View Full Version : The Bodybuilder: a story

02-10-2009, 02:58 PM
Brought over from my thread at MD. I'll begin pushing the story forward again in the next few days (now that I can BREATHE!)

The 405 lbs. banged loudly as Jim dropped the bar down onto the stops on the front of the squat rack. His traps burnt from the set of shrugs he just finished and sweat rolled off his chin onto the mat at his feet. He leaned down onto the bar to catch his breath and grinned. It was a great shoulder workout and he felt big, his shoulders and traps pumped to the point of that burning pain that indicated complete fatigue. He stood up and flared out, panning his physique in the mirror behind the rack. Wide and thick, he thought, as he turned left and right, flexing his upper body through the yellow Gold’s Gym tank top he wore, content with the muscular man staring back at him.
Five years of hard work was paying off. No longer did a stick man taunt him from every mirror. He hated that man, never really knowing why…just hated him. But it was just that man, lanky, narrow shouldered….skinny, that created the man now admiring Jim’s body from the mirror. And Jim knew that no matter how big he got, that other guy would always haunt him and mock him, shadowing the contemporary image before him.

Marty, the gym manager walked by Jim and slapped him on the back. “Lookin’ good, big man!” Jim nodded and started stripping plates off the bar. Marty jumped in and pulled the plates off the opposite end. “You decide on what show you’re doin”?”

Jim chuckled. “Good question. I was thinking I’d do the show in Cleveland in September….”

“You’re looking awesome,” Marty said in an encouraging tone.

Jim glanced at Marty’s face to try and read his level of sincerity. He knew that at 6’-2”, he would have to come in at 250+lbs. to be competitive. He weighed 275 that morning. The show was 9 months out and with 20 weeks of cutting he was getting nervous as to whether or not he could add the 10 more pounds of lean body mass he knew he needed to hit that 250. He racked the last 45 and toweled off his face. “Thanks, bro. I’m working hard.”

In the locker room, Jim opened his locker and pulled out a small duffle bag. He retrieved a shaker cup partially filled with powdered whey and waxy maize. He took it to the sink and added water, shook it, and downed the contents like shooting a beer. He rinsed out the cup and put it back in the duffle bag. Taking out a little leather pencil case, he opened it and pulled out a loaded insulin pin, cupping it in his hand and retreated to a toilet stall. He pulled up his tank top and rolled some loose skin near his navel between his fingers and injected 4iu of growth hormone into the roll. He flushed the toilet for effect and exited the stall. He thought back to when he first started dosing himself at the gym and how afraid he was that someone would catch on and give him grief about it or worse, report him to the authorities. But after awhile, it became obvious that no one seemed to pay attention. There were a couple of other bodybuilders in the gym and it was assumed that they all used performance enhancing drugs, which, of course they did, and it was dismissed as part of the game. Marty knew and was cool with it, so Jim lost his trepidation and it was now routine.

He gathered up his workout gear and headed out of the locker room. The gym was filling up with the lunch crowd and the cacophony of rattling weights and grunting lifters was a comforting sound. Jim loved the atmosphere. He was a gym rat and this was home away from home. He waved to Marty on the way out and Marty repeated, “You’re looking awesome, bro!” A few heads turned Jim’s way and he could see Marty’s statement in their expressions. It felt good. That skinny shadow disappeared for a moment as he relished the attention. Yeah, maybe he was looking awesome, he thought. Maybe.

Laura LaSalle steeled herself against the bitter Kansas wind as she exited her BMW and headed across the snow covered parking lot to the gym’s entry. Damn, it’s cold, she muttered to herself, and pulled her coat tighter around her neck. She was a Florida girl, born and raised, and winter in the Midwest was as foreign to her as a walk on the moon. But her parents moved to the Kansas City area a few years ago and she had to endure what she had to endure to see them. She ducked her head down to cut the wind and stepped up her pace. A second later and a misstep on a patch of ice, Laura felt her body go to zero G’s as her legs went out from under her.

