Fiction Weekend for 04/04/2012 – 04/06/2012.
This week I chose not to follow the prompt, which is "write a story that begins with the line: "Listen carefully," he said, "this won't be easy for you to hear"". Instead, I submitted a story that I had entered in a contest.
Back in April, I was listening to WNDA, a local radio station in Miami, Florida, when they aired a weekly show called “Studio 360”. This show highlights artists, writers, and musicians.
One of show’s segments featured “Significant Objects” a book by Bob Walker and Joshua Glenn in which they scoured thrift shops around New York and with a very small budget they purchased a bunch of objects.
Then they set about writing back stories for each object. In order to make the segment more interactive with the listeners, the staff at Studio 360 along with Walker and Glenn hosted a contest. They chose three random objects and posted them on Studio 360’s website.
If listeners wanted to enter the contest, they had to choose one of the objects, write a back story for it and post it on Studio 360’s website.
I chose the Marlboro Thermos, entered the contest and lost. However, I wanted to share the story with you. I hope you like it.
"Big Jim, Bodybuilder: Fame, Steroids, Cancer and Death" by Trudge164
It was moving day. We were finally leaving Big Jim’s house. That is how everyone referred to him. Big Jim was a larger than life character. Jim had worked for a parcel delivery company. He worked his way up from truck loader to warehouse manager. It was his day job. However, his real passion in life was bodybuilding. He got into it while playing high school football. A knee injury in his senior year blocked his chances at scoring a college scholarship and going pro; so Big Jim pursued bodybuilding instead.
Bodybuilding was not very fashionable back then. Guys who were into it were considered to be part of a weird cult. It was viewed as unmanly to be so much into your body. Regardless of public and family opinion, Big Jim pursued the sport with a passion; and he became very successful at it. He was even featured in some magazines devoted to the sport. Jim even picked up some extra cash as a spokesman for some of the muscle-building supplements.
When the sport started to gain tsunami-sized momentum, Big Jim was already in the water and riding the earlier waves. He became a hit locally, nationally and globally. But he was starting to age. In the sport of bodybuilding, once you start entering your thirties your body starts to turn on you. Big Jim got into steroids. He also got liver cancer. He was dead within three years. He left behind a big house, a trophy wife and Junior (their five year old son). Four years later, I married Samantha, Jim’s beautiful wife.
So here it was moving day, I entered Jimmy’s room and asked him if he was ready. He nodded his head and grabbed some things and that old Coleman thermos with the Marlboro logo on it. The thermos was about 18 inches tall and four inches round. The bottom of the thermos was red; its lid and handle was white. On the side of the lid was the Marlboro cigarette logo. Jimmy kept that thermos on top of his bookcase. He was very possessive of it.
One year into our marriage, I asked Samantha about the thermos. She said that Jim had picked it up in a local bodybuilding contest. Smoking indoors was still allowed back then, and the Marlboro brand had co-sponsored the event. This particular event helped Jim get national attention and launch his bodybuilding career. The thermos had become an inside joke over the years and there were photo albums filled with Big Jim striking classic bodybuilding poses and the thermos next to him. One had him doing some bicep poses with the thermos balanced on top of his right bicep muscles. The whole thing seemed morbidly ironic.
Then, I asked her why was Jimmy so attached to the thermos. She flashed her world famous erotically-charged smile and led me into the bedroom. Samantha had once been a centerfold model for Playboy. I soon forgot about the thermos. It became just another object in my stepson’s room along with the action figures and sports memorabilia.
As soon the moving van left, we jumped into our car and headed out to our new home in a new state. Jimmy, now 15 years old, sat in the backseat with the thermos next to him. I could see it through the rearview mirror.
Samantha noticed I was looking at the thermos. She smiled and said, “Ashes.”
I gave her a side glance and said, “What?”
She took in a deep breath and as she let it out she said, “Big Jim’s ashes are inside the thermos.”
It explained a lot. It also explains why the thermos is featured on the front cover of “Big Jim, Bodybuilder: Fame, Steroids, Cancer and Death”.
Big Jim, Bodybuilder: Fame, Steroids, Cancer and Death by Trudge164 © 2012
If you follow the above links, the original title for my story was "Big Jim and the Thermos".