Deal's A Deal, A


By Ender

The three teens arrived at school about 15 minute before the first bell. The delays in getting started had consumed more than the margin Tony had allowed for the trip. Tony had been forced to make Mike and Andy pick up the pace about half way through. Shortly before that Tony realized that trying to continue a discussion of macro nutrition wouldn’t be practical. It was obvious that Mike was already working too hard to pay attention so he switched to gentle encouragement and reassurance. By the time they reached school and located Shane both Mike and Andy were puffing and Tony’s shoulders and back were a bit sore. He had taken on the burden of Andy’s backpack shortly after they had increased the pace. Tony had sent Mike on while he and Andy stopped to redistribute the load, once Andy had his pack off Tony sent him to catch up with Mike while Tony figured out how he could carry both packs. It him nearly ten minute and several false starts for him to find a way to handle the load. It wasn’t so much the weight, he did leg presses for reps with at least five times the load and single rep max squats with near ten times as much. Once he worked it out Tony took off at a fast jog to catch up with Mike and Andy. When he caught up to the other teens Tony was badly winded and his t-shirt was soaked and clung to his body. As he caught his breath it occurred to Tony that even with the two backpacks, he was carrying at least 20 to 30 lbs less weight than Mike. “No wonder Mike’s so winded, I’m an athlete, in good shape, and jogging for a few minutes has me panting…” Tony thought. Andy was in a little better shape than Mike but not much. Tony was allowing Mike to set the pace and Mike was moving as fast as he could. The pace was relatively easy for Tony it allowed him to catch his breath after the brief run.

“Yo Shane,” Tony called as he approached his teammate.

Shane grinned, “You said something about personal training… Mind if I ask who’s training who?”

Tony shrugged off his burden and began to disentangle the two backpacks, “Knock it off Shane. Things haven’t gone exactly as I had plan this morning. You did swing past my place didn’t you?”

“Of course bro, your stuff is in the trunk,” said Shane as he popped open the trunks.

Tony had pulled off his t-shirt and was attempting to dry is hair and torso with the damp fabric. Tony noticed Mike had retrieved his dress shirt and was glancing from person to person. Tony smiled at Mike and said “It’s okay Mike guys take of their shirts in public all the time nobody is going to say anything,” Tony looked at Shane and continued, “Are they Shane?”

Shane briefly locked eyes with Tony, and then said, “Yeah, nobody’s going to say anything,” annoyed that Tony preempted the quips he had intended to taunt this nerdy butterball with.

Tony turned a kindly smile to Mike. Mike smiled back and followed Tony’s example and after pulling off his shirt he used it to dry his face, hair, neck and armpits. Shane smirked and when Tony noticed that the smirk was growing to a snicker Tony gave Shane a subtle shove. Shane locked eyes with Tony again.

His shirt now buttoned and tucked in, Mike asks, “So Tony… where’s breakfast?”

Tony and Shane continued to glare at each other. Without breaking eye contact with Shane, Tony retrieved one of the shakes he had made earlier. Tony held out one of the cups, “Here you go Mike, I hope chocolate is okay, what about you Andy did you eat yet? If you haven’t you can have mine.”

Mike takes the cup from Tony. And Andy answered, “Gee thanks Tony I had figured Mike and I were going to end up back at his house, but…”

Tony cut him off, “Here you go Andy.” Tony held out the second cup, he and Shane continued to glare at each other. “Andy, Mike you head on in and I’ll catch up with you guys at lunch I’ve got your lunch Mike but you’ll have to fare for yourself Andy. Mike if I don’t catch up with you before then I want you to eat this between second and third period.” Tony held out one of the protein bars that Mike took. Tony continued, “Shane and I have some things we need to discuss… I’ll see you later.” Andy and Mike slipped their packs over one shoulder and headed toward the building as the pair of well muscled teens continued to faced each other and glare.

Finally Shane spoke, “What’s with you man… Kissing up to that pair of dorks… I know you don’t approve of hassling them… But to act like they’re your pals… You rescue that porker yesterday and today you stroll in with that whale and his geeky buddy in tow and YOU are humping their shit for them. What’s wrong with you…” Both anger and concern were obvious on Shane.

Tony smiled a bit and said, “Bro, there’s nothing wrong with me. Mike’s a good kid and Tinsley and company were screwing with him because they could and he’s not capable of fighting back, hell Mike wouldn’t hurt a fly, but most of all because they take pleasure in inflicting pain on others. I stood up to them because what they were doing was wrong and I wanted to put a stop to it.”

Shane laughed, “Man all you did was make it worse for him the next time and put yourself on Tinsley’s shit list but since you were already near the top of that, it’s no big deal.”

I don’t intend there to be a next time,” Tony said quietly with a wisp of a smile.

Shane laughed again, “And how the hell are you going to make that happen, follow him around as a bodyguard from now on… It won’t work you can’t always be with him and you know if they really want him they will get him.”

“Exactly,” said Tony. “They want some one that can’t or won’t stand up for himself. If he were to stand up to them they would go look for easier prey. Right now Mike is at the bottom of the food chain. I intend to get Mike trimmed down, put some muscle on him help him get the self respect and confidence to face them down.” Just then the first bell rang. “We’ll finish this later Shane, please just treat Mike and Andy like one of us for now but no teasing,” Tony said as slipped on his shirt, grabbed his gear from the trunk of Shane’s car and bolted towards the building.

Shane watched Tony as he jogged off and shook his head thinking, “You have lost it big time Bro, really lost it.” Still shaking his head Shane closes the trunk and walks toward the school.


