BHM Served (eventual BHM, civilian turned feeder, slow burn, economic satire)

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like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019
“...The local CDC has identified the consumption of red meat as a unifying factor in all cases of the outbreak. Therefore, as of midnight on this date, all businesses in Harris County purveying meat or meat products are to be shut down, pending further investigation…”

Auralee turned off the TV behind the bar. “Alright, you all heard the mayor. Let’s turn everything off and shut everything down, you can all go home for the day and anyone in the lanes who wants food can just get it somewhere else while I figure this all out.”

Virtue strode into the bar area, alarmed. “Auralee, what’s the meaning of this? Operations don’t have to shut down for another six hours!”

“Why, Mother, I would have thought you of all people would want to slow the spread of reverse tapeworm,” said Auralee, pointing at the blank TV screen. “You heard the list of symptoms. Besides, I want a drink before the bars all close.”

Damian helped her finish capping all the liquor bottles and putting them in the cabinet for the night. This didn’t feel real. Then again, he should have seen it coming. Over a month ago, Christyn had been telling him about a new disease spreading in the city. Now it was confirmed to be foodborne…

As they walked to the car, he tried to think of everywhere he’d eaten in the last few weeks. Christyn rarely cooked with meat, seeing as she didn’t eat it...but lately she’d been plating a meat dish for the guys once in a while, usually chicken but once or twice she’d done pork…

As if picking up on what he was thinking, Auralee said, “Relax. You don’t have it.”

“How do you know?”

She popped his car door open for him and asked, “Were you even listening to the list of symptoms? Acute psychosis. A sudden onset of prolonged insomnia. You don’t have either of those. The third symptom is rapid weight gain, which you’re usually doing anyway, but you seem to have hit another plateau. And the number one reason I know you don’t have reverse tapeworm is that I didn’t give it to you.”

Auralee was even more of a maniac on the road than usual, cutting people off, liberally giving the finger, and running over potholes with a new aggression in search of a bar that was open, but it looked like many establishments had had the same idea she had and decided to close early. “Don’t tell me we’re gonna have to wait until we’re back in Fort Bend County,” she growled.

“So you know where this thing came from, then?” he asked, since she seemed to know not only what the disease entailed, but how it was contracted.

“The secret to the method I use with my special clients was a hard-won one. I actually had to pay $10,000 to obtain it from a colleague of my brother’s. As such, I charge $30,000 for these demented feeders to opt into the program. As transparent as I am about my techniques, I’m sure some of them are applying the knowledge at home, or else turning around and reselling my knowledge for more money. It keeps me from getting swamped with too much work. As lucrative as it is, I know what a toll it can take on my staff. It also keeps the city saturated with disappearances that turn up no corpses. As powerful as my father remains, he can’t protect me from everything. If I ever do come under suspicion, it’s a comfort to know that I won’t be the only suspect. But I warn my clients not to go too hard with the treatment on their own time.” She lit up a cigarette, took a deep pull, and ashed out the window. “It’s entirely possible to come down with a fatal case of insomnia.”


Auralee said Damian wouldn’t be out of work for long. A week, tops. In the morning, they would go into the bar and toss all the meat products that would spoil before the madness was over. Then, they’d get a signed statement of compliance from the mayor and reopen running a strictly vegetarian menu.

Auralee was wrong.

The morning after the initial announcement, the mayor came back on TV to issue a shelter-in-place order for the county. All jobs that could be done remotely were to have employees work from home, and all public bars and entertainment venues were to close. Grocery stores would reopen once they had pulled their meat products. Non-food stores would remain open, but were limited to a maximum occupancy of one customer per ten square feet of floor space at a time, and were subject to an 8 PM curfew. People were urged to remain indoors, but permitted to leave the house on foot for certain activities such as exercise, although the use of public fitness equipment was banned to slow the spread of the ‘virus’ in case it could live on surfaces and become transmitted through contact.

All of this was to be effective until midnight of December 31, 2021.

“It’s gonna be okay, dude,” said Auralee as she came up behind the couch, where Damian sat miserably watching the news while Christyn was at work. “I’ll pay your salary out of pocket. Zeke and Beans, too, and Girard.”

“I’d feel bad about taking your charity,” he said. “I have some savings now. It’ll be a while before I have to depend on Chrissy.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I have more money than I’ll use in a lifetime. It wouldn’t be fair of me not to take care of my faithful staff. Now, what do you want for lunch? Restaurants in Fort Bend are still fully operational.”

He was getting kind of hungry. “Chicken alfredo?” he ventured. “Side Caesar salad? And breadsticks! The biggest order of breadsticks you can get!”

“Sounds like a plan.” She ordered it all from her phone, plus fried mozzarella for herself and chicken parmesan for Alex, and once Alex dragged himself out of bed, they all ate in front of the TV, turning off the news in favor of cartoons.


Damian would have thought some time off of work would get him over his latest plateau, but even without the hard labor under Sabine’s supervision, even though Christyn went all out with preparations for Thanksgiving, even though he missed no opportunity to stuff himself until he felt high, his weight was firmly settled at the moment at 202. Maybe it was because a lack of work left him full of manic energy that made him neurotic.

So he cleaned the house, obsessively, three times. Then he rearranged all the bedroom furniture, including the broken bedframe, so he and Christyn would have a better view out the window if she felt like watching the sunrise (he liked it, she only liked it sometimes, so he left it up to her whether the shutters were open). Then he walked to the store a mile or so up the road and dipped into his savings to buy a bunch of cans of spraypaint and started painting a mural on the driveway.

He kept an eye on his blog, but mostly to keep up with anyone he was following. He didn’t post, since he had nothing new to report. As December began, he noticed one day that Sabine was online. Bored out of his mind, he decided to shoot her a quick message.

SpaceCityFeedee2001: sup
Mistress-B: shelter in place gmfu
SpaceCityFeedee2001: sux, wanna come over n smoke some weed
Mistress-B: they’re reserving the right to stop and question all incoming and outgoing traffic and I don’t have a letter from an employer marking me as an essential employee
SpaceCityFeedee: I got u covered

He knew Christyn had a letter like that from the temping company, so she could go in and out of Harris County to work shifts as a dining room server at one of the retirement homes the company serviced. He texted her and got her to forward it to Sabine, and twenty minutes later there was a knock on the door.

“Damn, you drive fast,” he said as he let her in. “I ain’t even got a chance to call the weed guy yet!”

He called the weed guy that Auralee had used the first time she smoked him out. Of course, he took forever, and charged extra for delivery, but with Christyn gone at work and Auralee and Alex out with the band, it was nice to have something to do, along with someone to do it with.

Only...he’d have sworn it was Sabine’s first time smoking weed. Actually, it probably was. She didn’t know how to roll, and he had to teach her how to hit it, too.

A few hits later, he was feeling pretty good, if a little desperate to get some food down. “Hey Beans, I’m gonna make us something to eat. You got any preferences?”

She was spaced out on the couch, staring straight at the TV, speechless.

“Alright, well, I’ll be right back,” he said, and made for the kitchen.

He found some leftover fettuccini Alfredo in the fridge and decided to slap it into a large tortilla and roll it up into a burrito. It still seemed to be missing something, though.

He didn’t spend much time deliberating about it, just did what came to him in the moment. First, he coated the outside of the tortilla in flour, then brushed it with probably half of a beaten egg, and finally covered the whole thing with some breadcrumbs he found in the pantry before throwing it in the oven at 375 degrees. It would probably take about ten minutes for the outer crust to cook. While he waited, he helped himself to a bag of chips that sat half-full on the counter. They were Christyn’s, but he was sure she wouldn’t mind.


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019
Out of his peripheral vision he saw something zoom past the kitchen doorway. If he’d believed in ghosts, he might have been spooked. Poking his head out to investigate, he realized it was Sabine, darting around the house in a way that reminded Damian of his sister’s cat when it was in one of his psycho moods.

Damian used to resent that cat. Lily always seemed to feed it better than her own brother. One of his earliest memories was of lying on his stomach on the filthy carpet of her first apartment at three years old, having a glaring contest with the cat. (He had blinked first, and for the rest of the years he lived there, had been dead set on beating it in a rematch, but he never did.)

“Beans? Are you okay?”

She zipped past him two more times before stopping to stare up at him, her eyes bloodshot, wide, and horrified.

“What’s happening to me?”

“I think you’re having a bad trip.”

He followed her around for a few minutes to make sure she wouldn’t get up to any trouble. He had only heard about bad trips before, never had one himself. Weed always made him feel tingly, happy, relaxed. Sabine was clearly not relaxed, and as she started towards the staircase, he caught her around the waist and said, “Okay, no stairs.” In her neurotic state, he was worried about her getting onto the second, or, God forbid, the third floor, and jumping off a balcony. “How do you feel?” he ventured.

All she said was, “Refried.”

He took her back to the living room. “I’m cold. Why am I cold?” she asked.

“I don’t know, Beans. Here, does this help?” He sat her down on the couch and wrapped her tightly in a blanket.


About that time, the burrito was done, so he went to the kitchen to get it and soon settled back on the couch with Sabine, placing the plate between them with the burrito cut in half. “Do you want some of this? It might help you come down.”

“N-no! I mean. No.” He was a little taken aback by her panic at first, but eventually, it hit him: here she was, a normie having a bad panic attack in the house of the weight gain enthusiast from work. Of course she didn’t want to eat anything. She probably thought he had sinister plans for her.

“Aight, suit yourself, more for me.”

Eventually, Sabine fell asleep, and when she woke up, she looked much better. The color had returned to her cheeks and she was smiling once again. Still wrapped up in the blanket, she pressed herself against him. “You’re warm. It’s nice.”

“Feeling more yourself again? Don’t feel the need to run around like my sister’s psycho cat?”

“I didn’t know you had a sister.”

“I don’t like her.”

“I don’t like my family either,” Sabine confessed.

“You never talk about them.”

“Yeah, well, they’re not worth the breath. They’re rich, but I’m not interested in their money. Old plantation family, nowadays a bunch of racist, neoconfederate nut-jobs. I’m pretty sure my older brother Lee is in the Klan, but who knows? I left home at 18 and I minimize contact with them whenever possible. Of course, I’m sure they’ll officially disinherit me once me and Zeke get married, but I could care less.”

“Wait, you and Zeke getting married?”

“Well, we talked about it. If we do, it has to be after he gets me off for my assault charge, to avoid a conflict of interest. He said he’d take over my case once he graduates, so I can fire my idiot public defender. And it has to be before he runs for District Attorney, to avoid a media shitstorm.”

This was all a lot to unload. She was probably still feeling the effects of the weed. He thought about telling her more about Lily, just so they would be on equal footing, but in the end, he didn’t.

“Hey,” said Sabine, “do you have anything else to eat?”

“Yeah, hang on, there’s still some chips.”

When Christyn came home, a little damp from the rain outside, he was trying to help Sabine eat chips without spilling them all over herself. “You wouldn’t believe the day I had at work--oh, hello, Sabine!”

“Hey Chrissy,” Sabine greeted her. “You wouldn’t believe the day we had either. I swear I had a near death experience.”

“You what?”

Damian smiled sheepishly. “Long story short: Beans ain’t allowed to smoke weed no more.”


As week 1 of the shelter-in-place order came to an end, Damian found himself flooded with commissions for sketches. He had posted a few of his drawings on his blog, and a few days ago, someone had asked him to draw some anime character they liked in his style, offering him $40 in compensation. He guessed it was a pity thing, as he had posted earlier about how his job had been shut down due to the ‘virus,’ but after that first commission, he was getting more and more requests, so people must have thought he was good.

Christyn had become more active online, too, as she had a number of followers in the Harris County area and lately they were blowing up her inbox with questions, as if she might know the answers. To be fair, she did come across as smart like that.

One morning off, he saw her setting up for a live stream in the living room, propping up a webcam she had attached to her phone against a stack of books while she tested it. “You about to stream? Can I watch?” asked Damian.

“Sure, you can watch! From the desktop in the home office.”

“Aww, why?”

“Because…” She got up, walked over to him, and pulled him in for a kiss, fingernails biting into his sides through the thin material of his shirt. “You’ll be a distraction.”

She just had to get him all worked up. Well, hopefully there’d be a reward in it for him if he was good.

He retreated to the office, fired up the slightly outdated computer, and logged in just in time for Christyn’s stream to start. She had angled the camera to cut off the top half of her face, and leaned in with her elbows on her knees to address the viewers.

“Hey guys! Winter here. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about this COE thing, and since humans are a part of the environment, a disease of the human population counts as an environmental issue in my book, so I decided to answer them live rather than posting the answers, because there’s too many of them, and I also have some pretty strong opinions about some of the things y’all have asked, and I don’t want to, like, end up on an NSA watch list.

“Anyway, I’m gonna go ahead and jump into it. First question I’m getting a lot of is, how do you know if you or someone close to you has the disease?

“Okay, so I did a little research into the outbreak, and it looks like in all confirmed cases, autopsies identified a buildup of foreign matter in the brain. So really, the only way to tell for sure is if you open up their brain and take a look. Since that’s just not practical, let’s take a look at the other noted symptoms: psychosis, rapid weight gain, and insomnia that eventually leads to a shutdown of the body, also known as death. At this point, you guys, there’s something we need to talk about.

