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Swell Time, A
|The buzzing of his alarm clock woke Eric out of a sound sleep. “Is it morning already?” He groaned. Eric was not especially looking forward to today, because it was his birthday, and yet he had classes to attend. Dragging himself out of bed, he trudged out of his dorm room and down the hall to the shower. The water made him feel better. After spending more time in the shower then he should have, Eric went back to his room and just crashed on the bed.
“Hey, birthday boy!”
Eric looked towards the door to see his friend Sam standing there.
“Better hurry or the whole day will be wasted!” Grinning, Sam walked the rest of the way into the room.
Eric grimaced. “The whole day is already wasted. I have classes to attend and all of them are just going to be boring lectures.”
Sam shook his head. “Now wait a minute. You’re telling me on your 21st birthday you’re planning on going to class? Come on, this is an important birthday. Or it would be if you weren’t such a pessimist.”
Eric glared at Sam. “And what would you suggest?” Unfazed, Sam just grinned at him, moved to his dresser, and started tossing clothes at him. Eric had to smile. He had to admit, Sam had a contagious smile that always succeeding in eliminating his usual morning grouchiness.
“First, you’re going to get dressed, then we’re going out.” Sam tossed some of Eric’s sweats onto the bed, along with an envelope. “Forget classes, you go so much it’s not going to kill you to miss them today, plus you said it yourself you’ve got nothing but lectures.”
Picking up the envelope, Eric asked “and what do you have in mind?”
Sam gestured at the envelope. “That. Now I’m going to wait downstairs. That way I’m not here for you to refuse. I’ll see you in a hour…” Sam walked out the door.
Opening the envelope, Eric scanned the contents. It was membership info to Sam’s Gym. Scanning it, he noticed that Sam had paid his way for an entire year. “Typical Sam,” Eric groaned. Sam had been working out ever since they were back in high school, and it showed. He was no Mr.. Universe, but he filled out his shirts quite nicely. Eric, on the other hand, was tall, about 6’ and gangly. He had never really attempted to go to a gym. “Well, he went through all this trouble,” Eric muttered. “He even risked my morning wrath to bring it to me.” Eric looked in the mirror at himself. “I could stand to have a little more meat on me…” Eric tossed on his sweats and headed down to meet Sam. When he reached the dorm lobby, Sam was waiting.
“I thought I’d have to come and get you. Decide to give it a try?”
Eric grinned. “You went through all the trouble, so I thought I’d give it a go. I do need to gain some weight. As long as you’re not expecting me to become a monster overnight, this isn’t a bad thing at all. Thanks for the gift…”
Sam opened the door with a mocking bow and motioned Eric to go outside. “Anything for my loyal master. Seriously, though this will be good for you. You’ll see…”
They walked down into town, and went into Sam’s gym. Eric looked around and paled. Everyone in there looked like they had a long time membership. There were people ranging from Sam’s size to people who looked like they were born in the gym. Eric tried to hide his reaction, but Sam caught it.
“I know that look. Don’t worry, you’ll feel fine after you’ve been here a few days and I have a chance to show you the ropes. Okay, first thing you need to do is-“
“Get out of my way, for starters.”
Sam and Eric turned around. Standing in front on them was an incredibly muscular guy. He was so built Erich was surprised he could even move. He had on a tank top, but he might as well have gone nude. It was plastered to his body so well you could see each individual muscle, down to his abs. Next to him, even Sam’s looked like nothing. Glancing at Sam, Eric could see he was suddenly uptight.
“Lester. What do you want?” Eric was surprised. Sam was usually so easy going that he rarely spoke in harsh tones unless he was incredibly pissed off.
“Just thought I’d get a look at the newbie. I hope you aren’t planning to put him on your program, or he won’t get anywhere. Just look at you.” Sam was turning redder and redder as Lester spoke. Eric knew Sam wouldn’t say anything, so he responded.
“Hey, lay off. Don’t you need to be taking your daily steroid dosage or something?” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Eric regretted them. Sam had told him once if his muscles were as big as his mouth when he was angry, he’d be a god. But he had to say something, because he knew that Sam, for all his muscles, was as sensitive as he was outgoing. Now though, Eric was wondering if this was the last birthday he’d live through. Lester looked about 5’8’’ compared to his 6’ but his muscles more than balanced that fact.
“Hey, let’s get some things straight here,” Lester, said, reaching out and grabbing Sam with one hand and Eric with the other. “There are rules in this gym, and one of them is ‘know who your superiors are.’ Your friend Sam here already knows that.” Lester pulled Eric in closer “to make things clearer, the biggest man here is ‘superior’. I’ll let you off this time since you’re a newbie, but I’d watch that mouth of yours.” Lester stalked off towards the main part of the gym. Sam immediately turned to Eric.
“I’m sorry. In all the excitement of planning your birthday I forgot that he would be here today.” Sam shook his head. “He’s been around awhile, I’m almost positive he is on something, though. He’s only here once a week, and when he is, he pushes anyone around that can’t fight back.”
Eric gestured at Sam, or rather his body. “But you can fight back more than I can. Seriously, I thought we left guys like that behind when we graduated from high school.”
