"The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea"
My name is Charles and I have the most wonderful job in the world: I'm a poolside bartender for Ventura Cruises, an exotic cruise line that runs throughout the Pacific. I know what you're thinking: "The fun, the sun, the travel...What's not to like?" Well, I'd be lying if I said that didn't help, but that's merely the umbrella that tops the drink. No, I enjoy my job because it allows--even encourages--me to do something that in normal circles might be considered nefarious or perverted: I get paid to fatten up women.
"Why?" I hear you ask. Well, the "why" is simply a by-product of the "how." It's my responsibility to keep the lovely ladies that frequent my deck constantly contented with caloric concoctions in a coconut. "Banana Monkeys," "BBCs," "Fudge Mud Pies," "Bikinies:" It's not a stretch to say that many of my creations would be more at home at a Dairy Queen than your typical pub. Heck, most of them have fat and caloric contents that would make a Blizzard blush.
You want to know the best part? The women DON'T CARE. Oh sure, I may hear the occasional feigned hint of restraint: "I really shouldn't" or "I couldn't possibly," but that's usually right before they order their third Pina Colada. Some even manage a few token visits to the gym, but most simply have resigned that for the week or two they're on our boat they're going to relax and indulge. That's where I come in.
I have made fattening women an art form. Of course, most people gain a little on their holidays even without someone like me counting their calories, but I make sure those women who are inclined to gain reach their maximum potential. It helps that I'm blessed with an honest face and a gift of gab. It also helps that my bar is not only adjacent to the most popular pool on the ship, but a 24-hour snack bar whose specialty is the carb-heavy snacks that liquor makes one crave. Needless to say, complimentary nacho, hamburger and pizza runs for my clients--even without their asking--have become an integral part of my job.
This extra attention for the customers, especially of the female persuasion, has made my bar even more popular. I suppose I should give SOME credit to my young, dim-witted assistant Sam; his rugged good looks and circus act with glasses, colanders and fruit attracts women like flies. We actually make quite a team; his looks and my charm make for the ultimate bait and switch.
As wonderful as my job is, it isn't perfect. Even our longest two-week cruise hardly allows time for me to work my magic, much less enjoy it. I have to be content cultivating the occasional tummy bulge and, if I'm particularly successful (as I was with a certain French lingerie model), a fresh set of "love handles." I also realize that the vast majority of the women I serve will eventually aerobicize away the 10-15 pounds I worked so hard to put on them and that's depressing. However, I take solace knowing that for some those pounds will linger and possibly be a springboard for bigger things to come.
Though my triumphs are often bittersweet, there was one glorious occasion during my tenure with Ventura Cruises where I was provided perfect time, opportunity, and subject for my alchemic bag of tricks. However, I learned the hard way that you should be careful what you wish for--especially when you wish upon stars aligned so perfectly.
Her name was Shanna Stevens and she had just signed for a six-month extended engagement as our liner's headlining singer. I was impressed. Traditionally, our liner's "entertainment" consisted of dynamic acts such as "Chocco the Dancing Squirrel" and the guys that sang the "Happy Days" theme song. Shanna, on the other hand, was young, talented and on her way up. There was already quite a bit of buzz calling her the "next" Charlotte Church (strange considering their close proximity in age), but with incomparable hot-blooded sex-appeal.
Usually, knowing such a beautiful creature was on board I'd be counting the minutes until they eventually stumbled into my poolside lair, but that never occurred to me with Shanna. My job was to keep the guests satiated and she was an employee. I also didn't expect to see a young woman of her relatively high-profile cavorting with us rabble on the poop deck. (Most of the other entertainers relaxed in a special VIP lounge.) So imagine my surprise when I looked up from blending a Mai-Tai shortly after embarking to find her seated directly in front of me!
"Good afternoon Ms. Stevens," I said without pause. "Welcome aboard!"
My ten-years bartending experience helped me contain my enthusiasm (and my drool), but had I turned into a blithering idiot it would not have been without merit; she was stunning.
"Why thank you..." She smiled and leaned in to read my name badge, "…Charles."
Even the shadowed canopy of the bar couldn't diminish the glow of her smile. In fact, every part of her seemed to radiate light: her smile, her alabaster skin, her fiery-red hair and most of all her piercing, emerald eyes. Part of me wanted to ask for I.D. before taking her order; not for her age (I'd read she was twenty-two), but to check her more vital statistics. I ultimately decided against it, but guesstimated she was about 5'6” and 125 pounds.
"What can I get for you today m'lady?"
"Hmmm…What would you recommend?"
She had just uttered my all-time favorite question--one that I had answered a thousand times--but I found myself momentarily flummoxed. What about a Cherry Zinger? No, too much alcohol. She had a show to do after all. A Chocolate Blitz? Too filling and fattening. I didn't want to bring out the heavy artillery too soon.
For what seemed like an eternity, I raced through my mental liquor cabinet in search of the perfect drink. Finally, it hit me.
"How about an Irish Float?"
She looked at me quizzically, but agreed without hesitation. For a young girl she had a sense of adventure. I liked that.
"I actually have a bit of Irish in me.” She smiled and her cheeks--still touched with the slightest hint of baby fat--dimpled as it grew, giving her face a slightly cherubic softness that accentuated her beauty.
"I know," I winked back. I actually had no idea.
As a bartender, you have to be equal parts detective, psychologist and showman. Her red hair, fair skin and slightly-Gaelic tinge to her music, made me think she might have some green blood in her, but the main reason for my selection was her psychological makeup.
At twenty-two years old, drinking was still new to her. Despite her mature presence, I could tell she was more used to malted milkshakes than malt liquor and anything stronger than Zima might pucker her enthusiasm. An Irish Float had the spirits to match her spirit, but a sweet smoothness more in line with her teenage tastes.
It also allowed me to “wow” her with my mixing technique. I didn't have the flair Sam did, but you don't bartend for ten years without developing a few tricks. She watched intently as I juggled jiggers and flipped flasks. More “mature” customers often ignore the theatrical elements of bartending, but Shanna giggled and smiled throughout.
I had impressed her to this point, but it wasn't until my frothy concoction passed through her delicately pursed lips, that I knew I had made the right decision.
“Wow,” she said, rolling her eyes back. “This is AMAZING!”
“I'm glad you like it.” Within minutes she requested another one. Fortunately, I had the foresight to make an extra-large batch.
“Well, well, well, who have we here?” Sam finally made an appearance. I knew it was just a matter of time.
“Shanna, I'd like you to meet my assistant, Sam Goodwin.” Sam shot me a dirty look on the my assistant line.
“Only for the time being.” Sam extended his hand to Shanna. “I fully-expect this joker to be answering to me in a few months.”
Shanna took his hand. “It's nice to meet you.”
“Oops, I think you dropped something,” Sam said, not releasing her hand.
Shanna looked around her. “I did?”
“Yup, my jaw!”
Somehow, Shanna mustered a pleasant smile that seemed more “thank you” than “fuck you,” though I doubt Sam would have known the difference. In fact, his look of smug satisfaction probably had more to do with him getting the line right. Some people have a way with words; Sam has a war with them.
“Ok Romeo,” I said, pointing his way towards new clients at the other end of the bar. “This is Shanna's first day, so don't waste all your 'A' material.”
“Alright, alright, I'll go.” Sam moved to greet the customers, but turned and waved goodbye to Shanna. “I look forward to seeing a lot more of you.”
“I'm sure you will,” Shanna waved back.
I was sure too.
Shanna spent the entire afternoon with me. Her fair skin kept her confined to the shadowed-canopy of the bar, and I kept her seated with an “around the world” tour of exotic drinks.
I also learned quite a bit about her. As I suspected, this was her first extended foray away from her home and friends. Her mom, who also doubled as her manager, was planning to come, but had to stay stateside to help coordinate Shanna's Fall U.S. tour. Shanna wasn't disappointed; though she loved her mom, she relished the idea of "being her own woman" for a change.
Much to my delight, being her own woman seemed to consist of an indulgence in the “forbidden fruits” of alcohol and junk food. Of course, I was there to make sure she overindulged at every turn. Shanna would occasionally chat with a fan that recognized her and I would use the opportunity to re-fill both her glass and the giant plate of nachos I had fetched her for lunch. She continued to nosh on the never-ending supply well into the afternoon.
“I don't know why I'm eating so much,” Shanna said as she chomped on another chip smothered in cheese sauce. “It must be nerves.”
Either that or the six drinks you've had, I thought. “I guess even the greatest aren't immune to opening night jitters.”
Shanna immediately bolted upright and looked at her watch. “Oh shit--I mean, shoot!” She was so cute. “I'm sorry; I have to go get ready. It's only two-hours 'til curtain.”
