This story was inspired by a feature I read in the tabloids. It got me wondering about motives….
Sarah first met Frank while out shopping in her local village. Trundling down a narrow cycle path on her mobility scooter, as she rounded a corner another scooter appeared suddenly in front of her. She hit the brakes, but it was too late. She hit the scooter, a nice little red number complete with rear view mirrors, squarely amidships. The man driving it, in a vain attempt to avoid her, swerved just as she hit him, and the scooter flipped on its side, throwing the man to the floor. He was massive: Sarah had met a few fat men in her time, but this guy was huge. He lay on the pavement gasping, looking for all the world like a beetle that had been flipped onto its back. She managed to get off the scooter with some effort (she weighed thirty five stone herself) and went around the other side of the crashed scooters.
“Are you all right?” she asked, standing over him.
“I think so” he replied, twisting the grimace of pain on his face into a grin. He was quite attractive, Sarah thought to herself. In spite of his large size, there was something almost boyish about him. She felt a flutter of desire, mixed with the maternal urge to comfort him.
“Can you get up?” she asked. She knew that she would not be able to help him to his feet. Apart from the sheer mass, there was nothing to hold on to. His arms and legs were swathed with huge rolls of fat: in fact, lying there, with his oversize shorts and too tight T shirt, it was as if his body was seeping away from him, spreading across the grey concrete in slowly growing pools. He struggled a bit, and then collapsed back onto his side.
“My leg is trapped under the scooter” he said. Just then two men, talking loudly, happened around the corner. They both stopped, eyeing the scene in front of them. Sarah could see a smile, almost a smirk, trying hard not to establish itself on the younger ones face.
“You think you could help me get him up?” she asked, trying to keep the anger out of her voice. Within a minute, they had him back on his scooter. Apart from a graze on his right leg, he was unharmed.
“I’m Sarah” she said suddenly, embarrassed by the silence.
“I’m Frank” he replied, looking up to her face with boyish green eyes.
“Would you like to come round to my house and have a cup of tea?” she asked. “It’s only round the corner.”
“Well, I was on my way to Pizza Hut” he replied. “I haven’t had lunch yet, and they have an all you can eat buffet.”
“I’m a bit peckish myself. Would you mind very much if I joined you?”
“Not at all. I could do with the company.”
Lunch went very well. Frank ate nine slices of pizza, thirty chicken wings, a plate of potato salad and a large helping of ice cream. Sarah stuck to the salad. She’d eaten a family bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken only an hour before. The staff were muttering to themselves by the counter. She hated people like that, who didn’t understand that a simple hormone imbalance could do to a persons metabolism. Frank was quite obviously embarrassed by them, by his condition and peoples attitude towards it. He kept looking out of the corner of his eye at the woman who’d served them, an anorexic looking Indian girl, as if he expected to be told he’d exceeded his eat all you can quota. As she watched Frank eating, one hand with a slice of pizza and the other clutching a chicken wing, she couldn’t help feeling attracted to this man. She’d always admired men who liked their food: in fact, she’d only ever had one skinny boyfriend, and she’d found him too bony and fragile. She preferred a bit of meat on her men, in spite of the problems it often entailed having sex. In fact she’d almost given up on sex since the time a few weeks previously when she’d discovered she could no longer use her vibrator as she could not each round to place it inside herself. In between mouthfuls Frank told her a bit about himself. His mum had died three years previously, and, although he’s always been large, he’d turned to food to comfort himself. She got the impression his mum had left him some money. He seemed lonely and sad, a little fat boy lost in a world of skinny people who didn’t understand, didn’t care. She wanted to help him feel better about himself. Sarah was proud of her weight: as far as she was concerned, she was twice the woman of that skinny bitch who looked over at them with a little twist of scorn on her painted lips.
“Would you like that cup of tea now?” she asked as Frank wiped his lips and fingers after his third bowl of ice cream.
