Risque Business (WARNING: nudity) -
09-04-2011, 10:08 PM
This story contains scenes of nudity and references to same, which may cause uncontrollable squeeing and drooling. Reader discretion is advised.
One. Two. Three. Four. One. Two. Three. Four.
Criss Angel lay on the bench in his gym, exercising his biceps and shoulders. He raised and lowered the weights rhythimically, extending his arms, then drawing them to shoulder level, then raising them over his head, and back down to his chest, inhaling and exhaling with every cycle, thirty in all. His arm muscles tensed and flexed with the exertion. Next he would do ab crunches on the Nautilus, then strenghten his legs on the Stairmaster. It was a grueling regimen he performed every day, but it was the price he paid for his career. Two shows every night, a weekly television series, and live appearances whenever he had the time required him to be on top of his game. That meant daily workouts in the gym despite his personal distaste for it.
He was forty-two, but he still maintained a youthfulness that many mistook for thirty or so. His flesh was smooth and taut--not an milligram of flab could be seen. At an age when many men ballooned to pony-keg dimensions, his abdomen rippled with a six-pack hardness. His reflexes were as sharp as a cat's, a necessity for a magician for whom timing was everything. Some credited his build to his Greek heritage (which wasn't too far off, as the ancient Greeks had practically invented the concept of physical fitness, right up to founding the Olympic games), others to a good set of genes from his parents. A few jealous types claimed it was just plain dumb luck, but Criss knew that for every ounce of muscle he toned to perfection meant hours of lifting weights and running on the treadmill.
The gym in which he exercised had been provided for him by the Luxor Hotel and Resort as part of the package deal for producing his show, Believe. The Luxor had invested one hundred million dollars in his magnum opus, and the Board of Directors wanted their money's worth. If Criss became ill or, more likely, injured, that meant cancelling performances, which in turn meant lost revenue. The bottom line: A healthy star was money in the bank for the investors--the more shows he performed, the higher the profit margin.
Criss set the weights aside and rose from the bench. The biceps and shoulders toned, he next went to work on his abdominal muscles. He straddled a machine designed for this purpose, positioned his arms behind his head, and flexed his stomach muscles repeatedly--One. Two. One. Two. One. Two. Forty crunches in all. The tension he felt meant that it was working: no pain, no gain, as they said in professional bodybuilding. His heart pounded furiously, pumping oxygen-rich red blood cells into his muscles. Criss paced himself, breathing steadily to prevent dizziness. His abs were more for show than anything, presenting a tantilizing picture for the fans. Still, it did not do to neglect any part of his body; the entire machine must work in harmony to produce results.
Criss relaxed, breathing deeply. His tank top and biker shorts were soaked with sweat, and the bandana he wore to keep persperation from dripping into his eyes had turned a darker hue from the dampness of his brow. He longed for the cool refreshment of a shower, but he had his turn on the Stairmaster to get through. He rose slowly to keep the blood from rushing away from his head too quickly, then walked over to the machine and climbed on. He set the timer for twenty-five minutes and pumped his muscular legs up and down. The timed workout left him free to pursue his thoughts.
He reflected on his father, now thirteen years dead, a former Mr. Universe who had succumbed to stomach cancer at just sixty years of age, and even then he had survived three years beyond the expectations of his doctors. It seemed sadly ironic that a man who had stressed good health and exercise should be stricken with cancer as he had been. God, I hope I don't get cancer, he prayed. I got too much I want to do in this life.
He smiled at that last statement. It reminded him of what George Burns once said: "I can't die--I'm booked!" Then there was the old bromide printed on a coffee mug he saw once: "We're put on this earth to accomplish a number of things. I'm so far behind, I'll never die." Well, Criss figured he was right on schedule, but like the late veteran vaudeville actor, he was indeed booked solid. I'd have to live to be a hundred to do all the things I want to do, he figured. I mean, let's be reasonable here!
His mind shifted to the previous afternoon when he was taking a break after taping his show. There was a laptop computer on the desk in front of him, so, for a lark, he decided to check out the fanboards. The Loyal Written Arts forum was always good for diversion, so he logged onto it to see what kind of adventures the Loyals put him through lately. It always amused him how his devoted fans made him suffer more than his share of the thousand natural shocks that flesh was heir to: he'd been in car accidents time without number; he'd fallen almost to his death during demonstrations; he'd been deafened by an explosion; he'd been kidnapped and rendered unconscious; he'd been lynched by white supremacists; he'd even survived an earthquake (he admired that last story; the author had done an incredible amount of research on that one. The part about Costa going through Red Cross training was hilarous, and he was surprised to find out that Nevada really did have a portable hospital). The latest ones had him suffering the same cancer his father had, only to be redeemed by supernatural means; another had him suffering a rare heart disorder but he had been too stubborn to admit it. Hey, if I had something like that, I'd be in the hospital ASAP, he thought. Well, they could all rest easy. In spite of whatever fate befell him in writing, Criss Angel was as healthy as a horse.
The timer on the Starimaster bleeped. Criss drew a deep, satisfied smile and dismounted. A quick shower, and he could begin his day. He pulled off his Nikes, peeled off the soaking tank top and biker shorts, pulled off the bandana, and padded to the shower stall with only a white towel around his waist. There was no one present, but who knew who was lurking behind the corner waiting to take his picture while he was nude?
The warm water caressed his bare flesh like women's fingers. Criss soaped under his reeking armpits and the other disgraceful parts of his anatomy, scrubbing away the strain of his morning workout. Today he would be taping a live show before the Loyal, and he would have his body clean. He turned off the shower, toweled off, and headed back to the dressing cubicle to dress, again modestly covering his loins with the towel. He was not ashamed of his body; indeed, he had appeared naked twice on television, but the editors censored him around the hips in keeping with the FCC regulations. It's just that Criss had very little privacy in his public life, and he felt it was best to keep his "privates", well, private. He had to retain some mystery for the sake of his popularity; exposing too much would destroy the fantasy his fans had built around him.
Criss pulled on his CK briefs, then his fashionably ragged jeans, then his grey Affliction t-shirt, then his jock-socks, then his combat boots. Fully attired, he was ready to face the day--and his fans. How many of them would have wished to be with him in here, he thought with amusement, totally exposed in the flesh. He laughed at the memory of the Naked Jail Escape, when a roomful of female fans came within a hair's breadth of seeing him in all of his natural glory. Wouldn't it have been a treat for them if he had failed! Oh, well, better luck next time, ladies! he gloated. I can show you only so much of me, but who knows? You just might get lucky someday!