BHM Energetic Expansions ~BHM, ~~WG

Discussion in 'BHM/Both Weight Fiction Archive' started by agouderia, Jan 6, 2015.

  1. May 20, 2015 #61

    Tad

    Tad

    Tad

    mostly harmless

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    The great white north, eh?
    Ah, after the comfortable chapters, we had to get to the less comfortable ones....but they were delightful too. Well handled!
     
  2. May 21, 2015 #62

    Undine

    Undine

    Undine

    Jigglypuff!

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    Oh, boy... Such a cliffhanger! I knew things would have to come to head sooner or later, but I'm seriously distressed! Wonderful writing!
     
  3. May 21, 2015 #63

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    - Actually Very Tame!

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    I read this yesterday morning while waiting for my breakfast, so I was furtively skimming through it ('cuz waiting obviously wasn't an option) and I had to stop, scroll back and go "woah, did she just - omg she did!" I find her emotions very believable - to me, that kind of deceit (by not raising a subject) is almost as bad as a direct lie.
     
  4. May 21, 2015 #64

    fatmac

    fatmac

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    Wonderful! The exposure of the truth works so well and Alexa's response is very understandable and honest. Well done indeed
    Mac
     
  5. May 23, 2015 #65

    ALS

    ALS

    ALS

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    Great addition! I hope that Alex and Alexa get back together.
     
  6. Jun 17, 2015 #66

    agouderia

    agouderia

    agouderia

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    XI.

    “Take all the time you need to think about this situation I screwed up totally – I’m always here when you’re ready. Cannot say how sorry I am – miss you so much. Love Alex”


    “Dear Mr. Bartholomon,
    although my schedule is already overbooked, I urgently need to speak to you. Please make yourself available for dinner tomorrow evening, 21h at the Thai restaurant.
    Best regards, Silvia van der Vaals”




    Sunday proved to be scary text day – the one which took him three hours and a non-retainable number of attempts to compose. The other email from his lawyer; her wording telling him that he was in serious trouble – if she insisted on an immediate meeting so far after office hours.

    The day drag-flew by, and for the first time since he had gotten together with Alexa, he felt really alone and lonely in his apartment. Monday at the office was no better, he left early and went on a long bike ride to somehow try to clear his head and not obsess over the meeting with his lawyer.

    Entering the Thai restaurant showered and in a fresh shirt, she was already sitting in a secluded corner tapping something into her phone, looking up at him irritably, although he was on time, even 5 minutes early. “Sit down here on the bench. I’ve already ordered – the mixed platter for two. A beer?”

    “Yes please – thank you. Good evening,” he pushed himself onto the bench, as she signaled something to the waiter. As their beers arrived, she turned off her phone and faced him: “Why didn’t you tell me Countess Oeynhausen is your girlfriend?”

    “After meeting you on Saturday, I’m not sure she still is my girlfriend….,” he muttered darkly and took a long sip of beer.

    “Excuse me – what do you mean exactly?”

    “From our meeting, she concluded the obvious – that I’ve gained so much weight to sue FuturePowers applying the ECJ obesity ruling. Not telling her that – major foul play in a relationship. So she left – we’re incommunicado right now.”

    “Still – why didn’t you ever tell me she’s your girlfriend?”

    “You never asked. Never asked anything about my personal life by the way. So I thought it wasn’t important ….”

    “I assumed you were cognisant enough of your situation to let me know you’re dating someone who used to be your colleague, worked in HR of your employer, is of such profile as Countess Oeynhausen…”

    Downing his beer and waving to the waiter for a second one, he studied her primly set features. “You never addressed the personal issue because you automatically assumed I don’t have a love life. Unthinkable that I – the fat guy who’s getting fatter and fatter, naturally making him less and less attractive for any love interest – could ever get involved with a perfect woman like Countess Oeynhausen. So much for not having fat stereotypes in mind….” He took a big sip of the second beer.

    Silvia van der Vaals went beet red and nervously fingered her curls behind her ears. “I apologize. You’re right; I did have you pigeon-holed in the overweight, thus a-sexual box. It’s the ruling social stereotype – and I applied it unthinking. Even though, having gotten to know you over the past year and a half, I can relate to what a woman might see in you.”

    It was his turn to blush darkly, while she continued: “So, how long have you been together with Countess Oeynhausen? Was it while she was with FuturePowers?”

    “No, it’s much more recent. We met again by chance end of February … then it quickly got very personal …. so it only was a few months…,” he could see her do the mental math, registering her struggle to suppress a highly intrigued expression as she realized that their relationship dated from after his massive winter and Christmas expansion.

    “Okay – that’s better, mainly for her, but also for you if you weren’t a couple while she was still your colleague – and in charge of the HR files.”

    “Does that really make such a difference?”

    “Can you imagine what it means for someone working in HR to have their boyfriend sue the company their working for? It’s the equivalent of your company being sued because some wind park you installed as engineer collapsed on your girlfriend’s house!”

    “That doesn’t happen, I…”

    “It’s an analogy! You wouldn’t want such a situation, would you?!” As she looked at him strictly he shook his head, also to the hors d’oeuvres she pushed his way. This discussion could be compressed into a pill and sold off as an appetite suppressant. “Alex- I’m really worried how this is supposed to work out. You’re an intelligent, educated guy – but regarding this lawsuit, the only thing you seem to have really thought all the way through is how to grow this big belly of yours in the tastiest manner!” She sighed and gave his gut a motherly rub, stunning him as much as premiering the use of his first name. “I’ve explained it, gone through the proceeding with you several times, what suing your employer, going to court, fighting it through legally means – yet it never seems to have fully sunk in with you.”

    “Will Alexa get into trouble because of me?” he whispered because that was the bottom-line of what he was just realizing to its full extent.

    “Oh Alex – I may use your first name, or not?” letting him nod. “Tell me – how exactly did you expect your taking legal action against your employer was going to proceed?” A glance at her told him she expected an answer, so after a long while he half shrugged. It was true that his ideas of how things would go were on the fuzzy side, he had stifled any too detailed thoughts about that for a long time. Having to answer such a straight-forward question made him fear voicing any specific expectations would only reveal his embarrassing ignorance.

    “Although I’ve tried to familiarize you with the details time and again, I fear you’ve maintained a very lay impression of what a lawsuit entails, to put it mildly,” Silvia van der Vaals sighed. “Somehow you seemed to have stayed in the delusion that all you had to do was eat your way through as many goodies as possible, reach the ECJ ruling weight class, work at FuturePowers until your contract expires on September 30th. Then I write a plea making the claim of fat discrimination, FuturePowers’ law firm responds with a counter statement – and then a judge decides. With you being either back in your job or handsomely compensated within … let’s say 6 weeks …. Or the latest by Christmas …..” Her attentive silence once more prompted him to a conflicted head movement; something between nod and shrug – because her shorthand description got pretty close to his preferred day dream scenario.

    “I feared that was the case. Let me try and explain to you one more time – and please make a serious effort to comprehend the magnitude of what’s coming. First of all – it is unusual that you are still working normally at FuturePowers. I’ve never had a case when someone in your position wasn’t dismissed from duty immediately – at the latest after our response to the chair suggestion; which again is weeks ago. The approach your bosses are taking is about as unworldly as your own. Maybe you’re correct, from what you’ve been documenting as your work – that it is because of manpower shortage they prefer keeping you on. But it fits in to the generally not very professional HR policy they have – think of your start that you could only get your job after getting EU citizenship because they weren’t able to get the paperwork for a US citizen done properly.”
    She shook her head in exasperation. “Under normal circumstances I would advise you to quit working yourself, like calling in sick. To avoid possible liability issues. But I don’t see the potential for that here, since they’re taken all power to negotiate from your position. So I believe it’s better for our claims and you to keep up doing good work show your continued high professional competence and expertise – in spite of your weight. Nevertheless, you should expect to be asked to leave any time – so have your desk, your projects in order, probably best take your personal things home with you one by one.”

