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Old 06-05-2015, 06:21 AM   #1
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Default Curds and Weigh by Marlow (~BBW, ~~WG, romance)

~BBW, WG, romance - A customer with curious habits catches a fry-cook's affections.

Curds and Weigh
by Marlow

Chapter one

There was a new teller at the bank. Word of her spread quickly around the shopping plaza: the girls at the hair salon had noticed her first and complained about her bouncy bronze ringlets to the staff of the dress shop, who spent an hour staring across the parking lot into the windows of the bank and texting their contacts in the neighboring stores about it.

It was a small, tightly woven community of young sales associates, stylists, cleaners, and line cooks enduring the service industry in order to pay for grad school, art school, and junior’s preschool; a community desperately tired of itself and fiercely intrigued by anything new. The stores and restaurants in the plaza were slowly failing and their employees could only pass the time until they graduated and moved on or until the shop finally shut down. A new employee was an opportunity to watch another set of young dreams die.

Thus it was still morning when news reached Cody, fry cook at the 'Chickin Kitchin' and generally the last in line for gossip. It reached him in the form of two fried chicken breasts dangling suddenly in front of his face—Myron, his oft-insufferable workmate, apparently wished to convey that the bank's new teller was reported to possess an impressive bosom.

Cody acknowledged this with a dutifully impressed expression and encouraged Myron to get back to his dishwashing. Cody liked boobs as much as the next man, but had six more hours of sullen brooding to get to and couldn’t waste time on things like excitement and happiness.

Of the shopping plaza’s five failing food offerings, Chickin Kitchin was the most misspelled and the least patronized. Most of the upscale locals hated it, preferring their organic tofu purees and the like, but it attracted a devoted collection of lower-class families who swore by its inexpensive oily goodness. The menu offered only items that could be battered, passed through a deep fryer, and stored under a heat lamp in a long countertop hot case. The restaurant had no illusions about itself. It was fairly clean but disinterestedly decorated, oddly lit, and overflowing with deafening music at all times.

Customers were generally taken aback by the music’s volume, but after a visit or two usually came to realize its true value: as it had been rendered impossible for customer and server to hear one another, none of the service industry’s customary, soulless conversation was necessary. Customers pointed to items in the case and Cody dished up the items. Money was exchanged, occasionally accompanied by a smile or a nod. There were never complaints, there were never special requests, and there were fewer hatreds developed.

Much of the time Cody was free to stick in his earplugs, nod his head with the thump of the music, grimace, and stare out the storefront at customers going everywhere else. He watched a mother herd a group of children into a minivan. He watched a young couple walk across the lot, holding hands. They were considerably overweight and their bodies bounced happily into one another’s as they waddled; Cody grimaced more, straightened his apron, and scratched the back of his head. He watched a pair of sparrows fight over a discarded bag of chips, then caught sight of the new bank teller exit the bank.

She paused on the sidewalk, blinking in the midday June sun, and slowly turned in a circle, furtively noting things to herself with her index finger. Cody watched as one of the things marked proved to be his exact direction and realized she was counting the plaza’s restaurants. She turned around again, apparently uncertain, then strode off in the opposite direction, to the fancy bagel-sandwich shop.

Cody glared and involuntarily rapped his knuckles on the countertop. He frowned at himself for a moment, shook his head, and retreated into the dishroom. One more endless Monday.

Tuesday afternoon he saw her exit the bank again. She spun in her same circle, paused, then headed off across the lot toward the soup café.

Wednesday, at precisely the same time, she exited, spun, and made her way to the burger joint. Cody watched the performance again with unusual curiosity, though flushed with humiliation when he found Myron sneering at him.

Myron turned and squinted thoughtfully at the girl as well, then smiled and gave Cody a knowing look.

Cody raised an eyebrow. Grinning, Myron pointed at the bagel shop, then at the soup café, then at the burger joint, and then, eyes wide, swept his finger around the rest of the arc, pausing in the direction of the deli before tapping the counter of Chickin Kitchin itself. To continue his illustration, he walked up and down the service station, nibbling on samples and looking indecisive. He concluded by attempting to take a sample of Cody, who promptly smacked him in the face with a slab of chicken-fried steak.

When at the same time on Thursday the girl crossed over to the deli, Myron pumped his fist and screamed triumphantly against the pounding music. A female would be entering his store within twenty-four hours; priorities quickly redistributed themselves.

News of her continued to trickle in from the community. The unnaturally perky ladies at the bagel shop found her too standoffish; they had been unusually unsuccessful in drawing her into conversation. The grumbling staff of the soup café complained of her indecisiveness, for her careful and onerous study of the menu had caused confusion and delay among the powerlunching crowd behind her. The stoners at the burger joint decided that she needed to mellow out; it seemed that every little thing made her jumpy and what little speech she produced was tentative and stammered out. The clerk at the deli, who claimed to be studying ‘psychology’, deduced—in the time it took her to order her sandwich—that she was suffering from depression or anxiety, or was perhaps just lame.

By most accounts she was fairly pretty, with ‘the cutest—seriously, the cutest ever—little curl of brown hair’ falling over one eye and an adorable baby face. The initial reports of her bust were corroborated by the burger chefs and were joined by rumors of a ‘nice butt’, to Myron’s immense delight.

She drove a new-looking car, a little eco-friendly thing with a Thalia University window sticker. She was thus evidently a student nearby, but didn’t seem young enough to be an undergrad. There was a hint of an accent, too: she had originated a little further south. She wasn’t merely new to the shopping plaza, therefore, but to the upper Midwest entirely, and the community’s scrutiny increased.

Friday, right on time, she exited the bank, turned, and began walking toward Chickin Kitchin. Myron, who had been disturbingly giddy all morning, now vibrated with glee. He had washed his uniform for the first time in far too long and had even shaved for the occasion. He had spent the past hour using a pair of rotisserie chickens to demonstrate some of his favorite fantasies.

Cody, though he would never admit it, had given himself an extra thirty seconds of time in front of the mirror that morning, unsure why his appearance suddenly mattered but unable to deny his instincts. Somewhere in the back of his mind a scene was playing out in which the mystery girl leapt over the counter to him and demanded that he force-feed her French fries while they had wild animal sex on the prep table in all the positions Myron’s chickens had demonstrated.

It took some effort to push that thought away and Cody involuntarily checked to see if Myron had somehow heard it. Myron, whose telepathy was undeveloped anyway, was too transfixed on the approaching figure. Cody sighed and poked his tongs at a pile of French fries in the hot case. Myron tapped impatiently at the cash register.

The glass door swung open. A short, rosy cheeked young woman stepped inside, looking prim in the skirt, blouse, and vest of the bank uniform. Immediately she was overwhelmed by the kitchen’s music—she instinctively took half a step back as though struck by an invisible force.

She pressed her hands to her ears and crossed over to the counter. Cody found himself studying her as she walked, feeling less lewd knowing that a few yards away his co-worker was studying her even harder.

The bosom was as inviting as reported, with a tease of cleavage visible where the blouse opened. The skirt shaped and presented her tight derriere and the thighs beneath it most admirably. Her white blouse fluttered loosely over lightly tanned skin and her bob of curly hair was pushed back under a pair of sunglasses.

Reaching the counter, she cautiously lifted her hands from her ears and opened her mouth to speak.

Cody stopped her with a wave, turned slightly, and gestured to the plugs in his ears.

She gaped. He smiled and shrugged.

Holding up a finger, she dug in her purse and found a pair of headphones. They were real headphones, too, not mere earbuds. Impressed, Cody pointed this out to Myron. He nodded.

The headphones secured, the girl took a deep breath, then gave Cody a thumbs-up. He smiled and unfolded his arms toward the spread of food in the hot case: pans of fried chicken parts, pans of chicken tenders, pans of chicken-fried steak, and the numerous pans of overflowing side dishes. He slapped a tray on the counter and bowed.

She smiled at him and slid over to the glass of the hot case, looking dutifully impressed by all the offerings. He pulled up a plate for her and ran it up and down the line of food, awaiting her decision.

She took a surprisingly long time deciding, squinting in at each dish and puffing out her cheeks thoughtfully. Cody waited patiently, following her gaze with the empty plate. Myron leaned against the cash register until he lost interest and resumed staring out the window.

Eventually she pointed decisively at the chicken tenders, which Cody promptly heaped onto the plate. He dropped the plate on the tray and turned to find her giving him an inquisitive look.

