BOTH "525" - by agouderia (SSBHM, ~XWG, ~BBW, Dining)

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agouderia

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[Author's warning: This is another sad chapter ... so in case you don't want to read it .... But as we all know, the ups and downs in life mostly happen gradually, not abruptly - and Christopher's situation here is no exception.]


1, 2, 3 …..

1, 2, 3 …. now move his left leg, lift his head and try to raise his upper body … but as soon as there was only a minor bend in his spine, spasms of blinding pain raced through him, making any further movement impossible, letting his face drop back down on the mattress.
It was the dull, grey, cold first Monday in January – what a way to start a new year. He had already had trouble getting up to go to the bathroom and shower, but as he sat down to pull on his socks, the first lightning bolt of pain hit him - and the next thing he knew was he was half lying on the bed, half kneeling on the floor, face down and couldn’t move anymore. He couldn’t reach his cell phone, nor his land line …. what was he going to do? And who could help him?

Over the course of the morning, he tried several times to get up – only to be struck down again by pain. He heard his phone ring several times, he heard his cell ring even more often, but he couldn’t get to either one. As the clock struck noon, he started wondering how long he might have to stay in this position before anybody came looking for him. It was a normal Monday, nothing special; nobody in the hotel would miss him. His cleaning lady who had a key would not come back until Thursday afternoon …. would he survive that long lying here like this, helpless as a fat beetle on its back? Not only his back ached, but also his knees, his stomach churned and ached, his head …. Immobilized as he was, there was nothing he could do but wait.

Despite the pain, he must have dropped off to sleep sometime, because towards two, his door bell rang loudly several times. “I’m here, I’m here – can’t get up, call help!” he yelled desperately, doubting though that anybody would hear him over 3 floors with closed doors and windows. After a few minutes, he heard light steps on the stairs, for the first time in hours. Then a knock on his apartment door: “Christopher - are you there?”

Claire! Thank God – it was Claire! But how could she reach him? And how was her tiny self supposed to help move his huge body? “I’m here Claire, can’t get up! Something with my back – call help…”

But she was already in his bedroom, her hands on his shoulders, trying to help him: “Oh my god … Christopher … what happened? Your back? Let me try to help you….” yet couldn’t help him raise his heavy body one bit.

“Thank you for coming,” awash with relief. “How did you get in?”

“Tricia has your key in the safe, right? All of us in the hotel were so worried when we couldn’t reach you! Yeah, and since you haven’t been well lately – I thought it’s better to come check on you….. Now we need help!”


Which humiliating things exactly happened during the next hour defied his memory, but Claire organized the hotel’s movers, his orthopedic surgeon, dashing Dr. Kalamidis, and the motherly hotel physician, Dr. Preston. They all congregated around his bed as he had been settled on it, lying on his back like a dying tortoise with his legs propped up on an instable pile of pillows and blankets.

“Well, well …. Christopher … what are you doing? Have you forgotten your back exercises? You did such a good job in healing and strengthening your back… and from what I can see, you haven’t gotten significantly heavier since your last check-up… you should be fine… now let’s see…” Dr. Kalamidis had given him another shot to ease the pain and now was trying to move his legs.

He couldn’t formulate the words, but Claire started shyly: “Dr. Kalamidis, it might be the wrong thing for me to say …. but … but … Christopher has been on a diet most of the past year. He wasn’t feeling well lately. Namée, our masseuse, said she thought his back was not very good most recently….”

“Why thank you Claire, that’s very important information indeed…. How much weight have you lost Christopher?”

Everybody staring at him, he wished the earth would finally do him the favor to open up and swallow him – but probably he was too big a bite to chew.
“Christopher, about how many pounds have you lost?”

“About 70 .., “ he finally managed to whisper, glad that the pain killer shot succeeded in numbing some part of him.

“Well, to really find out what’s wrong with your back, we need to do an MRI … so we’ll have to figure out a way to get you to a hospital…… Not so easy….”

‘Hospital’ was the only word that registered with him: The image of Wershowitz and Dr. Wright brandishing knives and giant metal clamps instantly arising, making him reflexively wail before he could stop it: “No hospital, please no hospital – I can’t go to any hospital now….” with the tears starting to pour.

“Shhh Christopher , everything’ll be okay, don’t worry, they’ll help you in the hospital, we’ll find a good way to get you there safe and sound…,” his hand was taken and soothingly squeezed and rubbed by Claire, who sat down next to him on the bedside.

“No hospital, please no hospital – I can’t go to any hospital now…. I don’t want to be cut up! No hospital, promise no hospital….” He blubbered the sentences over and over; panic constricting his windpipe, making him start to hyperventilate.

“It’s okay, Christopher, everything is okay….,” Claire held a glass of water to his lips. “Drink this, take this pill, then we can talk about the options. We’re here to help you … don’t worry…”

All he could continue doing was to whimper: “No hospital, please no hospital – no surgery – please…” until he felt new panic rise as a massive wave of nausea hit him. “The bowl, please the bowl…, hurry please the bowl,” as Claire just in time held it under his chin for the water and pill to come out again in painful cramps. Panting and softly crying helplessly afterwards, he just lay there.

“Dr. Preston – I know I shouldn’t say this. But I’ve noticed he’s been having stomach troubles for quite some time. He saw a diet doctor, has been taking a lot of diet pills from what I know ….he really hasn’t been himself.”

“Ms. Lipinski – it’s the right thing to tell me all you know so we can help him. Thank you and all your colleagues for being so observant and caring so much. It’s very important information. I was wondering why I never saw him the entire year for the regular health checkups of the kitchen staff.” Dr. Preston put on her glasses and took a few notes. “Mr. Mayard – I gave you some strong medication to calm down and relax. It looks like your stomach can’t take it though. So I’ll give you something similar as a shot now …. There’ll be a little sting ….”
He felt it in his upper arm and within minutes he was drifting off into exhausted sleep.


As he returned to consciousness, it was dusky outside and the first thing he became aware of was Dr. Preston talking to Claire and Dr. Kalamidis, his eyes still half closed.

“Ms. Lipinski, thank you for making the effort to get the current version of his medical file from his nutritionist. This helps very much in assessing the situation. I hope it wasn’t too much trouble.”

“No, not really. I only wasn’t aware that she had resigned weeks ago. And her reaction to my request on hearing what happened was … well … odd.”

“Odd? In which way odd?”

“She reacted … yeah almost like Christopher did – semi-panicked and in tears. I couldn’t get anymore straight information out of her, just the file.”

“Indeed odd. But that’s all we need. So Dr. Kalamidis – do you think the therapy for his back can be done here?”

“If we hire a nursing service to help him the first week or so, have the physiotherapist come here … then have him go back to swimming and weight training in the hotel as soon as he can walk – yeah, it can be done. We wouldn’t do anything differently in hospital – definitely not operate on him. Not only is the risk too high with his weight – you can get the same or even better results with physiotherapy and back exercises for this type of injury – and he’s shown in the past he can do it. What about the gastritis you presume he has?”

“I had the best small mobile ultra-sound we have brought here to confirm the diagnosis – but I’m pretty convinced it’s correct. Doing all tests, getting the therapy going with some days of IV medication would probably be better. Given the situation here – with no elevator and his weight, we’d have to get the fire department to take him on a lift through the balcony. That would definitely be a traumatic experience for him, would most likely make his recovery more difficult. I’m willing to spare him that, and … oh, Mr. Maynard you’ve woken up, how are you feeling?”

“Could be better…,” he managed to say, since his back still hurt, his legs were numb from the odd pile of cushions, and his stomach ached with hunger.

“Now before Ms. Lipinski gives you your dinner, Dr. Kalamidis and I need to do some tests with you to confirm our diagnosis. Dr. Kalamidis, you go first here,”
Dr. Preston motioned Claire to leave, who quickly turned and went.

Kalamidis then tested his reflexes, had him do some stretching exercises, turn over on the side, some of them causing bolts of pain to shoot through him bad enough to make his eyes water.

“Okay, you’ve slipped a disc in your back, but it’s not completely dislocated, from what I can tell – you haven’t been doing exercises to keep your back muscles strong enough. With serious physiotherapy we should be able to undo the damage. I’ll see you get a special orthopedic cushion for your back and legs – and oh, do you still have that support belt I prescribed last time?”

Glumly he nodded: “It won’t fit anymore,” remembering he still was 50 pounds heavier than with his last back incident. “I thought in losing the weight my back would get better..,” he shook his head.

“Such back injuries have less to do with the actual weight you carry – more with how rapid the weight change is. It might even be more frequent when losing weight – too many people crash diet and overlook the body needs time to adapt. So suddenly carrying much less weight, your spine’s statics change too – you need to exercise more to keep your back stable. You’ll get that fixed again – don’t worry. I’ll have our physiotherapist get your support belt extended to fit your new measurements. You should’ve seen me on starting this diet, then we would’ve avoided this….”

