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Culley Holderfield
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anticipate.jpg
Art by Lonni Lees 2016

Anticipating Acceleration

Culley Holderfield

 

          There is honor in cleaning up other people’s messes at five in the morning.  There is honor in pushing a vacuum cleaner, in spraying down urinals and wiping them out, in digging hair out of the shower drain in the women’s locker room.  I think this as I watch the vacuum devour tiny bits of yesterday from the health club’s spongy teal carpet.  I think this as I repeat the mantra that is my official position here:  “Tyler Langston, personal trainer.”

          It is my second week working for the Forest Hill Health Club in Derringer, North Carolina.  Each day I arrive at five a.m. to open the club for its most zealous members.  I am in charge of the place until seven when Mac, the manager, shows up.  Until then I am the only trainer, the only janitor, the only manager, in the building.  If anyone needs anything they come to me, “Tyler Langston, personal trainer.” 

We open at six.  I unlock the back door so members can enter, place a stack of clean towels on the table, and set the register beside it.  We work on the honor system here, and so far it seems effective.

          The phone whines upstairs, and I trudge across the club to get it.  I hate the phone in the morning.  It’s always some nasal-voiced wife or snot-nosed husband needing their spouses to take the kids to school or to come get the keys out of a locked car.

I grab it and hastily answer.

          “You’re open?” an invitingly husky voice asks.

          “Yes, ma’am,” I answer professionally.

          “Well, Tyler, my name is Lynda Graham.  I’m new to the area, and would like some information about your facilities.”

          I begin the sales pitch I have rehearsed thousands of times.  “We have ten racquetball courts, free weights, Nautilus, a swimming pool open in the summer, aerobic classes, and a nursery that goes along with the aerobics…”

          “Well, I wouldn’t need the nursery.  I’m single.”  She emphasizes the word “single”, lingering in its essence.  “Are you single?”

          “Yes, I am,” I answer, not realizing the full extent of what she’s asking.

          “How old are you?”

          “Nineteen.”

          “I thought you sounded young, perhaps twenty-one.  How do you feel about older women?”

          “Um.  Older women?  Older women are fine.”

          “Great.  Tell me something.  Do you look as good as you sound?”

          I consider answering her question by asking the same thing in return, but the words that flow from my lips are “Well, some people say I look all right.”

          “Have you ever modeled?”

          “No.”

          “I’m in the business.  If you’re interested you could make around seventy-five dollars an hour.”

          “Really?”  I imagine a check for fifteen hundred dollars for one week’s work.  Five times what I make at the club.

          “Pretty good money, isn’t it?”

          “Yeah.”

          “It varies depending on what you model.  Of course, swimsuits earn the most.  Would you be willing to do swimsuits?”

          “Yeah.  Sure.”

          “Describe yourself to me.”

          “Well, let’s see.  I’m about six feet tall, hundred and seventy pounds.  My hair is dark.  Um, I have greenish-gray eyes.  I’m lean, but fairly well-developed.”

          “How’s your skin?”

          “Huh?”

          “Do you have a hairy chest?”

          “No.”

          “How tan is your skin?”

          “It stays fairly tan year-round.  Not marble white, but not extremely dark either.”

          “You know, there are several types of swimsuits.  Which would you model?  Would you model the G-string?”

          “Yeah.  I have no problem with that.”

          “Not too modest, are you?  Lots of people have problems with that.  Back when I was a model and not a manager, if they asked me to model a thong, I would.  You know, I’m a 35-26-35, so I believe if you’ve got it, flaunt it.

          “I don’t mean to get personal, but for the G-string I need to know how well-endowed you are.”

          “Excuse me?”

          “You know, how well-endowed you are.”

          Silence smothers the conversation as I ponder her question.

          “Uh...average,” I mumble, imagining myself wearing only a broad smile and a patch of spandex.

          “What’s average?”

          “Well, you know, five to seven inches.”

          “Hah, you are a little modest.”

          “No, I just don’t see how size matters much.”  I think of the male swimsuits models I have seen, their tight suits stretched over impossibly large genitalia.

          “I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”  She makes “embarrass” seem like a dirty word.

          “No, no.  I’m just average.”

          “Well, I know I check out other women in locker rooms.  I’m glad to see that guys slip a peek also.”

          “Actually, I know because being a personal trainer, I know the average sizes for most body parts.”

          “What’s the average?”

          “Five to seven inches, erect.  I’m right in there.”

          “What do you call it?”

          “Penis.”

          “That sounds too scientific.”

          “Well, it’s a scientific body part," thinking maybe I should take the measuring tape down to the locker room later.

          “What would you call it with guys?”

          “I don’t know, probably penis.”

          “Would you call it a cock?”

          “Perhaps.”

          “I’ll bet you’re going to go to the bathroom after our little conversation here and measure yourself.”

          “Uhhhh.”

          “Well, I’m going to take a cold shower.  Talking about your cock with you has got me all worked up.”

          “Oh.”

          “What gets you worked up?”

          “Well, um...you know.  Just whatever.”

          “Do I get you worked up?”

          “Yeah.”

