Good Samaritan


By Richard Jasper

Tony awoke the next morning with no headache. In fact, no headache, no tiredness, no aches and pains, not even sticky eyes or morning breath. In a word, he felt like a million bucks. Before he really knew what he'd done he jumped out of the bed and cranked out a hundred perfect push ups - before he realized that the IV was still in place.

Dr. Gustafson walked in just as Tony was standing and stretching. It was only when Dr. Gustafson cleared his throat that Tony recalled he'd pitched the flimsy hospital gown when he'd started the push ups and was consequently standing there buck naked and about half hard.


"That's OK, Tony," Gustafson said. "You're exactly where I need you, anyway. I want to do a few neurological tests so I would have had you standing anyway. I'm glad to see you're feeling, uh, rested."

Gustafson did his battery of simple tests, then did them a second time, then took Tony's vitals.

"I don't see any reason we can't let you go home."

Tony brightened visibly.


Tony blanched.

"Except what, Doc?"

Dr. Gustafson crossed his arms, pulled on his beard, then looked Tony in the eye.

"Except that I'm sorry to tell you that your Good Samaritan deed has gone for naught," he said in a husky whisper, placing his meaty hand on Tony's broad shoulder. "Mr. Portcullis didn't make it."

Tony's jaw dropped.


Gustafson shook his head.

"We don't know what the deal is, Tony. So I'm not sure what to do. There's no medical reason to keep you here - and yet I have this hunch that whatever affected Mr. Portcullis so strongly will affect you as well. The same way? I certainly hope not - and you certainly show no symptoms. And yet there it is."

He paced the room a minute, then spoke again:

"I'm going to send you home - but I want you to STAY there, OK? I'll work it out with your employers. Complete bed rest for a week, OK? And, yes, I realize you don't really need it - anyone who can crank out that many push ups that fast ought to be doing heavy manual labor. Like putting in my new patio! Still, I want you to stay home and just take it easy. We don't know if whatever Mr. Portcullis had is going to develop - and we don't know if it's contagious."

Gustafson gave Tony his cell phone number and his pager so that he could call immediately if there were any symptoms. Otherwise, Gustafson said, Tony should plan to come back in a week for more tests.

/ / /

"Jeez," Tony said to himself when he returned to his small ranch style house in one of Detroit's down river suburbs. "What the hell am I gonna do at home for a week?"

Tony wasn't used to spending much time at home alone. His job was physical and demanding and had him all over the Metro area on a regular basis. Home was for eating, sleeping - and working out. He rarely turned on the television, listened to music only when he was working out, etc. The idea of keeping himself entertained and cooped up for a week didn't have much appeal.

So he decided it was time to hit the weights. Tony had set up a nice little gym in his finished basement, featuring a squat rack, a Smith machine, an assortment of benches, an excellent selection of dumbbells, even a leg press machine. Enough variety to hit all the body parts - and no spotter required. Plus a rowing machine and a lifecycle - everything you could possibly want, and Tony wanted it. He'd been lifting since he was a teenager and it showed. His muscles were dense and thick, muscles built for strength, not just for show. He'd never gotten to be a REALLY big guy but that was mostly a matter of not having time for it - all that eating, all that extra working out.

"We'll see what happens," Tony said with a laugh. "By the time a week is over, I oughta look like Der Arnold - or Fat Albert!"

That morning Tony spent three hours in the basement. By the time he went back upstairs to fix himself a sandwich, he had gone through every exercise in the book - twice! He could barely make it up the stairs, he'd blasted his legs that hard. Still, it was time for a sandwich.

An hour later, Tony looked at the wreck that had been his kitchen. He'd eaten a whole loaf of bread, three big cans of tuna, a jar of peanutbutter, two packages of lunch meet, a dozen eggs, and a gallon of milk.

"Whoa!" Tony thought to himself. "I oughta take a day off more often."

When he stood up, Tony felt lightheaded.

"Gosh," he thought. "Maybe I need to take a nap."

He made it to the bedroom - just barely - before passing out.

Two hours later he was awake again and just as buzzed when he woke up at the hospital that morning.

"I feeeeeeel Grreeeeat!"

He headed back to the basement.

Tony's schedule for the next week didn't vary. When he wasn't working out, he was eating. When he wasn't eating, he was taking a nap. Well, take that back - it was remarkably routine, and as a routine it was remarkable, but it did vary a minor amount - namely when Tony would go to the grocery store to get more food (lots more food.) And when he went to the fitness supply company to buy more weights (lots more weights.)

The weightlifting didn't vary much either, except that Tony kept using heavier and heavier weights, for more and more sets, more and more reps. He wasn't really paying attention to how much he was lifting, or in what order. He just did what his muscles told him to do - and they seemed to have LOTS to say.

Finally it was time to go see Dr. Gustafson again.

Tony got into the shower - for the first time in a week, he suddenly realized - and started lathering himself up.

That's when he noticed. He was washing his chest and suddenly it occurred to him that something was different. Which led him to check his biceps, his forearms, his quads, his calves, his delts, his neck. Yes, even down there.

"Oh, my," he thought to himself. "I think this is going to be interesting." •

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