|« PREV||INDEX||NEXT »|
Gym of Dreams: Mike
|Armstrong says to Mike’s father, “We’ll take good care of your kid. Hey Joe, toss me those clippers you got back there.” Mike’s father looks at me then Joe, and Joe says for Mike’s father to follow him. Joe quickly returns with the clippers and hands them to Armstrong then heads back into his office. As we walk away from the bar, I see Joe pointing to the pictures on the wall of myself and Armstrong. I know that he’ll understand.
We walk toward the locker room, leading Mike along. As we walk, we introduce ourselves to him, and I reminisce. I so remember this same walk and the same talk that Mike’s gonna have. We enter the locker room and Armstrong sits Mike on the bench and he sits on the bench across from him. I stand behind Armstrong as he prepares to open Mike up. Armstrong tells Mike to look up at him. Mike looks up timidly and Armstrong begins to peer deep into his soul, as he did with me. He laid the clippers down and said to Mike “So you’re tired of being small, tired of people treating you like a kid, and tired of big guys imposing their will on you. You want to be as big or bigger than your father, and follow in his footsteps. You want to do everything he’s done and excel at it, just like he did and you want him to be proud of you and you want to be proud of yourself. Am I right?” And just like that, Armstrong did his thing. Mike was looking into Armstrong’s eyes, as if his words struck him like a bolt of lightning, and I knew that everything he said was right on target. That was the beauty of Armstrong’s gift. It was exceptionally accurate and quick to the core. Mike’s voice began to tremble as he spoke, “Yeah. How can you know all that?”
“It’s a gift that I have,” Armstrong said as he closed his sea-blue eyes.
“It’s similar to mine, I could feel your despair before you entered the door,” I chimed in. “Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of you, as long as you trust us.”
“For some reason, I do.” Mike says.
“Good man. Now, let’s give you a haircut befitting of a man.” Armstrong laughs. Mike looks at Armstrong and asks, “What’s wrong with my haircut?” as he rubs his hair.
“What’s the first thing that people do when they see you for the first time?” I inquire, knowing exactly what they do. Armstrong one-ups me though and does exactly what I was getting at and tussled Mike’s hair. Mike swats at Armstrong’s massive hand and I say, “Exactly.”
Armstrong plugs in the clippers and moves Mike over near him. “Just think of this as your progression into being a man,” Armstrong says as he gives Mike a quick buzz cut. Mike looks down at the floor, his long locks of hair lying on the ground. He rubs his head in wonder and we take him over to a mirror. We see his father in him, the same contours and dimples will form on Mike over time. We then take Mike out back to the front bar. His father is standing their waiting for us. I presume Joe went through my whole history with him because he looks at me a bit. I’m guessing he is admiring the work that Armstrong did with me.
We stand before Mike’s father with his son. Mike is standing a little taller and with a fresh new haircut. His father walks over to him and places a hand on top of his head. “That looks good on you boy, I mean, son. These guys are going to mold you into a helluva man from what I hear. You gonna be ok son?”
“Yeah dad, I think I’m gonna learn a lot from these guys. They seem like good people.” Mike says.
“You know I love you son, you don’t have to impress me”
“I know Dad, but this is something I have to do.”
“My son, growing up right before my eyes. And you look mighty good with your hair like that”
“Really? You think?”
“I know,” Mike’s father kneels down and picks up his son. He gives him a giant hug and whispers, “I love you son.”
“I love you too Dad.”
He puts down his son and looks toward us and says, “I know you’ll take good care of my son.” We nod as he looks at his son, “Learn all you can from these guys, they know their stuff” Mike nods at his dad and he puts a hand on his head. “I really can’t believe how much you’re growing. Wait till your mother sees you.” Mike smiles as his father walks out the door.
“We’ll have him home before 11.” Armstrong calls.
“These guys are simply amazing” I think to myself as they lead me to the locker room. My father went in the office with Joe; I hope to set up a payment plan for me to lift here. I think I could really call this place home. Although, when I still look around at the other guys, everyone seems so serious. I wonder what they’re thinking about me. They could probably crush me in their arms, but these two seem real nice. They introduce themselves. The big one calls himself “Armstrong” and the slightly smaller one says his name is “Sam.”
