My Boyfriendís Back

by Lauren

Early February. Balki had gone to the library to do some final research for a term paper, leaving Larry with a quiet Saturday evening for a change. He puttered around the apartment, doing several odd little jobs that theyíd held off on, including dusting.

Larry used the duster to clear off the shelves and received a face-full of dust. He sneezed twice before turning away and hiding his nose in the crook of his elbow as he swatted at the dust with his free hand. After the dust settled, Larry moved a little closer and looked at the shelves.

"I hope that wasnít Balkiís dust bunny collection..." he said, making a slight face. Larry went into the kitchen and shook the duster out into the trash can, then crossed through the living room to replace the duster in the closet. Just as he closed the closet door, there was a knock at the door. He turned and opened the door. He smiled, "Hi, Jennifer."

She returned the smile. "Hi, Larry. I was wondering..." she paused, seeming to consider her words, "umm..."

"What is it? Is something wrong?" Larry asked, eyebrows arching.

"Well, itís a favor, actually," Jennifer responded.

"A favor?" Larry question, not sure of where the conversation was headed.

"Mary Anne and I want to rearrange some of the furniture in our apartment and some of itís too heavy..." she paused, before blurting out, "we were wondering if you could give us a hand?"

Larry shrugged, then smiled. "Sure, Iíd be glad to help!"

"Wait, just you? Whereís Balki? We thought you both could help."

"Balki went to the library to work on a term paper." He gave her a questioning look. "Wonít the three of us be enough?"

"Well..."

Larry sighed. "Youíre thinking of the shower head fiasco, I can tell by the look on your face. I understand. You donít want me to mess things up, thatís fine. When Balki gets in, Iíll give you a call--"

"Oh, Larry, alright," Jennifer gave in. "Iím sorry, I was thinking of that, but all we need is a few things moved. The worst that could happen is scuffed floors." She paused, offering a smile. "Will you help us out?"

Larry smiled and nodded. "Lets go move some furniture."

..........................

The door to the girlsí apartment opened and Jennifer entered, followed by Larry. Mary Anne came into the living room as Larry closed the door after him.

"Whereís Balki?" Mary Anne asked.

"Heís at the library," Jennifer answered.

Mary Anne frowned. "Oh darn."

Larry just sighed. He knew she didnít mean anything by it.

"Mary Anne, Larryís still going to help us. Between the three of us, we can move everything," Jennifer said.

"Okay... but Iíd better not break a nail," Mary Anne said, as she headed for the girlsí shared bedroom.

Larry took a step in that direction and stopped. "In there?"

"Thatís where most of our furniture is," Jennifer said.

He nodded once. "Right. Okay."

Jennifer started for the bedroom and met Mary Anne in the doorway. "Should we put the small chest of drawers in front of the window?"

"Thatíd look nice. And my little friends would love the fresh air!" Mary Anne said as she picked up one of her stuffed toys.

The girls walked to the middle of the room as Larry finally made it to the doorway. He looked around the room warily. It was almost like a dream come true... yet actually stepping foot into Jenniferís bedroom made Larry nervous.

This was the first time heíd been in their apartment beyond the living room. He slowly looked around the room, which was large and the only bedroom so they shared it.

"Larry?"

He was brought from his reverie and turned. "Yes, Jen?"

She smiled. "Are you okay?"

"Uh, well, um... no," Larry finally admitted. "To tell you the truth, this feels very... weird."

"Do you want to wait for Balki, then?" Jennifer suggested.

He took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "No, I can help. Iíll get over it. Itís nothing. Itís gone. Iím over it." Larry walked over to them. "What do you want to do first?" He winced at his wording. "Whatíll we move first?"

Mary Anne grinned at his fumbling as Jennifer nodded in the opposite direction so he wouldnít see it. "Lets move the small chest of drawers. We were thinking in front of the window," Jennifer said.

Larry nodded. "Right." He went over to the piece of furniture. The drawers had been taken out and, unknown to Larry, were put in the bathroom and the door had been closed. If he was this bad about the room, then they sure didnít want to see his reaction to what was in the drawers.