As Shanna jumped from her perch, she misjudged the distance from the stool to the floor and fell against the seat next to her.
“Oops! Careful now.” I reached across the bar to steady her. Her arm was warm and soft.
“I'm SO sorry,” Shanna giggled. “I guess I don't have my sea-legs yet.”
“That's OK my dear, you should see me on land.”
Shanna laughed and righted herself enough to extend her hand; I gladly took it.
“It was VERY nice to meet you, Charles. Are you coming to my show?”
“I'd love to, but I'm afraid I have to work.” I was genuinely disappointed; so was Shanna.
“Well, I guess I'll forgive you this time. You still have six-months to make it up to me.”
“I most certainly will.” With that, I released her hand and bid her adieu. She really was a polished performer: I could hardly tell she was drunk as she ambled towards her cabin; however, her circuitous path around the pool betrayed her stoic poise and posture.
Fortunately, it gave me a precious few extra seconds to examine her figure--stem to stern--for the first time.
The first thing I noticed was her skin; it was absolutely flawless. I also noticed that the tinge of baby fat adorning her cheeks wasn't just confined to her face. In fact, her entire body seemed to be covered with the slightest layer--though her proportions were every bit those of a grown woman. Perhaps "baby fat" is a bad choice of words, as she certainly exhibited no excess curves or bulges (other than her amply-filled C-cup top and perky posterior) and no one in their right minds would call her fat. "Untouched" would be more appropriate: untouched by life and the rigors associated with it. She was a fully-blossomed fruit ripe for the picking.
Sam's eloquent comment snapped me from my trance. He rested his elbow on my shoulder and together we watched as Shanna sashayed away from us, her ample caboose undulating the thin fabric of her bikini with each step. With a final flip of her raven hair, she disappeared through the bulkhead. Hubba-Hubba indeed.
Six months. Those two words kept penetrating my thoughts as I grudgingly returned to my duties.
Bartender's Credo #1: If you ever want to have lots of sex, become a bartender--especially on a cruise liner.
The aforementioned “fast and loose” attitude I described regarding food and drink among our guests also applies to sex. For the weeks they're on board, most people wave “bon voyage” to morals, self-control and repercussions. That suits me just fine. I don't consider myself a great looking guy; my nose is a little crooked (thanks to an unruly customer) and I'm getting gray, but I have been told I look distinguished--especially after a few drinks. I'm also at that age, thirty-six, where I have a somewhat universal appeal. I've bedded women 18-55 (at least that's all I'm admitting to) and my gift of gab allows me to change my approach accordingly.
It's not all fun and games though; the duration of my relations are limited and the taboo nature of most of my affairs--morally and professionally--prohibit any more than a quick tumble in the dark. Love doesn't even factor into the equation. In fact, I make a point of not exploring carnal relations with anyone I find particularly attractive (which isn't usually a problem with my particular tastes). I learned long ago that attraction leads to heartbreak once we reach port.
The house lights were dim as I felt my way into an empty seat at the back of the theater. I couldn't resist; I had to see her perform. She was breathtaking. Even though her show was nearing its close, she seemed fresh as an ocean breeze and showed no ill-effects from her day's indulgences.
Her turquoise-sequenced dress gently caressed her shapely form and even further brought out her emerald eyes. Damn, they were hypnotizing--even from the back row. Her mane of red hair, fiery in the sunlight, now appeared a darker auburn and was styled straighter to frame her timelessly beautiful face. By the pool she was effortlessly sexy; now she was undeniably classy. I couldn't believe this was the same exuberant young girl I'd just spent the better part of an afternoon with.
Her performance also belied her age: Her mannerisms; her voice; the way she worked the crowd (I swear she winked at me in the back row); all seemed to belong to a woman that had been doing this for decades. This girl was going to be huge!
I skulked away in the dark just before her encore. I wanted to stay: I wanted to give her the standing ovation she would no doubt receive; I wanted to meet her back stage and congratulate her on her triumph; I wanted to hug her and feel her nubile young body pressed against mine…but I didn't. Instead, I went back to my lonely cabin and collapsed into bed.
As I lay there, I stared off into the empty space of my room and thought of Shanna. I imagined what she would look like with an extra ten pounds; twenty pounds; fifty pounds. I imagined fresh folds of fat slowly overflowing her sequenced dress, begging for some way to escape its increasingly restrictive confines. I imagined myself mercifully unzipping it as her fleshy body exploded outwards--free from its bonds--and into my waiting arms.
A smile crept across my face as one final thought crossed my mind just as sleep took hold…
“Did you see me last night?”
I whirled around to face the voice and nearly spilled the margarita I was carrying. Considering I had an eye out for Shanna all morning, I don't know how she was able to sneak up on me. I hoped in a few months she would be a lot easier to spot.
“I told you I had to work.” I tried to play it cool, but my feigned indignity was all but transparent.
“You did tell me that,” she said coyly, “but did you see me?” All night in my dreams, I wanted to say.
“I did.” Her face immediately lit-up.
“You were incredible.”
“Hurrah!” Shanna twirled around in her cute, form-fitting sundress. Her youthful exuberance was back in full-force. “I was SOOO nervous. Did you really think I was good?”
“Absolutely.” Despite her confidence on-stage, it was clear she still had a little self-doubt off it. I found it refreshing. Now came the moment of truth…
“Can I buy you a congratulatory Irish Float?”
“I'd better not,” she said, placing a hand on her stomach. “I'm amazed I was able to stand last night, much less sing. That wasn't very professional of me.”
I was disappointed, but unfazed. “Are you kidding? You were amazing. I was hoping it was my drinks that brought you luck.”
“I don't think it was the drinks…”
Shanna's coy smile said it all: This girl had a crush. I immediately became aroused; not just because this young, beautiful and talented girl was attracted to me, but because of the favorable position this put me in. It was an advantage I didn't intend to lose.
“I see.” I placed my elbow on the bar and my chin in my hand. “Well, truth be told, I had a particularly good day yesterday and I think it was thanks to a certain lucky charm of my own.”
Shanna blushed and looked away.
“Now I'm not superstitious, but I don't think we should risk altering a successful routine. I'll tell you what, let me make you one drink--just to keep me from getting in trouble--so you can stay here and we can test my theory.”
Shanna hesitated, and then nodded. I didn't ask what she wanted; I just started mixing her a Steel Magnolia: a light and fruity drink with less alcohol than an Irish Float, but all the sugar and calories. Once again it met with an enthusiastic response and before long I was whipping up another batch.
Over the years, I have developed a knack for keeping customer's glasses filled. The trick is never letting it get much below half-full. If it empties, most people become aware of how much they're drinking, but if you constantly top it off they usually don't. Needless to say, Shanna's glass was kept filled to the brim and I imagine she actually drank more than the first day--despite just ordering a single drink. I knew I was a bad influence, but I couldn't help myself.
I had to be careful, however, that my carnal urges didn't overwhelm my good sense. I was treading on dangerous ground and any misstep could foil my plan. I'd like to say I was looking out for her interests when I reminded her that she only had an hour until curtain, but in truth I was merely protecting my six-month investment.
"I think you've got a crush big man," Sam said to me after Shanna had left. "I don't think I've ever seen you dote on a customer as much as her...and that's sayin' something."
"Who?" I played stupid, a game that I should've known better than to engage with Sam; he was the master.
"Who?!? Who do you think? Ms. Goodbody.”
"She's just a girl, Sam. She's young…away from home. I want to make sure she's taken care of. I'm just being friendly."
"Then how come you never let me wait on her? I can be REAL friendly."
"I think you just answered your own question Sammy-boy."
Sam was subtle as a sledgehammer, but if my attentions were that obvious--especially to someone as dense as Sam--it showed that I needed to be doubly careful not to overplay my hand.
Bartender's Credo #2: It's strange but it's true: The best looking women are often the loneliest.
My father--an average man, of average means, looks and intelligence--married the Homecoming Queen...Twice (first his High School, then his college sweetheart). Neither my mother, or his second wife looked much like Homecoming Queens when he divorced them a few years later, but that's not the point: The point is he walked where few men dared to tread and it paid off.
Growing up, it always seemed like fatherly rhetoric espoused to instill confidence in me, but as I grew older I was able to see the truth in it. There are certain women that 95% of the male population deem "unapproachable." As a bartender, I've seen average looking women swarmed by men, while women just south of perfection sit alone with their drinks. In fact, the whole bar mentality seems to work against beautiful women: "Beer goggles” only enhance beauty, while giving confidence to the more caddish among us. Why do you suppose so many great-looking women end-up with jerks?