This perspective on his weight loss left him completely at a loss, especially since Dr. Preston took his hand to check his pulse: “Mr. Mayard, I can simply add on to what Dr. Kalamidis just said – why didn’t you come see me if you wanted to lose weight? We always had a good doctor-patient rapport, didn’t we? With all the other health checks I do for the restaurant and the hotel….,” she looked at him in questioning.

Since she didn’t continue but waited for an answer he managed to mumble, not looking at her: “It wasn’t a question of trust … it was just … just everything was set up for me with Wershowitz… and then … weight loss was so slow… I don’t know…”

“Well, it does look like you did quite a number of things that might lead to weight loss but not to good health. But that unfortunately has gotten pretty common. Now let’s take a closer look at how your stomach is doing … this is going to be cold now.., “ as she squirted some cold gel on his bare belly to then do the ultra sound with the odd, equally cold, hard device. “Okay, just as I thought, you have gastritis with majorly inflamed stomach lining. Most likely the side effect of having too many pills and diet medications on an almost empty stomach. Your stomach was well stretched and accustomed to regular meals with high quality, unprocessed, plentiful food. With the diet, you radically switched over to testing the resilience of your stomach’s lining with unfettered and rather aggressive purely chemical ingredients. That literally was too much for you to stomach – after all your tummy was pretty spoiled with good food, wasn’t it?”

Dr. Preston looked down at him with a friendly encouraging smile, but he could only close his eyes and shake his head. The whole examination and Drs Preston and Kalamidis diagnosis was leaving him completely bewildered. The past year all he had heard had been that he was too fat and that was bad for his health. Now he was lying there, feeling as sick as can be – only to be told his illness was caused by his diet and the attempt to lose weight …

“Okay, what are we going to do about this? First of all, I’ll take you off all medications you’ve been taking so far. You’ll only get the ones you need to let your stomach lining heal, along with a diet of mild but sufficient food. No coffee, no alcohol for at least two weeks. I’m rather optimistic getting you off all these diet pills will let your blood pressure and so one get back to normal too. You were always in such good health; despite your weight … let’s see we get you back there. Dr. Kalamidis will introduce you to his therapy and the nurse… oh, and there’s Ms. Lipinski with a wonderful stomach friendly dinner for you!”


When he later thought back to the days following his breakdown, they were encapsulated in a tight shell and buried in the most remote corner of his memory, access only through his subconscious. It was as if he had been stunned – making him regress into a state akin to infancy. He didn’t want to remember the details, especially not those of being bed ridden and the nurses have to help him with everything. He spent his days sleeping, eating his meals, reading some newspapers and doing his back exercises - everything else seemed too much for him. When Claire or one of the nurses tried to get him to talk, he could only mumble a few formulaic responses before he claimed to be tired to indeed fall asleep again almost instantly.

His entire self had transformed into one big hurting wound, physically and mentally. His mind was a tangle of confused threads – leaving only the afterthought that he had failed everything and everybody, even though he had tried so hard. Warren had expected him to diet, lose the weight and have weight loss surgery – that had not really been successful. Everybody else had urged him to be more careful dieting – even though that contradicted everything else he was told. Being sick now proved Stephanie, Claire and others right. And he had failed himself: Neither was he well-fed, fat, content and successful like he had been a year ago – nor had he gotten any closer to his goal of running the Langdon hotels one day in his own right. He only was another still hugely fat failure. But all these thoughts hurt too much to try to analyze them in depth, better finish the back exercises eat another bowl of risotto and then fall asleep again.

A minor but aching hunger pang woke him towards evening on the fourth day of his bed ridden stupor, his bedroom semi dark with light only in the hallway, to hear Claire. How good she was there, she’d certainly have his dinner. He reached for the tea cup since he was thirsty and also hungry – he had slept since lunch, no afternoon tea, no wonder his stomach was aching again.

“It’s my evening off Claire, we wanted to go out together, get his dinner ready and then we can go.” It was Marcus’ voice in a loud whisper and straining his neck, he could see his big convex body profile silhouetted against the light.

“I’m so sorry Marcus, I can’t. He needs to be looked after. He’s not well at all. I’d love to come, but later I’ll be too tired. And this is totally the wrong time to inform him we’re seeing each other.”

“Come ‘ere. You’re too tired as it is.” He saw Marcus pull Claire into his big belly, cradle her gently, kissing her hair. “This is too much for you. You’re wearing yourself out – working in the bistro and helping nurse the boss. He’s taking all your efforts and care for granted. Is he even trying to get better? He doesn’t even talk anymore. All he does is lie in bed, sleep and eat.”

“He’s also doing his back exercises – but indeed not much more. I’m so worried, don’t know what to do. I’ve never seen him like this before; he always had so much energy, was so interested in everything. Yesterday he even fell asleep eating his lunch…”

“Did you talk to Dr. Preston like you wanted to? What did she say?”

“Humph… she wasn’t sure either. She said in principal sleeping so much wasn’t bad – it’s the body’s way of getting the rest it needs to recuperate. But she’s worried too that he’s so apathetic. She says if that doesn’t improve over the weekend, then he’ll have to be hospitalized after all. Because of his gastritis, she doesn’t want to give him any other medication as pills – so medicated therapy would have to be done as IV in a hospital. Even though that’s about the last thing he’ll want.”

“Well, if he doesn’t get better this way – then he has to be hospitalized. It’s not your responsibility – this is way too much stress for you. He’s been a great boss to you and me – but there’re limits to what we can do.” He hugged her tighter, kissing her. “What about his family – they should take care of him! Why don’t you inform his mother – she was just here over Christmas, wasn’t she? Or what about Mr. Langdon as CEO, should he know?”

Claire kissed Marcus intensely before pulling back to shake her head. “His mother is the only family he has. And she’s a real sweet lady, loves him very much – but is completely useless in a situation like this. He wouldn’t want it – and if we informed her, we’d just have another patient on our hands. And Langdon also is not a good idea.”

Hearing this he felt his chest tighten almost unbearably and his cheek get wet as a tear trickled out of the corner of his eye. He felt so lonely and helpless – this was as bad as after Uncle Tom’s death. If Claire wasn’t so sweet and caring, had come to find him so quickly – he might be dead by now, died of dehydration. Nobody would’ve noticed, nobody except his mother would’ve really cared. Only a small note in the local paper about the difficulties of recovering the 450 pound dead body of a hotel director from the third floor without an elevator. Warren would’ve been deadly ashamed of him, seen all his prejudices about his weight confirmed. But Claire was right – the last thing he wanted was to be hospitalized, or have Warren or his mother find out. Alone imagining their reactions was intolerable. The only way to avoid that was to get a grip on himself again, make sure he could handle things on his own. And there was no better time than starting right now.

Stretching a bit, he turned on the bedside lamp and rummaged about with one hand to pour himself some tea.

“Christopher, you’re awake! How are you doing? Do you feel better?” Claire slipped in closing the door behind her so Marcus disappeared from view.

“Yeah, it’s okay. I’m hungry … don’t know whether that’s a good sign,” he tried a crooked grin.

“That’s something we can take care of immediately. I brought your dinner – just need to heat and serve everything in the kitchen.”

A few minutes later she came with the tray of dinner with turkey in a light cream sauce and mashed potatoes as well as a cauliflower gratin to set it in front of him. “Bon appétit.”

“Merci so much Claire. And bonne nuit for you.”

“Bonne nuit?”

“Yes good night – thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I would never have made it through this week without you. You … well … I guess you sort of saved my life.” He cringed at how small his voice sounded. “Now you need rest, you’ve worked way too hard. Sorry I was such a burden. Go have a nice evening with Marcus, have fun.”

Claire froze visibly and blushed before stammering: “Thanks … don’t worry …. I’m fine …. I’ll stay here to help you….”

“No, it’s okay. I’ll be fine. I’ll finish this great dinner - and at 9:00 the night nurse comes. He’ll help me do my exercises, get ready for the night. Go relax with Marcus – he as your boyfriend is entitled to your time and attention. See you tomorrow, if you can make it.”

“But… but … how do you … I didn’t mean … Marcus …”

“Claire, I’m neither deaf nor blind – I’ve noticed you and Marcus have gotten pretty close lately. I highly approve – he’s a good guy, was instantly smitten by you. One reason why I hired him. Thank you for dinner – now go and have a nice evening.”

Staring at him in wide eyed amazement, Claire didn’t say anything. After maybe a minute, she bent down to give him a small earnest kiss on the lips before slipping out: “Thank you, good night and get better soon.”


