Big Fat Liar
~BBW, ~~WG, ~Magic
“You are really going inside?” Carla looked incredulous.
“Why not?” I said. “She’s a harmless old faker- nothing more.”
“I don’t know Mandi- I’ve heard stories, curses, that kind of thing. I’ve seen her and she is beyond hideous.” Carla looked uncomfortable.
Carla and I were taking a three day weekend in Atlantic City for kicks. We were standing outside a run down three story apartment building in Atlantic City- and definitely not in the better section of town. The bottom floor was a storefront with faded and peeling letters painted on the windows “Madame Medusa-Knows All-Sees All”. And below that in slightly smaller print “Cash Only.”
“Are you coming in?” I asked Carla.
“No way- too creepy.”
I grinned at Carla, opened the door and strode in. A bell linked to the door tinkled to announce my presence.
The place needed a good cleaning, that’s for sure. The dingy storefront windows were the only light, and there was an antique table in the middle of the room covered with an elaborately embroidered tablecloth. Two mismatched chairs sat on opposite sides of the table.
The proprietor arrived seemingly from nowhere. Medusa was certainly appropriate - she was hideously ugly, gnarled wrinkled face, hook nose, missing teeth. A dirty kerchief covered stringy hair that could have used shampooing. “Good morning” she croaked, with a thick eastern European accent. “Would you like your fortune told?”
“How much”? The crone looked me over intently, then said “Fifty dollars.”
I was going to try to have some fun with this. “Too much” I said, shaking my head. “Twenty five.”
“Forty” she responded firmly.
“Twenty now,” I said “And If I think you really know all and see all, then I’ll pay you the rest.”
She motioned to a chair. I sat down. She sat at the other side of the table and waited expectantly. I took a twenty from my purse and gave it to her. “Give me your hands”. I extend my hands to her palms down. She took them in hers- gnarled callused and rough, but unlike anything else in the premises-or her for that matter- at least they were clean. She turned my hands over and examined the palms.
“You are from a big city”, she said, then paused. “Philadelphia”. That old faker. She was right, but she also could easily have seen that on my driver’s license when I pulled that twenty from my purse. “You are still looking for that special someone” she said next. That wasn’t hard to figure out, no engagement ring or wedding band on my left hand. The examining my right palm intently, she frowned and shook her head. “You are not a truthful person” she said.
“What?” I was indignant. “I am not a liar”. She shook her head firmly. “That is not what I see. Your palm says you are not a truthful person.”
I got up. “That’s enough” I said. I’ll be going now.”
“You still owe me twenty dollars.”
“Forget it you old faker. If anyone’s a liar, it’s you.”
Her eyes flared open wide, angry, and I felt uneasy. Carla was right, she was way too creepy. The old woman muttered an incantation in some foreign tongue, and waved her arms and hands wildly, finally pointing both hands at me. “We shall see who is liar”, she croaked. “From now on, whenever you tell lie, you will gain one pound.”
This was just too preposterous. I actually laughed, and skipped out the door. “See you later granny” I called over my shoulder.
Even Carla found it funny despite her earlier concerns. “Sounds like she’s bats- maybe that’s why everyone whispers about her.”
We were still talking about it as we began the drive back to Philly. As we left the Atlantic City limits traffic was light, so I pushed on the gas a full 10 miles an hour above the speed limit. Two minutes later a cruiser came behind me from nowhere and hit his blues. Crap. Carla looked alarmed. “Don’t worry”, I said as I pulled over. “I’ll talk my way out of this one.”
The officer came to the window. “License and registration” he said tonelessly. No “please”. This might be tougher than I thought. “Do you know why I stopped you?” I had a pretty good idea it had something to do with going 65 in a 55 zone, but I wasn’t going to admit it just yet.
“No officer, I really don’t.”
An odd flush and tingling sensation coursed through my body and was gone. Nerves?
“Do you know what the speed limit is in this area?”
Try playing dumb. “Seventy?” I said. Tingling sensation again. Weird.
“It’s 55 miss- didn’t you see the sign a mile back?” The officer was toning down a little bit. Maybe there was hope.
“No, I didn’t”. Tingling sensation again.
“Have you traveled this area before?” The cop was still fishing for a way to get me to admit I knew what the speed limit was. “No I haven’t, this is my first time here.” Tingling again.
The officer looked at my license. “Did you know your license expired two weeks ago?” I knew full well it had, but standing in line at DMV for a photo was not high on my list of priorities. I feigned surprise. “It has? I had no idea.” Tingling again, and a sensation of – snugness? Probably just tension.
The officer handed me my license and registration. “Slow it down miss- and take care of that license.”
He returned to his cruiser, executed a sharp U turn and was gone. I pulled out and held it to a respectable 55 mph until we got to the freeway. Carla was impressed. “You sure charmed your way through that one.”
“I told you”.
