Leisure. Pain. Confusion.
He looked at his watch, still there were five minutes remaining. Five minutes remaining to find the building and hopefully keep his appointment.
Knowing the town well that he had almost grown up with, he still felt like a wandering, lost idiot trying to find the place he was meant to be at.
A strained back from lifting weights the previous week had lead him to make the decision in getting a bit of physio therapy. Try to sooth the injury, speed up the healing and hit the weights again as soon as possible.
'Live fast, die young?' he quietly questioned to himself with some degree of hesitation.
'No - ignore that...!' he surmised with a concluding thought.
He strolled around a building for the second time, sure that at least he was in the right area. No sign though. There should be a sign - she said there would be.
'This is ridiculous...' he resigned.
'I'll give her a call. Give her a call, admit defeat, confess incompetence and request assistance. No shame. The world will keep turning.'
The phone began to ring. A woman's voice broke through
"Oh yes, hello. I've got an appointment booked with you for ten thirty this morning..."
"Yes...?" Her voice gave away a hint of annoyance, expecting maybe, that the conversation was about to reveal a last minute cancellation and a let down for her morning's work.
"The thing is, I'm sure I'm on the right road, I just can't seem to find you..."
"Erm, ok. I'll come out and see if we can just spot each other."
"Ok." He agreed.
'Will this work?' he thought to himself, feeling a bit like a child lost in the supermarket - stay put and mummy will come and find you. What a moron...
He stood on the side of the street, looking up and down the road as cars passed and various people walked about on a very mundane Tuesday.
As he looked about, a woman appeared from a building down the road. She made her way onto the pavement.
'Was that her?' Unable to assess her, he sheepishly waved with a half risen arm. She saw him and gently waved back.
'She looked as if she were a little surprised.' he thought to himself with a hint of curiosity.
Relieved, he smiled back as if he'd just recognised a friend. With a half hastened walk, he made his way towards her, not wanting to further delay or waste more of her time.
He looked at the building from which she emerged over the road, and saw an advertising 'A' board propped up on the pavement just outside. It clearly defined the place he was looking for.
'Oh...' he sighed to himself rubbing his chin,
'There's the fucking sign.' It was so obvious when he thought about it.
The woman waiting greeted him with a smile, which he returned and then thanked her for coming out.
"It's fine." She said, and they went in to the building.
They both chatted and exchanged introductory pleasantries. He explained his back strain. In return, she explained her operation and how she thought she could help.
She was friendly, professional and clearly enthusiastic about her work They talked, and he couldn't help feeling that she quite liked him.
They spoke, filled out basic medical forms and shared a little banter . Nothing beyond light and friendly ice breaking exchanges were made, but he was sure that she was, at certain times, blushing.
However, when the thought hit him, it was like a nail in to the brain and he felt a dizzying. Again he was unsure of his own assertions and too ashamed to feel excited or charmed, as doing so would be to almost assume she did in fact find him attractive.
As the thoughts sped through his mind, he came to realise that even though she may be a good ten years older than him, she was indeed a rather cute and pretty woman. If he thought she may have indeed been blushing, he sure as hell didn't know if he was starting a bout of his own, and if he was, could she tell?
'Oh god...' He quietly panicked and slowly grew numb. He had a girlfriend. He wasn't expecting, or wanting to have to deal with bullshit like this swimming around in his head - but it was at least, for all intents and purposes, just in his head. This should be a neutral, professional-to-client and most importantly, a strictly sexless meeting. The introductory session continued.
Without any foresight or planning, the conversation suddenly shifted and the subject of other halves and significant others became a brief focus.
'Oh.' he registered,
'She is married.' after revealing he has girlfriend.
'Phew!' he thought and concluded he was getting worked up about pretty much nothing - She had hers and he had his.
'That's a stone solid deal, you can't fuck with that.' He assured himself.
"What does she do?" the lady asked with a degree of curiosity. He explained her work and various ventures. He let out also, that they didn't get to see each other, or spend as much time together as they'd like because of conflicting schedules, but it was fine. She was a great girl and he thought the world of her. He didn't want to think too hard over whether it really was as fine and dandy as he was making out.
As for the woman's husband, she cheerfully described how he works for most of the year abroad in Miami.
"Oh right, that must keep your relationship quite fresh." He began to feel like he was talking bollocks.
"Yeah, you might think so, but not after six years..." She replied in a tone of slightly sceptical indifference.
"Hmmm, ok..." He said quietly, but not so she couldn't hear. He knew when it was time to shut up.
Appearing as though not wishing to stall however, she suggested they go through into the massage room. He politely obliged her and entered through into the softly lit and warm workshop where an individual massage bench waited.
The back massage was good. Concentrating below the shoulder blades, it was rather deep and there were many knots which she confessed to enjoy working out.
