by Alec West
Ten body-weight squats, ten push-ups. Ten body-weight squats, ten push-ups. Ten body-weight squats, ten push-ups. Ten body-weight squats, ten push-ups. Ten body-weight squats, ten push-ups. Then five rounds of shadowboxing with a two minute rest between each. He had the thought to skip his workout today but brushed it aside. It didn’t make sense to get beat up in the ring six months from now just because he had learned he had a new brother.
His dad had sat him down with his mom and younger brother for a family meeting.
“I’m just going to start from the ending,” he said.
Alec thought his parents were sitting him down to hash out a plan for if they passed away. “You have an older brother.”
“No, that’s dumb!” Alec exclaimed. Things like that happened to other people but they didn’t happen to his family.
The body-weight squats and push-ups took about five minutes to do all five rounds of each. Alec liked the way he looked in the mirror. That morning he admired that his belly was not only slim, it was toned. He couldn’t remember when he had been in this kind of shape. Just before the shelter-in-place order came down, Alec had started seeing a new personal trainer. She was slender and lean like a jungle cat and called herself La Tigre. She had a goofy, all-knowing smile that reminded him of Red, the kid he’d first gotten high with in high school. She had a rhinestone encrusted on one of her canine teeth that made her smile look devious. She was a dangerous woman and she was training him to be a fighter. Just in time, too, his first amateur match was six months away.
Alec stepped across his bedroom jabbing and ducking. He imagined his opponent had a girlfriend he was living with who was training him. This girlfriend was merciless—even their sex was aerobic. Alec was training against them and he imagined their regimen was relentless, like the computer in online chess.
Just because Alec had learned he had a new brother he’d never met, didn’t mean he could take a day off. Anyway, he wouldn’t process this information any better watching TV.
It made sense. His dad had been a guy in San Francisco in the ‘80s. Of course he could have gotten another woman knocked up. He was a West. Luckily this had happened before he’d met Alec’s mother. She was understanding to a point.
Alec allowed himself to listen to sentimental music while he punched the air. Jab, jab, duck, jab, right hook, left hook, jab, right. Combos were the way to win in a fight: knock the opponent’s guard down and hit him in the jaw. There was a pandemic outside and through a genetic-mapping service, Alec had learned he had a new brother. Fucking 2020.
Written in a Green Windows workshop, April 1, 2020
Check out Alec's book What Happened When I Stopped Watching TV,