I dropped Carla off at her apartment, and then went home. The long weekend had been fun, but that encounter with the cop had been stressful. My clothes felt snug; I just wanted to get them off, take a bath with a glass of wine and relax before thinking about Monday and returning to work at the advertising agency. As I stripped down I realize the snug feeling was not stress. Things were a little tight on me. I stepped on the scale. 152. It had been 147 the last time a weighed myself, which was when- two weeks ago? I thought of the fortune teller and the curse- “you will gain a pound every time you lie”. Nah. No way. Impossible. I hadn’t exactly been watching what I ate lately, and three days of greasy boardwalk food plus ice cream explained it. Note to self: hit gym again. A light meal, a good soak, and I went to bed Sunday night ready to face Monday’s work craziness.
Monday morning. My office attire was a bit snug. I just have to quit eating at those greasy seaside joints. The commute was insane as usual. I had no sooner sat at my workstation when Carla ran in wide eyed and breathless. “I need your help. Ordway thinks I was lying about calling in sick Friday.”
“You called in sick?”
“I was out of vacation time. Look, cover for me-I need you to back me up. OK?” My phone rang. Ordway. “Amanda, I need to talk to you.” Click. No please- well that was Ordway. Carla was silently mouthing “Please.”
“OK, OK, don’t worry Carla. I’ll handle Ordway the same way I handled that cop.”
I walked down the hall, made the left turn to Ordway’s office, walked in sat down. Ordway got up from behind his desk, shut the door. “Straight goods, Amanda. I know you and Carla hang out together. Was she really sick Friday?”
“Yes she was.” That tingling sensation again. What the-
Ordway wasn’t done. “She wasn’t in Atlantic City with you?”
“No.” Tingling sensation again… and something else.
Ordway: “You went to Atlantic City by yourself?”
“Yes.” More tingling, and there was no question. The waist band of my slacks was cutting into me, the seams starting to strain as my bottom expanded. The fortune tellers curse! I was getting bigger. Yesterday with the cop- that explained the five pounds, now I had lied to Ordway three times, that made eight….
Ordway had asked another question and I had missed it. “Sorry?” I said.
“Someone said you and Carla were going to Atlantic City together.”
“That was the plan. But Carla called me Friday morning saying she was sick and couldn’t make it.” Tingling. Another pound.
Ordway wasn’t buying it. “So you went by yourself.”
“Like I said before, yes. I went by myself.” Tingling. My slacks were so tight I could barely breathe.
“Why didn’t you just cancel the trip?”
“I- we- had made reservations. I couldn’t help Carla, but I didn’t want to lose my money.” Tingling- I felt a thread let go in the seam over my right hip and an ominous bulge pushing below the waistband. How was the button on my slacks still holding on? Would it pop? Would Ordway notice I was getting fatter before his eyes?
Ordway looked straight at me. “Look- I know you and Carla are friends. You aren’t trying to cover for her are you?”
“No sir.” Another thread silently parted. How many lies now? Seven? That would make 12 pounds total after the lies from yesterday?
Ordway gave me a long dubious look. Oh, god, please- no more questions! “Alright Amanda” he said finally. “Get back to work.”
I got up slowly and carefully, feeling like I was packed in a sausage casing, and slowly made my way back to my desk. But my ordeal wasn’t over yet. As I gingerly passed by Ted’s workstation, I heard “You girls have a good time in Atlantic City?” After the discussion with Ordway, I knew the story had to be consistent throughout the office. “Mindy didn’t make it. She was sick.” Another pound, and I could barely walk. Seams straining I somehow made it back to my desk and carefully- very carefully- sat down. Then a phone call from a vendor about a bill. I had not approved it yet, but it slipped out before I knew it. “Accounting has it now.” Another pound, and the button on my slacks popped off. I felt soft pudge push out as the zipper came undone from the pressure.
I kept a small sewing kit with safety pins in my desk, and two safety pins later managed to tuck my tummy back into my slacks, but not before small gaps opened in the seams over my hips.
Carla came by my desk just before quitting time to thank me. “You really saved me. Thank you so much. I thought Ordway would…” her voice trailed off. “Say girlfriend, those slacks are looking crowded- maybe you should…” Pause. Carla saw the stricken look in my face, the wider hips, thickened midriff, the ominous bulge below the waist band that the safety pins were barely holding together. “Oh my god!” said Carla. “The curse! It’s real!”
“It sure looks that way. Every time I tell I lie I get fatter.”
“And I asked you to cover for me with Ordway…”
“Yes, and I did, but don’t ask me again. Carla, this is horrible. I think I gained 14 pounds in the last 48 hours! Remember the cop? What am I going to do?”
Carla spoke rapidly. “I told you not to go in there, not to mess with that gypsy woman. I told you she had a reputation. You’re going to have to go back to her and apologize and hope she will break the curse.”