Saturday Afternoon at the Mall -by Jerry Thomas (SSBHM, ~FFA, Romance, Feeding, ~~WG)

Dimensions Magazine

Help Support Dimensions Magazine:

Jerry Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
252
Location
Badger State, USA
Hi Everyone! I really, really do appreciate your comments and the fact that you are interested enough in the story to discuss it. I thought I had the rest of the story all figured out, but now I'm not so sure. I am somewhat "conflicted" myself about which direction the story should go from here. Next installment coming soon - first I have to eat dinner. :eat2:
 

Jerry Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
252
Location
Badger State, USA
Shit! Goddam! I opened my eyes and cursed quietly, careful not to wake Laura sleeping peacefully beside me. A loud thunderclap had awakened me about an hour ago and now I couldn’t fall back to sleep. For the umpteenth time I tossed onto my other side, the sudden shifting of 400 pounds causing the bed to shake violently. I propped myself up on one arm and glanced past Laura’s naked body at the clock radio on the dresser. 3:38, the red digits glowed.

It was still dark, except for an occasional flash of lightning that illuminated the room through the thin gauze curtains. I listened to Laura breathing quietly and touched her shoulder. My life was changing, it seemed. Ever since I had started Susie’s exercise program, I had begun to doubt the direction I was going. Specifically, the direction I was going with Laura.

There was nothing to complain about, really. She loved me, in her own way, and any guy would have been more than happy to have a tigress like her in bed. And yet, something was different. I felt like our relationship was coming unglued and I was troubled and uncomfortable about it. Was it me, was it her? Or was it because of Susie?

I found myself thinking about Susie more and more often. I could’ve died that first day on the treadmill when she asked me to take off my shirt. She was just so totally fit, not an ounce of extra fat on her body, and there I was, well, somewhat less than fit, to put it mildly. At first I thought she would be turned off by the sight of so much fat congregating in one place at the same time, but she just smiled and kept up a steady stream of encouragement while I struggled to move all that lard. Was she merely being polite? Possibly. But at the same time I had this feeling that she didn’t mind, and maybe that she even enjoyed looking at my body. Is that crazy, or what? The notion that a fitness freak like her could be attracted to a fitness disaster like me? I was nuts for even considering the possibility.

Even crazier was the fact that when I went to the Fitness Center on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, she again asked me to remove my shirt. I wasn’t as shy as I was the first time and I willingly took it off. I watched her out of the corner of my eye as I walked on the treadmill. Those big brown eyes of hers were wide open, and her facial expression didn’t betray even a hint of disgust. It was more like a kind of fascination, as if she couldn’t quite believe what she was seeing.

We had lunch together the rest of the week too, and each day she helped me pick out a meal that was both filling and healthy. I felt satisfied but not bloated. How different from the meals that Laura served me at dinner every night, enormous quantities of food loaded with carbs. Even after I was stuffed to the gills, she urged me to eat more and more, until it was all I could do to struggle to my feet and waddle over to the couch for an evening sitting motionless in front of the boob tube. She seemed determined to nullify whatever progress I had achieved during the day.

I also felt guilty. I told Laura nothing about my lunch hour dates with Susie, merely that I was trying to eat less and make better food choices. And I still hadn’t revealed to her that Susie was my real trainer. In fact, I had even gone so far as to give my phantom male fitness coach a fictitious name – he was named “Mark” and I described him to Laura in great detail as if he were a real live person. What would you say about someone who spends his time dreaming up imaginary characters? Crazy, right?

I was so wrapped up in the whole diet and fitness thing that until now I had completely forgotten about Laura’s threat to take me to the beach in that sissy pink swimming suit she had bought for me. I heard another crack of thunder and I heaved myself out of bed to peek through the curtains. Thick dark clouds were approaching from the west and the street below our window was already shiny from the rain. It didn’t look like today was going to be a good beach day, and even Laura wasn’t crazy enough to go to the beach in a thunderstorm.

Mmmm, she moaned softly and mumbled a few incomprehensible words in her sleep. Was she dreaming? What was she dreaming about, I wondered. About me? Or about hordes of juicy pink-clad fat boys cavorting on the beach? I pulled back the curtain and let a ray of orange light from the slumbering city into the bedroom. From my angle she seemed to be smiling. Must be dreaming about the fat boys, I decided.

I climbed back into bed, so relieved that I would be safe from the beach, at least for the moment, that I slept like a baby until morning.

* * *​

“It’s raining like cats and dogs,” I said as soon as we both woke up. “No beach today.”

Laura was still a little groggy. “What? Oh, that’s okay, honey. No rush. We can go anytime. The beach won’t go away. Neither will you.” She smiled and gave me a poke in the belly. Usually I liked it, but this time I found it irritating.

We kissed and she started caressing and massaging my blubber. I knew exactly what she had in mind. “Not now, Laura. I had a restless night and I don’t feel good.”

“Oh, okay. I get it. The old ‘I’ve got a headache’ routine.” She sounded disappointed. “Are we already that far along in our relationship?”

We lounged in bed for another half hour, listening to the sound of the rain falling outside our window. Laura contented herself with some minor foreplay, touching my flab here and there, teasing me. I didn’t react. I really wasn’t in the mood.

Breakfast was a subdued affair. Laura wasn’t as bubbly as she usually was in the morning, but she still managed to put a big meal on the table.

“Eat your pancakes, honey bun. They’re good for you.”

I seriously doubted that, but I ate the entire huge stack anyway. What the hell, I’ll just be a big fat pig for the rest of my life anyway. Why fight it.

I crammed the food into my mouth, making crude grunting noises as I ate. Eat, Bruce, eat! I was losing my self-control. Laura was loving it. She brought me a second helping.

After breakfast we went together into the bathroom for my weekly weigh-in. My belly was bulging from the pancake and bacon feeding frenzy and I wished I could just skip the scale this morning, but Laura insisted.

I stepped onto the scale. “393,” Laura announced. “Must be a mistake. Try it again, sweetie.” I got on the scale a second time and Laura looked displeased. “Well, I’ll be damned. It still reads 393. You’ve lost three pounds since last week.”

“I did?” I think it was the only time I had actually lost weight since moving in with Laura many weeks ago.

“Yes, for sure, three pounds less. I can’t believe it. That guy Mark, that fitness coach of yours, he must really be cracking the whip. You’re just melting away, sweetie!”

I didn’t know if she was serious or just joking. It had to be a joke. “Not really. Just look at this. There’s still plenty left.” I grabbed a big handful of the fat encircling me and shook it. “Still enough there for you, Laura.”

That comforted her and she put her arms around my bare belly and squeezed. “Don’t change, lover. Don’t ever change. I want you to stay just as you are.”

I was beginning to have my doubts about whether I wanted to stay just the way I was, but I let it go for now. We went back into the bedroom and made love. I still didn’t really want to, but I considered it a kind of consolation, a gift, for Laura. To make up for the three pounds of me that she had lost.
 

Jerry Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
252
Location
Badger State, USA
Over the weekend the company had plastered large propaganda posters throughout the building. They featured colorful artwork depicting two contrasting persons. One of them was a good-looking, healthy young guy smiling contentedly as he jogged in place. Standing next to him was a middle-aged obese fellow with a towel wrapped around his middle. He was standing on a scale and staring at his feet with a frown. He had a round belly and he looked a little like me, except that a) I was younger; b) he was bald and I still had a full head of hair; and c) I was considerably fatter than he was and unable to look down and see my toes, much less the numbers on a scale.

Below the image of these two opposing characters was the inevitable motivational slogan in bold red letters: Don’t Let Obesity Slow You Down!

While I was ruminating on the deeper significance of the posters and their potential relevance to my future prospects at the company, my supervisor Mary showed up unannounced next to my desk. “Good morning, Bruce,” she chirped. “How was your weekend?”

“Well, okay, I guess. In spite of all the rain . . .” I wasn’t really thinking about the rain as much as about the sudden coolness in the emotional weather between me and Laura. It hadn’t been a good weekend at all.

“Yes, wasn’t that a downpour? Amazing. I was planning to spend a day at the beach, but with all the rain and thunder, forget it.”

The thought of this bag of bones in a bathing suit was enough to make me gag, but then again, who was I to cast stones?

“Right, bad day for the beach, definitely. Crummy weekend altogether.”