Sam shook his head. “I’m not going to let it bother me. Let’s get this day back on track, shall we?”
Eric hesitated. Sam was obviously bothered by what had happened more than he was letting on. “I have an idea,” he said. “Why don’t you go do your normal workout? We can always start with me tomorrow, or whenever that guy doesn’t show up” Eric knew part of the reason Sam worked out was to relieve stress. If he could get a full workout in, Sam would feel better.
“I can’t do that! This is your day…” Sam protested. Eric cut him off.
“We can do something later. I’ll go wait at home. Trust me, it’ll be fine.” Eric pushed Sam towards the locker room.
“Okay, Okay. I’ll go. I know you’re trying to get me calmed down. You go nowhere though.” Sam gestured to the gym’s café. “Go wait there. After I’m done, Lester should be gone. Then I’ll show you a few things, and we’ll go out tonight for cake and your ritual 21st birthday drink-a-thon.”
Eric rolled his eyes. “And you’ll probably do most of the drinking.” Sam gave him his “innocent” look and went into the locker room. Eric went over to the café and sat at a table by himself. The truth was, Eric was incredibly bothered by this whole Lester situation. They shouldn’t have to tiptoe around him, or arrange their schedule to avoid him. It was a free country. Plus, knowing Sam, he’s been putting up with this for weeks. “If this is life with muscles, keep me out of it…” Eric muttered to himself.
“It’s better than you think it is.” Eric turned around at the sound of the voice behind him, and it took an extreme effort to keep his mouth from falling open. Standing in front of him was an incredibly massive guy. He looked to be taller than even Eric, and bigger than Lester. The sweater and jeans he was wearing did nothing to hide his massive build either. His chest was so big that Eric was positive the shirt would explode if he took a deep breath. The fabric of his sweater was stretched to the limit by his arms. And his jeans were so tight Eric wondered how he even managed to get them on.
“Mind if I sit here?”
Eric reminded himself that humans need to breathe and recovered himself. “S-Sure.”
The guy sat down. “I heard that little confrontation you and your friend had.” Eric grimaced. “It bothered you didn’t it?”
Eric didn’t say anything. The guy shook his head. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to get personal. Anyway, my name is Jason.”
“My name is Eric.” Eric wondered why this guy was here. “So, do you work out here a lot?” He asked. No, he grew those muscles overnight, stupid, he added to himself. But he was surprised when Jason shook his head.
“No, I travel too much to work out. I just arrived here earlier today”
“Then how-?” The question was halfway out of his mouth before he realized what happened the last time he shot off his mouth. Jason didn’t seem to mind though.
“Let’s just say I had the potential to be this big. Now can I ask you a personal question?”
He seemed okay. Nicer than Lester, anyway. “Go ahead.”
“I heard that comment you made as you were sitting here. Do you really feel muscles are a burden, or are you just basing that on your experience with that Lester fellow?”
Something about the way Jason worded the question made Eric really think about the situation. “I don’t see how having big muscles benefits you if you don’t do anything. My friend Sam may not have been Lester’s size, but I think he could have stood up for himself.”
Jason looked at him. “Did you ever stop to think that maybe Lester was jealous of Sam? I heard you talk about steroids. I happen to know Lester does them, because I saw him inject in the bathroom. Unless I’m wrong, your friend worked for his body?”
Eric nodded. “I’m really proud of him for that. But what good is it doing him?”
“He feels good about himself. That’s all that matters to him. That’s why people get big. It’s an accomplishment to be proud of, and not even Lester can take that from him. Of course, all the attention you get is no bad thing either…” Jason said with a grin. “Believe me, I know.”
Eric pondered what Jason said for a minute. It was true. Sans Lester, Sam always walks around without a care in the world, like nothing can take him off his pedestal. “But what happened with Lester…” he started.
Jason held up his hand. “Now that I agree with you on. He should have stood up to him. You shouldn’t have to take stuff like that from people, no matter what size you are. But maybe you can help him out later…” That last comment almost whispered, like Jason had spoken his thoughts aloud.
Eric decided to change the subject. “You said you travel a lot? What do you do?”
Jason grinned. “You could say I do charity. I help out people in need.”
“Really? Is that why you sat here?”
“Sort of. I’m thinking I can help you out.”
Eric grinned. “Well, you already did. You opened my eyes a little, that’s for sure. By the way, if you don’t mind my asking, how do you manage to stay that size with all the traveling you do?”
Jason grinned back. “Like I said before, I just had the potential. Everyone does actually. You have it.”
Eric sat back. “I’ve always been on the skinny side. It’s genetic. It’ll take a lot of work before I reach Sam’s size, let alone yours.”
Jason sat back. “Trust me, if you were my size, you would feel great. If you don’t mind, I can give you a little tip to help you grow.”
Is everyone out to make me big? Eric wondered. “I doubt I’ll ever hold a candle to even Sam, but what’s the tip?”
“Maintain a strong grip. That’s important. Let’s see how strong it is right now.”
Eric looked up, confused. “What?”
