Zach didn’t think it was normal to be awake at this time. It was five thirty in the morning! Five forty five A.M.? It shouldn’t even have been time! But… Owen had told him to be here at this time, and Zach really
wanted to learn how to fight. He had to, if he was going to date Sam. Plus, he had to train to become stronger, and he had to build muscle and stamina and all this other stuff he’d never thought about before. Why couldn’t he just keep reading comics in the comfort of his own bedroom, and make Sam love him without all this extra stuff?!
It was her call though, and if this was what she wanted, then he’d do it. He’d drag himself out of bed, every morning, at five o’clock sharp. He’d walk the two city blocks in the cold, and he’d meet Owen at the gym in the morning. He’d do everything he had to do, if that was what it took. He’d even do… this. “Wait, wait. Are you sure I need to do this?”
He asked, looking down at the glass that Owen was trying to hand to him. Just because he was willing to do it, didn’t mean he’d roll over and bend.“Drink the fucking eggs, young grasshopper.”
Owen ordered, pushing the glass filled with four raw eggs against Zachary’s chest. “There’s more choline in raw eggs than there is in cooked eggs. Everybody knows that. Aren’t you a nerd or some shit? Choline is a micronutrient that helps increase muscle retention. You wanna beat Sam? Then you, young grasshopper, must drink the raw eggs to get choline so that the work we do isn’t fucking wasted.”
Zach found himself wondering if telling Owen he could call him ‘young grasshopper’ was a mistake. He reached out and looked at Owen, then back down at the glass, snatching it from his soon-to-be mentor. He sloshed the eggs around, and wondered what it was going to taste like. Feel like? Probably oily and greasy and gross. “...bottoms up.”
He thought about pinching his nose, but had a feeling if he did that, then the end result would be Owen complaining that he didn’t do it right and that he had to do it again. Zach brought the glass to his lips, and tipped his head back, mouth open.
One after another, the four slimy egg yolks slid down his throat, and Zachary immediately found himself wondering if he’d ever get the taste or the feeling out of his mouth again. After he felt the last yolk get swallowed down, he pulled the glass away from his lips and wiped them before he went to hand the glass out to Owen. Owen, without a word, looked down at the remainder of… egg white goop left in the cup. “Coward. Drink it all.”
Oh Jesus. He probably was going to throw up. Straight up, projectile vomit all over his would-be trainer. Great Whatever. Do it for her.
Swallowing once, Zach took the lips up to his mouth again and tipped his head back again, this time drinking every drop that would slide out of the glass, and when it was done he held it back out to Owen, and this time the bigger boy accepted it. “Not bad. I’ll make a man out of you yet.”
Owen accepted the glass from Zach and started to walk away. It was for the best, as he didn’t see the smile light up on Zach’s face, the nauseous feeling that he felt very suddenly falling away.“Let’s get down to business, to defeat the huns!”
Zach had to commend Owen on his taste, though when the taller young man stopped walking, and spun around to look at Zach with a questioning look on his face, Zach could only raise a quiet question. “Uh… Mulan, right? That’s what you were talking about?”“What the fuck is a ’Moo-lan’? That sounds fucking homo. Leave that shit at the goddamn door.”
Owen scoffed, and shook his head, spinning around on his heel and beginning to head over to the gym’s tiny kitchen again. This time, Zach was quick to hurry after him, not sure when their first lesson would actually begin.“It’s a movie? A Disney movie. You really haven’t seen it?”
Zach questioned, and Owen looked over his shoulder, with a look on his face that spoke more than words ever could. As he looked away, Zach meekly added. “I guess you haven’t then…”“Do I strike you as the type of motherfucker that watches Disney movies? I don’t make no weak-ass pop culture references neither. Never!”
Owen said, a they stepped into the kitchen and he rinsed the glass out, scrubbing it with a sponge as he spoke to the boy who was standing behind him and waiting (Owen had to give him credit) patiently for the next command. “Alright, kid. First step is: we prepare the gym for open. Now a lotta people think that we should be open 24 hours a day. These people are idiots. Those assholes should refer to the sign. Sign says 365 Combat Club. Sign don’t say 24 Hours, 365 Days a Year Combat club. That would be too big! It probably wouldn’t even fit on a sign, morons!”
Owen seemed to have a personal vendetta against people who thought they should have been open 24 hours a day.
Wait, he really had to help open the gym? Zach thought Owen was kidding about that part! Note to self… Owen not really a kidder. Very literal person.
Zach was going to have to remember to write this stuff down. Who knows
how long it would take him to get good enough to beat Sam? That was the end goal here, after all. “Uhm, should I be working on climbing the rope? Sam said I can have a rematch when I can get halfway up the rope.”
He asked, hoping to circumvent the act of opening the gym.“Young grasshopper, even if you could climb all the way up the rope — which you can’t, by the way. No choline, no core strength — Sam would slap the gotdamn taste out ya mouth —”“That’s Training Day.”
Zach said, without thinking. Owen turned around to raise an eyebrow, while Zach carried on. “With Denzel Washington and Ethan hunt? Dude, come on. It’s like Denzel’s best movie! And I’m pretty sure it’s Ethan Hunt’s only movie...”
He offered, and Owen shook his head. Did this guy not get it?“I don’t make references, damn you. Stop accusing me of that, it’s something done by people who can’t carry conversations on their own. Now, where was I? Right. You have no base to stand on. You’re a scrawny little nerd, and Sam’s got like a goddamn foot on you, and probably like forty pounds — though I’ll admit it’s probably mostly in her ass, she ain’t exactly soft. Sam will run through you like a hot knife through butter, like a mack truck through a Honda civic. You will climb the rope when I find you ready, young grasshopper.”