The next morning, he scratched together all his will power, strained all muscles and got up with the help of his nurse, for a second half panicking when his knees buckled as he put his full weight on them. But with the support belt for his back and crutches to hold some of his weight, he made it to the bathroom managed to shower and with a defiant smirk shaved off his beard again. Looking into the mirror, he was struck by the expression of round-faced hurt and helplessness staring back at him, feeling very naked and vulnerable.

But he closed his mind to these thoughts, sensing they would not get him anywhere to follow the steps of the plan he had set himself last night. Instead of staying in bed, he relocated to the broad couch in the living room with the nice view to the park – where Claire found him with his notebook computer propped against his gut answering a week’s worth of business e-mails.

“Hey, you’re up and working! So you’re feeling better?” The look of surprise and relief on her face was a reward in itself.

“It’s about time. My work ethic has gotten dangerously low. My back and stomach are ill, hopefully not my brain.”

“Be careful though, don’t overdo it. Here’s your lunch – fish soup with rice. Is that okay?”

“Everything you make for me is great Claire – I can’t thank you enough. But I don’t want to exploit you any further, you need time off. Please just have my dinner sent over from the restaurant kitchen – okay? Same goes for breakfast and lunch tomorrow….”

“Christopher, I’m totally fine coming here and preparing your meals. Don’t worry, I’m happy to help in any way possible,” she interrupted him.

“And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. Still, you need time for yourself and Marcus. You’ve overworked yourself this past week. But I would like to ask you a favor. Can you and Marcus come over for dinner tomorrow – cook it here in my kitchen, so we can eat together? Maybe even three courses? I miss the smell of cooking so much … and it would be wonderful to have company for dinner again….”
 

agouderia

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The following two weeks he embarked on the slow, uphill road to recovery – concentrating on the next day, the next steps, never making any plans beyond that or trying to think any of the issues at hand through. He feared his body’s and mind’s reaction – that he might not be able to handle it. Some days brought rapid improvements, others frustrating setbacks. The first day he went back to the hotel – and then only for a swim in the pool and Namée’s massage – was a true adventure.

Given his back injury and the size and weight of his belly, Dr. Kalamidis had advised him to go down stairs backwards, like a ladder for better balance and less strain on his back. It worked out quite well, but he realized in shocking clarity how dependant he was on being fit enough to climb the stairs to his apartment. Since getting into a car and driving was a greater hazard than walking for his back, he very slowly heaved his way through the park on crutches – to sleep for two hours in his office suite on arrival, totally exhausted. Then lunch – and another hour of sleep. Afterwards his swim and massage – before he once more slept over an hour before he walked back at a snail’s pace. Only to go to bed immediately and fall into comatose sleep until the next morning when he woke up, his stomach aching with hunger because he hadn’t eaten or drunk for so long. But after a big bowl of oat meal for breakfast, he felt as energized and positive as he hadn’t in a long time. Seeing the hotel, the many well wishes and sincere sympathy he received subconsciously boosted his morale more strongly than he had anticipated.

Not so surprising were the healing powers of regularly eating until he was satisfied and no longer hungry. Even though he was to eat very light, mainly cooked food his stomach could easily digest – at least it was served guilt free and in quantities sufficient to leave his stomach warm and full and not achingly sore. It might not have been the wide variety of foods and dishes he loved – low on fat, sugar, complex proteins and carbs – but Claire made sure to serve him several small courses again and use mild seasoning that greatly enhanced the dishes. During the diet he had been allowed only one dish per meal – now just having several smaller dishes, their flavors and textures building up on each other, following a certain script was a delight in itself. The word ‘dessert’ – even in the stomach friendly version – cast all its charms for him again. The French and Italian sure knew what they were doing with their ‘menus’ – it was so much more stimulating and satisfactory to give each course its own stage, not have everything on the plate, all jumbled together. He did miss some foods, like fresh and raw products – so the first day he was allowed to eat something as simple as baby lettuce with a mild yoghurt dressing was almost a small celebration.

Recovering from his back injury with his despite the weight loss still extremely heavy body was trying – and the thought bothered him frequently that all this was his fault because he had let himself get so fat he needed to diet strictly. On the other hand, his stomach ached every morning when he woke up because it was so empty – reminding him that this part of his illness was due to having tried too hard and in the wrong manner to reduce his weight. To add to his confused emotions, he felt best when he was lying on his back on the couch after dinner, his big belly a warm, well filled small mountain rising in front of him, his hands folded over it, discussing the next menus and special offers in the restaurant or deli bistro with Marcus or Claire, checking recipes and sometimes even tasting small samples – short moments in which the world seemed intact again.


“What do you think you’re doing there? Standing in the kitchen baking with your back! Go lie down immediately! Otherwise I’ll get in trouble with Claire!” Marcus rolled his eyes on seeing him stacking layers of a cake together.

“It’s a special thank you for you and Claire,” he indicated at the heart shaped layer cake with burnt vanilla cream and cherries, steadying his back with his hands a bit for there was a slight pinch after standing for so long. “It was the very first one I ever created – for my then girlfriend. I thought I needed to do a little something for the two of you, as a small weekend treat. And I was bored… miss baking so much,” he grinned a bit ruefully.

“Looks good; thanks a lot. But Claire’ll be real mad at both of us if you hurt your recovery by baking cakes. Lie down, here’s the support pillow for your back. Now do your exercises,” Marcus had led him over to the broad couch and settled him down, handing him the rubber expander bands. “Shall I turn the TV on, so you get some entertainment?”

“Nah, that’s boring…”

“You think TV is boring? Why?”

“Don’t know – never got the hang of it. We didn’t have a TV when I was growing up. Don’t have the patience to watch other people doing something….”

“You didn’t have a TV in growing up? Wow – that’s unusual! Why?”

“My mother believed that some electric waves from the TV were dangerous …. and that watching TV was bad for a child’s brain development. So I only got to watch TV at my uncle’s house when I was there sick – and that would be for only 2-3 days, then there were more interesting things to do again. So I guess I never developed the habit.”

“Does sound weird – Claire mentioned your mother was great, but a bit special.”

“She has her very own way of approaching life … yeah.”

“I was an awful TV junkie growing up. If my parents hadn’t stopped me, I’d have spent my days in front of the TV eating all the time.., “ Marcus blushed. “But now let me get your lunch ready – do you mind if I eat with you?”

“Not at all, good food tastes even better in company.”

After a bowl of cream of pea soup, Marcus placed a large oven baked veal and vegetable casserole in front of him, taking an equally large portion for himself. “This is a lot of food – am I really supposed to eat it all?” suddenly realizing that the diet had indeed altered his idea of portion sizing.

“Claire made it this way for us – you know she likes her men well fed.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” he gave Marcus’ bulging gut a light slap on the side, noticing how tight the junior chef’s white cooking jacket had gotten. On starting at the Langdon Residency, it had been at least a size too large, now his belly filled it well making the buttons gape and his double chin rest over the collar in a thicker role.

“Unfortunately, working here had increased instead of reduced my weight problem,” Marcus muttered unhappily turning beet red.

“Hey, that was a positive, not a critical comment,” he tried to reassure him. “You also seem to have grown in confidence, are doing a great job – you look the part of the successful chef. And it’s good to see you and Claire so happy.”

“Thanks … yeah, I guess you wouldn’t be too critical about the weight issue….” Marcus still looked embarrassed. Even though he knew from personal experience discussing one’s weight was a touchy subject, he couldn’t end the issue. Maybe it would do him good to talk to another guy about it, somebody who might understand him.

“What’s your take on weight loss surgery?” before immediately regretting the question – probably it wasn’t the best idea to discuss so intimate a matter with one of his employees after all.

After a lengthy silence, Marcus answered in a voice as if strangled: “If it had been covered by my insurance, I would’ve had it done by now.”

The answer left him dumbfounded and it took a while before he simply asked: “But why?”

“You didn’t grow up fat, did you?”

“No… I started gaining weight when I started training at the bakery. My mother is an awful cook – so I was a rather skinny kid. Come to think of it, I probably would’ve gotten fat a lot earlier if I had grown up at my uncle’s. I remember we sometimes had to buy bigger clothes when I came back from my vacations at the bakery, because my pants didn’t fit anymore. But I always outgrew or dropped it again pretty fast at home, so it never was an issue.”

“See, that’s the difference. I grew up fat. That’s probably as close as you can get to hell on earth – everybody makes fun of you, bullies you, it’s hard to make friends. What some Phys Ed teachers do in school probably borders on torture. Later it’s harder finding a job, even as a chef – you saw the other gym guys who auditioned for this position here. I never thought I’d get a chance. So I can’t tell you how grateful I am to you for having me, making working here such a good experience.”

