Chapter IV

Stung by the whole Ginny/Rhonda/Sandy debacle and inspired by Denny Crane, the Senior Citizen Love Doctor of Del Flor, Alan threw himself into his fitness regimen over the course of the next week. Not only did he do the morning hike with his group every day, he even managed to walk the trail two evenings when the days had cooled down. He increased his water intake and started doing some stretching exercises in the evening before retiring for the night, much to his roommate's amusement.

"Alan, my lad," Denny had said the first time Alan had begun doing isometrics as they watched a movie, "don't hurt yourself."

"Don't worry about me," was Alan's reply, "You may be getting the girls now but, I will be in great demand once we get home! Of that, have no doubt, my friend."

Thursday evening, Denny and Alan sat on their patio watching the sky and the mountains change colors as the sun set. Denny had his usual scotch and cigar while Alan sipped on a glass of club soda flavored with slices of lemon and lime. Frowning at the glass in the younger man's hand, Denny remarked, "So, is that it, then? No more scotch?"

Alan shook his head and laughed softly. "Not to worry, Denny. I'll be back to my scotch drinking and cigar smoking self when we go home. I just don't want to be counter-productive. As much as I enjoyed that scotch and cigar I had last Friday, I am determined to keep my weight loss going. I have to admit, when you first suggested a fat farm, I was skeptical but, I have learned a lot since coming here. I thought I would have to give up everything I enjoy but, I just have to pay attention to how much I'm eating and drinking." He turned to gaze at the mountains as they slowly faded from sight. "What travel arrangements did you make?"

Denny stood and stretched. "A car will take us to the airport at 11. Steve and Cody said they expect to have the pre-flight check completed and the flight plans filed for a noon departure. That should get us back to Boston by 9:30PM Eastern Standard Time. I have to say, Alan, I'm going to miss this place."

"I guess you will! You've had more ass here than a toilet seat."

Denny grimaced, "You can be so crude, sometimes. You're right but, crude." Denny snapped his fingers as a thought occurred to him. "Alan, how about we make this an annual thing? So we can tone up after the holiday season and gear up for The Removal of the Coats in the spring?"

Alan raised his glass. "I'll drink to that! That's a splendid idea, Denny." He drained his glass. "I'm finished drinking but, do you want another?"

"No, thanks. I think I'm going to go put on my pajamas, climb into bed and watch a movie. I brought 'Tombstone.'"

That brought a smile to Alan's face. "Tombstone? That's my favorite! I think I'll join you." Alan froze halfway out of his seat. "Unless, you have one of your lady friends coming for a visit."

"No, no, it's just us tonight. In fact, you can sleep with me, if you'd like."

The end credits began rolling. The two friends were propped up against Denny's headboard with an empty bowl that had contained air-popped, butter-free popcorn between them. Alan grabbed the bowl and set it on the dresser while Denny turned off then removed the DVD from the player and placed it back in its case. They both climbed into bed at the same time. Denny settled in while Alan turned off the lamp then moved to snuggle against the older man's body. He fully anticipated this being the best night's sleep of his stay. The room glowed with moonlight. "Denny?"

"Hmmm?"

"Thank you."

"Don't be silly. You knew you'd be sleeping with me again."

"I didn't mean that but, thanks for that, too. I mean, thank you for this," he said as he waved his arm around the bedroom. "This trip, this place, everything. I was feeling dejected and depressed before we came here."

"Are you getting ready to be sentimental? Because, you know how I feel about that sort of thing."

Alan laughed, "Yes, I know and no. Well, maybe a little. Denny, you just don't know how much your friendship means to me. You did all of this because you wanted to make me feel better and if I didn't lose an ounce, this trip would still be a success for me because you cared enough about me and my self-esteem to do this. I'll never forget it."

Denny grunted gruffly in response even though he was touched. He squeezed Alan tightly in a one-arm hug and said, "You're welcome, my friend. Good night."

Friday morning was a treat for Alan's group because since it was to be a travel day, there was no 7AM hike. The final weigh-in wasn't nearly as nerve-wracking as the first. For one thing, besides the fact that it was being held at 9AM so everyone was able to sleep a little longer if they so chose to do so, Alan knew he had lost more weight. For another, he was no longer concerned about impressing Ginny and he was never really interested in Sandy sexually, anyway. Despite his earlier concern that he had alienated her, she had, in fact, continued to deal with him in a professional and friendly manner all week. And finally, Denny had accompanied him to the weigh-in after introducing Alan to his group mates and saying his goodbyes.

When it was his turn, Alan walked over to the scale, got on and stood quietly while Gary adjusted the weights to balance it. "Excellent, Alan!" he said, "You've lost another four pounds."

Alan smiled, shook his hand and said, "Good-bye and thank you for your help." He stepped down from the scale and moved to where Sandy was standing with her tape measure.

She took his measurements efficiently then said, "Congratulations, Alan. You have lost a total of two and a half inches from your waist, an inch and a half from your hips and a half inch from each thigh." She looked up at him and smiled. "If you continue to control your portion size, remember to drink as much unadulterated water as you can and use the stairs sometimes instead of the elevators all the time, you should be able to maintain what you've accomplished here and probably drop some more weight, though not as fast."

Alan shook her hand. "Good-bye and thank you, Sandy. For everything, even that little slice of humble pie you served me last week."

She laughed and said, "You're very welcome! I would suggest that the next time you visit, you listen to each person's entire introduction."

"That is definitely advice I intend to follow. I'd like you to meet my best friend." She walked with him to the table where Denny sat drinking a cup of tea. "Sandy, this is my friend, Denny. He's the one who convinced me to come. Denny, this is my trainer, Sandy." Denny put his cup down and started to rise.

"Oh, please don't get up, Denny. It's so nice to meet you. Have a safe trip home and I hope we have the pleasure of you company again." With that, she went back to the front of the room to measure the next person.

"She's cute, Alan, too bad you blew it with her. Did you lose any more weight?"

"I did, Denny, four pounds more. I'm about ready to blow this Popsicle stand, though. Let's go finish packing."

Steve's voice came across the public address system. "Gentlemen," the pilot said, "we are approximately forty-five minutes away from Logan International. Dave is aware of our arrival time so he should be there when we land. The weather is clear ahead of us and I don't anticipate any delays or turbulence. Enjoy the rest of the flight. Steve out."

Denny had been asleep but, had awakened to Steve's announcement. He looked over at Alan who was reading Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates. "Alan, are you going to find Cecily and ask her out again?"

Alan placed his bookmark and closed the book. "Absolutely not! I can do much better than her now. She blew it."

Denny laughed out loud. "Sounds like someone feels attractive once again. Not that it ever mattered to me. I love you no matter what you look like."

"Which is why I'm spending the weekend with you, Denny, instead of flaunting my new body around Boston. Monday is soon enough for everyone else to see the new me."

"I knew it! Every time I tell you I love you, you want to sleep over!"

Alan grinned inwardly because they both knew that was exactly why Denny said it. They smiled at each other then settled back in their seats for the remainder of the flight.