HBTE Part 20

The eight FatandProud members sat in a circle in the semi dark. It was never a good idea to light any area too thoroughly. The Health and Diet people were known to drop in randomly and unexpectedly on suspected houses or even on addresses they simply hadn’t visited before.

“We’ve never gotten anyone out before,” Agent 19 said. Before the HDA Laws, she had been a librarian. She still wore her hair in a braid at the back of her head.

“We’ve never had to get anyone out before,” she pointed out.

“No sleepers,” Agent 48 said.


“Too bad we can’t send someone in to dynamite the place,” Agent 74 said. She had been a film critic. It still showed. They all laughed as quietly as they could.

“Very funny and- ” She stopped. “Wait a minute.”

“Entertaining thought,” Agent 95 said. “You planning to use old skim milk containers?” He was one of the few men involved in FatandProud who did not have a girlfriend in the organization. He had beenand still was a biophysicist. “Let them stay in the sun a bit and you can just smell them down with the assault.”

“Very funny,” she said. “But listen to this. How about if we just put them offline for a day? That would be enough of a divertissement and give us enough time to grab her and get moving.”

“Oh, good,” Agent 34 said. “Why don’t you just crash the rest of their servers, too, while you’re at it?” She was one of their two techies.

“Why, what an excellent idea,” she beamed. “And you are so going to help us.”

The rest of them looked up, bemused but somewhat hopeful for the first time in hours.

“I don’t do spying,” Agent 34 said.

“Who’s asking you to?” she said. “I just want us to do a simple overload. Why, it could happen to anyone.”

“You are about as cute as a sawn-off shotgun,” Agent 34 said. “But what do you have in mind?”

“Leon thinks I’m cute,” she said defensively.

“You’re adorable,” Agent 95 said. “If the dear boy weren’t my dear friend..”

“Glad you find him dear,” she said. “Okay.This is how we’re going to do it.”

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HBTE Part 19

As they had arranged months back, Marc texted “Touch.”

She knew that he would return to his house, then text her again. She tried to work on the new flow chart, but her heart was beating fast and her hands were getting clammy, just imagining what was happening to Agent 23.

They had heard too many reports. She knew the conditions Agent 23 would face in the Re-Ed center as a “morbid obese,” or MO. She knew about the forced exercising and the starvation diet. What was worse yet, she knew how Agent 23 would be forced to “renew” herself -read “brainwash”- herself into believing or pretending to believe that she would be worthless and a danger to society unless and until she lost weight which would put her below a BMI of 30. Which, for most of them, would be never, and would entail death by starvation, since they would never lose the weight necessary to put them below a “dangerous” BMI.

There were other whispered stories, worse than any of these. She tried not to think about them as she waited -god, she bloody hated this waiting, waiting- for Marc to reach his house and text her again.

It came in half an hour. “It’s definite.”

She texted back, “Do you know which one?”

“Center 265.”

She checked her present list. They had no one, not even a sleeper, in 265.

Don’t beat yourself up, kid, Marc texted. She knew the risk. We knew this would happen one day.

We knoew, she texted back. But that doesn’t mean I accept the idea of her staying there.

What are you going to do? Marc texted back.

Get her out.

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HBTE Part 18

She waited again for Marc’s next text. When it didn’t come after five minutes, she found herself dozing. Waking herself, she grabbed some diet coke -bought by Marc on the black market because it contained forbidden chemicals- and was starting to put next week’s assignments into a flow chart when the emergency ringer beeped on her cell.

This was the sound that she had hoped and kept hoping she would never hear. Yet she had programmed the cell so that it would ring exactly this way in a very particular situation.

The protocol, which FatandProud members and their helpers had gone over several times, was that she would let the emergency signal go five times. Then five more times. Then she would text the signaller with one word: Flying.

Sure enough, the emergency signal rang five more times. She waited a few seconds, then texted “flying.”

She waited a few seconds. The next part of the code came in text: fortune.

There was no mistaking it. Agent 23 had been taken to a Re-Education Center.

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HBTE Part 17

She found herself waiting a little impatiently for Marc’s response. True, he was a player and a heel of the worst sort, but he was so often their lifeline, their road to non-starvation in this Health and Diet hell the USA had brought upon itself..

But we didn’t, she thought. We were supposedly the majority.Why didn’t we speak up when we had the chance? Why didn’t we work day and night to convince people, convince everyone that a) health by any definition had nothing to do with how much one weighed, and b) health was not a number on a scale or a BMI, but how one felt and went about one’s days and life.

If only we had known..but that was fruitless.

She was about to try to text Marc again, although she wasn’t sure if it would do any good, when his response came.

