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|His face contorted by confusion and disorientation as the feeling
washed over me. I knew I should stop, but I couldn't bring myself to.
Adam wasn't a bad guy, I told myself, he hadn't ever hurt me, but I
was obviously hurting him; the waves passing through me felt so
incredible though. It was as though I were on fire, a good kind of
fire, like a hot shower pouring over me. I felt so strong. I felt
invincible. Reflexively, I clenched his wrist more tightly as I
closed my eyes; I heard him gasp again. God, it was so intense. But
the voice in the back of my head told me this was wrong... stop...
I forced my eyes open and let go of his wrist, and the world snapped back to its normal pace. Adam dropped from his knees to his extended arms, which immediately gave way to the floor. He lay there, on his side, cheek against the cool kitchen linoleum, panting slowly, eyes unfocused. His skin had become pale and he had sweat profusely. I was terrified. I took a step backwards and watched, paralyzed. Adam, my 23 year old workout buddy, the 220lb amateur bodybuilder, my inspiration, was a shirtless heap on the floor. He shut his eyes tightly and groaned as his 19" arm pulled weakly toward his head. He looked like he was dying.
The sound of his voice brought me out of my trance again, and I panicked. I should have called an ambulance or something, but I wasn't thinking. I ran out the door and to the stairwell. My legs weren't carrying me down the stairs quickly enough. I needed to get away from the dorm, I needed to think, needed to keep running. At the bottom of the stairwell I barreled through the door, which smashed with surprising velocity into the adjacent wall, and dashed out into the pouring summer rain.
I just kept running. The sky began to darken as the rain clouds thickened. I didn't know where I was running to, but I maintained a swift, mechanical pace. Drops pelted against my face and chest. I ran until my body ached, until I was out of breath. I was drenched. I slowed to a jog, then to a walk. I turned a circle as I walked, trying to identify my surroundings. I realized I'd long since left the campus behind. I also knew I had never been much of a runner. Chalk it up to adrenaline. I stopped and sat on the curb. There was a dilapidated playground in a park across the street. This clearly wasn't the best part of town, but I didn't care. What had happened back there? I had only touched him.
*** *** ***
Adam had been coaching me at the gym for three weeks now. He was really amazing. Granted, I am predictably impressed by anyone who can do something I can't. At 5'10" and 130 pounds, twelve squats with the bar alone had been a chore for me when we started.
"You're doing good, just get a feel for the motion," Adam would encourage. With a doubtful nod, I stepped aside while he started fifteen reps with six plates. He normally didn't work in with me, he was just coaching. He did his workout in the morning "when testosterone levels are at their highest." Maybe he had skipped that day.
"Hey," someone asked me, "how much weight has he got?"
"Uhhm. six forty-fives?... Thirty... two forty... two seventy, I guess?" The guy made some comment and walked off to finish his workout, or watch from a distance, or whatever he was going to do.
Adam finished his 15th repetition with a grunt. "Seven times forty-five, actually: 315, with the bar," he corrected, as he began unloading the plates for my next set. "How about fives on each side?"
"If you say so." Three sets later I could barely walk. Whatever, everyone has to start somewhere, right?
"Next is chest." The flat bench was another humbling experience. I was thrilled when he would spot me; the intensity of the workout seemed so much greater than the times I'd tried to work out alone; without a spotter, I'd normally just get frustrated and quit around the 6th repetition when the weight seemed to increase. But the encouragement kept me going. I didn't even pay attention to how much weight Adam was using for this exercise, my head was still pounding from exertion.
I hobbled after him to the chest fly machine. He spotted me, guiding the handles together at the center and apart slowly during the negative phase. Adam went next. He probably didn't need any spotting at the end, he was accustomed to working out alone, but I wanted to make myself seem useful. I lightly held the handles together at the center for the last few reps, helping him to prolong the maximal contraction.
It was kind of a weird feeling to be controlling the exercise. Within reason, it would last as long as I wanted it to; as long as I helped hold the handles together, his awesome chest would remain flexed. And as I slowly released the weight, he couldn't resist it, having already worked to failure. I don't know, it's probably not something people think about, it just sort of occurred to me.
*** *** ***
I knocked on Adam's dorm room door, "Move it or lose it!" I called in. As if I would be going anywhere without him.
"Hey," he answered as he opened the door with a grin, "give me five minutes. You can come on in." He went into his bedroom to change. With his back to doorway, I could see his wide back as he peeled off his work polo. His triceps danced as he fished a muscle shirt out of a pile of clean laundry and slung it over his massive shoulder. I wished I could look like that, but it wasn't just a question of effort, was it. I'd never get there.
I realized I was staring, and looked away. Glancing sheepishly around the room, I saw some photos of his first competition. I had never asked him how he'd placed. There were a couple tubs of protein powder on the counter, a pair of 60lb dumbbells in a corner with some old boxes. Jeez, I couldn't budge 40; I could barely lift 30.
"Ready to go?" Adam's voice startled me.
"Yeah. What do you use these for?"
"Nothing anymore, I do it all at the athletic center."
"Yeah but what _did_ you use them for?"
"Bicep curls. Come on."
"Seriously? How many? Let me see."
"Nah dude, lets go already." It didn't seem fair, him playing it off, taking for granted something I wanted so badly.
"I won't believe you unless you show me," I said with a smirk.
"Dude..." he said with resignation, as he walked to pick one up. He sat and quickly did ten concentration curls with one arm, and ten with the other. The muscle mounded up perfectly each time.
"Let's arm wrestle."
"What's with you today anyway?"
I don't know what was wrong with me. But I desperately wanted, needed to know what it felt like to be that strong, to experience that power, compared to mine. Adam started towards the door, I guess I had kind of lost it, I couldn't take no for an answer. I reached out and grabbed him by the wrist as he walked away, and that's when it happened. I felt the most incredible rush. Adam gasped sharply as his thick, defined legs gave out and he fell to his knees; one heavily muscled arm hung limply at his side, the other I held over his head in my grip. His arm felt lighter with each passing moment, though I suspect I was too delirious to be making very accurate observations. So, I didn't know what had happened just then. I had let go, and he had collapsed, totally winded, eyes bulging. I had panicked and ditched like a bat out of hell, so there I was, sitting in a park, in the middle of nowhere, sopping wet.
And that's how it happened the first time.
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