stepped through the door. •

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