My father's advice has served me well through the years; my conquests are fairly legendary despite my modest looks and “Charles At-less” physique. However, I can't take all the credit; my unusual preferences help to inoculate me from most Siren's songs. I wonder if my father benefited from the same immunity?
The next two weeks went by in a blur. I've always loved my job, but I've never looked forward to starting my shifts as much as I did while Shanna was on board. I even volunteered to work on my days off, just so I wouldn't risk a day without seeing her. For her part, she was like clockwork and graced my presence from around 11 a.m. until at least 4 p.m. everyday.
Even though Shanna was quite a hit onboard, she never seemed to socialize with anyone other than myself for more than a few minutes. That's not to say she was rude; she was always gracious and would sign autographs upon request, but after a few pleasantries would always turn her attentions back to me. Despite her gregarious nature onstage, it was obvious she was uncomfortable being the center of attention off it. As long as she was eating, drinking or talking to me she felt insulated. Needless to say, I worked to ensure she was as insulated as possible.
She hinted at seeing me off the clock, but I always demurred in the name of company policy. In truth, there were many reasons I refused to see Shanna after hours and that was the least of them. Mostly, I was afraid: afraid I'd break my aforementioned rules of celibacy; afraid I'd become to obvious with my intentions; afraid I'd disappoint her away from my sanctum sanctorum; afraid I'd fall in love. While at work I could stay in my comfort zone and concentrate on the task at hand.
And what a wonderful task it was: Fattening was my art form and Shanna had the perfect palate for my palette. As the days passed and I continued to gain Shanna's trust, I became more emboldened with my drink selection and created heavier, more cream-laden drinks. I learned not to ask her what she wanted (that gave her the option of refusing), but instead would ask her opinion on “my latest creation,” or surprise her with something special “just for her.” She happily guzzled everything I set in front of her and more.
Lest you think I was creating an alcoholic, or working to sabotage Shanna's performances, rest assured that I was careful to monitor her intake and made sure she never got beyond tipsy. Most of the exotic drinks were designed to be served with varying degrees of alcohol (preferably less I was usually told by my superiors; alcohol can get expensive) and I was sure to supplement her drinks with lots of greasy food from the snack bar. Nachos smothered in cheese sauce were her favorite and I found that, as with her drinks, I could keep a nearby plate surreptitiously filled so she would nosh absent-mindedly. It was a joy to watch her eat several plates-worth of nachos between pizza lunches and hamburger dinners.
By the end of the second week, however, it had become less of a joy. Her flat stomach and sleek thighs seemed to mock me as she downed glass after glass and plate after plate with nary a bulge or blemish. I knew her youthful metabolism would be hard to overcome, but I had spent more time with her than any six of my previous projects and had nothing to show for my efforts.
“Where does she put it all?” Sam asked me one afternoon as Shanna helped herself to a third piece of pepperoni pizza within an hour. Usually, my discriminating eye could tell where my sieges overindulgences--however minor--were being stored, but with Shanna I honestly had no answer; she seemingly had an invisible third leg.
Had she been my normal, two-week visitor I might have been suicidal, but I knew, despite my lack of success, that I had time on my side and was laying the groundwork for what was hopefully to come. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait much longer.
It was the middle of the third week that I finally noticed that my intensive efforts weren't for naught after all. Shanna greeted me poolside in the same turquoise bikini she had been wearing the first day I met her. In fact, almost every detail mirrored that of our first meeting: the time, the temperature, and the day of the week. Perhaps it was these similarities that made the difference in Shanna more noticeable by comparison.
Her face seemed fuller; her dimples deeper; her cheeks softer. I couldn't see much with her sitting on the other side of the bar, but I didn't think it was my imagination; I had seen these changes countless times before. As we chatted, however, I began to doubt myself. Was my supreme desire to fatten this young girl making me see things that weren't there? It wasn't until Shanna rose to fetch a plate of nachos that I realized there was more to my observations than wishful thinking.
Anyone witnessing Shanna for the first time as she sashayed her way to the snack bar would've said her body was perfect, but I knew better. As far as I was concerned, her body still had a LONG way to go to achieve perfection, but as she stood scooping liquid cheese on a plate-full of fried chips I could tell she was about ten pounds closer than she was three weeks ago.
The spaghetti straps on her bikini bottoms seemed to dig ever-so-slightly into her waist where they once rested loosely just above her hips. A tiny, almost unperceivable roll of skin jutted out above where the straps now sunk into her spongy sides. Although her hips didn't seem any wider, it was evident there was a bit less bikini string available to tie into the neat little bow that rested on her side. Previously, her stomach concaved inwards below her ribs before meeting her hips to form a classic hourglass shape, but now it arched outwards slightly in front of her as if swollen from a large meal. It didn't appear any flabbier, but I wondered if she would be able to suck it into its previous shape.
In fact, Shanna's whole body seemed a bit more voluptuous--as if "Spinal Tap" had flicked her body volume switch from '10' to '11.' Her cleavage seemed deeper; her breasts more full. Her hourglass figure was definitely sporting more sand than when she boarded.
The snug nature of her bathing suit caused even more of a sensation among the males poolside, but I knew the next ten pounds might cause her to lose some of her audience. The rate in which she snarfed down her nachos led me to believe that was just a matter of time.
“Is it just me,” Sam whispered to me the following week. “Or is Shanna starting to pork-up?”
I looked over to where Shanna sat devouring a late breakfast of chili-cheese fries. In her haste, a dollop of cheese sauce had dribbled onto her chin.
“I hadn't noticed.” I lied.
“I think she is. She never had that roll around her waist…”
Sure enough, a delicate, yet perceptible roll of fat spilled over the string on her bikini bottoms as she leaned over her food. It was adorable and begged to be pinched.
“And her arms, remember how toned they were? They're getting flabby.”
Of course, he was right about that too. Even though “flabby” connotes a jiggling that wasn't present yet, her upper arms were noticeably thicker.
“You really think so?” I couldn't stop baiting him. Every artist enjoys a little recognition.
“Look at her ass…” Shanna had swiveled in her seat to watch some kids frolic by the pool and now had her back to us. “It never used to take up that much of the stool.”
I was impressed with Sam's keen eye. Her rear had definitely begun a pilgrimage towards the edges of her seat. I wondered how much was the new weight and how much was a result of hour after hour of sitting. Her widening hips forced the string of her bikini bottoms tighter and lower across her back, causing the cleavage from her growing butt cheeks to peep out above it. A few more pounds and Shanna might be arrested for indecent exposure.
I was so engrossed in admiring Shanna's ample assets that I didn't even notice that she had swiveled around to face us.
“Like what you see?” Shanna batted her eyes playfully and smiled--a bit of chili had lodged in-between her teeth, perfectly complimenting the smudge of cheese still smeared on her chin.
Bartender's Credo #3: Natural Beauty is becoming extinct.
In my job, most women I see have somehow manipulated and distorted their bodies to something unreal; I guess that's why so many men appreciate women with "natural beauty." The problem is, most of these women ARE naturally beautiful, but are hell-bent on somehow improving upon what the good Lord gave them. Artificially inflated and deflated body parts; ridiculously toned abs (complete with that much sought after "six pack"); faces stretched tighter than a virgin's orifice; tanned, leathery skin; tattoos, piercings...all are on prominent display poolside.
I guess you could argue that my peculiar peccadillo makes me no different than the millions of women vainly pursuing “perfection”, but I don't see it that way. In the art world, conservators are lauded for their ability to return beauty to works that have been defaced or defamed. How is what I do any different?
By the end of the second month, it was obvious to everyone that Shanna was “porking-up” as Sam eloquently put it. Veiled comments about her weight swam about the ship among the passengers and even management. As much as these comments titillated me, my emotions betrayed me. Like some big-brother who abuses a sibling only to defend them later, part of me wanted to rush to Shanna's aid. I felt like I was the only one qualified to discuss just how plump she was becoming.
And she was plumping fast. It had taken forever for the flood of calories to overflow her metabolic dam, but now she was submerging under waves of fat at an alarming rate. Each day seemed to produce a new curve or bulge and each day I looked forward to finding them.
Shanna wasn't just changing physically; the length of her stay was affecting her emotionally as well. She still put on a happy face around me, but it was clear that the initial euphoria of new adventure had worn off. Even performing, which she had always gotten excited about, now only generated a sigh and a shrug as curtain drew near.
Fortunately for me, her depression only fueled her already ravenous appetite. I missed Shanna's joyful abandon in relishing decadent foods and exotic libations, but the mechanical eating and drinking she now did to fill the void created by missed friends and family was even more beneficial to my cause.
