David fell asleep in the ambulance. When he woke up in the hospital, David recalled someone asking his age and then sudden blackness. He was on a bed in what he assumed was the Emergency Room. The area was bright with a blue curtain separating him from other patients. From behind him, a machine beeped rhythmically. He heard a person moan as another whispered. A baby cried down the unseen hallway.

A nurse brushed the curtain aside.

You’re awake. How’re you feeling?

Confused, David said. His voice deep, foggy.

My voice is funny, he said.

He lifted his hand up and felt the rolls of fat around his neck. He pushed as hard as he could stand but couldn’t reach his Adam’s apple. His hand shot around his face. Puffy flesh greeted his fingers. David could felt the flesh around his eyes. He knew his eyes appeared to be squinting now.

Might be the weather, she said. She turned to a computer screen. I need to get some info that we couldn’t get while you were asleep. Height?

Six foot one.

Weight?

One Eighty Six.

Sir?

I weigh–Last time I checked it was actually about two-oh-seven.

The nurse looked at David. She recalled cutting his sweatpants off. His thighs meshing against one another as the material finally released his skin. His navel was nearly four inches deep when they sliced off his shirt. The BP cuff barely made it around his arm. This man was 500 pounds if he was an ounce.

Sir? She said.

David looked at the floor in front of the nurse.

I’m not sure anymore. What I…I’m not sure anymore, that’s all.

She typed, ‘350?’

Can you loosen this band? David said.

The nurse looked at his patient ID band.

Is it too tight? It was loose an hour ago, when I put it on…

The band snapped and fell to the floor.

What, how did that happen? She said.

David breathed heavily.

I’m gaining weight by the minute.

The nurse ignored him. She fastened another band. It broke off as soon as she turned her head.

Go get a doctor. David said.

The nurse looked at him. I don’t understand why the band broke off.

Go get a doctor, please. And call my wife…
David looked up at the fluorescent light and inhaled deeply.

He passed out.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Rachel avoided the TV. She didn’t want to see the news about her husband being stuck inside a car. She didn’t want to see herself crying on the screen describing the horror she felt. She meant, the horror they both felt.

He must have a disease, she’d told the camera. Some sort of problem, like toxemia, you know, what pregnant women get?

She sat at the computer desk and opened her laptop. Was toxemia even the right word?
What if she got it wrong and now, now it would all get worse. First David’s disease and now she looked like a moron on TV. She typed the word in. It was Ok. The analogy fit, sort of… over to Facebook.

A friend of a friend of a friend tagged, re-tagged and finally tagged her in the pictures Shawn had taken.
Shawn provided a caption:

WHY I DRINK DIET COKE AND YOU SHOULD TOO! LMFAO. FAT BASTARD FROM WORK GETS STUCK IN HIS CAR TRYING TO GET TO CANDY MACHINE!

“Is that David?”
“Is he in a clown car Rachel?”
“Looks like you need to give him a ‘workout’ Rach…”
“Please tell me that’s photo shopped…”

And other comments she tried to ignore littered her page. She found the picture on the pages of ten different friends. Comment after comment. Joke after joke…

She untagged herself quickly. But saved the picture. She stared at it. His bulging cheeks, his fat legs jammed against the bottom of the steering wheel. She remembered what she told him the night before.
I don’t want to be married to a fatty.

Now she was. Everyone knew it. Everyone knew they were an undisciplined couple. Her husband didn’t love her enough to stay thin for her. People would talk about their sex life.
How do they?
I bet they…
Surely they must do…
I’d buy batteries by the case if it were me…

She looked at his thin lips and squinted eyes. They had never been happy, she thought. Not really. He wanted kids, she knew. He always talked about it, especially on holidays.
Christmas is for kids, he’d say.
David would ask her during summer,
You think a baby would like the fireworks? I mean after they got over the sound and all.

She ignored him. No children. That was the deal when they got married.
No babies. No orphans. Not even the lousy price of a cup of coffee for a fat-bellied African kid. That was the deal.

That’s why he’s doing this. To get even, embarrass me because he can’t be a Daddy.
I mean, I won’t let him be one… she said. Bastard.

She looked at the laptop and closed it. The house seemed the same but different. The silence seemed an indictment. She heard the hum of the refrigerator and could detect, just below the surface of the monotonous droning, a giggle.

Coward, she said. You’ve always been a damn coward.

She thought back to that day a few weeks ago. She came home from book club and David was drunk. He had an easel in the living room. Sinatra was playing and she could smell oil paints. An empty bottle of wine was on the coffee table.

What are you doing? She asked.

David looked from behind the easel.

I wanted-ed to be a painter. Member? I tote chu when, when we were met…

But we agreed it was a waste of productive time, honey.

BAH! David said. I bought this stuff and I’m painting stuff and I’m gonna be a painter. Of stuff… He smiled.

The next morning she discarded the easel, the paints, the brushes, and the empty Merlot bottles.
David called in sick.
Rachel went to work on time.
David made Thai for dinner. Neither spoke of the missing stuff.

She looked at the spot where the easel had stood. Her mind pushed a negative thought back down where it belonged. Nothing was wrong. He wanted children. He’s got some disease, toxemia or something. He hates her for some reason and wants to embarrass her.

Why me? Rachel said.

Advertisements