Excerpt from Chemical Pink

Chemical Pink

Remembering May

It had given Charles great satisfaction to rip out the green Italian marble tub, the gold fixtures, the pale green porcelain toilet and matching bidet and to install angled mirrors, harsh overhead lighting and a six-foot square posing platform in the center of the room. He’d turned his mother’s sanctuary into a shrine for bodybuilding and had a custom-built cabinet installed to store May’s drugs. There was a small refrigerator for the growth hormone and a day bed where they could relax together.

Charles flipped on the light. The room and all the mirrors were clean. Mrs. Johns kept things up even though Charles rarely came here now. He opened the glass-faced cabinet. Neatly stacked and in alphabetical order were all of May’s old drugs. Aldactone, Anadrol, Anavar, Clenbuteral, Cytomel, Deca-Durabolin, Halotestin, Humilane R and Humilane N, Lasix, Nolvadex, Parabolan, Primabolan Acetate, Primabolan Depot, Testosterone Propionate, Winstrol. Some had expired but Charles couldn’t bring himself to throw them away. Here too, he kept the various depilatory creams, the loofahs he used to scrub away her abundant body hair, the burlap wash cloth he used on her face, the antibiotic creams for the boils on her back and inner thighs and the multiple types of synthetic thyroid that they used at the end to undo or erase the sad results of their polypharmaceutical adventure.

May had been a star. She was beautiful and fresh and huge. The judges loved her; she’d been on every magazine cover. If they had just stopped she would be a champion today. No one could have touched May.

When her voice got hoarse and then finally dropped, neither had been surprised. All the pros had deep voices and Charles thought it sexy. At night he would have May read to him from his financial reports, his head resting comfortably in her lap. Eyes closed, he would envision her success.

Her skin thickened and became coarse; the pores opened and became visible. Charles spent a lot of money on exotic creams in an attempt to bring back some of the softness. May was a good sport, noting how well her new skin held a tan. Neither of them considered slowing down or turning back.

Charles brought in the experts when the Clitorihypertrophy set in. May was troubled by her growing clitoris, so worried that Charles wouldn’t find her attractive. The doctors confirmed that the virilizing side effects of anabolic/androgenic steroids were irreversible. Charles found himself even more fascinated by May. Her hard, budding little penis compelled him. As it grew so too did his devotion and May admitted to heightened arousal.

May was winning every contest. She had offers to guest-pose all over the world. She was in constant demand for photo shoots and was given a question and answer column, which Charles ghost wrote, in Flex Magazine. She grew bigger, harder and better.

For many months her hirsutism was manageable. A light blond down grew on her back and shoulders. Charles remembered climbing into the tub with May, three or four fresh disposable razors on hand. He’d gently soap her back and shoulders then delicately scrape the foam and hair away. Her body was slick and after the bath he would rub her with oil and marvel at the sheen of her skin. But the hair got thicker and the follicles would become infected from ingrown hairs, erupting into enormous boils. They switched to depilatory creams that Charles applied and then loofahed off, leaving the skin very clean. They found a mild depilatory for May’s face.

May was famous. It was critical that she stay in shape year round, to keep her body fat below nine percent even off season. She relied on Cytomel to keep her metabolism fast, to keep her lean, and diuretics to prevent water retention. It worked for almost two years and then it didn’t work at all. Nothing Charles tried could stimulate May’s natural thyroid. Her metabolism shut down and she blew up like a walrus. He watched helplessly as she grew enormously fat, her beard thick, her features coarse. He assured her that it didn’t matter; he loved her. It didn’t matter if she never competed again. He meant it. But May couldn’t stand herself and she couldn’t stand Charles’ attention. She refused to see him and then she moved back home to Florida. Charles still sent generous monthly checks with his letters. May cashed the checks but never replied.