“You're gonna get her fired,” Sam whispered to me one afternoon as Shanna finished another slice of pizza I had brought her.
“What are you talking about?”
Before he could answer, Shanna let out a belch and rose sluggishly from her stool. “Well boys, I'm off to wow another audience. Wish me luck.”
“Good luck!” Sam said, waving goodbye.
Shanna snapped back around to face him. "Don't you know you're never supposed to wish a performer luck? You silly dolt!" With that, she waddled off towards her cabin still muttering under her breath. It was obviously the liquor talking (coupled with cabin fever), but I couldn't help smiling.
"THAT'S what I'm talking about." Sam puffed-out his cheeks and stuck out his belly for emphasis. "If you keep this up, you're going to have one big, fat, obnoxious lush on your hands.”
"Give me a break. She's just a little tipsy and she's far from fat."
"She's getting there bro; another few months and we'll have to sail her back to port."
I was indignant, but more than a little aroused; Sam's words and visual imagery created a mental picture of Shanna that was hard to shake. "She's not a kid, Sam. Besides, what can I do? I've never let her leave falling-down drunk and it's not like I force-feed her."
"Yeah, but you ain't exactly the greatest of influences. Don't think I'm not on to your little scheme."
For a second, I thought the jig was up; I was getting sloppy and Sam, despite his limited mental capacity, had figured-out my master plan.
"Every time a beautiful woman sits at the bar, you make a big fuss," he continued. "You make these huge exotic drinks. You dote on them with food trips to the snack bar..."
Here it comes; I was about to pay for my over-zealousness.
"You basically try way too hard to impress them."
I arched my brow with mock interest. "You really think so?"
"Absolutely." Sam put his hand on my shoulder. "I also think you're got a bit of a confidence problem."
"You don't say?" This was getting good.
"I've seen you spend a whole week buttering-up a babe and not even ask for a date. Don't get me wrong, I know you've bagged your share of chicks, but it's usually the ones you pay the least attention to."
Leave it to a half-wit to get things half-right. My secret was still safe. Still, he rambled on...
"Let me tell you bud, you don't have to jump through hoops with this girl. I've seen the way she looks at you. Trust me, you're in. If you waste any more time pussy-footing around, she's going to lose interest. I don't care how nice you are to her."
Perhaps there was some truth in what Sam was saying. Shanna was far too perfect to risk losing and a more proactive approach might be necessary to keep her. Time had always been my enemy before, but the length of Shanna's stay dictated a change of tactics.
"Y'know, Sam, I think you may be right."
"I know I'm right," Sam blustered. "But you better hurry...You don't want to be dating a heifer."
I smiled at the irony; "Phase 2" would take care of that.
That night, I dressed in my Sunday best, purchased some flowers from the gift shop and made my way to the ship's auditorium. It was the first time I had seen Shanna's act since opening night and I was eager to see it again.
Shanna came onstage in a sleeveless, gold, form-fitting dress that had yet to be adjusted to her new girth. Rather than gently caressing her curves, it clinged to every new bulge (particularly her stomach and hips). Her pale bare arms had become meaty, and--despite my location near the back row--I could see them jiggle with every sweeping movement and gesture.
The extra pounds also seemed to shake Shanna's confidence. She seemed tentative and unsure, as if her appearance made her question her talent. It was fascinating to watch.
She still sang well, but was missing the spark of her opening night performance. She didn't take as many chances and was even (dare I say it?) boring at times. Her banter with the crowd also seemed labored. My favorite part was when she asked the audience if they had enjoyed the Captain's Dinner earlier in the evening. When most responded positively, she rubbed her swollen stomach and said that she was "guilty of overindulging some herself," then forced a nervous laugh. It was an incredibly awkward moment and I couldn't help but feel badly for her, but the growing stiffness in my pants betrayed my more sensitive emotions.
I had no intention of quietly slinking off after tonight's show. As the house lights rose following Shanna's final tepid ovation, I made my way through the crowd towards backstage. I wasn't prepared for the comments I heard as I worked my way through.
“I can't believe how fat she's gotten,” said a young girl to her mom as they exited.
“She should take it easy on the buffets,” said another gentleman.
“They must not have a gym on the boat,” said one woman, obviously taking delight in seeing such a stunningly-beautiful starlet let herself go.
I paused to compose myself before knocking on Shanna's dressing room door. Hearing the audience's comments had me flustered like some pubescent kid whose mom just caught him reading a Playboy. My face was flush; my pulse was racing and my pants were having trouble containing my arousal. I even considered retreating to my room, but eventually regained my resolve. Stick to the plan, I thought to myself over and over.
I almost didn't recognize Shanna when she finally answered the door. She was covered in a bulky green robe and had her hair pulled into a bun behind her head. She had been crying; mascara had run down her cheeks leaving a dark trail along their path. As soon as she saw me, she burst into tears again and wrapped her arms around me, crushing the flowers I'd brought.
I was able to work my arms free and reciprocated the hug. Her back felt soft and spongy in my hands.
“What's the matter?” I said. “You were great tonight.”
“No, I wasn't.” Shanna pulled away; she knew I was just placating her. “I was horrible. I sang horrible. I looked horrible.”
“I thought you were great. Y'know, you're always your own harshest critic.” I cringed. Could I be anymore trite? I was blowing it big-time.
“You really thought I was good?”
Hmmm, maybe I wasn't blowing it. She was so desperate for reassurance that it didn't seem to matter how cheesy my lines were.
“You don't think I looked fat?”
There it was: the moment of truth. She looked so pitiful standing there--hands on her hips and a pout on her lips. She was drowning and I had the life preserver.
“Of course not. You looked stunning.”
Shanna untied her robe and let it fall at her feet.
“What about now?”
Over my ten-year history bartending, I've learned an appropriate line for almost any situation...Except this one. She wasn't completely naked; underwear covered her more sensitive areas, but she might as well of been. As much as I wanted to play it cool, as much as I wanted to adhere to my own guidelines, seeing Shanna standing before me in just her bra and panties stirred an animal-like lust in me that was uncontrollable.
I walked to her. As she stood trembling in front of me, I brushed the back of my hand lightly across her cheek and wiped away a solitary tear.
"You look absolutely incredible."
She did look incredible--to me at least. For me it was dream come true. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein witnessing his creation for the first time; I couldn't have been more proud.
Her underwear had grown ridiculously tight on her swollen body and encased her like a sausage. A large roll of fat circled her entire waist and hung over the elastic waistband of her panties about two inches. In the early stages of her gain, Shanna's belly simply protruded in an ever-increasing arc in front of her. Now it was clear that fat was setting up permanent residence around her abdomen. Her belly still bloated outward, but it looked as if it might droop slightly once freed from the constricted support of her briefs.
Her belly was impressive; however, it was clear fat was giving the rest of Shanna's body equal opportunity. Her hips were wider; her thighs and arms thicker and her breasts fuller. Despite the thirty or so pounds she had gained, I was pleased to see her body had maintained its hourglass shapeliness--now in a considerably bigger package. She looked like a Reuben's painting come to life.
She wrapped her meaty arms around my waist and pressed her body into mine. I could feel her warm, soft flesh melt into me and only wished my uniform wasn't there to buffer the sensation. Shanna buried her face in my chest, as I held her and kissed the top of her head. After a moment, Shanna turned her large, expressive green eyes towards mine. She was no longer crying and instead sported a look I'd seen from countless women before; it scared me.
She stood on her toes and kissed my cheek. When that didn't illicit the desired effect, she repeated the gesture--this time on my lips. I tried to keep my head, but her soft, full lips meeting mine pushed me over the edge. I cradled her head in my hands and we kissed passionately for several minutes. I think we both half expected the other to stop, but nature was already taking its irreversible course.
I finally felt free to let my hands explore what my mind had imagined for the last ten weeks. As we kissed, Shanna worked to unbutton my uniform as I moved my hands across her back; her pliable skin shifting and molding to my touch. I eventually made my way to her brastrap after running my hands across the small rolls of fat that jutted-out above and below it. In fact, her bra was so tight that I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get enough slack to undo it. After fumbling around like a teenager, I finally released the clasps and felt as Shanna's upper body expanded outward, free of its bonds. The trapped flesh on her back poured out as if to say, “I'm here.”
I removed the straps of her bra from her rounded shoulders and let it fall in front of her. Now it was her breast's turn to escape and they poured out of their cups in an avalanche of flesh. The last few weeks, I could tell that Shanna's ample bosom was gradually outgrowing her overmatched tops, but I had no idea they had gotten so large. They had easily graduated from C to D-cups and--no longer crushed into an artificial state of perkiness--rested lazily above her swollen abdomen. It was evident that her youthful body wasn't immune to gravity afterall.
