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Economy Part 8
Their flight was at eight, but after a lazy, dazed afternoon David and Austin headed for the airport around three.|
At about one o’clock, Austin had relented and started working through bowl after bowl of cereal, with the fresh fruit chopped up into it. They were just lounging around watching sports on the wall-sized TV, and Austin would pootle out every five minutes or so and return with another bowl. By a quarter to two, the breakfast buffet had well and truly breathed its last.
An hour later, Austin was starting to crave his lunch, so they packed up and moved out. A shuttle was laid on, part of the airline’s settlement package.
At check-in, Austin fronted up first and was greeted by a beaming receptionist, who formally thanked him for helping out the airline the day before and promised him an excellent flight. She asked him if this was his first time in business class.
"Not quite, but I don’t fly it often enough to take it for granted. Should be good.” Then, after a beat, "Bigger seats, right?”
"You betcha,” the woman said chirpily.
"Great. I’m gonna need it.” Austin proudly surveyed his spectacular paunch, tightly encased in his Foghorn Leghorn t-shirt.
"Now, sir. I take it you’ll be requiring a seatbelt extension?”
Austin placed his fingertips on his big gut, squashed his bearded chin into its big bristly cushion of neck fat, and adopted a pert "who me?” expression, saying coyly, "You really think so?” Then we wiped away the pose with a chummy blast. "Nah, I’ve got my own. Thanks for asking, though. My buddy here’s gonna need one, for sure. He’s got pretty heavy over the last little while. You got us sitting together, right?”
Austin handed over to David, who felt ten feet tall – or ten feet wide – with that intro. They checked in without incident and headed for a restaurant. Austin raised one eyebrow and snorted when the waiter showed them to a booth. "This ain’t gonna work, buddy,” he said matter-of-factly, and the hefty pair were led to a regular table. Austin ordered generously from the menu, but stuck to the rule book, ordering four courses but not doubling up on any of them. He also helped himself liberally from David’s large order, ascribing each raid to ‘fat man’s privilege’. His repast was washed down with half a dozen beers. David nursed a couple himself and had developed quite a pleasant buzz by the time they rolled onto the plane.
David found the ample business class seat extravagantly roomy, but it was still a bit of a tight squeeze for massive Austin. "We can knock this armrest up once we’re in the air, right Dave?” he asked earnestly. Sure thing. David couldn’t wait for Austin’s warm rolls of fat to start encroaching.
They were brought a glass of champagne each and toasted their mutual acquaintance and good luck. Then they were offered tiny hors d’oeuvres. Austin looked at his, looked at David, and they both burst out laughing at the juxtaposition. Austin made a big performance of slowly, showily savouring the tiny morsel.
They hadn’t really talked much all afternoon, functional stuff mostly. Both were feeling a kind of anxiety that they would soon be parting, but neither knew exactly how they should deal with it. David’s old, latent anxiety about seeing his family again, and their inevitable reproaches about his weight gain, were resurfacing, and the imminent isolation from Austin’s world of celebratory fat freedom made that fear all the more acute.
For his part, Austin was facing the familiar crashdown to his lonely everyday life. He recognised that David might be his last best chance at the kind of ongoing, rewarding relationship he’d always desired, but he was too terrified of rejection and of appearing ridiculous to force himself upon David. Although they had definitely clicked, their backgrounds were so wildly different Austin falsely assumed it wouldn’t work and that David wouldn’t be interested in committing himself to Austin for the rest of his life. And anything less would be heartbreaking. He was paralysed, but paralysis would be less painful than failure, and its pain would eventually dissipate. So he just sat there complacently, enjoying the company, relishing the moments they were sharing, facing outwards and away from the gnawing despair that was building up inside him. He wasn’t going to be the one to reach out. He couldn’t.
But nor could David. He couldn’t figure out how a relationship could possibly work. He was far too shy and uncertain to throw himself at Austin and say what he really felt inside, namely that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with him, to embark on a brand new existence, whatever the risk and cost. He knew that would make him far too vulnerable, would make him look like a silly little kid, and probably completely alienate Austin, who, after all, he barely knew. He felt like he’d been the one pushing all the time against Austin’s reluctance, and he had to stop now. This amazing couple of days would just end up as a treasured magic moment, one he’d be looking fondly back on for the next fifty years. After they said their farewells at the airport and promised to keep in touch, he would never see Austin again.
