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One and Done (super short story)

I step through the door and again I have unwittingly walked into the weekly conversation the girls have about how big their butts are and how they need to make sure to hit the gym on the way home from work today, and this is funny to me partly because of how they will talk about anything at all regardless of who is around, but it is mainly funny because not one of them really has a butt at all.  I like it better when they start talking about their routines in the shower, or when Liz starts telling everyone what wild shit her boyfriend tried to get her to do in bed this time, and it is only today that I finally realize I have never had a real conversation with any of them.

I make my way upstairs, one careful step at a time, because I am not interested in slipping and somehow tearing my ACL on the last day of work, because I know that I am exactly who this would happen to if it happened to anyone.  Anthony is already busy packing up boxes of materials that we’ll save and use next year unless someone misplaces them over the Summer like they always do and we never find them again.  I dive into the mess, and help him sort through the papers and supplies, and I tell him that no, I do not mind if he continues to play Wiz Khalifa on his phone, and I really don’t mind, because I am not quite as white as I look and I know he probably already knows this because we have in fact played basketball together a few times and I vividly remember hitting a lot of threes. 
A few hours and a lot of rap songs later I am ready to clock out and say goodbye to the office for a little while, until next season, but Anthony has waited until this moment to spring one of his random plans on me. 
“Hey we’re all actually gonna go over and pick up those wrestling mats now,” he says, as if I should already know what he’s talking about.
And of course I ask him a polite version of the question “What fucking wrestling mats?”
The mats are for the wrestling program he’s running at the YMCA this Summer, and he’s running it because he’s itching to share his tips and insights with the young and impressionable, and no apparently it doesn’t matter that he is not licensed for this in any way because he is good at talking his way into things.  I don’t waste time asking Anthony why the Y approved his program and agreed to take on that liability, and I definitely don’t bother asking where we’re getting the mats from.
“Let’s go,” I say. 
So we all pile into two cars and a pickup truck, and make our way over to the middle school, and we get there, and tug on the gym’s doors, and peer through the tiny windows, but no one seems to be home, and Dave rubs his hands together and jokes, “Alright.  Where are the little boys?”  A maintenance man appears after a few minutes and lets us in, and we tell him of our plan, Anthony’s plan, and he looks at us like he must have heard wrong.  Maybe he thinks we are trying to prank him, and film him for candid camera, because who in the world borrows wrestling mats for any reason at all?  Ron tries giving one of the mats a push.  His feet slip out from under him and he bangs his knees on the hardwood.  I lightly kick one of the other mats to feels its weight.    
“Can you take the bar out to make more space?” Anthony asks the maintenance man, pointing to the metal bar that divides the two doors that are the entrance to the gym.
“Uh… yeah…  I can take the bar out,” the maintenance man tells him, shrugging.
And I can read the man’s mind as he thinks about how stupid we are. 
“Maybe we can roll them back,” Brian jokes. 
And I hope that Anthony was too distracted to hear this, because knowing Anthony he will want to try this next after he convinces Pat how reasonable an idea it is.  He’ll want to climb up on top of the mats and do the thing you do with logs where you run on them to keep them rolling, and he’ll think we can spin them all the way back like we are Super Mario. 
“Is that what you came here in?” the maintenance man asks, pointing to our rides in the parking lot.
“Yeah,” Pat answers, reality dawning on him.
“Yeah… I don’t think you’re gonna be able to fit them in there,” the man says, looking sorry for us.  “Not even in the truck.”
“Maybe if we put the seats in the back down,” I joke to Pat.
He does not smile.  I imagine Dave and I stuffing a mat a tenth of the way into his sedan’s trunk, and then we drive back to the office dragging the other nine tenths of it through the street, but no one complains, and the other cars give us plenty of room, because anything this ridiculous surely must be the official business of… well, someone. 
At this point I am wondering if maybe Anthony has lost a few too many brain cells in the past few years since college.  Maybe he has forgotten what actual wrestling mats are like.  Maybe on the ride over, like me, he was picturing the paper thin, ten by ten mats from “Saved by the Bell.”
It is when a frustrated Pat announces that we will simply have to come back tomorrow to get the mats that I decide I will not under any circumstances be coming in tomorrow.  My job description does not include weight lifting or log rolling or feats of strength or Herculean efforts and today was listed as the last clean up day before the end of the season and I for one am a firm believer in sticking to the plan. 
“Well that was a nice little ride,” Dave says as he pulls out of the parking lot, his eyes rolling half way out of his head.
A few minutes later, as I walk up to Pat’s office I can hear him talking to someone, some friend of his, about borrowing a delivery truck.
“Yeah they’re pretty big.  Yeah wrestling mats,” Pat says to the phone. 
“Hey, Pat, I won’t be able to make it in tomorrow,” I tell him, trying to look disappointed.
“Oh that’s alright man.  Thanks for helping out today.”
“No problem.”
Later I use the internet to look up a company that sells and delivers wrestling mats and apparently not even they are willing to unload them for you, probably because they, better than anyone, understand how stupidly big and heavy their insane product is. 
“You must provide the means to transport the mats from the truck to your facility,” their ad promises me.
It is ten weeks before the new season begins and I can finally ask Pat how in heaven they managed to get all three wrestling mats out of that school, and his answer is the same as the one I get from Brian when he comes home from college in January.  
“I don’t even want to talk about it.”

Feel free to check out the other material on this site. 

I've written 4 books and the first chapter from my debut novel is on the homepage.       

I also have a short story called "Screen Name" for sale on Amazon.  It is a brisk 20 pages and includes samples from my books at the end.

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