Madeline truly enjoyed her job as a court stenographer. It fascinated her to sit calmly typing away on her little machine as true life dramas played out around her. What was vital, however, was that she stay detached as much as possible from the people involved. It wouldn't do to take on their turmoil. Surprisingly, her best convictions were overcome one day when she saw Johnny G. in court.
He was the brother of Tony “the Rock” G., a noted mobster, and he'd been implicated in a murder-for-hire plot. What might have turned out to be a juicy case for Madeline became otherwise for reasons she couldn't at first understand. There was something compelling about Johnny G. For a start, he was handsome in a rugged way with dark wavy hair and a strong chin, but he was also heavyset, his body hinting of a growing belly beneath his casual clothing. More to the point, his testimony was that he was an innocent bystander who truly was unaware of what was to take place. Madeline believed him.
She knew she mustn't share her feelings with the other stenographers. They felt Johnny G. was guilty by association and that was that, but not Madeline. The problem was the authorities had a witness who stated that Johnny had not only been on that street corner the night of the gangland shooting, but had actually pulled the trigger. Looking at Johnny in court and the way he spoke convinced Madeline he simply couldn't be a hit man, brother of a Mafioso or not. There was a vulnerability to the man, an air of, well, yes, tenderness somehow, that persuaded Madeline she was seeing past his roughhewn exterior.
Once during a pause she'd looked up and their eyes had met across the room. Yes, surely he was innocent, but what about that witness?
Madeline would have simply done her best to deal with her feelings on her own had she not literally stumbled across Johnny one day as she left the ladies room. He'd just exited the nearby men's room when she walked right into him. It was like hitting a padded wall! For one glorious moment she reveled in being held by his strong arms as her face rested against his well-padded chest.
I'm so sorry, she muttered.
No, it was my fault, he said. Are you okay?
His voice was deep and resonant, and his manner seemed so genuinely gentle and caring, that Madeline felt like stumbling one more time to simply be held.
I'm fine, she said, looking up at his dark eyes. And I believe you! I don't think you're guilty, she blurted to her own amazement.
He seemed somewhat surprised, but also grateful. Well, thanks. I appreciate that. I'm not. He shrugged. I'm no angel but, he shook his head in anguish, but this time I really didn't do nothing.
You used a double negative. I'm so sorry. I get compulsive about grammar. She glanced down the hall. Johnny's lawyer was engrossed in conversation with another person. Isn't there any way to change that witness' mind?
Johnny snorted. What? Kill him? No thanks.
I didn't mean that. What if you looked different somehow? What if the man didn't recognize you anymore?
Hey, my brother tried bribing him. This is Dudley Do-right, honey. He's not going for anything.
But if he didn't recognize you. . .
Well, he says he does. He grew thoughtful. What? You got something in mind.
Madeline paused. Actually, she did, oddly enough, and the thought caused her to burn with inner excitement. Listen, if that man is so honest he won't take a bribe, well, then he surely won't point a finger at you if you truly appear to be another person.
Yeah. Go on. I'm listening.
Well, Madeline looked away from where her eyes had fixated on the roll of fat that pushed out over Johnny's belt buckle, if you looked totally different from what you look now.
Oh, I get it. You're talking plastic surgery. But the D.A.'s office warned us about doing that.
Actually, I was thinking more of weight gain, Madeline blurted.
She smiled, thinking of how delightful it would be to watch Johnny stuff himself with lasagna and cannelloni. If you were really heavy, you'd appear to be another man altogether. Oh, even more handsome, she added, blushing, but different.
Johnny nodded, looking intently at Madeline. It's true I'd have time now to gain. My lawyer got me an extension. He paused, his eyes running up and down Madeline's slim body. Funny you should make that suggestion. I mean, it's sort of like a fantasy I've had. He fell silent.
Madeline felt that delightful flutter again deep inside. Go on, she prompted.
Well, it's crazy.
No, please tell me, she said encouragingly.
He looked around as if concerned someone might eavesdrop on them. Well, okay, though you may think me nuts. It's like I have this thing about a pretty woman feeding me lots of good food until I'm really stuffed. I tell her no, I'm full, but she insists, so I eat and eat and eat. He paused and stared at her flushed cheeks. You'd get off on that?
She nodded, too shy to speak, but she knew her eyes were glowing by the way Johnny moved closer to her.
And then this woman keeps feeding me each day, meal after meal while I keep getting fatter and fatter. She rubs my belly so the food will go down. Oh yes! Madeline wet her lips.
Johnny bent to whisper in her ear. Would you do that for me? Huh, baby?
Absolutely, she whispered back.
