Speaking personally, I’m not one to exercise that much. I’m not some endo behemoth or steroid meso or skinny heroin fuck. I’ve been to the gym before and bulked up, a little bit. I’ve eaten Chicken Cottage five nights a week (the first week, four nights a week the second) and fatted up slightly, but not that much. That’s how I’ve stayed so far. Johan wasn’t like that. He was a big guy, not a fat big guy, though he had been when he was young, fat I mean and, actually, big too probably; he was big boned, big in structure. He hulked. He’d lost the fat by the time I met him, most of it anyway, but he was still self conscious. When he came out of the shower at the gym or stood by the side of the pool you saw a stomach that was mostly smooth, with a crease across the middle from being sucked in all the time. And he had that bulge of flab under his ribcage that ex-endos sometimes get, that little bit that sticks out no matter how much you breath in. Actually breathing in makes it worse, more pronounced. Johan went to the gym a lot and his arms got thicker and his shoulders got bigger but that layer of subcutaneous puppy tissue, not much but enough, it lay like a blanket and hid the definition he desired. Another friend, Seymour, obsessed with abdominal muscles. Obsessed. Determined to get a six pack, an eight pack was the dream. He bought the Men’s Health and the Men’s Fitness magazines, drank the protein shakes and did the crunches. But he still fried fish fingers instead of grilling them, ate takeaway four nights a week and had a genetic makeup that was default set to pale and pasty. Brown rice, lentils, boiled fish, we told him he’d need to eat right but he didn’t listen and after a while I stopped thinking he was determined and started thinking he was a fucking idiot. He should have joined the runners on the Common, always there, morning, evening, going raaand and raaand and raaand. Charlie didn’t live with us, but him and Johan would go running sometimes. Charlie waited at the door while Johan tied his laces, big looping bows. Every time I watch Johan tie his laces I hear in my head the bunny ears rhyme and see him five years old, tongue stuck out, concentrating. Then his mum claps her hands together delightedly and hugs him and says oh you’re such a big boy! Johan stands and Charlie says hey, Seymour, you wanna come with? Seymour never joins them though and the last time he just shook his head and carried on to the lounge, a half loaf heap of toast on a plate in his hand.


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Filed under 5 Minute Sketches, Blog, Creative writing, People

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