By Voyager

An attempt at humor and muscle. Please know I mean no respect to the Massium stories...thought they were great. Also, like in many stories, need to set the stage here...hope to get to the muscle growth in future chapters, so please be patient.

For as long as I can remember, Jeff and I have been friends. Our friendship, however, has not been the idealized version you may see in the movies. We are great friends, that�s true, but you might never recognize it by the way we treat each other. Insults fly at each other daily, and we live to play tricks on each other. I can�t count how many jokes we have played on each other over the years. Simple, elaborate, it doesn�t matter�we have done some truly funny and vicious things to each other, all in the name of one upsmanship. Mr. Flannery, the local joke shop owner, said he would have closed years ago if not for the revenue that Jeff and I have pumped into his shop. Now we are both in our early 20s, and the jokes haven�t stopped. Thank goodness our respective girlfriends understand this friendship, but have also drawn some good boundaries for the two of us.

Jeff and I were going to meet each other for breakfast the next day, and, as usual, we were both trying to scout for the latest and greatest of the jokes for each other. I was searching more than he was, I could bet, as I was the last one to have a joke played on him. According to our unofficial rules, I was the one who had to play a joke on him, and he had to hold off until I did. I had no idea what to do. I couldn�t think of anything original at all. So, I did what I always do when that happens�I went to Mr. Flannery�s shop looking for inspiration.

The familiar jingle of the bell when the door opened greeted me as I walked in the door. Mr. Flannery greeted me with a big smile of a shopkeeper who knew he was just about to get a sale. I walked up to him and shook his hand, not even having to ask him my very familiar question. �Nothing really new today Ben�, he said, knowing I was looking for something to even the score with Jeff. �Anything in the back�, I asked him. Mr. Flannery always had a stash of very special jokes in the back of his store for preferred customers. If I wasn�t one of them, I don�t know who was. He smiled a wicked smile, walked into the back, and brought out this can. It wasn�t big�probably the size of a grated cheese container. It had a pure white label, and just a few words on it. One was the name of the product��Gassium�. The rest was just a sales pitch. �Use upon your friends with �explosive� results�. I could guess what that mean, and I gave an evil grin. �I�ll take it�, I said to Mr. Flannery, and reached for my wallet. He held up his hand to stop me. �No, Ben, I can�t take your money. I don�t even remember buying this. It just showed up on my shelf one day. You�ve been too good to my bottom line. This one�s on the house.� I greedily accepted, thanked him, and left the shop. Oooh, this was going to be good!

I got to the diner early the next day. That is where Jeff and I were going to meet. We frequented that diner almost as much as the joke shop. I found our regular booth open and slid in, carefully hiding the can of Gassium that I brought with me. I would cause some distraction, sprinkle some on his food, and then hang out with him and watch him have more gas than OPEC.

I saw Jeff walk in. Same as ever. Jeff had a good build on him. He worked hard on not only working out, but keeping just that shape. If I had to describe it, I would call it a muscular swimmer. Many people have asked him why he didn�t train to get bigger, as he had the genetics for it. He would usually say the same thing�he was sexy now�by being bigger he didn�t think he would remain as sexy. Yeah, Jeff wasn�t lacking in the ego department, a fact that I would razz him about for years and years. His comeback would be the same�he would lift up his shirt, showing a chiseled eight pack and then poke my stomach, which had some fat on it. He would then say something like, �I�d rather have ego and an eight pack than your shape. The only eight pack you ever had came from Budweiser�. Yeah, not original, but that was our friendship.

We exchanged opening insults as he slid into the booth, him saying if I ordered the right side of the menu already and me asking how he got his inflated ego the door. The conversation continued that way, half serious, half insults, when I decided to make my move.

I began staring at Jeff. I would continue having the conversation with him, but continue staring him. �Wha?�, he finally asked. �Oh, nothing�, I would say, turning away, but then letting my gaze drift back to him. Finally, he could no longer take it. �Is there something on my face?�, asked Captain Ego. �I�m sure it�s nothing�, I replied coolly. That did it. He bolted from the booth and shot to the bathroom, fearing his perfect complexion had developed a�gasp�flaw. I smiled a wicked smile and sprinkled some Gassium in his omelet (egg whites only). I threw some in his protein shake as well (he brought it with him) just for extra measure, hoping this stuff was as tasteless as it was colorless.

I quickly put it back and waited for Jeff to come back. I was soon rewarded for my patience as he came out of the bathroom, quickly crossed to me, and punched me in the arm. �Very funny. Hope that wasn�t your joke, dough boy, or you are really slipping�, he said, sitting down. I just smiled a Cheshire Cat grin and told him he would see his joke later on. He began to wolf down his omelet, making sure he flexed his baseball sized bicep in my face saying, �Ya gotta eat right to get these. Can you even FIND your bicep?�

The conversation continued like that throughout breakfast. We discussed what we would be doing that day, as it was the day we were �allowed� to hang out together by the respective girlfriends. We usually had fun when it was just the two of us.

You could say this day would be a real gas�. •

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