An American Muscleman in London 9
The Second Full Moon
First I noticed my cell phone was ringing. Then I noticed that I ached all over. But it wasn’t a hangover – my head didn’t hurt. My body hurt – everywhere. I didn’t think it was the flu, though – it didn’t feel as if I had a fever. The soreness of the running finally catching up with me, I guessed. The phone was still ringing.
I turned my head and found my cell phone resting on the table beside my bed.
“Hello,” I said sounding very sleepy and a little sick.
“Anthony, dear. How are you this morning?” came Martin’s chipper voice.
“I’m okay. I guess. I feel very sore all over. I might have exercised a little too much the last few days. Since I don’t do it very often, I really don’t know,” I said more to myself than to Martin. Then a thought hit me and I said, “Martin, how did I get home? I don’t remember coming home. I guess I was a lot more drunk than I thought. I blame the port we had at the end of the night.”
“Not to worry, Anthony, John drove you home and made sure you were tucked into bed safely. So you’re a little sore, are you? Anything else new?” he asked – and I was too confused to see what an odd question it was.
“No, nothing more to report, Martin. Thanks for checking on me. I hope I didn’t make a fool of my self. Tell John I said thank you.” It was then that the memory of my last exchange with Manfred came rushing back into my thoughts. “Ohhhhhhhhhhh,” I added softly.
“What was that, Anthony? What did you say?” Martin asked quickly.
“Oh nothing, Martin. A memory of the evening came flooding back. I did kind of make a fool of myself!” I said before I could filter my thoughts.
“If you are referring to your conversation with Manfred in the living room – do not think twice about it. Manfred was dreadful to you, Anthony. Do not worry your pretty little head about that right now. We will straighten all that out at a later date. Manfred will certainly wise up in the near future – trust me. Well, I am very glad that you are doing well. I will check in with you again this afternoon – just to make sure that you are feeling supported in all the changes,” Martin said and sounded more cryptic than before. I was too distracted to question or argue. Why did my body ache so much?
“Okay, Martin. I’ll talk to you later. Bye,” I said hanging up the phone.
“Well make sure you get up and do some exercising today. Remember your trainer…” Martin was saying as I pushed my cell phone shut and hung up.
I realized that my body did not ache as much as it did at first. I moved my legs around and my arms. I realized that movement helped. I started to get up, but my stomach is where the pain was the greatest. It felt like someone had twisted them like a wet towel and was trying to wring them out – and not giving up at all. As I swung my legs to the floor and sat on the edge of the bed I realized there was another feeling hidden deep below the pain. I felt something new. I couldn’t describe it. I wondered if it was what someone felt like after an intense work out. Yes, that was it. I felt satisfied – I felt like I could enjoy the soreness because it was caused heavy exercise. It was a deep feeling of being, oh what word would be best to describe it? I struggled and then the word jumped into my head. I felt pumped. I had read enough bodybuilding magazines – yes, read them AND looked at all the pictures – to know that a pumped feeling was good. It was great, even. It is what you wanted after a great workout.
I began to acknowledge the soreness in a different way. It was like a trophy. It was something that most guys sought – well those who worked out! I started moving parts of my body to highlight the soreness – to show that this part of my body had been affected by . . . By what? I had not worked out, but I knew that this is what it would feel like if I had. I rolled my shoulders. I lifted my arms up and down. I moved my torso to the right and then to the left. I tensed my leg muscles and then released them. Yes, I was sore from some kind of exercise. It couldn’t be the running – could it? How does that work out the upper body so much? I stood up and the pain in my legs was great, but it also felt good in some way. Once again I began to contemplate the idea that I was somehow becoming a jock. What was that all about? I was sore in muscles I didn’t even know I had. I’m sure I was feeling muscles that I couldn’t even name! But it all felt great in some strange way. I looked at the clock and noticed it was 9:30am. I was supposed to be at the gym in thirty minutes to meet with Mark. The vision of Mark’s body and his incredible ass crossed my mind. That was enough to move me to action. I decided to not shower – why? I was going to the gym. I moved stiffly to the bathroom and began to brush my teeth. Staring at me from the corner of my mirror was that blasted piece of paper from Lancelot’s glove with its mysterious language. As I brushed my teeth and combed my hair I stared at the piece of paper trying to make sense of each group of letters. No matter what I did you could not make sense of the groupings. I forgot about the soreness for a while, though.
I moved back into the bedroom and pulled my favorite running t-shirt from the chair in the corner. I had washed it with the sheets the other day – after my unexpected wet dream. It was a gray t-shirt with a picture of Spongebob on it. My nephew had given it to me for my birthday so it had a special place in my heart. I pulled it over my head.
