TRAINING PARTNERS - DOUBLE-JOINTS & RAISINS

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: DOWN-HOME
After marrying a great girl and buying a home together, Double-Joints, a weightlifter, sets about to fix up his gym in a shed on the country lot. He is surprised when an unusual rat presents himself, the two entering into an adventure that would astound the sports world.

Submitted: May 25, 2019

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Submitted: May 25, 2019

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TRAINING PARTNER'S - DOUBLE-JOINTS & RAISINS

Painting & Story by: Virgil Dube’ - Copyright 2019

 

“It doesn’t look like much, hon, but this old house is ours,” Winnie Ellison declared, her face alight with admiration.

“Babe, its country – distant enough in the West Florida boonies, yet convenient we dabble in society,” replied her husband Lonnie.

Lonnie opened the wobbly picket fence gate between two massive oak trees. He stepped to the side off the front yard path and pulled from the ground the aged 'FOR SALE’ sign. He and Winnie noticed the welcome note from the real estate agent tacked to it – ‘Welcome to Your New Home Newlyweds’.

The couple surveyed their three-acre lot surrounded by woodland and rolling pasture. “It’s going to take considerable effort to restore these dilapidated buildings - our house, and the workshop out back,” Lonnie commented.

As they strolled the stone walkway interspersed by weed toward their wood-frame house with a wrap-around porch, Winnie said, “Yes, honey, its gonna take some effort. But picture our futures. Visualize how rewarding you making repairs inside and outside, especially that old workshop you intend partially to transform into a gym, me cleaning, arranging and rearranging inside.”

***

Winnie and Lonnie worked extra hard and made much progress the first week. Slowly, their dream home took on a new look, as did the property cleared of widespread trash and a couple junk piles.

One evening as he stretched to turn out the bedside lamp, Lonnie feeling exhausted, said, “I’ve found holes in the wall baseboard, evidence rats are living in my workshop/gym. Looks like they’ve made it their cozy home. I’ve already covered several holes and may revert to rat poison to wipe out the pests.” Chuckling, he added, “In broad daylight one of the critter’s heisted raisins from my lunch box as I went outside to handsaw planks for my lifting platform.”

Winnie rose up and braced herself on her elbows, “Rats, yeeks! Lonnie … that’s creepy!” 

“They’re not large critters. I don’t believe it’s a bad infestation, will be manageable … but a challenge near woodland.”

“Lonnie, how close are you to completing work on your gym?”

“Fairly close, Babe. It looks like I’ll be able to unpack my gear soon and set up my weightlifting platform over the floorboards and begin to train for the Southeast Open in Tallahassee.”

Winnie leaned and kissed him lightly on the lips, “Honey, you sound very tired, get some shuteye.”

“Yeah, sorry I’m not anymore manly tonight. I’m really beat … good night, Babe.”

As soon and Winnie had resettled her head on her pillow, she heard Lonnie’s breathing slow, realizing he was asleep within seconds, and probably dreaming of his gym completed.

***

CRASH! The barbell bumper plates struck and settled on the platform after Lonnie completed his last squat snatch, this after getting his gym in reasonable condition for his normal four day a week workout routine.

“Who’s out there causing all that racket and jarring my home?” A squeaky yet concerned voice declared its origin not discernable to Lonnie briefly dazzled. He pulled the terry-cloth towel from his sweaty face and looked about. His roving eyes finally settled on one of several boards nailed and covering holes. They were entrance doors where he suspected a disturbed neighbor stood just inside the pitch-black interior.

“Beg your pardon – what the heck’s goin’ on in there? Am I loosing my dang mind?”

“Hey, big fella, I’m down here behind the board you nailed over my door. Would you please remover it - let me out … I’m suffocating?"

The faint distant voice required Lonnie to lean close to the nailed board for which he had only partially covered the hole, leaving a slight air vent. He realized, in fact, the squeaky voice came from within the wall. In disbelief, Lonnie rubbed his eyes, and slapped his face, taking a reality check he wasn’t dreaming, wasn’t delusional and hallucinating, maybe reacting to the mountain of pressure he and Winnie had felt getting their house and property in good living condition these past weeks.

Retrieving a claw hammer, he stooped and pulled the cover board from the hole. Bending lower, he peered into the darkened hole; saw by residual light the small face of a grayish rat … whiskers twitching, and black eyes unblinking. That dang rat can talk;he reasoned. He’s evidently intelligent and returns my gaze with what seems a smile.