The friendly chat, although now more infrequent, continued between the two of them. As she used her elbows into his muscles and knots, he allowed the soft music, scented candles and quiet light drift him away. He couldn't wait to feel revived and rejuvenated - to get back to pumping iron once again.
This was surely going to be money well spent.
'Fuck you bank. Urrrrrrrggghhhhh.....'.
On the odd occasion that was obviously part of her method, she would work with one hand, rubbing, kneading and pressing with her elbow quite deeply, causing an almost bruising and burning sensation. She had clearly found tight areas that needed attention.
Her other hand, he could feel, rested idle on his back. The feeling gave him mild sensations of being nurtured...
A feeling of tenderness, balance and calm drifted through him as a result. It reminded him of a small operation he had a few years previously.
Laying fully conscious and in absolute agony on a bed in hospital, a doctor carried out the dreadful colonoscopy. A nurse standing by the bedside, had a single hand resting upon his chest as the unwitting doctor shot searing pain through and into his gut. The pain and discomfort was drawn out and nearing unbearable, but he didn't want to complain - just have it over and done with.
With the nurse's hand just resting on his chest, and having that small amount of comfort offered from a complete stranger, made the whole thing just about tolerable.
So when the nurse quietly announced -
"I just have to go and check on something over on the other table..." she may as well have just declared to have had enough, was bored now and wanted to go home. He could have burst into tears, begging her not to leave him in the midst of such a diabolical experience.
Now having a massage with her hand he felt resting on his back for a few moments at a time, relaxed him probably a lot more than she could ever know... he was a lump of putty...
Forty five minutes had passed and the session drew to a close.
"I'll leave you alone to relax, and be by yourself for a while. It's good to just chill out or even have small knap if you like. Take your time... I'll be in the other room." Her soft and quiet words brought him back and he began to readjust. She made her way out of the room.
'Well I'm not going to sleep, that's for sure!' he asserted himself and began to rise. He looked in the mirror on the wall.
'Sure looks like I've been asleep!' He gathered up his clothes and got dressed, all the while trying to bring his face back to life. He folded up the towel he was given to use, and left it on the massage bench.
When he felt ready to meet her again, he walked out of the room to where she waited.
"How was it, do you feel ok?" She asked.
"It was good. It was nice, thank you." His answer didn't do her credit, and he felt as though he sold her short. In hindsight, his answer would have sounded a little more like this,
"That was incredible, thank you very much! Your skill, experience and dexterity lead you to all the right points, it was perfect... I was in another world!" Unfortunately, she was forced to settle for two practically meaningless words of bland descript.
The first and worst being ;
And the second, only being slightly less insulting to her abilities;
She offered him a glass of water,
"I'm glad." She replied with a smile.
"It should take a day or two for the muscles to start feeling normal again. Until then, I recommend doing as little as possible."
"My forte!" He joked, suddenly feeling completely ashamed of himself. His mind made a damning automatic retort to the self
'You arrogant prick...'
'...Don't even try to show off.'
She gave him a small laugh - a token gesture of
'Yes, very clever...' before sitting down.
Again, the two of them began talking. At first she offered him plenty of advice on how to take better care of his back and to avoid further problems, but no matter how much they seemed to discuss issues of health, balance and living, the conversation always seemed to head off into their own personal lives They began to share, quite naturally with each other, their own faults, worries and vulnerabilities. Things they liked and didn't like. Concerns, intimidations, hopes and triumphs.
As they sat opposite each other, chatting, he couldn't help but again feel like there was a connection and attraction developing between the two of them. Were they slowly and unwittingly seducing each other? He couldn't work it out and as he felt her look into his eyes,
His face went bright red and his eyes fell away from hers.
'Ohhhh shit... !' He panicked and recoiled
' - That was as obvious as the building's fire alarm going off.'
"I guess I should really be making a move now. Thank you very much." He gently announced, trying not to let his embarrassment over rule his sense of manners by delevering a rude and abrupt declaration of self eviction from their session.
"Of course." She replied. Her face held an endearing expression kindness.
They worked out her fee and he paid her. Graciously, she accepted.
"Well it was very nice to meet you, and I hope my therapy has helped."
He returned the compliment and assured her that it would (at least in his opinion) be a world of benefit. They shook hands with a smile, suggested they take care and then parted ways.
Now he sttod out by the road again. Relieved, guilty and excited - that's how he felt leaving the building. All stirred up together. His thoughts again returned to his girlfriend and her mountain of qualities. He reminded himself of how sexy she was to him and how he couldn't wait to see her again. When would that be? He didn't know. He sighed.
Deciding to distract himself from all of these thoughts, he settled on holding his own arms.
'Let's go and workout. Forget all of this nonsense' He tried to center to himself with this new and different glimmer of anticipation, after all, he loved pumping iron... But then he remembered about his back and looked at the sky,
'Oh yeah... Fuck.'
Leisure. Pain. Confusion.