Jennifer stopped at the other end. "I can handle this end."

"Do you want me to grab the middle?" Mary Anne offered.

"The more, the merrier," Larry said, finally easing up. He waited until she joined them, then continued, "Now, on the count of three, we lift and walk it to the window. One, two, three... lift!"

Together, the trio picked up the chest of drawers and walked it carefully to the window.

"Now, we gently set it down..." Larry said. The furniture touched ground and they all shared congratulatory smiles. "That wasnít so bad. Whatís next?"

..........................

A little over an hour later, all of the furniture was moved. The trio entered the living room as a knock came at the door.

"Iíll get it," Mary Anne offered. She opened the door to find Balki. "Hi, Balki! You missed all the fun!"

Balki stepped into the apartment. "Donít tell Balki today was the day you rearrange the furniture!"

"We wonít tell you," Larry commented, a slight grin crossing his face. "Itís fine, Balki. I helped them out and everythingís where they wanted it."

"In that case, I hope you didnít hurt your back," Balki said.

Larry frowned slightly. "My back is just fine, thank you. I lifted with my knees."

"And we did help, too," Jennifer supplied.

"Well, as long as everyoneís happy and not hurt, then Iím happy," Balki said.

Jennifer nodded. "Thanks again for the help, Larry." She gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"Anytime," he replied, his voice taking a lower tone as he started to lose himself in her eyes. Larry shook himself and smiled. "Have a nice night, ladies." He headed for the door.

"Night, Mary Anne, night, Jennifer," Balki said.

The girls said their goodnights and the guys headed out, but not before Balki asked, "Cousin, did something happen to my dust bunny collection?"

..........................

Sunday morning came all too soon. Larryís alarm clock came on at nine on the dot. The faint sound of the local oldies station filled the room, just enough to wake him. His eyes blinked open and he stared at the ceiling, trying to wake up. He made an effort to reach for the alarm clock to turn it off... but felt a sudden jolt of pain from his lower back.

"Oh my Lord..." Larry breathed out, rolling his eyes. He situated both arms to try to push himself up into a sitting position. He got about two inches off the mattress and fell back, wincing and breathing heavier. "No..." He tried to think of another way to sit up, then decided to just try to get out of bed altogether.

Larry tossed the blankets aside, and turned himself so his legs dangled over the side of the bed. He sucked in a breath and pushed up into a sitting position. He very nearly cried out as he felt another jolt of pain, but managed to bite his lip before he could make a sound. He hated this; heíd expected to be a little sore, but Larry had been sure that heíd taken care in doing the lifting with his knees the prior day.

He silently cursed what had given him the bad back to begin with... then steeled his nerve and pushed up. Larry managed to stand, but had to press one hand to the wall to steady himself. The other hand instinctively went to his lower back.

Larry really didnít want the others to know he was in pain... but he was positive Balki would know something was wrong as soon as he saw him. He couldnít hide anything from Balki, no matter how he tried. He figured he didnít have to hide it... Larry just didnít want Balki and the girls to fuss over him. All he had to do was crack his back just right...

A knock came at his door, followed by, "Cousin? Iím making breakfast. Do you want eggs?"

"Hold on a minute, Balki," Larry said. Might as well get this over with... He shuffled his way to the door... all of about one foot, seeing as his bed was pretty much right next to the door. He opened the door and pressed one hand to the door frame. All he had to do was wait.

"Cousin, whatís wrong?" Balki asked, knowing something wasnít right by the expression on Larryís face and the fact that the door frame seemed to be holding him upright.

"I think my back went out," Larry admitted.

"Oh, Cousin! Why you no wait for Balki yesterday? I would have helped, too." Balki wrapped Larryís free arm around his shoulders, then helped walk Larry into the living room. "Do you want heat or ice?"

"Both," Larry replied, wincing, as Balki helped him sit on the couch.

Balki headed into the kitchen to get the ice pack and heating pad. He also turned off the stove, then came back out as a knock came at the door.