“Would you still have the surgery done today, if someone offered it to you? What about working as a chef, that you might not be able to do it afterwards?”

“Hmmmh – I haven’t thought about that in a while. Growing up fat, struggling to start a career fat – you get to the point you’re willing to do almost anything to be normal, no longer fight against fat hate or discrimination. I was at that point, actually even looked into taking out a loan to pay for it. I was aware that I might need to switch professions afterwards – but I was willing to take the risk, it seemed that anything was better than being this fat.”

“And now? How do you feel about it now?”

“That I haven’t thought about it in months, even though I’ve put quite some poundage back on since working here, probably is a good sign.” Marcus gave his gut a shake and him a grin. “Right now I feel as okay about myself as I’ve ever felt as an adult, in every respect. Since you’re the boss, the Langdon Residency is a truly accepting work environment – it seems nobody pays any attention to how fat I am. And then there’s Claire … yeah, she only pays positive attention to my fat….” He blushed and his grin turned devilish. “That’s also something I owe you a million thanks for, kicking me in the ass to work things out with Claire. I never dared dream I’d find someone like her, who’d care for the whole package of me just the way it is….”

“As I said, it’s good to see the two of you so happy. Be good to Claire – otherwise I’ll kick you in the ass again…”

“Are you thinking about weight loss surgery yourself?” As he didn’t respond, Marcus hastily added: “Sorry for asking, that’s none of my business.”

“No, it’s okay,” he had only been stunned in relief that Claire obviously had not even dropped a hint to Marcus about his panic attack and its reasons. “Yeah, I received a plan to have it done soon …..,” he took a deep breath, “but to be honest, I’m scared as shit of the surgery – and not sure what life would look like afterwards….”

“So you’ve decided against it? Or are you going to continue with the diet as soon as your stomach heals?”

“I wish I knew what I was going to do next….”

(Contined in post 85 of this thread)
 

Tad

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The great white north, eh?
Now I'd not call that a sad chapter, although it is a terrible time for the character. As a reader, you feel happy that he seems to have hit bottom and at least leveled out, if not maybe started the climb back up......of course, who knows what future tumbles the author may yet have in store!
 

geekybibabe

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Thank you for this latest addition! It actually seems hopeful to me, rather than sad.
 

agouderia

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“1542 – your favorite suite Ma’am. We’re so happy to have you back here with us, Mrs. Fitzpatrick. When will the Ambassador be arriving?” Tricia showed a more than just professional smile. “The director will be down shortly to see you up in person.”

“Thank you very much, Tricia. It’s wonderful to be back. My husband should check in around 4:30.”

He heard Mary Helen’s voice before he saw her, music to his ears. Rounding the corner she was standing there, a bit more tanned, a lighter blonde than in his memory – after all it was summer in Buenos Aires – but otherwise unchanged: short, curvy, adorable.

“Mrs. Fitzpatrick, a profound pleasure to have you back as our guest,” he hid the extent of his delight by bowing with a hand-kiss.

“Director Maynard, the pleasure is mine. The Langdon Residency feels a bit like home after being away for so long. I also need to visit your bakery as soon as possible for some walnut bread and café éclairs,” she let herself be guided to the elevator, the page boy with luggage and a younger man he couldn’t place following. “Ben here is coming along to set up everything for Denis’ office.”

Diplomatically professional, Mary Helen questioned him about recent developments in the hotel until they reached the suite, where he ushered her in, and the page boy and Ben started handling luggage and equipment.

“The walnut bread, café éclairs as well as some samples of Maynard’s French Boulangerie’s newest creations will be sent up shortly. Is there anything else I can do for you and the Ambassador Mrs. Fitzpatrick?”

“Why that’s so kind! Thank you! Everything looks perfect as always, Director Maynard. I’ll let you know in case we need anything,” Mary Helen shook his hand farewell, slipping something into it.

Back in his office, he opened the small note: “Your apartment, tomorrow, 6:00 pm?!” making him whoop with glee.


The next evening had him awaiting Mary Helen in nervous anticipation, freshly showered, in nice slightly loose stylish casual shirt and jeans after a day of hectic preparations for a special five course dinner whose appetizing smells filled the apartment.

The past weeks had passed in a state of limbo – he was well enough again to go about his normal work, the day-to-day business in the hotel running smoothly again. He invested many hours to keep himself busy, make sure his work was as perfect as can be, yet couldn’t bring himself to do longer term planning or start bigger projects. His stomach and back had not fully healed yet, even though he was working conscientiously on both therapy programs, in order to go back on his diet. After Warren had badgered him about it, he had his physician and orthopedic surgeon write him an official medical bulletin insisting on the current therapy and otherwise evaded direct communication with him as well as possible. He hadn’t checked his weight anymore, but assumed he must have gained a few pounds back, though not too many since his stomach still rebelled against many rich foods or being really stuffed. Claire and Marcus kept a watchful eye on him, Namée had again worked wonders with his back – but his overall state of mind was one of cluelessness and a deep-rooted uncertainty how and whether he could to face the tasks ahead successfully.

This matched his mindset towards having Mary Helen over for the evening: On one hand, he yearned to have dinner with her, for her familiarity, warm responsiveness and the welcome respite of her naughty sense of humor. On the other hand he was terrified, after the incident with Stephanie on Halloween and being incapacitated for so long, that he simply was not going to be able to perform, fearing her disappointment or maybe even contemptuous response.

The door bell rang and he let a sweetly smiling Mary Helen in, who reached up to give him a light kiss on the lips. Leading her over to the wardrobe to take her coat he watched her delicately curved short calves prance before him in high heels, following the swish of a knee-length dark mauve skirt playing around them. Taking her coat and hanging it up, she turned to face him, her appetizing cleavage on display in a low-cut something catching his attention, beckoning him to take her in his arms.

The moment he did so, fitting his arms around her narrow waist, his hands roaming over the cushiony sizable apples representing her buttocks, bending down to burrow his face into the curve of her breasts, all doubts vanished. It was the Mary Helen he knew, her warm body felt and smelled like the soft ripe peach he had always loved: The weight of round breasts under delicate collar bones was an instant turn on, the curve of her hips, his fingers running up the plumpness of her thighs, feeling the small pin cushion of a belly she had, devouring her lips in inane hunger. His breathing turned rugged as a needy hard on throbbed in his pants, begging to be let out, his body’s only urge being to melt into her as far as possible.

“Oh honey, I missed you too,” she whispered, quickly opening his shirt buttons to grab deep into his belly, kissing him hard. Wrapping her in his bulk, he pushed her over into his bedroom, fingering under her skirt to pull her panties down, teasing his hand between her thighs, noticing with a low growl of pleasure she seemed as wet as he was excited. Famished for the animal satisfaction of mating, the feeling of flesh on flesh, of intimacy and sensual fulfillment, he backed her on the bed.

Somehow she had undone his belt so his loose pants slid off so he could continue undressing with one hand while pressing his squishy soft gut into her, greedily kissing, biting and licking any part of Mary Helen he could reach. Restraint was no longer possible as he entered her as fast as he could and then literally banged her – when reason returned this crude verb seemed like the only one fit to describe his actions – until his brain semi-unhinged in a full blown climax.

Panting and spent, he pulled Mary Helen into his side, snuggly fitting her under the quivering flab of his belly out of habit. Raising her head on her elbow, she cupped his chin: “Christopher honey, what’s wrong ? You’re as desperate as I am!”

“Sorry if I was too rough … couldn’t resist, missed you….”

“No, it was wild and wonderful – I felt truly desired again, I missed that feeling too. That’s not the point – you used to be so relaxed and playful, even with a quickie. Now I get the impression you need it bad, like making up for something – what’s wrong? You can tell me everything…”

“It’s nothing … don’t bother ….”

“Honey, we’re good friends apart from sex partners – aren’t we? You were always so patient and understanding, listening to my marital woes. I owe you … you can tell me what’s wrong…,” but he shook his head, not knowing how to explain. Lightly kneading his still more than abundant tummy, she asked: “You’re quite a bit heavier than last time … does it have something to do with that?”

At this, he let out a bitter, ugly laugh: “Heavier than last time? You have no idea … I’m 60-70 pounds lighter than my heaviest right now!”

“So was that part of the problem?” very lovingly rubbing his meaty chest.

“No, my life was great back then, like a year ago…. but now….”

“Now what dear?”