“Anyway, Bruce, I wanted to ask you. How are things going at the Fitness Center? I know it’s only been a week, but are you making any progress? Is Ms. Schmidt taking good care of you?”

I felt that “Ms. Schmidt” was taking excellent care of me and I had no complaints whatsoever, but I wondered where this line of questioning was leading.

“Susie’s been great,” I replied truthfully. “And I’ve lost three pounds so far.”

“Three pounds? That’s marvelous!” She looked at my torso as if trying to discover where exactly those pounds had gone. She made a face, unable to see any real difference. “I’m sure you’ve noticed our new fitness campaign.” She nodded toward the nearest poster, hung embarrassingly close to my desk.

“More than ever, we’re committed to having a lean, fit workplace. This is a mandate right from top management. I’m sure you understand the importance of that, don’t you, Bruce?” She gave me a stern, menacing look.

“Of course, ‘lean and mean,’ that’s what they all say.”

“Well, just lean, not necessarily mean,” she laughed. “You can be lean and still be cheerful about it, right Bruce?” She flashed me her signature phony smile, rubbing it in, before she abruptly turned on her heels and walked away.

“Fuck you,” I said quietly to myself once she was out of earshot.

Susie called about mid-morning to inform me that she would have to skip lunch today. “But I’ll still see you this afternoon, okay?” She sounded a little down and depressed too. Maybe she hadn’t had such a great weekend either.

She still seemed a little blue when I reported to the Fitness Center at four o’clock for my daily workout. “Are you okay?” I asked. “You don’t seem yourself.”

“Oh, I’m okay, Bruce. Just some . . . relationship problems over the weekend.”

I should have known a hottie like her would have a boyfriend, or something. Anything’s possible these days, but I assumed it was some jerk who wasn’t treating her right. She had been so nice to me over the past week, I thought maybe I could find a way to cheer her up.

I changed and came back shirtless and with my sneakers untied. I put on my sad little puppy face and nodded towards my feet. “Please, por favor, s’il vous plait?”

She laughed and made me sit down. “Okay, little boy, I’ll tie your shoes for you.”

We walked together to the treadmill and I climbed aboard. She had brought her iPod along -- maybe she had grown bored watching the fat guy trying to move his big round ass and wanted something to help while away the time.

Instead she smiled and gestured towards the iPod. “Would you like to listen to some music while you exercise?”

“Sure, why not?” She handed me the pair of earbuds and came a step closer so the cord would reach.

It may have been a coincidence, or maybe she planned it that way, but the next song up was the theme from Rocky. I started my excruciatingly slow, ponderous walk on the treadmill, but in my imagination I already saw myself as Rocky Balboa running up the steps of the Franklin Institute.

I looked at Susie and gave her the thumbs up sign. The song must have been loud enough for her to hear because she laughed and the look in her eyes was like, Yes, Bruce, you can be sexy just like Rocky. Or maybe I was just deluding myself into believing that I could be sexy enough to be attractive to her.

But then something happened that I wasn’t expecting. She reached out and gently touched my bare belly. It was only for a second, but she did it so spontaneously, as if she couldn’t quite help herself. She looked away, embarrassed, and I wondered if maybe she was afraid that she had violated some professional code of ethics. Nevertheless, she was smiling shyly, and though she was obviously embarrassed, I had the feeling that she wasn’t all that sorry for her momentary lapse.

I looked back at her and winked, and gave her a broad, open-mouthed smile that said, I liked that. Inspired by the song, I tried to walk faster and started singing the words under my breath: Trying hard now . . . Getting strong now . . . Gonna fly now . . .

This was just too much for Susie and she covered her mouth and bent over in a fit of laughter, so that she pulled the cord and the earbuds suddenly popped out of my ears.

“Oh, Bruce, you’re such a cut-up! I can just imagine what you must have been like in school.”

“The class clown,” I answered. “Everybody loves a funny fat boy.”

“Bruce . . .” She wiped the tears of laughter from her eyes and swallowed. “You just don’t know . . . you just don’t realize,” she shook her head, “what a wonderful person you are.”

I was touched. This was the second time today she had touched me. I shrugged, not knowing what else to do or say.

She sighed, and I continued my slow walk on the treadmill, this time without the music. But something had changed, something was different, not a big change, but significant nonetheless. I had turned some kind of a corner, and so had Susie, and for better or worse, I knew there was no turning back.
 

Jerry Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
252
Location
Badger State, USA
The apartment was empty when I stepped through the door after work that afternoon. There was an eerie quietness about the place. Laura was usually home by this time. “Laura . . . Laura?” I called. “Are you here?” No answer, just the soft hum of the air conditioning.

I dropped my briefcase on the floor and pulled off my tie and tossed it on the table next to the couch. It had been a warm, humid day and I was feeling sweaty. And hot. Though I wasn’t sure if the weather was to blame. The thought of Susie’s brief but tender touch was still occupying every corner of my mind.

To cool off, I unbuttoned the front of my white shirt and swayed into the kitchen with arms swinging. My arms always swing when I walk, but I think I mentioned that already. I took a bottle of tonic water from the fridge and added a generous portion of gin and a dash of lime juice to make my favorite drink. I’m not usually a big drinker, but today I felt like it. I wondered if Rocky would be the type to drink a gin and tonic after working out.

A few minutes after I had settled my tired ass within the confines of the love seat and taken a few sips of my drink, I heard a rattling of keys outside the door. “It’s open!” I called out loudly.

Laura pushed her way in, her purse and two large plastic bags bumping against the wooden door and knocking the doorknob into the brittle plaster of the opposite wall. “Whew!” She blew a stray lock of hair away from her eyes. She looked frazzled. “What a day. The traffic was just awful.”

“You’re late,” I said, demonstrating my incredible powers of observation.

“Duh! No shit I’m late! We had a last minute rush project and I had to stay over. And then I still had to stop at the market and buy some things for your dinner. I hope you appreciate it.”

“Actually, I was thinking, Laura, maybe we should just have a light supper tonight.”

“A light supper? After I’ve gone to all this trouble? I was going to make you a super duper feast tonight. You deserve it, baby cakes.”

She gave me a kiss and a quick belly poke and then hurried with her supplies into the kitchen.

* * *​

Laura wasn’t kidding. The table seemed to sag under the weight of the food when we sat down for dinner nearly an hour later. The main course for me was a hamburger. But not just any hamburger. It covered the whole plate all by itself and measured eight inches across at least, with a thickness of an inch or more. I had never seen such a massive burger in my entire life.

“It’s called the hubcap,” Laura explained proudly. “It’s from some restaurant down South. Supposed to be Bill Clinton’s favorite. I thought I’d try making one myself. They say it’s the biggest hamburger in the United States.”

“I believe it, Laura.” I was shocked and wondered if she really expected me to eat it. It was a lot even for a hearty eater like me.

“And here, honey,” she continued, “I made you a side order of fries too.” She pushed a ginormous heap of french fries towards me, piled high on a plate the same size as the one for the heart attack inducing burger. “I know how much you love seasoned curly fries, so that’s what I made.”

She plunked a large soda glass and a two-liter bottle of Coke on the table as my drink, and then seductively waved a banana cream pie under my nose. “Your favorite, sweetie. It’s all for you.”

Her own dinner was a normal sized burger and a small portion of fries with a glass of skim milk. My meal must have been four or five times the size of hers.

“Dig in, big boy. I can’t wait to see you shove that huge burger into your fat face. Think you can handle it? Gotta use two hands, baby, but I’ll cut it if you want me to.”

“No . . . no thanks, Laura. I think I can manage.” I just sat there for a moment, stunned. She had served me some truly enormous meals during our time together, but somehow this went far beyond anything I had experienced before. It wasn’t just dinner, it wasn’t just a big meal, it was . . . like a forced feeding. There was something animalistic about it. I felt like a hog being fattened for the slaughter.

“Well?” She sat on the edge of her chair, her mouth open as if urging me on to take that first big bite.

I fumbled with that inhumanly large sandwich and tried to bring it up to my mouth. A trickle of grease dripped down on the shelf of my belly curving outward in front of me, staining my shirt. I tried moving closer to the table, but of course the balloon of fat that was my constant companion prevented me from doing so. Moving my head forward, I attempted to make contact between mouth and meat. Laura was staring at me, a look of wild ecstasy in her eyes.

Frustrated, I put the so-called hubcap back on the plate. “No, Laura. I can’t. I won’t. I don’t want it.”