Larryís eyes widened. "Balki, if thatís the girls..."

"Iím answering the door and I donít want to hear a maybe about it! They can help us," Balki said, then opened the door.

Jennifer and Mary Anne stood at the door, then came in. "We were wondering if you guys would like to see a movie or something today?" Jennifer said.

"We canít. Cousin Larryís back is down and out," Balki said.

Larry rolled his eyes and looked in the opposite direction, trying to ignore them.

"Oh, no, Larry..." Jennifer moved to sit next to him.

However, the shifting of the cushion shifted Larry too much, causing him to suck in a breath and bite his lower lip again. "Jen... itíll be fine. I just have to crack it."

"But you look like youíre in a lot of pain," Jennifer said, noting his reaction.

Mary Anne and Balki moved to the end of the couch. "Larry, I was wondering, how come you have a bad back? What happened?" Mary Anne asked.

The question caused Balki to realize something. "Thatís, right, Cousin! Youíve never told me what happened."

Larry sighed. "I was hoping I wouldnít have to, but I can tell you wonít leave me to take care of this myself until I tell you, so here goes. Most of my siblings are younger than I am, so I usually ended up running around in the yard with them just for something to do. I was in my mid-teens and we were out running around in the yard. I think dad had taken Billy to look at colleges and mom was inside cleaning up from lunch. Anyway, Elaine decided she wanted to climb the oak tree like the others were doing. So, I boosted her up and stood under her while she climbed. She got right up there... and then I was the only one left on the ground. Needless to say, the others starting ragging on me for not joining them. Well, I had a reason... Iíd never climbed a tree before in my life and they knew it."

Larry turned his gaze to the floor. "I gave in. I started up with no one to spot me. It got about two feet up and was mere inches from climbing onto the first branch when I lost my grip. The next thing I remember is laying on the ground, staring up at the sky and hearing faint snickering from my siblings. That is, until they realizing I was jumping up and turning it into a joke. One by one, they started climbing down and gathering around. Elaine ran inside to get mom." He paused, shaking his head. "It was so humiliating at the time that I never even considered that I was probably hurt. Before mom came out, I tried to get up. I managed to sit up... but the jolt of pain from my lower back was like nothing Iíd ever felt before. When mom came out, I was in tears. She helped me lay back down, then shooed the others inside even though they long stopped their taunts and were genuinely worried about me."

"I was in the hospital for two days while the doctorsí tried to determine what was wrong. The x-rays theyíd taken showed that Iíd merely knocked it out of alignment, so they brought in a chiropractor. After about twenty minutes with the chiropractor, I was up and walking on my own again. He told me that Iíd probably have something of a trick back for the rest of my life, so he gave me a few tips on how to crack it myself. I ended up needing to do that once during the rest of high school, then once during college. I havenít had to since... until now." Larry turned his gaze back to the others.

"Yet you still help Mary Anne and me move our things. That was very selfless of you, Larry," Jennifer said, sitting next to him.

"It was a really nice thing you did, too," Mary Anne added, smiling.

"Is there anything we can do to help you, Cousin?" Balki asked.

Larry gave a slight smile. "All I need is for someone to help me over to the kitchen table."

Balki helped him over. "Now, what do I do?"

"Nothing unless I need you, which Iíll let you know," Larry said, then sighed. "Donít do anything unless I specifically ask you for help... even if I yelp." He placed both hands on the edge of the table, then began to bend his knees, lowering himself. He yelped a few times as he did so, and finally ended up almost sitting on the floor. He sighed, then stood carefully. Larry turned and gave the others a faint smile. "It worked again."

Balki immediately hit Larry with a hug. "Cousin, that was amazing!"

"Careful, Balki!" Larry said, laughing.

"Wow, I wish everything was as easy to fix as that looked," Mary Anne commented.

Jennifer went to Larry as Balki finally let go. She hugged him next, then turned to whisper in his ear, "Iíll have to remember that." She pulled away smiling as Larryís face turned a shade of crimson.

The End