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Post by LPVENDRELL » August 25th, 2011, 3:53 pm


The world laughed at him. It always had. Even alone in his car, it found a way to crush any hope for a day free of ridicule.

A group of middle-school aged kids flicked cigarette ash onto the pavement outside. One pointed and the rest laughed. It wasn't long before they had all joined in on the game. Their taunts were muted by his windows, but their lips were easy to read. Fat, they were calling him fat. Why shouldn't they? Everyone else did. He wished he could say he'd grown a thick skin – that the constant barrage of asinine insults had grown stale with repetition – but that couldn't have been further from the truth.

Theodore Ronald Reagan Parker sat in the parking lot of Bretton Hill's only strip mall and glared at his belly. It pressed outward from his torso and kissed the bottom curve of his steering wheel. The only thing any part of him had ever kissed. He tried to avert his attention, only to become more aware of how his one-size-to-small shirt conformed to the rolls of his gut – like he needed a reminder that his stomach folded more times than a bad poker player. An emblem clung like a groping hand to the slab of his chest. The word's “Lew's Gym” arched over the visage of society's requisite for masculinity, an image that stood in stark contrast to any that Teddy's might convey.

Mockery, the shirt is pure mockery.

At times he wanted nothing more than to take a black sharpee to the white emblem and blacken it as much at it blackened his mood. He couldn't, of course. The shirt, and that logo, were the only things that marked him as an employee. As if anyone would believe his employment status went along with anything that involved physical fitness.

I hardly believe it myself.

Teddy had been dealing with his obesity as long as he could remember. It didn't bother him at first, back when kids didn't know better, back before TV taught them what was socially acceptable.

Taught him that he wasn't.

A fat kid in a gym was bad, but a fat kid who worked at a gym was the worst. Life became a constant reminder of just how far he fell from acceptable when every passing person wondered why the hell he was there.

It was early still, well before his shift actually started. But really, what else did he have to do? A lot, really. There were plenty of things he could have done. Forums sat anxious for his latest revelation on character development in his favorite books series, The Arc's of Time. He had a list of theories on unanswered questions. Then there was the online role playing game based off of these books. His online avatar, Theodore The Ageless, was stuck mid-mission. The Hammer of Argyris not four battles from his possession.

These things could wait, though. One thing couldn't, or wouldn't rather, and that thing existed far outside the event horizon of his bedroom.

Miss Tia Paige.

Just thinking her name elicited a sigh. He was burning precious minutes wedged in his car. Best get to the gym if he had any hope of basking in her glory for more than ten minutes.

Time waits for no man.

He removed the keys from the ignition and squeezed himself out the driver's side door Even though the outside temperature was in the mid-fifties, a sheen a perspiration was already visible along his brow-line and the fabric of his shirt clung to his back before his first step.

Eyes down, he made for his work. Morning light, the kind that only happens right before the onset of fall, glared off the puddles of water that pooled in the uneven pavement. He walked passed the windows of the stores that led to the gym. One of every three stood in darkness, the memory of customers less than smudged fingerprints on the glass.

Maybe if one of them had still been open, maybe then he wouldn't be on a straight-line course towards a gym. Of course, if one of them had been open his father would still be employed and he would be that much closer to graduation. It wasn't, and he was where he was. As much as that sucked.

After that fateful day when his father had lost his job, Teddy had been forced to make a choice: go into debt or get to work. That was, if he wanted to finish college, and he needed to finish college. A fat kid's place in the fabric of fate was in the footnotes. Greatness avoided the pudgy the same way grease avoided water. Touching it only on accident and even then fleeing as soon as possible. Brains were the only thing left for a fat kid to distinguish himself, well, that and humor and the sad truth was, Teddy wasn't particularly funny. So the brains thing, that was all he had if he every wanted to be more than … himself.

So he applied. Everywhere. Of the fifteen applications he sent out, only one responded: Lew's Gym. As illogical as it seemed, it was his only choice.

Lucky him.

The owner, Clinton Karos, better known as Lew, had spent the first fifteen minutes of Teddy's interview regaling him with the minutiae of his fifteen minutes of fame. Interspersed were little tidbits of information that no one could ever care about, like how he got the nickname, Lew. It was because he shared his name with that president who got “His knob slobbed in the oval office.” When Teddy had been on the verge of laughing, Lew stopped him and said, “That's a true Fucking true American there,” with all the sincerity in the world and Teddy had restrained his amusement.

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Post by Departuregirl » August 29th, 2011, 11:35 am

I can't believe nobody's commented on this yet. This is brilliant. And so far above the average quality of writing. Little phrases like 'It pressed outward from his torso and kissed the bottom curve of his steering wheel' and 'take a black sharpee to the white emblem and blacken it as much at it blackened his mood' and many more add a spice to your writing. Keep it up with the unusual turns of phrase and excellent descriptions.
Your characterization is lovely. In the excerpt you're basically talking about one thing: how the kid is fat..but you've detailed diverse aspects of it, about how that affects him with regard to work, being teased at school, feeling like he can't ever achieve greatness, etc. You've even introduced a new character, Miss Tia Page, but one bone I have to pick is that you spew out her name, and then give a brief line about him wanting to bask in her glory, before abruptly switching back to the fat theme. It's jarring for the reader, who expects more lingering on the theme of Tia Page.
Apart from that, wonderful job. Fast paced, effective writing and I'd love to be updated if you write more of this character.

~ I enjoyed giving you feedback. If you have some time on your hands you could make my day by reciprocating: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=4132 ~

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Post by MZ Pike » August 29th, 2011, 10:56 pm

I sincerely hope the folks here haven't been ignoring this just because it's slightly larger a word count than most in this forum.

Because this is good.

I agree with Departuregirl that you really need to linger on Miss Tia Page just a little bit, though. Not too long, just maybe a couple of sentences, some description. Give us an idea of why she's such a hottie. Let us know whether or not she knows Teddy exists. Just doing one of these things would add some beef to that part of the story.

Your phrases are quite nice, even though I wanted to read "The only thing any part of him had ever kissed." as "The only part of him that had ever been kissed". Freudian of me, or did anyone else do that? Either way, might be something worth pondering.

The idea of a fat kid forced to work at a gym smacks of comedy and tragedy at the same time. Great, great idea. I'd definitely read more. A lot more.

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Post by Philabuster » August 31st, 2011, 1:54 pm

Wonderful imagery and great pace. I couldn't stop reading. I'm already curious as to what happens with Teddy!

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