“Yes, I’d like that very much” he replied, signalling for the bill. The skinny bitch ambled over slowly, chewing a piece of gum. Sarah insisted on paying.
“The accident was my fault” she insisted.
They waddled out to their scooters and she led the way back to her house, taking care on the corner where they’d had their collision. She had an electric garage, and, as the doors closed behind them, had Frank had any idea of the circumstances that would surround his departure, he might have gone straight home.
Frank stayed for dinner. Sarah ordered three large pizzas from the local pizza take-away and then let Frank eat her whole tub of rum and raisin ice cream. It turned out he was a fan of Holby City, so she persuaded him to stay and watch it with her. Sarah generally watched American TV: they tended to be far less hung up about weight than the British. He ate a family sized bag of cheese and onion crisps and drank a few cans of lager while she had three bars of chocolate and a bottle of red wine. Chocolate was her real vice. In a small cupboard in the lounge, within reach of her favourite armchair, she kept what she called her “squirrels hoard”: Mars Bars, Topics, Cadburys Dairy Milk, Quality Streets, along with several boxes of Belgian chocolates she kept for special occasions. After Holby City had finished, during which he’d barely paid any attention, Sarah asked Frank he question she’d been dying to ask since they’d met: whether he lived alone. Frank sighed, put down the empty crisp packet, picked up his beer and started talking
“I wasn’t always fat. In fact, for a while, I was really fit. I played rugby and even had trials for Northampton. I did Kung Fu and ran the London Marathon in 1989. It was on the marathon that I met Marcie, a school teacher from Essex who was running for Cancer Research. She was lovely, Marcie was. Petite, long blonde hair, what people would describe as a bubbly personality. We hit it off straight away. Within a month she’d moved up here, got a job in the local primary school, and we were looking for a house to buy. At the time I was working as a truck driver, so I was away a lot. Marcie was a bit jealous. She’s phone me up at all times of the day or night, not as I first thought because she was missing me, but to check up on me. When I got home she would grill me about my trip and pounce on any inconsistencies. Then she’d cry and tell me it was because she loved me so much that couldn’t bear the idea of anyone even looking at me. She wanted sex all the time, and in retrospect I think it was partly to keep me satiated so I would not be tempted to look elsewhere. When we went to the pub, if she saw any women looking at me she would scowl at them and even attacked a woman who asked me for directions in the city centre once. She claimed she’d seen this woman eyeing me up one night in the pub.
“It’s not that I don’t trust you, its other people I don’t trust” she used to say. Couldn’t understand it myself. If you trust someone it doesn’t matter what other people try. Anyway, Marcie decided the best way to stop other women fancying me was to make me unattractive. She started buying me the most awful clothes: corduroy trousers, this horrible tweed jacket with patches on the elbows, brogues, anything that would make me look older and uglier. With the job, I was tending to put on a bit of weight. On the road, you often only have time for a greasy breakfast, and transport cafés tend to serve fairly basic meals anyway. At first, Marcie kept on at me to try eating sensibly. Then one night we were down the pub and a woman Marcie had always claimed had the hots for me walked in. She had been away travelling for a year, and after saying hello never gave me a second glance. Something clicked in Marcie’s evil little mind, and before I realised why I was suddenly getting fed better than ever. Marcie persuaded me to take a job driving a fork-lift in a local factory so I could be home more. I started putting on weight. Serious amounts of weight. Whenever I mentioned this to Marcie, she’d tell me that she preferred her men with a bit of meat on them. I went from fourteen stone to nineteen in a year. By my thirty fifth birthday I was through the twenty stone mark and still growing. Marcie was a fantastic cook: anytime I suggested we have a salad or tea, she’d make an irresistible cottage pie large enough to feed a village. Our sex life was not quite as active as before, however. I could no longer get on top of her.”
Frank stopped talking suddenly, embarrassed.
“Sorry, I’m being a bit forward telling you all this he said.
