A Serialized Novel by Wilson Barbers
Ann left over the weekend. Grabbing enough change of clothing to last her through a work week, she walked out of their apartment that Saturday afternoon without telling Bob where or why she was going. He woke to find her packing, pulling clothes from the closet with methodical hostility.
"I need some time away," she simply said, as he forlornly followed her from bedroom to living room and back again. On the carpet by the door stood a trio of soft-sided suitcases. Ann dropped her dress bag atop them casually. That simple act of off-handedness told him she was angry, even if she wouldn't tell him why. "I'm gonna need the travel iron," she decided and pushed her way past her dismayed lover to return to the bedroom.
"Is this it?" he finally was able to ask, when she'd returned with the iron. Standing before the doorway, he felt both desperate and ludicrous. "Are you walking out on our relationship?"
"I don't know," she spat in answer. "I hope not. But you need to ask yourself where we are in this so-called relationship!" Ann reached around him for the doorknob, glaring as he moved to let her pass. A blast of summer heat washed into the living room with the door's opening. She kicked and lifted her luggage out onto the porch. "Don't be so surprised," she said, turning to give him a parting shot. "You know why this is happening!"
And then she was gone.
Bob spent the rest of the weekend drinking and feeling sorry for himself, television soundlessly flickering in front of him as he sat on the living room couch. At one point he peered up between beers to see what looked like cheerleader tryouts on ESPN - pompoms and girlish baby-fat silently bouncing across the screen with maddening glee - and he was suddenly over with a profound sense of self-loathing. The guilt he'd managed to shrug aside over his fantasies and his infidelities returned twofold. What kind of pervert was he, imagining so much weight gain on the woman he loved, mentally turning her into some vast immoveable blimp? If that was the sole way he had to get it up with Ann, she was probably smart to ditch him.
Such sour thoughts kept Bob occupied through most of the weekend.
Monday morning found him in the throes of a hangover so severe that it might have made him swear off drinking forever if his guilt-ridden brain didn't keep reminding him that he deserved his misery. It took two cups of Folger's to motivate him enough to deal with his clothes, a third to get him through the door of his apartment. He arrived at camp edgy and unhappy to be there. In the harsh morning light, every woman that he passed appeared grotesque: their skin either too red or pasty, their pores too large.
"You look like hell," Tina cheerfully appraised as he edged into the office, walking as if the balls of his feet were sunburned. "Too much fun over the weekend?"
"Yeah," he echoed, slumping against the counter. He futilely fumbled with the plastic cone replace for his coffee until Tina came to his rescue. "Too much something."
"Won't ask any further," she said, clearly wanting to. She loudly plopped a trio of folders on the counter by his elbow, snickering at his grimace. "We had three new admissions over the weekend, replacing Mr. Simmens, Mrs. Janeway and Ms. Dowl. Knew you'd wanna see their files before you met 'em. . ."
"Thanks." Bob poured himself a cup of coffee, desultorily wiped up the spill, grabbed his files and trudged back to his office. Lying back on the couch in his office, massaging the bridge of his nose, he pulled up the first of his new files, little knowing where it would ultimately lead him. Critically, he eyed the stats before him. Newcomer Shelley Laile looked to be a real bulky mama: 382 and in her late thirties, two months younger than Ann.
This was her third visit to Camp Venn; the first two had been at the behest of her contractor husband. Both of her stints had been short-term successes (Ms. Laile lost close to thirty pounds each time) and long-term failures. By January of both years, she'd gained back fifty-plus. Last spring, her hubby had finally left in frustration: the line in the fat woman's file indicating current marital status now read, "Div."
A swell guy, Bob thought, reliving his own feelings at the sight of Ann abandoning him.
Taking a full swig of coffee, he sat up and redirected his attention to the file before him. He had no business, he told himself, focusing on the depressing details of Ms. Laile's personal life. Skipping past her stats, he examined the fat woman's accompanying snapshot instead. With her paisley sun dress, round smiling face and straight blondish hair, she looked like the quintessential hippie Earth mother.
