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Old April 9th, 2007, 06:53 PM
Thicker is Best
 
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An American Muscleman in London - Part 5

The First Full Moon – Continued

I woke up the next morning at 9:00am. I had slept for almost eighteen hours. I guess I needed it. I must have really been suffering from jetlag – and hadn't known how much. There was, however, no feeling of being tired when I woke up. I jumped out of bed and felt fantastic. It was like I was high on vitamins or something. My entire body was on fire for action. It was as if every molecule in my body was in overdrive. I decided to go for a run. Never in my life had I run further than the length of a gymnasium – and that was in junior high. But today I felt an incredible urge to go for a run. And I knew it would be a long run. I got dressed, went outside, and began. I ran south to the river and then turned east, running along the Thames on the south bank. Two hours later I found myself coming back up the north side of the river and felt so good that I decided to go back to “Arthur’s Antiques” to see if there was anything else I wanted for my flat. I kept thinking to myself, “Damn, I feel good!” I wasn’t even breathing hard and I had run constantly for two hours.

I retraced my path from the day before and started up Maiden Lane to the site of the store. I must have gotten it wrong because the spot where I stopped was actually a passageway to the next street. These kinds of arched outdoor hallways seemed to be all over the city – a quick way to go from one block to the next. I looked around and came to the realization that this should have bene the place where the shop stood. But that is not what I found. I walked up and down the lane again – checking the name of the street twice. It wasn’t that hard since it was a short street. This was completely baffling. I stepped into the passageway and the look of the walls told me they had been this way for a long time. Was I going crazy? It couldn’t be that. My mind and my body seemed to be alive for the first time in my life. I had never known such energy.

I walked back to the street and started for home. The only explanation was I had gotten the name of the street wrong, but I was pretty sure Maiden Lane had been what Martin wrote down. I would check to make sure when I got home. While I was passing Trafalgar Square it looked like a riot was taking place. There were people everywhere and even a crowd in the fountain at the center of the square. Upon closer observation I realized it wasn’t a riot – people looked happy, as if they were celebrating. I asked a guy standing beside me what was going on.

He said, “Where’ve you been, mate? England won their football match today!” And with that he started yelling and ran into the crowd. I laughed at his enthusiasm. I marveled at how wonderful this day was going and headed home.

That afternoon I went shopping at a market called “Marks and Spencer.” After getting groceries I spent some time in the National Portrait Gallery. I could tell that museum was going to be one of my favorite places to visit. There were some great paintings and photographs of people in England’s history and present day. I moved back outside onto the square where people were still celebrating. I still felt great! There were people sitting on the square – outside of the gallery - soaking up the sun. I decided to join the crowd – okay, specifically so I could scope out the cute guys who had taken off their shirts. Sitting there, the sun felt great and I felt a surge of energy. I suddenly decided to take my shirt off and do some push-ups. I never did push-ups – especially in public. And I never took my shirt off in public. I stood up, took my shirt off, hung it from my back pocket, and proceeded to execute 100 push-ups – knowing my form was perfect. I didn’t even break much of a sweat. Getting over my jetlag was great! I didn’t know I could feel so alive. At ten till four I decided to head towards ‘Halfway’ to meet Martin. Boy did I have a lot of questions for him.

I already had my Stella and was sitting in the corner of the front part of the pub – near the window – when Martin walked in. I could tell immediately he was either agitated or very excited. He scanned the room quickly, found me, and came directly to the corner. He didn’t even order a pint first.

A big smile came across his face and he said, “Anthony, dear, it is fantastic to see you – how are you feeling today?”

The way he asked the question seemed much more intense than a casual “how are you?” It seemed like he wanted additional information for some reason. I answered, “It’s great to see you, too, Martin. And actually, since you asked, I feel great. I don’t think I ever remember feeling this good. My jetlag seems to have disappeared and I even went running today – and, Martin, I never go running. I can’t explain it. I feel like a million bucks – wait, no, I feel like a million pounds.”

Martin laughed and said, “Splendid! I was hoping you would feel that way today. It must be the Stella Artois you are drinking and the great London atmosphere that has invigorated you. I am so happy you feel so powerful.”