“Nonsense, Sarah relied, offering him one of her chocolates. “You probably need to get it off your chest. Please continue”
Frank leant back on the sofa, sighed.
“Well, Marcie’s plan had backfired on her. She didn’t want anyone else fancying me, and now she didn’t herself. Trouble was, by then I’d discovered how much I liked eating. I just couldn’t get enough. There’s something comforting about stuffing yourself to the point where you just can’t eat anymore. The more I ate, the sooner I got hungry. Marcie started to loath me, told me I’d let myself go when in fact it was her who’d made me that way. Soon after that we stopped having sex completely, and Marcie took up with a fireman. I’ve never heard from her since she moved out.”
They both sat there in silence for a minute. Sarah felt sorry for him. He’s lost his self-esteem, she thought to herself. It was something she could identify with. She’d grown up fat, been bullied at school, and diagnosed as diabetic when she was fourteen. The only sex she’d ever had was with freaks who just wanted to try something different, apart from Pete. Pete had been overweight as well.
“That’s enough about me” Frank said, interrupting her reverie. “Tell me about yourself. What are all those trophies?” he asked, pointing at a row of small cheap looking trophies on the mantelpiece.
“They’re for gardening” she answered. “I grow vegetables. Sometimes I show them.”
“What, you mean like giant marrows?”
“I never had much luck with marrows. That yellow ribbon is for a parsnip I grew last year. I’ll show you my vegetable patch tomorrow, if you like” She stopped, embarrassed. “Sorry, it’s me being forward now” she said, fussing with her empty wine glass.
“I’d better go” Frank said, getting ready to stand up. This was quite a long process, involving him shuffling forward on the sofa, which had sunk into a huge hollow where he’d been sitting, positioning his feet in just the right place, pushing his hands down at the same time as forcing his legs straight. He lurched forwards, crashing onto the wooden coffee table in front of him, which snapped in two, sending him sprawling among the wreckage on the floor. He was lying on his side with half the table jammed against his face, a warm gush on his cheek telling him he’d cut himself.
“I’m sorry” he moaned, trying to lift himself off the broken table.
“No, don’t worry, here…..” Sarah leant forward and grabbed one of his massive arms, nearly falling on top of him. With a combination of her helping and a huge effort on his part, he stood up, feeling a bit groggy. Something had gone in his back, and he could not stand up straight. Sarah manoeuvred him towards the couch.
“You sit there. I’ll get the first aid kit” she said, moving towards the door. A minute later she was back, fussing over him like a mother hen. She applied a plaster after she’d cleaned the cut on his head. When they tried to get Frank to his feet again, he couldn’t stand up. Something in his back had gone. He pulled himself onto the sofa and flopped down horizontally, trying to find a position that did not hurt.
“I’ll make up the spare bed for you” she said, in spite of Frank’s protests. “It’s upstairs, just down the hall. My mum stays over sometimes.” Seeing the look on his face, she quickly added “Don’t worry, I have a stair lift.” With some assistance, Frank managed to hobble to the bottom of the stairs, and she strapped him into the chair lift. He could only sit on it by wedging one buttock onto the seat and holding onto Sarah as the overworked motor slowly pulled him upstairs. He was very conscious of the sign that said “MAX LOAD 100 KG”. He weighed nearly twice that, and it was with some relief that he got off at the top of the stairs and hobbled down the corridor to the spare room, which was just large enough for a double bed and a small cupboard. He lay down on the bed with a groan, glad to be able to take the weight off his back.
“We’ll call the doctor in the morning if you still can’t stand up. Is there anyone you need to call?” There wasn’t. Frank was all alone in the world. She felt so lucky to have met him.
The next morning Frank could not move at all. Sarah called the doctor, and he arrived about ten, a rather stern looking middle aged man with rimless glasses and a smell of mothballs about him.
