(Thank you for clicking in.  If this is your first visit, ready for a story?  If that’s the case, please go to They Had the Right to Remain Silent (1), where this tale begins.  There are postings earlier than that, which explain this blog.  Been here before?  Up to speed?  Then read on, fellow bloggers!)
They Had the Right to Remain Silent
Richard Jachimecki
Chapter ( v ) continues…
     You’ve got to be joking, Nora thought, as she eyeballed her instructor from head to toe. ‘Sparkle’ had a waist smaller in circumference than one of Nora’s calves, with sinewy legs that started at Sparkle’s toned hips, and tapered perfectly to her scrunched, white ankle socks and petite Reeboks.
     Sparkle shook hands with Nora, “I think we’ve got it from here,” she said, “thanks, Ricky.”
     “You got it,” he said and headed back to his counter duties.
     “Well,” Sparkle said, her light blue eyes meeting Nora’s spectacled browns, “what will you need from me to reach your goals?” Are those contacts? Nora wondered.
     “You!” Nora said, “did you ever see Invasion of the Body Snatchers? I’ve got a pod for you to try on.” Sparkle stared. You’re too young, Nora thought.
     “I really want to lose all this extra baggage,” she said, and grabbed her own midsection.
     “Seriously,” Sparkle said, “we’ll need aerobics for metabolism and weight loss, then some resistance- training to tone you up.” Sparkle squeezed Nora’s upper left arm through the sleeve of the thick sweatshirt Nora was wearing, “the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn.”
     Sparkle held up an eight- by- ten card in her left hand, which contained a list of exercises and a graph of small squares for amounts and dates.
     “You’ll be tracking your numbers every time you come here,” she said, “you’ll be amazed at your progress, if you keep at it,” she handed the card to Nora, “and you’ll see the results in the mirror.”
     “Lead the way, Sparky,” Nora said, “what’s first?”
     “Any problems with your knees or ankles?”
     “The treadmill.”
     They went to the line of treadmill machines and found most occupied; some members walked, others ran. They finally came upon an empty unit at the far end, near the front windows.
     “Perfect,” Nora said, “I’m on display in a fishbowl,” she looked around the gym, “is it always this busy?”
     “No,” Sparkle replied, “get up on the belt,” she said, pointing at the machine’s platform, then took the card from Nora, “on weekdays, the heaviest times are real early in the morning and after work, like now.”
     “What about weekends?” Nora asked, as she stepped up and walked to the front of the treadmill.
     “Weekend mornings are busy, but it dies down in the afternoon,” Sparkle said, “and Sunday nights are the slowest, just a handful in the whole place.”
     Sparkle turned on the display which was mounted to the front of the handrail and framed Nora on all sides but the rear, where Nora had entered. The display came alive with numbers: speed, calories- burned, distance- covered, and a digital stopwatch. In the center was a window of red LED’s, the lights showing a representational ‘terrain’ of the track; the easier valleys and the more resistant hills, based on the lengths of the vertical light bars that were spread across the window. Sparkle set the timer for twenty minutes.
     “This is at low resistance,” she said, “it’ll give you a chance to get used to the machine safely, and warm you up.” Sparkle wrote in the appropriate numbers on Nora’s card.
     Nora walked along to the pace set by the moving tread- belt under her feet.
     “This isn’t bad,” she said, “do all of you work here all day long?”
     “No,” Sparkle replied, “most of us will work eight- hour shifts, different times on different days.” She pressed a spot on the display and Nora could feel the belt accelerate slightly, “that should do it,” Sparkle said to Nora.
     “Thurman’s the one who spends all the time here,” Sparkle said, “he closes the place too. Him, or Ricky.”
     “The guy at the counter?” Nora asked.
     “Right,” Sparkle said, “Ricky, once or twice a week, Thurman all the other times.”
     “Who closes on weekends?”
     “That’s always Thurman,” Sparkle said, “he likes to ‘wrap things up for the week’, he calls it. Then Ricky can go out on Saturdays if he wants,” Sparkle watched Nora’s strides, “keep the arms pumping, Nora,” she said, “and Ricky has school on Monday mornings, so Thurman does Sunday nights, too. It’s real slow anyway.”
     After Nora’s stint was over on the treadmill, Sparkle took her to the rowing machine.
     “This will get your whole body involved,” she said, “really burn some serious calories.”
     As Nora tugged on the handle with both hands, her seat slid back and forth on the unit’s guide rail.  She thought of the old Ben Hur movie, with Charlton Heston pulling on the oar in the galley of a Roman warship, but decided it would be a waste to try and share that image with Sparkle.
     After about ten minutes, Nora’s sweatsuit top was wet around the collar and she was panting heavily.
     “We won’t try too much for the first day,” Sparkle said, “it’s consistency over the long run that makes the difference.”
     “The steam room is always on, right?” Nora asked, “I’ll be coming in later most of the time.”
     “Shuts down a half- hour before closing,” Sparkle said, “but don’t spend too much time in there, the heat can make you pretty woozy.”
     “Half an hour before?” Nora confirmed.
     “Set in stone,” Sparkle said, “so people don’t start showering too late.”
     Sparkle had Nora work a couple of the weight- resistance machines, then called it a day.
     “You leave your record card at the front desk,” she said, “that way you don’t forget it at home.”
     “Thank you for your help,” Nora said.
     “I’ll take your card up there today,” Sparkle said, “you going to the steam?”.
     “Not today,” Nora said, “maybe tomorrow. I plan on coming every day.”
     “Good for you,” Sparkle said, “we’ll see ya tomorrow, then.” She headed toward the counter with Nora’s chart.
     Nora got her bag from the locker room, thanked Sparkle once more, then squeezed her way through the turnstile and went out the door. Maybe she’d see Thurman tomorrow.

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