Jason held up his massive arm. “Let’s arm wrestle.” Correctly interpreting the stricken look on Eric’s face, he laughed. “Don’t worry, I’ll hold back. Come on.” Eric reached across the table and gripped Jason’s hand. After a few seconds, Eric was rubbing his slightly aching (but miraculously not broken) arm. “Not bad. You held on for awhile.” Jason glanced at his watch. “Well, I should go. I’ve got a plane to catch.”
“You finished your work that quickly? I thought you just got here this morning?” Eric asked.
“Don’t worry, I did what I came here to do.” Jason got up from the table. “It was nice meeting you Eric.” With that, he got up and left. A few minutes later, Sam came back, looking much better. “Okay, we’re blowing this joint. We have places to go and things to drink.” Eric stood up, rubbing his arm. Sam noticed. “Is something wrong?” Eric told him about Jason. Sam looked thoughtful. “You know, he has a point. I should grow a backbone. And you should grow some muscle.” Sam grinned. “I have an idea! The day you get big will be the day I get a backbone and stand up to people like Lester and his ilk.”
Eric didn’t even respond to that one. “We should go. I want to stop back at the dorm before we go anywhere else. I want to get something for my arm.” His entire upper arm was aching now. Maybe he should have passed on the arm wrestling.
Sam pointed. “Why are you rubbing your upper arm?”
Eric glared at Sam. “Did you miss the part of my story where I was arm wrestling with the hulk?”
Sam frowned. “No, I mean, unless this guy picked you up and swung you like a rag doll, your upper arm shouldn’t be hurting that much. I would expect you to be mainly feeling it in your wrist or something. Lester grabbed you there didn’t he? Maybe that’s it”
“Maybe. It didn’t start until after I talked to Jason though. Let’s go.”
Sam led the way to the door. “On a side note, I’m surprised you didn’t have a hard when you met this guy. I’m sorry I missed seeing him…”
Staring straight ahead, Eric said, “Sam, get your mind out of the gutter. He puts his pants on two legs at a time like we do.”
“You were hard the whole time weren’t you?”
Before they were halfway back to the dorm, Eric’s arm was hurting more than ever. “I’ve got an idea,“ Sam said. Why don’t we just chill back at your dorm? I’ll go pick up some stuff and we’ll make a little party out of it. I figure nothing else can go wrong if we’re not in public”
“Okay. I’m game for that.” Eric rubbed his arm.
Sam stopped. “Okay, I’m going to the store to get some stuff, and I’ll meet your there in an hour. Go do something about that arm.”
When Eric got back to his room, he immediately took his shirt off so he could apply some ice to his arm. What he saw surprised him. His upper arm was swollen. “Damn, that’s pretty bad.” Eric muttered. Eric grabbed an ice pack and set it on his arm. Flopping down in a chair he just sat there until Sam got there, loaded down with bags. Eric glanced at the bags. “What did you do? Buy out the store?”
“Just enough to last us through the night. I figured I’d crash here and head home in the morning.”
“Since half of those bags undoubtedly contains enough beer to make you alone too drunk to stand. It’s a good thing you don’t drink often, or your beer gut would get you tossed out of the gym”
Sam waved his hand at Eric. “Whatever. What stress working out can’t solve, beer does the job.” Sam gestured at the ice pack. “How’s the arm?”
“It’s swollen pretty badly.” Eric said. He removed the ice pack so Sam could see.
“Whoa, that is bad. Sam reached over and touched it. “Does this hurt?”
“Actually, no.” Eric said, rather surprised. “Now that I think about it, it doesn’t hurt to move it at al. It’s more like an inner throbbing that won’t go away.”
“Hmm”. Sam said. “It almost looks like you’ve got a bicep going there. Maybe we need to have a talk about this little thing called proportion.”
Eric glared. “Yes, I’ll make sure not to overdo it like I did during today’s strenuous workout.”
Sam ignored him. “Well, if it doesn’t go away, maybe you should see a doctor. I’ve never seen an arm swell up like that. Other then mine of course. Both of mine.”
“Uh huh. And your head with it.” Eric placed the ice back on his arm.
“Touchy, touchy. Okay, let’s just get this show on the road.”
For the next few hours they just chilled, watching TV, drinking beer, and just lounging. Sam even brought out a cake with 21 candles. By midnight, Sam had passed out on his floor, and Eric was on his last legs as well. As he got ready for bed, the only thing on his mind was his swelled arm, which had just started throbbing again, even with the ice. I hope it’s just a pulled muscle or something. Eric thought. I don’t feel like trudging to a doctor tomorrow. Eric looked at his arm. He tried moving it again to see if the movement would cause pain, but still nothing. In fact, it bulged up a little more whenever he flexed it, and relaxed when he brought his arm down. Maybe I shouldn’t move it. Looking at it, Eric had to chuckle. It did kind of look like he had a big bicep on his arm. Eric got into bed and tuned off the light. Great, he thought. Between Sam’s snoring and my throbbing arm, I probably won’t get any sleep. Good thing I don’t have class tomorrow…Even lying down the throbbing hadn’t subsided. It kind feels like there’s something in there trying to get out, was Eric’s last thought before sleep claimed him...
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