Brad signs his name in the visitor's book. Beside it, Jean writes his name and membership number.
They walk through the foyer and climb the blue-carpeted stairs, each step worn and faded from constant use. On the first landing, they stop and watch waves crashing on Maroubra Beach through a large, square window.
On the second landing, a tall doorman with broad shoulders and a thick mo, stands at the entrance of the bar. “Ah, excuse me, fellas.”
Brad and Jean stop.
“Are youse goin to the aerobics class?” the doorman asks, stance rigid, legs apart.
“Yes,” says Brad. Jean nods his head.
“Well, afta seven o'clock, you'll havta wear jeans.”
Jean looks at the clock above the door. “But it's not seven o'clock yet.”
“Yeah, but it will be when yas come down,” says the doorman. “See, afta seven o'clock at night, ya not allowed to walk through the club in track-suit pants.”
Shocked silence envelops them.
“That's the rules of the club,” says the doorman, turning around and swaggering into the bar.
“Ponce,” says Jean, walking up the last flight of stairs.
“Jerk,” echoes Brad, catching up to him. “He's the guy who always stares at my crotch at the pool.”
Jean's eyebrows raise like question marks.
One hour later, the aerobics class finishes. Men and women in twos and threes leave the auditorium and walk to the toilets and showers, leotards and tee-shirts clinging to sweaty bodies.
Brad and Jean wipe off the perspiration, change into their tracksuit pants and tee-shirts and walk down the stairs.
Three nights later, walking down the stairs after an aerobics class, their jeans feel like tight webbing around their thighs.
On the second landing, Brad glances into the main bar. He grabs Jean by the tee-shirt, “Look at this.”
A short woman stands in front of the same doorman. He stands with his hands in his pockets, a frown creasing his forehead.
“I realise Trish is only your stepdaughter, Dale,” says the woman, her voice strident, “but you treat her like dirt. I'm really pissed off with you.”
“But Vicki –” says the doorman.
“Don't interrupt me,” says the woman.
The doorman glances over her shoulder and spots Jean and Brad standing at the main door. His eyes narrow, his mouth a thin, tight line.
Both men smile at each other. Walking down the stairs, Brad laughs too loudly, his cackles echoing up the stairwell.
published 27 May 2011