He raised an eyebrow. She gestured to the last pan in the line of side dishes and frowned.

Understanding the question, he gestured to an advertisement on the wall heralding the arrival of ‘cheese curds’ at the restaurant. She studied the poster for a moment, then threw up her hands in an admission of ignorance.

Cody gave her a playfully shocked look, but reached over and tonged a few of the little fried balls of cheese into a sample cup. He passed this across the glass to her and watched her tentatively bite down into one.

Her face froze. She chewed pensively, staring at the cup. Cody glanced at Myron, who rolled his eyes.

Suddenly the girl nodded vehemently and pointed at the pan of cheese curds.

Cody chuckled and dished up a basket for her. Normally the curds were served as a side option in a little paper boat, but Cody’s mind had spent the day dreaming about stuffing the mystery new girl’s face with fried food and all sorts of other things; serving her a full-sized portion there in reality seemed like a harmless appeasement to his silent fantasies.

Regardless, if she noticed the unusual serving size, she wasn’t displeased. The basket joined the plate on her tray and were delivered to Myron at the register. She paid, gave both clerks a grateful smile, and sidled over to a booth.

Myron watched her go, or at least part of her, then shook his head. He widened his eyes comically and imitated the girl’s slow, deliberate study of the case. Cody shrugged.

Evidently disappointed, Myron gestured that he was going out for a smoke and disappeared into the back.

Cody sighed. Alone at the counter, he had to poke around enough at the food and utensils to appear busy—it was store policy to never lounge—at the least busy time of the day. The girl had been their first customer in nearly an hour and they were unlikely to see anyone else soon.

He glanced occasionally at her, trying to keep himself from actively watching. She had produced a paperback from her purse and appeared to be entirely absorbed in it. As she read, though, she methodically consumed the chicken tenders and then, to Cody’s confused amusement, the whole basket of cheese curds.

He watched her swallow the last bite, savoring it. Her chest heaved suddenly, her cheeks puffed out, and she exhaled slowly. Cody smoothed the front of his apron.

She slid out of the booth and stood slowly, one hand to her stomach. Glancing up, she caught him looking, gestured to the empty basket, and gave him a very impressed thumbs-up. She hiccupped daintily as she did so and her cheeks flushed.

He smiled and gave a polite bow—it was all he could manage. She curtsied in return, then turned and began digging in her purse. He took this as an indication that their interaction had ended and though part of him wished desperately to ensure its continuation his discretion prevailed. He shook his head at himself and slunk away into the kitchen.

He lingered, however, at a prep station close enough to the kitchen door to sneak a view of her. A quick glance around showed that Myron was not around to call him out and he squinted through the grease-splattered window.

The girl had pulled from her purse an old camera. She thumbed at it a bit, then glanced around the room as well. Cody froze as her eyes passed over the kitchen, but they miraculously appeared to miss him.

She furtively untucked and unbuttoned her bank teller’s blouse. She glanced out the window, then untucked the tank top she wore underneath and tugged up on it to reveal her smooth, slender abdomen. The buttoned waistband of the skirt fit loosely and she was able to slide it down an inch or two to expose more of her midsection.

Leaning weirdly, with one hand holding the blouse open and the tank up, she held the camera out with her other hand and snapped several quick pictures of her stomach. Cody was at a bad angle to see much detail of it, but it didn’t seem like a remarkable feature—gently contoured, fairly narrow, curved with a slight food baby after her large lunch. She hiccupped again and faint stomach muscles could be seen contracting.

Satisfied with her photoshoot, she hurriedly tucked and buttoned again. She smoothed the vest over the ensemble, let out a relieved sigh, and made her way out the door.

Before she disappeared Cody caught her hiccup once again as she checked her hair in the store window. She pressed a hand to her chest where the blouse opened, bouncing magnificently, and then she was gone around the corner.
Criticism is so often nothing more than the eye garrulously denouncing the shape of the peephole that gives access to hidden treasure.
-Djuna Barnes, writer and artist
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Old 06-05-2015, 06:21 AM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2005
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Tad has ascended what used to be the highest level.Tad has ascended what used to be the highest level.Tad has ascended what used to be the highest level.Tad has ascended what used to be the highest level.Tad has ascended what used to be the highest level.Tad has ascended what used to be the highest level.Tad has ascended what used to be the highest level.Tad has ascended what used to be the highest level.Tad has ascended what used to be the highest level.Tad has ascended what used to be the highest level.Tad has ascended what used to be the highest level.

Chapter 2

The weekend passed with little fanfare. Normally it was an empty time in Cody’s existence, a mildly restful arrhythmia. This weekend, however, without realizing or wanting to realize why, he used the two free days to begin dusting off the forgotten relics of his identity.

He cleaned up his apartment, at least a little. He did a full load of laundry and even put the clean clothes back into the dresser. He hung up the poster that had fallen down over a month ago. He plugged in his lonely gaming system and slowly remembered how to kill all the evil aliens.

On Monday, returning to work, when the time came for the shift change at the bank, Cody made sure to fry up a fresh batch of cheese curds himself, with extra care. Myron sniffed at them and promptly pantomimed choking to death. It was a spectacular performance that captured all the violent details, but Cody ignored him.

Across the parking lot the door of the bank swung open and the new girl trotted out into the summer sun. Cody paused halfway through the changing of pans to glance up.

She checked her watch, turned, and headed off toward the bagel shop.

Cody dropped the new pan of curds into its slot and exhaled slowly. He shook the fantasies out of his head and returned to his normal existence as the day ground on.

Tuesday, though he tried not to watch for her, he glimpsed her heading to the soup café and he nearly laughed with realization.

Myron, who was watching him watch her as always, grinned and began tracing his finger in a circle through the air. The circle tightened as he continued and continued to tighten as he turned it up toward his ear to signal that he judged him to be out of his mind.

Cody folded his arms, eyebrow raised. Myron shrugged.

Rumors followed throughout the week. Myron collected them keenly, eager to mock Cody’s fascination; Cody told himself he was ignoring the stupid gossip but remained raptly attentive.

She had ordered a second sandwich at the bagel shop, apparently. The next day she had ordered a to-go cup in addition to her dine-in bowl at the soup shop, but it was not seen with her when she left. On Wednesday she had upsized her burger and had by one account spent almost fifteen minutes staring at one of the greasy spoon’s distinctively obese regular customers. When the customer eventually gave her a tentative wave, she had panicked and hurried out, but had the presence of mind to bring her meal. On Thursday she apparently failed to appear at the deli as expected but the associates at the boutique reported her wandering aimlessly through the plus-size section. They were quick to redirect the petite girl back to her appropriate racks and even quicker to spread news of the sighting.

Myron quickly lost interest in her, as he had long ago declared himself ‘opposed to crazy’ and refused to fraternize with eccentricity. Thus Cody was blessedly alone at the front counter on Friday when the girl appeared in the doorway. She gave him a cheerful smile as she donned her headphones.

He smiled back with as much hospitality as his habitually dour face could muster and waved his hand at the hot case. He had ensured that it was glistening with cleanliness and resplendent with fresh meals. He could hear Myron snickering in the back of his mind.

The girl approached the counter, fidgeting with the top button of her blouse, and began her long, methodical survey of the offerings. Cody stood patiently, occasionally scratching the back of his head.

It seemed an eternity, but a shorter eternity than her previous visit. Suddenly she perked up, caught his gaze (he was proud of himself for having been looking away at just that moment), and pointed out some pieces of fried chicken she desired. Cody nodded and obediently plated them, then looked up expectantly.

She frowned, then halfheartedly gestured at the French fries.

Cody nodded and filled a basket for her. He paused before handing over the tray, though, tilting his head toward the cheese curds with a questioning look.

She gasped and smacked herself in the forehead. Cody laughed, handed over the tray, craned his neck to make sure Myron wasn’t in sight, and then filled a little paper boat with cheese curds.

The girl beamed with gratitude. She protested when at the register he didn’t charge her for the curds, but he held up his hands. He pointed at the bank’s logo on her vest and gestured in a vague attempt to convey that the shopping center was a friendly community. She seemed to understand his meaning and conceded with a nod.

Emboldened, he jabbed a finger at his nametag, then pulled out the textbook he had stashed behind the cash register. It shouted GRAPHIC DESIGN in large, stylized letters.

