As I explained the idea behind our new business venture, the guys became more and more excited. "We've gotta think of a cool name, though… something like the Cool Dudes."
"That's fucking lamo," Jo insisted. "It's gotta be something catchy. How about Muscle Dudes?"
"Yeah, muscle's cool."
"And we can have a bi-line… Put Our Muscles To Work."
"Hey! That's fucking wicked!"
"Dude's the wrong word, though," Jason said. "If Daniel's right, we're gonna be hired 'cause we're cool looking teens, as well as for the work we do, so I say we should call ourselves Teen Muscle."
"Everbody agree with that?" All the guys nodded. "OK, let's get started right away. Freddie? Is your dad's digital camera here?"
"Cool. Go get it, and we'll take a corporate pic. How does that sound, dudes? A corporate pic!"
Dick was the only one who wasn't gonna join our enterprise, 'cause he already had a job delivering pizza… so he was elected to shoot the pics. We stood in a group, posing and flexing our muscles, until we had about a dozen pics to choose from… all taken from the waist up, of course. Then we went inside to check them out on the comp. The excitement amongst us was building big time.
After a lot of bickering and arguing, we finally took a vote, and selected our corporate pic. Then I sat at the comp and began to create our brochure.
Put Our Muscles To Work!
On the back of the flyer, I wrote the text, listing the kinda jobs we would do, from lawns to fence painting to washing cars. I also stipulated that customers would need to provide tools, equipment and materials… we would provide the labor… weekends only.
Freddie offered to let us use his phone number and answering machine, 'cause he had a separate line. "So what if a customer chooses a particular dude?"
"Nope. We work on a rotational basis, so that all jobs are allocated evenly. That's the fairest way. If one of us is sick or unavailable, the job goes to the next dude."
"Don't you think $10 an hour is a bit high for guys like us? We don't have any experience!"
"Check out our corporate pic, dude. Why hire a dork for $7.50 when you can hire a hunk of teen muscle for $10? It's like I said before, our target market is people who wanna gawk. This isn't just about doing odd jobs, dude, this is about entertainment! Woohoo!"
We printed 200 pages, then guillotined them into 800 flyers… 100 each. Our next job was to distribute them around the hood, so we got a map and allocated four areas, two guys on opposite sides of each street.
Later that night, after dinner, I phoned Freddie to see if there'd been a response.
"Are you kidding? I've had to phone most people back to tell them that we're booked out! Unless you wanna drop outa school and do this full time."
"Serious! Wow! That's the fucking dope!"
"You mean dropping outa school?"
"No, idiot… I mean that we're booked out. Hey, whaddaya mean booked out? Like do we get any free time on weekends?"
"I did like you said… 9am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday, and we're fully booked. And get this! People are hiring us by the half or full day! Not by the hour!"
"Jeez, maybe we've bitten off more than we can chew."
"Figure it out, Daniel. That's $80 a day, $160 for the weekend… each! Hey, you know what I think? I think we should build up the business, then hire dudes to work for us. After a while, we sit back and run the show, and take a cut from each dude's pay."
"I like your style, Freddie. So when's my first job?"
"Tomorrow… I was gonna call you just before you called me, but I've been tied to this fucking phone like you wouldn't believe! Anyway, it's just the one job… all day… and the guy said he'd pay you for your lunch break as well."
"Guy? What kinda guy?"
"Hey, I dunno. He's just a voice on the phone, man. Sounded old, though. Maybe he needs you to wipe his ass," he laughed.
"Thanks for nothing, dude. That's all I'd need. Ew!"
Mom wasn't as excited about my idea as I'd hoped. Neither was Andy. "You could be attracting the wrong kind of customer, Daniel."
"It's called target marketing, mom."
"You're targeting weirdos?"
"Hey, you see me every day, so you take me for granted. It's kinda like familiarity breeds contempt. I figure there's a lotta peeps out there who'd get a bit of a thrill if I mowed their lawn shirtless."
"I'd get a bit of a thrill if you mowed our lawn, period."
"Jeez, mom. Andy loves the garden… I wouldn't wanna steal his thunder."
"Just be careful, that's all I ask."
