Geoff imagined that Hubert was the name of the young wrestler in the magazine. He closed his eyes to test how well he remembered the boy’s face and long smooth torso.
Once the details were fixed in his mind, like a photograph acquiring definition in a chemical tray, Geoff opened his eyes and looked at himself in the bathroom mirror. His chest and stomach were brawny, but squat. Over his left nipple, the smirking puppy tattoo he had copied from a matchbook cover. Lucky Dog. A slack, unremarkable navel. Still, not a bad example of white American manhood. Six feet tall.
He tossed the magazine on a stack of like periodicals in the corner of the workout room. He lay down on his back on the bench, dumbbells extended on either side of him. With each repetition, he imagined Hubert standing over him counting. He imagined the boy’s eyes were stern and disapproving.
As Geoff’s shoulders started to ache and tremble, the Belgian boy grew impatient. He bent over Geoff’s body and punched his tense stomach. His knuckles sank in the elongated flesh. Each groaning ascent of the weights coupled with a blow to Geoff’s belly button. Geoff felt his penis stiffen. Then he clenched his eyes shut, erasing the image of the boy.
He dropped the weights. By now Bud Shellen would have found and read the note he had slipped through the vent on his locker. The challenge had been delivered. The ball was in Shellen’s court for now.
Though Geoff doubted his chances of success in another brawl with Shellen, he ached for the fight to come. Shellen’s lithe, strong body frightened and amazed him—this guy was a pederast! It was not that Geoff had scruples about sex—it was a subject that interested him less than it did other men. Live and let live. But Shellen’s actions—as he imagined them now—appalled him., for no other reason, he thought, than that they outrage nature.
In his mind the pain of a fight would not hurt, the blood would not come from inside, from veins, but appear externally, applied like makeup, and the moments when the two bodies would scuff each other would play in slow motion, the collision of muscle on muscle and bone on bone would play out like a ballet.
Geoff crossed his arms on his chest like a dead man. He lifted himself up to shrink and toughen his stomach muscles. He did this forty times. When he finished, his body was pink, covered with a glaze of perspiration. He lay still and looked up at the ceiling. His breathing was steady, and his inhalations were deep.
He and Shellen would meet. He was certain of it. In the end the spirited mechanic would have no choice but to fight him.
(To be continued)