“I notice a lot of y’all calling this thing the ‘reverse tapeworm,’ which is not only incorrect, but it gives off the impression that the associated weight gain is the hallmark symptom, when it’s really more likely a product of stress. I mean, I’d be stressed too if all of the sudden, I couldn’t sleep for three weeks on end. Look, guys, its official name is Carnivorous-Onset Encephalitis, and even that is inaccurate, as far as I can tell, but it’s better than just calling it ‘weight gain disease.’ The sad thing is I can already see this thing causing stigma and alienation against individuals of size and a rise in diet culture. I mean...okay, it was pretty funny when I drove into town and saw some dude jogging in nothing but bike shorts and a plague doctor mask. But it’s looking like weight gain is a late-stage symptom here, so trying to lose weight won’t save you. Furthermore, if someone you know recently gained a significant amount of weight without exhibiting insomnia or irrational behavior, they’re almost definitely fine. You don’t know what’s going on in their life. Maybe they just started a new antidepressant. Maybe they’re recovering from an eating disorder. Maybe they did it on purpose. And if someone you know has always been heavyset, just leave them the **** alone about it, especially now. Hang on, I’m getting an influx of new questions…”

She picked up her phone and skimmed them. “Okay, unsolicited comments about my own body which I’m going to ignore...oh! Dreamer 52 asked: ‘Why would anyone gain weight on purpose?’” She faced the camera. The stream didn’t show her eyes, but Damian imagined they looked mischievous on top of her sexy smile. “Have you guys ever heard of this thing called feedism?”

From there, she launched into a retelling of the events of her (their) life over the past year or so, omitting Damian’s name, of course. It was sweet, hearing her tell their love story, even if it did include two instances of the phrase, ‘so there I was, terrified, staring down the barrel of a gun.’


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019
“But let’s get back on track, shall we? I have here a list I printed of the names of the 42 people who have died of COE so far.” She held it up for the camera. “Screenshot this for posterity, loves, and in case you want to fact-check. Now, if you look them up on social media, you’ll find they all come from extremely rich households. Now, the CDC has been saying the disease comes from eating red meat, but poor people eat red meat, too. Most Americans do.

“I think, if you know someone who’s recently started acting erratic or out of character, who’s been experiencing insomnia, who’s got upwards of a million dollars to their family name, that’s when you know you should get ready to say your goodbyes. But don’t worry about keeping your distance: if you look at the list again and look up these people, none of them knew each other. It doesn’t look like this is something being transmitted from person to person. In fact, I wonder if this isn’t a disease at all, but a new poison that’s entered the market, obviously an expensive one, that these rich folks are using to collect on life insurance policies they’ve taken out on their spouses. Especially since, unless every other county in America is lying, this sickness is contained to Harris County, which seems to indicate a local supplier. Ask me, we shouldn’t have the county on lockdown. We should be quarantining the rich, investigating them alone, and jailing them if we catch them in the act. Hang on, I just got a few more questions.” She checked her phone once more. “Okay, savethewildlife99 says: ‘I live by the gulf, and I noticed that the water is looking much cleaner. For the first time in what feels like years I saw a bee. With Harris County shut down is this possible proof that humanity is the virus?’ Okay, I just want to make sure you know what a dumbass you sound like, right? Humanity isn’t going anywhere. Only 42 people are dead. Oh, hang on, email alert...okay, 43 people. But that’s really not a lot. The thing that’s ground to a halt is capitalism. To say that humanity is a blight on the Earth is the first step into a mindset of eugenics, which I shouldn’t have to say is a bad thing!

“Okay, an anonymous user said, ‘If only 42 people have died, why are we treating this like a global pandemic?’ I don’t know, dude.” She flopped back on the couch, obviously getting tired. “Probably because weight gain is a symptom and for some reason, society hates fat people.

“Alright, SpaceCityFeedee2001 asked, ‘You mean quarantines ain’t those little oranges?’” She burst out laughing.

Damian blushed. It had been a serious inquiry!

“Finally, Mistress-B says: ‘I work in the affected area and my job has been compromised. My employer has promised me a check for lost wages, but most of my income comes not from my hourly wage, but from tips. I still am worried about personal expenses and my landlord has posted a notice on our doors to notify us he will still be demanding rent. Any advice?’ Oh, honey...let me tell you how to stage a rent strike...”

Thirty minutes later, she was finally done. Damian heard her footsteps in the hall before she entered the home office, holding a box of chocolates and wearing nothing but a lacy black bra and panties that he’d never seen before. “When did you go shopping?”

“I said I’d gone into town.”

She fed him the whole box while sitting in his lap, leaving his hands free to explore and caress her delicious curves before she took him in the office chair. As things were winding down, he said, “You know this ‘disease’ is just rich assholes feeding each other human flesh, right?”

“What, now?”

He told her everything Auralee had told him. She shook her head and said, “I’m not even shocked anymore.”
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like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019

Even though it was only the beginning of December, Christyn had decked out the house with Christmas decorations and even sprung for a real tree in the living room. Whenever she wasn’t at work, she’d be baking some sort of holiday treat. Every night, the house smelled of it--or was that her perfume? Sometime between the shutdown of the Capital and the end of her relationship with Jesse, she had switched from her usual citrusy one to a different one that reminded Damian distinctly of cake, which hadn’t helped him during all the months he spent trying to hide his secret wish that she would take him to her bedroom and cram him full of sweets until he could barely move.

But no, that perfume smelled more like vanilla than anything else. These smells were warm and wintery with notes of apple and pumpkin spice, giving him something to get excited about every night as he waited for dinner.

He wasn’t the only one loading up on Christyn’s fabulous cooking. Since Alex had gotten back, he had been averaging five pounds a week. (Damian knew this because Auralee was a huge blabbermouth when she was drunk.) He seemed singularly dedicated to putting the weight on, too. He wanted to make up for what he’d done, though Auralee’s very public displays of affection were easy proof that he was forgiven. The only times she seemed to take her hands off him were if she was pouring herself another drink, or dealing with a phone call.

She was doing both one morning while the other three sat down to breakfast. Damian still had yet to wash a load of shot glasses, as he had been busy with his art lately, so she resorted to pouring herself a soup cup full of vodka at the kitchen counter, where she took big gulps of it as she spoke to her clients.

“Yes, Mr. Huebner, I have your order ready. I can go and deliver it sometime in the late afternoon today. Now, I don’t have your new address in my records…

“Hello, Ms. McCready! This is Auralee Kingston. I just want to let you know that I received your email. Unfortunately, due to high demand, I can only offer each of my customers one box at a time. But if you could trim down your order and send it to me, I’ll drop it off anytime after 3 PM today!

“Hello, Mr. Hale! I received your email; I suppose Ms. McCready must have passed you my number…? Ah, Mr. Huebner, I see. Now, I’m sorry to say that due to the high volume of business I do, I can only offer you a single box of product at a time. I don’t know if Mr. Huebner told you, but it’s also $30,000 to opt into the program...ah, wonderful! I’ll be by at around 11 to show you what I have so you can make your selections. If you’ll just give me your address?”

Once she got off the phone, Auralee joined the others at the table with her soup cup of vodka refilled. “Unbelievable. There’s a county-wide meat ban and these reckless idiots still want to buy from me, despite being warned against it by the CDC.”

“On the plus side, the death toll seems to be tapering off from its boom last month,” said Christyn. “City officials are saying the lockdown might end early. Possibly before Christmas, even!”

“Good, I miss Zeke and Beans,” said Damian.

“Well, I guess I’d better get going. I need to pick up a couple of things from the bowling alley, and I’ll need some help with the heavy stuff. Damian, want to make fifteen grand?”

He shrugged as he mopped up the rest of his egg yolks with a piece of toast. “Sure, just don’t make me touch any of the you-know-whats. Or at least let me have some gloves.”

When they got to the bowling alley, Auralee spent several minutes digging through the drawers in the kitchen and behind the bar. “I thought for sure I left them here,” she muttered to herself.

“What are you looking for?”

“My set of calipers,” she said. “It’s a metal instrument about yay big, looks like two hooks facing each other…I thought I might pick it up while I was here, Alex and I might want to have some fun when I get home from my route.”

“Oh.” He pulled the instrument out of the inside pocket of Christyn’s sweater. Well, he supposed it was his sweater now: Christyn had told him to keep it because it ‘looked better’ on him, despite the fact that he couldn’t get it closed. Or maybe that was why she said that. “Please tell me you washed that before I used it to open beers.”

“How in the dickens did you manage to open a beer with this?”

“Why were you keeping your sex toys in the bar?”

“It’s not a sex toy, not exactly. Maybe I’ll teach Chrissy how to use it, and she can give you the demonstration. Now, we need a cooler and probably two big buckets of ice from the machine.”

Damian handled that part and let Auralee load the meat into the cooler once they had it in the backseat. She grabbed a stack of the blank cardboard boxes they gave people for leftover pizza, threw it in the car, and off they were.

Their first stop was a sprawling estate house in a gated, guarded community with huge manicured lawns and fancy, decorated street lamps of dark metal with a faux green finish. “This is the Hale residence. They’re my newest clients,” said Auralee. “Here, fold one of these up for me.” She handed him a pizza box to assemble and once he handed it back to her, she went in the back and filled it with a sampling of selections from the freezer. “Normally in neighborhoods like this, you need a special permit to solicit door-to-door...but that’s not exactly what we’re doing here, is it? We were invited. You ready?” She led the way up the path to the house, where Damian knocked on the door, since her hands were full.

A tall, athletic blond man in workout shorts and a white shirt answered. Damian noticed he was wearing one of those fancy techno watches that monitored your heart rate. Auralee had spoken on the phone to a Mr. Hale...Damian guessed he was one of those feeders who preferred fitness for himself while fattening up his partner. Damian had come across many of those on the internet, but they were mostly women.

“You must be Ms. Kingston?”

“Mr. Hale, I presume?”

“Please, Mr. Hale was my father. Call me Fred.”

“Then you call me Auralee.” She didn’t introduce Damian, for which he was grateful. The last thing he wanted was to be mixed up with people like this.

“Please, come with me.” Fred led the way to the living room, where Mrs. Hale was arranging platters of meat and cheese cubes, crackers, dip, cookies and mini cupcakes on the coffee table. Damian couldn’t tell, but it looked like a few of the sweets were missing.

“Helen, did you get into the snacks I set out for the guests?”

“I couldn’t help myself,” she admitted shyly.

“That’s quite alright, my assistant and I have already eaten,” said Auralee, much to Damian’s relief. He wasn’t keen on eating anything from the house of someone who planned on hijacking his wife’s--what was the word for it again? Oh yeah: bodily autonomy.

Helen Hale was an attractive woman. Like her husband, she was blonde, but had dark eyelashes that framed a pair of striking green eyes. Her figure was a lot similar to Christyn’s in proportion, curvy with prominent hips and a chest that could almost compete with them, though she was taller, probably closer to Damian’s own height. If he had to make a guess, he’d say she weighed about 175. Unlike Fred, she had dressed up to receive guests. She wore a pink sweater set, a floral pencil skirt, kitten heels, and a string of big pearls around her neck that had to be worth more than most people’s rent for several months.

“Why don’t you two sit down while I show you what I have?” said Auralee, and with that, she took control of the room. She turned off the TV as the wealthy young couple sat, Helen looking guilty as she snatched another cupcake. There was still plenty of room on the coffee table, so Auralee set the cardboard box down and began to show her product. “Here we have your New York strips, petit filets,” she rattled off, holding up individually vacuum-packed cuts of meat for them to appraise. “When those aren’t big enough, we chop them up into the steak burgers. Here, take that in your hand, Fred. That’s a two-pack of half-pound patties, and these are better than hamburger meat. Do you like to cook?”

“Oh, he’s a passionate home chef. Perhaps too passionate,” Helen answered for him.

“Bet,” said Damian. Helen turned red and crossed her arms over its stomach as if to hide its size. Auralee glared at him. “I mean, this is such a lovely house. It must come with a state of the art kitchen.” That was a good save, right?

“This all looks good, honey,” said Helen, “but aren’t you worried about the reverse tapeworm?”

“You really believe that malarkey about it coming from meat? Everyone eats meat,” said Fred, which seemed to be enough to convince her.

“Well, those are much better than regular hamburger meat. You can cook them medium rare, rare even, and she won’t get sick. And last but not least, we have the ribs, for barbecuing,” said Auralee. These looked distinctly human, but Fred had probably already heard the secret already from Mr. Huebner, and as for Helen...well, she didn’t come across as very bright. “Fred, if you’d like to join me in the kitchen so you can make your selections and fill out some paperwork?”

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like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019
“Won’t you stay here and entertain the lady?” Auralee said to Damian before she and Fred disappeared around the corner to do business.
Damian turned the TV back on and started flipping channels. “Anything you want to watch? Sci-fi? Romance? My girl likes the sci-fi channel.”

“Some comedy would be nice.”

He surfed until he found the standup channel. She laughed a little at the comedian on the screen, but still looked troubled. “You good, Ms. Helen?”

“I know how it must look, my husband keeping up his fitness routine while I blow up like a balloon.”

“Aw, c’mon, Ms. Helen. You look great. If you weren’t so tall, you’d look like my girl, and I’m lucky that I got the most beautiful woman in the world. But your husband pretty tall, too, so you look just right with him.”

He was trying to offer her comfort, but it was all bouncing off her. “I had my weight under control for a while, I was going to the husband prefers weight training, but I was doing cardio...but now, with public facilities all being closed…”

He decided to try a different angle. “Can’t you go for a jog outside?”