Oh shit! She instinctively threw her hands down to catch her body, knowing that gravity was about to abruptly end her momentary weightlessness. Her gut tightened and she gritted her teeth preparing for the crash when her body was jolted to a complete stop inches from the ground. A hand, a very big hand was grasping the front of her coat, holding her off the ground. The arm attached to the hand bent and she felt her body being lifted upright. As she became vertical again, she saw what the arm was attached to; a huge, tan parka with an obviously large man inside it.

“You O.K.?” The voice, deep and gentle, came from the black hole formed by the parka’s fur-lined hood. Its tone teased something in her stomach.

“Yeah, I think so,” she replied breathlessly. The big hand let go and her senses returned to normal. She could see into the hood’s hole. Deep blue eyes and a chiseled, 30-something face peered out. “Wow. Thank you. I….wow!” She struggled for words, embarrassed somewhat by her clumsiness and a little intimidated by the gorgeous eyes summing her up as she stammered.

“No problem. Good thing I was coming out. That could’ve been a nasty fall.” His voice continued to stir somewhere in her abdomen and was beginning to move lower. It made her uncomfortable, even though it wasn’t a bad stirring.

“Thank you, again.” She stuck her hand out. He took it and shook it politely. It felt strong and dwarfed hers, but had a controlled gentleness to it.

“Jim. Jim Ferrel”, he offered, releasing her hand.

“Laura. Thank you, Jim. I’m sure you think I’m a klutz.”

Jim chuckled. “Not at all! You were very graceful as you fell. I’d give you a 9.5,” he replied.

Laura felt the tickle again. She was a sucker for a man with a sense of humor. Time to move on. “Well, you have a great day,” she said, as she moved past him towards the gym’s door. She flashed him a quick smile in passing and he returned one. She continued smiling to herself, half amused with her fall from grace and half from the warm sensation his smile cast over her.

She pushed the gym door open and breathed in the warm, moist air and headed to the front desk. The gym was full of a collection of humanity, from hard, muscular types to overweight, middle-aged hopefuls, to rowdy teens, heads plugged into iPods blaring loud enough for those nearby to hear. Bars were moving up and down, weight stacks clanged together, and heavy foot strikes pounded on treadmills, a symphony that drew Laura’s thoughts away from her theatrical entrance to a desire to pump iron. She was home anywhere this atmosphere existed, even in god-forsaken Kansas. It was time to go to work and make her body submit and she wasted no time in checking in and getting to the locker room. Eight months to show time, even Oz couldn’t keep her from focusing. Thank God for Jim, she thought. That fall could’ve ended badly. She shoved her bag into a locker and slipped on her workout gloves. And as was her habit, every thought became captive to one….time to train!

Arm day was always a pain for Laura. It wasn’t that she didn’t like to train arms. Hers were her best body part. It was the fact that the dumbbells she normally used were the more popular ones in the gym. Everyone used the 30’s thru the 45’s and she’d find them strewn all over the place. And about the time she’d rack a set to rest, some nimrod would bolt off with them only to do a set and walk off without returning the dumbbells to the rack.

Today was no different. She hunted down the 30’s, one by the squat rack and the other by the Smith machine, and settled in front of the mirror to start her workout. She watched her biceps flex as she did alternating dumbbell curls. The rubber-coated weights moved rhythmically up and down, her body rocking slightly to the rhythm. She felt the blood begin to fill her biceps and forearms, a feeling that would increase as she moved through her workout. It was the feeling. Every workout was graded in her mind by just how tight and full the pump felt at the end of the workout. She could tell that today was going to produce a great one.

Laura set the dumbbells down in their place on the rack and leaned on them a moment, tensing her biceps for a little more pump. She felt someone staring at her. Straightening up, she noticed the gym manager lingering a few feet behind the incline bench to her left, apparently waiting for her to finish her set. A big grin opened up on his face and he moved towards her with something in his hand.

“I believe you left this in the parking lot”. He produced a set of keys with a BMW fob on it. She looked at the keys in his hand for a moment and recognized them. Her face reddened slightly as the scene of her clumsy fall to earth replayed in her head.

“Uh, yeah….those are mine. I hadn’t realized I dropped them. Thank you very much for picking them up.” She reached for the keys.

“I didn’t pick them up. This gentleman did.” He placed a business card in her hand as she took the keys from him.

Laura stared at the card for a moment. “Thank you.”