Her eyes widened, apparently shocked by the sudden extra step in their interaction. After a terrified moment, though, she relaxed and dug her nametag from her purse. The name CISLEY was all Cody could make out before she suddenly put it away. She gave him a polite nod, grabbed her full tray of food, and hurried off to a booth.

Cody grimaced at her sudden departure, but consoled himself that progress had been made, if barely.

A tap on the shoulder roused him. It was Myron, looking grave, and Cody was obliged to follow him back to the kitchen.

The walk-in freezer was wide open. The little heads-up display next to the door was flashing wildly with all the error messages it could think of. Cody knew no more about freezer operations than Myron, but was generally a more pragmatic sort of person and often had to assume the problem-solving role.

He acknowledged all the error messages, at least calming the screen, then walked around inside the freezer and around the back. Nothing seemed out of place, so he decided to simply restart the system and leave a note for the store manager.

Nothing exploded and the freezer went back to churning out frigid air. Cody and Myron shrugged to one another, shut the huge door, and went back to their respective stations.

Cody appeared back out front just in time to catch the girl on her way out. She smoothed the front of her shirt—as though she had recently tucked it back in, Cody remarked—and tugged her vest over it.

Catching sight of him with a blush, she hesitated, then repeated her previous week’s performance: she gestured to the empty cheese curd container and gave Cody an impressed thumbs-up.

He bowed gratefully.

The girl curtsied and all but fled out of the restaurant. Cody waved in vain, but could only watch as Cisley scampered away, dropping what appeared to be a camera back into her purse.

He squinted through the shop windows after her as she trotted out into the parking lot. She paused and looked up one of the lanes, then slid over to the other, where she found the minivan she was apparently looking for.

The van’s driver side window opened and a large, square-jawed young man greeted the girl with a kiss as she leaned in.

Cody winced and he could feel a flush of adrenaline flood into his veins. That had been a very real kiss.

He watched Cisley skip around the van and hop into the passenger seat. As it backed out and pulled away, Cody averted his gaze, angry at himself for being so angry. To worsen matters, Myron had emerged from the kitchen just in time to see it. He seemed torn between mocking Cody and pitying him.

Cody frowned and looked away, toward the booths. There, however, his eyes fixed upon the paperback novel the girl had left behind.
Criticism is so often nothing more than the eye garrulously denouncing the shape of the peephole that gives access to hidden treasure.
-Djuna Barnes, writer and artist
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Old 06-05-2015, 06:22 AM   #3
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Chapter three

The book found its way into the cabinet beneath the cash register, nestled between Cody’s Graphic Design Textbook and Myron’s MCAT prep book. By a monumental effort of will Cody had kept himself from reading anything of the paperback aside from its cover: Eustasia and the Ship of Spoils.

It had a brightly colored cover featuring a thoroughly unrealistic pirate ship cruising toward a vibrant sunset. Leaning against the stern rail, gazing out at the sea, was a happy couple.

For days after he had tucked away the book the image lingered in Cody’s thoughts. In his memory the happy couple bore a remarkable resemblance to Cisley and himself. Clearly this was a false memory, but he wouldn’t let himself look at the book again to restore the true image. Sometimes, out of respect, he tried to imagine the minivan driver’s big face on the man instead.

He resolved eventually that seeing the presumed boyfriend offered him some solace. It answered a sufficient number of questions and allowed him the luxury of lusting after the girl without worrying about the question of her feelings toward him. She became a poster on his wall—an unattainable goal and therefore merely a pleasant thought.

This decision spared him a great deal of unproductive feelings and was free to resume thinking about other things in life. He cleaned his camera that weekend and took it out to the lakeside park. He chased the herons around with it for a while, filled with a sudden artistic energy and remembering why he had decided to pin his hopes on graphic design.

The following week brought him back to his usual quiet surliness, but it was more bearable than usual. The book called to him from under the counter, plucking at his curiosity, but he was able to ignore it, thinking instead of ideas for a photo project.

Myron was insufferable. He had secured a date with a ‘slamming personal trainer’ named ‘Blythe’ from the gym across the road. She came to visit him at lunch one day, but had refused to try any of their disgusting, positively unhealthy food. Cody disliked her at once and disliked her more after she and Myron spent half an hour making out in the dishroom while Cody handled the lunch rush.

Cody saw very little of Cisley throughout the week, which he decided was probably a good thing. He caught sight of her leaving the burger joint on Wednesday. She was in a hurry, apparently, the camera slung over one arm while she pressed what remained of a burger into her mouth. The van was waiting and before she leapt up into its passenger seat she made a show of producing a side of fries from her purse. The boyfriend high-fived her as they drove away. The next day Cody made sure to be washing dishes when the girl’s shift ended.

The gossip about her had not subsided, though, no matter how much Cody resisted hearing it. The appearance of a significant other had doubled the intrigue surrounding the girl. When it became apparent that both girlfriend and boyfriend were somewhat eccentric the inquiry all but caught fire.

Thursday night a flurry of texts flew out from the evening shift of the burger joint. They were forwarded to Cody by an all too entertained Myron and arrived in such a mass that Cody gave in to reading them.

Apparently the curious couple had appeared at the greasy spoon around midnight. They were impressively drunk and were only barely intelligible enough to place an order. And it was an incredible order, a veritable hamburger feast that couldn’t have been for just the two of them, big as this boyfriend apparently was. Once they had stumbled out of the shop, loaded down with a few overstuffed paper bags, they had weaved off through the parking lot, but not to any car.

An enterprising night security watchman reported helpfully that the inebriated pair had safely made their way to an apartment complex behind the shopping center. A sales associate from the clothiers, who had a few friends living in the complex, was apparently investigating who was throwing the big party on a Thursday night. No answers came and Cody fell asleep waiting.

Friday morning, nothing new came in save for a rumor that the girl hadn’t shown up at the bank that day. An insider confirmed this to the bagel shop ladies, explaining that Cisley had switched shifts for the day to cover for someone. With the possibility of scandal diminished, interest waned and Cody’s phone finally stopped buzzing.

The calm period permitted him time to return to thoughts of his project. He had brought his nicer camera to work, planning to stop by the lake after his shift, and was composing shots in his head.

A little before eleven Myron indicated that he was off for a smoke break and disappeared. Cody, sulking behind the counter, peered through the window and watched his coworker dash across the road to Blythe’s gym.

While he was watching, he caught sight of a short form ambling toward the store. It was Cisley, walking slowly and deliberately, head down.

Cody tensed and involuntarily checked the freshness of the cheese curds, but caught himself. No need for adrenaline anymore; she was someone else’s worry. He resumed sulking, but gave the girl a friendly smile as she stepped through the door.

She stopped halfway across the threshold, hands to her ears. She fumbled quickly through her purse, dropping it in the process, and forced the headphones messily over her ears, then took a deep breath and came inside.

She was in her usual work attire, but it was sloppier than usual. The vest was a little askew, the shirt wasn’t buttoned as far up as usual, and it was haphazardly tucked into the skirt. The clothes were all rumpled. Her brown ringlets were somewhat mussed—they were usually restrained by the big sunglasses she’d flip up when she came in, but these remained solidly over her eyes. She wobbled on her feet a little as she came in as if unused to her heels.

It must have been a spectacular party, Cody realized, watching her approach. She steadied herself on the counter, sighed, and gave him a weary smile.

He waved a hand customarily at the hot case and whipped out a tray. Instead of her usual endless selection process, however, she nodded, shrugged, and gestured vaguely at him. Before he could give her a questioning eye, she turned and headed toward the register. There she waited, swaying slightly.

Cody frowned, but loaded up a plate with fried chicken and a basket of cheese curds. He tilted the tray toward her for her approval and her face lit up behind the sunglasses. Then, feeling bold, he added an extra tongful of curds to the basket and gave her a conspiratorial grin.

A thumbs-up answered him and he rang her up. She took longer than usual to pay, needing a few tries to think of which bills to give him, but smiled throughout. Cody handed her the change and her receipt atop her forgotten novel.

After a moment of slow realization, she exploded with glee. The lost treasure was found. Caught in the moment, she jumped up and gave him an awkward hug across the counter.