She removed my shirt and I thrust my body against hers. The feel of her soft flesh against mine was pure nirvana. Just knowing how much excess flesh had accumulated on this young girl in the past 2 1/2 months was exciting, but being able to explore it fully sent me over extacy's edge. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I relished it. I probed every new inch of her: her thickening thighs, her fresh “love handles,” her plumpening belly. I was amazed at just how soft her body had become. My efforts had sealed this young woman in a billowing cocoon of fat beneath her already supple and flawless skin.
I took my time, but eventually knelt in front of her and worked to remove her panties. Her hips protested, but I was finally able to roll them down the length of her still-shaply legs. I was right: her stomach did droop ever-so-slightly where her underwear had been and creased just above her pubic hair. It was obviously a recent development; one that I doubted was there a few days earlier.
My hands worked their way up the backs of Shanna's legs. It was a smooth journey until I reached the shelf-like protrusion of her bloated butt. Her indulgences had transformed her delicately bulbous behind into two mammoth globes of pure fat. They jutted away from her body dramatically, as if desperately trying to avoid gravity's pull; however, the accumulated weight, coupled with weeks of inactivity, was gradually pulling her perky posterior downward. A crease had formed where they had begun to sag and I could feel tiny cellulite dimples--probably not visible yet--on the underside of each cheek.
I smiled; her young body was fighting to maintain its perfect proportions, but couldn't keep up with the damage being done. Her breasts, her belly, her butt…all were finally succumbing to the excess weight and transforming her body forever.
It was an incredible night.
The following morning, I watched Shanna as she slept. Her angelic face formed a delectable double-chin as her head tilted on the pillow. Even the sheet that covered her couldn't contain the curves of her plumpening body; I could see the bulge of her stomach rise and fall with each gentle breath and the expanse of her hips as the blanket caressed her.
As I sat mesmerized by the sleeping beauty beside me, I reflected on the previous night's events. I knew I wasn't Shanna's first sexual encounter, but I certainly felt like it; there was a lot of new territory that her last boyfriend couldn't have explored. I also knew I hadn't adhered to my self-appointed “rules,” but at that moment I didn't care; last night was worth any potential repercussions.
The thought of feeding her breakfast in bed and lounging naked with her all morning was incredibly tempting. I didn't have to be at work until eleven and I knew Shanna typically stayed in bed until at least ten.
But I didn't. Instead I scribbled a hasty message that I set on her dresser before retreating from the room:
"Last night was wonderful. I'll see you poolside,”
Only I didn't see her. The day seemed to drag forever, but Shanna never made an appearance. I tried to get her off my mind--there was a bevy of new beauties just waiting to be served--but my thoughts kept drifting back to her.
“I think you're in love,” Sam whispered to me during one of my particularly spaced-out moments. So much for playing it cool; even he could sense my disappointment and distraction in Shanna's absence. I laughed him off, but kept hearing his words over and over. Was I really in love?
Love hadn't been an option for so long that I'd forgotten what it felt like. I was such a jumble of emotions that I really couldn't tell what I was feeling. Perhaps it was my desire to know that guided my feet to Shanna's cabin later that evening.
However, my knocking was met with silence. I checked my watch and saw that her show had ended an hour ago--plenty of time for her to have gotten back to her room. I knocked again; still no reply. I had the sinking suspicion she was inside, but avoiding me.
I was wrong; last night wasn't worth the repercussions. The afterglow of the previous evening's passion blinded me to the seriousness of my actions, and it now appeared that my lustful indiscresion was going to cost me a chance at perfection. Had I just stuck to the plan, all this could've been avoided.
I meandered back to my room in a fog of self-pity. I was in such a haze that I barely noticed the figure at the back of the ship's gym as I walked past. Had more people been there I probably wouldn't have given a second glance, but the solitary figure working-out in the corner attracted my attention. The gym had been closed for hours and only the emergency lights were on, but the dim conditions didn't prevent me from recognizing the curvaceous figure whose sizable posterior jiggled it's way up the Stairmaster: It was Shanna.
She was facing away from me and didn't notice as I gazed in upon her--my face pressed against the glass like a child at a pet store. The sweat-soaked black spandex she wore would've been form-fitting two months ago; now it was a veritable prison. Every bulge, every roll, every crease screamed to be released from their confines and pushed hard for freedom against the fabric. I couldn't help thinking that one more “Banana Monkey” might be enough to spring her newfound fat in a jailbreak of seam-bursting proportions.
However, watching Shanna's newly-bloated body struggle to keep up with her furious pace was anything but titillating. In fact, I could feel my emotions swing from depression to anger. My fists clinched at the thought of all my efforts melting away over the next few weeks. It was something I could not--and would not--allow to happen.
The following day, I saw her by the pool. She was wearing a new, one-piece bathing suit--apparently from the gift shop--that did a nice job of flattering her expanded figure. I knew it was impossible, but it already looked like she had rendered ten of my pounds null-and-void.
After a few minutes, I saw her out of the corner of my eye as she plopped down on a barstool. At least she wasn't able to sneak up on me anymore.
"Do you hate me?"
"Why would I hate you?" I casually polished a glass without making eye contact.
"I don't think I've handled things very well."
"Listen Shanna, I've had a wonderful time with you, but I'm a big boy. I never had any delusions about us, so you don't have to feel guilty."
"I just need some time to sort things out. You're the best thing to happen to me on this trip, but I'm not pleased with myself right now. I need to get back on track.”
"Well, don't let me get you off-track." I sounded like some jealous schoolboy; I hoped it would work.
"Oh no, it's not you; it's me." Shanna buried her face in her hands. "Oh God, I can't believe I just said that."
Part of me really enjoyed watching her squirm, but there was a fine line between guilt and embarrassment; guilt would keep her close, but embarrassment might drive a young girl like her away. I decided to let her off the hook.
“Shanna, I really care about you. The last thing I want is for what happened to jeopardize our friendship. We both have feelings for each other, but I know better than anyone how difficult it is to have any semblance of a relationship under these conditions.”
I could hardly believe I made it through my speech without laughing. You could almost hear the string section in the background. It worked, however; Shanna's face brightened and she seemed more at ease.
“Oh my God, I was hoping you'd say something like that. I feel the exact same way.”
“Well, now that we've put that behind us, can I buy you to drink?” I already knew what her response would be, but I figured I'd ask the question anyway. Her smile immediately disappeared.
“That's something I need to talk to you about.” She frowned and rested her hand on the curve of her tummy. “I've REALLY overindulged this trip and I need to take it easy from here on out. I don't think I can afford to hang-out here as much.”
Shanna cocked her head quizzically. Sam--who was eavesdropping as he continually cleaned the same spot on the bar--broke character and looked my way. Even I was taken aback by my abruptness.
“What I mean is…I can't have my favorite client avoiding me for the duration of her stay, so here's what I suggest we do: I will promise to dispatch with my usual decadent drinks and instead switch to some more form-friendly, non-fat, not-alcoholic smoothies and juices. You, in turn, will promise to keep visiting and get your exercise at the pool. Agreed?”
I held out my hand. It never occurred to me that Shanna might not take it, but my pounding heart betrayed my outer-confidence. Fortunately, Shanna grasped it and smiled.
“Good.” I hoped my relief wasn't too obvious. “Let me get started on one of those smoothies.”
Shanna watched as I blended low-fat yogurt, shaved ice and fresh fruit into a tall glass. I wasn't that adept at cutting calories from the drinks I prepared, but I imagined Shanna would be pretty impressed with the results...That is, until I dumped in two-scoops of weight-gain powder I had purchased from the gym.
“Vitamin Supplement,” I explained as I resealed the unmarked container I had transferred it into. “It will keep your energy up.”
“Oh good. I've been so lethargic lately.”
Thirty extra pounds will do that to you, I thought as I handed her the frothy mixture. Despite the relatively benign ingredients (which I had no intention of using again unless Shanna was watching), I estimated that my “form friendly” drink would add another 2,500 calories to her figure.
“Mmmm, thank you, Charles.” Shanna took a long swig. “How can something so good be so healthy?”
“I'm glad you like it. Remember, stick to the smoothies. I don't want to catch you sneaking nachos.”
“Boy, you're a slave-driver.” Shanna placed a hand on her belly. “But I guess I need one.” With that, Shanna gave me a wink and waddled off to the pool.
“That was really nice of you,” Sam said, putting his arm around me. “But where did we get the vitamin supplement?”
Before I could answer, a petite young blonde with an upturned nose took Shanna's place at the bar.
"Was that Shanna Stevens?" she said, looking down her sunglasses as the rubenesque beauty eased into the pool.