Marty grinned. “I think he likes you.”


Marty’s grin faded a little. “Well, let’s just say he wanted to make sure you knew who helped you out this morning.”

Laura’s face flushed again, driven by the knowledge that more than one individual was aware of her ‘incident’. She dropped the keys and the card on the bench beside her and turned back to the dumbbell rack. Marty made a quick retreat to the front desk, muttering to himself for being an idiot. Laura overheard his self-chiding and chuckled. I love the gym, she thought, somewhat sarcastically. She smiled to herself. She really did love the gym atmosphere. It was people that bugged her.

She picked up the 35’s and started her second set. And if Mr. Ferrel thinks his ‘good deed’ is going to buy him points….her thoughts turned to that big hand catching the front of her coat and the ease with which he drew her to her feet. A little war broke out between her emotions and her head and she felt the battle in her stomach. Damn! She swung the dumbbells up for 3 extra reps, hoping the burn would push the battle out of her mind. She didn’t like the lack of focus that was creeping up on her, something she never had trouble with before. And she wasn’t going to have it now.

Dropping the dumbbells onto the rack, Laura grabbed the card off the bench, tore it in two and dropped it in the waste basket next to the drinking fountain. She bent over the fountain and took a long drink. She felt the focus returning. That’s better. Focus was the most important tool she had and nothing was going to block it. Contest was 8 months out and there was no time for distraction, even if that distraction came in a very appealing package. Anyway, she was here for just 4 more days and then back to Tampa and warm, freaking, weather!

The late December snow crunched under the big Ford pickup’s tires as Jim turned into his driveway. He pushed a button on the lamp console above the windshield and the garage door opened. He eased the truck into its usual spot, shut the engine off and pushed the garage door button to close it. She’ll never call. He second guessed himself the entire trip home. It was a ballsy move, maybe even a little arrogant, having Marty pass on his card like that. But he saw something in the smile she flashed him as she entered the gym. Her handshake was neutral, her tone as they passed pleasantries was unrevealing, and she didn’t even give him her last name…..very coy. But he was a very good judge of character, especially facial expressions, since it was his job to read people, and that smile was loaded.

Jim tossed his keys and gym bag on the kitchen island and opened the refrigerator. He stared blankly at it. The choices were mind-numbingly simple. There were no choices. Every meal, all six of his daily meals were no different than the day before; egg whites, chicken breast, white fish, and lean beef along with sweet potato, brown rice, green beans, and plain leaf lettuce. All were interchangeable, and in between were whey protein shakes, raw nuts and the occasional tablespoon of natural peanut butter. If it weren’t for the once a week cheat meal, he would’ve slit his throat months ago. Only the mental image of what his finely detailed, dry, muscular body on stage would look like drove him through the absolute boredom of his diet.

With a sigh, Jim removed a pre-prepared meal…fish and brown rice, and slid it over to the microwave. He still had 30 minutes before he needed to eat, so he booted up the laptop he kept on the kitchen island. He googled ‘Laura LaSalle’. He’d gotten her last name from Marty when he brought her keys back into the gym. Google returned dozens of hits and he picked the first one with ‘bodybuilding’ in it. Laura was a local champion in southern Florida with several titles and a few almost wins. He clicked the URL to the 2007 NPC Gulf Coast Natural Bodybuilding Championships. Once there, he clicked the thumbnail of female bodybuilders lined up onstage. A photo enlarged with captions. He didn’t need the caption because Laura stood front center, arms flexed in a double biceps pose, the overall winner. He whistled softly in approval. She was absolutely gorgeous. Her definition was incredible, especially her thighs, which were not only separated, but striated. She was perfectly balanced from top to bottom, and he was sure that what filled her top was God-given. He despised the look of implants on severely dieted women.

Her face was lean, but not hard. She had maintained every bit of her femininity. He even liked the bobbed hairdo. Her auburn hair complimented her dark tan and green eyes perfectly. He looked again. Yes, it was a natural show. Laura carried a lot of muscle for a natural, but her face didn’t look masculine. Maybe she was truly natural. He remembered the almost baby doll voice she had when she thanked him. It was actually a turn-on. No masculinization there. He was intrigued, and he was now glad he left her his card.

