stories

chapter 1

Moments after I read the letter I had just received in the mail, I called my friend Larry. It was an invitation for an all expense-paid week's vacation for two at a brand new spa in Key West, Florida. Although I thought that it was probably a come on for a sales pitch for a time share or something like that, I had been out of work from my bank teller job due to "economic conditions" as it stated in my termination letter, and this represented the first opportunity for a vacation in almost two years. Truth to tell, I was starting to get a little desperate. I had been living off of my savings and I had maybe two months left before I wouldn't be able to afford to buy food; I was already behind in my rent and other bills.

Now, quite honestly, spa vacations are not my normal thing, nor would I have really thought of Key West or any beach as a spot to vacation. I don't possess what is commonly referred to as a "beach body" and neither does Larry for that matter.



Larry surprised me by his enthusiasm for it: "How can you pass this up? Think of it as an adventure. What's the worst thing that can happen? You listen to their sales pitch and then say 'no thank you'. In the meantime you have an all-expense paid vacation out of it."

Larry was beginning to convince me so I read him the letter that began: "Come play with us". By the time I finished reading it, Larry wanted to know, "So when do we leave for Key West?" I somehow felt better knowing that he was willing to join me, not that I had anyone else I would have considered. That's the nice thing about old friends. We met in high school and being the two fattest kids in gym class, we stuck together for moral support against all of the jocks who mercilessly poked fun at us. At lunch, we used to have contests to see who could eat the most packages of cupcakes or ice cream sandwiches. I was generally the hands-down winner, even if in those years, he outweighed me. We lost touch going to separate colleges, but he reconnected with me through Facebook just about the time that I lost my job and really needed a friend. Besides, I feel I owe him this free vacation--he's been paying a lot for our occasional all-you-eat restaurant pig-outs over these last two years.

"But a spa", I said as I returned to reality, "Can you really see us at a spa?" One thing that did stand out in the letter that Larry pointed out was a phrase that was repeated several times: "delicious comfort meals", not healthy or nutritious meals as you would expect from a spa, but "delicious comfort meals". Nor was anything mentioned about exercise or losing weight, only "daily massages" and "unique stress reduction methods". All right, he sold me!

The letter explicitly noted that the mode of dress was "extremely casual" so I packed very little in my overnight carry-on case, just some shorts and tee shirts and the only bathing suit I had which I doubted would still fit me as I hadn't had the occasion of wearing it for many years. Toiletries would be provided by the spa, so I didn't have to go through the trouble of getting those stupid little sample size mouthwash, toothpaste and deodorants that you have to pack in a tiny plastic bag for airport security.

It was so all inclusive that they were even providing car service to the airport and we would be picked up when we arrived. What a classy touch! I called the number provided in the letter, made arrangements for the airfare, our stay at the spa, and for the pick-up to the airport. The person who took the information sounded very sweet and nice, but really didn't offer much more about the promotion when I asked if he could provide any additional information from what was in the letter. When the arrangements were finalized and confirmed, for the first time in a long time, I had something I was really getting excited about.
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