The other two files were older, thinner and ultimately less interesting: suburban housewives who'd come to camp wanting to fit into their old swimsuits when they went on August business trips with their hubbies. To them, spending time at Venn was more a matter of status than weight loss. Even if they didn't make the small poundage goals they'd set for themselves (though there was little reason to believe that they couldn't), they still had something they could talk to the other wives about.
This Laile woman, though, seemed to come to the camp out of genuine need. He picked her file up off the floor and saw her room was the same as Maureen's had been.
All of a sudden, Bob was looking forward to meeting her. She was his and Ann's age - if close to three times Ann's size. Perhaps some time with her would dispel his troubling new obsession. Kneading his forehead and finding his hangover dissipated, he decided to pay a visit to the dining hall.
He spotted Ms. Laile readily, seated on a bench in one of the more out-of-the-way corners, savoring her grapefruit, sparingly sprinkling NutraSweet from a single pink packet. She was dressed in an oversized print shirt that was open in front, a comic strip tee shirt stretched to the max underneath, cartoon mouse grimacing over her bosom. The fat woman seemed to have gained most of her weight in the belly and hips. Her breasts, while larger than most thin girls', were dwarfed by her protruding paunch. Her upper arms were larger than most women's thighs, wide and overflowing at her dimpled elbows.
In life view, her face was even warmer than her photo: full and clear with a somewhat rueful expression around the eyes that was underlined by the shape of bulging cheeks. It gave her smile an added sweetness as she acknowledged his presence across the table. He straddled the bench and sat down to introduce himself.
"Excuse me, but we haven't met yet," Bob said, leaning forward. "I'm Bob, the camp's recreational counselor." She reached across the table to shake his hand, her bulging belly pushing into the table. As she shook, her upper arm jiggled excitedly. Unlike Mo, who carried her weight with a certain amount of shapely firmness, Shelley's whole body seemed to change with every repositioning. It was almost like seeing a new woman each time you looked. One moment she was sitting back, arms flattening, breasts and belly settling, chins constant; when she reached for her plate, the number of chins grew, the stomach divided into folds, new swells of flesh appeared at the join of arms to massive torso.
"Shelley," she suddenly said, disrupting his concentration. "Mo Dowl's told me about you. Says you're the best thing to happen to this camp in years." She spooned her final slice of grapefruit into her mouth, jowls moving as she bit into it.
"You know Maureen?"
"We roomed across the hall from each other last summer," Shelley explained. "I'm kinda sorry that we didn't sign up for the same stretch this year: she's a fun person to have around." She held her grapefruit over her spoon to catch the last bit of juice. "Then again," she continued, "maybe it's a good thing she's gone for the summer."
"Like I said, Mo told me all about you."
Oh shit, he thought. Shelley looked him straight in the eyes but mercifully was unable to hold the pose she was working to maintain. She blushed suddenly and looked down the table, the moment gone. "I'm sorry," she said into her empty bowl. "I'm not very good at this flirting crap. I could say it's because I just got divorced and am out of practice. But the truth is I never was very good at it."
"How long were you married?" Bob asked, charmed by her sudden show of frankness.
"Ten years," she said. "I wasn't always this fat. Didn't start to really put on weight until my early twenties. When we started dating in college, I was a little - well, chunky - but it wasn't until I married that I really started to gain. My husband was a pretty big eater, and he expected me to have a well-stocked larder.
"I liked to cook for him, but after a while, it became a double-edged thing. It didn't matter what size he was, but the bigger I got, the nastier he became. He started making all these jokey comments that weren't very funny, so I started dieting. I went through every conceivable diet known to woman!" She ticked off with her pudgy fingers. "Beverly Hills Diet. Weight Watchers. Overeaters Anonymous. NutraSystem. Optifast. Camp Venn.
"After I lost it, I'd gain the weight back plus more. I dieted myself up to 350!"
"If that's the case, why'd you come back here?" Bob asked.
