Lights Out

Alvin wants to be known as “That Guy In The Boxing Room”. He wants you all to notice, as he passes by the rows of elliptical trainers and stationary bikes, the Stepmills and the treadmills, through the free weights and weight machine areas, that he’s going into the boxing room to do his thing. It’s his new thing, and it’s his thing alone. He’ll turn the lights on in the room in case that helps you notice.
Occasionally the lights are already on when he enters the room, because someone is already in the boxing room. Usually it’s some big guy with at least 50 pounds more muscle than Alvin has and many more years of experience. But that doesn’t intimidate him. Not at all. And even though the occasional big guy doesn’t even do so much as glance in Alvin’s direction, Alvin wishes there were some special signal he and the guy could use to indicate their brotherhood. A handshake, maybe, or a wink. Or even just a nod.
So he enters the room carrying his boxing gloves, the ones that the guy in the sporting goods store asked if he was really sure he wanted because, really, was he going to use them in a match? The gloves are tucked under his arm with a studied casualness that belies the thrill that courses through every inch of Alvin’s body just by being near the gloves at all.
Unlike at home, when he slides his hands into the gloves with loving tenderness, in the boxing room he crams them into the gloves almost like he’s punching his way inside. He’s tough now, yeah, he’s The Guy In The Boxing Room. And you’d all do yourselves a big favor to notice. Meanwhile, his toothpick arms protrude from the swollen, puffy red boxing gloves like skewers at the ends of particularly dense kebobs of shish.
If someone else is in the room, Alvin pretends to stretch or meditate. Something … anything … until the other person leaves. Because what Alvin has to do, he has to do alone. He doesn’t mind if you see him doing it through the plate glass windows, no, but he doesn’t want you in the room with him. It’s gonna get ugly in there, boy.
So he waits until he’s alone. Usually he’s alone from the get go. And then he goes to town, baby. Does he ever.
So he bobs. He weaves. Considers, yet again, the stage name of “Bobby Weaver”, and quickly discounts it.
He never wipes away his sweat, profuse as it is (and odd, how profuse it is, given that, despite all his effort, he doesn’t seem to be doing much), because he needs you to see that he has some. He’s not above dabbing at his forehead with water from his bottle, though, if it will help make him look like he’s having the workout of his life.
He almost wishes he had a black eye. That’d look tough, wouldn’t it? Sure as shit. He wonders how much it would hurt if he ran into a doorknob, the way his mom used to do all the time when he was younger. His mother, he now realizes for the first time, must have been incredibly short way back when, but he didn’t notice because he was too busy cowering behind her literal apron to notice.
Man oh man, his father’s hands would’ve been way too big for the gloves Alvin’s wearing now. He’s older than his father was back then, so shouldn’t his hands, if not his body, have caught up in size?
He knows what to do.
On the way home, he picks up three steaks. One for his dinner, one for his mom’s, and one for the black eye he intends to create after she’s gone to bed. And tomorrow, at the gym, as he passes by the rows of elliptical trainers and stationary bikes, the Stepmills and the treadmills, through the free weights and weight machine areas, on his way to the boxing room to do his thing, he’ll hope someone will at least nod his way.