“He needs rest” the doctor said, and wrote a prescription for pain killers. After he’d gone Sarah told Frank it would be her pleasure to look after him until he was well enough to go home, then she went down to the village to fill his prescription, after making him half a loaf of toast with jam and a large cup of tea. By the time she got back, two hours later, he was starving. He needn’t have worried. She cooked him a fry-up: a whole packet of bacon, six pork sausages, four slices of black pudding, six eggs, four slices of fried bread, a can of beans and a steamed treacle pudding to finish off. It was the best breakfast he’d had for weeks. He liked Sarah. She enjoyed fussing over him, and it seemed she was a good cook as well. It was just as well, because his back was not better the day after. In fact it would be two weeks until he could move at all. At first he was embarrassed by his huge appetite, but he needn’t have worried. On the second day she brought the TV up from the lounge, and kept him going on a diet of her home cooking, which was delicious, supplemented by take away pizzas, burgers (he could eat fifteen Big Macs at a sitting), fried chicken and snacks. While he was a savoury person, Sarah was sweet. She’d sit in his room (his room?) all day chatting away, him eating crisps, peanuts, cheese crackers and pork scratchings while she munched on chocolate. The third time she went shopping, Frank insisted she take his bank card and take some money out for his food bill, which averaged nearly thirty pounds a day. She protested, but he insisted. It was only fair.
Sarah told him a little bit about herself; how her family had all been overweight due to a hormonal imbalance; all except for her mother, who was skinny. Her father had died when she was ten, of a massive coronary. He’d weighed forty seven stone when he’d died. She’d been married once, to a guy called Pete, who’d been violent when he was drunk. He’d disappeared a few years ago, never to be heard of again. Her one regret was not having kids. The more she talked, the more Frank grew to like her. The feeling seemed to be reciprocated. On the fourth day she sat on the bed, stroked his hand, and then kissed him. He hadn’t been this happy for years. He thought perhaps he was falling in love. A week after he’d arrived at her house, they tried to have sex; she couldn’t get his penis out of the fat far enough to do anything with it, so they abandoned that idea.
It was two weeks before Frank could move, and then it took them half an hour to get to the bathroom. In the meantime, Sarah had been sponging him clean with wet towels. He took care of going to the toilet by easing off the bed onto a large metal bucket kept by the bedside. It tended to get stuck, Sarah dealing with his obvious embarrassment by joking about it. Somehow she managed to put him at ease. He lay all day on the bed watching TV while she went shopping and tended to her vegetables in the garden. She was not too mobile herself, and would come in from the garden quite flushed and out of breath. She was living on disability allowance, so Frank insisted she have free access to his account.
“The least I can do is pay for my board” he insisted.
They often talked about the discrimination large people faced. Everything seemed to be designed for skinny people. There was a hotel in town where Frank had once got stuck in the revolving doors; he could not get on the small busses that seemed to have replaced the old double deckers because some sizeist idiot had decided to put the handrail in the centre of the doorway. Frank had tried to go on holiday once, but he could not fit in the single seat he had booked on the aircraft, and the flight was full, so he’d been unceremoniously told he could not fly. He’d never been anywhere since except on his scooter. Everywhere you went people looked at you like you were some kind of freak. He felt comfortable with Sarah, and with his favourite documentary channels to watch and a continuous supply of good food, he felt safe, cocooned from the world.
Five weeks after he’d moved in the stair lift broke down. They’d been planning on getting him out of the house for some fresh air. He had a large bed sore on his side that didn’t respond to antiseptic creams or even iodine.