Time froze as Cody soaked in the moment. Her bosom pressed against his chest and he tensed against its softness. A fragrance overwhelmed him; it was delicious and feminine, but excessively applied in attempt to cover the smell of the party. Her arms wrapped about him more tightly than he had expected and this evidence of her appreciation released the floodgates of his hormones. She felt invitingly, addictively soft.

She let go and slipped back, nearly losing her balance as she landed. She caught herself, smoothed her blouse, and departed with the tray.

He watched her fill up a large soft drink, then turned to head into the kitchen. He didn’t make it, though, for when she reached her booth she managed to spill the drink.

She waved him off before he could round the counter to help clean. He grimaced, but she held up a handful of napkins and gestured for him to go away. He did so, but came back a few moments later with a newly-filled cup.

Her face flashing back and forth from humiliation to gratitude, she accepted the drink with a sigh and sat back into the booth. Cody gathered up the soaked napkins and reluctantly left the girl in peace.

Cisley lounged idly in the booth for a few minutes. Her head drooped a few times and quickly snapped back up as she caught herself drifting off. Cody smirked to himself, scratched at the back of his head, and slipped back into the kitchen.

He kept himself from watching her this time, feeling he had already done too much. It was a real effort, however, and thoughts of her kept infiltrating his attention as he washed the dishes Myron had abandoned.

They were distracting thoughts, embarrassingly implausible. A fantastical scene involving a fantastical version of Cisley, maybe two hundred pounds heavier, her new fat body sprawled on the kitchen prep table, eyes bright with satisfaction as Cody shoved French fries into her mouth and tore off her clothes in advance of other purposes…

He threw a pan back into the washtub, splashing himself with suds. Defeated, he backed up three steps to where he knew his line of sight would be and peered through the oily window into the front room.

Cisley was pushing away her emptied tray and finishing off her drink. She stifled a burp and hefted her purse onto the table.

A voice somewhere reminded Cody he had decided to stop playing the voyeur, but he was frozen.

Stifling another burp, Cisley quickly unbuttoned her blouse and, reaching into her purse, stood up out of the booth. Then she abruptly vanished.

Perhaps her coordination hadn’t fully returned after her long night of indulgence, or perhaps the floor was still wet from the spill. Regardless, she had lost her footing and tumbled to the tiles. Cody hurried out and around the counter, cursing himself for his chauvinist sense of heroism.

Cisley had sat up by the time he arrived, brushing the hair out of her face. She had suffered no damage, but her camera appeared to have shattered. Fragments of the black casing and even shards of the lens had exploded across the floor.

Cody tried to move in several directions at once. After a few halting moments he settled on picking up the camera and its pieces.

Unsure what to do with the handful of wreckage, he glanced up at Cisley. She sat defeatedly against the side of the booth. She had pulled off the sunglasses and was staring back at him with overtired eyes. The blouse hung open and the white tank was pulled up above her abdomen. Her tummy pooched over the skirt, looking not only bloated from her big lunch but noticeably softer than weeks previous.

She must have realized what his eyes had darted down to, because she promptly flushed. Cody looked dutifully back to the camera in his hands.

It was—had been, rather—a nice digital camera, an amateurish version of his own. Struck with desperate inspiration, he flipped over the casing and plucked out the memory card.

Cisley didn’t protest, but did give him a confused look. He gestured for her to wait, dashed off, and returned with his own camera.

He popped out his memory card and replaced it with hers. It loaded up just fine; he demonstrated this for her to see and then offered her the camera with as reassuring a smile as he could muster.

She blinked at it, but rather than accepting it climbed carefully to her feet. Cody sank, feeling the power of his sudden inspiration deflate. His thoughts screamed at him for not staying in the kitchen where he could spare her embarrassment and the insult of his attention.

Steadying herself with one hand on the table, she pulled the sides of her blouse back, exposing her pale food baby, and cocked an eyebrow down at Cody.

His only reply was an uncomprehending stare.

Her chest bounced and she barely stifled a large belch. She tugged down on the waistband of her skirt to give her underbelly some air and gestured for Cody to hurry up, glancing out the window.

He fumbled with the camera and pointed it up at her, only to hesitate and move his hands around to ask what angles she wanted and at what distance and—

She simply jabbed a finger at her stomach and bounced on her heels with anxious impatience. Cody nodded and brought the viewfinder to his eye. He took far longer than she clearly desired to line up his shot, but snapped three or four pictures before she whipped her tank top back down and began buttoning the blouse.

Cody exhaled at last and pulled out the memory card. Cisley accepted it and held it up to hold his attention.

She pointed to it, then to herself, then to him, and finally to the floor of the restaurant. A sweep of her hand then indicated that nothing else was included.

Cody nodded.

She pantomimed a talking hand and then drew a line across her throat with a more serious glare Cody could have expected from such a cherubic face. Cody nodded again and crossed his heart.

Cisley dumped the ruins of her camera into her purse, checked the clock on the wall, and departed with no more ceremony than a hurried, furtive nod.

Cody remained on the floor, petrified, staring at nothing. His eyes weren’t of any particular use, since his mind was occupied with sights it had already seen.
Criticism is so often nothing more than the eye garrulously denouncing the shape of the peephole that gives access to hidden treasure.
-Djuna Barnes, writer and artist
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Old 06-05-2015, 06:22 AM   #4
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Chapter four

The image remained in Cody’s head, its reality more salient and more appealing than the fantasies it quickly replaced. As he looked up at her from the floor, four beautiful orbs had gazed back down at him: the roundness of her inviting face, overlapped by the roundness of her plump breasts, overlapped by the slighter roundness of her bloated stomach. The landscape of flesh and fabric called to him like a work of art.

The rumor mill hadn’t picked up on the incident, thankfully. It had all but dropped the subject of Cisley since her wild night and over the weekend moved on to some girl that Garret from the electronics store had been seen with.

Normal daily rhythm resumed. Every day when her shift ended Cisley could be seen headed either to the apartment complex or to her boyfriend’s car. Her rounds continued as normal: bagel shop on Monday, soup cafe on Tuesday, burger joint on Wednesday, deli on Thursday, and, to Cody’s great delight, 'Chickin Kitchin' on Friday.

She was much cheerier this time, though she still conducted herself as though carrying a deadly secret. Her headphones were on before she even reached the door and she greeted Cody with a friendly wave as she skipped up to the counter.

Cody smiled in reply. Her face was looking a little fuller and he noticed a little pinch in the fabric where the blouse was tucked into the skirt. She twisted side to side with playful indecision as she pondered the hot case.

Cody filled a basket with cheese curds while she considered, bobbing his head with the music. When she had decided, he added the curds to her meal as a complimentary extra and presented the full tray with unnecessary ceremony.

Cisley blushed and accepted it happily, though only after a cautious glance out the window. She hesitated before turning, mouth ready to say something, but she thought better of it and headed off to her regular booth.

She tucked into her meal with unusual hurry, periodically giving her watch a nervous check. Her apparent discomfort quickly made Cody feel guilty—his mind turned over several fabricated excuses to go over to the booth, but got nowhere.

He took a tentative step forward, out from behind the counter. She looked up, midway through pushing a few fries into her mouth, and he hurriedly made a show of wiping down the beverage station. She returned to her book and her meal and Cody returned to the counter. He nearly made another foray out to her, but caught himself. He spent half a minute stepping forward, turning around with a grimace, stepping back, gathering his limited confidence, and stepping forward again.

In the end he made an executive decision and retreated into the kitchen. Myron was asleep in the storage closet, which was a blessing. Alone and unseen, Cody wrung his hands, ran his fingers through his hair, ripped off his apron, balled it up, and hurled it against the wall. It hung there a moment in shock, then peeled off the wall and plopped vindictively into the greasy suds of the wash basin.

He went over with a sigh and fished around for it. The cinema in his mind found it to be an appropriate time to play a new fantasy: Cody splashing around in that very basin with a much larger Cisley, so full of cheese curds that she barely fit. He dwelled awhile on the thought of washing her abundance and the effort of extracting her from the basin.

A new, dry apron was procured. He had just finished fastening it behind his waist when he caught sight of the real Cisley tapping on the kitchen window. He hurriedly smoothed the front of his apron, the color gone from his face.

She smiled sheepishly and gave him a little wave. He cautiously waved back. She held up two hands to the window, thumbs and forefingers at right angles in the universal sign for ‘camera’ with a hopeful look on her face.