"In the flesh."
"Wow, you aren't kidding. She's really gotten fat. I almost didn't recognize her."
I gave a tepid smile, took her order...then added three heaping scoops of weight-gain powder to her drink.
Bartender's Credo #4: Ignorance is Bliss
I'm sometimes envious of Sam. No, not because of his rock-hard jaw, or Barnum and Bailey ability with mixers; it's his intellect (or lack thereof) that sometimes gets me green. Don't get me wrong, I would never trade places with him, but under certain circumstances what would normally be a liability works to his favor.
Everyday is a clean slate with Sam: He eats; he drinks; he hits on women, then goes to bed with a clear conscious. I doubt he dwells on the future or past for more than the fleeting seconds it takes to recount old conquests...or fantasize about new ones. I doubt he's fazed by the repetition of our profession, the isolation of our location, or the sparseness of our living conditions. I doubt he notices the happy couples who return as joyful families through the years. I doubt he's ever felt the cabin walls closing in on him like a vice...
I was amazed at Shanna's resolve to get back into shape. Even though my special smoothies had a whole day's worth of fat and calories, I felt I was merely offsetting Shanna's stringent exercise regime. She swam several hours each day and stuck to it for the next two weeks. I guess I really shouldn't have been so surprised; you don't become an accomplished singer and performer without a modicum of discipline. Surprised or not, however, I was getting frustrated. Two weeks of treading water--literally and figuratively--was not going to work.
Fortunately, Shanna was getting frustrated too. For two weeks she put forth a supreme effort to retrieve her figure and was clearly displeased with the results. However, I no longer had the patience (or the time) to wait for her to settle back into bad habits. As we passed the half-way point of Shanna's stay, I was desperate to accelerate the process.
One morning, I brought Shanna her "diet" smoothie by the pool. She had just completed several laps and was sunning herself. Despite my best efforts, it appeared as though she had lost a couple pounds and had once again begun to turn people's heads. She had even coaxed her fair skin into a slight tan that enhanced her healthier look.
"Don't get burned," I said, squatting next to her.
"Hey!" Shanna shielded her eyes with her hand. "Thanks for reminding me. It doesn't take long with my skin." She grabbed a bottle of suntan lotion from beneath her chair and handed it to me. "Care to do the honors?"
"It would be my pleasure." I opened the top, poured some in my hand and was about to rub Shanna's shoulders when a terrible, but exhilarating thought crossed my mind. "Excuse me dear; I need to take care of a customer quick, but I'll be right back."
"What am I? Chopped liver?" She tried to sound angry, but her smile betrayed her. "Hurry back, or you're going to have a lobster on your hands."
I retreated behind the bar. Sam was busy flirting with some DD'd debutant and Shanna was laying face-down with her head turned away from me; I doubted she even knew I had taken the bottle. My hands trembled as I quickly dumped her SPF30 into the sink and replaced it with some SPF0 bronzer I had underneath the counter.
“Ok, I'm all yours,” I said, returning to her side.
“About time,” she joked. “I'm already getting pink.”
She was; my fingers turned her ruddy skin white as I massaged the lotion into her shoulders.
“Mmmm…That feels good. Don't forget my legs.”
Under normal circumstances, I would have taken my time working the lotion into her soft shoulders and thick thighs, but I hurried through it in record time. I left Shanna to sleep under the mid-day sun and tried not to think about her for the rest of the afternoon…
Until she was taken to the infirmary with second-degree burns across her legs, back and shoulders.
"How are you feeling?"
It was a dumb question. I could tell she was absolutely miserable. After spending the night in the infirmary, Shanna was transferred to her own bed, but didn't appear any more comfortable. One side of her face was beet-red and she was forced into an awkward sitting position in order to keep pressure off her blistered shoulders. She shrugged, and then winced in pain.
I held up the flowers I bought in one hand and a pint of ice cream in the other. "I wasn't sure which you'd want the most."
"Thank you, Charles. You've been really sweet to me." Tears welled in her eyes and she brought a tissue to her nose. "I should probably eat the flowers and rub the ice cream on my burns."
I couldn't help chuckling a little. "What do you mean?"
"Oh, Charles, I just got fired."
"Fired? How can they fire you for a little faulty sunscreen?" Oh my God, I had gone way too far. Not only had I burned this girl, but had probably ruined everything.
"It's not just that," she sniffed, composing herself. "The cruise director visited me in the infirmary and accused me of 'irresponsible behavior' since I've been onboard. This was just the final straw.”
“Yeah, but to fire you without warning like that…” I offered Shanna a tissue from the nightstand. She took it and dabbed her nose and eyes.
“He gave me warning. Y'know, the night we got together? He visited my dressing room before the show and told me I had to clean up my act. He said I was getting fat and that no one wanted to pay good money to see some fat, drunk floozy.”
I was getting angry: at the cruise director, at myself, but most of all at the prospect of losing months of hard work.
“I explained to him yesterday that I'd been trying to lose weight and that I hadn't had any alcohol in weeks, but I don't think he believed me.”
“So what happens now?”
“That's the worst part.” Tears streamed down her chubby cheeks. “I'm basically stuck here until we reach port in two-weeks. All I want to do is go home.”
Shanna exploded a cascade of tears. I felt compelled to hug her, but considering her condition, grasped her hand instead.
“Can I do anything?”
Shanna choked back a sob. “Didn't you bring ice cream?”
“I did. You want some?”
“Yeah, dieting wasn't working. Besides, who do I have to stay thin for now, anyway?”
A real friend might have given her a dozen reasons why she shouldn't eat herself into oblivion; I, on the other hand, practically hurt myself in my haste to remove the wrapper.
“Would you mind feeding it to me?” She held her sunburned arms in front of her like some radioactive zombie.
“Of course.” I sat on the edge of the bed, scooped out a large spoonful and serpentined it towards her mouth. “Open wide!” I finally coaxed a smile out of her.
Shanna closed her eyes and opened her mouth. I emptied the spoonful into her gaping maw and she greedily gobbled the creamy delight like some newborn baby chick. I immediately followed with another bite…then another…and another. Her pace never slowed and she paused only briefly to savor each bite before opening her mouth for another round. Before I knew it, we had emptied the entire container. She kept her mouth open for a moment, waiting for another scoop, before finally opening her eyes. She seemed genuinely disappointed that we were finished (as was I), but smiled and rested her head back on her pillow in satisfaction.
I stood up. "Y'know what we need now? Room service!" Shanna looked at me in disbelief, but didn't immediately protest. "You've got what? Two-weeks? Why not have a little fun? Hell, if nothing else, I think they owe you a little culinary satisfaction.”
Shanna's face lit up. "Do you think they have cinnamon rolls?"
"I'd be willing to bet they do."
I let Shanna lay back and relax while I did the honors. Within thirty minutes a giant platter of pastries, complete with cinnamon rolls, arrived at our door. I also took the liberty of ordering us a bottle of bubbly.
"Champagne?" Shanna worked her way into a sitting position and, despite her obvious discomfort, had somehow mustered the strength to grab a pastry from the bedside cart. "What's the occasion?"
"Your independence." I popped the cork and began filling our glasses. It was an inferior brand, but I doubted Shanna would know the difference.
"Independence?" Shanna mumbled, her mouth full of the doughy goodness. "Independence from what?"
"From work, from responsibility..." I handed her a glass and raised my own. "But most of all from ridiculous expectations."
"I will DEFINITELY drink to that!" Shanna took the glass and greedily gulped it down. I took a sip, and then quickly refilled her glass while her attentions were turned towards selecting another pastry. (I guess old habits die hard.)
Before long, the platter of pastries had been reduced to mere crumbs, the last of which I hand-fed to Shanna as she lay in bed--eyes rolled-back into her head--rubbing her swollen tummy. She had eaten like a woman possessed, like she was on some defiant mission to fatten herself. I've been around enough celebrities to know that compulsive behavior is a common trait among them, and apparently Shanna was no exception. Shanna's life had been so regimented--her entire life mapped-out by others--that she had finally snapped in a flurry of self-indulgence.
"Ugh, I don't think my Mother would approve." Shanna continued to rub her bloated belly like some pioneer exploring newfound territory.
I smiled and placed my hand on hers. "What do you think the Cruise Director would say if he came through that door right now?"
"Hmmm, thar she blows?" Shanna and I burst out laughing. It was great to see her happy. I wanted to kiss her, and I doubted she would protest, but I resisted temptation. It wasn't easy; Shanna was finally becoming the woman I wanted her to be.
"I'm sorry, but I have to get to work."
