“I want you to meet someone,” said Simon, offering me his hand to help me up.
“Fuck you, you cold-blooded Limey bastard,” I wheezed, lying on the mat, thinking of several exciting ways he could die.
Simon claims to be my friend, and he is certainly the recipient of what I consider to be large sums of my money. When I’m in London, he tries very hard to teach me how to defend myself properly. In practical effect, this means I pay him to hurt me. Frankly, I’m a little troubled by how that sounds to my own ears.
When I travel on business to some of the world’s more unpleasant places, Simon will sometimes accompany me. His purpose on those occasions is to ensure nothing bad happens to me. His purpose is also, apparently, to sleep with women I’m trying to get to know much better. I find the latter highly irritating.
“You can’t lounge about on the floor all day,” Simon informed me. “Now get up and meet my friend.”
“I don’t like your friends,” I said, once I could breathe again. I glared at him, but finally accepted the proffered hand and pulled myself up. “Every time I meet one of your friends I end up in trouble. And I hope that hurts,” I added nodding at his bright red left ear.
“It does hurt,” Simon replied, grinning. “That was well done. You’re getting ever so slightly better.”
“So who’s this friend, and why do I need to be afraid of him?”
“Her,” he corrected, leading me from the gym to the offices. “And you need not fear Mylène. You’ll like her.”
A girl? Well, now things were looking up!
I trailed behind, rubbing the shoulder Simon had dropped me on, while he poked his head into an office at the end of the corridor.
“You’re free?” he asked the office’s occupant, receiving an enthusiastic, feminine “Yes!” in reply.
Simon introduced me to Mylène, who was barely over five feet tall, possessed shoulder-length brown hair and a lovely smile, and looked smashing in running shorts.
“Vous êtes Française?” I asked, smiling back.
“Québécoise,” she told me. I felt a small thrill. I love French-Canadian women. I find them generally friendlier and less high-strung than the French.
“I’m delighted to meet you Mylène,” I continued in her language. “You are much less ugly than most of Simon’s friends.”
We laughed and Simon raised an eyebrow at me. “Yes, well, you’ve now met your new trainer.”
“I have?” I asked looking back at the diminutive creature before me. “What exactly will she be teaching me?”
Simon leaned in close to me, growling with happy menace: “You’re going to learn all about pain.”
Mylène smiled sweetly up at me, and I suddenly felt slightly ill.
“Owwww!” I hollered, my objection echoing around the gym. “Goddamn it!”
“It is very effective, isn’t it?” Mylène asked.
“Yes, yes, it’s very effective!” She had asked me to try to slap her face, then had ducked quickly under my swinging arm and delivered a strike with rigid fingers into my right armpit.
My arm hung limp, and I walked in circles using my left hand to try to massage away the horrible signals being sent from the nerve bundle.
On day one, Mylène had sat me in a small classroom, using anatomy charts to identify different pressure and pain points, explaining the effect of striking them, and which kind of strike worked best. Then she had sent me home with additional reading.
Now on day two, she was introducing me to the practical side of her sinister art. I had experienced shocking levels of pain to my head, neck and various parts of my torso, along with temporary paralysis of each of my limbs.
I felt weak and disconnected and a bit psychologically traumatized. But grudgingly acknowledged that Mylène was very good at what she did. A foot shorter than I, this woman had reduced me to a trembling pile of goo. And I’d learned some things.
“Okay,” she said. “Let’s find the femoral nerve, and—“
“No! No damn femoral nerve! No more torture! I’ve had it. Leave me alone, will you?”
She chuckled and looked at the clock on the wall. “Perhaps that is enough for today. Go take a shower, but not too hot. If you have any swelling or soreness, use ice, not heat. We will start again tomorrow.”
“I don’t want to start again tomorrow,” I whined.
"Oh, come on, Duff,” she said stepping closer. “I didn’t really hurt you, did I? And you’re a big strong guy…”
I shied away from the tiny sadist. “I used to be,” I growled.
She laughed again, flashing white teeth. “I will make it up to you. Do you like curry? I will take you to my favorite place for curry tonight.”
“Dinner?” I frowned. “With you? Like a date?”
“Exactly like a date,” she said facing me with hands on hips.
“I’m not dating any woman who can inflict that kind of pain on me.”
“Well, it’s your choice. But if you are very charming and stop complaining, I might give you a massage to make you feel better. I have a degree in physiotherapy.”
She grinned at me. I thought about it a moment, then grinned back.
Simon strolled into the gym with perfect posture and easy grace, as befitted a former military man. “How did it go today?”
I turned to greet him. “Quite well, I think, though my whole body hurts, and I’m getting these weird electric tingles all over the place. Thank you for introducing me to Mylène.” We shook hands.
Then I slammed my knee hard into the common peroneal nerve motor point on Simon’s left thigh. His leg collapsed and he fell, grunting.
I turned back to my new trainer, who was giggling with a hand over her mouth. “Mylène, you’re awesome! That stuff really works! How about I pick you up here at six for that curry?”
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