The announcement came. It was time to stow tray tables, fasten seatbelts and lock the doors. They blankly watched the steward mime the safety demonstration, and continued to look ahead as the plane manoeuvred to the end of the runway. The jets started to roar in preparation. Austin looked to his left, saw the man there deeply immersed in his book, then turned to David and calmly, gently stared into his eyes for several seconds, then just as calmly resumed his frontal gaze. As the plane rushed forward and they were pinned back in their seats, Austin grabbed David’s hand and held it very, very tight.
Things were different after that impulsive gesture. From that moment on, David knew that he could make this relationship work and Austin knew that heshould make it work. Neither one of them acknowledged any change, and their conversation didn’t stray into any explicit territory, but it regained the ease and intimacy that they’d lost since the night before.
David started expressing his anxieties over seeing his parents and Austin reassured him. He was a great kid, he was an adult, they needed to respect him and appreciate that there were much worse things he could be than fat. Worse even than very fat.
"Now, if you’re serious about getting as big as me,” Austin continued. David nodded vigorously that he was. "They’re just going to have to adjust. And you, you’re going to have to find ways to relate to them and respect them even if they have a hard time accepting you at this kind of size. One thing’s for sure: you don’t want to make this an either/or thing. You gotta help them out, maybe.”
"Thanks for the advice, mate,” David answered.
"Well, take it or leave it. I’m lucky I never had that kind of dilemma. Ma was fat, and I guess dad liked her that way. He ribbed me about my size, but was always nice about it. Always encouraged me to clean my plate, anyway. Even when I got seriously fat in my twenties. It was the same thing when I came out to him. That took me a long, long time. Oh boy. But when I did he took it in his stride. Said he wasn’t surprised. Sad about the grandkids, naturally, but he loved me all the same. We got on great.” Austin looked away. "He wouldn’t have seen his grandkids grow up anyway.”
David hoped his parents would be so understanding, but he feared not. Still, he remembered what Austin had said before: there were much worse things. Being fat was small potatoes.
The pair of them made the most of business class. Austin sweet-talked the hostess into keeping his beer perpetually replenished, and David got pleasantly sloshed tagging along. The food was definitely better, but the portions were no larger, so at the end of the dinner service, stout Austin leaned over, batted his dark eyelashes at the hostess and asked in a hushed conspiratorial baritone if there were any leftover desserts going begging. She smiled sweetly and whispered, "I’ll see what I can do.”
In a couple of minutes she was back with a whole fresh meal each for the two friends. David was chuffed that she saw in him an appetite equivalent to Austin’s Olympian one, but he had to surrender the lion’s share of the second meal to his mammoth companion. He figured he’d eaten more in the last 24 hours than he would normally manage over a period of days, but he felt extremely abstemious alongside Austin’s casual everyday gluttony.
Austin extravagantly complimented the hostess when she returned to collect the empty trays. She blushed and ate it up. He’d be pretty cute if he lost some of that weight, she thought. His son wasn’t too bad either.
When the lights dimmed they both tried to sleep rather than watch a bad movie. David looked around the cabin in the gloom, confirmed everybody in view was dozing, then surreptitiously snuck his hand under Austin’s blanket and under his t-shirt, to give that incredible stuffed belly a delicate rub. Austin snuffled with pleasure and flexed his gut in response. After a short time, he slowly moved his own hand under the blanket, gently took hold of David’s exploratory one and lowered it to his crotch as if to say, ‘see, I really appreciate this’, then just as gently, matter-of-factly, lifted the hand back up to his stomach to continue its erotic tracings. Then Austin rested his hand on David’s chubby thigh, gave it an affectionate, serious squeeze, and drifted off.
When Austin awoke hours later, David was splayed spastically in his seat, one arm up against the wall, the other stretched out towards Austin, his hand jammed between the back of the seat and Austin’s flab. The pillow that must have started out behind his head had slipped down to his love handle and his head lolled at a lunatic angle. Boy’s probably gonna wake up with a hell of a crick in his neck. One leg was bent up against the back of his seat, the other stretched straight out under Austin’s legs.