“I prefer to use the machines.”

“Oh! There was a gym at my old apartment complex. I could give you the addy real fast, and the gate’s broken so you don’t gotta worry bout a code.”

“That’s quite alright.” She wrinkled her nose. “And thank you, for saying I’m good looking. You’re not so bad yourself. You have a nice face. Lose 30 pounds, and you’d be quite the looker. Oh...but it would never work.”

“What would never work?”

“Our affair,” said Helen. “Maybe if you were a student of medicine or law...hell, even business. But a saleslady’s assistant?”

Damian suddenly felt rage boil up from within. This was the most entitled thing he had ever heard. Had he not spent the last few minutes talking about his girlfriend? And even if he had been single, what made this woman think it was her call to either have him or cast him to the side at her liking?

It was a lucky thing that Auralee and Fred emerged from the kitchen before he had the chance to speak. “Wait for me in the car, bud, while I fix Mr. Hale his box.”

As they drove off for their next stop, Damian said, “What took you so long?”

“I take it Helen wasn’t pleasant company?”

“She was awful!”

“Yeah, that’s rich people for you,” said Auralee.
“But you’re different. You helped me, you helped Chrissy get on her feet. I mean, sure, you are super yikes in some ways. ****’s sake, I’m riding around in an SUV with you and we’re selling human meat. But you’d rather screw the rich so you can take care of us little guys.”

She chuckled. “It’s been a while since you’ve been ‘little,’ though, hasn’t it? And sorry for the wait, by the way. I was getting Fred to sign an NDA stating he won’t name me as a supplier to other feeders. Luckily, I found out he doesn’t know what’s in the meat. I lied and told him it was full of weight gain hormones. I need to be able to control this thing. My last method kept me clear of suspicion for murder, but it also got the city shut down.”

“What happens if he tells anyway?”

“Then he’s responsible for paying me the equivalent of the entry fee.”

“What do you mean, equivalent?”

Auralee smirked. “I’m not charging them in money.”

“What are you charging?” Damian was almost afraid to ask.

“Ten pounds on the grand. And the poor fucker didn’t even read the fine print.”

He gaped. “$30, he’d have to gain 300 pounds?!”

“Or have me sue him for breach of contract. Wouldn’t that be a trial to make the news? Say, you’re getting better at math.”

The Huebners lived quite out of the way, just a little past Pearland. The long drive had Damian restlessly squirming in his seat, asking again and again, “Are we there yet?” until Auralee had had quite enough.

“If you ask me again, I’m going to sedate you.” He was pretty sure she was joking, but he didn’t want to risk it in case she wasn’t.

Luckily, things at the Huebners’ went quickly, as Mr. Huebner had sent in his order and the only thing he had to do besides accept the delivery was sign the new NDA.

Before they hit Molly McCready’s house, Auralee pulled into a little tex-mex drive thru. “You hungry, buddy? It’s just about lunch time.”

“Yeah, I could eat.”

“What do you want?”

“Can you get me a couple of those chicken and black bean burritos, no cheese, extra avocado?” He really wanted the beef and bean ones, but he knew restaurants weren’t serving red meat right now. He supposed he should be more worried about driving around with Auralee during a shelter-in-place order, selling meat during a meat ban, but it was Auralee. She had favor with the cops. Besides, not even the cops were out, it seemed. He had never seen the roads so empty.

She pulled up to the window. “Yeah, can I get two chicken black bean burritos, extra avocado, all the cheese on the side, and a large iced tea with four creamers?”

“Don’t you want anything?”

“I’ll be fine.”

She paid at the window and they handed her the bag of food and the drink. Before she even got back on the road, she took the side of cheese sauce, drank it like a shot, and handed Damian the rest of the bag while she swilled liquor from a flask she’d been keeping in her handbag. It was the grossest thing he had ever seen anyone do.

At Molly and Ann’s house, Auralee said, “Molly and I have some paperwork to go over...Ann, why don’t you and Damian step outside for some fresh air? I’ve had the poor thing cooped up in the car all day.”

Ann heaved herself off the couch and let Damian take the lead. He held the door for her as wide as he could push it, but it was still a tight squeeze for her through the doorway. Still, in her red wrap dress with her hair sprayed into big beauty-queen curls, she commanded a sort of air of majesty, the vision only tainted by the fact that he knew exactly what Molly was doing to her.

“I don’t like those two being in there alone,” said Ann as the two of them started off down the block, Damian having to slow his pace considerably for her. “One of my greatest fears is that Molly leaves me for one of these skinny-minis.”

“I got a feeling she won’t,” said Damian. “But we can go back inside if you want.”

“That’s okay. I’d like to make it to the end of the block and back while I still can.”

Indeed, Ann was struggling with each step. According to Auralee, her weight was ‘entering the late 6’s,’ which seemed to imply a future climb into the ‘early 7’s.’ Auralee figured her days of mobility were numbered, and with Molly keeping her sedated as much as she did, Damian had to agree with her. “Are you worried about losing mobility?” he asked.

“I’m terrified,” she confessed. “I try my best to diet, but somehow I’ve still managed to double my weight since I’ve been with Molly. So I get discouraged and end up just drinking the calories I’ve managed to cut out of my food intake. I think I had a pint of whiskey before you two came just to feel normal. And every time Molly takes me to Auralee’s bar, I drink until I black out.”

Damian wished he could tell her the truth about the blackouts, but if he snitched on Molly, he’d have to snitch not only on Auralee, but himself. He decided to take the conversation on a tangent: “Have you thought about surgery?”

“Molly would never allow it. She thinks all doctors are quacks.”

He wasn’t surprised to hear it. “Do you think she’s the best person for you, then? I’m not saying you should have surgery, in fact, one of my best friends had it and it ruined her life. But one of the most important things in a relationship is being with someone who lets you make your own choice about your body, yeah?”

“Oh, but I could never leave Molly. We love each other!”

Christyn used to have that same attitude about Jesse, and look what happened. He didn’t think he was going to get through to Ann today. But there was hope.

They had made it about four houses down the block when Damian locked eyes with another plus-sized beauty. She was sunning herself in a pool chair, wearing a crop top and shorts despite the winter chill, sipping a cocktail while her husband mowed the lawn. As she spotted Damian, she removed her sunglasses, got up, and headed straight toward him. Once she was close enough, he recognized her as the girl Auralee had lost her first boyfriend to. “My, my, I didn’t think I’d ever see you again after the Rodeo! Damian, right? And I see you’ve decided to trade up. I bet you and my Sid would have a lot to talk about over a beer. Oh, forgive my rudeness, I haven’t even introduced myself to your girlfriend. Linda McGowan, Miss…?”

“Ann, but I think you’re making a mistake,” said Ann, meeting Linda halfway for a handshake. “Damian’s sweet and all, but I don’t bat for that team. He’s just helping out the saleslady.”

“The saleslady?”

“Linda!” Auralee had finished up with Molly and hurried up the block to where the other three stood. “You’d better not be tormenting my assistant!”


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019
“Well, well, if it isn’t Auralee Kingston, the original American class traitor,” said Linda, her beautiful face curling into a cruel smile. “So, he’s your assistant when you’re out peddling door to door like a Girl Scout?”

“One must maintain an air of professionalism in front of the clientele,” said Auralee.

“Yeah, and we’re not selling door to door, you need a permit for that,” added Damian. Auralee elbowed him in the ribs on ‘accident’ before placing an arm around him. She was a little late to remember that as far as the McGowans knew, they were dating, but he was surprised she remembered at all.

“She didn’t hurt you, darling, did she?” asked Auralee.

“Please,” said Linda. “The only thing hurting him is settling for you. Making sales calls, tending we’re going to run into you shining shoes. It’s embarrassing!”

Sid had turned off the lawnmower and come over to investigate. “Ladies, let’s not have a catfight in the middle of the lawn! Linda, look at poor Aura, if you swung at her, we’d have to call her an ambulance.”

“Sid, cut the casual body shaming,” said Auralee. “I didn’t come here to do you any harm, I’m just a humble entrepreneur trying to make it in these uncertain times.” Despite her little ‘I-come-in-peace’ speech, she had that look on her face that Damian had come to know meant she was up to some mischief.

“Alright, then, humor me. What is it you’re selling?”

Auralee beamed. “Meat! All the best cuts of meat you can imagine, flash-frozen and never thawed to lock in freshness, 100% free range and organic! I’ve got filets, New York strips, burgers, ribs, ground chuck, bacon, the whole works! You like to cook, as I recall. Well, I’m running a new customer special: if you buy more than four shipments a month from me, I’ll waive your opt-in fee. You’re really gonna like what I’ve got, Sid. Damian, won’t you walk Ann back to her house and meet me back here? Sid, let me just move the car, and then I’ll show you my wares!”

It looked like Auralee wasn’t opposed to adding one more body to the count.


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019

The mayor was confirming on the news that in light of the COE death toll screeching to a halt, the lockdown was going to be lifted by December 23, just in time for Christmas. Christyn was watching in the living room with captions, the sound off so Alex could tune his guitar as he sat on the armrest of the sofa. She thought it was a little suspicious that the mayor was now in a hurry to reopen the city, after she had so urgently shut it down, but who wanted to complain about good news? “Hey, that’s great! You and the band can play shows in the city limits again!”

Alex didn’t answer or even look at her. Well, he answered if a grunt counted.

“Chrissy, could you join me for a second?” The call came from Auralee. Christyn dutifully padded into Auralee’s room, feeling momentarily once more like the obedient barback as she pushed her way through the door behind which her friend lounged in her rumpled bed, swilling a glass of red wine.

“Alex seems out of sorts today,” Christyn informed her.

“Oh, he’s like that all the time when I make him take a fast day nowadays. Helps to slow the metabolism. He used to be much better at it, but lately he’s gotten accustomed to eating generous amounts at all hours of the day. I’m sure I’ll catch him cheating before this evening.”

“Damn, if I tried to starve Damian for a whole day, I’m sure he’d take me to court for domestic abuse!”

“Then it’s lucky for you that he can’t call the cops.”

“Well, I’d never dream of doing it!” snapped Christyn.

“And that’s why he keeps hitting plateaus. But enough about the boys. I didn’t call you in here to talk about them. We’re not making any money or passing any Bechdel tests, here.”

“Then what do you need?”

“I need someone to come up to the bowling alley with me before we reopen and help me with the inventory.”

“Can’t Damian--?”

“Someone who’s good at math.”

“Fair point.” Christyn didn’t know how booksmart Sabine might be, and Zeke would be busy preparing for his final exams. Auralee had once confessed to being a horrible student herself: she had won a scholarship from a prestigious New York university for her philanthropic work with the Houston food bank, but had returned home in disgrace after getting expelled with failing marks in every class, a consequence of her hard-partying lifestyle. As for Damian...he was the sweetest boy, he really was, and a hard worker, too, but she wasn’t altogether certain that he could count to twelve. “I have to go to work tonight, but I’m free all day tomorrow.”

Christyn left early for her shift with ABC, which allowed her to take the scenic route past the fast-food place where Damian used to work. Only this time, when she passed it, she noticed all the windows were smashed. Yikes. As she drove further into town, she saw a staggering number of other establishments ransacked, mostly grocery stores and one liquor store. It was no wonder the mayor had decided to cut the lockdown short. The closure of most stores was bound to lead to looting, as not everybody could afford to have their food delivered from the next county over. “Good for them,” she muttered to herself, thinking of all the working class people, her people, who had chosen to break and enter rather than starve. Big businesses could afford to absorb the cost of the damages.

She was assigned today as a shift lead at The Estates at Westchase, an upscale retirement home about ten minutes off the beltway. She arrived a few minutes before her scheduled in-time and collected from the catering office the clipboard of paperwork she would need for signing in the other temps. There were only five others from ABC today, the rest of the staff on the clock being employees of the facility itself. It wasn’t long before the first of Christyn’s colleagues arrived. “Oh, here I am,” said a woman wearing the black shirt and slacks that singled her out as an ABC contractor in a sea of retirement home workers dressed in blue. With one manicured nail, she pointed to her name on the list in Christyn’s hands: Lilith Cable.

Where had Christyn heard that name before?

Lilith was built more like a runway model than a server, rail thin with no curves to speak of. That she wasn’t a model already could probably be credited to the fact she wasn’t taller, although she was still tall enough that Christyn had to look up to make eye contact, standing herself at only 5’2”. She had jet-black hair tied back into a ponytail, though her glossy curls looked as though they were testing the tensile strength of the elastic band that held them together at the nape of her neck. She wore deep berry lipstick and had done her eyeshadow elaborately in shades of blue and green that popped against her light brown complexion. Christyn might have considered her quite attractive had she not been so worrying thin; as it was, she was wondering whether the woman’s delicate wrists could support a beverage tray. And those eyes...deep brown and seductive, and sparkling with a glint of deviance that looked so, so familiar…

Once all the temps had arrived and been signed in, Christyn flipped through her papers to see what their stations would be. “Alright, Kelsey and Jennifer, you have Dining Room A, Caleb and Derek, Dining Room B. Lilith, you’re with me on the fourth floor.”

As they entered the elevator, Lilith said, “You can call me Lily. I’m only Lilith when I’m in trouble.”

“That’s where I remember your name from! Jesse mentioned you worked for this company!” Christyn blurted.

“Don’t remind me of that horrible man,” said Lily. Christyn blushed.

