His name is Carl.
He goes to school for sixteen years and is a man. He has a B.A. in math or something.
Carl is from the South but he falls in love with a girl from New Jersey and so he goes to New Jersey. The two of them travel from the South to New Jersey in Carl’s car, a green 1965 Ford Falcon with the dealer’s logo screwed on the right side of the trunk down low, near the bumper.
Carl drives because he believes the man should drive. He holds the car to a safe, steady course because there are maniacs on the road.
The girl’s name is a derivative of Alice. It is Alicia. She has black hair and is pretty, in a mild way.
“What is your favorite quote?” someone asks her.
“The Charge of the Light Brigade,” she answers.
She wants to write children’s books in the style of Babar.
Carl, too, has theories.
“You’re too fat now,” he tells the girl as she crunches tuna fish and lettuce, “and you’re eating again.”
The girl has packed sandwiches for the trip from the South to New Jersey. It will take quite a while.
“Leave me alone,” she responds.
“Do you have any soda?” asks Carl.
“Do you want to play cows?” asks the girl.
They stare at the Smokey Mountains.
Carl has never been to New Jersey. He doesn’t even know how it looks. He imagines oil refineries. “The gas islands are named after famous people,” says the girl.
“Oh,” says Carl.
He fell in love with the girl when he met her at a party. The girl had been wearing a dress.
They had been introduced by a mutual friend and later gone to see movies together. Carl had been nervous and excited. He had asked the girl if she went out with many guys and she had said sometimes. What was he to think?
With no resistance on the girl’s part, Carl slowly undressed her a week later and vice versa. They told each other they were in love. Carl quit seeing the rest of his friends and the girl moved in with him. She made his bed and did his laundry though she knew in her heart that there were certain things she would never be able to fully discuss with Carl. Carl eventually returned to doing his laundry himself because he had his own way of doing things and because he was embarrassed at the possibility of the girl seeing stains in his underwear. This later wore off, in a mild way.
They played cows as they went to New Jersey and when they got there they bought a house and had a baby.
Carl was a happy father. When the baby was three, Carl had an affair with the woman across the street. He would take his baby over to play with the woman’s baby and he and the woman would go into the bedroom and play around.
“unnnhuh-hurh,” said the woman.
There was little actual intercourse for fear of pregnancy.
“I dislike condoms,” said Carl.
The woman was seven years older than Carl and much fatter than his wife, especially in the hips and thighs and stomach and breasts. The woman would lie on the bed with her legs apart and Carl would lie below her with his head resting on the thick nest of her pubic hair and read the stretch marks on the inside of her legs. Sometimes, if the woman moved just right, they spelled out college songs.
It had begun Saturday.
Alicia had suggested going over to visit the woman and her husband.
“Neat idea,” said Carl.
It was a nice sunny Saturday.
“Oh, hi,” said the woman, opening the front door.
“Hi,” said Alicia.
The woman had a bare living room with a Van Gogh print over the sofa. There were no curtains on her picture window.
Carl and Alicia sat on the sofa and the woman and her husband, Henry, sat in two armchairs across from the sofa.
Alicia and the woman talked about Babar. Carl smiled and Henry nodded in his direction.
The woman giggled. “I need to take off some weight,” she giggled.
“Oh, no,” said Carl. “Oh no.”
“I’ve got supper on the stove,” said Alicia.
“Wait,” said the woman. “I have some pink lemonade.”
“My favorite,” said Carl. “Oh, boy. Pink lemonade.”
The woman rose from her armchair, oozed, bobbed freely into space. She gained speed and straightened a pudgy forearm that rammed open the kitchen door.
Carl stuck an elbow into Alicia’s rib. “Big,” said Carl.
Alicia watched Henry the husband. “Shush,” said Alicia.
Carl got up from the sofa. “Going to help her,” he said.
Alicia looked out the picture window. “Look how nice our house looks from here,” she said.
“Going to help your wife,” said Carl to Henry.
Carl went into the kitchen. The woman was crushing ice in the sink.
Carl didn’t know what to say.
The woman didn’t say anything.
“You really are a hippo,” said Carl.
“Tee hee,” said the woman.
“You really are an elephant, aren’t you?” said Carl.
The woman giggled uncontrollably. Suddenly, she stopped. She looked at the door to the living room. Her hand slid across the sink and gathered a handful of crushed ice. She poured the ice into a glass. She ran her cold hand between Carl’s legs.