Geeze. Okay, so apparently he was serious about the reference stuff. That might be a problem, Zach had a bit of a habit of… well, understanding references. And half the fun was someone understanding them with you! “Okay, okay. Well, what does opening the gym consist of?”“You will be… stacking plates!”
That one took Zach about forty minutes… people didn’t rack weights properly, and he had to fix it across the gym as a whole. Some of them were heavy! And whoever was using the bench press last? Must have been a fucking titan! There was almost one hundred and fifty pounds on both sides… Owen mentioned that he’d probably see the guy who was hitting that one; and see Owen slapping him upside the head for leaving his plates on the bar like a jackass.“...sweeping my floors!”
That was easier. Sweeping was pretty simple, it was something that Zach even did at home. Though… Owen did make him sweep in a certain stance. It wasn’t exactly
the Karate Kid, so Zach was careful not to call him out on it. Owen also yelled at him for slouching too much, so by the end of task two, Zach was standing up straight almost naturally. For what it was worth, he was damn near 5’3” when he stood up straight. Who knew?“Restocking the drink fridge!”
Now, while Zach wasn’t about to complain about the stuff Owen was having him do, he was pretty sure that the supplier they bought Gatorade from was supposed to do this. Zach got yelled at for his method for lifting the crates of Gatorade; apparently lifting with a twisting jerking motion wasn’t what you were supposed to do. That, Zach didn’t understand, because lifting with his legs? It wasn’t exactly easier. But, nonetheless, he did it. By the end of it, he found himself to be exhausted. Maybe it was carrying the crates of Gatorade from the back room, maybe it was a combination of that and
stacking the plates from earlier… didn’t matter, the end result was the same:
Zach was allowed to break and drink a Gatorade, and for the not the first time that day, he found himself wiping sweat off of his brow.“And, finally… checking the chalk powder at the different stations.”
This one was easy enough. Owen had Zach carry two heavy bags filled with the powder (one on each shoulder), and he went to each weightlifting station, and refilled the containers. When that was done, each bag was just about empty, and Owen explained they only did that about once a month. When he finished, Zach took a seat on the weightlifting bench, and Owen threw him another Gatorade, which Zach caught — though he damn near dropped it.“Not bad kid. You need to work on how you pick things up. You tweak your back? You’re never gonna beat Sam. And work on keeping your head up and your back straight. It’s good for you. A strong posture means a strong person. Romantic partners — well, people in general really — like a strong person. Work on that. You’re dismissed, it’s almost school time, isn’t it?”
Wait… that was it?! They didn’t even do anything! “Wait! I don’t think we did anything. How am I supposed to learn to beat Sam if all I do is open the gym? You’re supposed to teach me how to fight. ...is it really almost school!?”
He looked down at his watch, and was shocked to see that it said 7:30. Goddamn… was he slow, or was that a lot of work!?“Look, whether you realize it or not… that was a pretty solid workout. In time, you’ll get faster, and we can do more in the mornings. For now? Just show up after school, we can lift a little bit, and if you feel alright after that, I can show you a couple of moves.”
Zach had to admit, Owen kind of had a point. He was definitely exhausted after he’d finished the chalk powder exercise, and that was at least a sign he was putting some work out… “Okay, I can come by after school… Every day?”
Owen frowned, “Every day? What? No. Pace yourself, killer. Ain’t a sprint. This a marathon, if you wanna beat Sam, you gonna have to work hard. We do lifting on Thursdays, Mondays, and Wednesdays. We do cardio on Tuesdays and Fridays. Saturdays are variety; mostly leg days. Sunday is the lord’s day of rest. You ain’t me so you ain’t gotta do nothin’ on those days.”
Oh, that reminded him. He was going to ask about the ‘Sam Lassiter, vs Sam Assister’ thing. He’d promised Same. “Hey, kid. Are you just tryna to get your hands on Sam Assister?”
He folded his arms over his chest as he posed his question, adjusting his stance just the slightest bit. “Because… if you are, you should just quit now. You’ll never do it with that being the reason.”“S-Sam Assiter? I thought her last name was Lassister...”
Zach asked, pausing for the briefest of moments before it very suddenly dawned on him. “No! I don’t want her because of her butt! Have you ever listened to her sing? It’s wonderful, it’s fantastic, it’s amazing, it’s spectacular it’s… it’s magical. I just want to listen to her talk and sing while we like… I dunno, cuddle. Her butt’s just like a bonus, I guess…”“Heh. Alright. Same can’t sing though.”
Owen shook his head, but gestured toward the door, “I’ll see you after school, yeah?”“...I kind of… need a ride… and I was hoping you could pick me up after school… If I have to come here, I mean. My mom and dad have work...”“What?! UGH. Fine, let me let my girl know. TRIXIE! I GOTTA TAKE MY YOUNG GRASSHOPPER TO SCHOOL! BE RIGHT BACK!”
What? Trixie was probably awake by now, and if she wasn’t… well, she was now. With that, Owen gestured toward the door, and led the way to his car. Once they were loaded in, he drove Zach to the front of the school, let him out, and then finally pulled out his phone to text Samantha.
hey i talked 2 the kid. think he mite be gay. he said he wants 2 beat u in a fight because he loved listenin 2 u sing, and he just wants 2 cudle and listen to u tak. not sure about straitness, idk. ded serious he said ur singin is ‘wonderful, fantastic, amazing, spectaculur… magikal.’ its on the security tapes dude i’ll show u if u dont believe me. either way.
since he said all that bout ur singing
we know he a liar, but
he aint in it 4 ur booty so thats good rite???
God, Owen hated texting. He wasn’t good at it. It wasn’t his fault, he just wasn’t a very good speller and had big fingers, okay? Sam knew him well enough to decipher what he said.