She uttered a short, sharp, high-pitched sound, as if she had suddenly been stuck by a needle. “But honey, I made it all for you. For us. It’s delicious. I’ll cut it in half if you can’t handle it.”

“No! I just don’t want it.” I raised my voice a notch, emphasizing my refusal. “I don’t want to be like this anymore, Laura. I’ve had it. It’s enough. It’s too much.”

She shook her head in amazement, not believing what she was hearing. “But Bruce,” she replied, pleading, for once using my first name. “I don’t understand. You’ve always enjoyed everything I’ve made for you before. What’s wrong? Why is today any different?”

“You just don’t know what it’s like, Laura. You don’t realize what it’s like to live in this body, this big, fat, out of shape body.”

She started to say something, but I cut her off. “All my life I’ve put up with people looking at me, the jokes, the rude comments, the well-meaning advice. For once in my life, I just want to be . . . normal. I don’t want to be this fat. I just want people to love me for who I am.”

“But I do love you, honey. I love you totally.” Tears were starting to form in her eyes.

I hesitated, feeling my resistance starting to break. I hate to see a woman cry. This time, however, I was determined not to be softened by her tears.

“No, Laura. You don’t love me. You just love the fat, you just love to feed me and watch me get bigger. Bigger and bigger, fatter and fatter, all the time.”

That’s not true! I love you more than anyone . . .”

“Would you love me if I were skinny? Would you still be here if I lost all of this weight?” I asked sharply.

“Well . . . yes, yes, of course.” The tone of her voice was far from convincing, and she knew it.

“No, Laura, sweetheart, it’s not true. Things can’t go on like this.”

Suddenly, as if at the flip of a switch, her budding tears changed into anger and she threw her napkin on the table. “You bastard! You big fat bastard! I do everything for you. Everything! And this is the thanks I get? You don’t know how good you’ve got it.” She shook her head and smiled, but it was a cruel, crazy kind of smile. “Who the hell do you think you are? Do you think you can do better? Who the fuck do you think would be interested in a fat slob like you? Huh? Do you think you’re some sexy Sylvester Stallone or something?”

She got up from her place at the table and came over to stand right next to me before continuing her rant, looking down at me, one hand on her hip. “You’re just a tub of lard, Bruce. Look at yourself. Just take a good look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? Any other woman would find you disgusting, totally disgusting! You’re lucky you found someone like me, someone who appreciates you, someone who is . . . yes, it’s true, turned on by you. But I’m a rare bird, Bruce, just so you know. How many other girls would find this sexy?” She poked her index finger into my soft belly and let it sink in deep. “Oh yeah, Bruce, real sexy, all that fat! Another woman wouldn’t even look twice at you. You belong in a goddamn circus!”

So, the truth finally came out. Now I knew what Laura really thought about me, how she viewed me in reality. Beyond all her little nicknames for me, all the cute little “sweeties,” and “cupcakes,” and “honey buns.” She really did think I was just another big fat slob, although one she liked to squeeze and bounce on top of in bed.

“I’m going out!” she blurted out before I was able to say anything further, though I hardly knew what I could have said to defend myself. A tear streamed down her inflamed cheek. “I’ll be back later – maybe!” She quickly grabbed her purse and left, slamming the door shut behind her with a bang.

She came back late, past midnight. I had already gone to bed, but of course I couldn’t sleep. She undressed in the dark bedroom and slipped into bed without saying a word. It was the middle of summer, but I had the feeling it was going to be a chilly night. A very chilly night, indeed.
 

Jerry Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
252
Location
Badger State, USA
The next morning got off to a chilly start too. Laura bustled about the apartment getting ready for work, making every effort to avoid looking at me. Where had she gone last night? She ignored my presence by creating a facade of false busyness, then walked out the door without saying good-bye.

After she left I had a bowl of raisin bran and a glass of orange juice, hardly enough to satisfy my oversized appetite. Tired and depressed, I crawled back into bed and remained there for half an hour, not sleeping, just staring at the peeling paint on the ceiling. Despite my lack of motivation I finally forced myself to climb out of bed and get dressed for work. Life sucks, I thought.

Still hungry after my minimal breakfast, I walked to my favorite bakery, conveniently located around the corner a mere block from our apartment. I took a number and endured waiting in a slow-moving line, emerging from the store ten minutes later with a big box of Italian cookies, four chocolate éclairs, and a large cup of coffee with extra cream.

I walked into the lobby at my workplace forty-five minutes late, hoping to slip into the office and the safety of my cubicle without being seen by Mary. No such luck. I almost knocked her over as I rushed out of the elevator, spilling a bit of the coffee on the carpeting. She was surprised to see me and glanced at her watch, her lips curling into a frown.

“I know, I’m late,” I said, taking the initiative before she had a chance to chew me out. “I was feeling poorly last night and I overslept. Sorry.”

“I suppose that will make you feel better.” She pointed at the large bag in my hand, the name of the bakery clearly visible. “Or are you bringing a treat for the whole office?” She shook her head in disapproval. I wondered if she also noticed the light stubble on my unshaven face.

“Well, I just stopped for some . . .”

“Never mind, Bruce, just get to your desk. You know, you really aren’t making any effort to help your situation.”

It was a busy morning and my personal and professional life was stressing me out. I discretely removed the box containing the cookies from the bag stashed under my desk and placed it behind my monitor, hoping it would be less visible there. As one incoming call followed another, I shoved a few of the cookies into my mouth while listening to some moron explain his problem, chewing hastily and providing my mumbled explanations through a mouthful of cookie dough.

Once again I would be on my own for lunch, and I sauntered down to the cafeteria as early as I possibly could. In the absence of Susie’s guidance and discipline, I went back to my old habits and loaded my tray with fattening, high carb food.

My friend at the cash register, the cute little one with the nose piercing and the black lipstick, took note of the amount of food on my tray as she rang up my menu selections. “Atta boy, Bruce,” she remarked with a smirk. "Welcome back!”

I sat down and began to eat rapidly, partly out of genuine hunger, partly out of anger and frustration. I recalled the words I had shouted at Laura last night. I don’t want to be this fat anymore! And yet, here I was, stuffing my face, as usual. I felt like a junkie incapable of escaping from the addiction that was ruining his life. Maybe I would be able to burn off a few of those extra calories during my workout with Susie.

By the afternoon most of those delicious Italian cookies were history, already transforming themselves into fat cells in whatever part of my body they would find for their future home. The frequency of the calls had diminished and now I had time to devote myself to the éclairs. I carefully fished an especially big one out of the bag, eating it furtively at my desk, savoring the guilty pleasure as if I were committing a shameful act right there in full view of everyone in the office.

Just as I was wiping a smudge of the chocolate icing from the corner of my mouth, I noticed Mary peaking out from behind one of the pillars in the open passage that led between the sea of cubicles. She was staring at me, spying on me, and from the disgusted expression on her wrinkled face it was clear that she was not pleased.

At a quarter to four, I logged off and packed up my things in preparation for my daily walk over to the Fitness Center. I was glad, at least, that I would have the pleasure of spending an hour or so with Susie. It was the highlight of my day. In fact, it was the only thing that helped to lighten my mood and dispel the clouds of depression that seemed to be hanging over me lately.

The phone rang as I was walking away from my desk. I hesitated, turned, and started to take a step back to answer it. But then I changed my mind. Oh, to hell with it. Just another idiot calling. Let it go to voice mail. I hurried off so I wouldn’t be late.

*BEEP* Uh, hi honey. It’s Laura. I’m so sorry about last night. I said some things I really shouldn’t have. I didn’t mean it, honestly. I was just hurt and disappointed. Will you forgive me? Please, baby? Anyway, I decided to take the afternoon off. Just felt like I needed some time for myself. I thought I would stop by and pick you up when you’re finished at your Fitness Center. Save you that long bus ride home. I’ll meet you there in about an hour. Love you, sweetie. Bye! *BEEP*
 

Jerry Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
252
Location
Badger State, USA
“Where were you for lunch? Busy again?”

Susie sighed. She looked troubled.

“I missed you,” I said as I climbed onto the treadmill. My shirt was off and my fat gut was hanging out, just chillin’ as usual with nothing better to do.

“I didn’t feel up to it. The last few days have been pretty bad for me. It’s my own fault, really.” I had no idea what she was talking about. “You probably wouldn’t understand.”

The treadmill came to life and I started walking. “Try me.”

