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  • Previously, I spent some time as an escort. Well, not really an escort. A companion. Someone to keep men drinking in a bar. Keep them company.

    The men were always strange in some way. You couldn’t always tell at first. But they were always strange in some way. And when you’re the new girl, the stranger ones come your way more often.

    The night I met Chase, before I see him, I know something exceptional is going down just from the commotion. The women start talking quickly, giggling, one heads for the bathroom, another gets into a deep conversation with the barman. One comes over to me.

    -This one’s all yours. It might sound unfair, but we’ve all been there before. Don’t worry, he’s a nice guy. Just a little strange looking. And he can be persistent. But he’s not bad as a client. He’s generous. So be friendly to him.

    And she leaves quickly.

    The man who walks in is a reminder of how ludicrous the body can become. That the same combination of limbs and features and digits can end up in countless different places. So that sometimes it’s like a new, condemned species has emerged from a combination of bad genes and bad habits.

    He is enormous. Beyond obese, closer to those pictures of people who haven’t left their homes for ten years because they can’t get off the bed, and even if they did, wouldn’t make it through the door.

    He walks in, and every step is sensational. Trunk legs rubbing together and somehow managing to support his unwieldy stomach which begins at nipple height and ends somewhere just above the knee, straining at his trousers so that the zipper might burst at any moment to reveal the abomination within. The trousers are inevitably too short and his ankles puddle over his shoes, which are worn down on the outside as a result of his roll. My arteries curdle in sympathy.

    And perched high above this catastrophe, above the wobbling breasts, and the layers of neck that squeeze out of his shirt, is a tiny, smooth face, almost unlined, with a neat slicked back parting on top of it. A little pug nose, tiny squinting eyes, and full red lips that surprise me with their sensual pout.

    He looks around the bar, not by moving his neck, but by taking a lumbering step to the left, and then one to the right. Nods at the barman, and looks straight at me. Because there isn’t another woman in sight. I smile brightly and beckon at the chair next to me.

    As he sits down, I see that his face isn’t particularly small, it just hasn’t kept pace with the expansion that has happened elsewhere. And it’s not so perfectly smooth either. There are blotches of red on his cheek, his little nose has the beginnings of a riot of broken veins, and there are patches of stubble between the fat on his neck that were obviously to tricky to reach. He sits down, and there’s high-pitched wheeze, which I take to be relief.

    -Hello, you’re new here aren’t you?

    I’d expected a rumble, but he speaks in a half whisper as if the words are drowning, or being strangled on the way out. Like the fat is growing inside too, constricting his throat, squeezing his vocal chords.

    -I’m Chase, he continues. I know, ridiculous, isn’t it. Can’t chase anything. I think my parents knew already, when it took me three days to fight my way out. Think it was a charm. Against the inevitable. No use though.

    He orders a bottle of whisky and drinks it fast on the rocks. Demolishes cigarettes, one after the other. I’m sitting there smiling at him, nodding through the first introductions, but staggered at the amount of abuse he has given and continues to give his poor body. It’s funny, I have known lots of people who drink, smoke, snort too much but none of them are so visibly and cataclysmically destroyed by it. This is consumptiveness to another level.

    He sits across the table from me, legs, spread, belly falling between them, still contained by a shirt that must be extra long, that must be the height of a regular guy. Or maybe strapped under his balls for decency. Stubs out a cigarette, lights another, takes a mouthful of whisky. I dutifully refill his glass.

    -So, what’s your story, he asks, as I sit there enchanted by so much flesh in motion.

    -My story, I repeat.

    -Your story, he says. I’m sure you don’t want to hear mine. Sure you hear enough nonsense working here.

    -I mean if you’re interested I can tell you mine quickly. I eat too much, drink too much, smoke too much. Oh yeah, he chuckles, and I got a genetic condition. That’s the real reason I’m a fat bastard.

    Laughs again, as if his physical atrocity, which looks like it could kill him any day, is no more than a haircut gone a little wrong. That will grow out in a couple of weeks.

    -I never meant to end up here, I start.

    -I’m not sure that anybody does, he laughs.

    -I don’t mean here, this bar. I mean here, this city.

    And by then, I've got him.
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