Mr. Second-Place

Reads: 522  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Just another short story for my MFA program. Really trying to nail down the character relataility my Professor wants.

“They could be bigger.” Henry paused examining his flexed biceps in the mirror. The backstage dressing closet made it difficult for him and his show coach, Arielle, to be in the same spot. His massive size filled the room well, but she managed her way around him.

“What could be?” Arielle replied, her hands rubbing the dark tanning liquid over Henry’s muscular physique.

“Everything, everything could be bigger. You know Jack Johnson supposedly recorded twenty-four inch arms at the Arnold Classic in Madrid this year?” He spun as Arielle guided him to turn around, her small, caramel hands, caked in tanning goo.

She nods. “We go over this every day Henry. He may have bigger arms but he doesn’t have your level of conditioning. You are ripped; everyone on the internet believes you have it this year.” She steps back to critique her work. Henry turns back toward the mirror, eyeballing every part of his physique.

“I just…” his chin drops to his chest, his eyes affix on the floor. “No more second place. I can’t take another second place.” His head rises back to the mirror. He strikes into the ab and thigh pose. His arms tight behind his head as he places his right leg forward tightening his abs and thighs. Veins form mild roadmaps across each flexed portion of his body. Arielle looks on in wonder. “Come on, let’s get out there champ.” She strikes a smile. He returns one. They make their way out of the dressing area and head towards the Olympia stage.

Seventeen men stand in a row. Small circular pins attached to their Speedo briefs identify each one by number. Henry drew number three after the prejudging yesterday. His hopes rest solely on the judges and comparing him to his rival, Jack Johnson, four-time Mr. Olympia. Jack had beaten Henry every single year, but Henry always told himself he found solace that the fans considered him the champion. It wasn’t enough.

“Hey Mr. Second-place,” A voice boomed from behind Henry. He turned and saw Jack, his eyes traced the physique he had to beat. Jack was built, he had at least half an inch of mass more on his arms than Henry, but as the men critiqued each other, he could tell that Jack’s conditioning was off.

“Looking soft, champ.” Henry retorts as the two men thrust their hands into a handshake stare-down. They both smile, returning to their places in line.

“I think I’ve got this.” He mouths towards Arielle who stands in a group of conditioning coaches and show staff. She responds gleefully with thumbs up and a wink. Henry turns his focus back towards the stage.

“At this time, will all contestants please return to the Olympia stage.” An announce calls out over the loudspeaker.

All seventeen men walk in a single file line up the small stair set and onto the stage. The crowd erupts with cheers. “Henry!” A fan begins a chant and soon the entire convention center has joined in. For years Henry had been the fan favorite, but he had never seen such a response to his attendance.

His hand shoots out in a wave, breaking the tradition of Olympia competitors that stand still and firm on stage. Henry seems personable, charismatic, a role-model to those in this pursuit of bodybuilding perfection. “Oh, oops.” Henry returns to the stiff, motionless stance that is required of the bodybuilders on stage.

“Can we have athletes three, seven, nine, eleven and fourteen, come to the center of the stage please?” The head judge calls out. The crowd cheers. This moment is symbolic of a top five finish for Henry, but that won’t be enough. Arielle peers from around the curtain, all her hard work in helping Henry condition is coming down to this. The most important judging and decision in the sport of bodybuilding was about to be laid out for all to digest.

“Athletes return.” The judge calls out again, returning the men to their spots on stage. “We’re ready to announce.” The judge declares to the announcer. The announcer walks off the stage to the judging table and grabs the result card.

Minutes tick by like hours. The announcer calls off the men that finished out of the top five. Henry’s heart begins to beat harder. “Is my moment finally coming?” He looks off into the crowd smiling, hoping to appear at ease to his fans. The announcer calls out three more names leaving only Henry and his rival Jack Johnson standing off to the side.

“Athlete three and eleven please come to the center of the Olympia stage.” The announcer directs the men. Henry and Jack meet in the middle smiling at each other. Five years now, they have met in the middle of this stage. Five years now, in front of crowds similar to this, they have faced off while waiting to hear who will be Mr. Olympia.

The announcer fumbles around with the paper. “Ladies and Gentlemen in the audience, are you ready for your Mr. Olympia?” He queries the crowd. Faint cheers and claps arise from beyond the stage. “I asked. Are you ready for your Mr. Olympia?” He shouts raising his hand. This time the crowd erupts with cheers and deafening noise. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you for only the fourth time in Olympia history, the five-time Mr. Olympia, Jack Johnson.” The announcer raises his hands. Henry’s posture droops a bit, he grimaces, fighting back the result. Jack and Henry shake hands, not a word exchanged between the two.

Henry walks off dejectedly. Arielle meets him at the bottom of the stair set.

“Fuck.” Henry chokes out the only word he can think of.

Arielle grabs his hand, her hands had been clean of the tanning solution, but now she was in comfort mode.

“I don’t know how. Your conditioning is below no one’s.” She rubbed his back in an attempt to console the well-built Henry.

“Eh, it is what it is Arielle. I was just hoping something good would come my way.” His head drops as he sulks back towards the backstage area.

“We’ll get him next year champ.” She rises to her tip toes and kisses him on the cheek. “We have a whole year together now, you better like it and get used to it.” She tries to push Henry playfully, he doesn’t move.

He turns towards Arielle, her smile makes him forgot, if only for a moment, that he is Mr. Second place. “One whole year with you, I’m going to need a bigger gym to handle all the spunk.” He playfully pushes Arielle back. She struggles to maintain her balance only to have Henry catch her.

“Let’s go champ. I bet your fans are pissed.” Arielle smiles and Henry chuckles aloud as they walk out into a waiting crowd, cheers erupt at the sight of Henry. “Henry!” The chant begins again followed by “Champ!” Henry smiles as he and Arielle wave to his fans.

Submitted: October 05, 2014

© Copyright 2023 SR Remus. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Facebook Comments

Other Content by SR Remus

Short Story / Fantasy

Short Story / Thrillers

Miscellaneous / Other