    “I’ve already done that.” He was glad to be able to indicate he had considered at least a few things.

    “Good. Document even more precisely than you already have so far what work they ask you to do in these last weeks. As soon as they do finally dismiss you ….or if these head-in-the-sand politics on all sides continue … at the latest on October 1st we’ll hand in our plaint suing FuturePowers on your behalf. What can you expect after that happens? Naturally, a counter statement which will be very unfriendly – picking apart your work performance, your team behavior in the office, your character – stating you’re an unprofessional, undisciplined weak-willed idiot who was unfit for the job and got fat on purpose to come up with this completely unsubstantiated claim….”

    “Ummm …. But I did gain…”

    “No – stop it right there. Don’t finish the sentence, don’t even finish the thought. Your weight gain is the direct negative practical consequence from the work place discrimination and harassment you faced at FuturePowers. Full stop.” She looked at him very critically. “Did you talk to anyone except Countess Oeynhausen about your situation? Family? Friends? Who knows the full story?”

    “I didn’t even really talk to Alexa about it- she added two-and-two herself, concluded the obvious…”

    “Anybody else? Like family?”

    “No – no family. They’d be the last people I’d tell that story to….,” he took a deep breath. “But one friend, a close friend of mine knows. He’s the father of my goddaughter … we spent last Christmas together …. He inferred something of the sort from my overeating…..”

    “You told him the full story?” her voice was subdued but sharp, letting him nod slowly. “What does he do professionally? Does he also work at FuturePowers?”

    “No. He’s a lawyer too – works at the ICC, Office of the Prosecutor….. I talked to him confidentially.”

    “Fhew… that’s good. Are you sure you haven’t spoken to anybody else? No hints to family, or Countess Oeynhausen’s family?”

    “No – I have definitely not.” Her questioning was annoying him since he could tell how little she seemed to think of him. “You don’t really understand being overweight, what it means to be fat. Everybody judges you if you’re fat, so you avoid talking about your weight as far as possible. No overweight person likes discussing what or how much they eat …. let alone if they’re overeating intentionally to get even fatter. Everybody would think you’re crazy. My family would’ve honestly tried to get me institutionalized if they knew. As stupid as I may be – me having babbled around about this is one thing you needn’t worry about.”

    “I’m glad to hear that. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think you’re stupid. I just fear you haven’t fully realized what such a legal battle will mean for you, the amount of negativity, of defamation, of being picked apart as a person you will have to endure. Or all the other disagreeable aspects you will face. We have to do a medical exam of your health, to show you’re fully fit to work. The opposing party will certainly ask for a counter exam. I assume they will also have a psychological examination done … and there you will need to play your cards very deftly.”
    The skepticism in her voice and glance told him she doubted he was up to that assessment. Probably she was right, because he could sense cold fear start to strangle him. “Witnesses will be heard, questioned, or at least have to give a written deposition. That will include Countess Oeynhausen – but I’m 101% positive she will be aware of the issue. The opposing party might hire a private investigator to dig up dirt on you … is there anything?” letting him reflexively shake his head. Apart from this his life had been blamelessly boring.

    “All of this will take months ….. my guess would be at least a year and a half. So you need to get your paperwork for unemployment benefits ready – to ensure your income for this time period.”

    “Unemployment benefits?” he was caught unawares.

    “Yes of course. You will be unemployed as of October 1st, since you want to see this case through and are not looking for a new job. You’re entitled to a year of full employment benefits – don’t worry.” She must have read his distraught expression, for she sighed: “Oh Alex – what are we going to do with you? I’ll have Katrina prepare that paperwork for you too. She’ll get in touch and walk you through the process.”



    Documenting his work unexpectedly gave him more to do than he had imagined after being banned from public appearances in December: With several people having left and summer vacation season back on, he even found himself filling in at the renewable energy sessions with the European association in Brussels, as well as picking the loose threads back up with the Dutch-Danish bio-mass processing project. These were two which he would’ve actually relished doing, as they were with nice competent colleagues, discussing interesting new aspects in the field. But he was too far in a personal and professional funk to get much gratification out of them.

    The biggest surprise came one morning in mid July as he entered their office floor to find Tom Ross’ assistant Fabiana already coming after him. “Alex – thank God you’re here. You need to do this presentation for the CEO and the new board president at 13:00 today. Polly called in sick!”

    “CEO? Board? – That’s beyond my competencies…,” he grumbled, not quite awake yet after having slept poorly. “Remember …. not allowed to show my fat face at official events…. Let Tom do it himself – I can revise the presentation for him if necessary.”

    “Tom insisted you have to do it! He still is in London….,” Fabiana shoved a data stick at him. “This is Polly’s presentation – go practice it….”

    Settling at his desk and firing up his computer, he shook himself irritably. Of late he had been so busy with the day to day work thrown at him as well as his private issues to pay much attention to what was going on at Future Powers’ bigger company picture. Why Tom and Polly – who loved to represent at official functions – weren’t here when the CEO was in all the way from California was bizarre, to put it mildly. Also -it had totally escaped him that something had changed on the shareholder board – but he could care less. For the moment he had to attempt a meaningful in that presentation; not so easy with the masses of in his opinion trivial to wrong charts Polly had prepared.

    “Get Tom on the phone for me, will you please? I can’t parrot this presentation like that,” he asked Fabiana, who indeed put him through a few minutes later. “Sorry Tom, but I can’t do Polly’s presentation 1:1 as it is now.”

    “Of course you can! You know more of that data by heart than she does!” Tom’s reaction was highly unusual as such truths had rarely been voiced.

    “That’s not the point. It’s too much – 73 slides – it will bore the pants of the California guys. I have the same data in a short working group presentation I did last week at EREC in Brussels- in only 15 slides. Is it okay to use that?” he hoped that a facts oriented, common sense argument would win him over.

    “No – it has to be at least some of Polly’s as she’s in charge. Why don’t you mix them, take the best of both, okay. I have to be going. Trust you to stick to the facts by the way Alex … oh and dress presentably cover up well,” there was a threatening undertone in the final words.

    Flipping through Polly’s presentation again, then the print out of his – he saw 2 charts with the same title: “From 20:20:20 to 50:80:80” – a catch-phrase summing up the European Union’s longer term goals for a low carbon economy.

    A very radical approach to present both and let his audience decide took form in his mind. Looking down at his baggy checkered shirt, he knew he’d have to change, get himself in the best professionally suitable shape he currently was capable of to be able to conjure the necessary confidence to pull it off.

    Going back over to Fabiana he asked: “Who else is in on this presentation? Where will we have it?”

    “In the upper floor large meeting room. It’ll be just CEO Simmons, the new Board President, Leon as most senior manager on the premises and myself for
    the minutes.”

    “Then not the large meeting room, especially not in the noon heat. It’s too big, too much glass, not enough walls. The small inner one here. Crank the air-conditioning all the way up. Clear the walls, no overhead presentation. Get us the iced espresso from the Lavazza bar. See you at one.”

    “But that’s not what’s plan…”

    “I don’t care what’s planned. If I have to do it out of the blue – we’re doing it my way,” astounded by his own authoritative stance. “I’m going home, prepare in peace and change. I’ll take a cab and charge it to expenses.”

    In the elevator mirror he saw that he looked like a total mess, had mis-shaved this morning and the last hair cut had been with Alexa …. how many weeks ago was that? Conveniently the barber shop was around the corner from his printer, so he had his presentation posters printed out while he got a haircut, a head massage and a good shave. All sense of feeling better this measures evoked was gone for as he stood in front of his closet, holding the draping yards of material his clothing consisted of these days. Most circus elephants would probably fit into his shirts…. Gritting his teeth until his jaw ached; he quenched these thoughts since they were utterly counter-productive. To put as many positive thoughts into his outfit as possible, he opted for the suit from Carolina’s baptism, Alexa’s favorite blue shirt and the first tie she had bought him as a present.