“I don’t want to unload my personal problems on you. You’re . . .”

“. . . carrying enough weight as it is?”

She laughed, but without much enthusiasm. “Funny, Bruce. Very funny. But seriously, I have this friend, this guy, and he’s been acting like such a jerk lately.”

“Right. Guys can be jerks sometimes. I happen to know one myself.”

Another tired laugh, though she seemed closer to bawling. “We had a good thing when it started, but now it’s all going sour. I shouldn’t be telling you this. Why should you care?”

“But I do care, Susie. Why wouldn’t I?”

“We had a huge fight. An argument, I mean. Monday night after I came home from work. It all started over the weekend.”

So are they living together? I wondered.

“It was stupid, really. We both lost our temper and I said some nasty things. It was a real meltdown. He got mad and left without a word of explanation. He didn’t come back until late, like one o’clock in the morning. I still don’t know where he went or what he was doing.”

“I know the feeling.”

“Anyway, Bruce, that’s why I’ve been feeling kind of out of it lately.”

“I understand. Life sucks, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, it sure does, sometimes. But just talking to you makes me feel better.” She directed her attention to the treadmill, as if she had forgotten it was there. “Are you doing okay? Not getting too tired yet, are you?”

“No, I’m fine. It’s getting easier and easier. I can actually walk and talk at the same time.” The truth was that I was starting to feel a little winded, but I didn’t want Susie to notice.

“Do you have anyone special in your life, Bruce?

“You mean like a girlfriend? Me? No, no, I’m afraid not.” This would be the part where the lines on the lie detector would start swinging wildly back and forth on the chart. “You don’t really think anyone would be interested in a big guy like me, do you?”

“Why not? Lots of women are just looking for a nice guy. Somebody they can be close to, cuddle up with, somebody who will be there for them when things get rough. You’re heavy but . . . I think you’re really nice. I can imagine someone being interested in you.”

After ten more minutes on the treadmill, Susie stopped me. “Now let’s try the exercise bike. It’s a great way to develop your hips and thighs.”

“My hips and thighs are already well developed. And I haven’t been on a bike for years.”

“You know what they say: Once you learn how to ride, you never forget.”

I thought how sweet it would be to take a leisurely ride with Susie.

The bike caused my flab to wiggle even more than the treadmill. My boobs shifted from side to side with every rotation of the pedals. She was watching them.

“You have a lot of upper body strength, Bruce. Did you ever lift weights?”

“Just the ones on my chest.”

I was panting and starting to work up a sweat. “That’s enough for today, Bruce. I don’t want you to melt away. What will I have left then?”

That seemed like a strange comment. What exactly did she mean by that? I sat still on the bike for a few minutes, trying to catch my breath as my heart pounded in my chest, trying to decide whether or not it wanted to launch a sneak attack against the rest of my body.

“There’s just one more thing, Bruce, if you don’t mind. You don’t have to do it if don’t want to, it might be a little embarrassing for you. I didn’t have time for it the first day you started.”

“As long as it doesn’t involve whips and chains, I’ll try anything.”

“No, Bruce,” she laughed, “it’s not that bad. I just want to take another measurement of your body fat.”

“Oh. I thought you already did that.”

“I did, based on your BMI, but this is different, more accurate.”

“Okay, I suppose. As long as it doesn’t hurt. I’m such a big baby.”

“Well, it might hurt, but only a little. I promise I’ll be gentle.”

She helped me climb down from the bike and led me across the gym to the small examination room where she had asked me all those intrusive questions when I first arrived.

We went in and she closed the door. She avoided looking at me. She opened the drawer of the table and took out an instrument. I had never seen anything quite like it before. It was a calipers made of white plastic, graduated with little black markings in inches and millimeters.

“This,” Susie began, “is used for what we call a skinfold test, also known as a pinch test. I am going to pinch a bit of your skin in several parts of your body, and by measuring the thickness of the fold with the calipers, I can calculate your body fat percentage.”

“You’re right – that does sound embarrassing. Do you do this to all the guys?”

“Usually not. But you’re special. You have such an uncommonly large body mass and this will give me a better way to track your future progress. It will be interesting, from a professional point of view, of course.”

“That’s a new one – ‘uncommonly large body mass.’ Isn’t that just a kinder, gentler way of saying that I’m obscenely fat?”

She was blushing and seemed to be more embarrassed than I was. She stood next to me, close enough for me to catch a whiff of her perfume, pungent and seductive. Midnight Passion, if I wasn’t mistaken. The same stuff that Laura wore. With her left hand she pinched the fold of fat on the inside of my upper arm and used the prongs of the calipers to measure its thickness.

“Good,” she said. She walked around behind me and took the same measurement on the back of my arm, where the fat was thicker. “And now one more.” I felt her squeeze a big chunk of back fat and the bite of the caliper’s prongs as she measured it.

She came back in front of me. Her hand was trembling. “Almost done, Bruce.”

She grabbed a handful of belly fat just to the right of my belly button and tried to measure it. She opened the calipers as far as they would go and grabbed me again. Even with the arms of the calipers fully extended, she still had trouble measuring the thickness. “Bruce, hold still! Let me try it again.” She squeezed me hard a third time and I let out a porcine grunt. “That’s close enough,” she mumbled.

I put my fist to my mouth and coughed. I was getting an industrial strength boner. Even Laura never did anything like this. “Just one more little pinch and then I’ll be finished.” Susie wiped her forehead with the back of her hand, even though she wasn’t sweating. Maybe she’s overheated, I thought. I sure as hell was.

She cleared her throat and caught me off guard by pinching a generous portion of fat halfway between my nipple and my underarm. She held it for a long second and looked at me, making eye contact. “Doesn’t hurt, does it?” she asked softly.

“No, it’s fine, Susie. It’s . . . uh!” She pinched my boob tighter and measured it with the calipers. I could feel her fingernails digging into the softness of my flesh.

She took a deep breath and exhaled. “Perfect, I think we’re done. That’s all I need for now. You sure are a big boy.”

“We’re finished already? So soon?” Only now did I realize she hadn’t written down any of her measurements. Did she forget? “So what’s my score?” I asked. “Somewhere between zero and a hundred percent, right?”

She smiled, looking a little guilty, like I had caught her in a slip up. “Yes, Bruce, that’s about right. I’ll figure out the exact number later.”

* * *​

She was sitting in the lobby of the Fitness Center reading a food magazine. Paula Deen’s picture was on the cover. The front of my shirt was still open and I quickly buttoned it.

“Laura, honey, what on earth are you doing here? I thought you were at work.”

“I took the afternoon off. Didn’t you get my message?” She seemed pissed.

“No, I didn’t get any message. Did you call? When?”

“Never mind. It’s not important. But I thought I was in the wrong place. When I came in and asked if you were working out with Mark, they said there was no one here by that name.” She tapped the heel of her shoe impatiently.

“That is strange. Why would they say that?”

“They said your coach was somebody named Susie and that she was the only one you’d been working with right from the start.” She stood up and crossed her arms.

“Susie? Nooo . . . that name doesn’t ring a bell.” I shifted uncomfortably from one foot to another. I was dead, I knew it.

Susie barged in on our conversation, preoccupied with a small spiral notebook in her hand. “Your body fat percentage is only 58 percent, Bruce. That’s actually less than your BMI. I had to estimate, but I figured it out based on your body fat measurements from the pinch test. Our exercise program is starting to have a positive effect.”

“Body fat measurements? Pinch test? What the hell is that? And who the hell are you?” Laura dropped the magazine onto the floor. Paula Deen frowned.

“My name’s Susie. Susie Schmidt, and I’m Bruce’s trainer. Who are you, if I may ask?”

I took a step backwards. I didn’t want to get hurt once the clawing and biting started.

“Yes, you may ask, little Miss Prissy. I’m here to pick up Bruce and take him home. I wanted to do him a favor, though now I’m not so sure he deserves it.”

“Home? What do you mean, home?”

“Home! Like where we live – together. Co-habitating, shacking up, however you want to call it.”

“Bruce?” Susie turned towards me. “I thought you said you didn’t have anyone?”

I smiled a shit-faced little smile and held up my hands, palms upward. Who me?

Laura rounded on me. “Didn’t have anyone? Is that what you told her? So I’m just nobody now, am I?”

“Um, Laura, it’s not what you think . . .”

