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I had made this drive a million times, but never in a snowstorm as fierce as this one. As the giant white flakes swirled across my windshield in no discernible pattern, I felt like I was operating more on memory than by actual ability to see where I was headed. Every sign was legible only once you got immediately upon it. Even then, most of the print was coated with a thick layer of ice by now. I just hoped that I could make it as far as the service station to camp out there until things cleared up. This is what I get. I listened to the warnings on the radio that this would be a blizzard to top all, but I stubbornly decided to brave it anyway, figuring I’d beat the worst of the snowfall and get safely to my cabin for a quiet weekend.
Actually, this service station has always been one of my favorite stops over the ten years of driving from Chicago to my remote cabin in northern Wisconsin. Even without the growing need to get out of the storm, it had always been a great halfway stop during this trip. It was a small family operated station, the type quickly being put under by the mega-chains that were landing on every city corner like over-lit space ships. It was full service only, complete with a garage and a small diner. The nice couple that had owned it ran everything. I had taken advantage of the husband’s mechanic skills many times. In fact, I often held off on car repairs until I knew I’d be heading to the cabin. He did a perfect job every time. And while I waited, his wife would dish up some great home cooked grub in the dinner set on the corner of their lot. Even if I didn’t need much work done to the car, I always made it a point to stop for several hours, and I had actually come to know the family pretty well.
A few years ago, though, the couple had decided it was time to cash it in, and they retired to a place in Florida. Not to worry, though, the place’s family-run charm remained intact. The couple had two sons who had grown up learning every aspect of the business. They now ran the service station jointly, the older brother Jason specializing in the garage duties, and the younger brother Rob taking primary responsibility for the restaurant. I basically watched these boys become men. In the years of travel back and forth, I had seen them grow from gawky adolescents into very hearty Mid-western men. In fact, they were about the most sexy, beefy guys I had ever seen, and they added to the lure of this stop more than I’d dare admit.
My tastes had always favored thick-set muscled guys – not the "ripped” muscle posers I remember from my days in Los Angeles, but the strong, sturdy guys who grew up in corn-fed environments like this. Both boys had really blossomed into their size. They were tall, wide grinned, broad shouldered and stocky with nice beefy arms, hips and thighs. Now at 27 and 24 years of age, they were also starting to show hints of thickening up around the gut too. Still very firm and with powerful builds, both definitely had added some girth since their school days. Though not fat yet, both were starting to look fleshier. The family genetics gave them each a slightly swayed back, so as their torsos curved in to their waists, the arch of their backs served to highlight the slightly more evident bow in their abdomens. With each season’s visit, I drove away from the station with increasingly intense visions of stuffing both of them in that diner until their guts started to balloon up under their pecs, shoving the waistbands on their jeans down until the buttons started to give. I looked forward to the next few years to see how they’d fill out.
As with many brothers, Jason and Rob were very competitive with each other. Jason always had the older brother’s advantage in size, but as soon as he’d push on his lifting, Rob was there fiercely trying to catch up. They both played football in high school, and after graduating, they seemed to take up the time they spent on the field using the weight room they had set up in one of the outbuildings at their station. The competitive nature didn’t seem to have diminished at all over time either. Still a little taller than Rob, though only by an inch at 6’ 3”, Jason would taunt his younger brother about being a skinny wimp. He would jab him in the chest or stomach and asking if his little brother would ever beef up enough to live up to his elder. For Jason, this was just innocent razzing. But for Rob, who had always lived under his brother’s shadow in football, dating, and everything else in school, it actually really festered. You’d see his face go red as Jason kidded him. I often wondered what would happen if Jason ever surpassed his brother or if that overshadowed younger sibling issue would unleash itself one day.
For a minute, this all flew out of my head as I suddenly skidded across another patch of ice. Okay, that was it. I needed to get off the road now. Fortunately, just then, I saw what looked like the exit ramp leading to the station. I took it, figuring that even if I weren’t there, I had no choice but to stop wherever I was. As I crept up the road, though, I sighed with relief to see I had made it to their place. I felt the muscles in my neck relax as I came to a stop under the overhang of the main station. I shoved the door open against the wind and I dashed inside.
Jason was at the counter and looked up with curiosity surprise. When I dropped my hood, he recognized me right away, though.
