Terrance dragged his dufflebag behind him as he walked through the automatic doors into the gymnasium. Treadmills and weightlifting equipment spread infinitely in each direction, multiplied by the mirror covered walls. Terrance shuffled up to the front desk, staffed by a worrisomely muscular young man in a tank top several sizes too small, and tossed his bag in front of him.
“Good afternoon, brah, my name is Craig. How can I help ya out today, brah?”
“Uh hi, my name is Terrance, nice to meet you. Well, my girlfriend got me a gym membership for my birthday and I thought that I should check it out.”
“Right right, cool cool, brah. I can walk you through the optimal workout. Whatcha wanna work on, brah? Quads? Glutes? Core? Cardio?”
“Uh, I don’t know, I’m not too sure how this stuff works. Maybe we can just try and get me some muscles and lose some weight or whatever?”
“Brah. It’s not that easy, brah. You don’t commission an artist and say, ‘Hey brah, paint me a good painting and junk.’ But it’s cool, brah. Don’t worry, though, this is a good learning experience. I’d suggest…” Craig surveyed Terrance’s soft, placid body. He reached over the counter and poked Terrance in his pot belly. “Well, brah, there’s certainly a lot to work on. Lets get you started on some basic weight training. Follow me, brah.”
Craig puffed his chest out and sauntered away from the desk. Terrance followed behind as best he could, still dragging his dufflebag in tow. Craig sat down on a weight bench and waited patiently for Terrance, who joined him a minute later and collapsed in a sweaty pile.
Craig slapped his hands together. “Brah, good on you for already startin’ the workout. Gotta workout every second you get brah.”
Terrance tried to pull himself to his feet but could only manage to lean against the bench and wheeze. “It… it’s full of some old weights I had lying around the house. I think they were my aunt’s or something?” Terrance finally hoisted himself up on the bench and unzipped the dufflebag, which was full of pink and blue, rubber covered dumbbells. Terrance grabbed the smallest, pinkest of the bunch and started doing some curls.
“BRAH! Stop! What the hell are you DOING, brah?!”
Terrance’s dumbbells dropped to the ground. “I was just… uh… ‘pumping iron?’”
“Brah, you’ll never get swole if you’re liftin’ little puss weights like that.” Craig waved Terrance over to his bench. “Brah, try this one.”
“I… I don’t know if I’m ready for that kinda workout yet.”
“Brah, ya gonna stick your toe in the water or are you gonna jump in?”
“Uh… sure thing, Craig.”
Terrance laid down beneath the bar. Craig inspected the weights.
“Brah, 100 pounds? That’s baby shit, brah. Hey! Jeff!” Craig shouted to another muscular man who was lifting weights on the other side of the gym.
“Brah, how much can you bench?”
“Like, 280, bruh.”
“Alright, cool. Thanks bruh. See, Terry? Jeff can bench 280. Let’s start you out light with 250.” Craig hefted some more weights onto the bar. Then some more. The bench creaked. Terrance quivered at the rickety metal that encased him.
“I… I think I might just come back later. I’m not feeling too hot.”
“Brah, it’s now or never. Keep making excuses and you’ll be a tubby little dweeb forever. It’s game time brah. Don’t worry, I’ll spot you.”
“H-hold up, man. I’m serious.”
“Get ready brah, here we go.”
Craig lifted the barbell and dropped it. Terrance’s twiggy arms tried to hold it but nearly snapped at the elbow. The barbell sunk into Terrance chest, his ribs nearly buckling beneath the weight. Every exhalation sounded like a stomping on a roll of bubble wrap.
“Terry! Brah! You gotta lift it up brah! Come on, brah! You got this brah! Use your arms, brah! No pain, no gain!”
Terrance reached out to the fistbumping, vaguely human shape of Craig, but that shape quickly faded. He tried to call out, but his lungs were like deflated balloons. Craig cheered on, but Terrance could hear only piercing white noise. It was no use. He had failed. He would never be swole. Terrance accepted his fate. The sweet embrace of oblivion was a blessing compared to a life as a scrawny little dweeb.