I squeezed my Harley between two parked cars, rumbled across the sidewalk, and stopped near an old oak tree. Every eye was on me as I dropped the kickstand and stepped away from the bike. It gave me more than a small amount of pleasure to see the confusion on all the faces.
I removed my leather jacket and unstrapped my helmet. I could see Steve getting up from the picnic table and start my way as I pulled the helmet from my head. I carefully placed it on my handlebars and turned to face him.
"Holy shit! Eric! I sure as hell never thought you'd be pulling up on a sweet ride like this," he exclaimed. "I'd expect you in something like a Honda Civic!"
We shook hands and then he hugged me. He made no effort to conceal his pleasure that I had made the trip to attend his daughter's wedding. He positively beamed as he turned to his gathered neighbors, friends, and relatives.
"Hey, everybody! It's the guy that stood up for me all those years ago," laughed Steve. "I don't know whether to thank him or deck him. If he had talked me out of it, I'd still be a free man, riding a Harley, drinking beer, and breaking hearts!"
"The only heart that would be breaking would be yours, Steve, every time you saw me with Wilbur Reynolds," challenged a feminine voice.
Steve's wife, Grace, came sauntering up to me and wrapped her arms around my neck and gave me a not-so-quick kiss on the lips. She was a little heavier than she had been on her wedding day, but still looked great. Giving birth to three kids and gaining fifteen pounds did little to suppress her smoldering sexuality. I calculated that she had to be about forty-two since she had been two years behind me in high school.
"Eric, you've changed! You look great and feel like a chunk of steel. I can't wait to see how Eve reacts when she sees you. She should be kicking her own ass the rest of her life," added Grace. "What have you been doing to get so damn buff? I thought accountants were soft, pasty white, and pudgy."
"You mean exactly like I was when I left town fourteen months ago, Grace?" I retorted, but with a smile so Grace would know I was not upset. "I like to think the soft, fat Eric Walters is gone forever. I came to realize I didn't like him much more than my loving wife did, so I made some changes. I hope I buried that fat bastard so deep he'll never resurface."
"Eric, I didn't realize you felt that way. I thought you were a content, if somewhat soft, husband and father. I never guessed you disliked your body image so much at the time," revealed Grace.
"Well, Grace, the truth is that I actually was pretty damn content at the time, and blind as a bat. At least until Eve turned it all upside down," I added.
By this time we had reached the party and Grace began introducing me to any guests I did not already know. I remembered most of them, as I had been born and raised in the town. I had lived there until April of the previous year. I received a lot of comments about my hair cut, my tan, and my new build. I lost count of how many times I was asked where I was living and what I was doing. I tried to respond patiently each time. I pretty much expected that would be the case when I decided to accept the invitation to the wedding of Steve's daughter, Ann. She had just graduated from Penn State and would be teaching third grade at the local elementary school in the fall. Her soon-to-be husband had just been honorably discharged from the Marines after two tours in the Mideast. Eve and I were Ann's godparents.
Becky had insisted I return to the home town for my goddaughter's wedding. Becky was my brother's wife and she had taken me under her wing when Eve had shattered my life.
"Eric, you can't ignore your friends and family any longer. You were Steve's best man and you're Ann's godfather. You should be there to share in the celebration. You have to reclaim your life and show everyone that you've moved on. It'll be the final step in your healing," she assured me. "You'll come back a much happier man. You'll see how lucky you really are that Eve was an unfaithful slut and that you're way better off without that cheating bitch!"
I wanted to believe Becky, but I was filled with doubts. Eve had pretty much told me that I was a lousy lover and a pathetic excuse for a man. She had found a real man that knew how to treat and take care of a woman and she wanted me the hell out of her life. I had never even suspected anything was wrong. When she told me about wanting to move in with her lover, I had been stunned. The more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that Eve had been right. I was a pathetic bastard.
The same day Eve informed me that she was moving in with her lover, I signed a listing agreement on our house and quit my job. That probably seemed pretty childish, as well as quite rash to most of our friends and relatives, but I had to get out. I was ashamed to look anyone in the eye, knowing they would be thinking what a needle-dicked wimp I had to be. Besides that, I hated my job.
I had been an accountant in a firm with offices all over the eastern half of the country. I had advanced about as far as I was likely to go. The work was tedious and boring as hell. An exciting week was one where I had to spend a few extra minutes on an account to find a bookkeeping error. I had become a soft, middle aged man with an expanding waistline and receding hairline.
My brother, Frank, and Becky lived north of Pittsburgh. They owned several gyms and had recently expanded their services. They had added a large room on each of their three gyms and began offering martial arts classes as well as ballroom and line dancing lessons. They took me in without any prior notice when I showed up on their doorstep at five AM.