"I'm not sure," she admitted. "It's familiar - and a part of me liked the place. Out here in the woods, it's so restful. I've been spending the past three months in my house, indulging in self-pity. I needed to get out! This is definitely better than hanging out in some suburban so-called self-help center, surrounded by discontented fat people."
Bob thought of himself on Sunday, drunkenly wallowing in solitude and self-recrimination, and he saw the wisdom in Shelley's decision. Anywhere was better than nowhere.
"So what did Mo tell you about me?" he finally asked, after getting them both cups of coffee with skim milk lightener. In asking this, he was probably reopening doors that he could have easily kept shut - but there was something about the woman that demanded he ask the question.
She took two sips to answer, apparently weighing whether she wanted to get to the gist of her earlier awkward flirtation. "Just one thing," she finally answered. "But it was a goodie." She blew on her coffee and then took the plunge. "According to Mo," she ventured, "you find fat women sexy."
"Only certain fat women," he corrected.
"Very much so."
"How about me?" she asked, nervously tracing the bottom of her cup. Like so many large people, she was a deep breather, which gave her lips and nostrils a husky poutiness. Behind him, the sound of the other diners seemed to abate: all Bob could hear was the sound of her full life's breath. Don't answer the question, a tiny voice advised. You're too vulnerable for this!
If there was ever one moment that nailed the course of the rest of his life, it was this. Yet when Bob later reflected on it, a part of him would always feel embarrassed by the ease with which he silenced his nagging inner voice. Looking straight into her rueful eyes, he set down his cup and said what he was feeling.
"I find you very sexy," he whispered across the table.
Shelley smiled once more.
"That's good to hear," she said, round face beaming with pleasure. "Somehow I think this summer will be my best yet at Camp Venn."
"Count on it," Bob said. He passed Dale Harvey at a table by the door, animatedly working on his plate of melon and cottage cheese. The fat man tipped an imaginary hat at him.
Two hours later, returning to the office for his clipboard, he came upon the computer man in an unlikely spot: perched atop one of the ancient DP exercycles in the gym. Broad rear overlapping both sides of the bicycle seat, one hand casually holding onto the handlebars, he called Bob over to the largely deserted exercise area.
"You know," Bob said once he'd gotten close enough to talk in a normal volume. "Those things work better if you pedal 'em."
"I have been," Harvey protested in an injured tone. "At the moment, I just happen to be coasting."
"Ah, ha. . ."
"Saw you honing in on the Laile woman this morning," the fat man continued, bending over to loosen the PedalSlim's wheel tension then leaning back for a leisurely pedal. "I have to admire your eye." He ceased his minimal stab at exercise, adjusted the band of his sweat pants, and smirked. The sight annoyed Bob.
"I don't have time for this, Dale," he said, turning toward his office. Served him right, he thought, for trying to engage in banter with Mr. Goddamn-Know-It-All. The computer man dismounted, nearly tipping his exercycle in the process, and followed.
"I've pissed you off," he said, collapsing onto the couch. "Shouldn't be so damn observant - or at least so obvious about it. I'm sorry."
The apology was enough to make Bob feel bad about his moment's irritation. Standing against the desk, he unclenched and turned back to Harvey. "I had a shitty weekend," he finally said. "Shouldn't have snapped at you, though."
"S'alright," the fat man shrugged. "Just trying to make some conversation - and I guess I wound up assuming too much."
"Not too much," Bob admitted with a sigh. He walked around the desk and took his chair. "I don't know what it is," he confessed, "but I was sure once Mo Dowl left camp that I'd be able to return back to normal. Instead, I find myself flirting with a woman who makes Maureen look anorectic! I must be crazy!"
"Sounds like you found a part of you that you didn't know existed," Harvey answered. "Maybe it was always in you, kept submerged. Maybe Mo taught you a thing or two. I bet she could. . ."
"Perhaps," Bob considered, "but what am I doing, putting the moves on this Laile woman? She's not a thing like Mo. Even though Mo was big, she was evenly proportioned."