The phone rang and a VOIP screen popped up on the laptop. He clicked ‘answer’.

“Jim Ferrell.” He spoke with force so that the mic would pick up his voice clearly.

“Jim, this is Marty.”

“Marty, what’s up, my little gym buddy!?”

“Dude, she tore up your card.”

Jim hesitated for a moment. That seemed a little rude, he thought. “Tore it up?” he replied.

“Yup, tore it in half and pitched it.”

Yikes. He cussed himself under his breath. His fear that he had been too forward had been realized. He felt his face flush a little. Time for damage control. “No problem, little buddy. Plenty of fish in the sea.”

'Yeah……right. Well, I didn’t want to blow your psyche, but I didn’t want you waiting around the phone, either.”

Jim’s face flushed more. Now he was truly embarrassed. “Like I’m waiting,” he said weakly.

“No problem, big man. Just lookin’ out for my bro.”

'Thanks, Marty. Don’t give it a second thought. I’m good with it.” That was a lie. He didn’t even know the girl but somehow he felt dissed. What a moron! Why didn’t he listen to the little voice in his head?
“I’ll see you tomorrow. Got legs to do. You know the drill.” He clicked “end” and fell back into his chair. He gave himself a mental thrashing and then let it drop. He knew it made no sense belaboring something that was never meant to be. He closed the contest photo and closed the laptop.

As he placed the meal he retrieved from the refrigerator into the microwave, he glanced at his reflection in the microwave’s door. There stood a wide, muscular frame that seemed a little shrunken at the moment. He sighed out his disgust with himself and pushed “2” on the panel. It was going to be a one hell of a workout tomorrow.

Chapter 2

Snow fell overnight, adding 3” to the white blanket that had covered most of northeast Kansas since mid-December. The four story building housing the Kansas FBI offices in downtown Kansas City, Kansas stood like a monument on the cliff overlooking the Kaw River. Lights winked on through tinted exterior windows as people slowly filled the building. It was 7 a.m. and the eastern horizon supported a thin orange line of light as the sun started to break.

Bill Walters held his full coffee cup with both hands as he watched the sun’s arrival from his third floor corner office. A light blue file folder lay on his desk marked “Bench Press”. He had just reviewed its contents and was letting the information settle in. It was a report detailing an operation instituted by the DEA and cooped with the FBI. His department was enlisted to head the FBI’s investigation efforts. The DEA had been monitoring several internet bodybuilding forums for steroid and growth hormone chatter and believed they had evidence of a domestic underground steroid lab. An undercover DEA agent had established a profile on one of the sites and over the period of a year had earned the trust of its membership to where he was able to garner some of their sources for AAS, which was the acronym for anabolic androgenic steroids used by members on the site. A few of the sources were overseas; China, Turkey, the Balkans. One source, however, appeared to originate within the U.S. Bill’s unit was given the responsibility to set up a sting in the Kansas City area because the DEA had tracked several large shipments of finished steroids to a post office in Lenexa, a Kansas-side suburb.

Bill continued panning the view, the sun apparently just inches off the horizon, backlighting the Kansas City, Missouri cityscape. The Missouri side city was the one referred to when anyone mentioned Kansas City. Its downtown was perched on a summit high above the Missouri River just east of where the Kaw and Missouri rivers intersected. It was a perfect portrait, a Hallmark moment. Bill chuckled to himself since Hallmark started in and maintained its corporate office in Kansas City. That light moment, however, faded into something troubling Bill since he was assigned this operation. And that ‘something’ was due in his office at 8 a.m.

The sound of a doorbell came from Bill’s right pants pocket. He produced an iPhone and gazed at its full-sized screen. He shook his head but decided to answer anyway.

“Agent Walters”, he clipped. The voice on the other end was deep and monotone. Bill rubbed his forehead as he listened. The Regional Director had taken it upon himself to micromanage Bill’s unit on operation Bench Press. The relationship between the DEA and the FBI in general was tenuous and had it not been for a manpower shortage in the DEA, the FBI wouldn’t be involved in the operation. The RD saw this opportunity as his ticket towards becoming Director, a position certain members of Congress had promised him if their candidate won the next Presidential election. He smelled blood in the water and he was going to have his hand so far up Bill’s ass that he would need a federal requisition to sneeze.