“Rat, you must be the critter who ate my box of raisins, and high protein powder.”

The rat licked his chops with his pinkish tongue, “Couldn’t resist such an opportunity, big fella. Next to cheese, I love raisins. That protein powder isn’t so bad either.”

“I dig that … love raisins myself. Okay rat, I’m Lonnie. In weightlifting circles, I’m called Double-Joints. That’s because my legs are disproportioned to my short trunk, and I have trouble rising from maximum weight snatches, not cleans, where I rebound from the low position effectively, the reason my snatches are subpar.”

“Look, I’m a rat. I have no idea what you’re talking about, Double-Joints.”

“Would you mind coming out so I see whom I’m speaking. Any rat that speaks the English language as articulate as you, is safe with me, I promise.”

When Lonnie backed away, Raisins emerged from the dark void inch by inch. Partially from the hole, he looked warily side-to-side, and then scanned the spacious room with his beady black eyes, especially at the odd objects spaced about - each capable of crushing him flat as a cookie if it fell.

“Why are you so anxious, Raisins? I told you I’d do you no harm,” Lonnie stated reassuringly, leaning back on his worktable, arms folded over his chest to establish he was relaxed, not ready to pounce on a scraggy rat.

“Double-Joints, you don’t rattle my bones. It’s that brute cat keeps after us helpless critters, here, and in the woods, even under trash piles outside. There’s never a moment’s peace with that fiend prowling around.”

“My wife likes that black and white feral cat, has adopted him as a house pet. I named him Milo after a famous old-time strongman I admire. No need to worry, Winnie keeps him occupied inside with Chunky-Kitty lunchmeat. Long as he stays fat, gets lazy, I think he’ll soon forget rats exist.”

“I feel helpless to defend myself and my family. That monster has gobbled up several relatives … has come close to cornering me four times. When I yelled his Miranda Rights to him if he killed me, he turned and fled.”

“For you and your brood, I’ll make my gym off limits to Milo … if that makes you feel better.”

“Gee, thanks! It does. What you do here with all this iron makes you strong … is that right?”

“Sure does. Olympic weightlifting is the king of iron sports. It packs your body with incredible power, and its almost gymnastic attributes promotes athleticism.”

“Can I do it? Can it make me a puny rat, strong?”

Lonnie laughed. For a moment, he looked bewilderedly at the scraggy rat.

“Well?” Raisins inquired, shrugging his narrow shoulders.

Finally, Lonnie replied, “I’m quite the handyman. Actually, I’m a mechanic who goes to work in a couple of weeks at a Chipley garage. Maybe I can fix you up with some improvised hardware parts. You’ll need sporting clothes and Winnie is a good seamstress, think I can persuade her to take your measurements with a tape and make you a lifting suit and shirt.”

“Suites me if it’ll help make me fitter to deal with Milo if he escapes your home, and his monster friends still stalking about.”

Lonnie finished his workout; Raisins looking on with cousin Felix venturing from his hole freed of the board covering. Both rats sat side by side near the wall baseboard, Raisins keenly listening to Lonnie as he explained many technical aspects of weightlifting, Felix mute enjoying the exchange between his cousin and the big man. Finished, Lonnie began to outline a training program better suited a rat of Raisins anatomical makeup.

The following day Lonnie welded small nuts for inside collars to a steel rod, placed metal tubing for end plate sleeves and stops at the tip so the sleeves would rotate freely. He collected a variety of ¼-inch center-hole washers; some welded together for added weight, and made a functional pair of miniature squat racks, each topped with a staple welded upside down. He demonstrated and explained day after day how to use the equipment and for what reasons. Soon, Raisins supported by Felix yelling squeaky rat-call encouragement from the sidelines, was making surprising progress and attaining amazing skills on the two lifts plus certain assistance exercises, like power snatches and cleans, high pulls, Romanian deadlifts, overhead squats, jerks from racks, overhead push presses and power jerks.

Lonnie was astonished at the recuperative ability and strength-gain Raisins demonstrated, especially when he dashed under him on heavy snatches when he got stuck at the bottom, Raisins push pressing upward on his rump just enough he recovered to complete the lifts. The assistance provided excellent training for Raisins’ jerk workouts too, his lockouts improving.