Cody slowly comprehended and eventually nodded, trying to restrain his enthusiasm. He trotted over and pushed through the door; she playfully made him push her with it, giving him a look of childish mischief through the window. He followed suit by continuing to open the door until she was trapped behind it and squeezed her gently against the wall.

They laughed through the glass at one another and Cody held the door there with his foot while reaching under the counter for his camera.

Her hand reached around the door, a memory card in its fingers. She played keepaway with it a while before he finally plucked it from her grasp. He shoved it into his camera and released the door.

It swung away and there stood Cisley, blouse open, tank rolled up, skirt unbuttoned, stomach out. She cocked her hips in a quick pose.

Cody marveled as he angled the camera for several shots. Her little gut was already softer than it had been the week before, swelling gently forward over the opened skirt’s waistband. The smooth skin gleamed as the afternoon sun streamed in from the windows.

Her eyes darted down suddenly and probably caught his dumbfounded expression before he could recover any poise, but she simply smirked and looked back up to keep watch. Cody laughed it off nervously and raised the camera again.

After a few more shots, she sucked in with a gentle wince and hurriedly closed up the skirt. She buttoned herself down and nodded to Cody in thanks. He returned the memory card and bowed politely.

Outside, a large van rolled to a halt at the curb. It filled the shop’s window and cast a shadow across everything in Chickin Kitchin but Cisley, who stood beaming in a sliver of light.

She waved out to the van, gave Cody a cordial smile and a furtive wave, and skipped out. Cody did his best to give her the same halfhearted acknowledgement he would give any other customer’s departure, but his eyes lingered nonetheless on her adorable backside, which—even wrapped in that snug skirt—had begun to bounce with notably less firmness.

It even gave a little wobble when she leapt up into the passenger seat and it waved back and forth as she leaned across the give the driver a long, sensual kiss. Cody’s smile fell; he beat the counter with his knuckles until they had driven off, and then he beat it with his forehead.
Criticism is so often nothing more than the eye garrulously denouncing the shape of the peephole that gives access to hidden treasure.
-Djuna Barnes, writer and artist
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Old 06-05-2015, 06:23 AM   #5
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Chapter five

Cody had never once in his eighteen months as an employee looked forward to a day at Chickin Kitchin. His shifts there had never been more than a necessary drudgery made bearable by occasional amusement and the knowledge of its impermanence.

When the next Friday arrived, however, when he launched himself out of bed without a single thought toward the snooze button, when he whistled cheerily throughout his morning routine, and when he slung his camera case over his shoulder, he couldn’t deny that he was eager to be behind the store’s greasy old counter. It was of course true that he wasn’t looking forward to the part of his job where he actually did his job, but Cody still felt saintly compared to his co-worker and allowed himself no guilt.

It suddenly became the happiest summer he had ever known. Part of him was irritated that he had found this happiness working in fast food—shouldn’t he have to give to the poor for that, or travel to Nepal, or see his grandchildren born?—but there was a beautiful young woman gaining weight in front of his very eyes and she was smiling as she did it.

He stopped pushing away his fantasies. They ran around his head with abandon, liberated from years of repression. They weren’t embarrassing anymore. He didn’t have to feel guilty about them. There was at least one woman, and therefore likely many women, who found satisfaction in growth.

The food at Chickin Kitchin ceased to be slough he simply distributed to strangers. It was like serving lingerie. Everything he dropped into the fryer he imagined dropping into Cisley’s hungry mouth. In his mind’s eye she’d lick her lips as he battered a new batch, rubbing her greedy hands together. When he clocked out at the end of each day, imaginary Cisley would lean back, satisfied, and pat her imaginary belly with a sensuous, imaginary wink.

It was usually an unrealistic Cisley. She was round and obese, always sitting lazily and gazing at him over her swollen breasts and cartoonishly engorged gut. It was a quaggy globe, rising from her like a lightly-tanned dome. She cradled it with arms too short to reach around it to each other, or sometimes just rest her hands atop it, plucking at the flesh to create seductive ripples. She’d have a jug of milk or cream in each pudgy fist and a dribble of white running from the corner of her mouth. She would lounge on a bed of French fries or take a dip in a hot tub of cheese or paddle around a pool of cherry coke. She’d shimmy her blubber and tear herself from her strained clothes. She’d look up at Cody and bite her bottom lip—there was no room for the van-driving boyfriend in Cody's Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Cody had finally stopped admonishing himself for his imagination. He thought of himself as an artist, after all; it couldn’t be a terrible thing for him to be a dreamer.

And no matter how outrageous his dreams became, no matter how unlike Cisley his fantasy Cisley became, on Friday afternoons reality Cisley would effortlessly prove herself to be even more wonderful. Though there was in reality much less of her, there was in reality much more to her.

It was that cherubic face that made him catch his breath every time she snuck into the restaurant. She’d push her hair out of the way to put on the headphones, which gave him a free moment to admire her. It was an indefatigably cheerful face, apparently as delighted to see him as he was to see her. Its light tan was punctuated by bright blue eyes whose gleaming proved her smiles genuine.

Those smiles dimpled her softening cheeks. They were rounding out quickly into chubby cheeks, giving her an even more adorable and inviting babyface. And below her dainty chin could soon be seen a widening pouch of indulgent flesh. It wobbled ever so slightly when she moved about and her chin would disappear into it when she laughed. The second chin was a thing of exquisite beauty to Cody and he noted that it was growing as quickly as—or perhaps more quickly than, even—her midsection.

Over the happy weeks her abdomen had grown to fill out what had been a loose-fitting blouse. The pale fabric smoothed out and took on the shape of her developing muffin-top; a lip of softness ringed her waistline and the rounded pouch of her belly swelled gently forward between two very slight love-handles.

Her breasts grew rounder, too, and her cleavage deepened and lengthened. As the weeks passed she began to leave an additional button undone, allowing the edges of her bra to peek out at certain angles. The skirt grew ever tighter, soon pinching her thickening thighs where it ended and so snug across her bouncing butt her the outline of her underwear was easily visible. The outline would sway hypnotically as she sashayed playfully up to the counter.

She’d fidget with her outgrown uniform as she decided on her meal. The deciding process was always slow and methodical, but Cody was happy to wait. Her meal grew each week as she did—often an additional side dish, or seconds of the entrée—and always included an increasingly overfilled basket of cheese curds.

She’d bite her bottom lip as Cody tonged them into the basket. He’d see this, give her a conspiratorial smile, and plop in another tongful. This would invariably cause her to squirm with delight and as the weeks went by her squirming gradually began to turn into jiggling.

Cody stopped retreating into the kitchen at this point. As Cisley made her way over to her booth, stopping to fill her extra-large soft drink, he would find something on the front counter to clean, or decide it to be an appropriate time to sweep the dining room.

Whenever he passed her she would look up from her food and her book—a new installment in her seafaring series each week—and give him a gracious smile, chin creasing. He’d smile back and each time would venture a slightly bolder attempt at interaction. How was the food (thumbs up), would she like a refill (shrug, then a cheery nod), and which book was this one (here, have a look)?

One magical Friday, after reading the back cover of the latest novel and passing it back, he noticed that she had already finished the cheese curds. It struck him as odd, for she typically saved them for last, but this week had inhaled them and pushed the basket away before moving on to her meal. Feeling mischievous, Cody did his service-industry duty and took the empty basket away with him.

He returned, however, with a fresh basket. She gaped at it with the surprised glee of a child opening a present and thanked him vehemently. Her gratitude emboldened him and with a terrifying leap of faith he sat down across the table from her.

To his immense relief she barely reacted, as though his joining her in the booth was normal and expected. She merely gave him the welcoming smile of an old friend and continued her fast food feast.

Cody glanced out the window. There was no sign of the boyfriend’s van nor the increasingly absentee Myron. He hadn’t had a customer beside Cisley for nearly an hour and there were no dishes left to be done. Cody reached into his apron pocket and pulled out a paperback: the first installment of Cisley’s seafaring series.

She watched him open it to the bookmark at halfway. He gave her a grimacing thumbs-up in an attempt to convey ‘pleasantly surprised’, a review of which she clearly approved. They read silently across from one another, Cisley methodically eating with one hand and turning pages with the other until no food remained.

She shut her book and leaned back, body lurching with a sated hiccup. Cody met her eyes; she patted her food baby appreciatively, exhaling slowly, and began to unbutton her blouse. Cody nodded and hopped out of the booth to fetch his camera.