“Now it’s just….” and before he knew it, he was pouring out the whole story, leaving nothing out: His indulgent further expansion, his row with Warren over his weight, the 525 pounds and Warren’s offer, the awful months of his diet, his crush on Stephanie, his sense of failure and frustration, the pressure to have bariatric surgery, the health problems as side effects from his mis-dieting. Once he was going, he couldn’t stop – it was so liberating to unburden himself. He had so far not realized how he missed having someone to confide in with personal issues – since Uncle Tom’s death, the role of the ‘to talk to’ person in his life was vacant. Warren had been good for all aspects of his professional development, but since the diet, distrust had arisen between them. Stephanie had helped him with the diet’s mental and emotional issues, but she was gone. Claire had turned into a real good friend, but she was also his employee and busy with Marcus – that ruled her out for very personal matters. Now Mary Helen was back … a god send, because she was right, given their situation, they could trust each other with almost anything. “Now I don’t know what to do: I’ve stopped dieting. I’m eating lightly and carefully to make sure the gastritis doesn’t flare up, but enough to feel satisfied, so that’s way beyond diet portions. I’ve definitely decided against surgery; I can’t even stand the thought. I don’t want to be cut up. I want to fix my back and overall health again. But I don’t know how and what to tell Warren … and I don’t know how to continue with my life….”

“Poor honey … you’ve clearly had a worse time than I did in Buenos Aires! Dieting is a nightmare, you don’t need to tell me, especially with your big appetite” before she giggled, weighing his belly in her hands. “Sorry – but I’m trying to imagine how 70 pounds more of you would feel on me…”

“It felt sensational Mary Helen, plain f***ing fat-astic! That’s something that’s gnawing on me – nobody can understand that I was fine with 525 pounds, that I felt a lot better than I do today. Everybody thinks I’m delusional – just because I enjoy the pleasures of having a monster gut. So what – who’s business is it except mine? I lived sensibly enough for that weight – and was a lot healthier than I am now. Am I such an eyesore? Do 525 pounds make me a bad or inferior or sick person?”

“Weight is such a loaded issue these days, carries so much moral judgment,” Mary Helen sighed. “I’ve only known you as a really big handsome guy. And I absolutely love, love, loved your serene denial that your weight could be an in any way inhibiting factor. It was almost as if you celebrated your bulk, inviting others to join in on the party. I sort of regret I wasn’t around for your 525 pounds. It’s too bad the real world assessment of your weight has finally hit you.”

“So what Warren says about my weight is right – I need to lose it to be normal, fit in?”

“That’s not what I’m saying. I don’t need to tell you the verdict of all those medical statistics and their bias – you’ve probably heard more than enough about the lethal threats of morbid obesity, co-morbities, etc., etc. over the past year. For many people in your weight range, there might be something to it,” she massaged his thick thigh. “But perpetual dieting and extreme weight loss aren’t per se healthy, that’s a myth too. In my memory, you were a very heavy, but also fit, active, content man … I admired your strength, your stamina, how well you healed after your first back wrenching incident. So it’s indeed grotesque you wrenched it again because you lost weight too quickly….”

“I’m working pretty hard on getting that stabilized again. Apart from that, I don’t know… I want to be.. to feel…what if all that talk about morbid obesity is right….?” he shrugged shaking his head.

“Christopher, I can tell you only one thing from experience: The most important thing you can do to be healthy and happy is to be yourself. Always trying to meet others and society’s demands and expectations is the best way to feel bad about yourself, even get ill …. and definitely hit a personal dead end,” Mary Helen’s expression darkened. “Find a way to be yourself again, no matter at which weight, that’s my advice.”

“What dead end? What do you mean…,” her sudden sadness struck him, but his stomach growled with hunger, still with a bit of an uncomfortable burning sting, making him flinch.

“Now that dear tummy needs to be fed, can’t let it to get sore again. After all, you did get some serious exercise,” she smiled warmly. “It smells delicious here – did you cook something for me?”

“Yes – my first newly created 5 course menu after the diet, just for you. It has a bit of a potato theme, how they greatly complement other ingredients,” he beamed at her. “We’re starting out with a soup – I do that a lot now because it’s the most palatable for my stomach tissues to heal. Cream of potato with green asparagus and chervil – how does that sound?”

“Delicious! That was a true nightmare in Argentina – if it isn’t meat there, it isn’t food!”


After the soup and the Swiss chard soufflé as starter, he was arranging the smoked trout on a bit of Waldorf style potato salad for the fish course, asking: ‘I’m sorry, I’ve talked all evening about my issues and haven’t asked you why you’re here … or even how much time we have tonight? I took it as agreed you’d have time for dinner….”

“Yeah, I have more or less open end tonight. I told Denis I’m seeing an old high school friend he doesn’t know who recently moved here for girl’s night ….. and his political meeting will be endless,” she took a long draught of the Venetian Pinot gris. “We’re actually here because Denis is testing the waters for running as governor next year.”

“Running as governor … wow … why ….?”

“He’s not a good ambassador, he’s bored, he hasn’t been able to learn 3 meaningful sentences in Spanish … in contrast, I got my university entry level certificate … and that does go down poorly in a proud country like Argentina, confirms all prejudices against gringos. Domestic party politics is what he’s done all his life, what he’s best at and truly lives for.”

“Hey …. that means you’ll be my first lady … that sounds great…”

“I’d love being your first lady,” she leaned against him, playing with the heavy overhang of his belly, making his torso wobble in response, her face falling. “The question is more do I want to be everybody else’s first lady for at least four years…..?”

As she didn’t continue, he fed her a bite of trout with horse-radish cream with a kiss, caressing her carefully: “Is that what you were talking about earlier -the personal dead end?”

Returning the kiss, she gave him a sad smile: “See, that’s what I missed so much about you – that you appreciate me for me, actually focus your attention on what I say….”

Touched by the sincerity of her praise, he tried to deflect it with a humorous twist by giving her a very hot throaty kiss: “I always focus my attention completely on anything I can bite into …. that’s my problem,” resoundingly slapping his gut. “Let’s sit down again for the fish course and you tell me about your plans.”

“There’s not much to say, I don’t have any plans of my own, that’s what I came to realize when Denis starting talking seriously about the governorship. He didn’t even ask what I thought about the new public role this would mean for me, whether I wanted it. But I don’t need to tell you about the difficulties in my marriage–you know more about them than anybody else does” she shook her head.

“Mary Helen, if there is anything I can do….”

“No, it’s okay. If there’s anything to do, I have to finally do it myself. My life in the past 20 years has been nothing but an appendix of his – but that’s at least in part my own fault. This didn’t fully hit me until we were stuck together in Buenos Aires. We both come from very traditional catholic families, so finding a husband, having and taking care of his babies, supporting him in his career – I simply did what I’d been raised to do, it seemed normal and natural. And I was busy as long as the kids were little, didn’t have time to think much. As the kids got older, started their own school lives – yeah, then we met and I had you as the ‘for me only’ part in my life. How important having something to do for myself didn’t fully dawn on me until I was alone in Argentina. Can I have another sip of wine? You’re not drinking any?”

“Sure sorry, I wasn’t being very observant,” he poured her some more from the cooler. “Because of my gastritis I’m still off white wine, too much acid. I’ll have one glass of red with the main course. How else did everything go in Argentina?”

“Most recently things actually are looking good. As I said, on getting there, I hit a rough patch – all alone, nothing meaningful to do. Diplomacy these days is pretty formulaic office stuff, not too many glamorous James Bond like parties and such…,” she took another forkful of fish. “This sweet, sour and tangy combination for the trout is excellent by the way. In Buenos Aires I also literally grew out of my role as a mother. The boys preferred staying in the US, going to boarding school here – and Gerrie is Daddy’s girl through and through, only interested in sports and politics, wants to become a politician herself one day, sees me as superfluous and not presentable enough decoration,” with a note of pain in her voice.

“But you said things are pretty good right now, what happened, what did you change?”

“Well – I needed to find something to do. So I started Spanish classes at university, did some teaching fresh up courses online – you know I taught Junior High right out of college, English Lit. and Geography. After completing them I actually found a half pro-bono position, through my embassy charity projects, in a special project to help children from the slums get higher education, make the university entry level exams teaching English. I donate my salary to buying books for their library, that’s okay, that’s expected – and now I’m on a new UNESCO commission to help evaluate teaching standards in South America.

“That all sounds great – interesting and meaningful! You can be proud of yourself! “

“Yeah – that’s exactly what it is for me. And that’s the problem: If Denis comes back to run for governor, that means I have to give it all up, can’t move on with any job or career of my own, but will have to be a full-time politician’s wife again. Actually more than ever…” the hopelessness in her voice was heart-wrenching, especially since he believed Mary Helen deserved better – and others would derive more from her warmth and compassion – than subjecting herself only to Denis Fitzpatrick’s political egomania.

“It might be the wrong thing for me to say or suggest … but have you ever thought of doing your own thing – I mean many politician’s wives work these days? Or maybe even a new road without Denis?”