"Eric, we do need someone to keep all the financials for our company, but it isn't enough for a full time job," added Frank. "If you were interested in some other duties, we could take you on full time. We're always looking for dependable people."
"What other duties, Frank?" I asked suspiciously. "Are you going to have me mopping the floors and cleaning the bathrooms?"
"We already have a firm contracted for that," laughed Becky. "Our gyms are open 24 hours, seven days a week. We need trainers. We've also started offering line dancing and ball room dancing lessons, as well as martial arts. You'd be expected to help with all of it."
"In case you've failed to notice, Becky, and that seems very unlikely, I'm not the right stuff for weight training, or dancing for that matter, and I couldn't fight my way out of a wet paper bag," I responded somewhat despondently. "I can't do any of that. I'll just look for a job in accounting someplace."
"I thought you said that you hated that shit, Bro! Why spend your life doing something you dislike so badly?" asked Frank.
"Because it's something I know I can do, Frank. Look at me! I can't help you in the gym. Hell, I've never even been inside one. I'm just a pudgy, slightly balding putz," I admitted. "No one has ever mistaken me for The Terminator."
"Not yet," replied Becky with a big grin. "You've got the same genes as Frank and look how I've whipped his ass into shape. I'll have you buffed up in no time. The real challenge will be the ballroom dancing. Frank can lift a ton, but he isn't the most graceful guy I've ever seen. He does do a little better with the line dancing."
"Frank teaches dancing?" I asked incredulously. "This is hard to believe, no offense Frank."
"None taken," chuckled Frank. "I don't teach it, Eric. I'm just a warm body the ladies use and toss away when they're done with me."
"What the hell? Are you some kind of male escort or gigolo?" I asked doubtfully.
"He is, in a manner of speaking," laughed Becky. "There are a lot of single people, men and especially women that want to take the lessons and don't have a partner. Frank and I, as well as some of our staff, fill those needs. We make sure that our clients have a pleasant experience as well have some one to pair up with. Not to toot my own horn, but I've become quite good at the tango and fox trot."
"You'd expect me to be able and willing to assist ladies dancing? Me? The guy with two left feet? I can tell you right now, I can't dance. Like you just said, Frank and I are from the same spastic gene pool."
"Maybe you can't dance yet," laughed Becky, "but you'll learn. The most important think is to make your partner feel special. Show her that you enjoy her company, her smile, her effort, and when acceptable, her body. This is as much about gracious social interaction as it is moving your feet correctly. That's why our business is booming. We don't allow or encourage any of our employees to become too sexual in dance class, or the gym. Not that it can't happen, but we won't stand for our employees being directly involved in any broken marriages. We also want as few broken hearts as possible. Our gyms have the reputation as a safe atmosphere for couples, singles, and even families."
I sat there thinking as I listened to Frank and Becky. I had to admit to myself that whatever they were doing was a hell of a lot better than what I had been doing. They were both strong and healthy and looked great. Frank was obviously well muscled without being one of those guys that looked freakish. Becky was in fantastic shape. No one would ever know she was pushing forty and had two teenage boys. I decided that no matter how badly I embarrassed myself in the gym or on the dance floor, it could never be as bad as having your wife of over twenty years tell you that you that you're not worth a shit in bed, and she has a lover that is much better.
"Okay, deal me in. Just don't say I didn't warn you guys. You're starting out with a bill ball of shit and it may not be that easy to whip me into shape, or get me to dance without stomping on a lot of toes."
"Eric, I'll make a new man out of you if you'll listen to me and follow my plan. This isn't going to be easy, I admit. Your entire life style will have to change and you'll be putting in a lot of hours, but I promise that you'll love the finished product. You'll have sculpted fat in no time and eventually a buff body. Then you'll go back home and piss on Eve's parade!" promised Becky.
I wasn't sure about the sculpted fat part, but pissing on Eve's parade sounded great, if extremely unlikely. Becky was good at what she did. I was certain about that, but I seriously doubted she had ever worked with as a pathetic slob as I was.
Most of the next couple months went by in a haze. I was always hungry, always sore, and always too busy to have any time to feel sorry for myself. By the time I went to bed, I pretty much passed out. I never ate so many vegetables and fruit. I would have killed for a Big Mac and fries.
Becky took some measurements of my arms, chest, and waist the day we began my transformation. Every couple weeks after that, she would weigh me and take new measurements and write them down. She never shared the results with me and I had to wonder if I was making any progress. I had access to weight scales in the gyms and my weight really didn't seem to drop very much for a guy eating like a damn rabbit.