Cody had successfully added himself to her weekly routine. She would enter—chin and gut bulging just a little more each time—order, receive her ever-increasing load of food, sit down in her booth, and set about reading and feeding. Cody would observe her—wondering at the snugness of the blouse and the elasticity of the skirt—serve her her ever-increasing load of food, fill up her soft drink, bring it to the booth, and sit down to join her in reading. He’d attend to every refill and find excuses to bring second helpings. She’d cradle her growing midsection and playfully gesture that he was to blame.

On one occasion when she did this, he picked up a stray cheese curd and pushed it into her mouth. She gave him a playful look, but when he tried again she stopped her hand, reminding him as politely as possible that he was crossing into someone else’s territory.

Cody frowned at himself, hating that the reality of the boyfriend had intruded upon his weekly hour of fantasy, but apologized and returned to the other side of the booth. He buried himself in the book till the end of the meal.

When she was finished, though, she stopped him from getting up for the camera. He froze in his seat, fearing that he had ruined everything.

She gestured for him to wait. Her face was pained and she breathed slowly between the belches and hiccups; each seemed to add to her discomfort. She massaged her gut gingerly, but apparently to no avail.

Cody’s fear turned to concern. Had they gone too far?

Motioning for him to stay in his seat, Cisley slid slowly out of hers. She pushed herself to her feet—the skirt was already unbuttoned and the low roll of her gut was poking out beneath the rapidly shrinking blouse—and edged herself around the table.

She turned and lowered herself onto Cody’s bench. He turned to offer what support he could, careful not to touch her where someone who wasn’t the boyfriend shouldn’t. She ignored his propriety, however, and simply leaned herself back against him, reclining into his arms.

He held her there a moment, confused but thrilled. He could feel a relaxation in her body as he took her weight and he could feel her whole being shake with a stifled hiccup.

She reached back and took hold of each of his wrists. She guided his hands around, pressed them against her belly—stretched to firm roundness by the meal, yet still covered in a plush layer of softness—and moved them back and forth in little circles until he finally got the idea and began massaging.

Cody’s mind raced. He fretted over providing the perfect belly rub. He shifted in his seat with vain desperation to conceal or at least mitigate his inappropriate but indisputable arousal.

She never acknowledged it, though. Instead she released his wrists and set about unbuttoning her blouse. She sighed deeply when it was finally opened and rolled up her top, allowing and inviting Cody to knead her naked flesh. He did so, though tentatively at first, glancing about in paranoid horror.

She leaned her head back onto his shoulder, eyes closed, calming him. The massage was clearly helping. She basked in her limit-pushing overindulgence, the warmth in her overfilled stomach spreading throughout her body. She enjoyed the bout of hiccups rocking her like a partygoer enjoying a good buzz.

They remained there a long time, until Cody noticed in the corner of his eye a minivan pulling into the parking lot.

His thoughts filled suddenly with vicious cursing (at both the van and himself), he gave the belly one last, bittersweet squeeze and gently nudged Cisley into sitting up.

She caught sight of the van and bolted to her feet, fingers already buttoning the blouse.

The weekly hour of happiness had ended. Cody regretted its conclusion, but smiled as she hurried out the door, knowing he had images and sensations and memories to cherish and relive until the next such hour should arrive.

And like a blessed gift it did arrive again, a brief interlude of happiness each Friday afternoon. Soon they were sharing the bench throughout the meal. Soon the blouse was much opened much earlier; soon Cody’s hands were on Cisley’s growing gut as soon as they sat down.

It was always all too brief and always interrupted by reality, but in the midst of an otherwise dead, humid Midwestern summer, with nothing else to look forward to but drudgery, it was all Cody could want.
Criticism is so often nothing more than the eye garrulously denouncing the shape of the peephole that gives access to hidden treasure.
-Djuna Barnes, writer and artist
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Old 06-05-2015, 06:24 AM   #6
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Chapter six

Sometimes Cody allowed himself to wonder about Cisley’s motives and decisions, but he generally regretted it. No answers were forthcoming outside baseless assumptions in his mind and those were invariably discomforting.

It was possible, in the best of these assumptions, that she felt for him something akin to what he felt for her. If so, however, it wasn’t felt to nearly the same degree. As genuine as her friendliness and attention seemed, they were eclipsed by the affection and urgent primacy reserved for her boyfriend. His arrival interrupted and superseded all other matters. The hugs she gave Cody were no doubt genuine, but they were several orders or magnitude removed from the embraces she gave Mr. Minivan.

He consumed her attention—but only when present. Cody had asked Myron about it, who had offered only the suggestion that Cody man up and sleep with her. This method had certainly worked in Myron’s courtship of Blythe.

It was possible that Cisley felt nothing for him whatsoever, also. He was merely a service industry worker providing her with a service. It was of course an unusual service and as such she offered him an unusual tip in exchange. He indulged her material appetite and in return she indulged his sensual appetite. It seemed to explain her shamelessness in being stared at, photographed, and touched: Cody was neither a threat to her relationship or a potential partner, he was merely a useful instrument.

It stood to reason, in his pessimistic imagination. She had made no effort to expand their interaction beyond their one hour each Friday and never seemed particularly reluctant for the hour to end. Her weekly routine, her cycle of the restaurants, never varied.

Did she have a Cody in each restaurant? Was one of the stoners at the greasy spoon shoving burgers into her mouth every Wednesday? Was one of those haughty yuppies pouring soup down her throat every Tuesday? As she made the rounds of restaurants was she also making the rounds of deluded devotees? Was she taking advantage of their lonely enthusiasm, teasing them to better please her boyfriend?

This last line of thought made Cody shiver. He disliked that the fruits of his labors were being reaped by another man. When he gleefully headed to work each Friday morning, was he actually gleeful for the opportunity to help arouse some asshole in a minivan?

He remained gleeful nonetheless. It was much easier not to worry himself with all the negative thoughts; though they crept up on him more and more frequently he grew more skilled at quickly shoving them aside. Cody was a practiced master of denial and procrastination.

Moreover, one dominant fact reigned supreme: every Friday he got to observe, encourage, assist, and ultimately touch a beautiful young woman who was deliberately gaining weight.

It kept Cody in a good enough mood that angry or troublesome customers no longer bothered him, that the looming schoolyear no longer frightened him, and that he even felt genuinely happy for Myron when it was announced that he would be moving in with Blythe. He wasn’t even offended that he heard the news from gossipy Theresa at the clothier’s rather than from Myron himself.

His co-worker’s romantic success quickly reopened the issue of his own romantic ambiguity. His glee at the thought of Cisley had shadows behind it, shadows of important and impending questions.

Cody made himself a deal: he’d make a gesture that would elicit a clear response from her. If the response were affectionate, he could allow himself the fantasy of their future and seek to expand their weekly hour of courtship. If the response were anything else, he would withdraw emotionally and be content with the weekly hour of living pornography. Doing so wouldn’t be easy, he admitted, but it could bring certainty and closure.

He came armed the following Friday with a gift. He tucked it under the counter behind his textbook and waited through his shift more impatiently than ever. He distracted himself awhile by laughing at and subsequently consoling Myron, who had suddenly become very nervous about the commitment he had made.

Myron’s nerves calmed the instant Blythe peeked her head into the store. He announced that he would be taking his break and the couple snuck off somewhere. Cody watched them go, musing that as attractive as Blythe certainly was—dark hair, olive skin, a celebrity face, and a lithe, athletic body hugged by workout clothes—his libido barely spared her a thought.

His experiences with Cisley, ambiguous as they may have been, had at least disambiguated his preferences in women. His fantasies of fat were no longer odd, occasional urges, but his stated goal. It was invigorating.

Alone in the store at last, he pulled out his gift: two tickets to the ‘Taste of Thalia’. He had never himself been to the city’s annual end-of-the-summer-festival, but had heard it described as a nonstop extravaganza of food, all prepared by local growers and the independent restaurants for which the city was famous. The event was over a month away, but tickets could be hard to come by.

Dreaming of taking Cisley on a feasting tour of indulgence from vendor to vendor, Cody did his best to wrap the gift. He slipped the tickets into an envelope, wrote her name on it, and covered the rest of the envelope in to-go box labels. It seemed appropriate.