He grinned. So, give me your phone number. He looked down the hall. That damn lawyer needs me, but, hey, I'll definitely call you. He brushed his hand over her body as he slid past. Tonight, he said, and jogged off.
Johnny G. was as good as his word. The phone rang that evening and Madeline's body tingled with anticipation the instant she heard his husky voice. The only question was where they'd meet, but since Madeline lived in Queens, they decided on a small family restaurant not too far from her house. She wasn't familiar with the place but had heard they were noted for big servings. When Johnny called her on his cell phone to say he was downstairs she practically flew out of the room.
She could tell he was impressed with her looks, or was it only the promise of a big meal that brought the broad smile to his face? He took her arm, led her to the waiting car that was driven by a young man who barely glanced back at them, and off they went.
Okay, Vito, take some time off, Johnny told the driver. I'll let you know when we need to be picked up.
Shyly, Madeline allowed Johnny to hold the restaurant door open for her. His brother might be a gangster but Johnny obviously knew how to be a gentleman. They seated themselves in a far corner, noting that there were few patrons.
I guess the weeknight keeps people away, Madeline ventured.
That's our luck then, Johnny said. Okay, what do we order? It was obvious he wanted to get down to business immediately.
Try the fettuccine first, she suggested, but have spaghetti with sausages on the side, and lots of garlic bread. She smiled over him. And since I'm pretty hungry, I'll have the same, she added, lying easily and knowing she'd entice him to eat her portion as well, which she did.
She'd never seen a man eat as much as Johnny did. He wolfed down his plateful and only slowed a bit on the second course. By the time it came to Madeline's barely picked-at meal he obviously was full, but she'd anticipated that and moved her chair even closer to him.
We can't have you go hungry, she whispered. A big man like you has to eat. She reached over and undid his belt and the top button of his pants, causing him to sigh with relief. Now, open up, she ordered, as she brought the first trembling forkful up to his mouth. If she feared her actions might be repulsed, his avid acceptance of the proffered food swiftly reassured her. Indeed, his eyes closed in rapture as she fed him all that remained of her huge meal.
She ordered three of the richest desserts on the menu and when Johnny's appetite for them slowed, she put a piece of cake between her lips and transferred it gently to his mouth followed by a sweet kiss. He moaned.
Are you liking this? she whispered.
I've died and gone to heaven, he answered. I'm totally stuffed. He leaned over and kissed her. Can I go home with you? he asked plaintively.
You're still too skinny, she responded. But we'll work on that, she added, smiling. You're going to be a different man by the time your trial comes around.
Over the next few months Vito drove them from one restaurant to another in all the boroughs. By the time Johnny's waist had expanded to over 58 inches, Madeline finally consented to him visiting her at home. It was thrilling to hear the heavy tread of his feet on the stairs as he ponderously climbed to the third floor landing. She'd outdone herself on the meal and her kitchen table groaned with food.
That's some spread, Johnny said, patting his belly. It pushed open his sports jacket and, when he sat down on the oversized chair Madeline had invested in, folded over onto his thighs. Tony can't get over how fat I've gotten. He laughed. And if my brother's surprised, I can't wait to see my lawyer's face!
He laughed again and set to eating.
If Johnny thought he'd eaten to capacity before, he had a surprise waiting for him. Casserole after casserole appeared on the table until he was forced to open his trousers entirely. I can't get another bite down, he managed to whisper.
I don't believe you, Madeline said, as she stood up and slowly stripped down to filmy red underwear.
By the time of the trial Johnny G. was indeed a different man. From the breath of his thickly fleshed shoulders, past his protruding belly and around to his full bottom he was absolutely gigantic. The D.A.'s star witness not only couldn't identify him as the shooter, he pointed to one of the legal assistants instead, identifying him as the culprit. The D.A. was definitely not pleased, but Madeline was.
I'd like to know what you weigh now, she said as, cleared of all charges, Johnny sat with her in one of their favorite restaurants.
I made it past 400 pounds a couple of weeks ago, he told her as he polished off the extra spumoni. There's a meat scale at one of the packing plants my brother owns. He wiped his mouth on his napkin and tossed it to one side. I got something for you, he said, holding out a small box. Go on, open it.
Madeline gasped at the exquisite diamond ring sparkling up at her from inside the plush velvet box. She looked over at Johnny. Had any man's eyes ever been as sincere as his?
You're gonna marry me, right? he said, taking her hand. He smiled as she nodded.
Do you really love me? she asked, wanting that extra bit of assurance.
Absolutely, he said. You're the best, and sex with all you can eat isn't so bad either!