Tony picked up a couple of large bottles of water from the cooler and headed for his regular table where Brian was waiting for him. “Hi Bria…” said Tony as he sat the water and bag containing his and Mike’s lunches on the table and scanned the entrances for Mike and Andy.

“Tony, what’s going on between you and Shane?” asked Brian. “I ran into him after you met him and he is pissed, ranting about kissing up to dorks and you ‘losing it’ what ever that means… I got the impression that we shouldn’t expect him at lunch for a while.”

Tony turned his attention to Brian. The concern and confusion were obvious on Brian’s face. Tony smiled reassuringly and said, “Shane and I are having a misunderstanding and we didn’t have time to talk it out yet, once we do he’ll be back.”

The concern faded as a smile grew on Brian’s face. “What’s with the big lunch,” Brian said as he nodded toward the unusually large bag of food Tony had placed on the table. “Did you decide that putting on some serious mass was worth giving up those beautiful abs for a while?” And Brian playfully poked at Tony’s muscled midsection.

Tony grinned, “No the abs aren’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future. I’ve been thinking about cutting a little to bring out the striations better and entering that show but only if you enter too. Actually you cold say that I intend to build another set of abs.” Confusion replaced the embarrassment that had come upon Brian face at the suggestion he enter a bodybuilding contest. Tony’s grin faded and he continued, “That’s what the misunderstanding with Shane is about.” Tony put a hand on Brian’s shoulder, “I want to thank you for backing me up yesterday. The kid we stood up for has never done anything for Tinsley and crew to torture him like that. I want to help Mike keep it from happening again, so I offered to train him if he seriously wanted to shed the flab and get in shape. He said he was so he waited for me to get out of practice I walked home with him so we could talk. On the way he told me that when he told his mom about what happened and my offer, his mom told him to invite me to dinner. In retrospect both he and his mom had ulterior motives. Mike wanted support from me as he told his folks that he intended to do something because he wanted to do it regardless of what they wanted, he actually defied his parents, I think for the first time in his life based on their reaction. His folks wanted me to identify Tinsley and his goons.

“You didn’t tell them any names did you,” said Brian with genuine concern.

“Of course not,” said Tony, “Next time they went after Mike they would really intend to hurt him. And they would start looking for a way to get me alone. I think Mike sincerely wants to get in shape, but his folks treat him like an eight-year-old. It’s no wonder that he’s prey for every bully in the school. So I’m going to make every effort to help him get to the point that Tinsley and the like will thing twice about tormenting him again and he will be able to stand up for himself to anyone including his folks.

“You’re going to teach him how to fight Tinsley and his goons?” Asked Brian.

Tony sighed, “Frankly I think trying to teach Mike to fight is hopeless. He wouldn’t get into a fight. But I believe we can find a way to make a situation like yesterday work for him. I want him to keep most of his mass and work it into more muscle and less fat like a good lineman.”

“Too bad he’s a senior or that you didn’t think of doing this make over of Matthews a couple of years ago, we could use a few more good linemen,” said Brian.

Tony caught sight of Mike and Andy and waved to them…Mike waves back and headed towards Tony and Brian. Tony quietly said to Brian, “It’s no wonder he’s a basket case; his folks treat him like a little kid. The guy needs help and I want to help him. I’d like you and the other guys to be nice to them. And if things work the way I hope in a couple of months they will be on their way to being a lot more jockish. Nerds aren’t lepers remember I was as nerdy as them before high school and still am inside I just learn how to fake it well enough to pass. That’s what I didn’t have time to explain to Shane this morning.” Brian smiled and nodded.

Mike reached the table, “Hi Tony, Andy’s getting his lunch.” Tony smiled and Mike continued, “That was an interesting shake you gave us sort of like drinking chocolate milk and eating a chewy oatmeal cookie at the same time. And that protein bar was pretty good too.

Tony grinned, “I’m glad you enjoyed it… What did you guys end up eating last night?”

“Nora was out picking up a couple of buckets of KFC,” Mike said.

“Well chicken is good and your going to be eating a lot of it in the months ahead, but KFC is not so good it’s not just fried, they pressure cook the grease into it and there’s the skin and batter. I’ll show you some ways to cook chicken that are tastier than KFC and a lot better for you.

Brian laughed, “Yeah we’ve lost track of the number of way Canton has to fix chicken breasts and tuna.” Andy walked up to the table with a lunch tray and stood by Mike. Brian continued, “So what on the lunch menu for ‘Ritz de Canton’ today Tony.”

Tony did introductions all around, and then answered Brian’s question, “Mike and I will be having tuna salad with honey mustard dressing. And I stumbled across a new way to do chicken last night after Mike's folks threw me out," Tony smiled.”

“I’m sorry Tony, I’ve never seen my Mom and Dad act like that with anyone I brought home before,” said Mike

Tony smiled and said, “You don’t bring people home very often do you Mike.” Mike shook his head. Tony continued, “And even less often do you tell your folks the you intend to do something, rather than asking for their permission, right?” Mike looked a bit uncomfortable. “You also told them not to call ‘Mikey’ or ‘Little Mikey’ any more… You shocked them and they blamed me for causing their little boy to act that way. The truth is Mike you decided that you want to grow up and you took me along to boost your confidence enough that you could say what you’ve wanted to say for a long time. We all need to do it sometime.

Mike nodded and as a smile started to grow on his face, he looked Tony in the eye and said, “Thanks Tony.” •

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