“Believe me, I’ve thought a lot about both options,” Mary Helen sighed and shook her head. “You’re right, many politician’s wives work. But for me it would mean starting a career parallel to his election campaign here – that would simply look as if something was wrong with our marriage, I wasn’t really supporting his candidacy. Then divorce would be the more honest, probably even less image critical option. But I’m catholic – in my family divorce still would be a big issue. And I’m not used to being and living alone at all – I married right out of college, I’ve never lived without family…”

“You’re a wonderful woman Mary Helen, in every respect. You could have anybody …well … I don’t know how to put it … if you could maybe even see us together?” he took her hand to kiss it tenderly.

“That’s very chivalrous of you. But it wouldn’t work – the two of us are at very different stages in our lives. I’m closing the family phase in my life because I started very early. You still yet have to found a family of your own … it wouldn’t be fair to take that from you. And let’s face it: Most men in a similar position as I come with a lot of baggage, divorce and such… I don’t think I have the nerve for that…”

“That means we’ll have to find a nice widower for you,” he quipped.

“Christopher, you’re impossible! Now go take care of the main course – that’s more your forte before you come up with any more silly matchmaking notions!”


Throughout the main course – a shot at lamb roast baked in a herb potato wrap, definitely worth following up on - Mary Helen stuck to being the perfect politician’s wife, entertaining him with amusing stories about their early diplomatic faux-pas in Buenos Aires. Toward the end of the course, he was laughing so hard, his belly jiggled wildly in his lap, waves of warmth and relaxation running through him making him laugh even more to prolong the pleasurable feel. Even after he stopped laughing the gratifying quivers continued for a bit, making him clutch his upper belly in surprise.

“Are you all right Christopher? Is something wrong with your stomach?”

“I’m fabulous, absolutely fabulous. I haven’t laughed so much in ages. I’d actually forgotten how wonderful it feels to laugh so hard that this huge gut jiggles like crazy. That was missing this past year … and you’ve given it back to me.” He stood up and wrapped her in his arms from behind, running his hands under the t-shirt of his she had on, its cloth folds dwarfing her. Skimming over the warm roundness of her now full stomach, cupping her ample breasts and tilting her head back to give her a passionate kiss, he murmured: “How about a little bit of a pre-dessert treat on the couch?”

Letting her sit in his lap, cushioned against his big belly pillow, he moaned in sated arousal as she explored his excessive bulk with her hands and lips, like a little girl with a too big new teddy bear. “You’re right, a monster belly is a real pleasure – I wonder why more people don’t realize that,” as she gently bounced against it. “Now can you lift it up, so I can fully slide in your lap? I feel something hot, hard and eager there….,” giving him a wicked grin and leaning over his middle expanse for a kiss.

Since Nora had always been keen on this positioning, he was well practiced in leaning back, lifting up all the heavy roles of his gut and tilting his pelvis so Mary Helen could climb on him in his lap, holding her tight so his flesh masses didn’t push her off again. Letting her have it her way, he enjoyed the sensation of slow moving sex after dinner, how his flab wobbled in waves around the harder ball of his well-filled stomach, the wonderful squishing and squeezing of all his bulk as she moved against it, quietly shooting his bolt as Mary Helen was somewhere he couldn’t reach her. As she finally collapsed against him, panting and shivering, he hugged her very tightly into his gut to softly give her many small kisses.

“Mmmmh… you okay?” she purred.

“A lovely woman, a stomach full of good food and wonderful sex – that’s as okay as it can get for me ….,” he kissed her again, swallowing the rest of his sentence tinged with bitter regret, “… and that’s what I’ve lost …. maybe forever, when I continue with this f***ing diet!” Knowing that allowing this line of thinking to take over would not only ruin Mary Helen’s evening, but also his own, he quickly switched the subject. “How about the sweet which is officially on the menu? Do you know the French dessert ‘Poires Belle Hélène’ – pears lovely Helen style? With chocolate, eau de vie and vanilla cream? I created a new gateau on that base, to celebrate your coming back. Want to try it?”


After clearing the kitchen he sat down on the couch heavily with an overindulgent third piece of pear Belle Hélène gateau, savoring each creamy, fruity, chocolaty bite rubbing the round upper puff of his distended belly resting in his lap. A sense of peace and contented fulfillment settled on him as he hadn’t known it in a long time. Returning neatly dressed from the bathroom, Mary Helen gave his bulging stomach a pat: “Somebody has a very full tummy this evening! Is poor tummy feeling fine?”

“Tummy is feeling perfect. And somebody else really feels like himself again this evening, I can’t thank you enough,” he pulled her down against him, kissing her in gratitude. “You’re right; I must find my own way of doing things again. I’ll think of a way of figuring everything out with Warren – I’ll find the guts to make it work somehow. Maybe start something different on my own. But we also need to take care of you…..”

(continued in post 93 of this thread)
 

Island Girl

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Really lovely. *sigh* I don't care if the parts are "happy" or "sad" - just finding that you've written another makes my day. Though I will say I'm pleased to see Christopher finding his way...
 

Undine

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This was absolutely lovely - the story line as well as the writing. So happy to see Christopher feeling a bit more himself again, and thinking of staying that way!
 

fatmac

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I do not remember reading any other story that had me so engaged with the main character. I can relate to Christopher and his struggles and a very personal level.
Well done. Thank you.
Mac
 

agouderia

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Really lovely. *sigh* I don't care if the parts are "happy" or "sad" - just finding that you've written another makes my day. Though I will say I'm pleased to see Christopher finding his way...
I do not remember reading any other story that had me so engaged with the main character. I can relate to Christopher and his struggles and a very personal level.
Well done. Thank you.
Mac
:blush::blush: - thank you all, I really don't know what to say or write. But I'm very happy other people seem to get something out of Christopher's story.

This was absolutely lovely - the story line as well as the writing. So happy to see Christopher feeling a bit more himself again, and thinking of staying that way!
Thank you - but when can we find out what happens with Xander next - impatient whine ;)...
 

agouderia

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257

257 minutes behind the wheel – and he was pulling up in front of the ‘Langdon Imperial Residency’. 257 minutes in solitude to think everything through again for the last time before he had to face Warren, tell him of his decision how he could proceed with their cooperation. He had chosen to drive instead of flying because he didn’t want to be distracted by the hassle of security checks, masses of other people and the more. Yet he was surprised how calm and focused he was on arriving. He had expected to feel much more dread – but oddly it was more the anticipation of relief. Whichever outcome their talk might have, he at least would know how to move on with his life.

On checking in, the welcome was more than cordial formality – many former colleagues who remembered him from his trainee program were still there and greeted him with a mix of genuine friendliness and curios scrutiny; quite a number of inspecting glances were cast at his waist line. So news of his diet must have leaked – but it also made him aware that he had only been here twice during his diet year. Much less often than normal, simply because he had evaded meetings with Warren ever since he had gotten more and more critical and demanding regarding his weight loss.

Putting his luggage into his room, he went to do his back exercises and swim a few laps to relax after driving. Afterwards he dressed to go out for a late lunch since he had two good reasons not to eat in the Imperial Residency: Neither did he want to be observed while eating to satisfaction – nor did he believe that their restaurant was currently worthwhile, possibly offering reason for critical discussions with his colleagues. So instead he went to the small Chinese restaurant a college mate’s family ran which served a limited variety, but excellent quality fresh Chinese food. To be fair, he had announced his coming so he naturally received his favorite dish for lunch – 7 variations of roast duck, with different sauces, spices and vegetable sides.

With a full contented belly lightly swaying in front of him he walked the 11 blocks back to the ‘Imperial Residency’ for his 4 o’clock meeting with Warren to make sure he had a clear head on arrival. Over the past 10 days, he had planned every step of this trip with the difficult talk he needed to have with Warren meticulously, weighing all options he had and devising several strategies to not be taken by surprise – no matter what happened. In preparing this, he had taken full advantage of having Mary Helen there for over a week to talk over his plans, doubts, and ideas with her sympathetic ear and common sense, as well as to recharge his emotional batteries with sizeable doses of loving and laughing to return to a state in which he felt ready to tackle his challenges again.

To not compromise her and raise suspicion, he had even come up with a charity event to raise money for Mary Helen’s school project in Argentina – an auction of cooking classes in the hotel kitchen with a big dinner as final event, also a perfect excuse for her to come back visit soon – as explanation for them spending time together. On her last day in town, they had officially announced the project at a small press conference with Ambassador Fitzpatrick in attendance, who with his best politician shark smile told him: “Director Maynard, what a great idea – this project means so much to my wife. And it will be her perfect farewell gift to the school when we soon relocate back here to the States.”