          “That’s good.  I went running this morning and now I talked to you about your cock, so I’m going to take a cold shower.”

          “Okay.”

          “Why don’t you give me a number where I can reach you, so that once I’ve got an appointment set up to see you, I can let you know.”

          I give her my phone number.

          “I’ll talk to you later, Tyler.”

          “Bye.”  After hanging up the phone I fall back into the manager’s chair.  It rolls backward and slams against the wall.  The woman’s voice lingers in my mind.  I can see her peeling the clothes from her body.  35-26-35. She has blond hair, long and tied back for her run.  Eyes made blue by contacts.  She glides into the shower, where streams of water caress her body in the same way that I want to.

          She’ll come by this afternoon, to check out the club and to examine her newest model.  I’ll be waiting by the door to greet her when she arrives.

          “You must be Tyler,” she’ll say in that voice that slinks like cool jazz.  “You do look as good as you sound.”

          She’ll circle me, systematically taking in every inch of my body.  Then she’ll say, “Tyler, let’s go back to my apartment.  We can start to set up a portfolio for you, and I want to get a good look at all your various endowments.”

          Her apartment is decorated sparsely with expensive furniture.  A framed blow-up of her in a thong bikini graces the wall above a black leather couch.  A saxophone eases mellow tunes from her stereo.

          “Why don’t you stand over there,” she says pointing toward the fireplace and adjusting a camera already on a tripod.

          She snaps off a few pictures.  “Now, take off your shirt.”

          The camera continues to click as I lift my shirt over my head.  I smile at the lens, and she blows a kiss at me.

          “You have beautiful skin, Tyler.  Very smooth.  Now, your pants.”

          I slide my jeans down my legs.  She continues to work the camera.

          “Mmmmmmmhhh.  Wonderful.  What a finely tuned body you have!  You are one well-built man.  Now, let’s see what you got hiding in there.  Take those briefs off.”

          I comply, and when I flip my underwear from my body she exaltedly exclaims, “My God!”

          Four dull thuds intrude upon my dreams.  Lynda’s curves fade into a half-lit office.  Someone knocks again on the outside door.  I glide from the manager’s office flexing my sculptured body, imagined camera flashes glinting my eyes.  I won’t quit this job, I decide.  Many of the top models are also personal trainers.  Perhaps I’ll be able to use this new job as a lever to raise my minimum-wage pay here.

          At the glass door waits a uniformed police officer.  His hands rest in fists on his hips.

          “You Mac Lamond?” he asks when I open the door.

          “No, I’m one of his employees.”

          “He here?”  He strokes his peppered mustache and lowers one eyebrow.

          “No, I’m the only one here now.”

          “Well, son, it appears we have a problem.”

          “Oh?”

          “One of our patrols watched a man run from this building to a car across the street.  After the car sped off we pulled it over and found something interesting inside:  the safebox for one Forest Hill Health Club.”

          “Oh.”  Mac keeps the safebox locked in an office by the weight room downstairs.

          “I’m afraid you’re gonna have to call your boss and let him know what’s happened.  Get him to come down here and press charges.  We’ve been investigating a burglary ring in this section of town for quite some time.  Now that we’ve nabbed these suspects we aren’t letting them get away.  We’ll need to take you in for questioning as well.”

          “Take me in?”  My heart doubles its tempo.  I suddenly feel light-headed, as though I’m watching the events from a place distant from my body.

          “We just need to know where you were, what you were doing at the time of the incident, whether you got any strange phone calls—you know, that kind of stuff.”

          “Oh…okay.”  I pick up the phone.  The warmth of my breath, of my conversation with Lynda, lingers on the mouthpiece.  I dial the numbers slowly, watching the old-fashioned dial spin like a seductive wheel of fortune.

          Mac is pissed.  He yells at me for waking him up, and yells at me for allowing someone to take his money.  His thick accent makes him sound like a New York City thug.  He threatens to fire me.

          Tasting Lynda on the mouthpiece I tell him to go ahead.  “I’ve received an offer from a modeling agency,” I say.  “And my boss would be a whole lot better looking than you.”

          His hollow laughter rattles the phone.  He tells me to get my stuff and leave, that he will be there immediately to take over, and that I don’t have to worry about a thing.  My employment is terminated.

          Outside, the sun rises and casts a crimson glow to the mountain morning.  I get in my red Fiero, slide on my seat belt, and grip the steering wheel.  An imaginary pit crew eases me backward into starting position.  I slip the gearshift forward and feel the power of the engine as I pump the accelerator.  I imagine the starter waving his flag, and I let the clutch out.  The tires grab asphalt, squealing into the road, launching me into a bright future with a beautiful woman.





Culley Holderfield’s work has appeared in national and local publications, including Earth and Soul: An Anthology of North Carolina Poetry, Wildfire Magazine, Damfino Press, and is forthcoming in 2Leaf Press.  He is currently shopping two completed novels, Atahualpa's Redemption, a spy thriller about a covert agent struggling to come to grips with his role as an enabler of America's addiction to oil, and Hemlock Hollow, an Appalachian family mystery set in the 1890s.

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