“Well, I don’t know about powerful, Martin, but I do feel healthy for some reason.” But it did cross my mind that his word was more accurate in describing the way I felt.

Martin smiled and exclaimed, “By powerful I meant healthy. Sorry, my dear boy, I am often very dramatic. So, do you like Lancelot’s glove.”

“Yes! Oh, Martin, I completely forgot. That should have been the first thing I said. Thank you, thank you. I placed it on my mantle today. I really appreciate your gift! It looks cool.”

“Well, I know nothing about cool, Anthony,” Martin said, “But I am very glad it fit – I mean that it fit in your flat. Oh, I am just glad you like it.”

“Speaking of the glove, I wanted to tell you something very bizarre…”

Martin interrupted me, “Yes, of course, Anthony, but first let me get a pint of Carling. Do you want another Stella?”

“Sure that would be great,” I said and Martin began to walk away. I stood up to get coins out of my pocket.

Martin stopped when he saw what I was doing and made a face. “Oh, Anthony, for heaven’s sake – do not be rude. I am offering to buy you a Stella. After all, we are celebrating!” And with that he turned and walked to the bar.

I’m sure my face turned red. I wasn’t meaning to be rude. I just didn’t know that was his intention. How stupid of me. Then it hit me what Martin had said before he walked away – I wondered what we were celebrating? I watched Martin as he got the drinks and then took his time coming back. He stopped to talk to many people. I assumed they were all locals. I was beginning to think Martin wanted to avoid me when he finally looked up from a conversation, said goodbye, and walked back to our corner.

“So sorry, Anthony. I had to work the room, you know. It is like holding court – and I miss that so much.” It seemed Martin drifted off with an old memory.

“No problem Martin. As long as you’re not getting bored of me – trying to avoid me,” I said half joking.

“On the contrary! Our adventures together have just begun. It is like rekindling an old friendship,” he said smiling. Somehow, I felt the same way.

It was then I remembered. “Listen, Martin. I had a very weird experience at Arthur’s Antiques yesterday. I can’t remember much of it – because I guess I was still foggy from jetlag – but it involved the glove and that guy Arthur.”

“Oh, his name is not Arthur – it is Frank,” Martin said.

“I guess I just assumed, you know, from the name of the shop.”

“Oh, I see. No. The store is named after King Arthur,” explained Martin.

“Right,” I said and continued, “Well, you see, that’s just it Martin. Besides the weirdness of yesterday, I went back today and Arthur’s Antiques isn’t there. I thought I was getting the street wrong but I looked at your directions and they confirmed it was Maiden Lane. I walked up and down that street and there was no shop.”

“Do not be ridiculous, Anthony. Of course it is still there. Frank would have told me he was closing down. I know he does not get much business, but he still would have told me,” Martin said scanning the crowd – probably to see if anyone new had come in.

“No, Martin. I mean the building wasn’t there. It was a passageway.” And as I said this I knew it suddenly sounded a little crazy.

Martin patted my hand. “Anthony, I am sure you just went to the wrong place.” I started to protest, but Martin continued, “Listen, this Sunday I am free. I will meet you for lunch and then the two of us will go to the store together. All right then?”

This sounded very reasonable to me – especially after I sounded so crazy before. I had even begun to doubt my sense of direction and knew that I probably just missed the correct stree somehow. After all, how does an entire shop disappear over night? Especially a store like Arthur’s Antiques -that was completely filled. “That would be great, Martin.”

“We can get some more stuff for your flat,” Martin said looking at his watch. “Oh my, look at the time. Anthony, I’m afraid I have just enough time for a half pint. I am on my way to dinner with friends before going to see the musical “Wicked.” It will be my fifth time to see the show. It is wonderful. I just love shows that have witches and wizards – especially wizards! Have you seen it?”

“No, not yet. I don’t even know if it has come to Houston, yet. Maybe I’ll get to see it while I’m here,” I said.

“That is a definite, my good man. I will get us tickets for a night in the near future. I just cannot see it enough. Another pint?” he asked starting to walk away.

