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Sunday morning by Chubby guy

[This story is both true and unfinished. The ending is yet to be determined, so feel free to create one. Except for names and minor details, this is exactly the way it occurred last Sunday.]

Sunday morning, 6:00 a.m. Carter silenced his cell phone alarm and arose from bed with a yawn, his wife Lisa still fast asleep beside him. Even though he had already attended church services the prior evening, he had agreed to help cook and serve at the church's pancake breakfast this morning. There was no real need to shower this morning, since he would smell like eggs and sausage in an hour or so. He would brush his teeth and apply a little extra deodorant, and he would be good to go. His unshaven face was hardly an issue, either, and his hair, clipped in a military-like high-and-tight, required only a little water and a tiny bit of Krew Comb to look respectable.

As his eyes adjusted to the bathroom light, Carter noticed the crown of his head reflected in the mirror. He fully realized that his hair was both thinning and receding in the same pattern as his father and both grandfathers. Indeed, that had led him to adopt the military look years ago. This time, though, the bald spot looked more prominent than usual. Maybe he had taken the clippers a little too high during his weekly self-administered haircut the prior day. He had not visited a barber shop in years.

Four hours later, having flipped a few hundred pancakes to serve to his fellow parishioners, Carter slipped quietly out the back door of the church kitchen. Of course, he had consumed his own share of pancakes, sausages, and scrambled eggs during a break from his cooking duties. With a satisfying breakfast in his well-rounded belly, he was ready to hit the weights hard. The fitness center to which Carter belonged had a branch location just a stone's throw from the church, so he headed his car in that direction.

"Good morning,” Carter said to the young woman at the front desk as he scanned his membership card. The cardio area seemed moderately busy, but there were only a few people using the Nautilus machines, and the free weight area was practically empty.

Carter picked up a towel from the rack and then made his way to the locker room, where he began to strip off his sausage-scented clothes. For the second time this morning, he again noticed how much his hair was thinning in the crown. The locker room's harsh fluorescent lights revealed even more than the softer light of his own bathroom. Again he ran his hand over the quarter-inch of hair remaining, which contrasted with the tightly-clipped back and sides of his head. The high-and-tight had suited him well for several years, but there was no denying the progress of nature. His gaze then shifted downward, and his right fist instinctively gave his rounded belly a couple of gentle punches that made it jiggle. "Man, I'm getting fat,” he said to no one in particular. Maybe the time had come to cut his calorie allowance and drop some weight. He only hoped that he could do so without compromising his strength gains.

As Carter donned his shorts and tank top, he saw in his peripheral vision another man walking from the shower area to the lockers, clad in a towel. He appeared to be about fifty—roughly a decade older than Carter. The TV on the wall several feet away was showing a NASCAR race, which the other man watched casually as he stepped into a pair of jeans. Carter couldn't help but notice the newcomer's well-toned torso, yet what really got his attention was the man's shaven head. The angle was just right to pretend to watch the race on TV but instead to gaze a little longer at the man's scalp. It seemed ironic that only moments ago, Carter was lamenting his own thinning hair, and here he was admiring another man's smooth noggin.

The newcomer stepped away from the lockers, still shirtless. Carter pulled his workout journal and lifting belt from his gym bag, along with a bottle that contained a scoop of powdered pre-workout supplement. He sat on the bench, bowed his head, and whispered his pre-training prayer from memory: "Lord, may I always use my strength for Your glory and not for my own. Protect me from injury as I seek to build up my body.”

As Carter walked toward the sinks, he saw the other man with his face and head fully lathered with soap. Carter's heartbeat rose just a little. He had known several shaved-headed men, but he did not recall ever seeing someone actually taking a razor to his head. He turned on the faucet at the next sink to fill his supplement bottle. He could not help but steal a glance as the man expertly glided the razor across his soaped head. Carter lifted the bottle to his lips and took a long drink, and then he thought of a good introduction. He rubbed his own crown and said casually, "I should do that. I don't have much to work with anymore.”

The newcomer smiled in response. "Yeah, I wore a flat top for years, but I finally decided to just shave it off. Like you said, I didn't have much to work with.”

Carter gulped the remainder of his pre-workout drink and stepped around the corner to answer the call of nature. His own words echoed in his mind. He was only making conversation, yet he realized that he was actually thinking about shaving his head, which he had never seriously considered before. He knew that the association of shaved heads with bikers and white supremacists had long faded, since he knew several bald-by-choice men. Strangely enough, the idea stirred him so much that he could not "go” as he stood at the urinal, despite his full bladder. For no apparent reason, he flushed it anyway, and then he returned to the sink area where his new friend was still shaving.

"Buddy, you've inspired me,” he heard himself say, his confidence overcoming his natural shyness. He again rubbed his quarter-inch of hair. "This needs to come off. Hey, do you mind if I…”—he floated his right hand above the man's still-lathered head—"see how it feels?”

"Sure, go ahead,” he responded with a smile. Carter gave the head a quick rub and marveled at its silky smoothness.

"I better get to my lifting,” Carter said, offering his right hand. "I'm Carter, by the way. Hope that wasn't too creepy that I asked to rub your head.”

The man chuckled as he grasped Carter's hand firmly. "Not at all, bud. I'm Mark. Your head will look great shaved. Have a good workout.”

Carter proceeded to the weight area, and his weight training session was indeed a good one. He completed five sets of squats, increasing the weight each time, all with excellent form. During one of his sets, he saw Mark—easily recognizable by his bald head—leave the fitness center. He then set a new personal record on his one-rep deadlift. Throughout his workout, he continued thinking about the brief encounter with Mark in the locker room.

[Ending TBD]

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