“Sorry. And how rude of me. I’m Christyn.”

She led the way to the prep area, wheeling in the cart that held all the food they would be serving. “Have you ever worked in memory care before?”

“No, this is actually my first time here.”

“Well, that’s probably why they put you up here, and paired you with me. Don’t worry, I’ve done this several times,” said Christyn as she set up the steam table. Tonight on the menu was grilled salmon with a lemon cream sauce, penne pomodoro, and steamed broccoli, with sugar-free chocolate pudding for dessert. “The nurses will take care of the residents, for the most part. All we have to do is serve and clear. We have twenty or so residents on this floor, with four mechanicals. Their plates are pre-prepped in the warmer. I’ll show you who they are.”


“People who need their food chopped up small so they don’t choke.”

“Maybe you should serve, and I’ll clear?”

“Nah, c’mon, you need to learn in case you want to come back and work here, and not all the shift leads have my patience!”

Soon, the residents started to trickle into the dining room, and Christyn introduced Lily to each one--well, the ones that would speak to her--as she set down their usual water or juice.

While she was serving dinner, Lily close at her heels, one of the residents, Mr. Green, perked up upon her approach with his plate. Clutching his fork in anticipation with one trembling hand, he said, “Oh boy, Ellie, what did you make tonight?”

“I made you a nice fish with some noodles and some greens, see?” She placed the plate before him and his face fell with disappointment.

“No meatloaf? You know I’ve been dying for some of your meatloaf.”

“Harvey, Martha Stewart said you have to eat fish to stay healthy. Now, I’ll hear no more fuss!” she said sternly before walking away to check on the other diners.

When she returned to the prep area to fetch a pitcher of water, Lily asked, “Who’s Ellie?”

“Eleanor, his late wife.”

“Oh. Sad,” said Lily. “Hey, have you ever considered being an actress?”

“It was never on my radar. I used to be pretty poor,” Christyn confessed. “That’s why I got into restaurant work. Easy money, sometimes on the same day. And now, well, I’d be a little old to learn. Besides, I see myself more as a writer, anyway. I have some ideas, I just never have time to write them down. But what about you? You’re a pretty young girl. A talent agent would be foolish not to at least give you an interview.”

“Oh, don’t flatter me. I’m thirty-six!”

“No way! If you had sat down at my bar, I would have carded you.”

They talked some more while they were cleaning up. Christyn learned that Lily stayed in Spring with her husband, who had dropped her off, but since she had another shift in Houston tomorrow, she planned to stay in a hotel and have him pick her up after she clocked out. She’d forgotten, though, that most businesses were closed due to the lockdown, and she couldn’t find one that was open within the city limits.

“You can stay at my house for the night,” Christyn offered. “There’s plenty of space, and I make a killer breakfast. It’s a bit of a ways out of the way, but cab fares have plummeted recently, and you’ll spend way less getting back here than you would have on a hotel.”

“Oh, I couldn’t impose on you.”

“It’ll be no trouble.”

“Well, if you insist. But let me thank you by buying you a drink!”

Christyn took Lily to the bar Damian had brought her to for her birthday. As promised, Lily bought the first round...then the second. At that point, Christyn decided she had better stop drinking if she had any hope of driving home and waking up in the morning to help Auralee, so when Lily ordered two more rounds of tequila shots with water backs, she gave Lily all the tequila and drank all the water herself. She felt bad for being deceptive...but it wasn’t like she planned on taking advantage of Lily.
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like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019
[TW: implications of incest. Nothing graphic, but if this is an upsetting topic for you please proceed to the next segment. Long story short: we at last learn why Damian doesn't like his sister.]

As they arrived at Christyn’s house and crossed the threshold, Lily slurred, “I feel like there’s something on both our minds. Tell me, how do you know Jesse Markham?”

So, she was ready to talk, now that she was drunk.

“I was his former submissive.”

“Me too, me too.” Lily nearly tripped on her way through the door, but Christyn caught her and guided her to the living room sofa.

“You said he mentioned my name?”

“He did, he did,” said Christyn. “When he spoke about you, though, there was no animosity. It almost seemed like you were still friends.”

“We were, for the longest time.”

“What opened your eyes?”

“What opened yours?” Lily countered.

Christyn understood. Lily probably wanted to know that she wasn’t secretly an agent of Jesse’s. She knew she had the same paranoid fears creep in from time to time. “He attacked my best friend.”

“Similar experience,” said Lily. “He got my little brother arrested. I didn’t find out until later.”

“Why would he go to such lengths just to hurt you?” asked Christyn.

“It was never about me at all, I don’t think. My brother’s crime was that he was getting too much attention from Jesse’s at-the-time sub. He never told me much about her. ‘Kitten,’ he called her…”

About that time, Damian came down the stairs. “Hey Chrissy, I--” He froze as he locked eyes with Lily.

Her face lit up. “Little brother! It’s been too long!”

Christyn stood and stretched. “I need a shower. I’ll leave you two to catch up?”

Damian wasn’t downstairs for too long before he slipped into the shower behind Christyn. She leaned back into his body, allowing him to run his hands up her waist and lather up her breasts with soap. Weeks away from work had softened the calluses of his hands, and she relished the sensation of his meaty palms and thick fingers working against the most sensitive parts of her skin. She turned around to kiss him, pulling back to admire his round, cherubic face and tease his pretty, jet-black curls with her fingers. It really was a wonder his resemblance to his sister had escaped her at first. Lily was a bit lighter-skinned, but she had the same hair and the same dark, mischievous eyes, although Damian’s tended to turn into adorable crescent moons against his full cheeks when he laughed or smiled these days. She supposed she was so used to seeing him with softer edges, it was difficult to see his similarities to the much thinner Lily at first.

Once out of the shower, she toweled off her hair, combed it through with a bit of baby lotion (which made a great leave-in conditioner if you were on a budget), put on her PJs, and curled up in bed, Damian not far behind her. She was a little too tired and still too tipsy to please him sexually, but he seemed to be in more of a cuddly mood anyway, holding her tight around the waist from behind, almost like a comfort object. “How was your talk with your sister?” she asked.

“She drunk as ****. I tried to show her to a spare room, but she passed the **** out on the couch.”

“Poor dear. I hope she feels alright in the morning.”

She absolutely melted into Damian’s embrace. It was cold tonight, mercilessly so, but the weight of his heavy thigh pulling her against the mattress and the soft push of his precious pillow of a belly against her back kept her feeling warm and secure. His arms were as thick and muscular as ever, but even there, she could feel a modest layer of fat beginning to settle on top of the muscle. He might have broken his latest plateau if not for the early end of the lockdown. Soon, Christyn would have to give him back to ‘Sergeant’ Mathison, and he would no doubt return to her a little firmer and a little leaner…

Or she could just feed him extra to make up for the spent energy.

She drifted off to sleep thinking of all the delicious food she would prepare to keep her darling boy happy and growing.


Damian had been shaken by the appearance of his sister on his doorstep, but hoped she would be gone by the time he went downstairs for breakfast. Christyn had mentioned that Lily had to catch a cab to work that day, before leaving herself to help Auralee with something at the bowling alley.

Christyn had made scratch biscuits for breakfast, along with a whole skillet of scrambled eggs with spinach, bell peppers, and onions that were cooked until they were soft and almost see-through in some places and crispy in others. He was starting to come around to onions cooked this way, even if the raw ones still made him want to gag.

She had left the eggs warming on the stove, so all he had to do was reheat a couple of biscuits in the oven. He only took two: they were huge, and he already knew how dense and filling they were. He cut them in half and loaded a hearty portion of scrambled eggs on top. After finishing his plate with a drizzle of Christyn’s Vietnamese hot sauce, he poured himself a tall glass of sweet tea from the pitcher Christyn kept in the fridge for him, spiked it with creamer, and sat down happily at the kitchen table.

He was contentedly munching away when he heard someone coming down the hall towards the kitchen. At first he thought it was Alex, but then he remembered Alex had offered to go into town this morning and arrange a show at a Midtown live music venue. Anyway, the footfalls were too light to be his. Damian realized all too late that Lily was still here.

“What do you want, Lily?” he grumbled as she stepped into the room.

“Is that any way to talk to a sister who bailed you out of jail?” she asked. “I had hoped you would at least have taken the time to thank me. But no, all I get is radio silence, and then you disappear. Move counties, even.”

“How did you even know where to find me?”

“Jesse mentioned his broad, Christyn Brandywine, had taken up with you. As luck would have it, she happened to work at my job.”

“How do you even know Jesse?” he asked. He wasn’t surprised those two awful people were friends.

She didn’t give him a direct answer. “It’s almost as if the universe doesn’t want us to be separated.”

“Tell that to the courts.”

His stress level had skyrocketed, and he returned to the stove to fix himself a second plate of breakfast in the hope of smothering the feeling of dread.

“Might want to slow down there, little brother,” said Lily. “Jesse said you were letting yourself go, but this is ridiculous.”

It almost gave him a spot of relief to hear her say it. Maybe she didn’t want what he thought she did, or at least, not anymore, now that she’d seen him. Maybe she’d be content to just take the money he owed her for bonding him out of jail and leave him in peace. He could give her the cash in hand right now if that was all it would take to get rid of her.

“Not to worry, though, I’m sure I can help you get in some hard cardio.”

Or not.

His heart had started to beat painfully fast with anxiety. If he didn’t know any better, he would think he was going into cardiac arrest. He tried to be brave. “You think I wouldn’t just push you off?”

She pouted. “You would do that to me? The only person who ever took care of you?”

That was how she used to justify it. We only have each other. That was her excuse to make him do things no brother should have to, things no kid in elementary school should even know about.

He should have told Christyn. He just didn’t want her to think he was weak…

“You know, Lily, it’s nice to see you. Glad your ass off the crack pipe now. But what you did to me was fucked up, I don’t wanna talk to you, and Imma need you to go head and catch your taxi.”

“Come on, Damian. I just want a chance to properly say goodbye before we move on with our lives. One last hurrah. I’ll make it nice for you. What do you say?”

He wanted to ignore her and finish eating, but he felt like he was going to throw up.

Air. He needed air.

He pushed past her, making for the front door, but halfway there his head spun and it became a struggle to keep his eyes open. He couldn’t breathe fast enough. He collapsed onto the living room sofa, barely able to sit up straight. “What the ****?” he groaned.

Lily walked over to him and squeezed his shoulder, her hand dangerously close to his neck. He guessed she planned to choke him, the way she used to do to get him up. Somehow it always worked, even though he hated it. “You always did like cream in your tea. Is it any wonder that you…? Well, you know.”

“You drugged me?”

“I helped you relax.”

“You’ll go to prison. For real this time.” Not that he could call the cops, but he could bluff.

She tilted his chin up so he had to look at her. “Oh, nonsense.”


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019
Christyn had insisted on going to the bowling alley in one car, to do the environment a favor. She had also insisted that it be her car, since she got better gas mileage. She had also insisted on driving, since Auralee’s breakfast drink of choice had been no fewer than four screwdrivers, with the orange juice mainly splashed on top for color.

“Would you hurry it up before someone loots the place?” Auralee complained, along with similar eggings on, the whole way there, but Christyn was determined to get them there unscathed without breaking any traffic laws.

No one had looted the bowling alley, to Auralee’s genuine surprise. She took inventory of the liquor and the food, and had Christyn calculate how long the liquor would last based on past sales records, plus how much projected profit they could expect losing on the food side: even though the lockdown was ending, the meat ban would probably remain in effect for quite some time. Auralee would have to pull all the meat and sell it to her clients on the sly, but the bowling alley wouldn’t see any of that money.

“You ever miss this place?” asked Auralee as she and Christyn finalized their work in the managers’ office, Auralee plugging numbers into the computer while Christyn did her calculations longhand at a spare table.

“You mean do I miss your mother’s microaggressions? Her telling all the servers not to help me because I ‘could use the exercise’? Yeah, no.” She returned to her work. “You know, maybe you should be conservative and order the liquor early. It’s been a while since anyone in the county has gotten to sit down for a drink at a bar. I imagine they’ll be flocking here, even if they don’t know a thing about bowling.”

“Good point. I’ll see if I can get my mother to approve,” said Auralee. “You know how stingy she can be with me.”

“Ah, family. Sometimes listening to you gripe about yours makes me glad I haven’t got one. Oh, speaking of family, isn’t it wild that Damian’s sister is my coworker from the agency?”

Auralee whipped around in her seat to stare Christyn dead in the eye. “Please tell me that isn’t who was passed out on the couch…? Oh my really don’t know, do you?”

“Know what?”

“I’m not surprised he never brought it up with me, I’m just his employer. But you…? Then again, it makes sense. He’s got his pride, he wouldn't want you feeling sorry for him.”

“Auralee, tell me what’s going on!”

Auralee got up and strode to the back of the office, where she produced a key from her handbag and opened a filing cabinet against the back wall. “Aura, what is that?” asked Christyn as Auralee pulled a thick manila folder out of the top drawer.

“Damian’s court record.”

“Why do you have Damian’s court record?”

“I obtain one for everyone I meet, and keep one on file for all my current employees,” said Auralee, as if that was normal. “Most of these are just unpaid tickets, but take a look at this one.” She handed Christyn a document from near the front of the stack.



On 05/31/2016, the Court heard the Application of DAMIAN DYON MENDEZ for a Protective Order. Applicant appeared in person represented by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and announced ready.
Respondent, LILITH LYLA MENDEZ, having been duly and properly cited, and having been duly and properly served with the application and notice of the hearing, appeared in person and announced ready.