“Oh, no, thank you, though.” My mind was spinning. It was as if I was beginning to feel the beer, but I knew couldin'g be buzzed. I was having trouble staying focused long enough to ask Martin all the questions in my head. I was so confused and most of the questions flew from my mind. I believe it was partly from Martin’s ability to change the subject. He was such a funny man, that way. So warm and open, but somehow so secretive. He could divert the conversation so well. And at that moment Martin returned.

“So what are we celebrating?” I asked. I was so excited to remember a question.

“Anthony, my friend, we are celebrating the full moon that comes on Thursday,” is what he answered, but I got the distinct feeling there was something else, as well.

“What’s so great about the full moon, Martin? Is that a custom in England that I'm not familiar with?” I asked.

“Not a custom, per se, but you never know what will happen during a full moon, Anthony, you never know. Exciting things happen,” Martin said looking intently in my eyes.

“You mean like werewolves,” I said jokingly.

“Anthony, remember that the moon has a strong connection with everything. There is much power that comes from the moon. Just take the tide for example. The ocean current is very strong and, yet, the moon is able to make the waves bend to its power.”

“Of course you’re right, Martin,” I said, “I just didn’t know that was cause to celebrate.”

“Well, it will be your first full moon in London, Anthony. That is definite cause for celebration.” Martin almost sounded a little creepy – similar to a conversation we had the first day I met him. But then he added quickly, “Oh Anthony, it is just fun to make up a reason to celebrate, is it not?” And with that Martin threw his head back in laughter. His laugh was infectious so I laughed, also. He had obviously just been mysterious to get me going. “So I am afraid I must run, Anthony. Dinner with a few friends is waiting. But you, my good fellow, are to come to my place for dinner on this Thursday night. Promptly at 7:30. I’ll send my driver for you. His name is John. He will buzz your flat around seven. Right, then?” He was staring at me. It was so incredibly generous of him. I was very flattered. I also got the feeling he wasn't really giving me a choice.

“I’ll have to check my calendar, first,” I said and pretended to flip pages in an imaginary book. “Well, guess what, I’m free. As a matter of fact, I have no plans that entire day! I would love to come Martin.”

“Splendid! It will just be some close friends – you will love them. Maybe one will become a special friend for you - one never knows, does one.” Before I could say anything he leaned over, kissed my cheek, said loudly, “To the full moon, Anthony, to the full moon,” turned and disappeared in the crowd that had gathered in the pub.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 07:01 PM
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Part 5

Love it! Keep it coming, Londonboy.
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Old April 10th, 2007, 04:44 AM
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Sorry to be "late" on my response I had just finished reading your story and I'm very excited about it.

For starters, reading a muscle growth story that is not staged in the US is very interesting, mostly because you "own" the geogrpahy and the iconography of London, so even for someone who had never been to the city, your story has a remarkable sense of direction that supports the reader on his way of understanding the story you want to tell him.

Second, I am also a fan of medieval legends and lores, especially those related to King Arthur and Merlin - so when you join together such themes with muscle growth, this really is a great promisse. The set up of the scenario has been excellent so far, each character has a singular aspect but all of them to be sharing something only Lance doesn't know. Perhaps that's the greatest gift of your story, you managed to explore the London scenario, told us a very interesting revisitation of the legends and yet managed to keep us avid for more.

I would say that your story is a big hit huh?

Congratulations, I hope you're having fun writing it.

Cheers
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Old April 10th, 2007, 05:18 AM
Thicker is Best
 
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Wow! Thanks, Muscl4life, for the thoughtful and positive feedback. I really enjoy London - so writing about the city is fun. I'm glad my memories of it can help others get a sense of what a great place it is. Since you are a fan of medieval legends, especially those of King Arther and Merlin, maybe I could call upon you for advice as the story progresses. I am familiar with them, but not in any depth - it was merely an idea as I began to write that has taken off (and I like the direction it is going). I don't know about the story being a "big hit," but I am enjoying the process of writing it very much. I find myself jotting notes all the time about different aspects of the story. I am glad that some people are enjoying it , as well. Thanks, again, for your response.
Cheers!
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Old April 10th, 2007, 11:11 AM
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You simply can not write this story fast enough. I want to know what happens now!

lol
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Old April 10th, 2007, 02:56 PM
Thicker is Best
 
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I will try my best to get them to you quickly, Tim. I promise! Another one this evening, I hope.
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