We enter the locker room and Armstrong sits me down. He sits down across from me and Sam stands behind him. I’m not sure what’s about to happen and I tense up and look at the floor. Armstrong says in a quiet yet firm voice for me to look at him. I look up and I meet his eyes. They’re like a calm sea. I feel myself getting light headed as I gaze into his deep blue eyes. They’re unblinking. His stare is almost hypnotic. I can’t draw myself away from them. It’s almost as if he’s looking into my soul. What is it about his eyes!
Armstrong blinks and sits up a little. He says quietly, “So you’re tired of being small, tired of people treating you like a kid, and tired of big guys imposing their will on you. You want to be as big or bigger than your father, and follow in his footsteps. You want to do everything he’s done and excel at it, just like he did and you want him to be proud of you and you want to be proud of yourself. Am I right?”
I can’t move.
This feeling. What is it? How does he know so much about me? I’ve never told anyone that in my life How could he possibly know? Does it show that much? Does my father know? Oh god, what if my father knows? How can I face him? Oh god oh god oh god.
“How can you know all that?” I whisper.
“It’s a gift that I have,” Armstrong said as he looked away from me.
“It’s similar to mine, I could feel your despair before you entered the door. Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of you, as long as you trust us.” Sam said.
I look at them for a moment. They both seem huge before me, but they feel gentle. I feel as if they would never do me harm. They probably would always be there for me and protect me if I needed it.
I say to them, “Yes, I do trust you. I don’t know why, but I trust you.”
“Ok then! Let’s get that haircut more manly” Armstrong laughs. I look up at him and ask, “What’s wrong with my haircut?” I look at his head and Sam’s. Both of their haircuts are really short, drawing attention to their massive jaws. They both wore the same kind of facial hair; clean cut except for a slight goatee. My hair was long and neat
and I lacked all facial hair. I run my hand through my hair a little. Sam says to me, “What’s the first thing people do when they see you?” I’m wondering what he means by that. Does he mean they say hi or hey kid or something? Then Armstrong leans over and uses his massive hand to tussle my hair a bunch. “God, I hate that!” I think as I swat at his massive paw. “Exactly,” Sam remarks. I see what he means. People do that and they think of me as a small kid. Maybe if I looked more like them, I’d get a bit more respect. My dad has the same haircut and he gets tons of respect. Maybe these two are on to something.
I sit on the bench where Armstrong was as he plugs in the clippers. I close my eyes and feel my hair fall off my head. “Just think of this as your progression into manhood,” I hear Armstrong say. In a few moments, the clippers turn off. I open my eyes and see hair all over the place. I reach up and rub my head. The hair is almost all gone and my head feels kinda cool. I’m led to a mirror and I look a bit like my dad. My face is smaller and younger and my body isn’t as large as his, but I do look a lot like him. The guys behind me smile and I smile back.
We walk back toward the front of the gym. I can feel myself walking straighter, almost marching like my dad would. I see him standing next to Joe, and he’s smiling at me. I love to see him happy. I guess it’s from how I look now. He looks at Sam and nods, I’m assuming to say ‘Good Job’.
My dad walks over to me and put a hand gently on top of my head. I can tell from how he’s looking at me he approves. I feel so happy. “That looks good on you boy, I mean, son. These guys are going to mold you into a helluva man from what I hear. You gonna be ok son?”
“Yeah dad, I think I’m gonna learn a lot from these guys. They seem like good people.” I respond.
“You know I love you son, you don’t have to impress me”
I love my dad for saying that. I know it’s true, but I want to impress him. “I know Dad, but this is something I have to do.”
“My son; growing up right before my eyes. And you look mighty good with your hair like that”
“Really? You think?” I look into his eyes and blush.
“I know,” He kneels down and picks me up andg he gives me a giant hug and whispers, “I love you son.”
“I love you too Dad.” I want to stay in his arms forever. His hug is powerful, yet loving. Gentle, yet caring. It feels so warm and safe in his arms. But I know I can’t stay here forever.
Dad puts me down and looks up toward Armstrong and Sam. He says, “I know you’ll take good care of my son.” They nod at him. He looks back at me and whispers, “Learn all you can from these guys, they know their stuff” I nod yes at him and he puts a hand on my head. “I really can’t believe how much you’re growing. Wait till your mother sees you.” I beam with happiness as he walks out the door.
|« PREV||INDEX||NEXT »|
This collection was originally created as a compressed archive for personal offline viewing
and is not intended to be hosted online or presented in any commercial context.
Any webmaster choosing to host or mirror this archive online
does so at their sole discretion.
Archive Version 070326