“And whatever happened to this Mark? You know, the super fit gay hunk you’ve been telling me all about. The one who’s been ‘torturing’ you, exercising you half to death every day of the week since this nonsense started?”

It was time for another “um” on my part.

“Bruce, what’s going on?” It was Susie’s turn. “There’s no one here named Mark. Gay hunk? What in God’s name is she talking about?”

Now Laura and Susie were both facing me with their arms crossed. Susie seemed to have changed sides and was standing next to Laura in a display of female solidarity. Apparently they were equally anxious to hear my explanation. “Well?” they asked in unison.

“It’s . . . well, it’s complicated. Actually, there is no Mark. He’s just a figment of my imagination, as they say. An invention. A fiction. Susie really has been my trainer all this time, and doing a fantastic job if I do say so. And Susie, this is my girlfriend Laura. It’s true, we’re living together. Susie meet Laura, Laura meet Susie.” I acted as if I were merely introducing two strangers at a polite little soiree with white wine and brie.

I could see the color draining out of their faces. This was not good. The atmosphere was charged with tense expectation, like the moment just before lightning strikes.

The thunderbolt hit me right smack in the ass. “Jerk! You big fat fucking liar!” Laura picked up the magazine and flung it in my face. “Here’s something to read on the bus, fatso. Get your own ride home!” She turned, pushed her way through the glass double doors, and left.

I was left standing alone with Susie. She simply shook her head. “You really are a jerk.”
 

Jerry Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
252
Location
Badger State, USA
Laura was busy in the bedroom when I came home after a long, uncomfortable ride on a city bus crowded with sweating fellow commuters. From the front room I could hear her noisily opening and closing drawers, the rattle of cheap metal clothes hangers, the clip-clop of her shoes on the wooden floor, and above it all the sound of her voice, which seemed to be carrying on an extended argument with itself.

I squeezed myself through the bedroom door. “What are you doing?”

“I’m packing. What does it look like?” She threw a pair of shoes into the large suitcase lying open on the bed.

“You’re going on a trip?”

“That’s right, I’m going on a trip. I have to get away for awhile. I’m going to see my sister in Cincinnati.”

“This is sudden.”

“A lot of things are sudden. Like me finding out you’ve been lying to me.”

“Laura, please, don’t be like this. It’s nothing. It was a harmless little fib.”

“Really? Making me think all this time that you’ve been working out with ‘Mark’ instead of that bimbo, whatever her name is.”

“Her name’s Susie and she’s not a bimbo. She’s been trying to help me get into shape.”

“And since when do you need to get into shape? I never had a problem with your shape before.”

“Laura, we’ve been through this already. You know how I feel about my weight.”

“Yeah, well. And you know how I feel about it too. I guess we have irreconcilable differences, as they say.”

“Does this mean we’re splitting up, sweetie?”

“Don’t ‘sweetie’ me, fat boy. You brought all this on yourself. Things were fine, just fine between us. I was happy, I thought you were happy. I loved to cook for you, you loved to eat, and we had fun in the . . .”

She choked up before she could finish. “Just go, Bruce. Leave me alone. I have to finish. We’ll talk when I get back. But in the meantime you’d better think about where you’re going to be living. Maybe your new friend Susie will have your fat ass. Though I doubt it.”

“Where can I go, Laura? I sublet my apartment to a bunch of college students. I can’t just kick them out at a moment’s notice. Let’s talk about this, okay?”

“We’ll talk, but not now.” She turned her head away from me and pretended to wipe away a tear. “I guess nothing can last forever.”

Outside it was a warm evening. Couples were strolling hand in hand along the sidewalk. It would have been a nice night for a walk with Laura, though she usually wanted me to avoid exercise like the plague, afraid that I might lose some of the fat she loved so much.

I made a beeline for the corner bakery, open late in order to make some extra money from the summer pedestrian traffic. I bought half a dozen cannoli and a big box full of éclairs. Sitting with my cappuccino on a rickety wrought iron chair at one of the tables outside, I scarfed down the éclairs one after another. I was a fat pig, so why not act like one? The people walking by noticed me stuffing the goodies into my face. A few of them, usually the older ones, frowned disapprovingly; the younger ones, especially the women, tended to nod in my direction and giggle among themselves. I knew they were laughing at me, but I didn’t care. I just didn’t give a damn anymore. I wondered if I should save the cannoli for later, but then I decided to finish them off as well. What the hell. What did it matter?

Next morning I stopped again at the bakery on my way to work and bought a dozen donuts, the ones with the white powdered sugar that I liked so much. I missed my usual bus and arrived fifteen minutes late. I took my time walking from the bus stop to the building; the air was already getting sticky and I had a lot of weight to move. I didn’t want to show up all hot and sweaty.

As soon as I was settled into my chair in front of the computer, I took out the box with the donuts and left it open on the desk next to me, making no effort to hide my treasure. I hadn’t had my breakfast yet and I was starving. I took out the first donut and ate it ravenously while perusing my e-mail. Then another, and another one after that. Crumbs of varying sizes were falling on my shirt and tumbling down the mountain of my belly like a small avalanche, making a mess of the black keyboard in front of me. Six of the donuts quickly disappeared into my mouth and I leaned back and rubbed my belly contentedly.

“Taking a break already, Bruce?” Mary showed up out of nowhere with a face like sour milk.

“Hello, Mary. Top of the morning to you too,” I said with feigned cheerfulness. “Just having a little snack to keep my strength up. Productivity uber alles, you know. Would you like a bite?” I held up one of the donuts in front of her nose.

“You can eat your breakfast at home, not on the job.”

“Sorry, Mary, no time. I slept late this morning.”

She gave me a smoldering look that made me think of Mount St. Helens, then she turned and left without another word. I flashed a discrete middle finger salute under my desk.

Later a man from the Fitness Center called to tell me that Susie had taken the day off. “In fact, she’s taken off the whole rest of the week, something to do with a personal problem,” he said. “But you’re welcome to come in and work out by yourself if you want to.” I thanked him but replied that I would rather wait until Susie came back.

I spent most of the rest of the day surfing the internet and making calls to try to find another place to live. It made me sad to think about it, but I knew Laura well enough by now and I realized that she wasn’t bluffing. Our relationship was dying and there was nothing I could do about it.

The afternoon seemed twice as long without my daily workout with Susie. I had a game of Solitaire up on my screen when Mary stopped by at about half past four. “Not going for your exercise today, Bruce? It might be a good idea to work off some of those donuts.”

I could have explained that I wasn’t going because of Susie’s absence, but why should I? Was it any of her damn business? “I don’t feel like it today,” I lied.

On my way home I noticed a rundown two-story brick building with a sign in the window. “Rooms for Rent,” it said, together with a telephone number. I had passed that building two times every day for the last four months, but all of a sudden its existence had assumed a potential role in my plans for the future. I quickly jotted down the number while the bus waited for the light to change. It was obviously a dump, but I was desperate and decided to call as soon as I got home.

A man with a tired voice answered the phone. “Yeah, we got a room available. How soon do you want it?”

Things were falling apart so quickly and I didn’t know exactly when Laura would kick me out. “Next week, maybe. Or the week after that.”

“Do you want it or don’t you? I can’t just hold it for you to make up your mind.”

He told me that the room was furnished, in a manner of speaking: electric stove, refrigerator, toilet and shower combination, couch and a table with chairs, double bed, and cockroaches included at no extra charge. The rent seemed reasonable, payable by the week or the month. I told him I would stop by to take a look.

“Don’t wait too long,” he advised. “Desirable properties like this go fast.”

Sleep was out of the question that night. I tossed and turned in the empty bed. At two I got up and raided the kitchen. The rest of the donuts didn’t stand a chance. Nor did the two quarts of chocolate chip ice cream I had stashed away in the freezer. Likewise the four thick slices of leftover Chicago-style pizza. At a quarter to three I waddled back into bed, feeling stuffed but not satisfied. I slept fitfully the rest of the night, waking up every so often to feel the churn in my tummy. In my unsettled state of mind I completely forgot to set the alarm for the morning.
 

Jerry Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
252
Location
Badger State, USA
Mary was pissed off when I walked into the office at exactly twelve minutes past ten. She glared at me like a female rattlesnake at the wrong time of the month. She said nothing. Absolutely nothing. That worried me more than if she had bent me over and reamed me out.

