Chuks forgot all about that big guy as he withdrew a sharp intake of breath at the pain from his fall. The fall in question had drawn the attention of the fitness trainer.
“Hey, what happened, now? Sorry. You’ll have to be very careful on those treadmills. You must pay attention to it if you want to run. Are you okay?”
Jesus, e be like sey my waist don break.
Chuks nodded, his eyes closed. “I’m all right. Thank you.”
“Sorry,” the man said again and went back. Beside him, the treadmill continued whirring, the conveyor belt going around and round, oblivious to what it had done to him. The thing vexed Chuks so much that he forewent switching it off and just reached out and yanked the plug out of the wall, then sat down on the still belt. He massaged his waist with one hand.
Just one night he said let him come and work out, and see what had happened.
He didn’t know what took his attention to the fitness instructor again, but when he did, it was to see the man looking at the weights section with an expression of pure shock on his face. That expression left his mouth hanging open a bit, and he didn’t look as if he had the willpower to close it again.
It turned out the muscular guy was still reading from under the barbell, with the same left hand holding it up. The fitness instructor had seen, and now he was so stunned he didn’t even realize the woman he had helped with her treadmill was talking to him as she ran with the speed on low, oblivious to the fact that he wasn’t paying her any more attention than the treadmill was.
Shey she no fit look mirror? Chuks wondered. If she had she could have easily seen the man gaping like a moron behind her.
The guy finished reading what he was reading, hissed audibly and dropped the weight hard enough to crack the tiled floor, then stomped out, muttering under his breath about the gym being useless. As he passed the row of treadmills, he looked down and saw Chuks sitting there massaging his waist. Something made the guy reach down his hand, the forearm rippling with muscle and veins.
Chuks didn’t need the offer made twice. He grasped the hand. He was lifted into the air like a rag doll, his legs still bent into a sitting position as his whole body hung on the power of that arm. The guy waited for him to get his legs on the ground before he let go.
The receptionist looked up as they passed, her head nodding to whatever was playing in her earphones. She took no notice of him, which Chuks appreciated, but she did see the hulk of a man walking beside him. The other guy was too angry about the isue of the barbell to look at her desk, but Chuks did see her literally eat him up. She took one earphone out and bit her lip, sliding her eyes all over his body.
When they got out into the street, the guy was still fuming.
“Thank you, bros,” Chuks told him. “But wait, how you take do that thing? You be Bruce Wayne?”
He looked at Chuks, scowling. “How did I do what?”
With the way the guy frowned at him, Chuks had a sudden vision that he was about to get beaten. But the guy didn’t seem like that kind of person to him. He mimed raising a barbell over his head, the way the guy had done it. With his left hand.
“That? That was nothing. I was checking the manufacturer of the barbell. It’s an inferior brand. I told that man it was too light, he was too stupid to understand.”
Too light? That weight wey I see? Chuks looked at the guy’s arm, the size of it and way the veins stood out like whipcord. With muscle like this, he supposed it really was too light. And the guy had height, too.
The guy was fair-complexioned, and really handsome as he smirked. He did that thing he had done inside the gym, where he tensed his muscles and relaxed them again, with the effect that his whole body seemed to ripple.
“And you should watch Dawn of Justice. Or Justice League. Me and Bruce Wayne. . . One senior one, now.” That smirk the guy had on his face made it plain who he thought was senior.
The cocky way the guy said it, plus the equally cocky smile. . . Chuks didn’t know wvhen he laughed.
“I’m Chuks,” he said stretching out a hand.
“And I’m Dozie.” He reached out with his palm and engulfed Chuks’ own in a bone-crushing handshake. And it wasn’t like the way people said “bone-crushing” everyday, either. The guy actually crushed his bones together. Chuks did himself proud and didn’t even wince.
He did, however, when his waist throbbed with pain. He drew his hand out from Dozie’s and massaged it hard. That thing go don swell when morning reach.
“You fell on the treadmill.”
“Yes.” There was no need to mention that he had fallen because of Dozie, so he just left it at that.
“I just moved into this area, you know,” Dozie said. “From Port Hacourt.”
“From Port? Welcome to Lagos, then.” They shook hands again. “I’m really sorry, but I have to get back to my place. Tomorrow na Monday. I’m living in this street. What about you? Do you stay in G.R.A.?”
“No, not G.R.A, but I still live in Ikeja. And you said this is your street. Which means I’ll see you around, maybe even in this gym again.”
Chuks yawned and stretched as he walked back toward his house. First thing he would do when he got home was to massage his waist, and his head as well. And then collapse on his bed. Tomorrow would be a long, long day.