Fat Man
Little Boy

The Little Boy screamed and dodged the Fat Man's chubby, grabbing fingers.

"I'm gonna getcha," said the Fat Man. "I'm gonna getcha!"

The Little Boy ducked the Fat Man's grasp again and dashed up the basement stairs, toward the light streaming in from the kitchen. In his over-confidence, the Fat Man had left the door open. "Damn," he swore, and began the lengthy process of climbing back up the stairs. After he reached the top, the Fat Man paused for a couple minutes to catch his breath. The Little Boy was nowhere to be seen, but the Fat Man wasn't worried. He knew the child wasn't going anywhere. Once the dizziness had left him, the Fat Man proceeded on through his house.

He stopped in the dining room and looked at the single place setting on the table, staring at the empty plate. "Time for dinner!" he shouted, knowing that his voice would carry throughout the other-wise empty house to the ears of his young quarry.

The Fat Man looked in the living room: empty. He opened the door to the den: also empty. There was no where else to hide on this level. He hadn't heard the creak of the front door opening, so he knew that the Little Boy was still in the house. That meant only one thing: he had to go up another flight of stairs.

By the time the Fat Man reached the second story, his face was beet red and sweat was pouring down his face. He sat on the top step until the dark spots cleared from his vision. There weren't too many places to hide on the top floor, only his bedroom, a guest bedroom, and the bathroom.

The bathroom and his bedroom were both empty. As he proceeded down the hall to the guest room, the Fat Man realized that his exertion was causing him to work up quite an appetite; the hunger pains he always felt were now threatening to consume his immense body.

In the guest room, the Fat Man flicked the light switch. His heavy breathing created an echo in the small room, which wasn't much larger than a pantry. He held his breath for a moment, and could just make out the sound of rapid, shallow breathing over the pounding of his heart beat. The only place to hide in the room was under the child-sized bed, and the Fat Man walked up to it.

"I give up," said the Fat Man. "That Little Boy must have escaped." With a deep sigh, he sat on the foot of the bed, which sagged beneath him.

The Little Boy screamed from under the mattresses. "Stop it! You're killing me! Get off!"

The Fat Man got back to his feet lifted the foot of the bed off the floor. "Olly olly all's in free!" he shouted, staring at the Little Boy curled defensively on the carpet.

The Little Boy screamed again, scrambled to his feet, and ran from the room. The Fat Man let the bed crash back to the floor and followed the Little Boy into the hall. He was just in time to see the Little Boy dash into the bathroom and slam the door, and then he heard the lock click. He smiled to himself. The Little Boy was trapped.

The Fat Man tapped politely on the bathroom door. "Come out, come out, wherever you are," he said sweetly. When no response came from within the water closet, he began banging harder on the portal. "Come on, you little dumpling, open up!" Through the door, the Fat Man heard the toilet flush and water run into the sink. "No," said the little boy. The Fat Man stood and thought for a bit. The Little Boy had plenty of water and all his creature comforts taken care of in that room. It wouldn't take him too long to discover the secret stash of junk food the Fat Man kept near the tub. Meanwhile, it was getting late, and the Fat Man's hunger pains were getting even worse. He had read somewhere once that a human being could survive for three weeks without food, but the Fat Man knew that he couldn't last for more than three hours. He had to eat, and this Little Boy was playing games.

"This isn't funny anymore!" he screamed at the Little Boy, then decided to switch tactics. Obviously, terror and intimidation weren't working. "Hey, kid," he whispered conspiratorially, "you want some candy?"

There was a long pause before the Little Boy answered. "What kind of candy?"

The Fat Man dipped his hands into his pockets. His Hershey bar had melted from his body heat; thick black liquid dripped from the wrapper. Licking his fingers clean, he stuck one end of the candy bar under the door. "I got chocolate."

He heard a tentative step approach the bathroom door. "My mom won't let me have candy. It's too fattening."

"Well, she's not here now, is she?" asked the Fat Man.

The Little Boy seemed to make up his mind at that, as the candy bar disappeared under the door. "There's plenty more where that came from," said the Fat Man.

"It's all gooey," whined the Little Boy.

"The rest is ice cold," replied the Fat Man, thinking about the cases of candy bars in his fridge. His mouth began to water. "You can have all you want and get as fat as you want. No one's going to stop you. All you have to do is open the door."