“Yes sir, I’m meeting with him at eight hundred this a.m.” Bill rolled his eyes as the deep voice took on some animation in closing. “Right. I’ll let you know how it goes. Yes, today. Thank you, I will.” He touched ‘end call’ on the phone’s screen and tossed the phone onto his desk. He was beginning to regret taking this assignment, partly because he thought it was a waste of time going after steroids when he had real bad guys killing people over crank and crack right outside his office building, and partly because he knew he would be the fall guy if things went south and the invisible man if they had any success. The next year was going to be miserable.

Jim stepped out of the shower and toweled off. He took a moment to check out his physique in the bathroom’s mirror. He hit a double biceps pose and tensed his quads. He turned and hit a side chest. Yeah, he thought, its coming. He opened the cabinet under the sink and pulled out a toiletry bag. He opened it and retrieved a syringe, an alcohol towelette, and a small, brown colored glass vial. He opened the towelette and wiped the top of the vial with it. He jabbed the syringe’s 22 gage, 1 ” needle into the rubber stopper in the vial’s top. Slowly, he drew 2 CC’s of clear liquid into the syringe. Taking the towelette, he cleaned an area on his right glute, then jabbed the needle into the cleaned area, dispensing the liquid deeply into the muscle. He repeated this injection every other day. He was 4 weeks into a 20 week cycle and the drug’s effects were beginning to show. His strength was up and he had put on 5 lbs. Most of that weight was water, but most of that water was in the muscle. Testosterone Proprionate had that effect…..rapid gains in size and strength. Coupled to that the 8IU’s of growth hormone he injected in two 4IU shots a day, he had the potential to add a real 10 lbs of lean muscle over the next 16 weeks. He’d probably gain 20 lbs of actual weight but his pre-contest diet would eliminate unwanted water and fat.

Jim rushed through shaving and dressing, adding a tie to his wardrobe for the day. He had a meeting that he felt required the tie. It felt constraining but he wanted to make an impression. Dark grey slacks, white, long sleeved shirt and silver-grey tie looked good.

Grabbing his brief case in the foyer, he took it to the kitchen and sat it on the island. He fished a sealed plastic container from the fridge and put it in the brief case for his mid-morning meal. Turkey and rice as usual. He grabbed the brief case and headed for the garage, setting the alarm before entering.

Crap! In the 90 seconds he had before the alarm engaged, he went back to the refrigerator and retrieved an insulin pin loaded with growth hormone and placed it in one of the pockets inside the brief case. He went into the garage, jumped into the truck and headed out. A nervous twinge set in his stomach. He was headed into the lion’s den and didn’t know how he was going to come out.

Bill Walters sat at his desk scrolling through pages of documents on his computer when his office phone lit up. It was Keisha, his secretary.

“Yes ma’am?” He always answered this way when he knew her intent.

“Your eight o’clock is here”, said the business-only voice on the other end.

“Thank you. Please send him in.” Bill stood, but remained behind his desk. His office door opened deliberately and something huge stood in its place. Bill’s heart skipped a beat and it took 20 years of training not to let it show on his face. The man was as wide as he was tall, with a chiseled, hard face and penetrating blue eyes. He moved forward with a confidence that was more than a little intimidating.

Bill sized him up in the 3 seconds it took the man to get to his desk, hand extended in greeting. He had no neck, it appeared, just huge curves leaping from his shoulders and landing under his ears. His shirt was tailored to fit his awkward looking body but it seemed to follow contours foreign to Bill’s understanding of anatomy. He was three feet across, shoulder-to-shoulder and his chest looked like armor plating. His shirt sleeves barely restrained bulging biceps.

Bill took his hand in greeting. My god, his mind raced. The hand was twice as thick and large as his own and he couldn’t close his hand around it. He strained to keep his composure. Everything he read regarding this freak, every warning to be prepared had been sorely understated.

“Jonathan McMannus”, the freak offered, his voice such a deep baritone that Bill felt it vibrate in his stomach.

