Jay Gets Juiced at the Gym Ch. 08
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Jay Gets Juiced at the Gym CH 8 Of Love and Loss
Over the next six months, Stretch and I watched several relationships bloom and mature. In fact, we had a party to celebrate our blissful first year anniversary together. Bear and Sheila were now a couple, and Stretch couldn’t remember any time that Bear seemed happier. Little John was actively dating Steve, a young and very handsome architect.
But the most unusual couple was Juice and George. George, the porn exec that arranged Juice’s porn debut, was now an intimate part of her life. Working under Juice’s talented guidance, George had lost 15 pounds of fat and added five pounds of muscle. He was a work in progress; still short, still bald, but he had a wonderful sense of humor and a warm heart. Juice would kid that she needed to sleep with him to make sure that her porn video rested in an obscure place in the back of some warehouse.
Often, we would get together as an eight-some, to play silly board games, watch movies, or just enjoy each other’s company.
Stretch, or Suzie, as my parents preferred to call her, had her own chair at my family’s table. The first time they met, it took all of 30 minutes for Suzie to endear herself to my father and mother. After the first hour, mom and Suzie were babbling like they had been friends for years. Suzie kept dad entertained with her knowledge of sports, and would have lively debates with him about which team or which player was better. I would sit back and watch her do her magic as she interacted with them. She was never at a loss of words and always had a sincere compliment to pass on. I had so much admiration and so much to learn from this incredible young lady.
At times I was jealous of the smiles that she drew from my parents upon her arrival. With each visit, Suzie would always show up with flowers for mom and a sweet homemade treat for dad. He was a big fan of her chocolate banana bread, as was I.
One quiet evening I was sitting in the living room with dad.
“Dad, how do you know if you found the right person to marry?”
“That’s a tough question, Jay. You never know until years later if you made the right choice, but there are definite clues that lead you to the right decision.”
“Do you miss and think of her when you are apart?”
“Do you feel a special warmth when she is by your side?”
“Can she make you smile, even when you don’t want to?”
“Are you prepared to defend and accept her with all her flaws and annoyances?”
“Do you feel the love you give her, returned tenfold?”
“Jay, I can keep going, but you catch my drift. I take it things are getting serious between you two?”
“Dad, I answered yes to all your questions and 100 more that I asked myself. I want to marry Suzie. I want her to be my wife and have children together.”
“You know Mom and I love Suzie as well, and would be pleased to have her as part of our family.”
“Thanks, Dad, you can start by helping me pick an engagement ring.”
“Your mother can teach you about the four C’s of diamonds and I know a diamond importer that is open on Sunday. We can all go down and see if there is Antalya Escort something you like. Should I tell your mother, or will you?”
“I will tell her later tonight, but with a box of Kleenex, in case the floodgates open.”
“You have that right son!”
I woke up the following morning to the sound of the traffic report on my radio.
“Highway 40 and the Metropolitan are both running smoothly. Decarie North is traffic-free but Decarie South is congested around the Turcot interchange. There is heavy traffic around Atwater and Notre Dame, as there was a gas explosion and fire overnight. And now for the news….”
“Holy shit,” I exclaimed as I scampered out of bed. “That’s where Suzie’s apartment is.”
Dialing her number… No answer.
“Morning Jay, breakfast?”
“Sorry, no time Mom. There is a fire around Suzie’s place, and I need to make sure that she is OK. Her phone is not picking up.”
“Drive safely,” were the last words I heard as I closed the front door.
What was normally a fifteen-minute drive took forty-five. As I approached, I could still see smoke lifting into the air. I parked a block away since getting closer seemed unlikely. As I moved closer, my level of discomfort grew. The smoke appeared to be coming from Suzie’s building.
The area around Suzie’s building was cordoned off by yellow tape. A large crowd surrounded the perimeter watching the firemen manage the last of the small flames. I peered through the crowd looking for familiar faces. Finally, I spotted Little John, Bear, and Sheila.
“Thank goodness. I am so glad to see you guys are safe. I was so worried about you,” as I gave each one a big hug. “Where is Stretch?”
I watched as the three pairs of eyes darted back and forth. Sheila’s eyes were red, a Kleenex in her hand. Neither Bear nor Little John could face me directly.
Repeating, “Where is Stretch!” my voice louder and panicked.
Little John was the first to speak. “I got a call from a neighbor a couple of hours ago. I was sleeping over at Steve’s. I called Bear, who was at Sheila’s.”
“So where is Stretch? I don’t see her,” alarm now flowing through my voice.
Bear now spoke, his voice quivering. “Stretch slept at home last night. She was in the building when it blew up. She never got out. She had no chance to survive.”
My knees buckled under me and I would have tumbled to the ground, had Sheila not grabbed me, and lowered me to the cement. My eyes welled up trying to comprehend what I just heard. Then something snapped inside me.
I stood up and looked at the sky and yelled in my loudest voice.
“FUCK YOU. FUCK YOU, GOD.”
“ARE YOU EVEN FUCKING UP THERE?”
“YOU CAN’T BE, OR YOU WOULDN’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO AN ANGEL LIKE SUZIE.”
Bear moved to my side and placed his arms around me. “Jay, you need to calm down.”
“FUCK BEING CALM,” I continued to shout pushing Bear away as if he was a 60-pound child and not a 260-pound man.
I could feel the eyes of every person in the crowd focused on me. But I didn’t care.