Austin, however, was pretty much in the same position he’d been in when he fell asleep. To tell the truth, he was pretty much wedged there, and turning to one side or the other would have required conscious planning and execution. The only difference was that his blanket had slipped down to the floor. He ran pretty hot and didn’t really require it. After a minute or so, Austin realised with much amusement and a soupcon of embarrassment that his t-shirt had ridden right up on his gut – this probably happened while David was rubbing it under the blanket – and so his hot, hairy fatness had been completely exposed to any nighttime wanderers in the cabin. He tugged it down nonchalantly, sat there a moment, then struggled out of the seat to head for the toilet so he could freshen up.
Austin knew all too well he was too big to get down an airplane aisle without incident, so he had to apologise to several slumbering passengers he brushed with his belly and haunches. Talk about a rude awakening.
Austin pulled open the toilet door and, as usual, confronted the tiny space inside with a raised eyebrow and half-smile. The seats might be bigger in business class, but how do they expect those overweight businessmen to go to the bathroom? And Austin was more than merely overweight. He pushed these facilities to their limit. He squeezed into the toilet, scraping his burly shoulders against the door frame and dangling his immense paunch over the toilet bowl as he wrestled the folding door closed behind him.
Then he turned around. He had to turn to his right so that his protruding belly could scrape through the hollow of the basin housing. He’d be blocked by the wall if he tried to turn in the other direction. Facing forward, he locked the door.
It paid to dress casual. Austin could wriggle out of his shorts and underpants without having to bend very much. Then he hauled his stretched t-shirt up over his head and hung it on the hook behind the door. He sniffed it: a little stale and sweaty, but what do you expect?
Now naked, Austin lowered his vast buttocks onto the small hole of the toilet seat, pulling them apart as he descended and positioning himself as far back on the seat as his big roll of backfat would allow, so he could get his dick into the bowl around the front. He had to press his huge thighs hard against the walls to open a channel in the middle for the dick to hang and eventual hand to wipe. Being this fat was a pain, but Austin couldn’t pretend that these kind of difficulties weren’t a bit of a turn-on. Wedged in place, Austin happily took a grand dump and relieved himself of a heroic quantity of used beer. Afterwards he cleaned himself up: the closest anybody his size ever got to yoga, he’d joke to himself. Then , wedged on the seat, he carefully dabbed himself with soap and water to freshen up his sweaty armpits and creases, going through copious quantities of paper towels, and gave his dry, hot face a soothing cold water wash. He brushed his teeth, availed himself of the moisturisers provided and soon felt reasonably refreshed and presentable.
On rising, he dabbed his crotch and armpits with talcum powder – the fat man’s friend, and essential for any prolonged air travel – raised his underpants and shorts, which he’d wrangled up to his knees before standing, and scrabbled back into his t-shirt. Then he carefully reversed his initial movements, shifting his gut around and backing out the door.
He felt two firm pats on his gargantuan love handles. It was David.
"Hi, big guy. Sleep well?”
"Like a well-fed baby. You?”
"Oh, not bad. Sore neck, though.”
"Uh huh. You going to freshen up?”
"Yeah. Need to beat the rush. They’re serving breakfast in ten minutes. We’re nearly there.”
They looked at each other. There was no panic or urgency now. It was just a plane landing . It wasn’t the end of anything. They’d swapped local addresses and phone numbers and both understood, though nothing had been said, that this was no longer a mere formality. Austin had told David that if things went badly with his folks he could crash at his apartment and he could tell that David understood he was sincere. They hadn’t made any particular arrangements to see each other, but they both knew they would do so within a day or two.
They ate their breakfasts in sweet silence. When the plane landed, Austin politely handed David his bag from the overhead locker, as if they were only chance companions. They walked up the airbridge together and David placidly waited for Austin to pass through Immigration. They kept pace with one another on the long walk to the Baggage Claim and waited for their bags in the same place, without talking. When Austin’s bags arrived, he packed them onto a trolley, looked fondly at David, and walked away without looking back.
David collected his only a few minutes later, but when he wandered out, blinking, into the arrivals hall, Austin was nowhere to be seen.
David’s father saw his much fatter son waddle out and couldn’t believe his eyes. Lots of fat Americans on that flight, but his boy was certainly getting up there. That was definitely going to change. He said hello tersely and prepared to launch into his hastily prepared tirade about the perils of obesity when David stopped him dead in his tracks.
"Dad,” he said. "I’m gay.”
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