“Special Agent Walters,” he replied, as steady and confident as he could muster. “Please have a seat.” Bill gestured to the leather, armed guest chair beside the man. I hope it holds him, he thought.

“Thank you”, came the penetrating reply, as the freak eased into the chair.

“Mr. McMannus….”

“Jonathan, please”, objected the massive human.

“Jonathan, thank you for coming. I assume you’ve been briefed regarding this meeting?”

The big man nodded. Bill kept eye contact but his mind raced through his peripheral vision, fascinated with Jonathan’s otherworldly physique. Not fascinated…..trepidation was more like it.

“You have agreed to become a special informant for the FBI in lieu of prosecution for drug trafficking, correct?”

“That’s correct.”

“And you are aware that we might, and probably will have you do surveillance by deceit of people you know and businesses you have a relationship with, information by which they will be prosecuted, and most likely do jail time as a result?” The freak adjusted himself in the chair and leaned forward. Bill felt the urge to sit back, keeping the neutral space between them at a maximum.

“Yes, this is the agreement I’ve made.” He stared into Bill’s eyes. “And you will not only grant me immunity, but will create a new persona for me, including relocation to a country of my choosing and $500,000 deposited into an account of my choosing upon successful prosecution of the parties you are after.”

It wasn’t a question, but it was accurate. The DEA had agreed to McMannus’ terms because they believed he would endure prosecution without them. Bill chuckled to himself. Where is this freak of nature going to hide anywhere in the world?

Bill retrieved a folder from a drawer in his desk. He slid it across the desk towards McMannus.

“This contains all the information you need to start, including cover story, contact protocol, and address of your new residence. Pick up the new cell phone my secretary has for you on your way out. I will call you tomorrow afternoon, after you’ve settled into your new digs.”

McMannus nodded and got up to leave. Bill’s mind observed in slow motion, this…being… eclipsing the light in his office as he rose. The trepidation returned and Bill gritted his teeth against it. He forced himself to rise in polite dismiss.

No more words were said, just the mass of humanity striding out of his office into the cluster of administrative cubicles outside. He could see Keisha deftly handle the cell phone exchange. She was all business all of the time and the freak’s stature didn’t seem to faze her at all. Bill envied her balls. Ironically, having none, hers appeared to be much bigger than his. He shook the thought and plopped down into his chair. He really, really regretted taking this assignment.

The hum of the truck’s tires on the salted highway made Jim sleepy. He cranked the radio up and cracked the driver’s side window. The winter air rushed over his face and it took his breath away for a moment. The drive from Kansas City to St. Louis was as boring as it got. Non-stop on I-70 through miles of farmland turning to rolling, low forested wasteland spotted with metal buildings housing various repair shops and antique shops, it was straight as an arrow. Cruise control was a dangerous utility on this drive.

Jim wondered to himself if he it was smart to accept this prospective project. He thought back to the phone call two weeks ago. InnerSpace, a new pseudoscience magazine had contacted him regarding a series of articles they wanted to run on the psychology and pharmacology of bodybuilding. They had found him through the APA, American Psychological Association, looking for a psychologist with ties to bodybuilding. He had no idea what they wanted him to research, but the pharmacology part troubled him. How much did they think he would know, or for that matter, reveal.

He breathed in a gust of frigid air to clear his mind. He was approaching the last 50 miles and the landscape began to fill with strip centers and scattered housing. Humanity had stretched itself west of St. Louis so densely that without signage, one couldn’t tell that one wasn’t in St. Louis for another 30 miles. Jim scanned the radio until he found a hard rock station and cranked the radio louder. It didn’t have the effect he wanted; drowning out his fear.

Chapter 3

The offices of InnerSpace were on the 14th floor of a 70 year old office skyscraper near the arch. Jim had parked the truck in the adjacent garage and made his way through a maze of corridors to the building’s lobby. A bank of eight elevators in an alcove with a twenty foot ceiling opened up to his left. He took the first available one, along with six people, all of whom went to floors below his. A middle aged woman in a business suit stared at him. He could see her gazing in the elevator’s mirrored walls. He took up a lot of space in his custom tailored overcoat with shoulders cut wide to accommodate his big frame. She was the last one off before him and she continued to stare as she got off. He flashed her a polite smile and she just turned her head up and walked on. He was used to it.

