Gym time with Charlie

Charlie spent a lot of time in Camden at the gym. He mixed a shake each time before he left and would drink it as he worked out. Charlie hated the shakes, grimaced each time he took a swig. He had a giant tub of protein powder back at his flat, on top of his fridge. His housemates had their own tubs and all of them would compete to see who could finish their powder off the quickest, who could burn the most. I went to the gym with Charlie a couple of times at the beginning of the year. We would walk over, took about twenty minutes, and he would talk about what he was going to do that session, biceps or trunk or quads. At the gym  we swiped our cards and then found a space to stretch. After the stretches we’d run for twenty minutes as a warm up. Our feet would make a whispering boom as they pounded on the treadmill, Charlie’s booms much louder, much faster than mine. As we ran he’d stare at the mirror ahead of him, stare dead in to his own eyes, focused, and at the end of the twenty minutes the sweat would run off Charlie. I used to run when I was at school but smoking and asthma means I’ve got zero lung capacity now. After the run we would move on to the weights. Charlie always knew some guys there and he’d nod and say hello. One guy who was always there was called Duane, I think. He wore a baseball cap as he worked out. When Charlie and I benched we were on different weights so I’d go first and he’d stand at my head, hands out under bar just in case, and he’d say yeah, go, that’s it, push it, bit more, bit more, go on, nearly, fuck, come on and I’d feel the muscles in my chest go numb just under the armpit and my biceps grow swollen and hot and then the bar would settle in the rest and Charlie would say good job man. When I was done with my sets he’d load the bar up and shout and grunt as he pushed the extra one hundred pounds, one hundred and fifty pounds up over his chest. I stood spotting him like he did me. His arms shook and at the end of each set he’d purse his lips together and blow. On his last rep he’d push the bar up, hard as he could, but it would travel so slowly through the air and when he finally got the bar on to the rest he’d  drop his arms out by his sides and say Jesus Christ. He always dragged the ‘g’ out and his arms would splay out from the bench, like he himself was crucified.


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Filed under 5 Minute Sketches, Creative writing

One response to “Gym time with Charlie

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