The World in Play


Jake's Gym
December, 2001

"IT'S THE VAMPIRES," Jake said.

He had offered his visitor tonic water from a refrigerator in his office.

The yunü had declined. "So the humans don't know...

"They don't know anything," Jake said. "But their money is good and this is a human economy. On the other hand, the vamps also pay. With the humans mostly during the day and the vamps mostly at night, we really do offer a 24 hour gym. There is some overlap, though."

"Vampire weight-lifters?" Xiuling asked.

"Not many, they're mostly gymnasts or fencers or simple hand-to-hand; they're already real strong. When I got the warehouse, I didn't want that extreme narcissistic emphasis you can get in some gyms, so I limited the mirrors, and I think that's why the vamps show up and that's where the problem is."

"You're talking about humans now?"

"Yes. There aren't any mirrors on the floor, and both parts of the clientele are sort of OK with that, but the locker room is a problem. Up in the bathroom, I got little mirrors over the sinks for shaving, but I also got complaints."

"The vampires don't like them?"

"I don't know; they don't shave, or at least, they don't shave here, so their non-appearance doesn't matter and they haven't said anything about them. The humans don't like the mirrors because they're too small. The humans want at least one full length mirror somewhere in the locker room, but that may worry the vamps.

"I think about mirrors, I ask a yunü. I need to keep everybody happy, not scare the humans when the vamps don't show up in a mirror and not offend the vamps by playing favorites with the humans."

"Possibly what you want here is a feng-shui master, and I am only a student in that. Still, let's inspect the locker room," the yunü said.

"They're using it."

"They won't notice me, and I won't be looking at them," Xiuling said.

THE LOCKER ROOM was a long rectangle, with U-shaped bays opening onto an aisle that ran left and right along the inner wall; it was, if anything, too large. It had a faint empty feeling, despite all the members using it at the moment. Xiuling walked in, and was not noticed. The men continued to dress or undress, talking or silent, and leaving singly or in groups as they headed for the gym or the street.

Xiuling avoided them all and continued her inspection of the varying harmonics and the erratic and somewhat free form changes in the hard structure that resulted from Jake's original remodel of the warehouse. She walked up and down the main aisle, looking at the bays formed by rows of back to back lockers projecting from the outer wall, observing the ratio of the width of the benches to the total width of the bays; noticing air vents and the changes in floor covering and where the towel baskets were. As she rejoined Jake, the door opened and a group dressed for fencing came in. She moved out of their way.

Some of the younger men talked and bantered. The few older men talked quietly. One man, the last, was silent as he looked straight at her. He glanced at the rest of the fencers, who continued to ignore Xiuling's presence. He eyed her again, a faint frown on his pale face.

Xiuling also frowned. Vampire, she thought. Right. They really are resistant to my magic, too. She slipped quickly and quietly out the door.

Jake followed her out, and they returned to his small office.

"I have two suggestions," the yunü said. "It's possible to rearrange the locker room to include isolated mirrors at either end, leaving the center section unreflected. That's not optimal. A better solution would be to put up several mirrors on the inner wall, on both sides of the door. I would bespell them to show vampires as well as humans. Which would upset your vampire clientele less, seeing themselves or being restricted to the center lockers?"

"Would the spell have to be renewed often?"

"Oh, no; only when you break a mirror. It's a one-time spell that becomes part of the mirror, and even the broken shards will carry it."

"I think the vamps might like seeing themselves, once they got used to it," Jake said. "Let's try that."

"So call me when the mirrors arrive, and I'll enhance them," Xiuling said.

"Does the feng-shui require any adjustment?"

"Just adding the mirrors in that location will do a lot to improve the harmony, but you should move that big metal angular scale into the small alcove where the payphone is at the moment. Remove that entirely. Run some of the mirrors sideways, just for tying ties or combing hair and put a narrow shelf under the mirrors. Change to round towel hampers, smaller ones for preference, and put the hampers under the shelf. Wicker or canvas, not plastic or metal."