I did spend some time making a system out of the mess of papers and bills Frank had stuffed in his office. It took a few weeks to get everything entered in the proper place, but once I had everything set up, the bookkeeping end of the business only required about eight hours a week. I spent another forty or so in the gyms. The different locations had the ball room dance lessons different evenings. I was told to be available for dancing at each location, ready to partner up with any lady in need.
Maybe it was because I wasn't as muscled as Frank, but I seemed to catch on pretty fast. I was no Fred Astaire, but I gradually became a pretty acceptable dance partner. The line dancing actually seemed a bit more difficult for some reason, but I hung to it and was able to hold up my end after a couple months. We did the line dancing in one location on Monday evenings and used Saturdays to have the lessons at the other two gyms. I would attend a morning lesson at one location and drive forty miles to take part in the afternoon lesson at the other gym.
That gave me four evenings a week of dancing and two sessions on Saturday. Then there were the martial arts classes. I didn't participate as much in them. I helped the instructors with setting up any props or aids they would use. I portrayed the crazy rapist or gang member that would sneak up on the women and kids and grab them. I proceed to get tossed on my ass for my efforts. I got so I was pretty good at landing without being jarred too badly. I had to be the most unsuccessful rapist in the history of man. I never got any farther than grabbing my victim's arm or wrist before I was sent flying. I did learn a few good moves just by watching, listening, and being the bumbling sex fiend.
For the first few months, I felt like I had run a marathon every day. I was bone tired with sore muscles and more than a few bruises. Near the end of the second month, I realized the pain and tiredness was bearable. I was even looking forward to doing my exercises.
More surprising was how well the ball room dancing was going. In each of the three classes, I had a few ladies insisting on being my partner. I actually had to split my time and attention to keep peace. I would love to be able to say that they were all hot single women wanting me to carry them off and pound their tight pussies relentlessly. That would be stretching the truth. Many of the ladies were older. Most were married. Some were overweight. Some were pretty damn ugly. But all of them received my full attention when I danced with them and they loved it.
"Eric, you have quite the harem of dance partners," observed Becky as we picked up after a dance class one night. "You're more graceful than Frank and you treat the women so well they practically fight over the chance to be your partner."
I had been careful to not mislead any of my dance partners into thinking I would be available outside of class. That actually made it much more comfortable for the women. They knew there would be no rumors or questions about their virtue, at least where it concerned me.
So here I was at my best friend's place enjoying an outdoor party the evening before his daughter's wedding. Becky had helped me pick out a new suit for the affair. I had to admit it looked pretty good on me. It was a slightly western style and seemed to enhance my shoulders width while helping minimize my waist. I mentioned it to Becky.
"You are such a nerd sometimes, Eric," grumbled Becky while shaking her head. "It isn't the freakin' suit that makes your shoulders and chest look broad and your waist slim. It's all those hours on the machines and free weights. It's the hundred of miles that you've covered on the dance floor. You're not as bulky as Frank, but you're in as good shape as he is. Haven't you noticed how heads turn and people watch when you lift weights, or when you show someone how to use the machines? Eve is going to crap her panties when she sees you!"
Becky even helped select a couple nice short sleeve shirts for casual wear at the festivities. They seemed a bit tight so I asked her about it.
"Eric, listen to me! With your new body, a little tight is fine. You're not one of those guys that has to buy shirts that are two sizes too big just to cover your belly. Trust me on this. I want you to be wearing this blue one when you first arrive at that party. You're like a work of art that I created. I want to show you off in the best possible light. You'll wear the suit to the wedding and this shirt the next day. You won't regret it, I promise."
I had been at the party for about an hour when Eve and the asshole showed up. My daughter Julie was with them. She had just finished her last year of college at a good school in California. I hadn't seen much of her once she left for school and even less after Eve tossed my ass to the curb.
"Dad! Wow! Where is my father and what have you done with him?" joked a smiling Julie as she hugged me tightly. "It looks like Aunt Becky has exerted her influence on you. Look at your arms and chest, Dad. You lost your belly, cut your hair and got into shape. I bet the ladies love my Dad's new body."
Before I could respond to Julie's teasing, Eve stopped in front of me with Gerald DeWitt, Jr., aka asshole. I had to smile a little as I watched Eve take in my new and improved look.
"Hello, Eric. You look well. We're pleased that you've been able to accept the situation and finally agree to the divorce terms. Gerald and I are being very fair and I'm sure you have finally realized that. If you had been more cooperative, we could have had this all finished last year."
"Well, fuck Gerald and the horse he rode in on, Eve. I couldn't care less what this asshole thinks or wants. It took some time, but we finally managed to hammer out an agreement I can live with. Don't try to make it look like this prick was generous or considerate. He has no say in the terms of my divorce. I sure don't remember seeing him at our wedding and taking the vows, so his thoughts just don't mean shit."