An erect Harry Grimm looks up and down at the teenaged Toni Ann and thinks she will be my new steak. She holds a salted, malted frozen beverage in her left hand and sucks the froth through a neon straw as she browses through the rack of black, XL band t-shirts, silently considering the ways they can lift her and separate her. She wants to float, she tells the salesman, and he looks through foggy irises and says ok with his wet horseshoe lips. Toni Ann bounces and Harry Grimm lurks behind a rotating, studded belt display; she should be a milkshake model.
The irregular bobbing of her blackened dumpling torso contrasts with the blinding bleached mall corridors and the fluorescence of its whinnying, scurrying, flip-flopped skanks. Harry Grimm shakes now that he spies the hairstyle this young sweet has chosen to express her raging individuality: auburn mushroom and braided rat tail, following the trail of her spine and reaching its end on an open slice of soft.
Harry Grimm’s forehead is shiny but the black dumpling absorbs his forehead’s beacon. He traces her menthol trail with his nostrils, backpedaling through the mall’s infinite loop, finding the face of his steak swollen with a new eyebrow piercing, seated alone at a pancake booth, swallowing raspberry stacks like a snake with horse’s teeth. He dries his forehead with pilfered napkins and sidles into the booth across from Toni Ann.
He is saying without thinking and not saying what he is thinking. Who can remember first words anyway? She likes dragons; she thinks she’s invisible; she smokes cigarettes like joints. She’s obsequious, but not obnoxious. She is saying and he is absorbing and thinking and listening and congratulating himself on his new steak.
-What’s in the bag?
-Some band t-shirts. They’re not my favorite bands, but my favorite bands don’t sell their merchandise in malls.
-Are you here with friends?
-Are you here with friends?
-My friends’ work here.
-How old are you?
-I have a job. I drive a limousine. Wanna see it?
They ash in the hot lot and walk side by side, accidentally bumping hands with apprehension. Harry Grimm’s scalding stretch is the color of wet pavement. His forehead is shiny (again) when he introduces the vehicle without smugness. Toni Ann doesn’t notice, instead swooning over the cleft palette scar on his upper lip, hidden beneath a wisp of moustache, corresponding beautifully with the gap in his front teeth when he smiles. Hm. His personality is larger than his frame. The conversation is chugging and Toni Ann is suddenly in a hurry when she asks to see the limousine’s brown leather innards.
-Where are my keys?
There is no miscommunication. He opens the door like he was an actual gentleman and slides her inside, startled by the stench of unwashed underpants. An untied, heavy-duty garbage bag spills the contents of bachelor snacks onto the velvet carpet, pools of mystery liquids creating tiny bogs of coagulated flavor beneath its surface. Toni Ann has never been inside a limousine before, but she doesn’t believe they are normally steeped in a man’s primal scent. Harry Grimm offers to make Toni Ann an appletini and moves a pile of greasy plates from the leather seating so Toni Ann can stretch and maximize the comfort of her body’s full girth.
-The first time I was in a limo I was driving.
It’s stuffy enough for Toni Ann to remove her black sweatshirt in one female motion, extending her torso ceiling-ward and allowing her belly to pour from beneath her undershirt. As Harry Grimm mixes the drinks he pretends not to notice, though he soaks in and cherishes this moment from his periphery. Harry Grimm chuckles with a smile then pretends it is a cough. Eyes on their respective glasses as they clink in celebration of leaving their comfort squares.
-Can I trust you?
-I drive a limo.
They talk about more stupid stuff, who cares, he is sweet to her and she likes the taste of this drink. It’s gossamer green and when he flips on the disco lights the drink glows. Cool!
-You’d look better in glitter.
-I have bolleyball practice on Monday night, and a game Tuesday.
-Can I come to the game?
-Ok. It starts at seven pm, but I can go out after that.
-Won’t you be sweaty?
-Yeah. But I can shower with the girls after I game.
-Are you any good?
-I keep extra shorts in my locker.
Harry Grimm drops Toni Ann at the food court’s entrance and watches her tightness slack. When she vanishes from the sight of his tinted windshield he washes the dishes, does the laundry and vacuums the rug because he has an eighth grade formal in a few hours and needs to start picking kids up at seven. Luckily, all errands can be run within the parking lot.
At Bolleyball practice and Toni Ann confides in her fellow frumps, wriggling her hips and vigorously running her thick palms over her contours to exert her budding, hyper sexuality:
-Tomorrow I will have a man watching, so make me look good.
The team agrees that Toni Ann is at best an average player, so nobody can understand her selfish demands. They unanimously agree to bench her in spite and deny her for the post-game team shower because she won’t meet the sweat standards. Perfect.