"Don't worry, mom. I can handle myself."
I was about ten minutes early when I knocked on my first customer's door. For a moment, I was tempted to jet. What if he really was an invalid, and I had to wipe his ass? Freddie should never had put that gross idea in my head. I figured I'd hammer the shit outa him next chance I got. Then the door opened.
"Hi," he beamed, then looked me up and down. I was wearing shorts, and my blades, but nothing else. "You must be the Muscle Teen."
"At your service, sir."
I stepped inside, then, after he'd closed the door, followed the dude to the rear of the house. He had a mop of white hair, and was wearing a black towel wrapped around his waist, which had succumbed to middle age. Below the towel were two lily-white legs, and a pair of bare feet.
"Welcome to my garden."
Garden? He had to be kidding! It was a fucking jungle! "Wow! This hasn't been touched in years!"
"I know the feeling."
"Nothing. All the tools you'll need are in the garage… lawnmower, shears, whipper-snipper, hoe, hand-grenades," he chuckled.
"This is gonna take a month!"
"Excellent! Uh, I mean, fine. Take as long as you need. I don’t want you breaking your back, young man… so work at your own pace. And when you need to take a breather, I have a fridge full of beer… low alcohol. There's also Coke if you're into that sweet stuff. Oh, by the way, I'm Ned."
I shook the dude's hand. "Daniel."
"I was hoping I'd get you… your friend on the phone said you had a system where I'd get whoever was available. I'm glad it was you."
"Thank you, sir."
"Thank you, Ned. Well, I guess I'd better get started."
I opened the garage door and saw tools that looked as if they'd never been used. The first job was to spray oil onto them and clean the surface rust, which wasn't too severe. Then I found a can of fuel, and filled the mower's tank. But where to begin? Ah! At the back of the garage I spotted a scythe. It, too, needed cleaning and sharpening, but I figured I had to get rid of all the overgrowth before I had any fucking chance of mowing anything.
Two hours later, I was sweating like a pig, but had managed to clear most of the tangle of tall weeds and other crap. "Hello?" I called from the back door.
The voice seemed to be coming from the front of the house, so I walked in the direction of the sound, then came across an open door off the hall. I peered in to see the old dude sitting in front of computer, typing something.
"I don't think I should come in, sir… uh, Ned. I'm kinda sweaty."
"That means you've been working. C'mon in." As I approached the comp, he turned to face me, then studied my bod for a moment. "You're quite a fit young lad. I admire that."
"Thanks. Is this your job or something?"
"Sort of. I write stories."
"I don't think you'd be interested. Besides, you're too young."
"Are your stories about sex or something?"
"Both. Anyway, you're right. You are a bit on the nose, Daniel. Whew! The shower's down the hall… second on your left. And don't worry. I won't dock your pay."
There was a lot you could tell about a dude from his bathroom. Ned seemed to have simple tastes. There were no fancy after-shaves, or colognes. Just basic stuff. But the room was clean, which was a relief. For a while there, I was worried that it might've been a smaller version of his backyard.
After showering, I returned to the comp room. Ned wasn't there, so I took a quick peek at what was on the screen. Then I made my way to the yard where Ned was checking out my work.
"You're doing a wonderful job, Daniel. And I've got a birdbath!"
"You didn't know?"
"I'd forgotten," he laughed as he handed me a light beer. "Here, get this into you… you can take it easy for a while."
"I really should get back to work."
"So should I, but I don't have the opportunity to chat much… I spend almost all of my time writing. So it's nice to have you here."
I took a swig of the icy cold beer, which was wicked refreshing on such a hot day. "I thought you were in the comp room, so I went in there… and I kinda read a little bit off the screen. I dunno why you think I'm too young to read it. That stuff happens all the time."
"Yep. And my buds."
"I don't have a label."
"Glad to hear it."
"Thanks for the beer, but I'd better get back to work. I wouldn't feel right if I didn't earn my money."
"Glad to hear that, too," he grinned.
I was a lather of sweat again, and had almost forgotten about time, when Ned called from the back door. "Lunch time!" After I'd downed tools, and gotten to within a few feet of him, he added with a wry smile, "and shower time."
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Diary Part 134