Fat eyes stared him down.
“Like what you see?” said the woman.
The woman wore stretch pants and was not even attractive. Carl knew this. He liked to pull the woman’s pants down and watched her body bob up and down as she giggled.
There was a point when it was over.
“I think we’d better quit,” said the woman.
“I think you’re right,” said Carl.
“We both have our families,” said the woman. “I wouldn’t want to lose my family.”
“I love my wife,” said Carl.
“And I love my Henry,” said the woman. “I think we’d better quit.”
Henry is the woman’s second husband. The woman was a WAC and met her first husband in the Air Force. She tells this to Carl in her kitchenette over coffee. Carl looks at the yellow flowers in the wallpaper and tries to imagine the woman in the Air Force.
The woman comes to orgasm quicker than Carl’s wife. She is bigger and more imposing. Her thighs rub against each other beneath her crotch. Once her dress is off, the woman’s thighs bulge against her slip like water inside a balloon. When she turns red beneath Carl he thinks of nothing in particular.
One day the woman is sick and vomits. Carl tries to talk to her through the closed door of the bathroom. Outside, Carl, Jr. swings on the woman’s swings with the woman’s daughter.
“You know that I am several years older than you,” says the woman in between vomits.
When Carl can stand it no longer, he opens the door. The woman is kneeling before the commode and the top half of her dress is pushed down to her waist. She bathes her neck and breasts with a brown washcloth.
Over the rim of the bowl Carl can see brackish water. There is a smell. The bathroom window is open and Carl hears Carl, Jr. and the woman’s daughter shouting at each other. They seem far away. He hopes they haven’t run into the street.
“Do you want me to do something?” says Carl, amazed at the woman’s sickness. He does not want to do anything.
The woman says nothing. She bends over the commode and motions Carl away. She vomits.
Carl is amazed by the color of the woman’s bile, by her exposed breasts, by the soft rolls of fat below her breasts transformed into hard crystalline ridges. He is amazed by the strength of the human esophagus to enable it to expel bodily juices in such a manner. He closes the bathroom door and kneels by the woman. She grabs his wrist and holds it tightly, her body bowed over the toilet bowl, her hair tied loosely at the nape of her fat neck.
Carl takes the brown washcloth from the woman and bathes her neck and forehead. The woman seems to have a fever. Carl wonders if he should call a doctor. The smell is worse now. The woman takes a deep breath and Carl feels her relax against him. Carl has an erection. He slowly bathes her breasts. The woman reaches to flush the commode. There is a rush of water and Carl can feel a breeze through the window above his head. He can hear his son’s high voice again.
“I think I’m alright now,” says the woman.
The woman smiles. The woman puts her hand on Carl’s head as she rises to rinse her mouth at the sink.
Carl touches the enormous flesh of the woman’s thighs. He is surprised and delighted. He sweats.
“You can go back now,” says the woman. “I’m alright now.”
One day the woman takes Carl into the basement. Down they go. In the woman’s basement are basement things. Pool table, cheap bar, hot water heater, dusty storm shutters. The woman flicks a switch hidden behind the bar and the basement lights turn pink. Everything is pink.
“On the pool table,” says a woman with a fat pink face.
The pool table will barely support them. It creaks.
Carl is amazed by the erotic quality of it all.
There is no longer any fear of pregnancy. The woman says she has “taken care of it.” Carl does not know what this means. Yet he has no fear.
Carl just got the refrigerator paid for, has one month where he saves two hundred bills, and the car needs a new carburetor says a greasy man. Okay, says Carl. His wife joins the PTA.
When Carl hugs the fat woman his arms don’t even go all the way around. It’s like a cartoon. He believes everyone knows. He’s told his wife, and he doesn’t see any way Henry can’t know.
Carl lies awake at night.
“What are important things?” he asks.
“I love you,” says Alicia. “Our home is important to me and Carl, Jr.” She has recently had her first children’s book published. She goes to sleep.
Carl quits seeing the fat woman. The whole thing has become very old and very boring. He doesn’t understand his former self at all.
“Good-bye,” he tells the fat woman.
They hug each other and agree to continue with discretion.
At Christmas they exchange Christmas cards. They dress in each other’s red Christmas clothes. They lie together beneath each other’s green Christmas trees. They bounce on top of each other until their faces are covered with white whiskers of sweat.
They do it again.
They shake like bowls full of jelly.