My intestines were in an uproar after last night’s feeding frenzy, but I had eaten only a light breakfast and now my stomach was groaning again with hunger. The only solution to my distress was to take an early lunch. At eleven o’clock I logged off and headed down to the cafeteria.

Mary was waiting for me when I returned. “Where the hell have you been?” It was the first time I had ever heard her use such strong language. “You come in late, work for 50 minutes, and then leave.” She was two minutes off, but close enough. “What on earth is wrong with you? Lately your work habits have been going right down the tubes.”

I shrugged and smiled apologetically. “I’m sorry, but I can’t concentrate when I’m hungry. I had to get a bite to eat. I was just starving.”

“Starving? You don’t look like you’re starving. There’s enough of you there to feed a whole village.”

“You don’t have to be insulting about it, Mary. I know I’m fat, but I can’t help it.”

“Hopeless. You’re just a hopeless case. You’ll never change and now it’s affecting your work.”

She left in a huff like a frustrated missionary who had given up trying to convert a barefoot heathen. I was a lost soul in her eyes.

Later the man from the real estate agency called to say that if I wanted the room, I would have to come over and make a deposit by four o’clock that afternoon. “I can’t hold it any longer. Other people are interested,” he said.

“Yeah, I know. It’s a highly desirable property. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Four thirty at the latest. Otherwise you’re out of luck.” He hung up abruptly.

I had no choice but to leave the office early. Mary was going to go ballistic, but what else could I do? I knew I was skating on thin ice. I could already hear it cracking beneath my feet.

* * *​

I got off the bus and stepped into the graffiti covered bus shelter to catch my breath. I glanced at my watch: it was already 4:23. I hoped the landlord hadn’t gotten impatient and left. Fortunately, the building was right across the street. I walked over and took a closer look. Early 20th century, I guessed from the style and condition of the building. The entire ground floor was vacant except for a bar called “La Mexicana” that occupied one of the corners. The rest was sub-divided into three or four narrow storefronts that were currently in various stages of renovation. Obviously the owners of the building were optimists, hoping that the neighborhood would be the next to go upscale and attract scores of hip young professionals hungry for the urban lifestyle. That time hadn’t yet come, however, and the sidewalk in front of the place was littered with a cornucopia of empty liquor bottles.

The second floor facing the street consisted of a row of double-hung windows in groups of three each. I assumed that each group belonged to a single apartment. Counting the windows, that would mean four units on the front side of the building and maybe another four facing the back. Some of the windows accommodated noisy air conditioners struggling to cool the humid afternoon air. Others were merely open, revealing flimsy curtains hanging listlessly in the motionless heat.

I was wondering where exactly I was supposed to meet the landlord when a balding, middle-aged man in dirty jeans came down the concrete steps of the bar and blinked in the bright sunlight. He looked around with an air of confusion and then walked along the sidewalk in my direction.

He didn’t seem like a landlord, just an ordinary working man having a drink after a long day, but I decided to take a chance and ask. “Do you know anything about these apartments here? I’m supposed to meet someone named George about a rental.”

“I’m George,” he replied with a gravelly, cigarette damaged voice. “You’re the guy who called about the room? Felton, right?”

“Yep, that’s me. Bruce Felton. Sorry I’m running late.”

“I thought you might be here sooner, but when you didn’t show, I went in to pass the time with a brewski or two.” He jerked his thumb towards the bar behind him. “Good thing you came now. I was just about to leave.” He took a step backwards and looked me over, a smirky smile spreading over his thin leathery face.

“I had to leave work early, but the bus just crawled. I really need a place to live. My girlfriend is kicking me out.”

“Girlfriend?” He looked me over again and the smirky smile turned into a disbelieving guffaw. “Girlfriend! Well, I’ll be damned. She must be a helluva good cook.”

I was used to such comments, but even so, my stomach tightened into a little knot of anger. “Yeah, she’s a great cook. Great in bed too. But that’s over now.” I deliberately tried to provoke him. “Could I see the apartment now?”

He made a face, as if the idea of this whale-like creature in bed with anyone represented the ultimate in human degradation. “Sure, sure, it’s right upstairs. Just follow me, big guy.”

We entered the building through a door around the corner, on the other side of the bar, and he led me up a flight of narrow, poorly lit stairs. It was only one floor up, but I was out of breath by the time I reached the top. He stood there waiting for me. “Sorry we don’t have an elevator,” he apologized, “but it’s only a two-story building and most people don’t have trouble climbing the stairs.”

“It’s okay,” I puffed. “A little out of shape, that’s all.” Despite all of Susie’s efforts, I was still just a sluggish blob. My heart was pounding inside of my chest.

He paused for a moment to let me to recover and then we walked down a musty corridor to a brown metal door with the number 7 painted on it in faded gold paint. I was right; there were eight apartments in all -- four in front and four in back. He inserted a key into the lock and pushed the door open. “Go right in.”

The sight that greeted me was enough to make a strong man puke. The floor was strewn with a combination of beer bottles, uneaten food waste, and scraps of old newspaper. It would have been totally unbearable were it not for the open windows in the back, letting in a steady stream of warm, but relatively fresh air. Two of the windows were decorated with dingy white “curtains” that looked more like old bedsheets. The third window was merely covered over with newspaper.

“Needs a little cleaning up, but otherwise it’s a nice, cozy place,” George commented.

“Definitely a desirable property,” I said. “Mind if I look around?”

The apartment was really just one large, sparsely furnished room. On one side against the wall, which was painted top and bottom in two tones of equally disturbing green, was a broken down brown couch, flanked by a small end table and an old-fashioned floor lamp. In the middle of the room there was an oval dining table with four wooden chairs, one of which was split by a jagged crack halfway across the seat. The kitchen was in one of the back corners near the windows, furnished with a 70’s era Kenmore refrigerator that was leaking water onto the floor, a Broan electric range, and a stainless steel sink.

“The sink’s new,” George said. “Stainless!”

I opened the door of the stove and closed it again quickly. It looked like a small animal had exploded inside. One of the burners on top of the stove was damaged and probably inoperable. I opened one of the doors of the cupboard above the counter and disturbed an extended family of cockroaches, which retreated into the shadows. I was beginning to feel sick.

“No microwave?” I asked, trying hard to stay focused and ignore the churn in my belly. I couldn’t imagine myself cooking, much less eating, in this dump.

“Nope, no microwave, but there’s plates and cups in the cupboard, pots and pans under the counter, and some silverware in the drawers.”

The so-called bathroom was next to the kitchen and looked like it had once been a pantry. It only had enough space for a toilet and a shower stall that measured about a yard square. It was enclosed by a moldy yellowed plastic shower curtain hung on a rod that drooped at an angle. No way was my body going to fit in there. No way.

George and I stepped over to the space opposite the kitchen and inspected the “bedroom.” It consisted of nothing more than a rickety old brass bed shoved into the corner, looking like it might have seen service in a New Orleans whorehouse in one of its previous lives. It was the kind of bed I had once imagined myself occupying with certain good-looking girls from high school. Lay lady lay . . . Despite my lurid fantasies, I had my doubts whether it would hold my weight without collapsing.

George piped up. “It’s an antique, you know. Lots of folks would kill to have a bed like that.” I wondered how many people had been killed in that bed.

The windows in the back of the building looked out on the garages where the Transit Authority housed and maintained its fleet of city buses. The air smelled of grease and diesel fuel.

“Too bad you don’t have a view towards the street,” George said, “but this is the only unit available. I’ll give you ten bucks off your rent.”

The place was a real hovel, truly something out of the slums of Calcutta or a novel by Dickens. Hardly fit for a pig. But I was a desperate pig and I shuddered to think of my 400-pound body sleeping on a slab of cardboard on the sidewalk.

“I’ll take it,” I said. “How soon can I move in?”
 

Jerry Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
252
Location
Badger State, USA
Thanks for your comments. Nice to hear from both of you. This story is now well over 22,000 words and it just seems to go on and on. I hope it is not getting boring. Believe it or not, I DO know where I am going with this, but I just need to get there without rushing the action. Here's the next episode . . .
 

Jerry Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
252
Location
Badger State, USA
“Where’s your friend today?” The waitress noticed that Laura was not sitting across from me at the table that Sunday morning. “Is she sick?”

I sighed and pulled on my T-shirt to try and keep it from clinging too closely to my belly. “No, she’s away. She went to visit her sister. She . . . she won’t be coming here anymore. At least not with me.”