“I’ll get a technician to come round” Sarah said, but a week late he still hadn’t arrived. The stairs were out of the question. Frank thought he was putting on weight. He could not lie on his back at all anymore: the weight pressing on his chest stopped him breathing. He lay either on his stomach, or on one side. Sarah could only manage two trips up the stairs every day, once in the morning with his breakfast, and once in the afternoon, when they would talk for hours before she went to bed: unfortunately, there was not room for the two of them on the double bed. She promised to buy a king size bed that they could share. She built up a stockpile of snacks next to the bed, along with a kettle and some teabags, fizzy drinks and cartons of ready made milk shake. Although Frank was in love, and wanted more than anything to be with Sarah, he knew that he needed to get up and about as soon as possible. He was starting to loose the use of his left arm, and could no longer roll onto his side as easily, nor stay there for very long. His right arm could reach the table where the food was, and still functioned reasonably well. The bedsore was growing, and he had toothache in several teeth that had started as a dull ache, progressing to stabs of pain whenever he chewed. He needed a dentist. However, the food Sarah continually left him distracted him from his growing distress at not being able to go outside. He watched TV and sometimes Sarah read to him. Three weeks into his stay she told him she had fallen in love with him. He smiled up at her, and clutched her hand with his. He loved her too.
Eventually the stair lift technician arrived and told Sarah that the motor needed replacing; it looked like some liquid had got into it and corroded the armature. It took another week until someone came round and fitted the motor. Frank was really excited about getting out: it was a sunny day and he hadn’t been outside for a month. The first inkling he had that something was wrong was when Sarah was helping him get dressed. He could not sit up, the huge rolls of fat around his belly made it physically impossible. It seemed the long period of inertia coupled with Sarah’s culinary care had made him put on quite a bit more weight. Sarah tried pulling his trousers over his legs while he was lying down, but they would not go past his lower thighs.
“Just take me downstairs with nothing on for now” Frank said “and then you can go and buy me some clothes.”
However, all attempts at getting him off the bed were in vain. The weeks of doing nothing had weakened him, to the point where he could not roll off his stomach. Sarah tried to roll him onto his back, but try as she might, with Frank pushing with his good right arm, she could not budge him. Frank realised suddenly that the stair lift, which had struggled to get him up the stairs, would probably not be able to support his weight. In fact, he had serious doubts about getting through the door, assuming he could even get to his feet.
“You’re going to have to get help” Frank said, panic creeping into his voice. “What on earth have you been feeding me to make me put on so much weight?”
“Just what you wanted to eat, darling” Sarah replied. “You do have a large appetite”
The next day, at Frank’s insistence, the doctor called. He was shocked at what he found. Since his previous visit Frank appeared to have doubled in size. He looked like a huge overripe fruit that had fallen from a tree. Huge rolls of fat spread out across the bed, which was starting to buckle under the weight, like flows of lava. A huge bedsore ran from his stomach around the right side of his body. His mouth was a disaster zone, but it was not this that concerned the doctor. After taking his blood pressure, he asked Sarah to accompany him downstairs.
“He needs to go to hospital. He’ll be dead in two weeks” the doctor said, trying hard to hide his disgust. How could someone let themselves get into this state? More to the point, how could this woman let him?
“How are we going to get him out of here?” Sarah asked, a tinge of panic in her voice. “I don’t want him dying in my house! I mean, I don’t want him to die!”
“That may be a problem” the doctor acknowledged, looking at the door. “I will see what I can do.”
Two days later, the local fire chief, accompanied by a builder, called at the house. The builder, Murphy, a burly red haired laconic Irishman, could not keep the look of shock and amusement off his face. The fire chief, a surly man named Grade who sported a wiry moustache and the look of the fastidious fitness fanatic, was quite plainly disgusted by what he found in the bedroom. Frank had not left the room for over two months; he’d long since stopped using the bucket, as he could not get off the bed. In spite of Sarah’s best efforts at cleaning him, the smell of urine, excrement and stale sweat hung in the air like a noxious, fluffy smog. As they talked in muted tones about the best way to get Frank out of the house, he felt a horrible fugue of self-pity and self-loathing creep over him. He was completely helpless, and for the first time a feeling of anger came over him. He was not going to die! If he could get out of here, he was going to lose all this weight and live a normal life. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he heard the builder talking about removing the outside wall.