    At least Leon saw the effort, for he gave him a punch in the shoulder: “Very snappy attire – looks good on you.”

    CEO Simmons clearly did not think so, for he looked him up and down: “Where is Polly Harding? Why didn’t Thomas Ross get back from London? Why are you presenting?”

    “Alexander Bartholomon, sir. We met briefly some years ago. I’m the most senior expert on EU project development here, have been doing it for over 3 years. Ms. Harding called in sick today.”

    “Yeah I remember you …. Gosh you must’ve been half the size then. Too much Dutch beer & fries, eh? You’re an engineer right? What can you tell us on the business side that might be relevant?”

    Even before everything had gone wrong with his job at FuturePowers, Simmons had been the type of executive he detested: The lean, lanky, perpetually golf tanned manager who had gone through a series of senior positions in various fields without knowing much about any of them. Nevertheless, the remarks stung and he felt his face grow hot. One thing about having gained so much weight that truly annoyed him: With a fleshier face and the fat of his double-chin around his neck, blushing brought more discomfort, as if his face got redder, hotter, sweatier and ballooned in the process.

    “Peters. I’m the new President of the Board, represent FFCT Capital,” The unknown man introduced himself. He was very non-descript pale, a bit puffy but not heavy, maybe around forty, the most distinguishable thing about him a pair of nerdy Oxford glasses.

    “You have a poster presentation? What are we supposed to get out of that! We’re leaving!” Simmons turned, but Peters held him back. “If this is what is on offer, we should listen and discuss it. It looks like a different approach for a change.”

    “As Mr. Simmons mentioned, I’m an engineer, so I bring in the technical perspective. That’s the second presentation, one I did at the European Renewable Energy Council last week in Brussels. The other one is an excerpt of the business one prepared by Ms. Harding. Currently the policy-business side and the technical-business side are moving apart in the inner European debate. I plan to give you a comparison of both positions so you can decide from there on.”

    Simmons sat down thunder-faced, but Peters proved an interested, albeit very new to the issue audience, asked many questions and they weren’t done until 4:30 p.m. At that time he was jittery from too many icy espressos and starving, but actually half-way satisfied as Simmons left without a word, but Peters gave him his personal card with a genuine sounding thank you handshake.

    “Tom wants to talk to you immediately,” Fabiana was on his phone 8 minutes later. “Simmons has already called him in a huff.”
     
  7. Jun 17, 2015 #67

    agouderia

    agouderia

    agouderia

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    Late June, early July brought an unusual heat wave with temperatures up to 35°C/95°F - crazy hot for the North Sea coast, making him more miserable than he could ever remember. In a country that knew nothing about air-conditioning – as it objectively was needed only on an average of maybe 3 days per year – he went about his days feeling like a sweaty, disgusting blob. Looking back at it from today, this “weight gain to save his job” project had been the most insane idea imaginable. It would’ve been much smarter, much more normal and sensible to swallow the bitter pill of being duped regarding his contract status and denied his promotion – and gone ahead to directly look for a new job, then with good professional credentials and as physically small, in shape as he was capable of. Where had this nutcase inspiration come from that getting super fat could be meaningful in any way, lead to a positive professional outcome? Most likely he had lost everything: Undermined his professional position, lost the best woman he had ever met – and ruined his body. In the end he would stand there empty handed losing his lawsuit against FuturePowers, being convicted as a gluttony fraudster instead.

    These gloomy thoughts kept meandering through his mind, some nights he couldn’t even sleep with chilling fear shaking him, letting him curl up on his side, wrapping his arms around the lard balloon of a gut he had so recklessly gorged onto himself. The heat and mental darkness completely shut down his appetite, only letting him eat something when the hunger pangs got to strong. In the morning yoghurt or fruit, salad for lunch with some of his nicer colleagues – and liquid diet in the hot evenings, being a six-pack of ice cold beer with no solid fare at all. The latter calorie intake was what kept him from losing weight too quickly – not that it mattered either way anymore.

    He avoided people, places and situations where he could, sticking to his office, his apartment and if he went out on the beach or into the countryside, he steered clear of haunts where he might run into anybody familiar. Not so easy in the most densely populated country in Western Europe – letting him develop a phobia of people getting too close or even touching him. Naturally he evaded all social and even not 105% necessary professional gatherings, wanting to be alone in his misery.

    One event he couldn’t easily duck out of was Carolina’s first birthday on July 10th. It made him consciously notice the passing of time; she indeed no longer was the helpless, marathon-sleeping infant but was turning into an energetic toddler who had inherited Max’s sunny disposition. Hannah waved off all present suggestions saying they had everything in at least double edition anyway. Imagining that her fate was to be one of endless hand-me-downs similar to Zoë’s he bought her a French table set with her name on it while at a meeting in Brussels. The lady in the children’s store suggested it, emphasizing the francophone preference for traditional educational toys and devices.

    Carolina’s trusting little hug was a consolation as he came to the party, only Josephine’s question: “Where’s Alexandra? Couldn’t she come?” uttered with reproving disappointment instantly let him crash back into reality. Something in his small voiced: “She can’t make it this weekend; she needed to go to a family event…” must have warned the perceptive little girl to push further, for against her usual inquisitive habit, she didn’t say anything more only stared at him for the rest of the afternoon with wide fearful eyes.

    To not have to answer to Hannah and Max’s potential probing questions, he busied himself with his godchild, practicing first attempts at climbing stairs, walking and building towers. In the process, continuously feeling encumbered by the heavy obstacle his stomach had turned into, shaking his head that he could have been so oblivious to that for months. After the children’s dinner and Carolina falling asleep, he quickly excused himself.

    “Hey – a first birthday party is more for the adults to celebrate after the kids are in bed,” Max urged him to stay, bringing out two bottles of well-chilled white wine.

    “Sorry Max, Hannah – I’m wiped. Very tired. Haven’t been sleeping well in this heat. I need a cold shower and some rest. Have a peaceful evening for yourself. You deserve it.” leaving as fast as possible to avoid any further discussions.


    The next Wednesday, the weather broke in a violent thunderstorm and rain in buckets, giving him an excuse to skip the Democrats Abroad meeting. On Thursday, it was about 20 degrees cooler and he was surprised to find Max waiting for him in front of the office as he left at 5:30.

    “What are you doing here?”

    “Waiting for you. How about a guy’s beer dinner?”

    ‘No’ was not an answer option – since he couldn’t think of a plausible excuse if busy family man Max took the time to come pick him up. Despite sensing an agenda he dreaded behind this unusual move, he shrugged: “Why not?”

    Even less familiar was that they didn’t go to one of their regulars locations in The Hague, but in silence drove up to Leiden, to one famous old beer house Max said his colleagues loved. Settling on a bench, they quickly had beers fresh from tap and took several long sips in silence before Max sighed: “I don’t need to tell you we’re here for a reason. My girls are worried sick about you.”

    “Carolina can’t be - she’s too small to worry.”

    “Well … she got teething troubles out of solidarity and frets for not having Uncle Alex to care for her. You know Hannah – and Josie keeps asking me full of panic: “Will we never see Alex& Alexa again?”

    A mix of guilt, shame, aggressive denial and the urge to cry and spill the beans left him tongue-tied, so he finished his first beer instead and waved over a second one.

    “I don’t want to draw any hasty conclusions…. but knowing something about your situation …. my educated guess would be that Alexa somehow found out the reason for your weight gain. And one way or the other doesn’t exactly approve of it….”

    Hearing the facts spelled out in front of him didn’t necessarily help, so he muttered in frustration: “How can you know?”

    “It isn’t exactly rocket science.” Max gulped down the rest of his beer. “You’re not the guy who talks a lot about personal issues – I never could see how you might have sold her that story in getting together. So I assume you didn’t address it but she discovered it one way or the other. She will feel deceived – and at the same time worries about potential implications for herself as she works in HR, even used to be in charge in your company….” summing up exactly what Silvia van der Vaals had said. He looked at Max helplessly and hinted at a nod.

