“Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey.” Nix drawled as he flicked on the light and nudged Dick’s leg as it dangled off the narrow bed.
“Yep,” Dick acknowledged as he sat up, his hair slightly mussed from the pillow. He took in his best friend standing before him in gym shorts and a hoodie, holding a mug of coffee close to his chest. “Gonna share that?”
Nix snorted. “Not a chance. Come on, tiger, up and at ‘em. You’ve got a three mile run and then on to training.”
Dick sighed. “After.”
“After,” Nix agreed. He smirked, “And if you’re good, I’ll even add breakfast to it.” Then he sauntered back out of the room, chuckling as he went, and Dick was left to contemplate his own bare feet for a moment.
Day two of his new training regimen: his muscles were pleasantly sore, but he could tell he hadn’t really begun to push himself yet. Maybe he’d insist on adding another half mile. And maybe some extra time on the heavy bag as well. That is, if Nix let him get away with it.
Dick had originally been skeptical when Nix offered to help him train for the Philadelphia Golden Gloves qualifying competition, but he’d taken his best friend up on the offer regardless. However, so far, Dick had to admit he’d been surprised by Nix’s enthusiasm and the very fact that he was up before 10:00 a.m. when he didn’t have to be.
Dick stood and stretched quickly, loosening his muscles before he pulled on his shorts, t-shirt, and running shoes. When he exited his bedroom, he found Nix waiting for him at their tiny kitchen table. “Ready?” Nix asked.
Dick smirked “If you are.”
The air was chill and patterns of frost still decorated the windows they passed on their way to the park up the street. At 5:30 in the morning, it was calm and quiet in the park, with the city just beginning to wake up. Dick began to jog once they reached the trail and Nix kept pace with him, the only sounds being their breathing and their shoes rhythmically slapping the sidewalk.
Maybe this wasn’t most people’s idea of a perfect morning, but it was Dick’s. A quiet time when he could think and breathe in some fresh air, without being bothered. Dick valued his alone time but being with Nix was like that, too, only better; his best friend instinctively knew when Dick needed the quiet and when he needed a laugh instead. Time flew by, just as it always did on these morning runs, and soon enough, they were headed back toward the apartment to grab their gear and head into the gym for another intense session of training. But first….
Nix nodded his head toward their favorite diner, just a block away from their apartment. “Come on, my treat,” he said, smiling, and Dick didn’t bother to argue, knowing already how it would play out. So instead, he followed Nix into the warmth of the diner and inhaled the welcoming scent of coffee, bacon, and pancakes. They settled into their usual booth by the front windows and Nix gave a wave to Audrey, the elderly waitress who always worked the morning shift.
Audrey smiled their way and bustled over quickly, pulling out a pad of paper and pen from her apron pocket. “Morning, boys. You want the usual?”
“Please,” Dick said. “But could I get a side of fruit as well?”
“Sure thing, darling.” Audrey said. “And you, sweetheart?”
“I think the blueberry pancakes, today,” Nix said, nodding Dick’s way. “Can’t have him making me look bad with his healthy choices.”
“Blueberry pancakes is not the healthy choice, Nix,” Dick chastised, rolling his eyes.
Nix, of course, just smirked. “It’s got fruit in it, doesn’t it?”
Audrey chuckled. “You two always make me laugh. I’ll have your breakfast up in a minute.”
“Thanks,” they chorused. A minute later, Audrey returned to the table and poured them both a cup of coffee.
Dick took a sip as soon as Audrey wandered away, enjoying the heat of the bitter brew after the chill of the air outside. And he watched, amused, as Nix added a healthy dose of cream and sugar to his own, pleased only that he didn’t add anything else. And as Nix leaned back in the booth and took a sip of his coffee, Dick thought to himself, Yeah, mornings like this are just fine.
Currahee was an older gym, a real mom and pop place that used to have a reputation for turning out great fighters. When they’d moved to Philadelphia, it was the first gym that Dick really liked the feel of, and he’d adopted it rather quickly. The place was small and low-key, but the equipment was well-kept and the place was clean. It had originally been opened by a couple of World War II vets after they’d returned from Europe, and they’d kept the place running for decades with the help of their children. However, about six months after Dick started going there, the owner passed away and his son said that they’d have to sell the place because he didn’t have the time or energy to keep it up. Dick had been heartbroken, as had the other patrons, because Currahee wasn’t just an adequate gym, it was a warm place with good, encouraging people who were dedicated to their art.
Dick had mentioned the closing as a matter of dinner conversation one night at home over a plate of cheap spaghetti, saying that he hoped the new owners were decent people or else he’d have to find a new gym, which he hated to do, because he really loved that place already. Nix had listened in his usual way: dark eyes intent, wheels visibly turning in his head. He hummed sympathetically and asked “How serious are you about this boxing thing, anyway?”
“Pretty serious.” Dick said, around a mouthful of spaghetti. He chewed. Swallowed. “I think I could compete. I want to.”
“Well, then.” Nix said, setting his fork aside and leaning back in his chair. “Let’s keep our fingers crossed that you like the new owner.”
Less than a week later, Lewis Nixon was the proud owner of Currahee Gym, est. 1946.