THE SHORTEST CHAPTER IN MY LIFE

a poem by Conrad Kruger van den Bergh, South Africa - poetry writer, author, poet

This morning at 7 a.m.
I started a new chapter in my life
the chapter of fitness and physical dexterity

Eddie, the owner of “Edwards Gym and Fitness Centre”
took the liberty to dish me out one of his free
“Try-out Eddie’s Gym for Free” coupons last week

I made up my mind that this morning
would be my try-out day
I built up all the necessary psychological strength and will power
pumping my insides full of gusto and bravado
and touch wood
this morning
at 7 a.m. sharp
I walked into Eddie’s joint
like Rocky Balboa

I was even dressed up for it all
I had the red and white lined sweatband around my scalp
the blue tracksuit pants with white stripes down the sides
the correct yellow workout vest that makes your sweat stand out
in glowing macho patches on your chest
the small white towel draped over my shoulders
the right soft soled sneakers
you name it
I wore it all

and of course Eddie was there by my side
playing the part of my personal coach
and I did it all
the crap fake bicycle thing
the running like an idiot on the spot treadmill thing
the idiotic peck-deck thing for my breasts
with Eddie slaving me off on the sides
bicep curls with dumbbells that look like locomotive wheels
weighted leg squats in a torture device that’s got no name
the thing you pull to do your triceps that lift you off your feet
the pull-up thing for something in my back somewhere
followed by normal sit ups on a wobbly narrow bench
then I got to put a drilling strap thing around my waist
that mixed my guts like a damn liquidizer
then saw the angel of death
talking two steps out through the full mirrored wall
then I was forced swung from a rope tied to a metal bar
and had to smack the living crap out of a sandbag swinging from the ceiling
for ten painful minutes straight
and to end it all
did a five minute running on the spot
to “cool down”

I struggled to get back home
it sure as hell weren’t easy
up the stairs was torture
couldn’t make it to the beer in the fridge
only got so far as the sofa
collapsed
and have been lying down here ever since

it’s now somewhere after 10 a.m.
every muscle in my body is either dead or dying
and to top it all
here comes Mazzy
my blond haired hippie neighbour from across the hallway
who should have been at work today
but for some unknown reason
got the day off
just walking right into into my place uninvited
like usual

“How was gym”
“Do I look like I enjoyed it”
“Where’s your muscles?”
“What?”
“You’re supposed to have muscles…”
“Don’t be a retard…”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“I think I’m busy dying. Everything is either not working or busy shutting down. Do you have any sort of pain killers or muscle relaxant.”
“O.K. I’ll go check…”

she walks off to her apartment
hear her walking back into mine
she’s fumbling a small box between her fingers
takes out a small sealed metal strip of orange pills

“Here, take two of these…”
“What’s that?”
“It’s… something, I can’t pronounce it...”
“What’s it for?”
“…it’s for menstruation pains and also for…”
“What! Does it look like I got menstruation pains…?”
“It’s all I got!”
“What the hell’s the matter with you! You gonna get me to grow a third arm or something!”
“It’s all I got!”
“We’ll I ain’t taking it!”
“It says here on the box it’s for other muscular pains too!”
“I ain’t taking it.”
“Well you can’t live in pain all day.”
“Why not?”
‘It just, it’s just…, it’s just stupid man.”
“Well I can’t move to prove you’re wrong. My whole body is going into cardiac arrest…”
“O.K., …I’ll go down to the pharmacy to get something.”
“No. It’s ok. Just get me a beer please. I think I’ll just kip for a while.”

She walks over to the fridge
opens the door
comes back with a can
of warm beer

“I got to get a new fridge.”
“Will you be ok?”
“Yeah. I’ll survive.”
“O.K., I’ll catch up later.”
“Right...”

She leaves
and I’m still laying here on the sofa
unable to move
unable to sneeze
hardly able to blink my eyes
unable to lift this crap warm beer to my lips
I think I’m on the verge of an advanced form
of a total comatose physical collapse
with this damn warm beer on my chest
I got to get a new fridge man
but what the hell
it’s now somewhere after 10 a.m.
and I’m gonna close this crap chapter in my life

Conrad Kruger van den Bergh (Copyright, 2016)

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