On the way home, Geoff picked up some protein shake mix at a small drugstore about a mile from his house. He thumbed through some wrestling and muscle fitness magazines and picked out three he liked well enough. His face burned as he handed the magazines to the balding young man at the counter. The covers featured glistening male bodies in bright skintight briefs.
Geoff coughed in his fist: “I’ve been doing some research for a project, and I was wondering if you could tell me how many of these sorts of magazines you sell in a week.”
The man looked up and blinked. “Muscle magazines? Wrestling? I couldn’t say exactly. I don’t really know.”
“Estimate. Very few? Few? Um, medium amounts? A good many? Very many?”
The man slipped the magazines along with the shake mix into a tan paper bag without even looking at their covers.
“We sell a good many of the wrestling magazines. The bodybuilder ones, too.”
Geoff made as if he were jotting down notes on some scratch paper out of his pocket.
“And who buys them? In your experience. Would you say they are young? Old? Middle-aged? Male? Female? Black? Caucasian?”
“I don’t know, sir. It’s not the kind of thing I usually pay attention to. My guess is that most of our customers are like you.”
Geoff pocketed his change and walked, shoulders hunched, out the door.
At home he opened one of the magazines to its center. There was a black-and-white photograph of a boy, probably 18 or 19, in wrestling trunks hanging low on his hips.
The boy’s body looked like Michelangelo’s David, but with a square Dutch-boy-like haircut. Light, shiny hair. Mocking eyes. High cheekbones and an angular jaw. Thin dangerous-looking lips. Shiny, pale skin. Slender waist.
Wrapped around his broad shoulders was a spotted boa constrictor, his pet—so stated a caption—named Hubert. The article said the boy was Belgian. He was developing a new wrestling hold that he had named le Constricteur.
He was up and coming in Europe, the caption said.
(To be continued)