“Shit!” I said out loud. It had shrunk in the wash. That damn London washing machine. Or was it the detergent I had bought? Whatever it was the shirt was too small now. It didn’t even cover my entire stomach. It felt like it was one size too small. It had always been a little small but now it was extremely tight – around the neck, at the arms and especially in the chest area. “Dammit,” I said out loud as I took off the shirt. I really liked that shirt.
I opened a drawer and pulled out a large tank top. I almost never wore this shirt – but something told me to grab it today. I pulled it on and it felt good. I liked how it allowed my sore arms to be free. Or was it something more? I suddenly reminded myself that I needed to get going. I pulled on some underwear (noticed that they were a little tight around the legs – were these the ones I washed?) and some cotton shorts. I pulled on some white athletic socks and then sat down to pull on my tennis shoes. I was still noticing my soreness, but it was getting much better – the more I moved. I knew, instinctively this is what bodybuilders felt like the day after heavy lifting. I felt so happy with myself. It was stupid, since I hadn’t worked out – ever, but I still felt good about myself and I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way. I was focused on all things good - except for the thought that was crawling into my head as I crammed my right foot into my tennis shoe. I say crammed – because my toes were jammed into the front part of my shoe. I tried to adjust my foot and then even checked inside the shoe to make sure there was nothing crammed into the shoe – and old sock maybe? Nope – it was empty. “How did my shoes shrink?” I thought. I didn’t wash them. I had to go. I jammed my feet into the shoes – painfully – grabbed my keys and my backpack and left the flat.
I made it to Mark’s Body Shop a few minutes before ten. My feet were hurting a little from the tightness of my shoes, but the rest of my body had begun to move from soreness to a feeling like something I had never known before. It was just this incredible sense of accomplishment – but what had been accomplished was unknown. When I walked into the place there was a different woman at the front counter. I was sad that Melody wasn’t working.
The woman looked up as I came in and she said in a heavy British accent, “May I help you?”
“Yes, thank you,” I said smiling. “I have a ten o’clock with Mark.”
“So sorry, with Mark?” she asked and I nodded yes. “We don’t have a person named Mark that works here.”
I smiled at her mistake, maybe she was new, and said, “You know, Mark, the owner of the place.”
“The owner’s name is Terrence, sir. He’s the only person who has ever owned this fitness studio,” she said looking at me as if I had two heads.
“But I met with Mark here on Tuesday. Really, a big guy – very muscular, light brown hair,” I said, trying not to sound too crazy.
“I am so sorry, sir,” she said again. “We do not have a trainer named Mark. We do not have any employee named Mark.”
“Okay,” I said trying to get my mind around what was happening. “How about Melody – the woman from the States – is she working today?”
The woman’s reaction to this question immediately alarmed me more. “I am sorry, sir. There is not a Melody that works here, either. Could it be that you are at a different place than on Tuesday?”
“No, I was here on Tuesday. I am sure of that. Can you see if you have an Anthony Lance in your system?” I asked.
The woman turned to her computer, pushed a few buttons, and smiled, “Yes, Mr. Lance. You are right here and we do have a joining date of this past Tuesday. Perhaps, you forgot the names of the workers. I cannot remember who was at the desk on Tuesday – it was my day off. There is one thing that is strange here, though. Usually we input the name of the trainer you are assigned to – and there is no name in the system. That was our mistake. May I choose a person to help you today?”
I was still too confused to really argue, so I said, “Yes, please. That would be fine.” The woman picked up the phone and dialed an extension – just as Melody had done on Tuesday.
“Hiya, Quan. I have a new client here for you. His name is Anthony Lance,” she said looking at the computer screen in front of her. “Yes, I’ll let him know.” She hung up the phone. “Quan will be right out.”
And like earlier in the week about a minute later the door to my left opened and a guy that was my height stepped into the waiting area. He was of Asian descent and had a small, but fit body. It certainly wasn’t a body like Mark’s, but it was still a body that passed the “make sure your trainer looks like he works out” test.
“Hiya, I’m Quan, “he said holding out his hand.
“Hello, nice to meet you. I’m Anthony.” I said shaking his hand.
“Follow me, Anthony, and we’ll get you started,” Quan said grabbing a file from the woman at the counter. As we walked into the next room I was slightly disappointed – Quan’s ass did not hold a candle to Mark’s. This thought distracted me for the moment from thinking about what had happened to Mark. Inside the gym part of the studio Quan led me to the same side counter as on Tuesday. “I like to take measurements when I get a new client. I know you did that on Tuesday, but I just want to make sure things were correct – especially since we show no record of who you met with. Sorry about that.”