The elevator doors opened up to a glass foyer with “InnerSpace” etched in 12” lettering on the glass door leading into the reception area. Jim entered and approached the front desk. A perky twenty-something woman smiled broadly and said “you must be Mr. Ferrell.” It was not unusual, he thought, figuring they were looking for a big man in Jim Ferrell.

“Yes I am”, he replied.

“Mr. Johnson is expecting you. Just go on into the conference room and he’ll be right with you.” She pointed to another glassed-in room with open vertical blinds.

“Thank you.” He headed into the conference room and found a comfortable armless, wheeled chair near the head of a 12’ long walnut conference table. He placed his briefcase next to his chair and sat back. A tall, thin, balding man in his forties entered and extended his hand. Jim rose to greet him.

“Brian Johnson.” The man took Jim’s hand and squeezed it firmly. Jim appreciated the grip, hating the wimpy handshakes many people tended to give him.

“Jim Ferrell. Nice to meet you.” They both sat down and Johnson placed a folder in front of Jim.

“How was the drive in?”

“Honestly, boring.”

“I have no doubt.” Johnson smiled a knowing smile. “Thank you for taking the time to meet with us. We’re very excited about this project.” He pointed to the folder in front of Jim. “I’ll get right to the point. We have several noted scientists in various human science fields that have heard some….exciting rumors… regarding gene therapy and hormone development in research stages that….” He paused as if to find the right words. “That might have found their way to underground labs with the intent to take research to unlicensed human trials.”

Jim felt his face go white. This was bigger, and more dangerous than he had first thought. He felt the urge to get up and run out as fast as he could, but something inside him…a real curiosity…held him in his chair.

“Interesting. And what do you see my role as?” he asked.

Johnson shifted in his seat and swallowed his upper lip with the lower. “We would like you to report on the psychology of the bodybuilder and whether or not you feel….or find…the mindset of willingness.”

“Willingness?” Jim really didn’t like the direction the conversation was taking. Bodybuilders were well known to throw caution to the wind when it came to performance enhancing material in the quest for perfection. He was not foreign to the concept. His own exposure seemed inevitable if he took this project.

“We have reason to believe that these human trials have already begun and the study demographic is narrowly focused on bodybuilders.”

Shit! Now Jim squirmed slightly in his seat. It wasn’t the subject of interest that bothered him. It was that it necessitated his nosing around in a culture that he called his own. He had doctor/patient privilege on his side, but that applied to his patients, not friends and associates. If there was illegal human testing taking place and he uncovered any of it, the government would certainly want to look into his findings. His thought to bail overwhelmed him.

“I don’t know…..”

Johnson leaned forward, knowingly. “We’ve checked with our attorney and produced as research, we can present your findings as probabilities rather than facts, and let our readership discriminate between fact and assumption. You would be held harmless.”

Jim didn’t feel assured. “Let me sleep on it and I’ll get back to you in a few days.”

Johnson nodded. “You take your time. I do believe that in the end, you’ll find this a fascinating study and will leap at the opportunity.”

Jim picked up his briefcase and opened it, placing the folder in it that Johnson had given him. They shook hands and Jim headed for the elevator. The receptionist bid him goodbye as he passed and he nodded, too deep in thought to reply. He pushed the elevator’s call button and the doors opened immediately. Staring woman was in the car as he got on and he endured her staring all the way to the lobby. They exited and headed in different directions, to Jim’s relief.

Halfway back to Kansas City, Jim opened his briefcase and pulled out the folder from InnerSpace. He opened it and in bold, black letters at the top of the cover page was written “BLACK DRAGON”. He scanned the lead paragraph and words like “myostatin” and “inhibitor” and “unusual mutations”, and “test subject” stood out. He flipped the folder closed and tossed it back into the briefcase. Johnson was partly right. His interest was certainly peaked. Still, he wasn’t sure that he wanted to be the tip of the spear in uncovering illegal research.

The hum of the road settled his mind down as he approached the outskirts of the KC Metro area. He felt tired. It wasn’t a sleepy tired. It was mental exhaustion. He grabbed his cell phone and tapped the gym’s phone number.

