93: “Everything hurts and I’m dying”

Ramsay had begun going to the gym with Frank because Frank had apparently decided that he wanted to overcome the loss of his grandfather by becoming Chris Hemsworth. Ramsay was indulging it, largely because he figured extreme weightlifting would ultimately be better for Frank than excessive drinking bordering on alcoholism. Oscar had gone with Frank the week before, but Oscar hadn’t been to the gym in literal years and had quite recently spent a lot of his time horizontal, so it hadn’t gone particularly well for him. He was, in fact, back to being mostly horizontal.

“Everything hurts and I’m dying,” Oscar moaned, lying face-down on the living room floor as Ramsay and Frank got ready to leave for the gym together on Monday night.

“A memoir by Oscar Zahradnik,” Ramsay added, rolling his eyes.

“Fuck you, Khan,” Oscar returned, flipping him off with great difficulty from his place on the floor.

Ramsay and Frank went to Frank’s gym. It was, to put it mildly, sketchy as hell. Frank told Ramsay that his membership was cheap, which Ramsay felt was a good thing. The mirrors in the weight room were so old and warped that it was like exercising in a fun house. It was actually a little disorienting, but Ramsay persevered for Frank’s sake. He had no idea what else to do to help Frank. It wasn’t as if he was going to offer him hugs. Both Ramsay and Frank would hate that. Ramsay’s gym was definitely nicer, but the guest passes cost more money and so they were stuck exercising in the fun house with other jacked Italian men. Ramsay was actually fairly certain a lot of them were in the mafia.

“That’s an offensive stereotype,” Frank told him when Ramsay brought up his concerns.

“He’s not in the mafia?” Ramsay asked, gesturing discretely to a burly man with incredible amounts of chest hair and a forearm tattoo of a giant cross. He was deadlifting an extreme amount of weight, swearing to himself in Italian the entire time.

“Okay, yeah, he’s in the mafia,” Frank conceded.

There weren’t very many women at the gym, which didn’t surprise Ramsay at all. It smelled like the inside of a gym sock, wrapped around a garlic clove and marinated in Armani aftershave. There was one woman doing deadlifts next to the giant mafia guy. She was roughly the same size, but doubly as terrifying. She had a nice-looking face and the upper body strength of a gorilla. Ramsay was terrified of her because it looked like she might be able to crush his skull with her bare hands. He was equally as scared of the mafia guy, but mostly because he looked like the type of person who owned an illegal weapon. 

But then another woman walked in. She walked directly over to the middle of the weight room and began stretching. She was beautiful, plus she had the added benefit of not looking like she could murder Ramsay without any hesitation. She had shining black hair, which she’d pulled back into a tight bun at the top of her head, and she was wearing a matching workout outfit. Ramsay was wearing yet another band t-shirt that his brother-in-law had bought him for his birthday. This one declared him a fan of Panic! At the Disco. She was the first woman Ramsay had noticed since he’d developed a crush on Tallulah then the subsequently discovered she was dating a handsome firefighter. Ramsay watched her discretely for a couple minutes, though apparently not discretely enough that Frank didn’t notice. He smacked Ramsay across the side of the head and rolled his eyes at him when Ramsay looked over, completely ashamed.

For the next half hour or so, Ramsay tried his level best to ignore the beautiful woman. He didn’t want to become that creepy guy that stares at women at the gym. She was there to work out, just the same as everybody else, and he didn’t want to make her uncomfortable. Instead, he alternated between looking at his own warped reflection in the fun house mirrors and watching the buff woman lift increasingly amazing amounts of weight. Her form was impeccable. Ramsay could learn a lot from her. She was putting Mafia Man to shame, although, in fairness to Mafia Man, she was putting all of them to shame.

“Is this the gym people go to if they want to train to become Rocky?” Ramsay asked Frank, who pushed him into a pile of jump ropes.

Another ten minutes later, Ramsay left the weight room in search of the bathroom. The beautiful woman had left a couple minutes before, much to his dismay, but it was alright because the buff woman was still around for him to marvel at. He wandered through the gym in search of the bathrooms, which he eventually found down a narrow, dimly lit hall with very little signage. It was a little alarming, if Ramsay was being honest. It had a definite murdery vibe to it. But he persevered, partially in deference to Frank, but mostly because he really needed to piss. He pushed open the bathroom door only to come face-to-face with the beautiful woman from the weight room. She was partially undressed and very surprised to see him. He was also quite surprised to see her, and quite a bit of her as well.

“I thought this was the bathroom,” he told her weakly, feeling like he needed to offer some sort of explanation or defense. And then he backed out of the bathroom very quickly, tripping over himself in his haste, with the image of her stunned expression burned into his retinas. He hurried back to the weight room to meet up with Frank and pretend like nothing had happened. He was so embarrassed he couldn’t even watch the buff lady lift impressive amounts of weight.

That night, Ramsay had a nightmare about watching the super buff woman at the gym get changed into a wrestling singlet from the doorway of a dimly lit gym change room. That turned out to be because the room was full of candles. When the buff woman noticed him watching her, she reached out for him and then lifted him above her head. She did some squats like that, with him held high above her head. He woke up with a start, feeling very strange and confused.


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