“We’ll have to shore it up as we go” he said in his rough Irish accent. It’ll take awhile.”
The builders arrived the next day, along with numerous journalists, a local television news crew and a hundred or so curious members of the public. In the crowd was a small man in a suit, who Sarah chatted to as they watched the bedroom wall being knocked down from the inside. There was some gossip in the crowd that he was from the Guinness Book of Records. A fire engine, an ambulance and three police cars cordoning off the road drew casual passers by to the scene, and soon a major news event began to unfold. A crane belonging to Seaworld, normally used for lifting killer whales, was parked on the road waiting to lift Frank from his bed, and an open truck with three mattresses in the back stood by to transport him to the local hospital, where preparations were already under way to receive the man that the local TV news were already calling The World’s Fattest Man. As Frank was lowered onto the truck, and the crowd caught their first clear glimpse of the naked Frank, a collective groan of amazement swept through the throng. Elizabeth Munroe, a local busy-body whose giant marrow had beaten Sarah’s to first prize at the last church fete, had been trying to overhear Sarah’s conversation with the mysterious man in the suit. Seeing the naked Frank being lowered into the truck, she muttered in astonishment.
“He’s enormous, isn’t he?”
“Yes, isn’t he?” Sarah replied proudly. “I grew him myself.”
The day after Frank’s admittance to hospital, a worried Sarah was summoned into an office where a young Asian doctor sat behind a desk.
“Well, Mrs Smith” he said “the good news is that Frank will live. We are going to have to staple his stomach. His diet needs to be reduced to twelve hundred calories a day.”
“How much does he weigh?” she asked.
“We estimate somewhere round seventy stone” the doctor answered. “But we do not have scales here capable of weighing him.”
“Is that all?” Sarah asked, looking disappointed. The doctor’s expression changed from one of concerned professionalism to one of stunned bemusement.
“Why? Were you hoping he was heavier? He’s lucky to still be alive.”
“Frank suffers from low self-esteem” she replied. “I thought if he broke a world record he’d feel better about himself. I was only trying to help.”
“You mean to say you let him get so fat deliberately?”
“Oh yes. He loves his food.” She did not mention that the milk shakes Frank enjoyed so much had been laced with a dietary supplement for gaining weight she had purchased on the internet. “Do you think you will be able to weigh him?” she continued. “You see, I have someone from The Guinness Book of Records coming to see him. We can’t let it all be for nothing.” The British record stood at fifty nine stone, held by Jack Taylor, who’d recently died. It was the world record of sixty nine stone nine pounds, held by Jon Brower Minnoch from the USA, that she wanted, and now they were taking it away from her. Still, she should get the British record, which was some consolation.
“My concern is Frank’s health” the doctor replied sternly. “I find it both shocking and repugnant that your only concern is a record. Please leave. I will be talking to my superiors about this.”
She stormed out of the hospital, not even bothering to visit Frank. Frank had been made comfortable in two beds lashed together, and was quite enjoying his new-found fame, the nurses fussing over him, newspapers calling the hospital, the young Asian doctor who seemed to take such a personal interest in his case.
Sarah caught a taxi home, where she disposed of the empty dietary supplement bottles, stripped Frank’s bed, and called a local builder about repairing the wall. A large sheet of clear plastic covered the hole they’d made to remove Frank. She could easily afford to fix the damage. She’d sold her (well, Frank’s) story to a national tabloid. She was sure he’d be awarded the British record. The man from The Guinness Book of Records would arrive the next day. Meanwhile, she had work to do. She’d show them. Anyone could grow vegetables. It took real determination to break the record for growing people. She opened up her laptop and went online. Within five minutes she’d found what she was looking for.
“BBW Dating. … fat admirers with sincere personal ads currently listed in our date finder….”
She signed up, attaching a rather flattering picture of herself to her new profile. She’d miss Frank. In spite of herself, she’d grown quite attached to him.