The Court, having considered the pleadings and heard the evidence and argument of counsel, finds that all necessary prerequisites of the law have been satisfied and that this Court has jurisdiction over the parties and subject matter of this cause.

The Court finds that the Applicant and Respondent are members of the same family. The Court finds that family violence has occurred and that family violence is likely to occur again in the future, and that the Respondent, LILITH LYLA MENDEZ, has committed family violence. The Court finds that the following protective orders are for the safety and welfare and are in the best interest of the Applicant and are necessary for the prevention of family violence. The Court finds that the Respondent has committed an act constituting a FELONY offense involving sexual assault and incest against the Applicant.

Christyn couldn’t read any further. She was going to be sick. “Why isn’t she in prison?”

“He never went to testify at her criminal trial and they threw it out.”

“We have to go back!”

“Way ahead of you. I’ll drive.”

“The hell you won’t!”

“The hell I will! I drive faster.”

When they got back to the house, Christyn queasy and not just because of Auralee’s driving, they threw open the door to find Damian pinned against the living room sofa by Lily. “You get your claws off him, you *****!” Christyn shrieked. Auralee, however, seemed to have a different idea. She had pulled out her phone and started taking pictures. “What are you doing?”

“Evidence. Wouldn’t the Court like to know that she violated a lifetime protective order?”

Christyn yanked Lily off of Damian and threw her at least three feet back. “Baby, are you okay?” He slumped forward against her body, weak and clearly drugged. She held him against her while Auralee dealt with Lily.

“Who are you? And how do you know about the protective order?”

“I’m the eleventh wealthiest woman in Houston, and I happen to have connections to the police, so I suggest you get lost, before there’s nowhere left for you to run to. Incest is a federal crime, honey. Did you hear me? Federal. That means in all 50 states.”

Once Lily had backed out the door, Christyn took the time to examine Damian. He was out of it, but appeared mostly unharmed. At least he was still dressed. “What did she do to you?”

He didn’t say anything. She had a feeling he couldn’t speak just yet.

She sat down on the couch and just stayed with him, stroking his hair and rubbing his back and shoulders gently through his shirt. She didn’t want to do anything that would startle him too badly. “Are you hungry, darling?” she asked after some time.

He shook his head no.

“Are you tired?”

“Dunno,” he managed with some difficulty.

Once he regained a bit of motor function, he lay down against the armrest and pulled her tight against him. Facing him, she ran a hand up and down his soft side and allowed him to hold her as close as he needed to. “Damian, listen to me,” she said. “I know what happened, and I want you to know that you are so strong, okay? So brave. It wasn’t your fault, and I understand why you never told me. But to come out of that and still be the wonderful person that you are? You’re so special for that. And I am so, so lucky to call you mine.”

An eternity seemed to pass before he finally found it in him to stand. “I need some fresh air,” he said, gently guiding her off to the side.

“Do you want me to go with you?”

“I’ll be back in a minute.”

But he wasn’t back in a minute.

The next morning, Christyn was awakened on the couch by the sound of Auralee cursing and pacing and slamming a shot glass onto the coffee table. “God fucking damn it! It’s time to reopen and I can’t find my fucking barback anywhere!”

“Hang on, lemme call him,” said Christyn, before realizing she had left her phone in her car the previous night. She got up and wandered to the kitchen, where she usually kept her car keys…

****. They were missing.

Auralee had followed her and gave her a troubled look. About that time, Alex wandered into the kitchen. “Hey, ladies, you know those Xans I had left over? I was gonna unload them at our next show, but I can’t find them, and I didn’t take them, so I was wondering if--?”

Christyn shuddered. “If that’s what she gave him--”

“And your keys!”

“But that means--”

A firm knock sounded at the door.

Christyn answered it. Of course it was a cop.


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019
“Ms. Brandywine?”

“How may I help you, Officer?”

“I’m Detective Scott with the Richmond PD, would you mind coming down to the station to answer a couple questions?”

She accompanied the detective in his patrol car to the station, where he led her into a small room with a desk and a mirror. Another officer followed them inside and closed the door behind them. Christyn struggled not to let her nerves betray her as she sat down at the desk.

“Are you aware that your car has been stolen, Ms. Brandywine?”

For now, she decided to feign oblivion. “ car got stolen?”

The detective made a note on his clipboard. “We picked up an intoxicated driver in a green 2007 Fiat. We ran the plates, and your name came up. Car thief said he found it parked outside of a bar with the keys in the ignition. Mind telling us which bar?”

Christyn saw at once what was going on. Damian had told the police that he didn’t know her. He was trying to spare her from being charged for harboring him as a fugitive.

And they were trying to catch him in a lie.

“Oh, gee, Officer...I don’t remember. To tell you the truth, I got extremely drunk last night. I caught a cab home, as one should. I guess I didn’t realize the keys were still in there, and the door hasn’t locked for years.”

“Well, you recover well, I tell you that. Tell me, Ms. Brandywine, does the name Damian Mendez mean anything to you?”

Her face was a stone mask. “That’s a common name. And I meet a lot of people; I work in a hotel bar. Maybe if I were to see a lineup, though, I could help you.” If she could just see him...if she could make sure he was okay...

“Unfortunately, we had to transport the suspect to jail in Harris County, where he’s wanted for jail break.”

“So he’s not injured? Not enough to go to the hospital?” she blurted, not thinking.

The detective raised an eyebrow. “You’re worried about this individual?”

She fought to regain her composure. “I’m worried about my vehicle.”

“Oh, the car is wrecked. But you’re sure you don’t recognize the name Damian Mendez off the top of your head?” His eyes bored into her. “Last chance to change your answer.”

“No, Detective Scott, not off the top of my head, and I have an excellent memory for names,” she said, suddenly defiant.

“Then what was this doing in his pocket?” The detective threw a folded up piece of paper onto the table. She opened it up. It was the letter of recommendation she had written Damian after the Capital Cafe went under.

She could have wept.

After all this time, he still kept it on him so he’d always have a piece of her.

The other policeman cuffed her hands behind her back. “Christyn Brandywine, you are under arrest for obstruction of justice.”
Last edited:


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019

Auralee and Alex both made separate bids to bail Christyn out of jail, but in the end, Esteban beat them to the punch. Even if he’d only done it so he could make her come to work on Christmas, she appreciated being back on the outside.

For the first few months, her trial was deferred. She had expected that much after watching Damian deal with his own legal troubles after his second DWI charge. In fact, if she recalled correctly, his case had still been open when he ran off with her and became a fugitive.

She was in frequent communication with Zeke, often to ask him for legal advice, but they talked about life, too. He had moved in with Beans, and none of the other girls were raising an objection towards his suddenly monogamous ways. In fact, they had all predicted that Sabine would win out in the end. Those two were good for each other. He was the calm to her storm.

During the last months of winter and the beginning of spring, he finished his final exams and started at a small law firm, quickly rising up the ranks. Christyn wished she could say she was having as swell of a time in her own career.

The Rodeo came around, and once again, Abigail asked her to bartend. So she went, but this time she really felt what a drag the whole thing was. Without Damian to come home to, she was a raw nerve under the pressure of serving in the chaotic stadium. Everything annoyed her: the rude customers; Staff Sergeant Tracy Whatsername’s obnoxious soprano as she sang the Star Spangled Banner every damn day the same as last year; the Rodeo committee, who mostly spent the whole time getting drunk and gossiping, but even when they tried to help, they were incompetent behind the bar and only managed to slow Christyn down.

After the Rodeo, Christyn fired her idiot public defender and hired Zeke to represent her. She had sent him the details of her case and had meant to set up a time that week for them to meet and discuss everything, but a situation had come up with her friends at work: Topher’s lease was up, and Sten wanted to move in with him instead of continuing to live with her parents. Topher’s studio was too tight of a squeeze, but they were having trouble finding a large enough apartment in town that they could afford on bartenders’ salaries. Christyn decided to offer them room at her place for a modest rent to help cover the grocery bill--she had more than enough space, and it was too quiet in the house with Damian absent.

It was after the movers dropped off their furniture that Auralee returned from work one day with some bad news: “He’s been sentenced.”

“What? Already?” Christyn almost dropped the ladle she had been using to stir soup. (Sten and Topher trusted her to handle the cooking, as neither of them were of any use in the kitchen. Though they had both been initially put off by what they knew of her feedist activities, they had warmed up by now, happily eating what she prepared as long as she didn’t ‘try anything’ on them.)

Auralee handed over her phone, her browser open to the Harris County District Clerk’s criminal record database. “Five years in state jail. Also, did you know that the court updates your weight on all of your records each time you’re arrested? Although I think they round to the nearest ten pounds. The one for assault of an officer and the handgun charge both say 200 now.”

“Of course that’s what you looked at,” said Christyn through a lump in her throat.

“Oh god, another one?” said Topher in disbelief from his seat at the kitchen table.

Sten, however, was much more sympathetic. She sprung out of her seat and went to hug Christyn from the side. “Damian, that’s your boo, isn’t it?” she asked, reading over Christyn’s shoulder.

Christyn nodded, forcing back tears.

“Hey, it’s gonna be okay. He probably won’t have to serve his whole sentence. And he’s a big guy, he’ll be able to hold his own. He probably won’t get fucked in the butt.”

“Thanks, Sten. I didn’t know there was a soothing way to say the words ‘fucked in the butt’ before now.” Christyn placed her free hand on top of the one Sten had on her shoulder.

“And,” added Auralee, “if they starve him back down to bones in there, you’ll get to fatten him back up all over again once he’s out, won’t that be fun?”

“Auralee, you’re making it worse!” snapped Sten.

“Don’t bother with her, she’s probably drunk.” Christyn handed Sten the ladle. “You can handle stirring the soup, right? I need to call my lawyer real fast.”

She needed to win this case.

Otherwise, Damian had taken a charge of grand theft auto for nothing.


Auralee paced the kitchen on the phone one morning as Christyn made breakfast: chilaquiles with corn, beans, pico, and salsa for herself, Sten, and Topher, and plain eggs and tortilla chips for Alex, who’d turned his nose up at everything else on the menu. Auralee was spoiling him with junk food when they were together: his diet resembled that of an unsupervised child at a birthday party, consisting mostly of pizza, hot dogs, desserts, and cheeseburgers, plain and dry. Every attempt by Christyn to expand his palate was met with failure, so in the end, she usually caved and made accomodations for him.

“Yes, I know it’s a tragedy, but I can’t afford to take any time off, even in my grief, and besides, she would have wanted me to make it my first priority to make sure her business is going to be looked after,” Auralee said into the receiver between swigs of vodka straight from the bottle.

“What’s happening over there?” asked Sten. “I’ve never seen anyone drink this early. What’s the big tragedy?”

“Oh, she’s always like this,” said Christyn.

“I mean, her mom just died, but I think she’s more happy about that than anything else. According to her, her mom’s a *****. Was a *****,” Alex corrected himself.

On the other side of the room, Auralee said into the phone, “I’ll be in the city by noon today to discuss the division of her assets with my father and my surviving brother. You should be present at the meeting. Now, if you don’t mind, I have to let you go so I can get ready for my trip.” She approached Alex at the table and smoothed her fingers through his hair. “Baby, that was my mother’s lawyer. I have to go back to Houston for a week to settle her estate and collect my share of the inheritance. You’ll be fine here, right?”

“Why don’t I go with you?” he asked.

“Don’t worry about me, you need to be practicing guitar for our upcoming shows,” said Auralee. “I do have some plans for you, though, Chrissy.”

“I’d love to go with you!” said Christyn at once. A change of scenery might be exactly what she needed these days, and it would also place her closer to Damian--not that she could visit him, with her obstruction case still open. But it might bring her comfort, being at least back in the city with him.

“That's not what I was gonna ask you to do,” said Auralee. “Want to come out and have a smoke with me?”

As the two women went out back, Auralee closed the door behind them, lit up a cigarette, and revealed her plan. “I know how I usually handle my feedees: stuff them senseless in the beginning, overwhelm them with praise and sex, and then ignore them for a while, so that when I come back to them, they’re good and hungry and begging me for food, begging me to tell them how fat they are and how fat I’ll promise to make them...but I want to try an experiment. Now that you’ve been pulled to the feeder side, I’m curious to see just what you can do. You certainly managed to put some weight on Damian...but you had it easy with him. That boy’s libido is more hard-wired to his satiety than even some of the most experienced feedees I’ve known. I want you to look after Alex for the week and keep him on track. It’ll give you a chance to prove to me you’re a real feeder...if you’re up for it.”

Christyn choked on her smoke. “What are you, the TABC? Are you planning on revoking my ‘feeder card’ if I won’t take your test to renew my cert?”

“Come on, you need your practice. Damian might be out of jail faster than you think, the jails here in Texas are so overcrowded. Don’t you want to be prepared to please him when he comes back?”

“I’d rather wait for him.”

“You know, you should take it as a high honor that I want you to feed my man, after the **** you pulled with Roger. I mean this assignment speaks not only on my belief in your ability, but my trust in you not to steal another one of my men!”

“I’m just not sure I’m comfortable fattening up another woman’s feedee.”

“I’ll give you a thousand bucks,” said Auralee.

That was more than Christyn would make in two weeks at the hotel, and she did have to pay her lawyer.