    “Guess it wasn’t meant to be – the Countess and the fatso – how’s that supposed to work in real life..,” he grumbled self-defeating.

    “Nonsense – look at this,” Max pulled out his phone and opened one of the baptism pictures. “I can’t remember any other couple that not only seemed so infatuated with each other, but had such a visible common loving base so early on in their relationship.” Seeing himself with Alexa in one arm and Carolina over his shoulder let stinging heat prickle very uncomfortably in his eyes. He had to bite his under lip hard to fight the searing emotional hurt with real physical pain, looking down.

    “I … I …. I just don’t know what to do…..,” he muttered after minutes of silence. “I did everything wrong – I should’ve been honest. But as you say – how can you tell such a story, a project so crazy to anyone – let alone a love interest? Had I told her early on – we never would’ve had time together…. Then with suing FuturePowers …. It’s all a total mess ….. I …. I …. really don’t know what to do……. What would you do? You’re a lawyer- what do you think I should do?”

    Max shook his head. “There’s no advice I can give you …. you have to decide for yourself what’s best for you …..”

    “You have to have an opinion…. as a lawyer, as friends ….,” he drained the rest of what must be his third beer and waved over another. When the waiter came, Max ordered something: “You need to eat more and drink less.”

    “Eat more? Bad joke! Really rotten joke!” He looked down on his gut, could feel the weight of the excess flesh resting on his thighs, the expanse pushing him quite a way off the table. Despite being less inflated than it had been for most of the past year and a half, it still made reaching over the table difficult and had an alienating quality to it. Had he seriously seen this as an achievement?

    “Well … trying to destroy Heineken’s annual production isn’t going to solve the problem either. We big guys need our food to think properly.” Max started distributing the cutlery from the bread basket and spooned salad from 2 bowls onto smaller plates, pushing one towards him. They had finished over half the salads as a large roast chicken with apple sauce and small baked potatoes was set in front of them. The delicious smell of the meat automatically made his mouth water and he attacked the offering with zest in spite of himself.

    “That’s better…,” Max grinned at him. “You know … when you told me about your job weight gain project back over Christmas – I had a mental split screen reaction. My brain said – that’s crazy! He should’ve come directly to me as a lawyer, I would’ve talked him out of it, told him to swallow the dirt and find a new job. My gut reaction was – what a totally cool thing to do! I envied you for the courage to want to fight something like that through – and for being able to eat all you wanted. Also because you seemed so honestly comfortable, content with your full belly as it grew bigger and bigger. Especially when Alexa was constantly touching it….”

    He swallowed hard and had to start coughing, his eyes watering over as aching remorse rose in him, yearning for the warm memories Max’s comments evoked. “Well – that’s all over and done with,” it came out very gruff. “I’ve probably lost everything here…. my job …. I’ll lose the lawsuit against FuturePowers because it’s based on fraud…. Can’t believe I ever assumed such an idea would work …. and Alexa is gone … if she ever was really there….”

    “Whoa …. slowly does it….. not so much bitterness….,” Max hastily chewed down. “Why are you suddenly convinced you’ll lose the lawsuit against FuturePowers?”

    “My lawyer thinks I’m too stupid to pull it off ….. and anyway ….. I don’t know what I was thinking …. I wanted to base a lawsuit, my professional future on a lie….”

    “Why on a lie?”

    “Well …. that I got so fat because of FuturePowers, because of fat discrimination – that’s not true …. It was my own outrageously stupid decision to stuff myself and get so fat ….”

    “Wait a second – stop right there. That’s engineer thinking. Lawyer and legal thinking is different.”

    “You just said yourself that you would’ve advised against it if I had asked you beforehand.”

    “Yes – I would’ve advised against it because of the inherent, incalculable risks you face when taking any legal action. Not because you didn’t have a valid legal point.”

    “What?”

    “There’s an old Roman law saying: In court you get a verdict, you don’t necessarily get justice. If you as an engineer build any machinery, you start by calculating the physics side, getting the material, forming it, assembling it …. And in the end you have a piece of machinery that runs and does a job. Or if it doesn’t work, you change parts or start over. In law it’s different. It’s about codified rules as a base for the interpretation of facts – done by humans with opinions and experiences, set in the framework of pre-existing cases. Often you have to bend and adapt facts so that they fit into your legal framework. Like in your case: Would you be this heavy today if you had received your job promotion, worked as head of department with a tenured contract?”

    “No – most likely not. I’d probably only be back up to my 120-125 kilograms.”

    “See – you put on this much weight because you were discriminated against because of your size and appearance. The fact that this discrimination so far is not covered by the law is the law’s fault and not yours. All you did was adapt to the existing legal framework, so it works for your case.”

    “Still … wasn’t I somehow dishonest? Isn’t getting this fat on purpose cheating in the case?”

    “No – it’s the means to prove your case. That you did it voluntarily, that – let’s be honest – you enjoyed most of the ride – that’s beside the point. You were discriminated against professionally because you didn’t fit the slim appearance bill. There are thousands, maybe even millions of overweight employees in the EU who suffer the same fate. You have the chance to help them, improve the position and standing of the fat work force in EU labor law. Make employers aware of what risks they’re running by fat bashing their employees.”

    “But you said you would’ve advised against it … and now you’re saying the opposite…”

    “I would’ve advised against putting on so much weight in the face of all the imponderabilities of any legal action. But since you went ahead and got this big to make your case – now go for it. And I’ll help you with it – if you want me too. Give you a second legal opinion, coach you through the legal steps, put menacing law speak into perspective….”

    “Would you do that for me?”

    “Of course I will. Your lawyer has an agenda of her own. I can offer you the legal perspective without an agenda – except that you’re my friend…..”

    “Thank you so much…. whew …. yeah … what can I do to thank you….?” It was as if a heavy physical weight was lifted off him, as if he no longer weighed 160 kilograms, but was down to a normal 130 kilos again. It might not be a solution, but knowing he no longer had to face this situation alone was an immense relief. He took another piece of chicken, some potatoes and apple sauce.

    “Keep being such a great godfather for my little girl ….” They clinked glasses.

    “What about Alexa….?”

    “That’s a more difficult one …..”

    “I don’t know what to say …. to explain …. because I can’t really say I would’ve done anything differently. I don’t know what I should’ve done. There was no way I could’ve been honest with her and this story …. and there’s no way I can really heal that …. Except that I’m incredibly sorry …. still don’t know what to do….”

    “Tell her that ….”

    “When? And how? I don’t want to ambush her …. Or write…?”

    “Normally I’d say write, it mostly explains things better than when one word can give the other, easily getting out of control. ….. But admittedly in this case you don’t want to leave a paper trail …. not even with someone you love. Give her more time.”

    “Time? It’s been almost 4 weeks now….”

    “I’m not a very religious person – but as you know, I was raised Catholic. I think there’s something to the 40 days rule….”

    “The 40 days rule?”

    “In the bible, there’s a certain qualifying period of 40 days for most things – of mourning, of fasting, before the Holy Spirit comes, etc. It seems like a good time period for wounds to heal, people to come to terms with facts, see developments more neutrally, dispassionately. Give her that time – and if she doesn’t get back in touch with you until 40 days are over- try hard to contact her. Talk to her. At all means, try to convince her of your sincerity. She’s really worth any effort, your Lady Alexandra.”
     
  8. Jun 17, 2015 #68

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    Xyantha Reborn

    - Actually Very Tame!

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    Happy sigh...!

    I love the delicacy with which all alex's insecurities and evasions are coming to a head.
     
  9. Jun 18, 2015 #69

    ashblonde

    ashblonde

    ashblonde

    Busy writing

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    I always love your stories, agouderia, so no exception here. The fat stuff and your descriptions of said fat stuff are always a treat, but I also really dig the corporate intrigue and narrative you bring along with it - makes it relatable and sexy all in one package.
     