Bear wrapped his arms around me a Antalya Escort Bayan second time, but this time he would not be brushed away.
I cried into Bear’s shirt for 10 minutes before I was able to calm myself.
“Jay, give me your car keys. Sheila and I will drive you home.”
I sat in the back seat nestled in Sheila’s arms. I felt her fingers toying with my hair, trying to do anything she could do to comfort me.
Bear and Sheila escorted me into my house and were immediately met by mom. I couldn’t look into her eyes as I ran straight into my room. I could hear jumbled voices through the door and knew exactly where they were in the conversation, when I heard mom’s loud and painful shriek.
A few minutes later, I heard mom, knock at my door. “Jay, are you OK?”
“I will be Ok Mom,” my voice still shaking.
Maybe what I said was true. Thinking to myself, ‘Maybe I WILL be OK, but I am NOT OK NOW!’ I was hurting. Every cell in my body felt like it was imploding. The pain was intense. I needed to exorcise the pain inside me.
I opened my desk drawer and took out my Swiss army knife. I ran my finger along the edge of the blade to satisfy myself with its sharpness. I undressed and threw my clothes in the corner, taking a seat on my desk chair. Here I sat naked with a knife in my hand.
In my estranged mind, I could only think that I could rid myself of one pain by creating another pain to replace it. The sun shone brightly through my window on my darkest day, bouncing off the silver coating of the knife’s blade. Holding the knife firmly, I dragged the shape edge across the width of my thigh and watched the white flesh separate into two parts, filling the middle with blood.
I didn’t understand why it didn’t hurt, so I made a second cut parallel to the first one. I grabbed for my gym towel but not before a small pool of blood puddled next to my feet. After the third cut, I realized that this did not provide any relief for the deep hurt I was feeling inside.
I wiped down the blade and closed the knife, pressing the bloodied towel hard against my opened wounds. Although the cutting didn’t seem to help, I took comfort that the three scars would remain, to remind me of Suzie.
The funeral was scheduled for Monday. On Sunday night around three a.m.., I couldn’t sleep. I sat down at my computer to write a farewell to Suzie. It wasn’t a eulogy or a speech. That was for the clergy. It was words that I had to write down for me to say a proper goodbye. I printed the sheet of paper and looked for a metal container and deposited my words.
Monday morning arrived. I barely ate or slept from the time of the accident. I got dressed in the pale blue shirt that Suzie said brought out the blue of my eyes. Looking in the mirror, I didn’t see blue. I saw sad, black, tired eyes. As I pulled on my pants, I stopped to reflect on the three parallel lines on the side of my thigh. I felt like crying but held back.
Mom and dad were dressed and waiting for me. Dad was in a well-pressed suit and mom wore a black dress with a black ribbon in her hair. Suzie would have liked the way Escort Antalya they looked.
The drive to the cemetery was quiet. No one had meaningful words to say, each one experiencing their own form of grief.
The gravesite was crowded. Bear, Sheila, Little John, Steven, Juice, George, and Harriet from the gym; along with the crew of gym buddies that knew and loved Stretch.
Bear and Little John both stood by my side during the service. I saw the preacher’s lips moving but it was like I put the remote control volume on mute. There was nothing that he could say that I didn’t know. I looked around at the others and accepted their sorrow with gratitude.
At the conclusion, Bear leaned over and whispered in my ear.
“We all loved her, Jay. Differently than you, but it is all our loss.”
“Bear, can you stay a little longer and drive me home. There is something I still need to do.”
“Sure buddy, whatever you need.”
My parents approached and asked if I was ready. I told them to go on ahead, that Bear would be driving me back.
Waiting for everyone to leave, alone, I stood in front of the freshly filled grave and removed the piece of paper from the metal container and read out loud.
“To Suzie, The Love of My Life.”
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height.
My soul can reach when feeling out of sight.”
“Suzie, those are not my words but those of Elisabeth Barrett Browning. I chose those words because my words are worthy of your love. My words follow. They might not be as eloquent, but never- the- less, they are spoken from my heart.”
You are my sun, my moon, my rock, my balance.
You spread your arms and provide me everlasting warmth.
You shed light at night and lead me through dark passages.
You stand in front and behind, always giving me 100% support.
You balance my irrational thoughts and turn them into rational thinking.”
Looking away from my paper, “I remember the first time we met at the gym. I saw you dance across the room, smiling like a little girl with money in her pocket, and the ice cream truck turning the corner. I think I started to love you before our first words were spoken. You had the face of an angel, the mysterious smile of a Cheshire cat, and the eyes to light up any darkened room.”
“You and Juice took care of me when I accidentally overdid it on the special brownies. Boy, did you girls ever take care of me!” I had to smile remembering that night.
“This was the week that I would have proposed to marry you.” Getting down on one knee, “Suzie, will you marry me? Will you share your life with me? Don’t feel rushed to answer. This question is open from now until eternity.”
Looking back down at my notes:
“I don’t know how I can go on without you. You complete me. Now I stand before you an incomplete man because when you died, part on me died with you.”
As I read, tears rolled down onto the page, angry at myself for soiling the paper. I rolled the love letter and placed it back into the tube. I grabbed a shovel and dug a hole in the recently filled gravesite. When satisfied, I placed the metal tube in the hole and covered it back up.
“Goodbye Suzie, my love, my life, my wife, until we met again in heaven.”
Turning and walking back toward the car.
“Bear, time to go home.”
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