"And Shelley isn't," Harvey filled in. "Some folks seem to gain most of their weight in their lower half. I take it you're not much of an ass man."
"Never thought of myself as one."
"And yet?" Dale pushed, leaning forward.
"You win. I'm drawn to Shelley. I was almost instantly."
"Say no more," Harvey said, groaning off the couch. "You've still got to work your way through things." Placing both palms on the desktop, he bent down to face the rec counselor, sweat pants band disappearing underneath his gut. "But if I were you, I wouldn't dilly dally with Ms. Laile.
He pushed himself away from the desk and turned toward the door, humming the chorus of a paean to "fat-bottomed girls."
Dale was right, Bob decided: whatever the long-term consequences, he had to follow things up with Shelley Laile.
He found her by the tennis courts, playing doubles with a grandmotherly partner and demonstrating a deadly serve that rarely got returned. When it did, the fat divorcee would make a stab at chasing across the court, great hips bounding with the exertion, but it was no go. Her face red and glistening, breasts and belly heaving, she'd laugh good-naturedly as the sphere passed in front of her just out of reach. "No fair! That thing's way smaller than me!"
When the group finished its short set, they called it quits, scattering for the shade. Bob joined Shelley by the Crystal Light dispenser as she struggled to the ground, moaning dramatically. "Don't think I can get up," she said, looking up at Bob. "Ever." She wiped her brow with the bottom of her blouse, showing a goodly expanse of paunch in the process.
"You did pretty good out there," Bob said, filling two paper cups and sitting cross-legged by the perspiring fat woman.
"Not bad for a fat chick, eh?" Shelley answered, nodding to his offer of a drink. "We had a badminton set in our backyard back home. I was also pretty good at tennis and swimming back in high school, if you can believe that. Used to frustrate the hell out of coaches to see this chubby kid be good at something." She took a sip, licked her lips and yawned. "I'm sorry," she said. "If it's one thing I try not to do, it's grouse too much about the past. Every fat person has their sob stories, and most of 'em sound the same."
"That's okay," Bob answered. "You're entitled."
"Maybe," Shelley said, "but it's not very sexy. And I don't want to be a turn-off to you. I mean: I already look a sight."
That much was true: she did look a sight. A damn good one. With both top and shorts clinging to her bulgy form, her hair disheveled appealingly, her deep breath even huskier, Shelley was both vibrant and sexy.
`"You look wonderful," he said. "There's no need to put yourself down."
"Maybe not," she said, "but sometimes I do it out of habit."
"That's one habit you need to break." He stood and offered his hand to help her to her feet.
"This an invitation?" she asked.
"Damn right it is," he softly said. Off by the dining hall, camp members were starting to line up for lunch (though serving time was still a good hour away.) With so many eyes focused on the dining hall entrance, Bob and Shelley were able to make it to her sleeping quarters unobserved. First thing he did upon entering was cover the mirror with one of Shelley's blouses. Unbuttoned, it easily blocked the full-width mirror.
"Why'd you do that?" the super-sized divorcee asked, waddling up to Bob. She was five inches shorter than Maureen, dressed in cut-offs that bit into her dimpled thighs. Due to her height and prominent front, he had to lean forward a bit to be able to kiss her. Bob felt the hang of her lower belly against his crotch; it was enough to start to hard him. They played with each other's tongues, then he backed off to kiss her cheeks. Tracing his tongue along the lines of her chins, he tasted salt.
"Superstition," Bob finally replied. He ceased his exploration and backed away to pull off his tee shirt. The room looked smaller than it did through a peephole: a bed with lamp and end table, corner chair, dresser to the right of the mirror and not much else. Shelley had brought a Watchman (which she kept on the end table by the bed,) several thick women's fantasy paperbacks and a boom box with a selection of tapes. She turned to this last and punched the play button. Sixties folk rock floated from the tape player.