  10. Jun 18, 2015 #70

    fatmac

    fatmac

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    Another lunch break well spent. Thank you for the chapter
     
  11. Jun 18, 2015 #71

    Tad

    Tad

    Tad

    mostly harmless

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    The great white north, eh?
    Exactly my thoughts :)
     
  12. Jun 21, 2015 #72

    agouderia

    agouderia

    agouderia

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    Thank you ladies - praise from fellow writer's with your expertease is especially valuable :blush:

    Would you like a salad or a sandwich with your next chapter? ;)
     
  13. Jun 21, 2015 #73

    agouderia

    agouderia

    agouderia

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    XII.

    Day 30 passed …. 31, 32, 33, …. and on day 34 he had an envelope in his mailbox with Alexa’s handwriting on it. Tearing it open, another envelope appeared – thick cream colored with an embossed crest with crown on the flap – to Mr. Alexander Bartholomon c/o Countess Oeynhausen-Sierstorpff.

    Given its intimidating officious look and texture, he didn’t rip it, but carefully slit it open with a knife. Out came a card with another embossed crest, even colored in gold and green. In it a few lines of handwriting in green ink that blurred before his eyes before he could decipher them:

    Mr. Bartholomon,

    Pleas accepting my Sincere gratidude for Your Services rendered to my granddaughter Lady Dorothée.

    She had the operation in Cologne and is being much better. We all hope her health will become very good.

    Thank you again and best to you
    HSH Olga-Mathilda
    Princess of Meiningen-Leiningen-Schakenberg


    Despite the comic qualities of the language, the card was a distressing reminder of why his relationship with Alexa must have been doomed in the first place. That she had simply passed it on without comment in a plain envelope confirmed that. After her birthday with his introduction to the entire direct family, a visit to John in Cologne with Christian & Christina, and a weekend-visit with her parents in Amsterdam had gone very well. He had been so taken by her parents and brothers that he had agreed with pleasure to accompany her to Charlie and Dagmar’s in Brussels for the 2nd birthday of their little daughter Dorothée. What he had envisioned as another nice, uncomplicated family gathering with chocolate and beer had divulged itself as an authentic aristo-nightmare in which he had felt like the last stupid stable-hand. Quiet, kind Dagmar’s family was snobby, cliquish, invasive and spoke little English, stared at his girth in repulsion and questioned Alexa about their relationship, suggesting all sorts of Counts and Princes as potential desirable husbands for her.

    To flee the situation, he had helped out Dagmar with her little girl who needed quiet away from the crowd since she had some breathing troubles. It was unsettling how frail the child was; even a sick Carolina was an advertisement for health and vigor in comparison. He couldn’t remember what he was supposed to have done noteworthy; he only tried to make sure the poor baby could move around, play and especially eat a bit without being disturbed. So this thank you note struck him as beyond odd. Probably some weird tradition attempting to be polite to the lackeys.


    Since Alexa had not added any note or comment herself, he interpreted it as a signal to maintain radio silence himself – and stuck to waiting for the 40 days Max had advised. Day 35, 36, 37 passed ….. and late on day 38, a Friday, he received a text: “How about dinner on Monday night – to have that necessary talk? My place – I’ll cook.”

    “I’m ready any time you say so. When shall we meet? How about going out somewhere – so you don’t have the extra work cooking? What could I treat you to? Anything else I can do or bring?”

    “My place is best. Come at 20h. You needn’t bring anything. Have a nice weekend, A”


    The business tone let his heart drop three notches, yet he kept telling himself that talking again was the only possible and best first step. These deliberations made him decide against her favorite body lotion to bring along, instead buying a new organic speculoos & almond spread he had found.

    Arriving at her door late because the bus had been delayed, he was flustered and stumbled as she continentally cheek-kissed him in greeting. In his tumble, he caught the railing of the stairs, landed on his knees, his head falling against her stomach. Reflexively, he steadied himself by wrapping his arms around her, sinking his face into her middle, noticing her little tummy was gone – their breaking up hadn’t done anything for her appetite either. The small shift of his massive weight on the tile floor caused his knees caps to respond with alarmed pain. “Ouch!”

    “Did you hurt yourself?”

    “No … ouch … my knees …. I’m too fat to kneel any more…”

    “Kneeling on those tiles in painful for anyone who is past puberty,” she reasoned, giving him both hands to help pull him back to his feet, which he managed huffing and swaying. Her hands in what must also be automatic mode straightened his shirt and tucked it smoothly back into his waistband. “Your appetite seems to have deserted you…”

    “Only a little bit …. miss your cooking and company ….,” not a very intelligent response. But he had sworn to himself that he would be honest to her, answer all questions as best he could. Not that he had any hopes of remedying his deceit. Only show her he normally was a decent guy and these were circumstances far beyond him.

    “Hopefully I can do a little something to revive that appetite,” she led the way to the dining table. “On a small scale only – I made your favorite Riesling herb cream soup – and then a summery array of Mediterranean style antipasti, tapas, mezé … whatever you want to call them. So we really have time to talk in peace, not while I’m fussing around in the kitchen.”

    He nodded – there it was again, the business approach. The first spoonful of soup made him smile in spite of himself: “So, so, so good! Thank you for making this – best comfort soup imaginable!”

    “You’re welcome. I thought we should try to get off on a really good, tasty start.” She ladled more soup onto his plate. After he had finished it, another plate with several of the starters followed, along with the bread basket and what looked like chive butter. “Alex – I want to be honest with you. My lawyer explicitly advised against me meeting with or talking to you. At all, let alone about your case.”

    “Your lawyer?”

    “I was responsible for HR at the time your contract was changed at FuturePowers – even though I did not negotiate it. All of that was done, along with several others, by their law firm. I still work in HR – although for another company and with a different profile. Less administration, more development. Your impending lawsuit nevertheless puts me in a position where I need to make sure I’m on safe legal footing myself.” She sighed before looking back up at him. “I know a lot about labor law – but I’m not a lawyer myself. That will always limit my options in EU HR departments. That’s why I’m shifting more into the development and educational part of the field; it’s a better match for my academic background.”

    “I’m so sorry…”

    “You’ve said that often enough. And I believe that you’re sorry. Repeating it won’t help us,” her voice was soft and sad; still it hit him like a whiplash.

    “Sorry …. No sorry …. I understand … sorry … I won’t say it again,” pink heat spread over his face.

    “So – against the recommendation of my lawyer, for personal reasons I want to give you a chance to explain your side of the story. All of this is off the record - this dinner, this conversation never happened. That's also why I wanted to have it here at home, in real private.”

    “Thank you for giving me the chance. I promise I won’t say anything to anybody,” swearing to himself he wouldn’t even tell Max. “I had thought about writing … but even someone as clueless as me noticed that might not be the best idea…”

    “You’re an engineer – not a lawyer ….. which I always thought was a good thing about you…,” her smile was small and twisted. “Off the record – tell me your side of the story, what happened since the day you received your new contract at FuturePowers.”

    With the table between them, the situation did resemble that of a job interview – a HR representative politely inviting him to talk about himself. “You’re right, I’m an engineer – I don’t think in legal terms. So when I got the new contract, I trusted their word that I’d get that promotion in a year, that the new Dutch contract was the equivalent of my old US contract. Even when you offered to help me read the translation…. I … umm … assumed you were trying to show off your language skills, make me feel stupid…. I’m sorry…”

    “What did I say?” she frowned at him. “Your honest acknowledgment makes it easier for me to understand a few things … thank you.”

    “I don’t have to include that in my lawsuit claim…. If it’s a problem for you.”

    “Don’t think of me or my role when writing your claim. It’s your story not mine. Anyway – it shouldn’t be a problem. A good HR department makes sure employees are well informed and satisfied with their contracts – avoiding later lawsuits should be a goal. That’s part of my job. That FuturePowers had such a chaotic organization in their HR management between US, EU in-house and two law firms, one in London, one here in The Hague is a different story. Don’t use that information though please.”