The waitress chewed more intensely on her wad of gum, trying hard to comprehend the meaning of my words. “Not coming? Why? Doesn’t she like it here anymore?”

“She doesn’t like me anymore. We’re splitting up.”

“Oh my, I’m so sorry to hear that. That’s tough, really tough. You two come here all the time. Our favorite couple. She hardly ordered anything, and you . . .”

“. . . and I always ordered a huge amount of food.”

“Well, yes,” she laughed. “You did. We always thought that was funny.”

“Funny? Funny how?”

“Uh, you know,” she hesitated. “Funny because, well, she ate so little and you, um, you ate so much.”

“I like to eat. Can’t you tell?” She shrugged her thin shoulders and looked away, embarrassed, now that I was putting her on the spot.

“It’s okay to eat,” she said. “You’re a big guy. Lots of people here order big meals.” She smiled at me in a way she never had when Laura was with me. “What can I get for you today, hon? We’re running a special – free pecan pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream when you order a full breakfast.”

“Bring it on. I’ll have the Super Grand Slam Value Breakfast with the all-you-can-eat pancakes, and don’t skimp on the pie and ice cream.”

I rocked back and forth contentedly like Humpty Dumpty after gorging myself on the scrambled eggs, the breakfast sausages, the hash browns, and three large stacks of pancakes with butter and maple syrup. She brought the pie a la mode and placed it in front of me along with the check, no doubt hoping that by now I really was finished eating. She wished me a pleasant day and was just turning to go when I called her back.

“Could I order one of the apple pies too? I mean the whole pie, not just a slice. You know, to take home with me?”

“You want more pie? Well okay, hon, sure, that’s no problem. I’ll wrap it up to go.” She smiled again and glanced at my full round belly. “You want something more for when you get hungry again, right?”

“That’s right. I have a long Sunday ahead of me.”

* * *​

After breakfast I drove to Laura’s apartment and started packing. She wasn’t planning to return until later that evening and I wanted to take advantage of her absence to clear out before she came home. I hoped I could avoid an emotional scene likely to feature an unhealthy mix of tears, shouting, and recriminations.

Luckily I didn’t have much to move. My clothing, a few books, and a variety of unimportant odds and ends. The combination clock radio and CD player on the bedroom dresser belonged to me. Should I take it along or leave it behind for Laura? I decided to take it – my new abode was already barren enough and at least I would be able to listen to some music and get up on time for work.

I found the infamous pink swimming trunks in one of the drawers. They were stiff from newness and still had the price tag attached. Laura and I never did go to the beach together. I picked them up and stretched them to their full width. They were big enough to run up a flagpole. I felt a stab of regret. Was it my fault after all? Maybe I should have let Laura have her way, let her feed me to her heart’s content, let her dress me up in embarrassing clothing and take me out so that she and other people could amuse themselves at my expense.

I threw the trunks into the cardboard box I was packing. I wanted them as a souvenir, as a reminder of why we were breaking up. They were a symbol of all the things that had gone wrong in our relationship.

My car was soon packed and I was ready to go. I walked around the silent rooms for one last time. Here was the bedroom where we slept together and made love. Here the kitchen where she cooked breakfast for me while wearing nothing more than her apron. The table where we sat across from each other as she shoved forkfuls of food into my eager mouth. I sat down and wrote Laura a brief farewell note. I told her that I enjoyed our time together and was sorry things didn’t work out. I told her I hoped she would be happy in the future. I gave her my new address so she could forward my mail. Then I folded the note in half and put it in an envelope along with my key to the apartment. I closed my eyes and put the envelope to my lips. I left it on the table where she would see it, locked the door from the inside, and walked out.

* * *​

The Wal-Mart Superstore was on my way to the slum where I would be living for the next couple of months. True, it was only a temporary arrangement and eventually I would be able to move back into my own apartment. But I was determined to make myself as comfortable as possible in the meantime. First of all, I would need new sheets and pillows for that brass bed. No way was I going to sleep on the bedding that was there now. Then I would get a broom and some disinfectant so I could clean up the place and make it at least minimally fit for human habitation. A few roach motels for my little friends too. And maybe I could get some real curtains to replace those ghetto bedsheets and the newspaper that currently covered the windows. That would be enough for a start.

I struggled up the steps with my boxes. I was heavy enough as it was, but with the extra weight from carrying my belongings, it was almost impossible for me to climb those stairs. I realized that if I were to gain just another twenty or thirty pounds it would considerably reduce my mobility, to the point where merely getting up from a chair or climbing a flight of stairs would be pushing the limits of my physical capabilities.

I encountered a woman on my last exhausting trip up the stairs. She was coming down the steps just as I was going up. I raised my head and saw a small, slender person with cinnamon brown skin and dark eyes and hair. She was wearing jeans that seemed glued to her thin figure and a canary yellow halter top. From the sharp points of her nipples visible through the flimsy material, I could see that she wasn’t wearing a bra. She stopped halfway down the stairs and stared at me.

“Hello, hi,” I said, as I gasped for breath.

She was silent for a moment, but then she laughed, a short, piercing, irritating laugh. “Oh! Qué puerca gordíssima! ¡Hola,gordito!”

Despite her Hispanic appearance, I wasn’t expecting to be addressed in Spanish. The only words I recognized from my high school Spanish class were “fat” and “pig.” I suppose the meaning was clear enough.

I didn’t budge from the spot and she continued towards me before I could think of anything to say. “Move your fat ass so I can get by, okay tubs?” she said in a rough street accent that sounded like New York or New Jersey. She rudely shoved both her hands into my soft gut as she squeezed past. She brushed against me and I could smell the heavy fragrance of her cheap perfume. “Fat sow!” she shouted from behind me as the she walked out the door.

Welcome to the neighborhood, I thought as I struggled up the last remaining steps to the corridor and unlocked the door to my room -- Number Seven. Maybe not such a lucky number after all.

* * *​

Next morning I ran into one of my new neighbors. He was coming out of his room, Number Eight, just as I was leaving for work. He was a small guy, delicately built, with close cropped graying hair. He, too, had a preference for cheap perfume.

“Hello there,” he said in a neutral tone that was neither friendly nor hostile. He looked me over carefully, not bothering to hide his curiosity. “My goodness, aren’t you quite the super chub,” he giggled. “You must be the new boy. George mentioned that somebody would be moving in. A really big guy, he said. I can see that he was spot on about that. You certainly are more than a mouthful.”

I didn’t like him from the very start, but I tried to be as civil as possible. “My name’s Bruce. I just moved in yesterday.”

“Oh, Bruce. Bruce! How precious!” He laughed, revealing a set of nicotine-yellowed teeth. I noticed that his tongue was pierced. “My name’s Richard. Richard Stainbridge. But my friends call me Francesca.” He giggled again and held out a limp right hand. I tried to give him a regular handshake, but only managed to touch the tips of his outstretched fingers.

“Pleased to meet you, Richard. Well, until later then. Don’t want to be late for work.”

I tried to go, but he wasn’t finished with our little conversation. “Have you met your other neighbor yet? The one in Number Six?”

“Other neighbor? No, I don’t think so. The only other person I’ve run into here was a short little Hispanic woman with a nasty tongue. Yesterday afternoon.”

“That would be her,” Richard replied. “Gloria. Everybody’s sweetheart. We’re going to be quite a happy little family, the three of us. Well, tah tah.” He sped down the stairs ahead of me and was out the door before I could take three paces.

* * *​

My room was closer to work than Laura’s apartment, so I arrived at the office fifteen minutes earlier than usual. And my bus stop was just across the street. What could be more convenient? A historic building, steps away from public transportation, vibrant city living, charming neighbors, etc. It sounded like an advertisement for an upscale condo.

I hoped that my problems with Mary would be over. I was determined to make a fresh start. No éclairs or donuts at my desk this morning. I was hungry, but I could always sneak out for a snack later. I immediately turned on my computer and got to work, quickly reading down the list of e-mails. Most of it was garbage, as usual. But one message in particular caught my eye. It was flagged with a red exclamation mark (“high priority”) and bore the title “Your Employment Status” in the subject line. Mary had sent it earlier that morning.

I opened her message and began reading:

Dear Mr. Felton,

The world of information technology has undergone vast changes in recent years. As you are no doubt aware, aggressive competitors in emerging markets such as China and India are increasingly forcing us to adopt stringent cost-cutting measures. If we are to survive going forward into the future, we must transform ourselves into an agile, fast-moving, lean organization and eliminate bloated structures that slow us down and hold us back.