“I’ll get Sten and Topher to cover my shifts.”


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019
Christyn and Alex had the house to themselves the next morning, as Sten was out for a run and Topher had already left to go to work in Christyn’s stead. As she started breakfast, Alex wandered into the kitchen from the living room where he’d been watching TV. “Whatever that is, it smells amazing,” he said as he walked over to the stove to intently watch her cook.

“Quesadillas,” she said. “Mushrooms, onions, spinach, and bell pepper for me, and chicken for you. I hope you’re hungry!” She piled his plate with an intimidating serving, but he didn’t look surprised. She’d explained to him the previous afternoon that Auralee had placed her on feeder duty, and he happily consented to the arrangement, not wanting to fall behind on gaining and disappoint Auralee upon her return. (And to think, he used to be so vain.)

“Starving,” he said, “but Aura says to delay breakfast by at least two hours once I wake up, to tamp down my metabolism. It’s only been an hour.”

“Yes, I know, Aura left me her notes, and I think they’re ridiculous. If you’re hungry, then eat,” Christyn commanded.

“But it won’t be as efficient--”

“Look, Auralee left me in charge, and if I was able to fatten up Damian without any of these rules, I bet I can do the same with you, even if you’re a good deal more difficult.”

“I am not difficult!” he protested. “I know I was a little resistant to all this at first, but not anymore!”

“You still hit your limit pretty fast, and you’re picky as hell. Damian would never have a problem eating whatever I put in front of him.” Then again, Christyn had always been mindful of Damian’s preferences, but he didn’t have many aversions. He said he didn’t like onions, but over time she realized that it was only raw onions he disliked. He also had a distaste for cheese that he seemed only vaguely aware of himself, but other than that, he was easy to cook for. “You only want to eat garbage, and you can’t even eat that much garbage.”

As if to prove her wrong, he began to tear into breakfast, at first as fast as he could chew and swallow, but he started to slow down about three quarters of the way through his plate. “Here, don’t force yourself, you’ll just get sick,” said Christyn. “I’ll put the rest in the fridge and you can reheat it as a snack later. For now, how about a nice high-calorie beverage to fill up all the empty spaces, yeah?”

This was new territory for her. She’d never been this insistent about getting extra calories down Damian’s throat, her first priority being his comfort and enjoyment, but with Alex, she had money on the line, and she didn’t want to risk Auralee docking her pay. She fixed him Damian’s old favorite elixir of sweet iced tea with cream, but as she handed him the glass, he eyed it suspiciously. “Is that tea?” he asked. “Auralee said no caffeine.”

“It’s decaf,” Christyn lied. Auralee might have had faith in her strict set of rules, but Christyn was confident that she knew what she was doing, and if she had to tell a little fib to get Alex to comply with her, then that was what she’d do.

The tea, he told her, was delicious.

After letting him rest off breakfast on the couch, guitar in hand to rehearse his and Auralee’s set, Christyn took him to lunch at the six-dollar chicken buffet. He did a lot better there than he had at breakfast, loading up two full plates of both mains and desserts while Christyn contented herself with a buttermilk biscuit and a scoop each of creamed corn and green bean casserole, which the waiter had assured her was vegetarian safe.

“What are you eating?” he asked between alternating bites of fried chicken and cheesecake. “Looks gross.”

“You shouldn’t criticize other people while they’re eating. It’s rude,” she said.

“Sorry. Those green things just look weird.”

“Yes, well, they’re also full of vitamins that make my hair shiny and my bones solid and keep me from getting sick. You should try them sometime.”

“No thanks.”

As he cleaned his second plate with ease, it occurred to her that variety might be the key to unlocking his capacity. He ate more at the buffet when he could have his pick at any time of anything on the serving line than he did when presented with a lot of just one thing. She highly suspected that oftentimes when he ‘hit his limit,’ he wasn’t really full, just bored.

On the drive back, a call came in from Zeke. “Hang on, this is my lawyer,” she said, turning down the radio as she answered. “Zeke, my man, what’s up?”

“Chrissy, I am so sorry. This is so unprofessional of me. I know I was supposed to come over at 3 today to discuss your case, but I had to take my sister to the doctor at the last minute. It doesn’t look like I’m finna be out of here until anytime before 6:30.”

“That’s no problem!” said Christyn. “You can come over for dinner instead. Bring Beans, tell her I’ll make that brussels sprout dip that she likes. And bring your sister, too! We all have too much catching up to do!”

Christyn hadn’t seen Hope in person since before Hurricane Harvey. Shortly after a manager from Common Table poached her from the bowling alley promising her $300 a shift on the floor at the restaurant, Hope graduated high school, and as she went looking for a job, Zeke suggested she apply to work with Christyn, not wanting her anywhere near the bowling alley for a myriad of reasons. Christyn gave her a glowing recommendation as a favor to Zeke, and the two became fast friends, and after the hurricane destroyed the restaurant, forcing the entire staff to evacuate into a nearby wholesale store mid-shift, they continued to correspond online and via text, but they had yet to catch up in person.

Zeke’s delay left Christyn plenty of time to make notes for Auralee on the day’s progress so far, not to mention prepare a generous spread for dinner: along with her dip, she made two meatloaves, one traditional and one vegetarian, mashed potatoes, and an assortment of different mini cupcakes, with enough of everything prepared so that Topher and Sten could join them if they happened to get out of work early. She dressed up and did her makeup just in time to answer the doorbell.
Zeke stood on the porch with a bottle of red wine in hand and the same awed expression he had every time he came over. “Damn, I keep forgetting, you rich-rich now,” he said.

“Says the guy with the real job. How’s that going, by the way?”

Zeke laughed, but gave no other response.

Hope looked nice. She had changed her hair, ditching the wig for a more natural, tightly-curled do, and while she’d always been a curvy girl, she’d put on some weight since Christyn saw her last, which Christyn thought suited her, although she was too polite to comment in case it wouldn’t be well-received--Hope’s loose-fitting dress looked designed to camouflage a rounder middle.

After making introductions in the foyer, Christyn sat everyone down in the dining room, and dinner commenced. She laid everything out on the table at once, having learned of Alex’s proclivity for mixing courses at lunch, and offered a round of wine, which Zeke declined, as he was ‘on the clock,’ but Hope accepted. “Sure, I still ain’t had my one glass of red this week.”

That’s when it clicked for Christyn. “When are you due?”


“Are we gonna get to meet Dad, or…?”

Like her brother, Hope went silent when a subject came up that she didn’t want to talk about, giving a cryptic sardonic laugh.

“Alright, Christmas Day, we need to talk about your legal case,” said Zeke, getting straight down to business without touching the food while the others started loading their plates. “You remember how you signed the letter they found on Damian?”

“Yeah, with my name.”

“No, you signed Chris.”

“Funny thing, I dated a guy named Damian,” Hope interjected.

“When was this? I thought I knew all your boyfriends,” said Zeke.

“We only dated for two months. You were at college, and I didn’t want to bother you. Besides, we never even did anything. He was a freshman and I was a senior, and even though he came onto me pretty hard, I didn’t want to break any didn’t feel like the relationship was a big deal.”

Christyn couldn’t believe she hadn’t thought of the connection--the tattoo on Damian’s arm, Hope in Swahili. “How’d you guys break up?” she asked, wanting to know if they were talking about the same guy.

“It was more of a drift apart. See, I had found out he was, well, getting abused by his older sister, so I did the sensible thing and called CPS. They intervened, but he didn’t want to get stuck in the system until he was eighteen, so he went off on his own and moved in with some drug dealer friend of his in the southwest, down by Missouri City. I probably should have broke it off then. I was getting the sense that he was bad news. A week later, he hit a lick on a convenience store trying to cover his part of the rent, got caught, and went to juvie. I kind of ghosted him after that, but again, we were only together for two--oh my God, you know him, don’t you?”

Christyn’s wide-eyed, gape-mouthed expression must have given her away.

“Where’s he at now?” asked Hope.

“Kegans state jail.”

“Damn, guess I dodged a bullet.”

“Guess you did,” Christyn said sadly. There were times when she could live her life and go about her business without the ache of his absence dampening her spirits, but that whole conversation made her feel it like a bullet in her heart.


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019
Zeke cleared his throat. “If you two ladies want to get back on track...remember, Chrissy, you are getting billed.” He went on to tell her that, in doing some digging, he had discovered there were no fewer than fourteen people named Chris Brandywine between here and Spring, and five of them worked in the restaurant industry. In order to prove that Christyn had written the letter and not one of the others, the Richmond PD would have to track down all of them, or else take it to the IRS to try and prove that Christyn had worked with Damian at the Capital. “And there's no way they’ll go that high over your cute little obstruction charge,” he assured her.

As they were wrapping up the legal discussion and Zeke was finally starting to help himself to dinner, the front door flew open and Sten stomped in, furious. “I’ve had it with that stupid hotel!” she fumed. “I served an entire 40-top their drinks today because they kept coming up to the bar while the Princess was in the bathroom on her phone, rung everything in under my own number, made everything on the well, and Sylvia had the audacity to make me transfer the tab over to Ruby so she could collect the tip, because according to her, it was ‘her table.’--oh, sorry, I didn’t know we were having a dinner party. Who are you people?”

“Breathe, Sten,” said Christyn. “Sit down, there’s plenty of food. This is my friend and criminal defense attorney, Zeke, his sister Hope, and his girlfriend Sabine. Everyone, this is Sten, she’s my coworker and roommate. Where’s Topher?”

“Still at the hotel, trying to get Esteban to fight Sylvia on it for me, but we all know Esteban is powerless at that place.” She pulled up a chair and said, “It’s nice to meet y’all,” sounding calmer, but still looking exasperated.

“So are you gonna quit?” asked Christyn.

“I feel like I should have quit a long time ago. I stay there out of spite, but this time, I want revenge. You can bet the EEOC and the Texas Labor Bureau are gonna hear about this.”

“Don’t want to burst your bubble,” said Zeke, “but the state of Texas don’t give two shits about the working man. You want to make this place suffer, you’re gonna have to make it the rich man’s problem. Instead of the EEOC, go to the health department with any code violation you can find. Make all the rich folk terrified to eat there. And if you can’t find one...plant one.”

“Damn,” said Christyn, “that’s not a bad plan. Put it on my bill for that extra bit of legal advice...or should I say, illegal advice!”

While the others were busy talking labor law and corporate vendetta, Alex and Sabine had been getting to know each other. Sabine had a lot of questions about what Auralee was like as a girlfriend, and how her endeavor to fatten him up was going. Hope looked horrified at the very idea, and at one point Christyn and Sabine exchanged a smirking glance: Hope had no idea what a bullet she’d dodged.

“You have to try the dip,” said Sabine as Alex finished off his second plate of everything but the dip. “It’s so good! I don’t even care that it’s probably the most fattening thing on the table, and that makes it even better for you, right?”

“You’re crazy if you think that green slop is going anywhere near my mouth,” said Alex, loud enough for Christyn to hear, and it hurt her feelings more than she thought it would. She was used to hearing her cooking praised, so to have it insulted, after he hadn’t even bothered to taste it, stung her ego right where she was expecting it to be stroked.

That night, after Zeke and company had gone home, she made him his gainer shake as Auralee mandated, spitefully blending in a heaping handful of raw spinach and a whole avocado and disguising the green coloration with as much chocolate sauce as she could squeeze out of the bottle. Later on, she heard the faucet running as she passed one of the bathrooms, but it wasn’t loud enough to cover his groans of, “Lord have mercy!”

She noticed the next morning that he absolutely devoured the spread she set out for breakfast, and came to the conclusion that she’d inadvertently done him and Auralee a favor. Her sneaky green shake had probably cleared out days’ worth of backup, and he was having a much easier time stuffing himself without his colon compressing his stomach from inside. She made a note to Auralee to keep him regular by sneaking him vegetables, since he refused to eat them voluntarily.

They spent the afternoon playing video games, Alex kicking Christyn’s ass the whole time, until it was time for lunch, and then after lunch, Christyn mopped the floor with Alex at chess, then checkers, then backgammon, all the while making sure he always had a snack onhand. She turned in early so she could wake up for court, and in the morning, decided to take Alex with her, so he could get some fresh air and take lunch at one of the restaurants near the courthouse.

Zeke met her there, and despite being close to the front of the alphabetical lineup of defendants, she waited hours only to have her case deferred another month. When she got out, she tracked down Alex and found him in the booth of a burger joint, surrounded by empty plates, his stomach visibly distended and poking out the bottom of his shirt. “I just ordered fourths and the server’s asking her manager if she can responsibly serve me any more food,” he boasted, even as he winced from the apparent pain in his abdomen.

“Sounds like bullshit,” said Christyn, who hadn’t forgotten that he had introduced himself to her when they first met as the self-proclaimed ‘master of bullshit.’ “Are you ready for the bill, or what?”

“What’s the hurry? I still have a burger coming, pending managerial approval, and I’m still so damn starving.”

“Now that’s bullshit if I’ve ever heard it. You look like you’re about to explode, dude.”

“I know, and I feel like it, too,” he groaned, “but the pills--”

“The what, now?”

“Every couple weeks Aura’s been having me take an appetite stimulant. She doesn’t want me dependant on the things to eat, but she does want me to get a good binge in every once in a while, and today was the day.”