Seeing Mary Helen’s expression of pained resignation made him want to wring Fitzpatrick’s neck because it meant that the bid for the governorship looked promising – while she was once again limited to a role she was so unhappy with and got so little out for herself.


In his preparations, he had also made sure to get a clean bill of health from Dr. Kalamidis and Dr. Preston, who both gave him a thumbs up for his progress. He couldn’t help sighing a bit when Dr. Preston weighed him at 464 pounds, but she looked at him kindly over her glasses, giving his belly a small pat: “Mr. Maynard, don’t berate yourself. All your health parameters are as good as back to normal. And to be honest – I expected you to have gained at least double that amount back in the meantime. That’s what mostly happens in cases comparable to yours at such a high weight after a strict diet. So what you’re doing right now as far as eating and exercising goes seems to do you good. Whatever you do, before you go on a diet again, please come see me, okay!”

To mirror the better physical shape he was in again, he had taken great care with his appearance: Not only had he had one of his good suits tailored down to fit his current measurements, but also had bought a nice new shirt and tie and finally let his tailor talk him into getting a waistcoat with his suit. Surveying his reflection in the mirror of the elevator, he saw what he perceived to be the convincing image of a fat, well dressed, professional and healthy looking man. In the past he had rejected the waist coat option because he thought they made him look older and fatter. Yet his tailor had convinced him and since the additional warmth was also good for his back now in winter, he had tried it – with a quite appealing result. The waistcoat added an air of authority to his appearance and worked the miracle of minimizing while enhancing the full curve of his largely protruding gut.

All these measures were like the mental equivalent of corset stays for him: They helped keep his resolve upright, steered him to look ahead and steeled his spine against the uncomfortable truths he had to confront Warren with. There never had been a discussion he dreaded so much. Business negotiations, even tough ones, had never bothered him; bargaining was something he found unproblematic. But the combination of having to admit defeat and ask for a reprieve was a grueling prospect – especially with the looming threat of a total disruption of his professional life it harbored.

“Hello Christopher, good to see you again after so long. We missed having you here. How are you doing?” Janice, Warren’s assistant of many decades smiled warmly and also shot that sharp look of assessment at his middle. Or at least he saw it as such.

“Yeah thank you. It’s nice to be back. How have you been faring here at the Imperial?”

“Oh, it’s been – how shall I put it – well quieter than in past years. The crisis you know. You’ve done better at the Residency.”

“Really, do you think so?” he was caught by surprise, since he had been unsatisfied with his own figures, blamed it on his self-frustrated slacking during his diet. “I thought our performance hasn’t been looking too hot…”

“You’re being too critical – yours is still by far the best. Warren is busy on the phone – but I guess you can go in anyway.”

“Naah… it’s okay. I’ll wait here.” He settled at the small bar table with the hotel’s presentation materials and started to thumb threw them. The restaurant’s menu interested him in particular – and what he saw confirmed the critical reviews and comments he had read lately. The selection was too broad to really be able to offer top fresh quality with everything – and in an attempt to be innovative, creative or whatever, some of the dishes sounded plain unappealing. Who would think of eating baked cod with applesauce and beet-corn-tangerine salad?

“Hello Christopher, welcome back to the mother ship! How are you …. you’re not thinking of eating already again?”

His heart sank a bit as Warren’s voice went from friendly to critical in half a sentence, so he instinctively sucked in his gut and raised himself to his full height, a good 5-6’’ more than Warren’s. “Hello Warren, it’s good to be back. I’m fine. This is purely professional interest – I read a few reviews lately about the restaurant here and wanted to get a personal impression,” following Warren over into his office.

“You do look like you’re back in good health again, my boy. That’s good. What did you want to talk to me about, Christopher?”

Taking a deep breath, he started slowly: “It’s been about a year now Warren since you came with the idea for me to diet to lose weight significantly – coupled with the extremely generous offer of afterwards becoming your partner in the hotels. I’ve never been more honored in my life – and I’ve tried as hard as I can to meet my obligations…”

“Yeah, it’s okay. I see you’ve tried. It isn’t easy at your weight. But now you’re back in good health, Dr. Wright is operating again – and everything will work out with you losing the weight as soon as you have the surgery, don’t worry.”

“That is what I need to talk to you about. I’ve definitely decided against surgery. For me it’s…”

“Against the surgery? But why? Do you want to give up on our deal? Have you gone crazy? Who would give up on a chance like that?”

“Warren, please – this isn’t easy for me. Could you maybe let me try to explain before you say anything?” He looked earnestly at Warren until he sighed and nodded: “Okay, try to explain why you’ve gone crazy.”

“I’m pretty sure I’m not crazy – I’m just very different from you.” Seeing Warren’s look of surprise as something positive he went on. “You once questioned whether I actually liked being fat. Well – I can at least whole-heartedly can say I’ve never minded being fat, I’ve always felt comfortable with myself. With one exception: The last months of this diet – I was miserable and ended up being sick.” Sensing Warren wanted to say something, he raised his hand to stop him. “Working and living with, eating good food is a quintessential part of who I am. And that is not only what I personally love doing, but is also the major qualification I have for the job I do in the hotel and restaurant.”

“Be reasonable Christopher! That has nothing to do with you having weight loss surgery. It’s the best way to get you to a normal, healthy weight – you saw the diet didn’t work.”

“As I said, I tried my best – and from what I’ve been told 70 pounds weight loss in 10 months was a decent job. Of course it was not the miraculously thin result you seem to have expected. I got so heavy over many years – significantly reducing that in a healthy manner will again take years.”
Irritation showed on Warren’s face, so he hastily went on: “Weight loss surgery would change so much for me – I don’t know if I’d be the same person afterwards. Physically definitely not – and emotionally, mentally, I don’t know. I’ll admit it, I’m afraid of such a massively invasive surgery. And what I’m even more afraid of is that very little is known about its long term effects – how my life would be like in 20 or 30 years…”

“If you don’t have the surgery done you won’t have a life in 20 or 30 years as fat as you are…,” Warren burst out. “Christopher, when will you finally understand that all this is for your very best?”

“Warren, I believe you want the best for me. You’ve never done anything but the best for me. You’ve truly been like a father for me – and I can’t tell you how grateful I am. Becoming your partner would be a dream come true – a dream I never even dared imagine.” He took another deep breath.
“You’re right, I am way too fat. All medical statistics are on your side. But I may be fat – but I was always very healthy, even Wershowitz had to acknowledge that.”

“How could you’ve been healthy? You didn’t even know how much you weighed! You just stuffed yourself silly on all your fine menus and gateaux over the years and never paid any attention to your health!”

“Warren – I don’t want to bicker with you here over numbers, that’s not the point,” he sighed. “I might not have known how much I weighed – but I got the information that I had a clean bill of health 4 times a year with the regular testing we do for the kitchen staff.”

“Which testing of the kitchen staff?”

At this point he had trouble to not roll his eyes – Warren’s lack of detailed knowledge of the restaurant aspects of his business was often unnerving in its unprofessionalism. “Our kitchen is member of the Toques-International restaurant quality certification program. One aspect is ensuring highest hygienic standards – meaning all staff must have regular health checks for infections and the like. We do this as a full health scan to make sure everybody is fine and can handle the high pressure of working in the kitchen. I introduced you to the program maybe 4 years ago. And I always had all tests done myself to have the certification to work in the kitchen if I was needed or wanted to. Dr. Preston over the years sometimes said she noticed I had gotten bigger, but as long as all my health stats were okay, she wasn’t going to say anything.”

“I didn’t know you had regular health checks done. That’s odd that a doctor wouldn’t weigh you…”

“Why should she? It’s not important for the objective of the kitchen health check at all.”

“Christopher – you said yourself you’ve seen me like a father. I’m very happy about that – because I’ve seen you as my son the past years. Hell - you’ve acted much more like one than my own son did! That’s why I want you to be my partner, have the hotels some day. I know you’ll honor the trust I place in you, make the most of the Langdon hotels. Can’t you do me the small favor and get a grip on your weight problem – for your own best sake? It’s not only for business reasons. Look at yourself – have you never realized that your weight might be the reason you’re not married, don’t have a girlfriend? Don’t you want a family of your own? A woman today doesn’t want, … and you know the physical problems there might be…”

Wildly conflicting emotions stopped him from reacting immediately. His first impulse was the sense of insult with the wish to punch Warren in the face, knowing if he put his weight behind it, that Warren might end up hospitalized. The second wave was one of relief paired with fierce gratitude for and pride in the loyalty and discretion of his staff: So not even a rumor of the ‘director’s special microwave dishes’ seemed to have reached the ‘Imperial’ and Warren. And finally he almost felt something like pity for the obvious lack of erotic imagination Warren’s question implied, letting him answer surprisingly gently: “Warren, I honestly appreciate your concern. In the past years relationships just haven’t been high on my priority list. You know for yourself that there’re times when you can’t or don’t want to deal with the issue. I mean, it’s been almost 4 years for you too since Jean passed away. Weight is not an issue from my experience – all you need is an open, positive attitude, to yourself and others, then it’ll work itself out.”

