The Turning (page 2)
‘Maybe I should just take in the sights and get the hell out of here,’ I thought miserably. I fished the brochure out of my suitcase and looked at the grinning, flexing, oiled young men on the cover.
“WHO WILL BE THE NEXT KING OF MUSCLE BEACH?: First-Time Professional Bodybuilders of California” it read. The date was tomorrow. I didn’t watch TV. But I set my alarm and called a taxi in time to make it to the stadium.
In Venice, there are three holy sites for bodybuilders – Muscle Beach, the first Gold’s Gym, and the stadium for contests. It wasn’t the mecca that the Mr. Olympia contest was, but it was still packed like an Indian bazaar. I was literally wading in a sea of humanity.
Contrary to what you might think, it’s not all buff jocks and skinny surfer chicks who go to these things. There were men and women of every age and shape, from enthusiastic five-year-olds to old men with rough farmer’s laughter, to guys with beer guts. Don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of muscular scenery.
I admired some guys from a discrete distance as they compared biceps to each other. I avoided other ones so I was engulfed in a wave of shame. This was the biggest crowd I’d ever been in, but I felt alone.
I picked up a couple articles and pens. The announcer’s voice boomed over the speakers, and I hurried with the tide of people to the stadium itself. I’d paid top dollar for a reserved seat in the second row.
It was like going to a film by yourself. I waited forty-five minutes in my cushioned chair before the lights dimmed and the announcer’s voice came on. The lights rose and they strode on stage. The princes of muscledom. The heirs to the legacy of the IFBB. The future Mr. World’s and Olympia’s. I was surprised. They weren’t all wide-shouldered Greek statues. Some of them looked like they’d started with physiques like mine. They didn’t look even close to me, now.
The first phase of the contest was a general, free pose-down where all the contestants got to show off while the announcer read their names. A few stuck with me.
Morgon Bron had an eight pack. He was the only guy on stage who could boast that he HAD an eight pack. His biceps were twice as big as mine. I know, because the announcer read his stats. 180 pounds. He was 23. Tight black thong. But it wasn’t the obvious eye-popping muscle feat of his body that really caught my breath. It was his hair. He had a mane of rich, thick black hair that hung down to his traps, swirling just under his ears. I had never seen a haircut like it. It was a mullet at first glance – one of those where the hair near the top of the head is cut short, and gets progressively longer as it descends. But not quite. It was feral, primeval. I loved it.
Anton Lobo was one of those guys hard to pin down with a label. Technically, he’s equal parts Mayan, Scandinavian, Greek and Polynesian. At first I thought he had a gorgeous tan, but I was in the second row. I could tell when he strutted by me that it was no tan. His skin was a Mediterranean olive, but his hair was nearly white it was so blonde. And his eyes. They were hazel, if that’s the right term. They changed with the light. Now flashing green, now fading to a choclate brown. Of course he had an awesome body, like those models you see on the cover of calendars advertising “Hot Marine Studs.” His eyes locked onto mine for a split second on his return walk. I freaked. My cock grew stiff and I cheered. He gave me a smile and a casual wave. Just another fan. Wave, smile, move on.
The formal posing began after the guys had divided into weight classes. There were no super heavyweights, not at 19-25 years old. The biggest guy on stage was also the oldest: 25-year old, African American Jordan LeBau. The guy from the beach. The guy who’d caught me staring at him.
‘Damn! Don’t look, don’t watch him. Don’t let him see that you’re here.’
I watched when he was downstage. I watched when his back was turned for his rear double bicep and lat spread. I rubbed my infuriatingly hard cock, hoping it wouldn’t tent my shorts.
This was a banquet, a feast for the eyes. It was worth every cent I’d paid and more. Especially when my two chosen ones took the stage, one after the other. Anton took another look at me from the stage when he did his side triceps pose. His grin was, at first, the same plastic stage grin as the rest. But then those green eyes speared me, and the grin turned predatory. I could actually see his upper lip curl from his teeth. I gulped and managed a half-hearted cheer to try and blend in to the crowd of roaring guys around me. His eyes stayed on me. They didn’t waver. They flickered while the rest of him stayed still, holding the pose. I saw flecks of gold. Then I realized he wasn’t looking directly at me anymore. He was looking down, at my chest. Where my wolf pendant rested, gazing back at him.
When he strode back offstage, I leaned forward in my chair. I saw him say something to Morgan. The second stage began after a ten minute wait while the judges totaled their scores. Relaxed posing, three guys at a time. Both Morgan and Anton ignored me. I shook my head. I was letting my hormones get to me. My cock was finally softening up.
Third round was the free-pose round, to music. This time, it was Morgan who trapped me in the cage of his eyes. This was beyond weird. His eyes held mine with the same intensity as Anton. The same intensity as the old Indian in the shop in Minnesota. He looked at the pendant, too. I noticed the music Morgan was posing to: Metallica’s “Off Wolf and Man.” Anton had posed to Duran Duran. I shivered. I was officially creeped out.
I debated with myself as I waited to file out of the stadium and meet the contestants for autographs. Should I actually go up to those two and introduce myself? Should I just quietly go back to the hotel after buying some souvenirs? This would be the only time in my life I could shake hands with a real pro bodybuilder. And not only one, but two had noticed me. That fulfilled one secret dream. And in bodybuilding, dreams are as vital as good nutrition. If I was a real bodybuilder, I would complete my dream.
I met Anton first. He was smiling, talking to a couple of women with Southern accents. They left, he signed the flyer of a little boy. Then he raised his head and smiled at me. It wasn’t a full smile. It was one of those half smiles, and with the way his eyes glittered, it made my mouth dry.
“Hey,” he said in his tenor voice.
“Hi,” I managed to answer without stammering. Brownie points to me.
“You got a paper?”
“Uh…actually I was hoping you’d sign my workout journal.”
I showed him the notebook. Again that smile. Was I passing some kind of test? “My pleasure,” he said. He took his black pen and turned the notebook to the inside cover. He signed it and returned it to me.
“Uh…have you seen Mr. Bron?”
“Clear on the other side of the stadium.”
“Shit,” I whispered. I didn’t think he’d heard me whisper with all the crowd noise, until he chuckled.
“Don’t worry, I’ll tell him you said hi.”
I thanked him, and politely moved on. A hand closed on my wrist. My heart slapped my ribs.
“Don’t you want a photo, man?”
I turned and looked at Anton. He still had that damn smile, like there was some secret he knew about me.
‘Oh, fuck. Please don’t tell me he knows I’m gay,’ I thought.
“You’re obviously a bodybuilder yourself,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind being in a shot with you. If you want.”
I couldn’t help blushing hot. No one had ever complemented my physique before. “Heck, yeah,” I said with a grin.
We did a front double bi pose for the camera. I grabbed my stuff and half ran out of the stadium. I knew my cock was tenting my shorts.
I was high. It was the kind of rush you get from a roller coaster, from getting your first short story published, from getting accepted into Harvard. Nothing seemed quite real, and yet intensely real. The food was delicious. The beach and the town were as beautiful as a living painting. I called Robbie, my best friend, and left a gushing voice mail that was mostly stammering and run-on sentences.
By evening, I had calmed down enough to put away my flyers and merchandise from the contest. I held my workout journal in my hands and smiled. I flipped open the cover to gaze at Anton’s signature. Anton hadn’t signed it. Instead, he’d written: Cafe de la Luna. 8:15pm.
The clock said it was 7:45. What the hell was going on?