By Jesse Archer

NEW YORK CITY, U.S.A. — In Los Angeles, the only thing I pumped at the gym was my dick. At brand name gyms, I winked my way through workouts and afterward wasted precious water jerking off with that perfect specimen in the shower opposite. Instead of muscles, I developed a keen ability to perceive the size of bulges beneath towels. My physique was disappearing, with a puff of white vapor, into the steam room. In New York, I vowed to workout more than just my forearm. I needed a gym where sex was not just unaccepted, but impossible. Along the East River, past the projects and the condemned boardwalk, just beyond the low-income housing of Stuyvesant Town, I found my answer in an elegant building that was once a public bath. Asser-Levy is a Parks Department recreational facility housing a spacious gym.

Until recently, annual dues were a suggested donation of $25. Of course there is no steam room, and the homeless inhabit the showers to wash their clothes and bodies; open sores on bloated legs. The place is free of sexual temptation and without a gay boy in sight. I put on my iPod, pound out a workout, and run home in an hour. It’s more productive than a three hour steam room circle jerk and my body stays tight.

Despite a failure to interact, I know and have named the cast. Yosemite Sam has a white handlebar mustache and haunts the gym to make casual conversation with anything female. He adores the Birdlady who flutters her arms out laterally as she prances on the treadmill, her neck jutting out in time. Predator sports a pile of dreads reminiscent of the namesake in the Schwarzenneger film and he generally works out with Grunter who caterwauls with each power lift. The Clampets, a husband and wife team in coveralls, administer abdominal workouts to each other on the mats in the far corner.

Catatonic spends all day at the gym, sitting on the machines, staring blankly ahead and doing nothing in the way of exercise. He’s always around; idle and bothersome, like a utility bill. Of course old Catatonic was hogging the incline press last week, just when I needed it. There he was staring ahead, a human zucchini, cataloguing life’s missed opportunities. I decided to get a drink of water in the restroom that adjoins the gym.

Inside, someone was taking a leak. He turned around at my entrance and I saw he wasn’t a regular. I had seen him, though, just that day, on the military press. He had given me a curious look – making me aware that I was visibly grooving, rocking out to the remixed Debbie Gibson on my iPod. As he now turned back to finish pissing, I found myself in a psychological conundrum. The drinking spout is affixed to the sink just beside the urinal. Do I wait for him to finish, or just lean down and drink from the fountain beside his draining dick?

If I were just one of the boys, I thought, I would bend down and drink. So I bent down to drink. No big deal. Gulping water, I glanced left to see piss casually draining into the urinal from a big, black, downward drooping dick. ‘You like that?’ a voice said.

This was happening? At Asser-Levy? I kept drinking, playing opossum. Swiveling right, the penis swung into better view. A few final drops of urine dribbled down onto the floor by my foot, and the cock began to expand, inflating upward. It was mottled, like an Appaloosa. Could we get away with this? Looking up, I saw he was anxious, too. Everybody comes in here for a sip of water between sets.

I grabbed the burgeoning black erection with my hand, squeezed, and weighed the costs. An inappropriate environmental platitude empowered me, If not now, when? If not you, who? I plucked the headphones from my ears and threy fell to the ground, I had to listen for the door. If it opened, I might have one second to make innocent.

Then I gagged my throat with that mottled cock, smothering my nose into a wild thatch of dank, sweaty pubic hair. Suctioning back and forth on his throbbing meat, I pulled down my shorts to jerk off. Quickly. Listening for the door, I heard the tinny voice of Debbie Gibson drift up from my headphones on the piss stained tiles: Shake your love, I just can’t shake….your love! Shake it!

I removed his erection from my mouth, both of us hurriedly beating off. I kept picturing Predator bursting in to give me a lesson from the school of hard knocks. ‘You gonna come?’ whispered the man. ‘Yeah,’ I whined. Stroking himself, he put his left hand out and I shot a sticky load of evidence into his palm. Almost immediately, he added his own grayish glob. ‘Thanks,’ I said, mostly for the expeditious clean up.

I spun on my heel, exiting to find Catatonic still comatose at the incline press. I didn’t have the energy to rouse him from his regrets. So much for the incline press. Looking around, Birdwoman flapped on the treadmill. Beside her, I saw the butterfly machine was free. I could do that. Or there were the dumbbells, I could do arm curls. Or not.

The workout was finished, my motivation was zapped. All I could think was, fucking HOT! Like a weed that doesn’t need ideal conditions to flourish, lust had invaded this place. The sanctity of my ghetto gym was in jeopardy. Walking out, I could almost feel my muscles beginning to atrophy.