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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Deal - Part 2

The following is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed below are purely fictional. Any resemblance or similarity to real persons or events is purely coincidental.

The following is copyrighted to Blogannath. All rights are reserved. You can find Part 1 of "The Deal" here.

The Deal - Continued

Tom breathed a sigh of relief as soon as the stranger left. He and Mary looked at each other with a slight sense of disbelief that any of this had actually happened. Tom slapped and pinched himself a few times to make sure he was dreaming all of this in his sleep. He got a few red marks on his skin, but the activity did not cause him to sit up in bed in the dark, breathing heavily as if he had awoken from a nightmare. Mary half-expected the stranger to walk back into the house, point to a corner of the room and intone, "Smile! You're on candid camera." But the show was not even being produced anymore, so there was little chance of that happening! "The Deal" had actually happened. Tom could eat whatever he wanted. Mary could cook whatever made Tom happy even if that meant a dozen eggs fried in a pound of butter! And it was not going to make Tom keel over from a heart attack either!!

Tom's weight and waist size started going up right away. It took a while for Tom to really stretch his imagination to see what was possible in terms of his food consumption, but when he did the results were quite spectacular! Daily runs to the grocery store could hardly keep up with his appetite for cheese, marbled meat, butter, margarine, and the huge variety of chips and other fried junk food he consumed in every meal. Dunkin Donuts created a special class of preferred patron membership specifically to show their appreciation for Tom! And pizzerias from far and near competed to find a place on the limited set of speed-dial slots on Tom's phone!!

But, in spite of this level of debauchery, Tom showed no overt ill-effects of his diet. He did not suffer from chest pains or shortness of breath. His knees did not buckle and his arches did not fall. He appeared healthy and vigorous, even to his own doctor. Tom did surprisingly well on his battery of tests during his annual physical exam. His cholesterol level was under control along with his blood pressure, and his body could seemingly tackle endless quantities of sugar and other sweeteners without breaking a sweat, figuratively or literally. Tom probed his doctor for bad news, but apart from his size and weight, there seemed to be pretty much nothing wrong with him. Tom actually started believing in "The Deal" only after this physical exam. And that was the last physical exam he cared to go to.

Mary couldn't be happier. She spent all her time planning elaborate meals for her husband. She perfected reading Tom's mood and reacting with the appropriate meals to a fine art. Whatever made Tom happy made her happy, and being able to make him happy with no feelings of guilt whatsoever made the feedback loop that much stronger. Along with Tom's weight and waistline, the couple's happiness expanded rapidly too!

And expand rapidly Tom's size did! His weight ballooned to over 300 pounds within the next several months. His resemblance to a beach ball grew more striking with the passing of each day - no, the passing of each meal! He dwarfed his wife to the point where people sometimes did not even notice she was with him. People took to stepping off the sidewalk when Tom walked by. Furniture stores stopped selling him furniture insurance.

Tom had to invest in remodeling his house, making the door frames wider. He would have preferred to make the staircase wider too, but it would have been too expensive. He squeezed himself up and down the staircase for now, taking care not to lean on any of the railings. He also bought himself a bigger car with more room between the seat and the steering wheel, a larger door, and a much more powerful engine. He was a little unhappy when he realized that at some point, he might have to stop driving because his hands would not be able to reach the steering wheel over his expanding midsection! But he decided that would be a small sacrifice he could afford to make when the time came!!

The couple received surveys in the mail, asking them about their satisfaction with "The Deal", and whether they would recommend it to their friends and family. Tom and Mary enthusiastically filled in the surveys with top scores in every category. Tom was the kind of guy who never gave top scores to anybody in any survey. If the satisfaction scale in a survey went from 1 to 5, and Tom was supremely satisfied, his response would be a 4. If the scale went from 1 to 10, his response would be a 9. But he made an exception for these surveys, he was that happy!

But all good things eventually come to an end. And they always come to an end when you least expect it. Like a bull market that ends right after you plow the last cent of your rainy day funds on a stock that "can not go down"! And Tom and Mary's fairy-tale existence came to an end one fine day too. Mary received a phone call from the local police station soon after Tom had left for work one day. The cop said Tom had been involved in an auto-crash. A bad auto-crash. A fiery auto-crash. He met Mary at the hospital and told her that cops had responded to a multi-car crash on the freeway that had left Tom trapped but unhurt in his car. And then the fire had started, spreading from car to car and burning through them at devastating speed. Tom was burnt badly and was in critical but stable condition at the hospital.

Tom was barely recognizable when Mary looked at him through the windows of the critical care unit at the hospital. His bulk obviously made him recognizable, but he was swaddled in bandages from head to toe. Miles of tubing of various types entered Tom's body through natural and artificial openings. He was hooked up to various different machines that beeped and pinged endlessly, announcing every breath Tom took and every beat of his heart. The doctor took Mary to his office and explained the situation to her. Tom was badly burnt, especially his face and neck. He would live, but he would never be the old Tom. He would probably never eat through his mouth again. He would probably not talk. He was probably in pain, and would be in perpetual pain for as long as he lived. But he was in no immediate danger, he was breathing on his own (albeit through a tracheotomy tube inserted just above his chest), and would probably live as long as he was fed through his feeding tubes.

Mary was numb with grief. Her world had collapsed around her and she was powerless to build it back up. Mary could not believe the doctor's prognosis for her husband, and what it meant for both of them. Tom was going to be in agony, possibly for a very long time, and she was going to be miserable as long as Tom was unhappy. She was powerless to make him better, but by the same token, she was powerless to put him out of his misery too. Mary wished Tom had died in the crash rather than surviving in the state he was in now.

As Mary was escorted out of the hospital by the cop he said to her in a wistful voice, "Tom was totally unhurt in the original crash. He was just stuck because the crash bent his car frame and the door could not be opened properly. If only Tom had been a little smaller. We got his car door open partially, and could have pulled him out before the fire, but we were simply unable to open the door far enough for a man of Tom's bulk to fit through the opening. We tried as hard as we could, but it just was not to be." Mary just stared blankly at him.

When she got home, she was only slightly surprised to see the smartly dressed stranger waiting for her. Mary flew at him in a rage and attacked him viciously with her fists and nails. When she had spent herself on this activity, the stranger calmly disentangled himself from her and waited for her to calm down as much as the circumstances would warrant. He was physically unhurt from Mary's assault on him, but he took his time straightening and cleaning his clothes and shoes so that he was as presentable as before. He then announced that his client was willing to make a deal with Mary. The price would be the same: Mary's eternal soul when she eventually died. In return, his client was willing to make arrangements to end Tom's suffering. He offered to wait until Mary made up her mind one way or the other.

As he walked out of Mary's house a little later, with a document bearing Mary's signature safely tucked under his arm, he remarked to nobody in particular, "my client always likes these two for one deals the best!" As he left her driveway, he saw Mary calmly walk into the garage and start her car. When she did not emerge from the garage or even raise the garage door for the next several minutes, the stranger daintily plucked his watch out of his coat pocket, noted the time on it, and remarked, again to nobody in particular, "I better make it to the hospital pretty quickly to keep poor Mary from waiting too long for Tom!"

The End

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