    “Silvia van der Vaals won’t consider that news. She’s been complaining all along about how unprofessional the management of my case is at FuturePowers.”

    “Back to your story – please continue after the new contract.”

    Dutifully he told her everything that happened, his anger at being passed by for Polly; he even mentioned the leaked emails again. Her professionally composed expression did not give away any hint whether she had been involved. After recounting his initial seeking legal advice, he said: “Acting on the ECJ ruling was my crazy idea – not Silvia van der Vaals at all. Don’t get that wrong. She did not manipulate me in any way – on the contrary. She listed it as pure hypothetical. From the email exchange she had assumed I was a lot fatter than I actually was back then. She tried to talk me out of it, mentioned all the risks. But I was so angry, wanted to get back at FuturePowers, not simply accept being let off and look for another job. So I came up with the plan to be too fat to be laid off according to the ECJ anti-discrimination ruling by the end of my contract. And so I started eating what I wanted and how much I wanted … sometimes as much as possible …. with the results you can see.”

    “You like eating a lot, don’t you?”

    “Yeah, always have. I love food and I love a lot of food even more….,” his cheeks grew hot.

    “You also like being big and heavy – or at least you don’t mind it – do you?” She locked eyes at this question, his face flaming as he looked down, nothing but fat filling his frame of vision. Honesty is the policy his brain chanted to him – no matter how hard it is.

    “It’s the most insane thing anybody can admit nowadays – yeah, apart from shit times like these past few weeks, I don’t really mind being this fat. It’s how others react to my fat that I hate. Why can’t people simply let others be the size they want to or feel like being? I’ve always been heavier – it took a while to adapt to being so much bigger, but after I got used to it, I felt good. Eating to satisfaction is something that does a lot for my physical and mental well-being. Calorie counting and starving myself makes me feel lousy. And you…” he had to swallow hard.

    “What about me?” she asked as he didn’t continue.

    “Nobody else made me feel physically so good, so content with myself – even with this huge body. I can’t thank you enough for that experience …. I sincerely hope I gave you at least something only half as positive in return….” His voice faded into a whisper and looking back up at her, the intense blue of her eyes had brightened even more as they were brimming in tears.

    “You showed me what a real relationship could look like – with family and all….,” she got up for some tissues, wiped her eyes, before pouring more drinks, gulping down water.

    “There is nothing I regret more than screwing that up – but all I can say is the stupid ‘I’m so sorry’ – I have nothing else to offer. I don’t know what to do… or what else I could’ve done….”

    “What else you could’ve done?”

    “Umm … normally … if I do something wrong, after what happened with us – I know what I could’ve done differently to prevent that happening,” he shrugged and tried to look at her openly. “This time – I don’t know of any other possible outcome. Except of course me not starting this ‘gain weight to screw FuturePowers over project’. Then again, we probably would never have reconnected – as I wouldn’t have been at that Big&Tall buying bigger summer clothes. Is there any time during our being together when I could’ve confessed my project to you without you leaving immediately? Since you work in HR, were in charge of my file then …. It was a hopeless situation. No matter what Max says about possible legal interpretations – it boils down to who wants to be together with a fat cheater?”

    “You told Max about your …. situation?” it came out as a rather angry snap.

    “I didn’t actively ‘tell’ Max. It was like in your case – he added up his observations. My massive weight gain, my systematic overeating over Christmas – he asked because he was worried. And now he noticed we’d split up – and guessed you finding out as the most logical reason.”

    “Max is one of the most empathetic men I’ve ever met. Hannah and the three kids are very lucky to have him,” Alexa nodded, letting him exhale that this cliff had been taken. “What else did he say?”

    “Very complicated legal justification – that I shouldn’t feel too guilty and scheming about my approach. That I was discriminated against because of my size and appearance. That my getting so fat is merely adapting my case to the limitations of the law. In legal jargon it sounds convincing – even though I have trouble digesting it from a common sense or engineering perspective.”

    “I understand that. These conflicting perspectives are the reason I wanted to talk to you, hear your personal stance,” she shook her head. “What you’re doing – getting so fat and suing your employer because of fat discrimination – is the nightmare come alive all EU employers have since the ECJ ruling came out. Despite the stigma and risks attached to it, employers fear that many overweight employees will gain even more weight to qualify for the ECJ’s protection. So as someone working in HR – I absolutely cannot condone such behavior. It is unethical. On the other hand, I know FuturePowers was unethical in their treatment of you as an employee, cheated you out of a more or less tenured international contract – and discriminated against you because of your appearance. It wasn’t even real size discrimination, because you were in the absolute ‘normal’ range at the time in question for anybody except body fascists. So retaliation is understandable – even from my professional perspective.”

    He emptied the bottle of Riesling into their glasses.

    “Personally …. I assume you know how cute I think XXL-Alex is …. my inner self massively approves of your expansion. Also seeing you so content, relaxed, well-fed with us together – I loved that. Naively I hoped it was because you sensed how much I love your bigger body – and forgot fat shaming over it. I should’ve been more observant and realistic from the start, seen the obvious. So I feel deceived by you, on a very fundamental level in relationship terms. On the other hand – I see your point. I would’ve walked out on you for all the reasons we just listed no matter when you confessed to me. So you, or we, couldn’t win this one – one way or the other. I also don’t know what to do – same as you. Only one thing, for the sake of our personal connection – as soon as you file your lawsuit. Please inform me immediately when you do so. I need to tell my employer then that I will be summoned to testify in the case and that we were in a relationship after my time at FuturePowers.”


    The platters gleamed in emptiness after they had re-hashed their ‘not knowing what to do’ three more times and he used a lull in their conversation for the restroom, rubbing cold water over his neck to feel fresher. On returning to the dining table, he paused in the small hallway, Alexa’s wide, comfortable, cozy bed beckoning through the open bedroom door. A jarring longing spread through him, not necessarily to have sex with her, he was too emotionally unraveled for that. But to lie down, wrap her into his abundant flesh, feel the touch of her skin, her hands working their magic on his body, cherish the closeness, the sense of having someone there for him, of not being alone. Her words and stance though let him doubt whether that could return.
    As he turned, she stood in the doorway, observing him before she lightly leaned on him, her head against his shoulder, a hand rubbing one of his thick love handles: “Come – dessert is waiting. I made a red berries ice cream cake.”
     
  14. Jun 21, 2015 #74

    agouderia

    agouderia

    agouderia

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    Over the next days and weeks, they were at least in loose contact again; not what he truly desired yet better than total silence. A text or mail here and there, and they saw each other at Leo and Jan’s fifth wedding anniversary celebrated with a boat canal tour. Jan seated them next to each other – whether unthinking or intentionally – and as moving around on the narrow boat was difficult, they stayed put. This led to him being able to warm Alexa in his arms against the night chill, letting Jan tease her: “Seeing how warm and cozy you are there, I think I need to reassess Leo’s commitment to keeping a trim waistline. Is life worthwhile without a personal pillow?” he mock pouted, letting her giggle. The vibrating of her laughter against his belly fat was so cruelly pleasant, he hid his face in her hair, hoping nobody would notice in the dusk how far his expression had derailed towards bawling. “I think we need to work on a little more padding for Leo over our upcoming second honeymoon…..”

    “Do that – it’s worth it,” Alexa snuggled more into his belly, later even drove him home wordlessly.

    With Leo gone, his favorite colleague was away from FuturePowers, letting him bury himself even more in his office, especially since Thomas Ross and Polly were back from their vacations. Polly was called to US headquarters on short notice, Thomas was in and out of the office – so he found himself several times as the most senior representative actually having to fill in for both of them with clients.
    Ironically one was the Dutch-Danish bio-masse consortium project from which his original ban back in December had resulted. Their team openly enthused to have him back again, stating how much they regretted it that he had been too busy with other projects in the interim. He mis-swallowed a gulp of water at that, coughing hard. In three sessions, they had massively reworked the project – and now were finalizing everything for closing the contract. He was satisfied with his work, yet needed Ross’ okay for all the changes as they had moved far beyond what Polly had originally been working on: An actual operative role of FuturePowers, not only as holder of overpriced shares.

