Bareword
Mr. Tokyo

The gym was boring. But that was fine by Tokyo. He used it more for meditation than exercise.

Beginning his session in shorts and grey vest, his obligations were minimal. Perhaps a nod to a couple of regulars whose faces he knew, perhaps an examination of some notice pinned to the wall, changes in terms and conditions. It was all irrelevant; if he didn’t feel like even that limited amount of interaction, he could keep his eyes on the floor.

What he came for was the routine. First the stretches: neck, arms, stomach and back; legs, groin. Then the machines, always the same sequence. The bench press. The shoulder press. The inclined sit ups. The leg curls. Routine. Tokyo carried a piece of paper from apparatus to apparatus, reading the weight settings so that even memory was not required.

And once in place, he took his time over the repetitions, head hot among the cool metal, the black weights, the padded leather. The weights went up, they came down. He controlled the rate. He breathed in rhythm and studied the points at which his body protested, the odd little justifications his brain found to give up early. The sequence. The numbered repetitions. The gym was a carefully ordered little world into which his body fitted.

The shower afterwards was always satisfying. He would wash quickly and then just stand beneath the jet, hair plastered over his eyes, alone in the deluge. Under the hot water he could be perfectly quiet, shut away from both his worlds for as long as he wanted.