One day while he watched Raisins doing repetitive singles in the clean and jerk, an outlandish idea occurred to Lonnie. Cockeyed as it seemed initially, he couldn’t wait until the day of the Southeast Open to be held just prior to Christmas in Pensacola, Florida.

Time passed and the big day to shake the world arrived.

“What did you just say, Double-Joints?” Benjamin Turley, the befuddled meet director said the Saturday morning of competition sign-in.

Lonnie expecting the reaction, responded, “He’s amazing, Benjamin … and your meet is truly an open competition. You should allow Raisins to lift, not really to compete. He’ll be on and off the platform in a jiff – besides, he’ll be an inspiration to lifters following him, the press that’ll swarm around him … heck, the whole sports world.”

“No doubt he’d be a huge impact,” Ben replied, chuckling, that advanced to laughter, which intensified to unrestrained hysteria that could actually be fatal to some unfit people. Tears streamed down his freckled face. He walked in circles, caught glimpses as he paced of Double-Joints and Raisins standing nearby awaiting his answer. He choked on a fingernail he had bitten moments earlier, and asked for a glass of water from his meet secretary. He excused himself and hustled in a stumbling manner from the building. Outside and doubled-over he almost fell several times in the parking lot. 

Finally, after fifteen minutes, Benjamin Turley had recuperated, and approached Lonnie again, this time in the locker room. Flushed-faced, eyes red, he said, “What the heck Double-Joints, I mean coach … suit-up your rat-lifter.”

“Ben, to get a better effect, you might want to have a microphone taken from its pod and placed about three feet from Raisins and his barbell to get the full effect of his grunts, the tiny plates jingling and crashing to the platform after he completes a lift when the referee signals him to lower the barbell. Also, keep the news media back, at least ten feet not to disturb Raisins with flashing lights.”

“I’ll do,” Ben responded, inching toward hysteria again but holding it with enormous self-control.

The vast civic center audience was captivated when Raisins appeared from behind the stage curtain. Lonnie hoisted him up to the chalk box to powder his paws, and then settled him again on the platform, where he immediately tightened his lifting belt Winnie had cleverly made him. 

Raisins gazed at the encouraging crowd, the news media poised to record history, nose and whiskers twitching nervously, and at the twenty-ounce barbell resting menacingly challenging him on the platform center. He took a deep breath, adjusted his suit straps, and slapped his paws together to discharge excess chalk. After intense concentration, and pacing, his nerves bundled in a neat tight package - he was ready. 

Raisins approached the miniature barbell, hook-gripped it wide, precise, and dipped his hips low, his furry legs taunt as support to begin the pull. He grunted, pulled, and did a spectacular squat snatch, the microphone nearby resonating the sound, amplifying it across the civic center on par with a 500-pound lift by a superheavyweight, his tail elevated above the platform not to disqualify him. The deafening applause further inspired him. 

Raisins completed six perfect lifts his first meet as a Micro-Weight. He ended with a solid jerk with thirty-six ounces and a total of sixty-one ounces – three pounds, thirteen ounces, all World Rat Records. Pooped, he assisted Lonnie to remove his equipment from the platform after the awards ceremony for the first session, interviews, news media swarmed around him, Lonnie, and very please Benjamin Turley. 

Later that day Raisins a proud champion, coached Lonnie, who placed third in his class.

* * * 

Lonnie woke with a start at his own laughter. During breakfast, he told Winnie of his incredible dream, and afterward threw the rat poison secured in a glass jar into the garbage. Between chores elsewhere, he went inside his shop and removed the boards covering the rat holes. That evening he returned to his gym to work out. Entering he noticed the chunk of cheese at the rear of the platform. The box of raisins he purposely left on his worktable was lying on its side, empty. Washers had be taken from his workbench and were scattered about, but no miniature barbell or squat racks as he recalled in his incredible dream.

Anxiously, wishfully, he called, “Raisins are you real … are you here? I sure need a training partner, especially someone to help and boost me out of deep squats when I so heavy snatches.”

Behind the walls in total darkness black eyes blinked, an utterance was sounded, nose and whiskers twitched, and four feet pattered toward the lighted baseboard hole freshly uncovered.

THE END


© Copyright 2020 Virgil Dube. All rights reserved.

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