“No, that’s fine, Quan. I met with a guy named Mark,” I said and saw that the look on his face meant we would have the same discussion I had with the lady in the waiting room. And Quan went on to tell me that no Mark worked at the place and, later on, said the same about Melody when I mentioned her name. This was so frustrating. I didn’t know what to make of any part of this.
“Do you mind stepping onto the scale, Anthony?” Quan asked and I stepped onto the machine in front of me. “Well, this Mark guy must not have been very good – you’ve either been eating well since Tuesday or packed on more muscle. You weigh about twelve more pounds than what is written here. If I put it in pounds like is written you are at 165. On Tuesday the guy wrote 153. Sorry about that mistake.” And with that Quan marked the correction on my form.
“That’s impossible, Quan,” I said staring at what the scale said, “ I saw 153 on Tuesday. Really. Do you think the scale is wrong?”
“No, we check it every day and I weighed myself earlier – it was correct,” Quan said almost ignoring my protest. “You weigh 165. Maybe it was wrong on Tuesday or the trainer that helped you just got the conversion wrong – when he went to pounds.” Quan was lifting the bar that was attached to the back of the scale to measure my height. When he brought the bar to my head he said, “And he got the height wrong, as well - by three inches. His conversion must have been off here, as well. It’s impossible for someone to grow three inches in a few days.” Quan was laughing to himself as I stepped off the scale.
“May I measure your chest, Anthony,” Quan asked, but I was barely paying attention. Right before I left Houston I had a physical. At that time I weighed 159lbs. I had also been 5 feet 8 inches since I was in high school. How could I be five eleven? It just wasn’t possible, but I saw the equipment. It showed everything in inches and in pounds – obviously for Americans. You didn’t even need to convert it if you were used to reading in those terms. Could Mark have been wrong? This didn’t seem possible. I had looked at the scale and the marks for my height. I had raised my arms at Quan’s request. After measuring my chest and looking at the chart Anthony had a puzzled look on his face. “It seems your trainer from Tuesday got everything wrong. He marked your chest at 42 inches. It is really 46 inches. Let’s do your arms and legs, too.”
At this point I simply shut down. I stopped thinking about anything. I was so lost – trying to figure out what was happening to me. I felt amazing – that was a given – powerful and energized. But I also felt so confused – baffled. It was too much to handle. I barely registered anything more – even when Quan told me that my arms were now 17 inches – two inches more than Tuesday or that my thighs were now four inches more. My calves seemed to be the only thing that didn’t go crazy – measuring only one inch more than Tuesday. I also went through the work out routine Quan introduced me to in a daze. I didn’t pay much attention when he complimented me at each machine. He kept asking me if I had told the truth when I told him I was not used to using any free weights or nautilus machines. It was pretty obvious when he had to explain to me how the machine worked or how I should perform a set with a weight, but he was so impressed at how easy the task came to me once it was explained. He was equally impressed with the amount of weight I was able to lift in each exercise. At the end of the work out session he told me that I was a natural. I smiled – still half present to the moment and half trying to sort through all that was happening to me.
By the time everything was over my body was pulsing with energy and a craving for more exercise. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I felt as if I could have worked out all day. I wanted to try heavier weights and increase the amount of repetitions that Quan asked for. I also felt something else in my body. I still couldn’t make sense out of this new feeling – it seemed to be a need for someone to challenge me. Yes, that was it; I wanted to have another man test my abilities – but not using a machine. I wanted it to be man on man action. This thought aroused me a little so I continued with it. It wasn’t just man on man action that I wanted – it was also skin on skin action. I wanted to subdue someone, yes, and conquer him. I wanted to show someone the power of the energy that was surging through my body.
At this point my cotton shorts were not hiding my hard-on at all. Quan noticed and immediately said, “Anthony, I should probably tell you, since you are new to all of this, that working out often makes a man feel really good. I mean it can sometimes get a man – well, pretty excited. I just wanted you to know that this is a natural reaction.” I immediately turned red and placed my hands in front of my crotch. I was back in the present moment immediately. “Not to worry, Anthony. That won’t be the last time it happens. I could tell by the way you worked out that you are really going to take to bulking up, really well. I also believe you are going to continue to enjoy the after-effects, as well. No need to be embarrassed. A cold shower or a good cardio work out will take care of that.” Quan was smiling a genuine smile and I appreciated his honesty. I made an appointment for the next week, shook his hand, and left the gym – still with a hard-on that seemed like it was not going away.