    While he was in the process of explaining to them that they would need to wait for FuturePowers to do their internal assessment, not being honest about his own virtually non-existing negotiating competency, Thomas entered the meeting room. Holding a file with an unreadable expression he politely shook a round of hands: “If you will please excuse Mr. Bartholomon for a minute….”

    Following Tom towards his office, he was surprised to be steered into the lobby instead – where 3 security guards were waiting. “Take Mr. Bartholomon off the premises immediately. Wait outside with him for the police.”

    “Police? Tom…. Mr. Ross …. What ?…. Can you please tell me…..?”

    “Take Mr. Bartholomon with you right away. He is here illegally…. He is an imposter…. He has been barred from our premises …”

    He could tell the Dutch security men did not fully understand and moved in on him menacingly. Signaling to them with raised outstretched hands that he was going with them with no resistance, he carefully reached into the pocket of his jacket over his arm. It alleviated his fears that his phone was there, as was his wallet in his inner pocket. In a docile mode he followed the guards, who did refrain from grabbing him on to the street. As soon as he was on public ground, he dialed Silvia van der Vaals office number - momentarily realizing in horror that she was on vacation this week, some family thing. Katrina fortunately picked up and listened to his rambled account, re-phrasing her questions several times incredulously: “So – do I understand correctly – you were conducted off the premises by the facility security right out of a meeting? Now they’re waiting to hand you over to the police – and you do not know on which grounds. Your boss did not say anything as to the reasons.”

    “Yeah – that sums up the situation. What am I supposed to do? Can I just go home?” fumbling in his pants pocket in a panic instant to see whether he had his apartment keys on him. But he did – one of his few precautionary measures: Keep wallet, phone and keys on him at all times he left his office.

    “No – if they have order to hand you over to the police, you have to wait. FuturePowers will have some, not necessarily legitimate, charges to do so. Don’t do anything, don’t say anything, don’t go anywhere – I’ll be right over with Gerrit Bosch, Silvia’s deputy. Stay there. Tell the police they have to wait for your attorney!”

    Watching the police car pull up with Katrina nowhere in sight, he mused in dread that he had presumably gotten too wide to have his hands cuffed behind his back. Let alone that there was too much fat around his wrists to fit into normal handcuffs… if there was such a thing.

    “Id card.” The police officer addressed him strictly.

    “Umm ….. I was in the office ….. I don’t have my passport …. I’m a US ….,” fumbling for his wallet, only to have the faded blue-ish-gray paper card with a true mug shot reading ΔΕΛΤΙΟ ΤΑΥΤΟΤΗΤΑΣ flip out. His Greek id card. Flustered as he was, he had forgotten that this had been his means of personal identification over the past years. The paper that the Schengen agreement required him to have on him at all times – in turn it guaranteeing free movement through 26 countries. Handing it over, the policeman nodded. “I called my lawyer. We have to wait for him.”

    “Lawyer?”

    “Yes, my lawyer. He is coming here. I do not know what is going on here. We have to wait.”

    What followed were the longest twenty minutes of his life, awkwardly standing there, neither the policemen, the security guards nor he himself knowing what to do. From the building he could see his colleagues peering down on the street in curiosity. Finally Katrina jumped out of a taxi, followed by a tall, senior looking man. They both introduced themselves to the policemen and started conversing in rapid Dutch.

    “FuturePowers wants to press charges against you for trespassing onto their premises and posturing as a senior representative in front of business partners,” Katrina explained. “They say you were dismissed and barred from the company 10 days ago.”

    “What? Nobody talked to me about that! I mean … yeah … we’ve been expecting that …. But nobody said or did anything. Over many of the last ten days, I was the only one working on actual projects in the office.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Of course I’m sure. I only saw Thomas Ross’ from a far since he came back from his vacation. He was away on business trips half the time.”

    “Okay – to re-construct what happened we will need some time; have to talk to FuturePowers lawyers. I suggested we do that at police headquarters, not standing here in the street. They agreed to let you drive with us, not in the police car.”

    “Thank you. Some privilege,” his half-cynical mutter masked incredible relief. Law enforcement in the Netherlands was so much more civil than in the US – thank god. No body checks, no hand cuffs, no perp walks for obviously non-violent offenders. Being offered the front seat of the taxi by his lawyer after one appraising look at his oversized body was a minor embarrassment in comparison.

    At the Politie Hoofdbureau, The Hague police headquarters he was questioned extensively by a young plain-clothed officer going through a whole list of questions regarding his past week of work. Katrina did the Dutch-English translation, both sides wanting to avoid potential pitfalls of linguistic imprecision.

    After a time period so long his stomach was growling with hunger despite the oppressive circumstances, the FuturePowers lawyer appeared, a certain Mr. Berken. “You were served the dismissal together with the ban from FuturePowers premises on Friday, August 7th from Mr. Leonard Wismers. On grounds that not only does your regular employment contract expire on September 30th, but you are in the process of taking legal action against your employer.”

    “Leo – Mr. Wismers did not give me anything on Friday, August 7th.”

    “Well then, if he didn’t give it to you on the 7th – you must have received it the latest on Monday, August 10th from him. Today is Thursday, August 20th – so you have been working and being physically present illegally at FuturePowers for 10 days now. These are the grounds for our criminal charges for trespassing and fraudulent posturing.”

    “Wait a second – Leo Wismers did not give me anything on Monday the 10th. He was already on vacation then, so not in the office,” he emphasized this. “Come to think of it – because of the wedding anniversary on Saturday …. he might have left early on Friday, so did not get your letter.”

    “We seem to have a very unfortunate misunderstanding here,” Gerrit Bosch intervened. “Don’t you think you should withdraw your charges – let this rest?”

    “Most certainly not. Mr. Bartholomon received his dismissal at the latest on the 10th. If not from Mr. Wismers- then from Mr. Ross as head of the European operations, who returned from vacation last week. ”

    “Alex – did Mr. Ross give you the dismissal last week?” Katrina looked at him piercingly.

    “No – definitely not. I don’t even know precisely when he was back in the office. Officially his vacation was over…,” he pulled out his phone and started pushing through his calendar. “But Fabiana, his assistant, asked me to fill in for him in a meeting last Wednesday in Rotterdam. You will even find my travel expenses with the train ticket at FuturePowers accounting …”

    “You didn’t see Mr. Ross over the past week?”

    “He didn’t talk to me, until today. Didn’t give me anything. I saw him - let me think, last Friday, across the hall. Same this Monday afternoon … sometime on Tuesday.”

    “Did he see you?” Berken asked.

    “Don’t you think it’s difficult to overlook me?” he raised his eyebrows, gesturing to his broad body, noticing that Berken’s reaction was irritated, casting odd little glances at his bulk.

    Mevrouw, Mijnheeren – I’ve heard enough,” it was the police officer who got up, slamming the file on the table. “Advocaat Berken – I suggest you withdraw your charges for the time being. So far there is much more plausible evidence that your client never handed over the dismissal you claim Mr. Bartholomon is in violation of. For today we should close this case. Please verify and substantiate your client’s claims. Tot ziens!”

    He didn’t dare take a deep breath until he had exited the building, Katrina shaking her head: “You have the craziest, most disorganized employer we’ve ever dealt with.”

    “Indeed – I think I should get more involved with your case. It promises the entertainment of a C-level court flick,” Gerrit Bosch gave him a sardonic wink.

    “My sense of humor is deserting me right now….,” his stomach growled so loudly that Katrina heard, giving him a belly pat. “Aaww, belly is so hungry – no lunch today. You go eat – and then sit down at home and write down a very precise work schedule from August 7th until today. Hourly basis, what you did, with whom you talked, phoned, etc. So that is matches to data on your work computer as best possible. Mail it to me tomorrow morning. Eet smakelijk – relax!”