“Aura’s insane!” blurted Christyn, and she knew it for a fact. There were normal appetite stimulants on the market meant for bodybuilders trying to bulk up or anorexics in recovery, but those wouldn’t compel you to eat much more than an extra side order past what you normally would--not four times more than a normal human intake in one sitting. Auralee, however, had access to stronger drugs that had never been approved by the FDA. She used them on her ‘special clients’ at the bowling alley, and it looked like that was what she was having Alex take, too, if not something even stronger. “Now, come on, I don’t want to have to take you to the hospital!” She threw a hundred dollar bill on the table to cover the tab and the tip and dragged him back to the car.

About halfway home, the effects of the appetite stimulant started to wear off and Alex started groaning and squirming in his seat. “God, I’m so fucking full,” he said.

“I bet,” said Christyn, turning the radio up to drown him out. It didn’t work.

“My stomach actually really hurts.”

“You should have thought of that before playing around with appetite enhancers without a spotter. You could’ve at least waited until I got out of court.”



“Will you rub my belly for me?”

“Absolutely the **** not.”

“But I am in so much pain right now.”

“Remind me why that’s my problem?”

“Why are you being such a *****?”

Finally, as if everything she’d been feeling in the past few months had boiled over all at once and the confines of her mind could no longer contain the steam, she exploded. “I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m on trial for obstruction of justice for the small crime of trying to protect the one person who meant the whole fucking world to me, okay?” she screamed over the radio as she took a sharp left turn. “Or maybe it’s because my man’s in state jail and I can’t talk to him or put any money on his books, or else I risk exposing to the court that I lied to police and harbored a fugitive! And it probably doesn’t help my endorphin levels that I haven’t had any sex since December! Honestly, take your motherfucking pick!”

Alex went quiet for the next several stoplights in a row. Finally, he said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to forget everything you’re going through. Can we go back to being friends?”

“No, I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve for me to go off like that.”

“Anyway, I know you wish there was something you could do to make Damian more comfortable in there, but even if you could leave him commissary, it’d be one of the worst things you could do. It would put a target on his head. He’ll make it on his own, he’s a survivor.”

“Thanks.” She sniffled and tried to blink back the hot wet burn in her eyes.

Unfortunately for Christyn, she wasn’t blessed with the ability to bury her problems with an excess of food like Damian could. She had to drown them. As soon as she and Alex arrived home, she slammed back several shots of vodka, and while a handful of drinks would have been the mere beginning of a fun night in her alcoholic past, it had been months since she had been earnestly drunk, and her tolerance was not what it once was. Sten and Topher would come home from work to find her on the living room floor, clinging to the gaps between the floorboards as if she would fall off the face of the Earth if she dared let go.


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019
She awoke the next day around noon with a splitting headache. Someone must have moved her into her own bed. She was still hopelessly depressed after her afternoon in court reminded her of the harsh reality, and only came downstairs because she was still technically on the clock for Auralee.

Alex was making breakfast. “Good morning, sunshine!” he greeted her.

“Take my job, why don’t you,” she groaned. “I’m supposed to be looking after you.”

“You could use a break. I know you’ve been under a tremendous amount of stress.” He set the table with two settings. “Our roommates are already out and about, so it’s just us.” He pushed her into a kitchen chair and laid out a spread of bacon, eggs, toast, butter, and jam. “Now eat something, won’t you? You missed lunch and dinner yesterday.”

“What did you do for dinner last night?”

“We all got Chinese takeout. There’s some of that left over, too, if you want.”

“I’m not hungry,” she protested.

He sat down across from her and fixed her with a serious look in the eye. “Damian wouldn’t want you to neglect your health, not to mention your womanly figure.”

“I just don’t feel like eating any of this, okay?”

“What do you want, then?”

She thought about it a bit. “Something easy to get down.”

After eating his own fill, he led her to his Camaro and took her to a gas station, where she agreed to let him buy her a small yogurt parfait and a sports drink to replenish her lost fluids from a night of binge drinking. From there, he drove her to a sex shop nearby. “I get that you’re waiting for Damian, but in the meantime, I think it might help you to give yourself a little solo love, for the endorphins. Pick out whatever you want, my treat.”

After some perusing, she picked out a relatively inexpensive dildo from the clearance section. “I think this will do.”

“Are you crazy? That thing will kill you!” said Alex, surveying its length and girth with awed eyes.

“It’s no more than I know I can handle,” said Christyn, and Alex gaped, his face a mix of incredulity and a certain hurt of inadequacy. Nevertheless, he made good on his promise to foot the bill, and the cashier gave them a wink on their way out.

On their last day together, she decided they should take a little day trip. He was as excited as a newborn puppy as she piloted their long eastward journey, fulfilling his every request to stop for fast food along the way, but though he asked her no less than eight times where they were going, she didn’t spoil the surprise. At last, she pulled up at NASA, to his awe and delight.

After a fascinating tour of the facility, she led him to the food court, where L’vonte was cashiering at the fried chicken counter. “Damn, Christyn, when you asked where I was working the other day, I didn’t know you meant to pay a visit! It’s good to see you, though, and who’s this? Am I finally about to meet the feedee?”

“What?” Christyn blushed. “No, we’re just…” She would have thought that with the comfortable three feet of distance between them, it would be obvious that she and Alex weren’t in a relationship. Then again, she was out to L’vonte as a feeder, and with the weight Auralee had added to Alex’s once-thin frame (along with a final few pounds that Christyn was responsible for in exchange for Auralee’s substantial bribe), he fit the profile for a feedee, so she could see how L’vonte had come to the wrong conclusion.

Alex had decided to play dumb, and asked, “The what, now?” He reached over the counter to shake L’vonte’s hand. “You two obviously know each other. Name’s Alex Markham, I used to wait tables with Christyn at McCarthy’s.”

Satisfied that that was the extent of their association, L’vonte hooked up Christyn and her former workmate with a basket of fried chicken and two baskets of fries at no charge. “Thanks,” Christyn said to Alex as they picked out a table.

“For what?”

“For not saying anything stupid, like, ‘Yeah, I guess I’m her temporary feedee while my feeder’s off burying her mom and her feedee’s in jail,’ or something.”

“Come on, Chrissy, that’s not how I am!”

She said nothing, just stared at him across the table and let him recall all the times he’d been rude or brusque or careless with her this week alone. On the restaurant floor, he was the portrait of charisma, but outside of work, when he let that front fall, he could be downright insensitive. “Oh my God...I am like that.”

Christyn wasn’t hungry for much more than a few fries, so she pushed her order to Alex’s side of the table for him to finish off and returned to the counter to catch up with L’vonte. “So, how’s the agency treating you?”

“Pretty good! Last month they were sending me to work shifts at this golf course up in Richmond...great place, the tips are mad fat, and I just got a call from the manager over there saying they want to hire me full time! I just don’t know how I’m gonna find an apartment there on such short notice.”

“Hey, I’m actually staying in Richmond,” she said. “You could stay with me for a while. I’ll have to ask my four other roommates, but we have ten bedrooms, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”

“You’re too generous for your own good, Christyn. But keep ya boy posted, would you?”


When Auralee came home, she dragged Alex immediately to the bathroom to put him on the scale and see ‘what the damage was’ from his week with Christyn.

As Christyn was dressing for her first day back at work, she heard Auralee’s scream all the way from the other side of the house: “HOLY ****, 197?!”

Before she left, Auralee caught her at the door and handed her a personal check for $1500. “I decided a bonus was in order, since you managed to put nine whole pounds on the guy while I was gone. How the **** did you manage it, Chrissy?”

“Easy, I took care of him,” she said, tucking the check into her bag. “I’ll email you a copy of my notes, so you’ll have them, but it really is that simple. I’m sure you’ve had your successes in the past by enforcing calorie quotas and pushing melted butter and deep-fried garbage on your boys, and don’t get me wrong, Alex had plenty of deep-fried garbage on my watch...but the most effective way, I think, to get your guy fat and happy is to just respect him as a person and make sure he’s comfortable enough to let go and indulge. Talk to the guy. Sit down and eat with him instead of just pacing around the kitchen on your phone drinking.” Saying all of this made her miss Damian all over again, and as she drove to the hotel, she wished the coming shift would be the toughest, busiest one yet, so that it would keep her mind occupied and the tears at bay.
Apr 20, 2020
Dallas, Tx
I just wanted to say I’m really enjoying reading this story! All your characters are so well-developed and real. And I love that there’s an actual story instead of just a gluttony spree like you get with a lot of stories on sites like these.
Damian and Christyn are both believable and intriguing characters. I’d love to read more from you !


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019
I just wanted to say I’m really enjoying reading this story! All your characters are so well-developed and real. And I love that there’s an actual story instead of just a gluttony spree like you get with a lot of stories on sites like these.
Damian and Christyn are both believable and intriguing characters. I’d love to read more from you !
Thanks so much for reading and for sticking it through this far! I do worry abt the reception of this story, since a lot of people do seem to prefer a quick and dirty story that's all about the weight gain and feeding/eating, etc. Which is enjoyable in its own right, but in writing original fiction I always get sidetracked and I want to give my protagonist a life outside the kink/real problems/friends outside of his immediate relationship, etc. Anyway, your comment was wonderful to wake up to. Day = made! Hope you stick around for the coming updates!
Apr 20, 2020
Dallas, Tx
Thanks so much for reading and for sticking it through this far! I do worry abt the reception of this story, since a lot of people do seem to prefer a quick and dirty story that's all about the weight gain and feeding/eating, etc. Which is enjoyable in its own right, but in writing original fiction I always get sidetracked and I want to give my protagonist a life outside the kink/real problems/friends outside of his immediate relationship, etc. Anyway, your comment was wonderful to wake up to. Day = made! Hope you stick around for the coming updates!
I intend to stick around and see how it ends!

Yep, the quick and dirty story is a staple of the kink-lit scene. I agree, those are certainly fun, but they’re not nearly as satisfying as a fleshed out, well thought-out story that also happens to feature some sexy, kinky scenes and overtones. It’s like the difference between a movie that’s rated R for sexuality, and a porn flick. There’s a place for both, but by the end you get a lot more enjoyment out of the story with substance.

anyway, I’m glad I made your day! Keep at it! I look forward to reading more!


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019

Damian didn’t take well to county jail.

If the first couple of times he’d been in here were misery, this was torture. Before, he’d been used to hunger, but Christyn had made good on her promise to make him forget what it felt like...until it hit him, twisting his insides like a knife.

Even if he did get a little softer at first without his job to keep him in shape, he dropped weight fast--fast enough for his kidneys to hurt. Auralee had warned him that might happen if he ever went back on his decision and cut weight too quickly. (Not that this was his decision. He barely remembered getting in Christyn’s car that night.)

Auralee had said the pain would go away eventually, as his body adjusted, and it did, after months, and not long after that, he was sentenced. (How the months flew by even if the days dragged. It felt like it was still January. Apparently, it was almost April.)

There was exactly one bright spot to being moved to state jail. As a guard escorted him down the hall to his new cell, he recognized a face in passing. “Weezy?”

It took the other man a minute, but at last, he got it. “****, D! How come whenever I see you it’s always in the lockup?”

“Maybe cause your ass always in here!” Damian laughed.


Damian and Weezy stayed across the hall from each other, and a few weeks in, Damian got a job working in the kitchen alongside his old friend. He thought he might have an easier time if he stuck close to one of the OGs.

At first, Weezy was oddly distant with him, but eventually, he figured out why. “So the last time I was on the outside, I, uh. I linked up with Hope,” he admitted one day while they were making sandwiches for the whole prison population.

“Guess it’s always a smaller city than you think,” said Damian. “Wait, don’t tell me that’s why you been avoiding me?”

“You ain’t mad?”

“Nah, bro.” Hope was probably closer to Weezy’s age than Damian’s. Weezy had always liked her, but stood politely out of the way when she was with Damian. At the time, he’d liked dating an older girl, who came from what he guessed was an educated family, even if he never met them. She’d seemed so smart. It made him feel protected. She had wanted to be a doctor. Back then, he didn’t know what he wanted. He should have known it was too good to last. “What happened?”

“I got busted for distribution, and then, nothing. She didn’t take my calls, so I stopped calling.”

“Yeah, she be doing it like that.”


L’vonte moved in in the beginning of April, and before the start of May, Hope called Christyn trying to find a place to crash before her new lease started. Christyn was glad for all the extra company she could get. It didn’t fill the void, but it filled a void.

Only, Hope wasn’t there for a week before Christyn caught L’vonte asking her out for coffee, and it wasn’t long before they were only taking up one room.

Christyn wanted to be happy for Hope, but it was alienating, being the only lonely person in the house. Not that she was looking around...she just wished she had a little solidarity.

Eventually, Hope moved into her new place, though she and L’vonte continued to correspond. “I miss her,” said L’vonte over smokes on the patio.

“Yeah?” said Christyn. “How do you think I feel? At least Hope is just a text message away. At least she comes back here for you on your day off. But she’s right, to get her own place. A house full of servers is no place to raise a child.”


It was Damian’s first day back working after a beating had sent him off the premises to the nearest hospital. Weezy was already hard at work over a soup pot, taste-testing and stirring in ingredients.

He seemed more like himself than Damian had ever seen him in jail. How they actually met was this: Damian had been trying to pick the lock and break into an apartment, and then Weezy opened the door. Rather than be mad, he’d invited Damian in for lunch. He was making chicken with rice and beans and scratch tortillas. Damian had asked why Weezy would waste the effort on him; Weezy said it was no trouble at all, and that as for the cooking, well, he was practicing for when he had a woman to please. Soon, the two were roommates, until Damian got sent to juvie.

