The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Tiffany Michelle Brown
I used to enjoy our Saturday afternoon ritual, the one put into motion by our wives’ mutual love of yoga. It used to be calming. Mundane. Predictable. Fun, even.
When the girls leave together, clad in poly blends, ready to strike warrior poses at the local YMCA, Aaron and I retire to the backyard to do manly things. Which is to say we lift weights and toss back tumblers of scotch.
Aaron’s really into fitness, the kind of guy who works out before going to his nine-to-five. I stay fit, but I’ll admit that I don’t have his level of dedication. My wife has always said she isn’t a fan of bulging, veiny muscles. I used to believe her.
Despite Aaron’s love of a good workout, our hangouts aren’t competitive. Not really. It’s just a dude thing. We shoot the shit and spot each other on Aaron’s outdoor bench press equipment. Maybe smoke a little weed if one of us has some.
It’s been chill. It’s been good, mostly.
But it isn’t anymore. Today, I want to run Aaron over with his fancy backyard booze cart. Instead, I pour him a drink.
“You still jetlagged, man?” His voice makes me wince.
I hand Aaron his booze. “I’m never letting them send me overseas again. Coming back is brutal,” I say, which is the truth, but my rough re-entry has nothing to do with fatigue or time zones. “You been benching?”
Aaron shrugs, acting all nonchalant, and takes a sip of scotch. “Here and there.”
“What are you up to?” I pour myself a generous draught.
“Impressive.” I smile. “You should try for three hundred today. I’ll spot you.” I walk over to the bench, knowing he’ll follow. This is our routine. Why wouldn’t he?
Aaron sits on the bench and watches me load up the bar. “I’m not sure about three hundred. It’s a big jump up.” But even as he says this, I can hear that he wants to try it. I knew he would.
“Oh, come on. You could do this in your sleep.” I make a big show of making sure the weights are secure, then give him an encouraging smile. “Besides, I’ll be right here.”
Aaron rolls his meaty shoulders and sets his tumbler in the grass. He does a couple stretches to loosen up, then reclines on the bench. My muscles burn as I help Aaron hoist the bar. “You got it, man?” I ask. Aaron’s already a little pink-faced, but he puffs out, “Yep.”
I relax my grip until only my fingertips support the bar. “Lower when ready.”
And Aaron does. He gets in four shaky, slow reps before his muscles start quaking and he’s red in the face from the effort. My cheerleader comes out. “You got this! One more, man. Put in the work!”
As his elbows bend, I give the bar a jerk toward me and let surprise and gravity do the heavy lifting. Then, I use all my strength to pin the bar to Aaron’s windpipe. He struggles against me. Normally, he’d be able to throw me across the backyard, but his arms are tired. His struggling is just that, struggling.
The whole ordeal is quick but clearly not painless. I watch Aaron turn blue. Spittle flecks his lips. Finally, his huge arms splay open, the fight done. His fingertips skim the tips of the perfectly manicured lawn.
I stoop, pick up Aaron’s abandoned whisky, and take a sip. It’s smoky and sweet and burns my throat, which is good, because I have a phone call about an accident to make. A raspy voice could make my plight sound convincing, though it’s one of my own making.
I know how Aaron’s wife will react to the news, but I wonder about Patricia. Her response will fill in the gaps, let me know how long they’ve been carrying on behind my back.
And then I’ll know if I have any more heavy lifting to do.
Image courtesy of Nina D’Arcangela