“I don’t get it,” Warren kept shaking his head. “Now I’ve got three children for whom I’ve always done everything I think a father can do – and what do I get in return? Obstinacy, obstruction, and refusal to do what’s good for them! Doesn’t any of you ever think of the future of the business, what will become of the Langdon hotels?”

“The future of the Langdon hotels is something I think about continuously. I’ve always done my very best to get good results with all work I’ve done here for you and the business.” He was taken aback by this odd personal turn of the discussion, one he had not envisioned on his list. Instinctively he sat straighter, sucked in his gut a bit and covered it with his suit coat. “But as I said – people are different and good at different things. That even goes for your own children or those you consider as such. Lea may be rotten at all the niceties that matter in the hotel business – but she’s a brilliant pediatric surgeon, you can be really proud of her, even if the hotels aren’t her thing. Yeah, and Jim-Warren, …well, … he’s at least good at being thin and spending money in style … And as for me, I’ve tried to show you through my work for you and the hotels how much I value everything you’ve done for me, compensate for your trust and support. Without being arrogant, I think I can say I’m really good at the hotel and restaurant business, am a credit to your teachings. But being thin and dieting under pressure happens to be the things I’m not good at – and I don’t think it’s all that important for our business….”

“So you want to get so fat that you can’t get out of bed one day?”

The day of his breakdown came as a flashback, how he had lain there helplessly, making him cringe and his face start to smart with the flow of hot blood. “No, I definitely do not want that. Going about my life actively is as important as good food is for me,” he sighed.
“Warren, our discussion has gotten a bit off track. I actually wanted to ask you something quite different. Can we maybe order tea, have a short break and then start over? Please?”

With an irritated shake of his head, Warren ordered the tea. Christopher drank two cups slowly, wishing he had a nice pastry with it and collected his wits for a second round: “As I was trying to explain, weight loss surgery is not an option for me to meet my commitment to you to lose weight.” Seeing Warren bristle, he interrupted himself: “Please Warren, let me finish, listen to the end before you say anything, okay?”
After Warren’s hesitant nod, he went on. “But you’re right; all medical statistics say you’re right – I’m way too fat. So losing weight, if done the right way would be good for me. What I’ve become aware of in the past year is that I’m what you call a food addict. But also that I can’t handle dieting under pressure, having to lose so much weight in such a limited time span. It makes me sick and miserable; I feel like a failure and can’t even concentrate on my work properly. You only haven’t noticed how unsatisfactory my work has been because everybody else’s was even worse because of the crisis..”

“What the hell are you trying to tell me Christopher? You know you’re too fat but can neither diet nor have weight loss surgery…. What kind of bull shit is that? I always thought you were a clever, ambitious boy?”

“Warren, I wasn’t finished. It’s complicated for me…,” he took a deep breath. “Weight loss surgery and crash dieting are no options for me, they make me sick. So meeting my commitment to you to get down to maximum 320 pounds within the next year is not going to happen. I’m very sorry about that – I hate to have to disappoint you, but I just can’t do it that way. I wouldn’t be the same person you want to have to run the hotels with you. But I have a different suggestion,” he added hastily before Warren could say anything again.
“Reducing my weight is a meaningful thing for me to do, you’re right about that. So I would like to suggest the following alternative to your proposal: I promise you that I’ll slowly, healthily in a manner I can handle diet down to 350 pounds. That was about my weight when I started full time as director at the ‘Langdon Residency’. It’ll probably take 2-3 years from now. When I reach that weight, we can talk again about me becoming your partner. Not at the extremely generous conditions you had originally mentioned, but at any others you suggest – also like me buying some shares in the hotels. I’m very sorry I couldn’t meet your expectations, but that’s all I can offer. What do you say? Would that be a compromise that you can accept?”

Unconsciously, he held his breath waiting for Warren’s response, who frowned and shook his head, crossed his arms. “Christopher, I made you one offer, either you accept that and act accordingly – or you reject it. There’s no room for bargaining here. It’s not a normal business deal. Either you have the weight loss surgery, return to a normal weight and become my partner – or you stay a super fat glutton and go your ways.”

Even though he had anticipated this blow, played it through in his mind in the scenarios he had tested, hearing it from Warren was like an ice block slamming into him. He took a few very deep breaths, feeling the weight of his stomach rise and fall before he took out his folder and opened it.

“Okay, if you’re offer is non-negotiable as to the circumstances – which is your right of course – then this means my career at the ‘Langdon Hotels’ will come to an end. I’m very sorry about that. You, the hotels are home and family to me. Giving that up …,” he swallowed hard. “But I can’t pay the price of my physical and emotional integrity. I’m so sorry …”

“Christopher, please think about it again…,”

“I can’t Warren. I’ve done nothing but think about this lately. The past months showed me which price I can pay and still be myself, be the man you want for you business… the price of bariatric surgery is too high, I wouldn’t stay myself.” He pushed some papers to Warren. “I’ve talked all this over with my bank. To have a clean cut, this is my offer for your 30 % share in Maynard’s New French Boulangerie. It’s fair, it’s a 55 % return on investment in 4 years, next to the regular loan paybacks you’ve been receiving all along.”

Warren stared at him, as if he didn’t quite understand what he was talking about.

“Then there’s our range of M&L deli products in which we both hold a 50% share – you provided the capital and the initial distribution, I took care of the business and own the copyrights of the recipes and such. My bank calculated that if you’re willing to stay on as silent share holder at 50% of the net profits, calculated as median of the past three years, then I can buy you out in 9 years. Should you not want to wait this long – here’s the offer for the immediate buy out at today’s price, taking into account the weaker economy. Let me know which option you decide on.”

“Are you serious my boy? All this because of a few pounds of fat…?” Warren shuffled through the papers, obviously not really registering their content.

“Now one more thing…,” he swallowed hard and clenched his teeth because he felt his voice quaver, looking at the table since he couldn’t look at Warren when saying this. “Here’s my note of resignation as director of the Langdon Residency. You just have to enter the date – be it today or whenever you deem adequate if you first want to find a successor.” He pushed the paper over the table to Warren along with an envelope. “In the envelope is one more thing I do not know whether you would even consider. It’s my offer for buying the ‘Langdon Residency’. It would stay part of the Langdon group, but with independent ownership and management.”

“Buy the Langdon Residency? I can’t believe it … what are you thinking..?”

“It’s an unsolicited offer. You once said I love the Langdon Residency as much as you do. That’s right – it’s my home, and I’d like to keep it. If we can’t agree on a way of doing it together – I at least don’t want to blame myself for not having tried to do it on my own.”
Feeling he was about to lose his bearings, he got up. “Those are the offers I have in this situation. Since you’re not interested in the bakery or the deli-range, letting me buy out your shares in those two should be easy for you. Please think them over and inform me of your decision. I’m ready to leave my office at the Langdon Residency any day. I’m sorry it has to end this way – and thank you for all you’ve done for me. Good-bye.”

Warren seemed almost as shaken as he was: “You honestly want to give up your life because you want to stay this fat? Not grasp the chance of a lifetime?”

“Warren, I made you an offer that I’ll lose weight to a point that I can manage without stopping to be myself. I don’t quite understand why that isn’t good enough for you, why it has to be surgery with a massive weight loss. You’ve only known me fat – why has it been bothering you so much all of a sudden in the past year? You never said much about it before that, even though I gained so much weight over the years. It’s not like you saw me at 525 pounds overnight….”

“Yeah, but … but …. people started talking that you looked like a balloon not an executive….”

“People started talking … does it matter what ‘people’ say?”

“Not just people, Jack Edwardson commented most unfavorably on your weight when he was here reviewing the hotel….” Warren turned dark red in admitting this.

“Edwardson? And? He came to us too, wrote a great review, we won his listing of best big city hotel last year! So what if he doesn’t like I’m fat … as long as he’s objective about the performance of our hotel?” He shook his head and went towards the door.

“Why are you doing this, my boy? Please think it over! Surgery is the best option for you. What are you going to do now instead? Ruin your life? Stuff yourself until you weigh a ton?”

“I doubt it. I’ve got a business to run, soon loans to day back … and my life to live … and I want it to be a good one again!”

(Continued in post 110 of page five of this thread)
 

taco

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massive standing ovation.
biggest talk to the hand moment ever.
seriously. what happens now? is that the end?
 
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