The Little Boy seemed to think about this for a while. "No," he said.

The Fat Man lost his temper. "All right, that does it! Get away from the door." He stepped back and took a deep breath, then lumbered forward at top speed. He smashed through the thin particle board of the door with an explosion of splinters. The Little Boy jumped into the bathtub and pulled the shower curtain shut. As if that could stop me now, the Fat Man thought. He tore the plastic curtain from its rings and grabbed the Little Boy with one meaty hand. The Little Boy started screaming again at the top of his lungs. The Fat Man wasn't worried about neighbors taking any notice of the screams; no one in the neighborhood had ever complained before.

Tucking the Little Boy under one arm, the Fat Man carried him downstairs to the kitchen. "I'm gonna eat ya," he hissed at the Little Boy, "I'm gonna eat ya!" The Little Boy continued screaming. The Fat Man turned his oven to broil. "Mmm, broiled boy, my favorite," he said, half to himself. He opened a cabinet next to the stove and peered into it. "Now, where is that extra large, boy-sized roasting pan?"

The Little Boy continued to scream and squirm in the Fat Man's grip. The Fat Man poked the Little Boy's head into the cupboard. "Do you see it?" he asked. "Go in there and get the largest pot you can find, okay?" With that, the Fat Man shoved the Little Boy into the cupboard.

The Little Boy twisted around and crouched there, staring back at the Fat Man. "Well? Do you see it?" asked the Fat Man. "Give it to me." The Little Boy shook his head no. "No? What do you mean, no? Don't make me come in there!" The Fat Man reached for the Little Boy, who bit him, burying his teeth into a meaty finger.

The Fat Man snatched his hand back, more in shock than pain. The Little Boy's teeth were too small to make any impression on his fat. "That's it, you're a dead Little Boy," shouted the Fat Man, bending over to pull the child from the cupboard.

But the Little Boy was already moving, scurrying between the Fat Man's legs. The Fat Man's upper torso continued to pursue the Little Boy, until the kitchen cupboard stopped him by coming into violent contact with the his pudgy forehead.

The Fat Man slapped a hand to his head and fell onto his Fat Ass. The Little Boy stopped on his way out the kitchen door to turn around, point at the Fat Man, and laugh hysterically. As the Fat Man got up to continue his pursuit of the Little Boy, hoping that it wouldn't be necessary to go up the stairs again, he heard the front door open. "Uh-oh," he thought, "game's over."

The Fat Man walked into the dining room, where he met a dark-haired woman who was holding the Little Boy protectively in her arms. The Little Boy was crying and saying "no, no," over and over. "What the hell's going on here?" the woman asked.

"You're late," the Fat Man told her.

"Traffic," she said. "There was an accident on Fourth. What have you two been doing?"

"Just playing around," the Fat Man answered, suddenly playing very close attention to a marinara stain on the dining room rug. "You could have called."

The woman looked closely at the Little Boy, who was still crying in her arms. "Did you give him chocolate?" she asked.

The Fat Man threw up his hands defensively. "He locked himself in the bathroom. I had to get him out somehow."

"Dammit, I told you I don't want you giving him fatty foods. What, do you want him to grow up looking like you? Why do you have to undermine everything I try to do?" The Fat Man swallowed his response.

The woman took a tissue from her purse, spit on it, and evaded the Little Boy's frantic efforts to rebuff her long enough to wipe his face clean. "C'mon," she said, "it's after your bedtime. Say goodbye to your father."

The Little Boy leaped from his mother's arms and ran to the Fat Man, grabbing as much of the over-sized belly as he could between his little arms. "'Bye, Dad," he said.

The Fat Man returned his son's embrace. "Bye, kid. We can play hide-and-seek again next week." The Little Boy's mother had to pry the two apart.

As they were leaving, the Little Boy shouted to the Fat Man. "I love you, Dad." Then the door shut behind him.

"I love you, too, son," he said to the closed door. Sighing, he trundled back to the kitchen, where he turned off the stove. Taking a fresh gallon of Rocky Road from the freezer, he carried it into the dining room and sat down. Grabbing a spoon, he dug into the carton, hoping that the ice cream would stop the pain for at least a few hours.

Devor M. Barton