09-04-2011, 11:25 PM
Costa typed in the last of the production notes in the series log file and clicked Enter. There, that was done. He rubbed his weary eyes and reached for the water bottle. Tonight he would be taking more pictures for his portfolio, some of his brother, Criss, and some of a black male model/dancer named Tuburi Zubufu, a native Kenyan with charcoal black skin covering his lithe, limber body and who had no qualms about posing nude.
Costa, however, had some misgivings about tonight's photo session due to the unexpected arrival of his mother from New York. How would she react to his project? Would she be offended? Criss' being there was no problem, of course, but how could he explain Tuburi's presence? He hated to deceive her, but under the circumstances he felt he had no choice; he would simply tell her it's a simple photo shoot without mentioning the nudity, and Tuburi was just another model, and there was no way to reschedule, so would she mind not disturbing him for about two hours, please? He figured she would be too tired from her trip, so she probably wouldn't object.
He heard the door open beside him, and in walked George, flushed from his boxer's training. Costa smiled at his cousin. "Hey, George, how's it going?" he greeted him.
George merely nodded in reply. He sat down on the couch, picked up a stray water bottle on a side table and chugged it down. Costa became concerned. "Something bothering you, George?" he asked.
George laid the plastic bottle on his thigh. "Nothing, really," he said. "Just tired, that's all. Training for the quarter finals on Friday's got me beat."
"Well, don't knock yourself out."
George laughed at the unintended pun. "Knock myself out," he mused. "I'm trying to knock the other guy out, remember?" He grew somber again. "Ruhr nearly knocked me out this morning," he said. "Guy's like a machine, hammering away like that. He's the favorite to make it in to the finals, you know that?"
"Who's Ruhr?" Costa asked.
"Christian Ruhr," George replied. "Austrian guy, a real powerhouse. I've never beaten him in the ring; hell, I'm lucky to tie him. He's gonna make it to the finals, I know he is."
Costa turned to his cousin. "George, you have as much a chance to make it as Ruhr does, or anyone else for that matter. You got the meanest right hook anyone could ask for! Hell, Criss is still trying to beat your record on the punching bag machine!"
"A punching bag machine is one thing," George pointed out. "A guy like Ruhr is another. That arcade game in Criss' room doesn't hit back, you know."
Costa laughed. "The way I've seen you take a swing at that thing, I'm surprised it doesn't! It's a wonder you haven't broken the thing!"
George remained silent. Costa rose, crossed over to the couch and sat down beside him. "Look, George," he said, "you made it this far, so don't go wimping out on us now."
"I'm not wimping out!" George protested. 'I'm just tired, that's all."
"Tell you what," Costa said, "Mom's coming over to my house to stay for a few weeks. Whaddya say you come over for dinner tonight and see her, okay?"
"Why's your mom coming here all of a sudden?"
"Her house is getting fumigated, so she's staying with me until they gas out all the bugs," Costa explained. "I know it's short notice, but, well..."
George thought about it. "Yeah, sure, why not?" he replied. "Be good to see Aunt Dimitra again."
Costa smiled. "Good! Uh, there's just one thing, though. I got a photo shoot in my studio downstairs tonight, and I got a model coming over for it--"
George's eyes lit up. "She single?" he asked expectantly.
"It's a he."
George's face fell. "Oh."
"And anyway, he and I will be working for two hours down there for a project I'm doing," Costa went on, "so we don't want to be disturbed, okay?"
"Oh, yeah, sure," George said. "I understand. I mean, I don't like being disturbed while I'm training, so I know where you're coming from."
"Don't mention it."
Criss emerged from the lab, clutching a was of gauze in the crook of his right arm. He felt drained, literally, physically drained. A tubeful of blood from his arm, a cupful of urine, scrapings from his tongue, and swabs from his mouth had been drawn from him for analysis. After the exhausting run on the treadmill for the stress test, then the ordeal in the lab, his insides felt like sand. Now, it was all over. He was free to go home and get on with his life. First thing I'm going to do, he vowed, is empty the whole fridge of anything that's drinkable, no matter what it is! I'm, like, dying of thirst here!
He spotted Sully Erna in the waiting area. Sully looked up at him. "How'd it go?" he asked.
"Uh, came and went," Criss muttered in reply.
"Came and went?"
"Yeah,'went' as in I had to pee in a bottle."
Sully chuckled. "You poor (bleeper)! So, you doin' okay now?"
"Dude, right now I could drink Lake Meade."
Sully walked over to a vending machine, pulled out a five, slipped it into the slot and purchased a Dasani for Criss and a Coke for himself. He returned with the plastic bottles, handing the Dasani to Criss, who accepted it gratefully. Sully sat down beside him, swigging his Coke in his left hand, his injured right dangling between his knees.
"How's the hand?" Criss asked.
"It's better," Sully replied. "No sign of infection, thank God." He held up his bandaged hand. "Took eight stitches. Still hurts like a mother(bleeper), though. They got me on painkillers, but I gotta be careful with them so's I don't end up overdosing or something. Them (bleepers) are addictive, you know."
Criss nodded. "I know. They say that's how Michael Jackson died--too many prescription drugs."
"Him and a lot of other people."
Criss gulped down the last of his bottled water. "God! I needed that!" he sighed contentedly. "Well, I gotta get going--Mom's coming in from New York to stay with Costa, and I gotta be at his house tonight." He rose from his seat to leave.
Sully didn't question why; he merely waved goodbye. "Say hi to your mom for me, willya?" he said.
"Sure, dude." He patted his friend on the shoulder. "Hope your hand gets better soon."
Criss left the clinic and headed to his car. Halfway there he suddenly remembered the real reason he was going to his brother's house, and he cringed at the thought of having to pose nude for the camera after what he had been through that morning. Maybe I can reschedule it, he thought, or rather hoped. I'm just not in the mood for it anymore. Hell, I've been naked enough for one day!