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In the fitness room

(Dylan and Rev have checked into their room at the Curada Hotel. They’ve also finished their special cheesecake. All of it.)

“Let’s go to the fitness room.”

“Do you feel the need to get fit?”

“I feel the need to go to the fitness room.”

“Not the same thing.”

“At all,” she agreed.

So they changed into their sweats. Mostly because it seemed the thing to do.

“Ready?” Dylan asked.

“Ready,” Rev replied, brimming with good fitness intentions, and led the way into the closet.

“It’s always door number three.”

“Yeah.”

They found the elevator, pressed the buttons, and got in when the doors opened. It was easier that way, they’d discovered.

They both stared at the grid of numbers and letters.

“Do you know what floor the fitness room is on?” Rev finally asked.

“No. Do you?”

“No.”

They stared at the grid of numbers and letters a bit longer.

“If you were a fitness room, where would you be?” Dylan asked.

“Near a bunch of fit people. Otherwise I’d be called an unfitness room.”

“And where would we find a bunch of fit people?”

“Near a fitness room.”

“That wasn’t very helpful, was it?” she said after several moments.

“No.”

“There’s a phone,” she observed. “That could be helpful.”

“But it’s an elevator phone. Isn’t it just for emergencies? Like when you’re stuck?”

“Right. Okay. But. Aren’t we stuck?”

“Wow,” Rev said, half an hour later when they stepped into the room. “Both sides of the room are set up exactly the same way!”

“That’s a mirror.”

“Oh.”

“First one to do five steps on the treadmill wins,” Dylan says.

“Wins what?”

“Nothing. Just wins. That’s why so many people watch sports. And then beat each other up when ‘their’ team doesn’t win.”

“Didn’t that study actually say that people beat each other up when their team does win?”

“You’re right.” He paused on the way to the treadmill machine.

“What were we going to do?” Rev said after a moment.

“Five steps on the treadmill.” Dylan remembered.

“Oh yeah. I can do that.” She walked over to it and was about to board.

“When it’s on,” he qualified, turning it on.

“Spoilsport.”

She stood at an angle to it and got into a rhythmic rocking, forward and back, forward and back, like she was trying to enter a double dutch.

“Can’t do it,” she gave up and stepped away. “You try.”

“Okay. New strategy.” He turned it off, stepped on, and then turned it on.

“Maybe if you’d grabbed on first,” Rev said, looking at him splattered against the wall behind it.

She stepped on, grabbed the handlebars, then turned it on. And was almost immediately hanging on for dear life, her feet dangling off the end, her body making the hypotenuse of a triangle.

“Let go!” Dylan cried out as the hypotenuse sagged, perhaps painfully.

“No!” She cried back, confirming the painful part. “Turn it off!”

He hurried to the switch and turned it off.

Rev made various parts of several other polygons before she managed to get off.

“I have an idea,” Dylan said. And grinned, momentarily happy with just that realization.

He approached the treadmill, threw one leg over, and sat down. “Remember Pickle?” He and Rev had ridden horses at Dim’s farm. It was something Dylan had never done before. And until this moment, something he intended never to do again. He wiggled his bottom a bit and made sure his feet were firmly on the floor on each side, ready to walk along.

“Ready!” he said to Rev. She turned it on.

“Okay, that didn’t work.” Once again, she managed to state the obvious.

“No,” he said from the floor at the end of the treadmill. “I got confused as to which part would be moving.”

— Jass Richards

Jass Richards has a master’s degree in philosophy and for a (very) brief time was a stand-up comic (now she’s more of a sprawled-on-the-couch comic). Despite these attributes, she has received four Ontario Arts Council grants. In addition to her Rev and Dylan series (The Road Trip Dialogues, The Blasphemy Tour and License to Do That), which has reportedly made people snort root beer out their noses, she has written This Will Not Look Good on My Resume, a collection of short stories described as “a bit of quirky fun that slaps you upside the head,” and its sequel, Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun (“… terrifically funny and ingeniously acerbic…” Dr. Patricia Bloom, My Magic Dog). All of her books, including her most recent, TurboJetslams: Proof #29 of the Non-Existence of Godcan be purchased (in print and various e-formats) at all the usual online places. “In the Fitness Room” is excerpted from The Blasphemy Tour.

Reflections of Erma