I was incredibly hungry, but decided that a long run was more important at the moment. I had even begun to ignore the tightness of my tennis shoes. I wanted to take Quan’s advice and see if some cardio might help with the big problem at my crotch. At the end of my two-hour run I still had the same issue. I realized that when I got back to my flat I would have to take the situation “into my own hands” – and I meant the pun in every way implied.
My hard-on problem would have to wait, though. As I walked up to the entrance of my flat I was surprised by the fact that Manfed stood there – obviously waiting for me. The pain in my heart from last evening came rushing back, but it was mixed with an excitement about seeing him again. I thought he was beautiful last night, but he was more gorgeous in the sunlight. My body reacted to him in the opposite way than expected – my hard-on lessened immediately. I guess I was still sad and angry over what he shared last night. I suddenly returned to feeling a little inadequate. I also forgot about the strangeness of the events at the gym. My world focused, yet again, on this stunning man who stood there in a striped light blue button-down shirt, tan slacks, a dark blue blazer, and sunglasses that hid his eyes, but nothing hid the powerful smile. I was lost in his presence, again.
“Hello, Anthony. Have you just returned from that meeting with your trainer?” he asked and I could tell he was testing the waters to see how I was feeling.
“Hi, Manfred,” I replied remembering I had told him about my appointment, “Yes, I worked out and then took a long run. Come in.”
“Thank you,” he said taking off his sunglasses and following me to my flat. “Martin shared your address with me. I hope you don’t mind.”
“No, that’s fine. I was just a little surprised. That’s all.” I said as I was opening the door to my flat and we walked in. My first thought was how happy I was that I am not a messy person – the flat looked presentable.
“Might you join me for a late lunch or have you eaten,” Manfred asked.
“No, I haven’t eaten and I’m actually very hungry. I guess I could go for some lunch,” I said caught up in the moment. As soon as the words came out I wished I had not agreed so quickly. I was still angry. I was still hurt. And I wanted him to know how I felt. “Let me take a quick shower and I’ll be ready to go.”
“That would be great, Anthony. Thanks for joining me,” Manfred said and I paused slightly as I peered into those eyes that looked like they contained an entire cloudless blue sky. I knew instantly that he had a closet full of shirts that color – just to highlight those eyes. I immediately stuffed that thought away and went to take a shower.
As I showered I thought of all the reasons I should not be going to lunch with Manfred. The number one problem was the fact that it was going to play havoc on my heart. Could I, in all honesty, just be a friend with Manfred? Most of me wanted to say yes – because he really was a great guy, but a small part of me knew we were destined for something more – even if that thought was utterly irrational. Manfred obviously was serious about being friends – for here he was asking me to join him for lunch, but the problem still remained – could I stop thinking of him sexually. At least long enough to become his friend. I knew I had to try – and I felt up to the task. Manfred could help my three years in London be more enjoyable – that was for sure. That meant I would have to struggle through the problem of how to get rid of the other emotions.
At that moment another problem took precedent over this one. I had finished showering and had pulled a shirt and some jeans out to wear. I went to put on the gray polo and it didn’t fit. Like the t-shirt I had tried on earlier it didn’t come down completely over my stomach. It was also very tight in the arms and in the chest area. The scary part was I knew this shirt had not been washed since I was in London. I had unpacked it into the drawer on my first day here. I could not understand what was happening to me – it was as if I had been through some adolescent growth spurt. I had bought this shirt pretty tight to begin with, but this was ridiculous. I took the shirt off and went to the closet. I had an extra large button-down that I had gotten as a gift and never returned. I slipped it on and it fit – but was still a little tight in the chest. It would have to do. I struggled to get my jeans up over my thighs – or as Quan had referred to them earlier – my quads. These jeans were not that tight when I bought them. I looked at myself in the mirror and for the first time noticed that I did, in fact, look bigger – just as the clothes had revealed. I was looking at my legs in the mirror and how they fit into these jeans and actually liking what I saw when I heard a voice from the living room.
“I’m getting famished, Anthony. Are you almost ready?” Manfred said laughing.
I called back, “Yes, I’ll be right out.” I went to put on shoes and decided that I didn’t want to cram my toes into the tennis shoes again. I slipped on what Martin had called the unfashionable sandals and was surprised to find out they felt okay. I believe there was a little more room in these shoes. My focus went from the changes in my body back to the upcoming lunch with Manfred. I began to psyche myself up. I knew I could do this. I knew I could handle being just a friend. I knew there were other men out there for me. I decided to try my hardest to let go of thoughts of being with Manfred – he had made it clear the kind of guy he wanted – the king of guy I would never be. I looked in the mirror one last time – really liked what I saw – and left the bedroom knowing it would be a good lunch.