"What the hell are you doing out in this mess? Are you out of your mind? This is supposed to be the biggest blizzard that’s hit us in ten years. You trying to get yourself killed?”
"Yeah yeah, I know,” I sputtered, blowing on my hands to warm them up. "I’m an idiot. I thought I could beat it and have a great snowbound week at the cabin.”
Flashing his big grin, Jason started to laugh and said, "well, snowbound yeah, at your cabin no. Don’t you listen to anything? Every road north of here was shut down hours ago. I think you’re the only crazy man on the road. Looks like you’re stuck here until it clears.”
Not really minding that thought at all, I figured I better protest rather than appear to eager to advantage of what seemed like an offer. "Nah, I’m sure it’ll be fine. It’s not that much further.”
Then I heard his brother’s voice from behind. Rob came in from the diner’s connecting door. "Are you nuts! You’re stuck buddy. Good thing you made it here. At least you won’t be stranded out in your car. Man, what were you thinking?"
"Hey Rob. Well guys, I think I’m as glad as I’ve ever been to see you two. Looks like you’re going to have to live with me for a few hours.”
Rob took my arm and pushed me toward the door connecting to the diner.
"Yeah or weeks if this storm keeps up. Come on in here. You look like you need something hot to drink.”
As I headed into the restaurant, I looked back and saw Jason digging into a bag of chips set on the counter. He scooped up a giant fistful of them, and cramming his mouth full, he said he’d be in to join us soon. Just as I glanced back before letting the door swing closed behind me, I saw Jason stand up from his post behind the counter to reach for something on a shelf above his head. My eyes popped. His entire torso was visible above the high countertop, as he tipped forward and kind of grunted to grab whatever he was aiming for. His gut looked bigger than I’d ever seen it, and his denim shirt yanked out of his jeans, the bottom two buttons pulling tight as his gut pushed against the fabric with his reach. He had to be another 25 pounds heavier than when I saw him last.
I turned around, almost saying something about his brother’s gain to Rob. But as I did, I saw him shed his parka. Under it he wore a thick flannel shirt over a zippered sweatshirt. Unless it was the sweatshirt, I’d swear Rob had put on 15 to 20 pounds himself. Those stuffing fantasies began to come to life in my head all over again.
Rob filled up a cup of hot coffee, and as we casually caught up, he kept offering me some pie. I took him up on a piece to go with the coffee. After he handed me a plate, he amazed me by sticking a fork directly into the pan.
"Hope you don’t think this is rude. I know we’re going to be the only ones in here for a few days, and I’m just not in the mood to be messing with dishes.”
Not wanting to hold him back at all, I told him I couldn’t mind less.
We talked for a while about nothing in particular. The conversation went all over the place as we sat staring at the nonstop snowfall. The radio kept insisting that this storm was going to last for days. I was wondering how long I’d be here, but as Rob nearly cleared the pie plate, I secretly hoped the snow would never stop.
Somehow the conversation turned to working out, and Rob kind of got cross. He was saying how he and Jason had still been working out hard, trying to outdo each other. He started to grumble that he wants to get bigger than his brother one day. I dared to comment that I could tell they had beefed up some. Before Rob could answer, Jason came bounding in, immediately heading behind the counter to pull out a whole pie for himself.
"Hey Jason,” I said. "We were just talking about your lifting routine. Actually, looks like you’ve really put on a few. You’ve beefed up some more since I was here last.” Did I see Rob’s face go flush when I said that?
As Jason grabbed a chocolate cream pie and headed over to us, he said, "yeah, I guess there’s not much else to keep us occupied out here. Though after years of working to catch up, you’d think this puss would be able to out-weigh his brother.” When he made the crack, Jason gave Rob a shove on his shoulder blade as he came up to flop down at the counter with us. From the unexpected force of the knock, Rob dropped the pie off his fork, causing Jason to add, "see, the wimp can’t even hold up his fork. Maybe one day he’ll bulk up enough, but I’ll always be the bigger brother.”
Rob’s face was burning. As we sat and talked more, Rob went mute, scowling as he and Jason cleared away the pies. After shoving in the last forkful, which he carefully ran around the pie plate to get every last crumb, Jason fell back in the chair. Letting out a huge groan and dropping his hand on the top arc of his starter belly, right where his chest edged into the swell of his pie-filled bulge, he grunted that he was absolutely stuffed.
"You know,” I ventured, "it actually looks like you’re getting a gut there Jason.”
