“I didn’t quite realize,” says Pope Mohammed sitting on a bench yanking on a shoelace of his Nike Airs. You are standing at a locker, twisting the knob to your combination. The echo-y sounds of showers can be heard. A stranger walks past holding a toiletry bag wearing only towel.
“I didn’t quite realize,” repeats Pope Mohammed. “… just how little mine was until I saw yours.”
You pause. You look down at the towel you just covered yourself in after taking off sweaty shorts. You look back up at the locker. Your face cringes.
You have to restart your combination from the beginning.
Out of your peripheral vision, you can see an older man facing away from you, stark naked. He is powdering his legs and genitals with baby powder. His scrotum bangs between his legs as he reaches around rubbing the powder in.
Another man weighs himself on a nearby scale holding a towel closed around his waist with one hand. Within a glimpse, you notice a tattoo in the middle of his lower back. “A man with a tramp stamp,” you think. “Huh.”
You look down at Pope Mohammed who is holding his shoes like two fish with their mouths wide open as he slides them into a duffel bag.
“Compared to mine,” starts Pope Mohammed. Your eyes open wide wondering what’s coming next. He clears his throat.
“Compared to mine, your gym bag is enormous.”
Pope Mohammed is a short story series that I’ve been working on for some time. More here.