“What?” Shanna looked like I'd just slapped her. “Don't go. What if I need somebody to order me some cheesecake?" Shanna was making it nearly impossible for me to leave. The bulge in my pants was rivaling that of her belly.
"I have to." I rose to my feet and moved to the door before Shanna could protest further. "But don't worry; I'll take care of everything."
I stumbled into my cabin and collapsed onto bed. Leaving Shanna was one of the most difficult things I'd ever done. I wanted to kick myself, but deep down I knew I couldn't risk another setback.
I didn't let my pity-party last too long; I had work to do. Getting out of bed, I moved to my desk and switched on my computer. A few clicks of the mouse and an image of the interior of Shanna's cabin filled my screen. I was worried that in my haste the small, cordless camera might not be positioned properly, but it afforded me an unobstructed view of her bed and most of her dressing area. I had concealed it under the paw of a stuffed bear on her dresser. It wasn't a great hiding spot, but with Shanna confined to bed-rest for the next few days, I figured it was safe enough.
Shanna sat reclined in bed. She looked miserable. I knew I had to act fast.
It was almost noon, so I placed a call to Sam to cover my shift, then to room service for a cheeseburger, fries, and giant strawberry malt to be delivered to Shanna on the double. Fortunately, Hector, one of the ship's stewards, had it there in record time and rolled it right up along the bedside; I'd have to remember to give him a healthy tip later.
For a moment, I didn't think Shanna was going to eat. She was still pouting and barely even looked at the food.
“C'mon,” I said aloud. “Eat.”
I know it wasn't possible, but it seemed like Shanna heard my command. She lifted the platter into her lap and, after staring at it for what seemed like an eternity, dug in.
She ate slowly at first, but quickly accelerated to a fever-pitch. Soon, she was eating fries three at a time washed down by giant swigs of the malt. Taste, fullness and social graces were non-factors to Shanna as she methodically worked her way through the giant meal. About halfway through, a blob of ketchup dribbled its way down the front of Shanna's loose-fitting nightshirt. Gingerly working her arms backwards through the sleeves, Shanna tossed it off the bed before immediately returning to her feast.
The camera didn't provide the detail I would've liked, but I could clearly see Shanna's naked belly billowing out in front of her, its pale fleshiness a dramatic contrast to her sunburned arms and shoulders. Her potbelly pushed her plumpened breasts into an artificial state of perkiness, but I knew under normal circumstances they would sag downwards, burdened with the weight of thirteen weeks of abuse.
From that point on, Shanna's feeding-frenzy continued unabated, climaxing with one last, giant, physics-defying burger bite that bulged-out both her cheeks like a female Dizzy Gillespie. Collapsing back into her pillows, she stared at the ceiling as she worked through the final bite. Her immensely swollen stomach partly obscured her face from my view, so I couldn't be sure if she was in agony or ecstasy, but I guessed it was a little of both.
Shanna gently ran her fingers in a circular motion along the swell of her stomach; her labored breaths causing it to crest high above her hips. After ten minutes, Shanna's arms fell limp at her side and she succumbed to a deep, food-induced sleep.
Three-hours later she was awoken by a knock at the door. Not bothering to dress, she simply pulled the sheet up around her neck. I could see her mouth form the words “come in,” as she struggled into a sitting position. I'm sure she hoped it would be me.
Disappointment, then surprise was evident in her face as Hector wheeled an appetizer platter of port wine, breads and assorted chesses to her side. He collected the other dishes, poured Shanna a glass of wine, and then quickly disappeared from the room.
Once again, she initially didn't touch the spread in front of her. She reclined in bed and flipped on the television. Soon, however, she took a sip of the wine; then a cracker found its way into her mouth…then another…and another. My camera was set just a few feet from her television, so it appeared she was watching me as she slowly, robotically, devoured each morsel.
“C'mon, one more for me,” I whispered at the screen. She obliged and took another bite. “That's right. You're getting so nice and fat.” As if on queue, Shanna began to massage the flesh that had accumulated around her stomach. “A few more pounds and no one will recognize you when you get home.”
Shanna's mindless munching continued until 7 p.m. when I was scheduled to get off work. By that time, the carafe was empty and a dusting of crumbs was all that had survived her onslaught. After glancing at the clock, Shanna surprised me by hoisting herself out of bed and--against doctor's orders--trying to get dressed.
She grabbed a pair of white shorts from her dresser and pulled them up just past her knees, but ran into trouble once they met her meaty thighs. One inch at a time, she slowly worked the skin-tight fabric up her legs by alternately tugging from the front and back. With a mighty heave, she yanked them up and over her sizable posterior and into position around her waist. She looked like a marshmallow with a rubber band around its middle.
Packed into the shorts like a sausage, fat spilled-out around the overtaxed material in an avalanche of flesh. Her shelf-like rear was compressed to the point that each cheek oozed-out below the hemline. Even without being buttoned-up, the waistband dug into her fleshy sides, forcing a roll of flab to spill out over the top. Up front, her pot belly pushed the flaps far out to the sides as if daring Shanna to attempt buttoning them.
To my delight, she did. Easing onto her back in bed, Shanna sucked-in her gut as far as it would go and tugged mightily on the flaps. Had it been a couple months ago, I would've seen lean muscle flex as her arms went to work, but now I could only see the excess flab along her arms quiver and shake like a turkey's waddle as she inched the buttons closer together. The monitor was black and white, but I knew Shanna's determined face was flush with a mixture of tears, exertion and embarrassment.
Miraculously, she was somehow able to button and zip the shorts. She lay flat on her back recovering for a moment, taking several quick, shallow breaths, and then gingerly worked her way into a sitting position. I couldn't be sure if her caution was due to the irritation of her sunburns, or a fear her shorts might explode off her any moment; I imagined it was a little of both.
Even though she tried to keep it sucked-in, Shanna's once taut belly spilled over the top of her ridiculously tight shorts forming an apron of gelatinous fat that shook with each labored breath. I half-expected her to pass out under such constricted conditions.
Suddenly, Shanna stood, said something, and then frantically searched for a top. She kept looking towards the door, so I assumed she had a visitor. What a wonderful surprise they were in for.
She ran to her closet (well, considering the nature of her shorts, “shimmied” would be more appropriate) and pulled-out a red t-shirt. As she struggled to work it over her head without aggravating her sunburned arms, I could see it had the word “sexy” embellished across the front. It first hung-up over her head while her arms--pinched by the too-tight sleeves--flailed above her. She finally worked it around her neck, only to have it snag on her bulbous breasts. Her haste and injuries kept her from donning a bra, so her once pert boobs jiggled and swung wildly as she forced the small shirt down over them.
Finally dressed, Shanna tugged at her shirt in a vain attempt to cover the large roll of fat that peeked out beneath it. Forty pounds ago, it would've tucked neatly into her shorts; now it may as well of been a halter top. She caught her breath, and then moved around the room striking various “come hither” poses. First, she sat on the edge of the bed and tried to cross her legs, but when the restrictive nature of her shorts made that impossible, she opted for a seductive lean against the dresser.
“Come in,” she mouthed through her full, pouty lips.
It was Hector again. Shanna's jaw dropped as he wheeled in another cart overflowing with pizza, rolls and assorted pastas. Her expression of disbelief was rivaled by Hector's as he noticed her “sexy” outfit. It was nice to see that she could still turn a man's head…though it looked like Hector's stomach was turning as well. He covered his mouth to stifle a snicker, and then quickly bolted from the room.
For what seemed like an eternity, Shanna stared blankly at the massive spread in front of her as I paced in front of the screen.
Only she didn't eat; instead she buried her face in her hands and sobbed.
“Eat, damn it!” My head began to throb; it was like someone had jabbed an ice pick deep into my brain. “EAT!”
When Shanna lifted her head, she sported an expression I had never seen from her before. She looked defeated…like she was finally resigned to her fate.
Shanna sat on the edge of the bed and pulled the tray near as tears rolled down her chubby cheeks. Hand shaking, she lifted a roll to her lips, closed her eyes…and shoved in the entire thing. Her cheeks still bulging, Shanna crammed a second one in. Crumbs flew from her mouth as she chewed and swallowed, not necessarily in that order. As she ate, the pounding in my head subsided and I was able to enjoy the spectacle.
Then it happened: About halfway through her feast the strain on her overtaxed shorts became too great; the button popped-off and her captive belly spilled freely into her lap. There was no sound on the hidden camera, but the noise of the button ricocheting across the room was clear in my mind.
She grabbed her paunch with both hands and soft belly flesh oozed between her fingers like jelly. She gently pinched her excess flab and watched as it wobbled at the slightest movement. Oh how I wished my hands were hers.