He looked down at the pie-filled bulge, which now seemed to have inched up a bit more from the absent minded gorging. Grabbing the bottom arc of his rounded belly, Jason just shook me off. "Yeah I guess. It’s just winter weight. You know. As soon as the weather warms up, you shed the gut. Helps you stay warm until then.”
"I don’t know buddy. That shirt’s looking pretty snug. You may be lifting more, but it looks like the gut is starting to win.”
"Yeah, I did weigh in at 245 pounds this morning, but whatever. It just gives me energy to lift. It always drops off come spring. Besides, a few extra pounds keep me well ahead of this guy. What are you, little guy? A tiny 200 or so?” Jason jabbed his brother again, hard in the ribs. "He’s working out pretty hard these days, but there’s no way he’ll catch up. If that means a few extra helpings, this older brother is always gonna be ahead.”
"Hey! I’m 220! I’m on your tail,” Rob protested. But Jason just mimicked Rob’s protest in a typical older brother taunt.
Jason barely thought about the comment, but you could see smoke rolling out of Rob’s ears. Jason hoisted himself up and waved. "There’s a spare room for you. You know you’re stuck here until the roads are clear again, so make yourself at home. If this keeps up, the snow’s gonna pile up against our door soon. I’m off to workout for a bit.” And he bounded out of the room.
Rob muttered something, and I turned my head toward him. His head was hanging, and he was angrily jabbing his fork into the empty pie tin.
"He knows that pisses me off.”
"Oh sure. That’s an older brother for you. Mine always harassed me like that too.”
"Yeah, but I’m so fed up with it. I should lock him out of the weight room and show him. I’d come back much bigger than he is now.”
"Yeah maybe, but he’s still got the edge with the muscles. That bastard is always gonna be stronger and bigger than me. Just once I’d like to . . ..”
"Whoa there. This really bugs you doesn’t it?”
"Yeah, it makes me fucking nuts. No matter what, I’ve always been the smaller younger brother.”
I was actually amazed at how intensely all this upset Rob.
"But if he keeps up that eating . . ..”
"They say ‘yeah you’re big Rob, almost up to Jason’s size. Soon you’ll get big like your brother’ No credit for nothing.” He was in his own world for a minute.
"You know, if you let him keep eating like that, he may get bigger, but that gut of his will overtake those pecs soon. Maybe you should let him grow.”
"Man, I’m gonna step it up with the weights, This is the year I finally beat him.” Then he seemed to catch what I said. "Hey, whadya mean?”
I got his attention.
"Well, if he wants to be the bigger older brother so bad, just let him. Younger brother’s revenge. That appetite of his has got to start sticking to his gut soon. Then yeah, he’ll be bigger, but who’s going to think he looks better than you with a big beergut splitting his shirts open.”
"Man you think? Yeah, I guess that’d make me look pretty damn good by comparison.”
"You should keep him eating and sneak up on him that way.”
"That’s such a cool idea! If only I could make him bloat out a little faster. Man, I never thought of it that way.”
I couldn’t believe how readily Rob took to this idea. I couldn’t believe what I was about to suggest.
"In fact, maybe you ought to encourage his eating. Might be your only hope since it seems he’s always going to be bigger than you.”
Rob kind of flared at that. "Hey, I can catch up if I want!”
"I know. I know. Though, hate to say it, he’s always been bigger than you. Maybe it’s time for a new strategy, younger brother. Let him get much bigger. Let him get so much bigger that he looks like a fattened up moose.”
"Well, you run this restaurant. You figure it out.” And I got up to head to the bathroom.
When I came out of the bathroom and up the back hallway toward the dining room, Jason was heading my way. He had changed into sweats and a T-shirt. My eyes widened at the full sight of his muscled, beer-gutted build. The elastic on his sweat pants pulled wider the closer it got to the center of his belly. And as they rounded forward past his hips, they also arced down in a line below the base of his swelling gut. From there, the new bulge of his belly bowed forward slightly, continuing to arc out to just above his navel, where the bulge rounded back in toward the base of his meaty pecs. His gut was even more highlighted in his gym clothes since his T-shirt pulled up a bit, leaving a gap at the middle, only able to stay tucked into his sweats back toward his sides.
"Have a good workout stud.”
"Yeah you know it. I’m gonna crank. See you in a bit.”
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