by Joy Manné
Barys is a short man, short and squat, only 5 feet 2 inches. A perpendicular dropped from one of his broad shoulders will slide down the outside of his overly muscular leg. Seen from a distance, he is a rectangle with a rugby ball head.
Barys stopped growing at twelve so after school, he worked out in the gym. Boys who bullied the small weak guy stopped bullying the strong short one.
Strong short guys don’t like looking up to women. Barys married Tessa, who was only 5 feet tall.
Tessa is fat. Before Tessa came Sheila, and she was fat too, but Tessa is fatter. Before Sheila came Tanzin who started off plump. Barys is a gourmet chef. He put twenty kilos on Tanzin. One hundred kilos is his starting point.
What Barys likes best about fat women is the way his fingers sink into their soft flesh, push it, pull it, knead it, smooth it, clutch it, grab it, hold on to it; his small, short fingers deep into an upper arm, or a breast, or the soft flesh on a belly or a thigh. On a table in his living room, Barys has photographs of himself with his mother, one for each year of his life until he turned eleven. Where she can still pick him up, his small chubby fingers clutch into her cascading breasts as they flow unimpeded to her naval. Later he stands close, his fingers fixed into her vast thigh.
Barys holds tightly onto Tessa’s breasts and buttocks and the tire of fat around her hips. When he shuts his eyes, he feels his first rugby ball again. A child’s rugby ball, made of a spongy safety foam; a man’s rugby ball would have broken his tender fingers with its weight.
Barys’s hobby is rugby balls. He has them on display on every surface in his home. Some are of historical value. He knows that the bootmakers, Richard Lindon (1816 – 1887) and William Gilbert (1799-1877) made balls for Rugby School out of hand stitched, four-panel, leather casings around pigs’ bladders. In late adolescence, Barys made a rugby ball, inflating the bladder through a broken off clay pipe stem in the original way. It didn’t worry him that the bladder was smelly and green. He felt part of a long history and tradition.
Barys knew that early rugby balls, made with pig’s bladders covered by leather or deer skin, burst easily. In adolescence he dreamed of blowing up a pig’s bladder—but not so full that he couldn’t sink his fingers into it—and then squeezing it with all his strength until it burst. He’d wake up with his body spouting and his hands sticky.
Once, when he was living with Tamzin, he dreamed he squeezed her so tight that her intestines oozed out of her anus like gloopy tomato sauce. He woke up with his hands sticky and his heart thumping. It was a scary dream. After that he didn’t want to live with her anymore.
Later, when he was living with Sheila he had the same dream again. This time he wasn’t scared. His friend Dave was a butcher.
Barys flexed his muscular arms and strong fingers as he looked over a goat waiting its turn.
‘If I squeezed an animal hard enough,’ he asked, bringing his palms together, ‘what would happen?’
‘A living animal?’ Dave said. ‘I wouldn’t let you do that. We do painless killing here.’
‘But what might happen,’ Barys insisted. ‘Would the insides squeeze out of its mouth or its butt?’
After that Dave avoided Barys.
When Barys married Tessa, he was thirty-one and had decided it was time he settled down. He was running his own gym by then and winning body-building tournaments.
He was happy with Tessa who was famous for baking cakes for a tearoom chain. He squeezed her soft fat arms and her bursting, orange-peel thighs and then squeezed into her and felt great.
Sometimes at night he dreamed of squeezing Tessa’s fat out of her pores so that it dribbled down her body and made the ground below them slithery and sticky.
One day he couldn’t help himself. He loved her so much.
The fat didn’t squish out, but Tessa’s breath did and she didn’t breathe again.
Barys cut her up into pieces and melted her down and used the fat to polish his rugby ball collection. He also cooked with it.
‘It’s my own invention,’ he told Helen, who followed Tessa, and whom he was fattening up to reach one hundred and ten kilos, but when she asked which fats he combined to achieve his unique and delicious flavours, he wouldn’t tell her.
Joy Manné’s work has been published widely online and in print, including Lakeview Literary, Chicago Literati, The Ham and Raging Ardvaark. She won the Geneva Writer’s Group first prize for Memoir. Joy has published three children’s books.