jueves, 11 de junio de 2015

By the gym

   Mario entered the gym when he was fifteen and never looked back. He trained day and night, before and after school and it went like that for years. Even when he got a job and more responsibilities, he still managed to head to the gym at least twice a day and even more time on the weekends. He was so dedicated to it that people of the gym had asked him several times if he would be their spokesperson or if he could replace trainers that were sick or late. And he did both that stuff, which made him mildly famous in the circuit of people who were obsessed with perfect bodies.

 For Mario, it had been the stability and discipline required which had been the hook to enter the gym. He had nothing of that at home, only two parents fighting for everything and largely ignoring him. It wasn’t very difficult to ask them for the money to join the gym, as they would always say yes just to make a point of how great they were as parents. When he was in his last year, Mario had already grown a couple of more inches and exercise had paid off with a body most girls wanted to date and most guys wanted to have. He was in the school’s soccer team and also in the swimming team. People thought he was obsessed with being the center of attention or that he did it because he was great. The truth was he just wanted to be out of the house as long as he could.

 He dated the most beautiful girl in school for prom and went on to model for various brands in order to help pay his college. His parents had split by then so the money had become a bit scarce. His modeling gigs were very needed in order to buy all that he needed in order to be successful as a business administrator. He wanted to put up his own gym and needed to understand every aspect of the business to be successful. In college, every girl was also attracted to him and they were all very forward about their intentions of dating him. But Mario was very focused and was only interested in finishing school as fast as he could to make his dreams come true.

 Sure enough, he got his degree at least a year earlier than usual. He started making enquiries about what was exactly needed to put up a gym. But he realized that his dream was still too far away as he needed a lot of money to open up his own place. The machines, the implements, the salaries of the trainers, the rent of the space… Everything was costly and Mario had barely had money to pay his tuition. Actually, he was still in debt with college. So the only reasonable thing to do was to look for a decent paying job and stay there for a while until he had the amount of money necessary to make his dreams come true.

 He continued to model whole working in an accounting company. All of his coworkers recognized him from several energy drinks campaigns or maybe even from his work as a swimsuit and underwear model. Again, it was the women who seem mostly interested. Some of them would stare for long periods of time during lunch and others would leave him notes and candy bars on his desk, usually with love letters about how beautiful he was. He always threw the candy and read the letters back home, sometimes laughing but usually thinking about his life. After all, he had never had a serious relationship and now that he was a bit older he seemed to be getting late to be with someone else.

 You see, Mario was still a virgin, even after graduating high school. He had been so focus on so many other things, that he never found the time. That sounds funny but it was what happened. He didn’t regret it but now, leaving on his own, he felt sometimes very much alone. He sometimes talked his each one of his parents but they would always talk and talk about their issues and never ask him about how he was doing or if he need everything. It was sad but he always called them on the first and second day of the month. It was something he scheduled in advance because he didn’t really cared about it. He had realized too that his love for his parents was not very high.

 One day, on those mornings he woke up at five AM to head for the gym. In the lobby, he accidentally pushed a guy that was delivering some of the goods sold at he gym’s cafeteria. The guy yelled at him, put back his cap as it had fallen on the floor with the push and moved past him towards the street. He had never seen someone so angry and he did think that the man could use some time at the gym. Then he realized he had checked the guy put, from his funny colored shoes to his kaki shorts, blue polo shirt and cap that had the logo of the company he worked for. Oddly enough, Mario couldn’t stop thinking about that encounter and his reaction for the next few hours, until work made him forget.

 Things were getting harder there as they were all being pushed into working more as the company had been bought by a bigger one and they had been advised they would be laying off people very soon. They all wanted to prove their worth by working like mules and Mario was no exception. Without that job, he wouldn’t be able to pay his bills and save a bit of money for his gym. He couldn’t afford that so he worked tirelessly for more hours and even on weekends from home. He had even cut off his hours in the gym but still went there every day as he was paid occasionally to coach someone who asked for it.

 One of those stressful days, he ran into the guy of the cap again. He was talking to the gym’s receptionist. Apparently he had already delivered his goods but the truck had to leave him there for a while, as they needed to get more energy drinks than usual. He removed his cap and revealed a head full of bright chestnut colored hair. It made his brown eyes look even bigger and his smile nicer. His smile? Mario realized he had been standing still for a while, staring at the man in a cap. He turned and faced Mario, walk up to him and said “Yes?”. Every single color in Mario’s face faded and he almost dropped his backpack to the ground. Then, the guy with the cap in his hand smiled and extended a hand. He said his name was Tim and that he was sorry for the way he reacted the other day.

 Mario was a bit relieved but not really nerves free. He was shaking a bit when he shook hands with Tim, even sweating a little. Tim asked him if he was an instructor but Mario only managed to shake his head in a negative way. Then a car horn was heard from the street: it was the truck that had come back for Tim. He said goodbye and left fast. The receptionist was looking at Mario so he headed for the locker room and changed there as he thought about what had just happened.

 By that afternoon, he forgot everything about Tim as the news of five people getting laid off was told to him as he entered the office. Luckily, he wasn’t one of them but the tension was starting to show. For some days now he had been growing dark circles around his eyes and he hadn’t been eating very well. The worst part was that they still threatened to fire even more people so there was no way to stop making efforts and trying not get canned. Besides that, he had received a letter from college where he was asked to pay even more than usual do to an error in their system. He called to complain but to no use. He had to pay or they would use the law to make him do it. Of course, the law was on their side.

 Worried about his future, he decided not to go to the gym that afternoon. It was the first time in a very long time. He just went home and had an early night. He didn’t want to think about anything and he didn’t care if people were calling him because of a modeling commitment or just to annoy him. He wasn’t in the mood to have any human contact. He just wanted a magical way to get his life on track, as it seemed it was heading to a cliff. He knew he couldn’t keep working like that unless he wanted a heart attack but he needed the job now more than ever.

 Bored and unable to sleep properly, he took his computer and tried to play a game or listen to some music but nothing helped his mood. He entered Facebook and checked out some old pictures and then realized he could look for the guy in the cap. The idea just appeared in his head and he just wrote Tim. Then he tried to remember his last name. It was in his shirt… Diaz. Yes, that was it. He wrote the whole thing and checked the results. Number seven was he, or so it seemed. The profile picture wasn’t him but the character of an old cartoon Mario had watched when younger. The profile said he worked for Nutrition Services, which was the name of the company that delivered every day to the gym. Mario breathed out and wrote him a message. A simple “Hello. I’m Mario”.

 He so nervous he jumped out of bed and started walking around. But then the sound was heard and they begun chatting. They spent several hours talking about everything Mario had wanted to talk for years. He didn’t care about the gym or work at that moment. He felt happy, at ease and not under pressure. Before they logged off, Mario asked Tim if they could have a coffee after work and Tim said yes. His smile while falling asleep was priceless, as it was what he needed, what he had always needed, to achieve long time his goals.

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