    Feeling empty in every physical and mental respect he crept in slow motion to the tram 1 stop at the Peace Palace, where Hannah worked. She had given their DA chapter the tour of the International Court some time ago – otherwise he didn’t come to this diplomatic and institutional part of town very often. For food and shops he’d better return downtown. In the tram he tugged off his tie and opened his shirt in an effort to reduce the choking sensation.

    As he got off the tram at Centrum, he was first assaulted by the spicy smell of Mr. Döner Kebab, making him salivate and steer over directly. Getting the XL version he leaned against the wall, munching it down hungrily, letting the comfort of a full mouth work on numbing his nervous system. Normally the XL Döner with some ice cream afterwards was enough lunch, but after today’s events he needed more. Since it was after 3:00 p.m. by now and most lunch tables were past serving hours, he went to his favorite roof top ‘La Place’ buffet, got a rice stir fry with beef, along with a mushroom salad and a cherry cream Dutch flake layer cake as dessert with coffee.

    Afterwards his belly formed an opulent consolation dome in his lap; he mindlessly rubbed the deep thickness of its soft flab under which he could only vaguely sense the very well filled harder ball of his stomach. Yet the emptiness hadn’t vanished, it was as if his entire self was being sucked into the void of a total vacuum. Unable to envisage facing this situation cooped up at home he hoped literal fresh air and open horizons might help, so he got back on tram 1 to head out to the beach. Exiting the ‘La Place’ he on auto-pilot grabbed a box of Gouda crackers, a bag of Speculoos, Dutch gingerbread and 2 tablets of chocolate. Not trying to fill his inner void was not an option right now so he munched his way through the crackers on the tram until they were gone by the time he arrived at the beach.

    There he lumbered over to Palazzo, after the salty crackers something cool, fresh sweet was needed. Getting the biggest cup size they had as take away, he strolled on down to the beach settling on a board walk bench to eat the ice cream together with the bag of speculoos followed by one tablet of chocolate. Seriously full by now, he loosened his belt under his gut several notches. In this situation it was positive that his Alexa heartache had brought him back down to 156 kilograms – all his new summer cloths had been bought when he was over 160 kilograms so there was a bit of give. Still he struggled to pull off shoes and socks and roll up his chinos over his heavily loaded stomach, stuffing them into the plastic bag with his jacket on top to patter around in the surf.

    With a full gut, his mind started pelting him with all the horrifying questions at hand. Starting with simple ones of how he could get his bike back which was locked up in the bicycle basement at FuturePowers without being noticed. Over more complicated ones to whom he could or should at all talk to: Max was in Bavaria on vacation this week – calling Alexa, something he thought about for an instant was discarded as she had made it overtly clear she wanted no direct knowledge of anything FuturePowers related. Informing this family – the worst tunnel of horror fantasy ever! What about his Greece trip? Would the Dutch authorities let him leave the country – or arrest him at the airport? This happening while almost everybody was away on vacation only made things worse.

    His feet were freezing from the cold water, so he went to one of the beach bars, ordered a large beer and fries to go with it, getting a refill of both as his phone rang. ‘Private number’ – why should he answer that, pressing ‘end call’ three times before he finally picked up at the fourth attempt: “Yeah?”

    “Alex – finally – is that you? This is Silvia van der Vaals. Katrina called – I’m so sorry to hear what you were put through today! I don’t know what to say – even in my worst case scenarios I never imagined anything like that. It’s difficult to decide whether your employer is more incompetent or more insane – or both! Where are you now, what are you doing?”


    “Rode out to the beach – am having a beer at one of the bars after a walk.”

    “That’s a very good thing to do on a day like this, it’ll do you good!” although he doubted if she would still think so if she saw his in the meantime seriously distended gut sticking out into his lap and that this was his fourth large beer.

    “What are we going to do now?” his voice sounded a bit as if he was drowning.

    “First of all – I will try and get that official dismissal order from FuturePowers – which we’ll instantly file our claim against. Then, I’ll ask for a cease and desist order regarding that absurd idea of arresting you for nothing. Come to think of it, damages for that might be warranted. After that, all we can do is wait. We have to check whether FuturePowers pays your salary for August and September …,” she sighed audibly. “It’ll be a lot of waiting. Yes – legal proceedings take their time. But working with a counterpart as slow and disorganized as your employer tries my patience.”

    “What can I do? You know I planned to fly to Greece, vacation with my grandmother on Sunday… - shall I cancel that?”

    “For how long again?”

    “A little over 2 weeks. I’ll be back on September 9th.”

    “No, don’t cancel that. By all means go, enjoy yourself, be nice to your grandmother.”


    “But don’t I need to be here in case….”

    “Alex – nothing is going to happen in these 2.5 weeks that cannot be deferred for such a short time span. In the highly unlikely case we do need you here – you can get back in 3-4 hours. You’re flying to Athens, not the moon.”


    “Are you sure?”

    “Absolutely. Relax, enjoy yourself, get your mind on something else, say hello to Athena as Goddess of Justice ….”

    The high priority sticking to vacation plans had with Europeans, even in a situation like his, never ceased to baffle him. Despite being industrious, reliable people – they pursued their vacation plans with almost religious fervor. Since Alexa had said the same – plus it saved him embarrassing confessions to his family – he might as well go. Cancelling now wouldn't save him much money anyway.

    Finishing off a second order of cheese croquettes and a sixth beer, he hauled himself up and with a slow rolling waddle headed towards the tram. Jutting out in front of him, his belly hadn’t been this overloaded since Christmas in Bavaria. It was a sore, tender universe of its own he shifted ahead of himself, the sloshing of the contents making him belch a few times. Carefully lowered onto the tram seat, its weight spreading and balancing itself over and between his thighs, at least it was one thing in his life that was full, complete, radiated a certain basic satisfaction as he patted it to coax out a few more soothing burps.

    At home he showered, had two more beers before he rolled on the side and fell into food coma sleep. The next morning he was woken with a headache by Katrina calling him about the summary he needed to write. Sipping a first coffee, staring at his computer, his stomach grumbled. It was empty, or a lot emptier than last night, again. Like everything else in his life. Better go stock up his fridge at the supermarket, buy breakfast before he set to work seriously.
     
  15. Jun 22, 2015 #75

    fat hiker

    fat hiker

    fat hiker

    Well-Known Member

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    Wow, another great addition!

    Poor Alex - this is a shocking chapter.
     
  16. Jun 22, 2015 #76

    Tad

    Tad

    Tad

    mostly harmless

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    The great white north, eh?
    I worked at a company that disorganized for a short period (I got myself out after 16 months). Oddly enough, a Canadian subsidiary of a German company, where I think they dumped germans that nobody could stand back home on us. Something about international subsidiaries, perhaps? (I know yours is fictional, but I can't help feeling that there are some observations or experiences showing up in this story).

    And of course, delightful chapters, deftly keeping various threads balanced in a believable but also dramatically compelling way :)
     
  17. Jun 22, 2015 #77

    fatmac

    fatmac

    fatmac

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    Arrested? The audacity!!! Great fun indeed.
     
  18. Jun 22, 2015 #78

    Wanderer

    Wanderer

    Wanderer

    Actor at Extra-Large

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    Nice! :) I'm really looking forward to the next chapter. I know a lot of people enjoy the more "Harlequin romance" type of story, but for me it's what happens outside of and apart from sex that makes for an interesting story -- and you're serving that up in spades!
     
  19. Jun 23, 2015 #79

    ODFFA

    ODFFA

    ODFFA

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    So very much this! Also, incredibly well done on making Alexa & Alex's 'reunion' so realistic. Leaving us half-satisfied, but still wanting.... especially after this ordeal of his. You must be an evil genius ;)
     
  20. Jun 23, 2015 #80

    searcher

    searcher

    searcher

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    I hope that they will be together again soon
     

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