“Just got weighed. As usual, got praised and earned a couple of credits. Probably good for some kind of tea, but the good stuff, the caffeinated kind, runs more on the black market. Looks like Agent 23 is still in line for the weigh-in, but too close to the head for me to try to ease her out somehow. Will keep watching.”

Unusually generous, she thought, for him to offer without stipulating what he wanted them to do later.

While waiting for his next text, she started to work on the supply requirements and traffic arrangements for the next day’s deliveries.

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She knew she would have to snap herself out of the reverie soon, very soon, and design some kind of rescue plan for Agent 23 around Marc’s spywork from the Weigh-In Center..but just a few more seconds, she coaxed herself, not wanting to leave the time before, which had seemed so difficult for fat people, for people of size at the time, but which now seemed like a paradise.

The strange thing, she thought, is that I love what Leon and I do because he is the one I do it with. If someone else were to kiss me and run his hands over my breasts and whisper to me how they remind him of two large cream cheese puffs, I would giggle and tell him to get a restaurant (which, come to think of it, wouldn’t work because only one restaurant gets away with serving cream cheese puffs these days, and people pay plenty for them). Weirdly, when Mark does what he does to me -as opposed to with me- I would enjoy it if anyone did it.

I think. Except, oddly enough, for Leon. I could not bear the thought of his doing any of those things because it would mean that he was no longer Leon, but someone I didn’t know.

It is probably a personally-manufactured dichotomy. Maybe somewhere there is one man -or person, depending on one’s orientation- who does and can do both to one woman. But I doubt it.

She turned back to the Board which pinpointed the positions of her agents in red and texted Marc in the Weigh-in Line.

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HBTE Part 15

“No one is dangerous to anyone else unless the endangered person wishes to encounter danger,” she said, sipping her own root beer slowly and looking him in the eye, but without any intended provocation.

“And suppose I do?”

“Then I recommend bungee jumping or demolition derbies.”

“What if that is not the form of danger I wish to encounter?” He swirled his root beer in the glass as if he were swirling wine.

Cute, she thought. “Have you ever considered chasing thunderstorms or tornadoes?”

“Why do you wish me to die?” he asked. “The world needs happy, able, full-bodied men like me.”

“So lots of women can fawn over you?”

“At least you noticed,” he said, permitting himself a small grin.

“It would have been difficult not to.”

“That’s one of the things they said about you,” he said.

“Who and which things?”


“Oh, really? Checking me out?”

“Guilty. And unabashedly so.”

“Hmm,” she said. “Well, you can gab. And you don’t gush.”

“You are awarding me points for that?” he said.

“For that, and the fact that you seem amused.”

“Does that gain me enough points to leave with you?”

“Depends on where you think we’re going when we leave.”

“I know where I want to go,” he said.

If he says “into your bed,” he’s so out of here, she thought. “And that is?”

“I want to walk near the lake with you.”

“Oh,” she said, and like Molly Bloom in Ulysses, she said, “oh,” again.

“Am I to take that as a yes?” he said, sipping his root beer, then setting it down.

“I suppose,” she said, taking a last sip of root beer and setting her glass down not far from his.

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Then she thought of Leon. The very first thing she thought of when she envisioned Leon was his smile. She had never known a man who managed to embrace her (and, she thought sometimes, bed her) with his smile alone. Leon smiled as if he were smiling for the entire world.

She had once read that at the age of 46 -which she was now- sometimes women had men come into their lives who resembled the sun. With his warmth, big strong body, expansive personality, red hair and crinkling blue eyes with multiple smile lines, she felt the sun rose in the room when he walked into it.

And yet she had been so determined not to like him when she’d met him. It had been at her second FAP event. And the FAP women were literally swarming over him, hugging, kissing, goosing, embracing, sighing, and yes, loving. She understood why, but was not about to be a part of his fan club, she told herself.

She removed herself from the loving fray and went to stand near the drinks table, where she refreshed herself with a root beer, blessing them for having it, since root beer was her favorite.

She was standing alone, drinking her root beer, when he said from nearby, “And who is this mysterious lady with a touch of danger about her?”

“Are you referring to me?” she said in as close as she could get to a monotone, or as close to one as her cultural heritage and musical training would let her.

“I was,” he said.

She liked that he didn’t toss it off with a joke about referring to someone else, and that he hadn’t backed down. She saw instantly that he was confident enough not to feel he had to back down. His size and attitude probably carried him through most conflicts without his feeling that he wanted or needed to back down.

“I am not dangerous,” she said.

“You are,” he said, pouring some root beer into a glass and tossing a couple of ice cubes in. “To me.”

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