He tucked it hurriedly into his pocket when she finally came bouncing into the store, her muffin-top weighing down her blouse and her chin wobbling noticeably. They proceeded through their usual routine and Cody managed to slip the envelope onto her tray without her noticing.

She shuffled over to the booth, already pushing a cheese curd into her mouth on the way. Cody watched her butt jiggle, then headed to the pop fountain to fill up her two cups.

Halfway through the second cup, he glanced back over to her. She had discovered and opened the envelope and her eyes were darting back and forth from the tickets to Cody. Her face lit up with uninhibited glee and she tried to mouth her thanks through the roar of the music.

Cody nodded and smiled. He tried to think of a suave way to ensure that the second ticket was for himself, not the boyfriend, but froze suddenly, gaping out the window.

Cisley caught his gaze and turned. Her boyfriend stood outside, tapping on the glass for her attention. She jumped from her seat—not as spryly as she once would have under her extra padding and in her tightening clothes—as delighted to see the boyfriend as she had been to see the tickets.

Cody frowned as she skipped outside. He gently set the beverages at her table with as much professional detachment as he could manage, stealing glances at the couple as they met.

She was half the man’s height. He was enormous and powerfully built, with the countenance of a linebacker. Muscles bulged through his expensive shirt; he had probably sailed a boat through a storm and rescued a puppy on his way over. Cody bristled, feeling scrawny and hapless.

Cisley waved the tickets in the man’s face as if they were new lingerie and Cody’s heart sank.

But Cisley’s expression sank, too, when she saw that her boyfriend’s face carried the weight of bad news. She gave him a look of confused concern as he shook his head, clearly steeling himself for whatever he had to say.

Cody had retreated to behind the counter in a vague attempt to conceal his spying. He couldn’t read lips and the boyfriend didn’t gesticulate much, but Cisley’s reaction translated it for him. Her eyes went wide in shock, then denial, then horror, then anger, and then despair as her boyfriend spoke. Her lips slowly began to quiver and the tickets fell from her hands.

She said something, but he shook his head at it. She exploded. Her fury couldn’t be heard through the glass and the music, but in the distance a few customers heading to and from their cars could be seen craning their necks to investigate.

The boyfriend, evidently a class act, reached out to calm her and had his hand swatted away. Cody continued wiping the same square foot of the counter.

Cisley raged on. She grabbed her belly with both hands, lifting it from the waistband of her skirt and squeezing it to show how much it had grown. She plucked at the blouse to show how it had shrunk, she tugged at the softness under her chin, she gestured in the direction of the bank, and mimed the judgmental looks she had evidently been receiving. She shook her gut at him and pointed accusatorily at his crotch, then twice more for emphasis as she screamed. She desperately clutched her midsection again and then held out her hands to him with a look of exasperation.

This proved to be the climax of her rebuke and she fell silent, glaring defeatedly up at him. They were still for a long moment, until the man responded: to all her rage he answered with only a shrug and an apologetic shaking of his head.

She gaped at him, appalled, tears streaming down her pudgy cheeks, and then stalked away, her untucked belly jiggling with her anger.

The ex-boyfriend sighed and looked around. He eventually caught Cody’s gaze. Cody, knowing that looking suddenly away would appear suspicious, met the stare and cocked an eyebrow. The man nodded in the direction of Cisley’s departure and rolled his eyes.

Cody grimaced at him. The coward in him wanted to feign some masculine sympathy. The hero in him wanted the tackle him into the parking lot and beat him to death with a hot frying basket. Instead he dropped the rag, turned, and stalked into the kitchen.
Criticism is so often nothing more than the eye garrulously denouncing the shape of the peephole that gives access to hidden treasure.
-Djuna Barnes, writer and artist
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Old 06-05-2015, 06:24 AM   #7
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Chapter seven

Later, Cody had retrieved the tickets from the sidewalk and torn them up. His fantasies had come crashing down in a fiery, catastrophic return to reality. There was little point dwelling upon them.

The noisy midday breakup scene received surprisingly little attention in the gossip network. The news that an antisocial bank teller had been dumped for letting herself go was hardly scandalous. No one knew the reason for her gaining; no one had any reason to assume anything but that she had grown complacent and lazy once finding a man. Most who saw the report just grinned with smug spite.

The story was buried anyway beneath a flurry of fresh, more interesting news items. The girls at the clothiers, somehow all single, had agreed to organize a series of blind dates for one another and everyone in the plaza seemed obligated to offer suggestions, mostly unhelpful. There was also a great deal of discussion about Myron and Blythe’s planned cohabitation, a story about someone’s cousin moving into a haunted house up north, and anticipation of the upcoming season of reality show 'One Magical Evening'.

It was all very irritating, as for the first time ever Cody had eagerly awaited the gossip.

There was no further word of Cisley, however. After a long weekend of confused self-loathing he resolved to get a hold of her at some point. He had no idea what purpose it would serve, for surely she had no desire to immediately throw herself upon a man whose appreciation for indulgence so perfectly reflected the ruin of her relationship.

What a fool her boyfriend had been. Cody was familiar with the type: to this man the fetish had been a passing fancy, a passing curiosity to explore and—finding it less satisfying than anticipated—dismiss. Presumably he had decided that liking big boobs and big butts meant he liked big women and in convincing himself to like fat he had convinced his woman to become fat. But between the big boobs and a big butt there had developed a big belly. Reality had not lived up to his fantasies and now his buddies and their model-skinny girlfriends were questioning his manliness and his taste in women.

Cody’s taste was unquestionable: he wanted Cisley. He stared all day Monday at the doors of the bank, waiting for her to shuffle out and head to the bagel shop.

But when at last she did shuffle out, she was dressed not in her uniform but in a baggy shirt and some ratty old shorts. And rather than head to the bagel shop, she took a deep breath and jogged off down the road.

Cody froze. He had planned to intercept her, to talk to her, to confront her with his reality, to be there for her…but now it seemed wrong. He was a memory of her old lifestyle, something to move on from. Maybe there was indeed a Cody in each restaurant; maybe they were all now left behind as she jogged away from them.

He wanted to stop her, to tell her not to give in, that she was perfect. But it was her life and her body and it felt wrong to fetishize her more than she already had been. He spun in his bed that night, utterly sleepless, loathing himself, wondering if he had ever had a chance, or if he had made everything worse; had his real fetish done as much to hurt Cisley as her boyfriend’s fake fetish had?

The next day, halfway through his shift, the storm in his mind suddenly fell into purposeful order. It was like a motor finally turning over and locking into gear.

He unknotted his apron and tossed it to Myron. Myron made no effort whatsoever to catch it, but got the point. Cody gave him a soldierly nod and marched out the door of Chickin Kitchin.

He set about weaving his way through the parking lot, so intent on upon his goal that he never thought to take the earplugs from his ears. The hot, sunbaked world outside the music-filled kitchen offered only white silence to him.

First Bank of Thalia loomed over its corner of the plaza like a royal palace, the only building in sight not designed to fit in. Its windows were tinted and its façade conveyed every essence of the 1990s nuveau-riche.

Cody paused at its garish doors for a deep, steeling breath, then pushed his way inside.

He blinked a few moments in the dimmer light, his skin bristling at a sudden blast of air conditioning. It was strange, he realized as he looked around, to be in a building designed for some level of comfort and ambiance. Chickin Kitchen always seemed to have been designed for discomfort.

Movement caught his eye. One of the tellers was waving at him. She was a well-dressed old woman doing her best to look friendly and welcoming; she was asking him something, but he heard nothing through the earplugs.

Cody pointed in reply to her questions. She followed his gaze to the booth behind her, where a small, pudgy brunette sat with her back to them. The old teller tapped the young teller on her shoulder and said something.

Cisley sat up and twisted around, but froze when she saw Cody.

He froze in response, his mind immediately deleting commpletely the brilliantly-worded speech he had composed that morning in the shower. They stared at one another for a few moments of silent terror.

Eventually, after a deep breath, Cody reached out a foot to step forward. He pulled his hand from his pocket, and with it a small envelope.

But Cisley shook her head, lip quivering. He hesitated and held up the envelope, but she shook her head again, violently. She jumped up from her seat and hurried off into the offices, out of sight.

The older teller gave Cody a scowl; he opened and closed his mouth a few times, scratching the back of his head. She gestured for him to leave.

