Sleeping Beauty

by Duncan L. Dieterly

“Now dad, I have to work late tonight so there is an extra ham sandwich in the fridge for your dinner. I made your favorite green jello, the kind you love. Oh, there is a pitcher of fresh ice tea. The salad is made, and in the red Tupperware bowl, just add the special salad dressing you use. I will be home no later than eight, and then we can talk.” “Don’t worry. I will be fine. I can take care of myself, yeah know!” The stooped white haired man sitting at the kitchen table snapped at her. “Well just take all of your medicine - hear me now, all of it and DON’T over exert yourself at the fitness center. It’s only been two years since your open heart surgery, and you still have some work to do to get back up to speed.” “Yes, yes I understand! Not too hard, got it.” She swallowed her coffee and rushed about the modest apartment gathering her things. Satisfied she was ready, asked, “Do you want me to drop you off?” “No sweetheart, the walk over is part of my warm up. I will be fine, like always.” She thought, Sure that is how this all started when I got a surprise call from the emergency room that you had a stroke. “Ok, see yeah.” She bent over quickly kissing him on his stubbly cheek. He offhandedly waved her out of the door. She left. The old man sighed, relaxing now that his beloved whirling dervish had gone. He leisurely finished nibbling at his dry toast, then empted the glass of skimmed milk. Carefully he swept the tabletop with his deeply veined hand, tossed the crumbs in the garbage can, and then placed the utensils in the dishwasher. He checked the area to make sure it was clean and neat. There, it is perfect, like I had never existed. He went to his bedroom, returning with his faded blue work-out bag and left. It was only a few easy blocks to his fancy modern fitness center. The day was bright and warm. He strode with some pleasure, thinking of his life and how slow and boring it had become since his heart attack. The attack, unfortunately made all the difference. It forced him to live with his daughter, Sleeping Beauty 1

spend endless hours reading old magazines in doctor’s waiting rooms and consuming a wide variety of pills to keep going. Cutting across the parking lot, he approached the center stairs up to the second floor. It was funny that his first big effort was climbing a flight of stairs to access the center. Maybe it was their test. After climbing them, he was scanned in with his plastic member badge. Enduring the grins of the young attendants, who all were very pleasant, as he went to the warm up area to complete his four floor exercises, that he had been taught at the rehab clinic. He then stepped on the massive treadmill. He plugged in his radio and tuned it to the TV news station, so he could watch the large screen TV suspended from the ceiling. He didn’t really enjoy the news anymore. It was so repetitious, but it was better than just walking his one mile without any distractions. The news was all about a woman called Jihad Jane, who had just been indicted, although arrested last October. The commentator was rambling on about how could she possibly be a terrorist? After all, she was a blond, white American woman. It made him laugh a little. He supposed all terrorists were expected to look like bearded rag headed goat herders. He took a full eighteen minutes to walk a mile and then pushed another quarter for good measure. His heart rate seemed fine, but he felt tired. Using his towel, he wiped off the sweat. Then after resting a few minutes dropped the seat on the bicycle to its lowest level and climbed on board. Looking all around he was disappointed that ‘Miss Botox’ was not there today strutting her stuff. She was an extremely attractive older woman with the largest damn lips he had ever seen! He assumed that her ample breasts were also augmented, although he hoped not. He was lagging behind his usual rate. Redoubling his efforts, he pedaled harder and was able to finish two miles in ten and a half minutes, certainly not his record but good enough. Dismounting, he waited for the newscaster to finish the story about the latest child molester. He turned the radio off. Slowly he descended the inside stairs to the downstairs exercise room to do some static lifts. It was not a busy day so he was able to do them quickly without waiting for equipment. He finished his hour workout, after doing eight bench presses with a hundred ten pounds. Now he was definitely spent. Climbing off the bench he wiped off the seat of the equipment and wandered back to the floor mat area. Lying down to do a few leg raises and Sleeping Beauty 2

stomach crunches. His bag, radio and towel were next to him. Before beginning it was time for him to rest for several minutes. Idly, he thought of the rest of his day. Home for lunch, watch a movie on TV, finish reading his Robert Parker mystery book, have dinner, do the crossword puzzle and watch the news until Janice came home. Not exactly high-powered but he was adjusting to it all. To finish up, he performed thirty leg raises and was breathing hard again. Resting briefly, he did twenty crunches, which definitely wore him out. Finished! His exhausted body merged into the dark mat. His eyelids fell. A picture of his wife Sara popped into his head. It was when they were first dating …she was just twenty. My God, she was a gorgeous woman. The memory surprised him but he held onto it smiling broadly basking in his past. His face relaxed into peaceful tranquility. He was breathing deeply, remembering. Two hours later, an attentive trainer, sensing a potential client, approached him: ‘to wake up the old codger’ and realized… he was not asleep.

The End

Copyright © 2011 by Duncan L. Dieterly All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Convention. No part of this story may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form including information storage and retrieval systems, written without permission, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in review. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized copies.

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

1,032words July 5, 2011

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