Shelley moved across the floor, door-width hips swaying, breasts and blubbery belly quavering, fat arms reaching up for him. Her cool sausagey fingers held onto his sides, as she kissed his chest. Bob reached for her shelving hips, grabbed and pulled her closer to him. A sudden rending sound shot across the room.
"It's nothing," Shelley said, stepping back to pull off her tops. She slid out of the print shirt and examined it: one of the side seams had given in to the pressure of their embrace. Flinging it in the direction of the closet, she peeled off her tee. Her breasts looked even smaller resting on her unfettered paunch, but on close inspection, they were wondrously floppy; her areolae were large and clearly defined, the bottom of their perimeters occasionally disappearing in the space between mams and belly. Shelley's nipples had already started to stiffen.
She reached down for her cut-offs and pulled down around her dimpled thighs, stopping at her knees to look seductively up at him. Bob kicked off his Reeboks and started to unbutton his pants. A shiver of adrenalin coursed through his body. Shelley sat on a corner of the bed, the mass of her belly forcing her legs apart, and leaned back to pull off her panties. As she slowly slid the garment down her right thigh, she began to sing along with the tape; her voice was light and sweet. When she'd tugged both sides down to her knees, she laid back and lifted her legs to Bob.
"Could you get these?" she asked. Bob obliged, examining her shapely rotund calves, her surprisingly small feet, the rolls of fat at the back of her knees. On her huge hips, the ghost of her cut-offs lingered in red indentation.
Bob was naked and erect now, so he kneeled and pulled her fulsome legs open. The scent of her womanliness drifted up to his nostrils as he massaged her fleshy inner thighs, slowly moving upwards to where her belly draped. For all her vastness, she was relatively free of cellulite: even her inner thighs were smooth and cool. Bob squeezed and kneaded the fat woman's flesh as she held onto his shoulder, fingernails biting into him. He probed under the apron of her belly, right hand disappearing under her avoirdupois, and finally felt the thatch of her pubic hair.
She shifted slightly, and he felt her lips part with the move. He started to probe her; she dampened and perspired with his efforts. As she grew more excited, he leaned forward and licked the thin sheen of sweat on her belly.
"I get wet easily," Shelley explained, causing her whole torso to jiggle against his face. "Both within and without." She leaned back and reached for a container of talc. "Hope you're not allergic," she said, punctuating her sentence with a small gasp, as Bob reached her clit.
"Don't worry about me," he said, withdrawing his hand. He rose to her soft shoulders, then he pushed his tongue into the space between left arm and breasts, arriving at the ring of fat that emanated from her left mam. He licked his way to her nipple, then began nipping it to greater prominence with his teeth and tongue. Shelley arched back, and he held her wiggling torso with his hands. She once more relaxed, and he felt the folds of her belly grow underneath his spread fingers. As he followed down her paunch with his lips to her first fold, he began to probe once more with his fingers. She reached for his hand and pulled it away.
"Let me taste you now," she smiled and rolled over. Bob stood before her, as she cupped his scrotum in her palms. Smiling up at him, Shelley began to stroke his rod between two forefingers, building his erection. She scrunched forward on the bed and began to lick his shaft.
Placing the tip of his penis between her hips, she flicked her tongue against his sensitive head. It was all he could to keep from ejaculating right then. Shelley took his shaft deeper into her mouth, rubbing him with an open palm. His whole body stiffened; from this angle all Bob could see were the voluminous globes of her jutting end, her pillowy thighs and fatly defined calves.
"Real tasty," she said, coming up for air. Grabbed his thighs with both hands, Shelley turned her attention to his testes, licking then capturing each sac in her mouth. She lifted both legs as she adjusted herself, calves swaying slowly, thigh folds bulging. Bob placed his hands on the general vicinity of her shoulder blades and pushed his fingers into her. By now she had both balls in her mouth; his shaft pressed against her full cheeks insistently.
