Words = 687

The Sauna
by Daniel Finneran

John Graw -- thin, athletic, though fending off a bit of a paunch -- walked out from his 12’ X 15’ office, dark-blue, nylon gymbag, and briefcase, in one hand, green, all-weather overcoat draped over the other. ‘Hi, Judy,’ he said, almost in a whisper, to his receptionist who was, on the phone -- and, he could tell, once again, something to do with the kids. He alighted out his office, pressed ‘G’ for ground, took a quick look out from his 3rd floor perch, took the elevator down to the parking lot, shared with the bank, out to one of four spaces marked ‘Reserved for Graw and Karamatoupolous,’ started his Volvo, metallic, light green sedan, drove off, and was soon entering the front door of the Y. Soon in the pool. His goggles, and an actual Speedo, on, he knifed through the water, with his smooth stroke. He could feel his shoulders strengthen, and could feel the



coordination of his limbs. One stroke, two stroke, breathe. He, almost, felt sleek. Then out, to the sauna, and -- once again… He looked up at the sign, hastily made -- just printed out; no lamination or anything -- now stuck to the rear wall, up where there wasn’t much light. ‘Attention: It is requested that all using the sauna wear either shorts, or sit on a towel. Thank You.’ This sign had been there for over a week now, since he had stopped by the manager’s office, after weeks of having to sit in the sauna, and seeing all these freaken guys, all sitting, on the wood, sans shorts, or towel. ‘I just -- I don’t mean to be a pain in the neck,’ he had said. ‘I just think it’s unsanitary. I just think it odd people would -- do that.’ The nice woman, in her 60s or so, with well-coifed grey hair, also had been disconcerted. But now -- this guy, laying out, completely flat -- Dear God…just layin’ out. ‘Excuse me,’ he said. ‘Excuse me.’ The guy, barely, looked over. ‘Yeah, what’s up.’ ‘There’s a sign there. That requests that members use -- have shorts on, or a towel beneath them. When using the sauna. It’s right there.’ ‘Yeah, well, what are you the management?’ There was a slight, very brief moment, of hesitation. ‘No, I’m not. It’s a rule, clearly stated. Right there.’ ‘And why is this some big deal to you?’ John hesitated for one moment more (he’d spent more than a few hours in court).



‘Because, it’s unsanitary, that’s why. It’s unsanitary.’ The man breathed out, and in. He hesitated for a time, still laying back, and he then sat up. ‘Well, I’m out of here anyway. Will this make you happy.’ He looked down at his shower sandals, pushed around at them with his feet, finally put them on, and left. John then finished in the sauna, showered, and was getting dressed, and he saw the man that he had had the run-in with. His body was hunched, and though somewhat muscled, with deposits of fat. John’s was, still -- for now -- more athletic. His shoulders, and chest, still with definition. When they -- just about -- glanced at each other, the man, somewhat diminutively, looked away. And went on, with his head down, to button his shirt. Soon John was in his car, heading back to work. He drank from a bottle of spring water, and he pulled out onto the road, clutching down, and shifting into second, and deftly taking another long draught from his water even as he shifted, accelerating, at close to too rapid a clip towards the intersection just down the hill. Accelerating and knowing one thing. ‘Cause he was, for a moment, filled with adrenalin. Somehow, he was not sure why, it was almost better than winning a court case. His head clear from a swim, and the sauna, and knowing one thing. That he felt clean. He, at least -- and some were, and some weren’t; some won, some lost -- felt clean.

-- END --