Thus it is absolutely essential for us reallocate resources and focus on our core competencies. This will necessitate a strategic reduction in the expanding size of our workforce, whereby only those team members who are able to adapt to the new realities and pull their own weight will be allowed to remain on staff. Out of necessity, we must tighten our belts and cut excess fat in order to remain competitive in today’s business environment.

I therefore regret to inform you that, effective immediately, your services will no longer be required by the company. Please remember that under the terms of your employment the company has the right to terminate you at any time, with or without cause and without any advance notice.

Please contact the Human Resources Department immediately to ensure a smooth transition. You may be eligible for limited severance pay based on your years of service . . .


I didn’t bother to read the rest. I clenched my fists and started to hyperventilate. That coward! A cold, impersonal e-mail! Rotten, dirty little bitch! The underlined parts were certainly her idea, a final twist of the knife in my fat gut. I took a deep breath and sat back in my chair to consider my options. What now? I could walk into Mary’s office and beat her to a pulp, or maybe just sit on her face until she suffocated under my fat ass. Or I could delete crucial files and sabotage their system. Or come back with an AK-47 and shoot the place to smithereens. Or curl up into a fetal position under my desk . . .

I decided to reply to Mary with a poison pen message of my own. I would tell her where to shove her corporate double talk. The computer had logged itself off so I re-entered my user ID and password. **Access denied** I must have mistyped. Try it again. **Access denied** Crap! One more time. **The computer has been locked and can only be accessed by a network administrator** Well, hell, I was a network administrator, but I knew it was hopeless. I gave up. I was defeated.

Two guys from the company’s on-site security service approached my desk. One of them, a middle-aged man who had probably lost his own white-collar job and been forced to take a minimum wage position as a security guard, read me my rights. “Mr. Felton, we’re here to escort you out of the building. We will give you a few minutes while you gather your personal belongings.” He folded the arms of his blue long-sleeved shirt and stood like a statue.

I’m not the kind of person who decorates his cubicle with all kinds of personal mementos. The only personal belonging I had was a framed picture of a smiling Laura in a lovely summer dress. I had taken it during one of our Sunday afternoon picnics in the park. Happy times. I took it from the top of my desk and got up from my chair to take that long final walk to the gallows, the guards on either side of me as if I might try to escape. “One last request,” I said. I walked up to the “Don’t Let Obesity Slow You Down” poster next to my desk and tore it off the wall. I managed to get most of it. Another souvenir for my collection.
 

Jerry Thomas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2011
Messages
252
Location
Badger State, USA
At least it was over. I was without a job, but I was a free man. No more Mary to persecute me. No Laura to feed me. And since I no longer had a right to use the company Fitness Center, no Susie either. A lone wolf. An outcast, a leper. Me versus the World.

For lunch I stopped at the Chinese buffet on the way home from what was now my former place of employment. It was cheap and the food was practically limitless. The shy Asian girl who took away my empty plates was impressed. “Oh, you so strong. You big, strong guy. You like food, yes? Lots of food, yes?” I always had a thing for Oriental women, but when I tried to strike up a conversation, she just smiled and nodded her head. “You come again,” she said as she brought me my fortune cookie. Romance is right around the corner, it said.

I stood at the light waiting for the next bus. I looked around the corner, but so far no romance was coming my way. People who put their hopes in fortune cookies are pathetically desperate. Grasping at straws. I was one of them. Any ray of light, however weak, is welcome when you’re at rock bottom. Maybe things would get better. Maybe soon.

With excruciating slowness, I climbed the steps to my room on the second floor. Don’t believe what they say about Chinese food not being filling. My belly was stuffed and lifting myself and my lunch up those stairs required a superhuman effort. After all, wouldn’t you be exhausted if you had to haul something weighing 400 pounds up a flight of stairs?

I flopped onto the broken down brown couch and took a nap to let that immense lunch settle. Eating made me feel better, especially now that my life was total shit. Everyone has his or her addiction, and I had mine. Maybe Laura had the right attitude. Better to live for the pleasures of the day and not worry about the consequences tomorrow. If you drink, you get drunk. If you eat, you get fat. So what? What does it matter?

I felt a little less sluggish when I woke up an hour later. The first thing I decided to do was to get rid of those filthy, semen-stained bedsheets that were hanging in front of my windows. To help circulate the stuffy air, I opened the door to the corridor. Nobody was around; it was quiet. I took the curtains out of the Wal-Mart bag and wondered how I would be able to hang them up. I wasn’t tall enough to reach the top of the window. I pulled over two of the fragile wooden chairs from the table and managed to hoist my bulk up on top of them. This is suicide, I thought, trying to steady myself. Balancing precariously like a circus elephant performing tricks for the audience, I fumbled with the curtains until they were more or less in place. They were too short and didn’t quite reach all the way down to the window sill, but they were still a big improvement over what was there before.

I carefully climbed down and stood back to admire them. I was getting in touch with my inner interior designer and I swished my big round tush as I waddled back to the dining table so I could see them from a distance. They were pink and white in a lovely cherry blossom pattern. A Japanese theme, yes. I wondered if a dainty lace tablecloth with a vase full of freshly cut pussy willows would be appropriate to the decor I had in mind.

“How sweet! You should get Richard to help you.” I was startled by a voice behind me. Standing in the doorway was the little bitch who had called me a fat sow. “Maybe you two got something in common. Richard’s quite a fashion bug too.”

I turned and stared at her. I was still pissed off from yesterday and in no mood to forgive. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Nice guys finish last.

“You’re not sore, are you, puerquito? I’m not shy and I say what’s on my mind. Brutally honest. Some people take it the wrong way, that’s all. It’s a tough world and you gotta be tough too.”

“You’re right about that. I really am just a big fat sow, but my friends call me Bruce.”

“Bruce? Hah, that’s a good one. Seriously?”

“Yes, my name’s Bruce. It’s no joke, though I suppose it could be.” I should have added that it was a pleasure to meet her, but that would be a lie.

“Okay, fine. Then I’ll call you Bruce too. That means we’re friends, okay? I’m Gloria. Gloria Escobar, originally from San Juan, then Miami, then the Bronx, and finally this god-forsaken asshole of a city.”

“You’re Puerto Rican? I thought maybe you were Mexican.”

“Mexican? Oh please, don’t insult me! Todas las mexicanas son feas. Do I look like some ugly ass Mexican bitch to you? I’m a hot chick from the island and don’t you ever forget it. One hundred percent Puerto Rican and proud of it!”

I never thought Mexican women were particularly ugly, but then again, I was largely ignorant of the rivalries prevalent among the various Hispanic ethnic groups.

“So, Brucie, what’s a nice fat boy like you doing in a place like this?”

“It’s a long story. I lost my girlfriend. She kicked me out. And now I lost my job too.”

“Girlfriend? You had a girlfriend? That’s funny. Was she blind?”

I didn’t reply. I was starting to dislike Gloria more and more.

“Just kidding, puerquito,” she added quickly. “I’m not serious. Lots of girls like guys like you. You’re safe. We don’t have to worry that you’ll run after another woman. And all that pork is kinda fun.” She reached out and poked my belly. So who was I, the Pillsbury Doughboy? “Anyway, I hope you have better luck than the last guy who lived here.”

“Why? What happened to him?”

“He croaked. Died from an overdose. Heroin.”

“He died? Here?”

“No, not here, fatty. The cops found him dead in an alley somewhere. Poor fucker. He was kinda nice too, even if he was just a junkie who sold his ass for money.” She smiled, watching my expression to see if I was shocked. I was, but I tried not to show it.

“Life’s tough, ain’t it, sweetheart?” I tried my Humphrey Bogart imitation on her.

She laughed. “Sure as fuck is. It’s a fucked up world. But I gotta run. Here, here’s something for you. Welcome to the neighborhood, tubby.”

She took a box out of a plastic grocery bag and handed it to me. A dozen Hostess powdered sugar donuts. “Even in hell a man’s gotta eat,” she said. “I thought this would be perfect for a fat sow like you.” She winked at me.

I was surprised at her sudden display of hospitality. “Well, thank you, thanks. That’s very nice of you.”

“Nah, think nothing of it. You can pay me later.”
 
2

Latest posts

Top