Finally, she rolled away once more. Lying fully on her back, legs spread and feet on the floor, she took the bottle of powder and sprinkled it over her torso. Joining her on the bed, Bob began to distribute talc over her damp body. A powdery film drifted in the air. Sometime in the midst of her oral activity, the tape had stopped. He rubbed a layer of powder over Shelley's quivering breasts, tweaking each nipple as he passed over it. She raised her arms invitingly, and he applied the powder to her dangling undersides. He stopped when she pointed to her crotch, however.
"There's something I wanna do first," he said, scooting down toward her belly apron and lifting it with both hands. He dug into her hairy covering with his tongue. Holding her belly back with his left forearm, Bob pushed his face closer into her, then he spread her labial lips with his fingers. Tonguing her insides, he dug to her clitoris but was unable to reach it with his tongue - her fat pushed against his face too solidly.
The solution: resorting to his fingers once more. But this was clearly sufficient for Shelley. Once he hit the right spot, she began to buck so frantically that her belly overpowered him; it spilled over his forearm and trapped his exploring hand. Bob ceased his probing and slowly pulled it out.
"You definitely hit it then," she said with a broad smile. (Face it - everything about this woman was broad!) "Hope I didn't hurt your wrist."
"S'okay. I've got wrists of steel," he joked, reaching for the bottle of powder and using it on her thighs and crotch. Her body felt smooth and slick. As he continued to rub, she reached under her pillow for a packet of condoms, tore open the wrapper with her teeth and slowly worked the lubricated protector over his enlarged member.
"Barely fits," she said with a sly smile. "Like me in last year's outfits." She stroked Bob lovingly, then pulled him to her.
He almost slipped off her, falling into her yielding torso. Sneezing once, Bob reared back and took his shrouded penis in his hand; he aimed it for her waiting womanhood, fondling her underbelly as he slid into her. Shelley's voluminous torso settled as he pushed himself into her. She tightened her fleshy thighs on both sides of him, as he retreated then re-entered with greater force. Shelley moaned her appreciation. Thumbing her nipples, he wriggled further into her.
She reached up to him and tweaked his chest. Bob felt himself hardening even more and began to rhythmically push in and out. Her belly weight rose and fell with every thrust, its folds deepening and lessening. As Bob fell upon her, her breasts and belly cushioned him. Nipping her right ear, he continued to thrust, her talc and layers of fat sliding him into angles he'd never achieved before.
"Deeper!" she gasped, momentarily lifting her head to bite his shoulder. He pulled himself up once more, feet firmly placed on the floor, and drove into her with everything he had.
"Got it!" Shelley cried happily.
She grabbed hold of her ankles and began to wiggle her wide rump. Bob held both sides of her slippery hips as best he could. He loved her enormous womanliness then, the way every part of her moved and emphasized her abandon. The harder they moved together, the more her whole body undulated. He came suddenly and potently, dislodging Shelley's condom in the process. She continued to tremble beneath him, and as he spent himself, it became more difficult to keep on top of her.
"You came prepared," he said in the aftermath, resting on one of her large upper arms, flipping the sodden rubber into a metal waste can.
"It's the only way to come," she answered, turning to face him. "Maybe I should've asked beforehand, but I hoped you wouldn't mind."
"I didn't," Bob replied. He reached up her mountainous body to stroke her upper arm. "I hope this doesn't sound egotistical," he said, "but it sounds like you've been thinking about doing this the past two days."
"You're right," Shelley said. "I needed to make love to someone like you." She rolled off the bed and got up to get some water. "I've spent the last few years being told I was sexually unattractive," she explained when she returned. "My divorce was the kicker. When Mo told me about her experiences with you, I just knew I had to see if I could get you interested in me. I didn't know it'd be this fast, but I was hoping . . ."
"So where'd you get the prophylactic?" he asked. "I know we don't sell 'em in the dispensary."
"Mo gave me a clue there, too. She pointed out another camper who was sure to have some. I was kinda nervous about asking him, but he was real understanding about things. Cute, too. Said he was a friend of yours: Dale Harvey."