“You good?” asked Weezy, his attention still on the soup pot as he poured something in.

“Is that lemon juice?”

“Cooking,” said Weezy, “be all about the delicate balance of five basic elements: salt, fat, sugar, acid, and heat.”

“What’s in the soup?”

“Roasted root vegetables. They actually got us some nice stuff today, ‘stead of the usual crap.”

“Anything I can do?”

“Yeah, garlic bread still needs done.”

They had cheap bread and cheap oil and cheap minced garlic. Damian threw it all together, slapped a few sheet pans in the oven, and looked over at Weezy, who was still meticulously working.

“Taste this, tell me what you think,” he said, handing Damian a small dressing-cup of soup. Damian took a sip.

“Not bad.” Still nothing like he knew Weezy was capable of, but it was hard, working with jail ingredients. “You were wasted as a drug dealer. Should’ve been a chef, you would have made mad bank.”

“I dunno about that. But hey, this is the first time I seen you eat something in here and not look like you was finna throw up. I get that, though, I mean, stop me if I’m wrong, but it looks like you got used to eating good on the outside.”

If only Weezy had seen him before county. “It was comfortable.”

As they were portioning the soup into bowls, Weezy asked, “You ever get lonely, bro?”

Damian glared. “What, I take one beating and now you think I’m a *****?”

“I didn’t mean it that way, bro. I just thought, friends...forget I said anything.”

Damian returned to work, trying not to get too hot-headed over the whole thing. It was going to be a long sentence working in the kitchen if he couldn’t let this go. Besides…

He did get lonely.


Months passed. Christyn met new people through the agency, and though she was more careful these days with who she trusted, not wanting a repeat of what happened with Lily, she was generous with houseroom once each of her friends passed Auralee’s background check. The ‘Server House,’ as they had taken to calling it, was now twenty-five strong, with many of them having to double or triple up in bedrooms, but she had dropped the rent to $50 a month apiece, so no one was complaining.

The agency was good to them, but many had other jobs that weren’t so kind. At all hours of the day, someone could be heard complaining about some workplace injustice.

It was over breakfast one morning that Christyn decided it was time for her disgruntled roommates to seek a little justice. “You guys, you guys!” she addressed the tightly packed kitchen. “We’re not powerless. We’re not living alone in tiny shoebox apartments anymore, subject to the demands of The Man. Look at us. The EEOC can ignore one call, but twenty-five calls at the same time?”

The room had gone silent, everyone standing around with their mouths half full, staring at her in awe.

“You tell me, guys: whose boss do we want to bring down first?”
Last edited:


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019
They were in some rarely-visited stairwell, having given the guards the slip, with a good thirty minutes before they had to make mid-day roll call, Damian propped up against the stairs while Luis kneeled on the landing, sucking him off. (They were Damian and Luis when they were like this, it just felt more appropriate. Then, in front of the rest of the guys, it was back to ‘Whaddup D?’ and ‘Weezy, you piece of ****,’ like nothing had happened.)

Luis came up for air, his free hand, the one not still around Damian’s cock, drifting up to his chest. “Mmh. Them titties, though.”

Damian slapped his hand away. “Don’t make it weird.”

Luis’ hand settled on Damian’s side, which Damian guessed felt okay, if he could close his eyes and imagine it was Christyn touching him. But of course, Luis was having trouble shutting up.

“I can’t help it, okay? You’re soft like a girl, it’s nice.”

Damian fisted Luis’ hair and pushed him back onto his cock. “Don’t. Talk. Just. Suck.” He gripped his head with both hands, fucking his mouth faster and faster so he could get it over with. Once he’d spilled down Luis’ throat, Luis pulled back and started jacking himself off, and it didn’t take him long to shoot his load all over Damian’s stomach.

Damian cleaned himself off with a rag he’d snatched from the kitchen, pulled up his pants, and threw his shirt back on. He could feel Luis watching him. “What are you thinking?”

“Don’t just sit there, Weezy, get dressed.”

“But you’re thinking something.” Though he obediently pulled his pants up and wiped the drool off his face, he still prodded for an answer.

Damian, meanwhile, had been putting the pieces together in his mind: Weezy’s passion for cooking...whenever Damian saw him with a girl, it was always a thick one...then there was the voluptuous Hope Thomas...and now this. “Bro, I think you might be a feeder.”

“That’s not a gay thing, is it? Cause I’m not gay.”

“Course not. We’re just two guys who suck each other’s dicks cause we’re incarcerated.” Damian rolled his eyes.

Come to think of it, they were probably both a little bi, even if some people in the room didn’t want to admit it. And what was with that, anyway? Wasn’t it Weezy who came onto him first? “No, a feeder is just when you like a thick *****, n’you want her to get thicker.”

“Damn, I didn’t know there was a word for it,” said Weezy, seeming to appreciate this new knowledge. “How you even learn this ****?”

“From a heavy metal singer. You get outta here, look up Auralee Kingston and the Waitstaff.” Of course, Auralee had given him his education in feedism before she was a local celebrity, but it sounded more impressive when he put it that way.

“Well, ****. Sounds like you had quite the life on the outside.”

“Yeah...I did.”


That summer came like a lover kept on edge: long-delayed, but when it did finally come, it came hard, hot, and sticky.

Christyn was now rooming with Serenity and Recheena, two servers from the closest bar. She had switched out the broken bedframe for triple-decker bunks--the sight of the old one made her depressed, and besides, this saved space. Her two bunkmates were out of the house, and she was glad for it. She liked them well enough, but on this hellishly humid day, the extra body heat in the room would have been suffocating.

She was in her bra, panties, and socks, with her work shirt on, but not yet closed, dreading having to put on the pants. Her hair was still wet, but blow drying it would only make the heat worse. She planned to let it air dry while she drove to the hotel with the windows open and put it up once she got there. (She had bought a secondhand ‘13 Smart Fourtwo for a couple grand in cash, but the AC didn’t work. L’vonte, who was good with cars and had some free time on his hands, had offered to fix up Carolaine, so Christyn had let him do it in case any of the residents ever needed to borrow a car, and even waived his rent for as long as he stayed in exchange for the favor, but the AC didn’t work in that car either.)

She was checking her phone, scrolling past a snapshot of Auralee’s hand pushing Alex’s face into an entire cake (god, why did she still subscribe to Auralee’s blog?) when Auralee strode right in, empty glass in hand. “Chrissy, have we got anymore…?”

Auralee’s question got lost in the back of her throat as she stared, wide-eyed, at Christyn. It was the same look Christyn had given Damian a few times in what now felt to be the distant past, but as she had never been on the receiving end of it, she didn’t recognize it.

She stared at Auralee.

And Auralee stared back.

And Christyn stared at Auralee.

And Auralee stared at Christyn.

Finally, Christyn said, “What does the bottle of thousand island say to the refrigerator?”

“I don’t know, Chrissy, what does the thousand island say?”

“Shut the door, I’m dressing.” With that, she rose from her seat, shoved Auralee out of the room, and slammed the door.

“You’re more like a sad olive oil vinaigrette these days!” said Auralee, forcing her way back through the door. She took Christyn by the wrist, dragged her back to her own room...and grabbed her by the shoulders to make her stand on the bathroom scale.

“What is that supposed to...Auralee! You can’t just accost a woman in her underwear and force her to stand on your scale!”

“You can, if you can move her.” Auralee peered at the number and smacked Christyn upside the head. “One-eleven point seven! What have you done to yourself?!”

“Is that bad?”

“Well, seeing as you were probably 150 last year, it isn’t good. And when you passed out the last time we played at the hotel--”

“You were covering Fields of Athenry, it’s all about a guy who gets sent to prison. I collapsed in grief.”

“You collapsed from malnutrition! Christyn, look at yourself!”

Christyn dared a glance into Auralee’s bathroom mirror. She was much thinner for sure, the outline of her ribs barely visible for the first time in her life. She hadn’t even noticed the weight dropping off. She felt disconnected, disembodied, even...besides, she was trying to stay absorbed in her work. If she had a day off, she was usually on the phone all day with the labor bureau or the EEOC on behalf of one of her tenants. As long as she kept busy, she couldn’t be drinking, but the result was that she wasn’t eating either. She never had an appetite when she was sad or stressed.

“There’s a rumor going around the house,” said Auralee, “that you have cancer.”

“Did you start it? Because drunk you seems like the kind of person who’d do that.”

“Chrissy, could you stop being a smartass for once in your life? This is serious. You’re probably doing worse than Damian right now. At least they’re feeding him in there. Just...please at least eat something before you go to work so you don’t collapse at the wheel.”

“Bold words for someone who drives drunk. Alright, what do I get for it?”

Auralee held up Christyn’s car keys. “You get these back.”

Dammit! She needed to start being more careful where she put those.

She returned to her room to finish dressing, Auralee close at her heels, and walked to the kitchen, where she took a spoon from the dishwasher, opened up the fridge, and served herself a spoonful of honey mustard by itself. She grimaced choking it down, but she would’ve done so with anything, nothing appealed to her these days. “Happy?”

Auralee’s eye twitched as she reluctantly surrendered the keys.


like the pancake
Dec 7, 2019

Auralee had put periodic alarms in Christyn’s phone with reminders that said eat something, which were helping. When her phone buzzed in her pocket around lunchtime at work, she’d order herself a little something from the kitchen, usually a side of Alfredo sauce with some bread to dip it in, or a kids’ grilled cheese. She had fallen away from the use of utensils at home, simply because she lacked the energy to wash them and didn’t want to add to the pile in the sink. It was a habit she took to work with her, and once, when Topher caught her carefully peeling the yolk out of a hard-poached egg on her break (she only wanted the yolk, okay?) he gave her a horrified look like he’d seen her performing open-heart surgery on a conscious patient without any gloves.

It was a strange way to live, but at least she wasn’t losing any more weight. (Auralee had been right; Christyn was too depressed at first to feel it, but her body wasn’t responding well to such a drastic reduction of itself. Her energy levels at work had tanked, and as fall rolled in, the flu hit her like a truck.)

It struck her one day that this was the longest she had gone without any sort of amorous companionship since she had entered her twenties, but even though she was now receiving more male attention than ever before, she wanted none of it. The bar regulars who only flirted with her now that she was thinner drove her to white hot anger inside with their advances. The worst were the ones who told her she looked ‘so much healthier’ now. It took all of her self control not to demand to see their medical licenses...or deck them. (No, she had to remind herself, it wouldn’t be worth it, catching another charge over some sad clown who lived in a hotel.) She wanted to set fire to every so-called ‘health’ magazine publisher in America, bomb every liposuction clinic and diet pill manufacturer.


It was just as she was getting into her car to drive home at the end of the night that her phone buzzed. That was wasn’t time to eat. When it kept buzzing, she registered that she was getting a phone call. It was one of her tenants. She put in her earpiece as she put the car in drive. “What have you got for me?”

“Hey listen, this short white chick and this dude who said he’s your lawyer just pulled up at the house unannounced--”

“Zeke and Beans!” Christyn exclaimed. She missed Beans, and it had been too long since she had seen Zeke outside of a courtroom setting.

“So you do know these people?”

“Yes, of course, what’s the problem?”

“Well, the chick got in something of an altercation with one of our guys--”

“Yep, sounds like Beans.”

“And we got ‘em in a room right now with three of our guys, with guns--”

Christyn paled. “Oh my god, tell them to put the guns down!”

“Aight fellas, Chrissy said put the guns down.”

In the background, she heard Zeke shout, “Hear that? Chrissy said put the guns down!”

When she arrived home, Zeke and Beans were shaken, but unscathed. “Damn, girl,” said Zeke, “I get that you lonely, but don’t you think this too many roommates?”

“Shut up, Zeke,” said Sabine in a rare display of disagreement with him, slapping him lightly in the arm. “Chrissy, we came to ask you for a place to crash. Just for a little while.”

“Yeah, sure, stay as long as you like. Did your lease fall through?”

“Not exactly. Zeke, you want to show her?”

Zeke pulled out his phone and handed it to Christyn with a video playing onscreen.

“I didn’t think my brother Lee would come calling. He never does, but I guess he heard it through the grapevine that I was feeling under the weather, so he comes over with some of Grandma’s soup for me, and, well…”

Christyn watched as in the video, Sabine’s brother started raving in her doorway. “...Always knew you were some sorta way, but here I find you shacked up with a goddamn--”

Christyn blushed as the ranting and raving continued. “Your brother has a very...colorful vocabulary, Sabine.”

Zeke snorted. “She really said colorful vocabulary!”

“Is it cool if I mute this?” asked Christyn.

“Yeah, sure, you don’t need the sound after this point,” said Zeke.

“Luckily, Zeke thought quick enough to start recording,” said Sabine.

“Hate speech ain’t protected in a court of law,” Zeke explained. “That, and technically, ol’ boy was trespassing. Which means Beans was perfectly justified to do this…”

The Sabine in the video left the frame for a moment, and when she came back, she was holding a wooden chair, with which she proceeded to crack her brother in the face so forcefully that it broke.

“Not how I personally prefer to break furniture, but nice work, Beans.”

“Fuckin’ done with you,” Zeke muttered.

“He’ll be out of commission for a while,” said Sabine. “I just don’t want him to come back and bring the cousins.”

“Well, like I said, stay as long as you like.”

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