He nodded and began backing toward the door. Before departing, however, he held the envelope up for the teller to see and set it gently on a convenient counter-top. The teller squinted at the envelope, then resumed glaring at him until he had backed through the doors and out of the bank forever.

Cisley jogged every day that week. She made no acknowledgment of Cody or his parting gift and there was no further news of her in the gossip channels.

The following week, with the school year looming, Cody was transferred to Chickin Kitchin’s evening shift and he saw nothing of her for the remainder of the month.

The evening breeze began to cool off, the sun fell sooner and sooner, and what what had been Cody's most magical summer since childhood collapsed meekly into an early autumn.
Criticism is so often nothing more than the eye garrulously denouncing the shape of the peephole that gives access to hidden treasure.
-Djuna Barnes, writer and artist
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Old 06-05-2015, 06:25 AM   #8
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Chapter eight

The first week of classes came and went, and as a graduate student Cody had little to look forward to in school save more work. He sulked on campus during breaks, glaring at the undergrad couples showing off their love.

They drove him mad; prime young women entering the dining hall and taking their first steps toward the freshman fifteen, softened second year girls reuniting with their friends to plan parties on their way to the sophomore forty, juniors returning from a summer abroad loaded down with the weight of another culture’s cusine and a host family’s pampering, and seniors with nothing on their minds but beer and study snacks.

Cody tried passing his breaks in the library, which was generally empty so early in the year. The clerk there was amicable, if quiet, and they got along.

Then it was back to the fry kitchen and the evening rush. Customers were angrier at night, impatient for their fast food. Cody was relegated to the back, spared from them, and watched through the greasy window as his co-workers battled the hordes of the hungry. He didn’t envy his co-workers and they didn’t envy his imprisonment over the boiling oil.

It was his one small blessing: he could zone out and fry things, uninterrupted by human interaction. It was almost like sleeping and it afforded him the opportunity to dream.

He tried to dream happy dreams, but they would find unhappy directions. He would dream of Cisley, huge and his and happy, stuffed with cheese curds and eyeing him seductively over the mound of her flab, but then she would pull her thin self out of that fantasy body and jog away in tears.

He was dreaming as usual on the Friday before the Taste of Thalia was to begin. He was dreaming to try to push the thought from his mind, but it was difficult to keep his dreams from taking him there. He had considered trying to get a ticket just for himself, perhaps just to people-watch, but found himself instead standing over the fryer.

As the rush dwindled and orders slowed, Cody was summoned from the kitchen. He nodded in acknowledgment, pulled off his gloves, wiped his hands, and trudged out to the counter.

The sun was at just the right angle as it set to stream in the front windows and bathed the restaurant in gold. He squinted into it, blinking.

His older co-worker, seeing his confusion, jerked a thumb toward the register. Waiting there was Cisley.

She smiled nervously and gave him a small wave.

The motion of waving caused the rest of her body to shake; there was a lot, suddenly, to shake. Cody hadn’t seen her in over a month, but the amount she had grown in so short a time seemed impossible. Clearly she had given up on jogging.

Her blouse was entirely untucked—it didn’t reach to her waistband regardless—and the few buttons still fastened on it were dangerously strained. It rode up over a decedent swell of flab that spilled over her waistband and prevented her from buttoning her skirt. The skirt was in no danger of falling off, however, for it was stretched so tightly across a heavy butt that its seams looked weak and its hem cut painfully into quaggy thighs. As she smiled at Cody her chubby cheeks dimpled and her chin sank into the pouch of softness on her neck.

Cody hesitated a moment, gaping, unsure how to think or act. Then he leapt around the counter, wrapped his arms around her, and tried to lift her up, which proved a little more difficult.

But she giggled in his arms, pleasantly surprised at his reaction, and returned his hug. Her body squished up against him and Cody’s month’s worth of confusion and self-loathing evaporated. He couldn’t hide from it—Cisley made him happy. As they separated he tried to convey this with a relieved smile.

She blushed, bit her lip for a moment, and pulled something from her purse: an envelope. It had the word ‘sorry’ scribbled on it and the look in her eyes as she passed it to him said the same. The word was written in Cody’s handwriting and he now recognized it as the envelope he had given her a month earlier.

It had been opened. She reached in and plucked out the last-minute gift he had stuffed into it: a coupon for cheese curds. She made a show of licking her lips.

Cody grinned, relieved and quietly ecstatic. The gift could have been taken much less positively and had regretted not thinking it through more than he had. But she had liked it. He gave her a thumbs-up and turned to the counter, ready to serve.

She caught him, however, tugging him back by his apron, and handed him a new envelope.

He accepted the envelope and glanced around nervously, conscious that for the first time since they met he and Cisley were not alone in the store. Two of his co-workers were pretending to be occupied with something by the register and a handful of customers and small families were still finishing their dinners.

She caught his eye, gave him a reassuring smile, and motioned for him to just open the envelope. He nodded and did so. Inside were two tickets to the Taste of Thalia.

Suddenly lightheaded and out of breath, Cody gaped at her. He ran a hand through his hair.

Cisley bit her lip. Apparently she had expected some other reaction. To help him along, she gestured to him then back to herself a few times.

Realization flooded over Cody’s confused face and he violently nodded his head, yes, yes, yes.

Relief flooded over hers and she gave a little joyful hop.

She was however no longer little enough for such a hop. When she landed, the momentum of her expanded midsection proved to be too much; the few remaining buttons snapped and her blouse flew open.

Her gut swelled out, pushing the flaps of the shirt aside and the waistband of the skirt further down her hips. It was a magnificent, beautiful pot-belly with such smoothness and gravity that it attracted not only Cody’s aroused stare but the astonished eyes of everyone in the restaurant.

Her tanned skin flushed red. Her eyes went wide and her lips quivered.

Cody looked at her, looked at his co-workers and the customers staring at her, looked down at his feet, and then back up into her horrified eyes. She began to turn away to leave.

He caught her and forced her to look back at him. He stammered uselessly for a second before giving up on it and shaking his head at himself.

He looked into her eyes and sighed. He lightly touched her soft, heavy gut with one hand and placed his other over his chest. Then, after a deep and deeply nervous breath, he leaned in to kiss her.

The eyes on them, the gaping, half-laughing mouths, and the flurry of fingers to phones clawed at his mind, but they all quickly ceased to matter.
Criticism is so often nothing more than the eye garrulously denouncing the shape of the peephole that gives access to hidden treasure.
-Djuna Barnes, writer and artist
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Old 06-05-2015, 06:25 AM   #9
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That Saturday night, a mere day after the fiasco of revelations, a mass of text messages lit up the phones of the plaza’s young employees. Many contradictory rumors were flying and most were unsubstantiated, but it was clear that something remarkable was taking place.

Early in the evening there were numerous reports claiming that Cody and Cisley had stopped by for dinner, arm in arm. The reports were especially unusual in that they arrived from different restaurants.

It soon became clear that the pair had visited and dined at each of the plaza’s restaurants. Cody had fed his date five separate large dinners and had done so in full view of the evening crowds.

Theresa at the clothier’s reported that Cisley had picked out a snug, sparkly new dress. She had worn it out of the shop and according to the cashier it had barely fit her. But Cody had paraded her around nonetheless, staring lustily at her body as it threatened to burst through the fabric.

After this they had disappeared and most of the shops, Chickin Kitchin included, had closed for the evening. The burger joint, however, open late, reported a sighting a little after one in the morning.

Cody parked and guided his date into the greasy spoon. It was apparent that they had been clubbing and Cisley showed evidence of every kind of worldly indulgence.

Her body had burst through the dress after all, tearing along some of its seams. Her pot belly sloshed under the sparkling fabric, her love handles poked through the tears along the sides, and her breasts bounced dangerously as she staggered into the store, leaning on Cody for support.

She harassed him as he politely placed their order, cooing seductively into his ear and nibbling on his neck. He squeezed a roll of her fat and held her off long enough to exchange some money for a paper bag full of French fries.

Then they had disappeared into the night. The texts eventually stopped, though Cody and Cisley had only begun. The couple never spoke much afterward of their adventures, giving only conspiratorial grins when questioned, but rumor spread quickly over the next few days that they had snuck their French fries into Chickin Kitchin and had reveled in a way that nobody really understood.

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Criticism is so often nothing more than the eye garrulously denouncing the shape of the peephole that gives access to hidden treasure.
-Djuna Barnes, writer and artist
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