“Marty. You ready for the leg workout from hell?” The voice on the other end was animated and short.

“Me, too, little brother. Me, too. See you in an hour.” Jim touched “end call” and tossed the phone into the passenger seat. Working out was his release. This workout was going to be a doozey.

Signs indicating that Tampa was just a few miles away comforted Laura after the day-long hump from Paducah, Kentucky. She had turned the 14 hour trip into 10, using the K40 radar jammer in her Beemer.

She had stopped in Paducah on the way back from Kansas City for an appointment with researchers at GeneSci Labs.
She had gained acceptance into a double blind study of a new fat metabolizing drug with anabolic properties. Her bodybuilding background was ideal for the program. She was weighed, measured, poked, prodded and pretty much mentally dissected, then given a series of injections and sent on her way. She had repeated this process twice before and had two more visits six weeks apart. Her body responded incredibly, getting leaner in select areas, particularly her upper thighs and abdomen. Ironically, her breasts had not lost any size, which usually was the first area to show fat loss.

She was elated and certain that in the double blind, she was getting the actual drug. Her energy level in the gym had increased, too. She was handling weight she never dreamed of handling. At first she worried that steroids were involved, and feared too many masculinizing side effects, especially lowering her voice. That was a dead giveaway of steroid use among women. But 12 weeks into the trial she had no such side effects. She was satisfied that steroids, as she knew them were not involved.

Of course, she hadn’t been forthcoming with the contest promoters of the last show she did regarding the drug trial. Competing in a natural show meant absolutely no use of performance enhancing drugs. She just set her mind that she was on the placebo and officially stated that she was natural. She worried, though, that the changes in her body would not go unnoticed. She already stood out with her great genetics and the natural organizations were beginning to see her as their poster child, that one could develop a superior physique naturally. Her face and physique were in every natural bodybuilding magazine and webzine.

She exited 75 onto 4 West and headed to Ybor City and home. She had purchased a condo on the third floor of a renovated cigar factory on 22nd Street in the heart of the historic cigar district. She loved the atmosphere, the preserved Cuban architecture and the many boutique cigar bars with their in-house cigar rollers along 7th Street. Music filled the streets on the weekend nights and the smell of Cuban food from the historic Cuban Columbia House mixed with pungent cigar smoke made a walk through Ybor a rich and relaxing experience. Laura couldn’t wait to change clothes and hit the street.

02-13-2009, 04:26 PM
* still waiting for the explanation of 6% w/ boobz but no implants ;)

02-17-2009, 07:47 PM
Come on, Esplendido.....get those creative juices flowing. I'm waiting!!!

02-17-2009, 09:06 PM
Damn! Getting my balls busted by the Mrs.....:eek:

02-18-2009, 05:05 PM
Looking forward to reading the next installment.
Hurry up will ya. :D

02-26-2009, 07:57 AM
It seems like that you have already done a good job. Then I should follow your guide. Thanks. Could u please post more in future?

02-26-2009, 08:36 AM
Too long ,,,clif notes??

03-02-2009, 03:33 PM
Short add to story. More coming.

03-16-2009, 07:43 PM
Well, I have a chance to publish this novel and have been advised to stop posting my progress.....sorry :-(

I will, however, make the book available to members of this board at a discount should it get published.

03-16-2009, 07:44 PM
Well, I have a chance to publish this novel and have been advised to stop posting my progress.....sorry :-(

I will, however, make the book available to members of this board at a discount should it get published.

Autographed by the author I would hope....

03-16-2009, 07:51 PM
Autographed by the author I would hope....

Of course.

03-19-2009, 05:03 PM
Damn! Getting my balls busted by the Mrs.....:eek:

Arthur Early
04-25-2009, 10:57 PM
any updates

04-25-2009, 11:16 PM
See post #9

04-27-2009, 01:48 AM
Rick, I read some of it, great writing! I'm going to print it out so I can read it better, I'm too ADD to read that long of a post on here.

04-27-2009, 11:25 AM
Rick, I read some of it, great writing! I'm going to print it out so I can read it better, I'm too ADD to read that long of a post on here.

That was the other issue with posting the story online.....the shear bulk of reading necessary.