Unfortunately, I was alone in my joy. Shanna's head dropped as her sobbing intensified. Worse yet, she had stopped eating. Shanna pushed the tray aside, struggled to her feet, and lumbered towards the full-length mirror next to her closet.
She stood motionless in front of it for a moment, as if questioning whether or not the reflection she faced was really hers. Slowly, she began to explore the body that three short months ago had been pin-up material for teenage boys and the object of secret lust among men, but now was disappearing under a swaddle of soft, blubbery fat.
Her hips had become so wide that they extended past the edges of the mirror. Touching them, her fingers sank deep into the spongy skin. I doubted she could feel her hip bones. Her thighs, once smooth and shapely, now exploded from her too-tight pant legs like biscuit dough from a frozen can. Turning sideways, she was almost as wide in profile, her stomach and rear pushing out from each other like two magnets with the same polarity. She gave her stomach a “Pillsbury Doughboy” poke, then jumped slightly, sending shockwaves rippling out across the newfound fat on her sides, breasts and even her trunk-like legs.
Shanna then turned her attentions towards her back half. Twisting around to examine it in the mirror, flab rolled-up along her sides as she leaned from left to right. She tried to cup her hands around her once perky posterior, but even packed tightly in her shorts, they proved far more than the handful they used to be. I imagined how, free from the vacuum-like seal of her too-tight denim, each globular cheek would ooze like The Blob between her fingers and overflow her dainty hands.
Over the next ten-minutes, Shanna explored every new fleshy inch that had invaded her perfect body: the cradle of flab under her arms, the cellulite on the back of her thighs, the additional cup's worth that sagged and dragged her pert breasts downward like those of a woman twice her age. Even her goddess-like face, which had been the one area of her body to remain relatively unchanged, was beginning to show the effects of her excessive gormandizing. A small, yet perceptible second chin was forming, and her prominent cheekbones were beginning to soften. Her silky-smooth complexion had also started to blemish, as pimples erupted across her cheeks and forehead.
Shanna collapsed into bed in a torrent of tears, eventually crying herself to sleep. The only thing that kept it from being a perfect day was the pizza she left untouched, but it really didn't matter; the damage had been done.
I felt like a kid at Christmas. By 6 a.m. the following day I was brewing coffee and monitoring Shanna as she slept. It wasn't very exciting; she looked like a beached whale sprawled motionless across her bed, but just knowing that yesterday's cullinary debauchery was slowly digesting its way into fat aroused me to no end.
I tapped on the screen. "How's my little piggy this morning?"
She stirred a bit and the sheet that draped her fell away, revealing her nude, bloated body. Apparently, her clothing had aggravated her wounds during the night and she had stripped herself bare. Her stomach, still swollen from the previous day, seemed to defy gravity as it rose several inches above Shanna's breasts and hips.
Though her belly was swollen, the remainder of her body spread-out on the mattress like butter on a hot skillet. Shanna's hips, crowded by the fat around her fleshy backside, raced across the bed with her thighs close behind. It was amazing to see this girl's body--so toned and shapely three short months ago--deteriorating before my very eyes.
She continued to writhe around naked on the sheet, but couldn't seem to get comfortable. Finally, she awoke and forced herself into a sitting position. She was obviously miserable and pouted for a moment before reaching for the phone. I imagined she was calling the ship's doctor for some pain medica--
I jumped from my seat. The shrill ring of the telephone reminded me that I was more than just a simple spectator in a “Feed Shanna” reality show.
Instinctively, I reached for the receiver, but froze when I realized I hadn't a clue what to say. A million different dialogues raced through my mind, but none felt right. I was in uncharted waters with Shanna and even though I knew the final destination, for the first time I was uncertain how to get there. Ultimately, I did what any coward would do: nothing.
I paced the floor, glancing back and forth from the monitor to the phone as it continued to ring.
RING! Tears streamed down Shanna's face as it became clear I wasn't going to answer; however, she kept the phone clutched to her ear.
“Hang up the fucking phone!” I screamed at the monitor. The ringing seemed to grow louder and shriller.
Shanna dropped the receiver amid a torrent of tears and it fell onto the floor. She buried her face in her hands and sobbed violently.
“Goddamn it!“ I picked-up the receiver and slammed it back on its base, then fell back into bed. Sweet silence! My mind raced as I tried to determine what to do next.
You've got to be kidding me. I ripped the phone from its cord and sent it clattering across the room. I expected to see Shanna pathetically clinging to her phone in another vain attempt to reach me…but she was nowhere near it. In fact, she was on her feet and standing naked over the remnants of the previous night's pizza. I doubted Shanna would allow me another day of unfettered room service indulgence, but I hoped she might drown her sorrows in a breakfast of cold pizza; I was wrong.
Shanna took a plate and hurled across the room…then another…and another. Plate after plate smashed against the cabin walls in an explosion of glass and pizza dough.
The ringing continued, but it was constant now. I took my head in my hands; my headache was back and it throbbed rhythmically to the shrill cadence of the mystery ring. Somehow, I could hear every destructive sound as Shanna wreaked havoc; each smash, crash and thud seemed to push the dull ice pick further and further into my brain.
Shanna grabbed a final plate, turned towards the dresser, and heaved it directly at me. I winced as the errant throw smashed into the camera and sent it, and other items from the top of her dresser, tumbling to the ground. An image of the entire room spun out of control and then the screen went white. I wasn't sure if the camera had broken or simply landed facing a wall.
I reached for the power switch on the monitor, but the screen suddenly went helter-skelter again; a whirlwind of colors and shapes flashed across it before focusing in on a single, unblinking eye.
My blood ran cold and the ringing between my ears intensified. She's onto you. I paced the floor and the evil eye followed me like a vulture's. Do something...DO SOMETHING!
I fell to my knees, reached under my bed and pulled out the shopping bag from my last excursion into port. I tossed aside the empty boxes from the video camera and removed a bundle of cord, knife, duct tape and a giant container of weight-gain supplement. I had been saving it all as a special surprise for Shanna's last night on board, but present circumstances dictated that I accelerate my schedule.
You'd better hurry. She's getting away. The image on the screen jostled and swung around the room. Shanna appeared to be carrying the camera as she frantically tried to dress; flashes of cloth and flesh were visible as it spun dizzyingly out of control. I looked away, but the spinning had spread to my own cabin. I stumbled towards the door, but fell flat onto my back. I closed my eyes as the ceiling swirled clockwise above me…
It seemed like no time had past, but when I opened my eyes Shanna, Sam, and various members of ship's crew, including the Chief of Security and Cruise Director, were in my room staring down at me--tape, knife and rope still clutched in my hands. I closed my eyes again and smiled; my headache was gone and the ringing had mercifully faded awa--
Charles threw down the pen without completing his thought. It didn't matter; he replayed his story everyday in his mind and each detail was crystal clear. He had worked too hard and given up too much for it to simply vanish within the deep recesses of his twisted brain.
He didn't have much to look forward to anymore, but today was an exception. Today might be the day he could finally write the epilogue he hoped for. Today could be the day he learned that he had more than just memories, but a legacy.
His clammy hands gripped the steel bars as he pressed his face between them. He tried to look sideways down the long, dark corridor, but could only hear the “tap, tap, tap” of approaching footsteps. Finally, the uniformed guard they belonged to emerged from the shadows.
“Number 32471. Here you go, Charles.” The husky black man passed a large bundle through the bars. “Quite a bit today.”
“Thank you, George.” Charles took the package and spilled its contents of magazines, newspapers and tabloids across his cot. He stood over the literary buffet for a moment, not sure where to start. Heart pounding, he reached into the stack and pulled-out The Enquirer.
“Shanna Stevens Hits 300 Pounds,” screamed the headline. Underneath the bold type was a picture of Shanna, her head tilted downward revealing a marvelous double-chin, as she performed in a dark, muumuu-like dress.
Excitement growing, Charles pulled another from the stack.
“Friends Worried as Shanna Continues to Balloon,” was the byline in an article from People. “Sexy Siren No More,” read the negative review of Shanna's latest concert in Rolling Stone. “Sales Plummet as Weight Rockets,” tagged a column in Billboard.
Charles frantically pulled one last tabloid, Weekly World News, from the stack before the cell lights dimmed. On the cover was Shanna onstage in a tent-like black dress that, despite its size, failed to conceal the flare of her mammoth hips, or the bulge of her protruding belly. Sweating profusely under the hot spotlights, her bloated body nearly took up the whole page, but crammed above her was the headline: “Shanna Stevens--Big as a House!”
As the lights clicked-off leaving Charles in darkness, he leaned back in bed and smiled. He hadn't built the house, but he had laid a strong foundation.