Maxum Posted January 21 Share Posted January 21 Oz 2022 had been another challenging year. Pandemic exhaustion and more success at the office had once again kept me from even attempting to achieve last New Year’s resolutions. Promises I had made to myself had once again been broken. Resolutions to get back into shape, meet the man of my dreams and live happily ever after had been long-abandoned. Now on the eve of another beginning, all that remained were feelings of failure and guilt and diminished esteem. On top of it all, I was leaving the office alone at 11 pm, and the evening seemed colder and darker and wetter than most. I once again vowed to get out of my rut, but for now I was nothing but lonely and cold, and I had no plans to celebrate the New Years with family or friends, no place to go except home by myself, and no prospect for Prince Charming. It was depressing, but I figured it was my lot for tonight. Tomorrow would be a new day and a new year. So I buttoned my coat, opened my umbrella and headed toward home. The weather was awful, rainy and wet, and few people were out on the sidewalks or streets. I could only assume that everyone else was already celebrating the end of the old year and awaiting the second when the clock chimed midnight, ushering in a new day and a new year and the endless possibilities of a perfectly clean slate. As I walked toward the subway, a car in the curb lane sped through a puddle and kicked up a splash that soaked the left side of my body. At the same time, a gust of cold wind blew me sideways, and before I knew what had happened, I stumbled over a threshold and fell through a poorly closed door and found myself sprawled on the floor of a surprisingly spacious and well-lit foyer. Before I could process what had just happened, I heard a man yell, “Oh my God!,” as he rushed to my side and knelt down beside me. Then more calmly, “Oh my God! Are you alright?” I was so shocked by what had just happened that all I could do was instinctively yell out in response and push away from the man. He also recoiled in surprise, at the same time realizing that I was just startled and he was just adding to my angst. He raised his hands from my shoulders and pulled back to give me some space and time to realize that I was alright and he didn’t pose any danger. I took a deep breath and prepared to run toward the door, but he quieted me down with a gesture and said, “It’s okay, buddy. I’m just trying to help. You fell through the threshold. You’re safe here. Are you okay?” I looked into his face and found a concerned expression and compassionate eyes. I relaxed and settled back on my elbows, and the man’s distressed expression softened into a kind, gentle smile. I softly exhaled, “Oh my God.” “Are you okay?” the man calmly asked once again. “I… I think so,” I stuttered, still piecing together how I had wound up in this place on the floor. “The storm… the wind… it just hurled me through your door. I didn’t mean to... I… I… I… It just caught me by surprise. Oh my God. I… I’m so sorry. Look at this mess. I’m dripping all over the place.” “It’s okay, Buddy. Just breathe and relax. You’re in a safe place. I was just locking up after a long boring day. At least you brought a little excitement.” His smile broadened, and his eyes sparkled. He was solid and handsome. Something about him made me feel good. Then he queried, “Are you able to stand?” I nodded, and he offered his hand. I took it. Then he rose to his feet, pulling us both to full standing. He was quite a bit taller, and his shoulders were broad, and the neck leading up to his Adonis-like face was a column of muscle. Then I looked down his thick chest and big arms to the hand that still held onto mine. It was warm and big, and his grip was both gentle and strong. It made me feel good just to hold it, and I felt a stirring deep in my groin. I looked back at the man’s face. He was so handsome, and he was knowingly smiling, aware of the effect had was having on me, I’m sure amused by my stupor. “I’m Ian. Ian Doorman,” he said, “but my calls me Ozzie.” “Teddy,” I responded, “Actually ‘Theodore Gale,’ but my friends call me Teddy.” Ozzie grinned playfully as his eyes rolled slightly up and to the right before falling back on mine. “You’re kidding, right?” His smile sparkled. I knitted my brow. “No. Why?” “Oh, no reason really. It just reminds of a tale I once heard.” I just let it pass. God, he was good looking. Thick dark hair, brows and lashes and a swarthy complexion. A strong, stubbled jaw and gleaming white teeth. He was so handsome that I couldn’t stop staring at him, and the harder I looked, the more handsome he was. He now was smiling broadly, and I became acutely aware that I was gawking with a love-struck grin on my face. Then I realized I was still holding onto and slowly shaking his hand. I didn't want to let go, but the magic was broken when another gust of wind blew the door open again, bringing another blast of rain and cold air. Ozzie pushed the closed door once again and turned the deadbolt this time. “That should hold it,” he proclaimed. “This storm’s not letting up. Looks like you’re going to have to hang out here a while longer. I couldn’t let you go back out there in good conscience.” He had a point. Other than tornados I remembered from childhood, I could not recall a storm that packed such a punch. I looked through the glass and saw a street sign that had been flapping on its post blow free and sail down the sidewalk with the howling wind. I knew that he was right. I shouldn’t go back out in the storm. “I know it’s New Year’s Eve,” he continued sympathetically. “I hope you don’t have plans that can’t be canceled. The weather folks are calling for this storm to last most of the night, and I think it hasn’t yet peaked.” Then he reached under a counter next to where he stood and produced a white terry cloth towel and held it out in my direction. I took it, and he shook his head, realizing that I was a lot wetter than one towel could handle. Then reached behind the counter again and retrieved a whole stack of folded white towels. “At least we’re well equipped,” he stated, patting the tower of terry that now sat on the counter. “In a way, you probably couldn’t have blown into a better place along this block tonight. We have showers, and saunas and more towels than you need. We even have industrial grade washers and dryers to take care of your wet clothes.” I stared at him blankly. “This is my place," he said proudly, "and it's everything the sign says that it is.” He flipped a switch that caused neon to flicker and then glow on the wall behind the counter beside him. Oz Where dreams really do come true Ozzie beamed, “Welcome to Oz, the best gym this side of the rainbow.” Was this a dream? 21 2 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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