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Nocturnal Prowess

Darkness fell quickly that winter evening in southern Africa. Reg and I set out on our fifty-mile journey through the countryside of Johannesburg to a village where physical culture was budding. No obstacles were foreseen; one makes a simple plan and simply executes it. Shortly into our trek, only ten miles out of town, our ride became an irregular bumping. The small vehicle affectionately nicknamed 'Frenchy' rebelled, contorted and dragged us into a ditch. I, the designated driver, thinking it cool to be cruising the great Dark Continent with Reg Park, the lion and tiger of bodybuilding, was reduced to a struggling nitwit who found the nail that pierced the tire that pitched us into the precarious posture.

An early morning and engagements through the day promoting fitness to an uneducated audience left the two of us spent, somber and dull; show us the hoops and jump we will, but don't expect anything fancy or creative from this tattered pair. We groaned, worked our way free of the Renault, stood up and watched the car rise once relieved of our bodyweight.

No car phone; no Triple A on-the-spot tow service, no highway patrol, no traffic on the two lane bi-way. Cozy. Reg, Hercules himself, looked at me. I, the Los Angeles Gladiator and Bomber from America, tempted to defensively whine 'I didn't see the nail,' looked at Reg. He flexed his enormous calves. I clenched my fists. We both shrugged our shoulders and grinned.

One of those flashlights the size of a pen hung from the key chain. It broke the darkness to reveal a spare tire, a lug wrench and no jack. Without a word we proceeded forward one step at a time, thinking that as each step was accomplished the next would be revealed and its execution enabled. The logic was that of the modern day muscleman, the only wisdom we understood: action plus muscle equals solution.

We were partners and moved as one. Quickly we memorized our surroundings enabling us to pull the spare tire from the trunk and place it near its destination, the left rear rumpled wheel. Our hands as feelers and our eyes now focusing out of need and will, we removed all the lugs but one. An occasional dash of light from the magic pen assured us of our perspective: tires, lugs, wrench and car position. Now the next step was clear. Take off the troublesome flat tire, put on the trouble-free round tire.

Darkness is empowering. The absence of options contributes to might. No need to make decisions conserves energy for the action alone. The mystery of the black beyond our reach stimulates adrenalin, which heightens the senses.

Reg grabbed the bumper and gave it a few warm-up tugs as he set his footing aright. You need to realize we had worked out very early that morning, 6:00 a.m., and heavy bench pressing was the subject. Our timing of "the spot" was impeccable. Ready? One, Two, Lift. The car went up, the wheel came off and was swept under the chassis as a support and down came the car. A dash of light renewed our viewpoint and positions. This time on the count of three I lifted the left rear engine-bearing corner of Frenchy as Big Reg jammed the good wheel on and fed it the lugs. He tightened them as I put the trunk in order. He insisted I drive and off we went, be smudged but no worse for the effort.

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