Using a sour stained shard of bathroom mirror Clown applies a facial makeup of ground beef and dead chiggers. A massive dump of a woman thumps her fist on the bathroom door then enters without confirmation of agreeable entry. She has shit on her forehead and bulging, ribbed grey bags beneath her eyes. He dabs a dollop of sour cream on the tip of his nose and she says she doesn’t follow current events. He puckers his lips at his own reflection. This is the house where hell goes to shit.
Harry Grimm sits in the ‘home’ bleachers surrounded on all sides by parents and teachers and kids. The table in front of the gymnasium is selling purple sweatshirts and popcorn and candy to support the booster club. There aren’t any traditionally popular kids playing bolleyball, so naturally attendance is sparse, making Harry Grimm’s existence as an outsider extra apparent to every spectator, though nobody stares. The place is familiar; is it his Alma Mater?
The game begins and Toni Ann is benched. Harry Grimm has no interest in the stake of the game, so he scans the ugly yet genuine faces of the crowd, guessing as to which couple Toni Ann belongs. Through obtuse observations he narrows down to two: the first is scholarly, with stern, polite faces. Father is spectacled, wearing a brown cardigan and trim beard with circular lenses. Mother is also spectacled, with gray bob. The second is a man who has used the contents of a burrito for his makeup, seated next to a woman who should have stayed home. (It’s obvious she doesn’t follow current affairs.) The crowd is focused on the moves of these supple young athletes, and Toni Ann is still benched. Harry Grimm thinks about asking each couple for permission to make their daughter his new steak, but reconsiders because that would be weird, right? The cool English teacher with a gold earring and fashionable mullet argues with the coach about benching Toni Ann. He thinks he knows what love is.
Since Toni Ann didn’t perform she didn’t need to shower. They are the first to pull out of the parking lot, beating the impending after shower traffic jam. Harry Grimm guns it over the speed bumps. Toni Ann snuggles beneath his twiggy bicep. He demonstrates the traction of his ride by taking the scenic route through the mud gulch on the way to pick up some fresh supplies as she plays the blabbler. He leaves her in the cab nursing an appletini and gathers all the necessary equipment: funnel, hose, edible, cream based lubricant, cake batter, cake frosting, bacon, heavy whipping cream, sweetened, condensed milk, etc.
A drunken Toni Ann sweetly asks for another appletini, then clarifies her benching: as team captain I participate only when my team is losing on the brink. She won’t agree to sweatiness unless the circumstances are agreeable. She would rather save her sweat for after the match anyway. Wink. By now Harry Grimm knows when not to listen.
-Toni Ann, I want you to be my steak.
-I want to be your steak.
Her body welcomes him inside of it. Enough body mass between the two of them for an orgy. Everything works. They sip each other’s fluids and the steak is consummated. Toni Ann airs her flaps. It’s important to let these spaces breathe. Harry Grimm produces the funnel and hose. Toni Ann is still rare and needs to be taught the correct way to hold the hose in her lips and breathe through her nose as she chugs the heavy cream. There is always a little spillage the first time. It’s cute. Harry Grimm hasn’t eaten a steak in a while, but he didn’t forget how. She squeezes him and he squeezes her back and says you did a really good job from the bench today.
-I’m sure your parents must be wet.
-My parents are always wet.
-Oh, don’t say that.
-It’s true! They’re wet all the time.
Her rents lick gruel from each other’s bristly privates while their pancake princess parades her bubbling chub to the food court strolling security men without glasses or guns. All of Toni Ann’s crossroads occur in the mall parking lot; it is her educational institution. This is the place where babies peddle heroin and sesame scented blokes finger teenies on the line for the dumpster. This is the place Harry Grimm takes his showers and sometimes washes his hands. This is the place for which Toni Ann will leave behind her sexually supercilious rents.
They celebrate the breaching of her first two hundred pounds by installing a deep fryer in the leather-padded seats. Harry Grimm is normally a lazy dude, but has plans formulated for the installation of a toilet beneath his woman when she becomes too big to leave the limousine, which now locks from the outside. Harry Grimm belies his frequency of employment as he angrily forces collops of bacon down her throat; the bed of his limousine is more frequently a mess than it is ready for use: the first paroxysm. Toni Ann typically walks everywhere, which is stopping immediately.
Harry Grimm smiles when he thinks about all of the kids at school spreading rumors of an illicit pregnancy. He smiles when he thinks about Toni Ann’s parents ignoring her growing belly, too involved in the scooping of cold pinto beans and cheerios from each other’s anal bowls. She is exclusively funnel fed now. This formidable process is ongoing, so Harry Grimm will let his steak leave to complete her finals until she becomes a part of the scenery. She will talk to the children with chocolate on her hands. Now he drugs the appletinis and throws mink garbage blankets over her so she appears like an innocuous lump when picking his eighth graders up for their formals.
-Don’t mind the lump, it’s just my slumbering steak.
The cool English teacher with a gold earring and fashionable mullet stays in bed all day when Toni Ann stops coming to class.
Harry Grimm is not a deep man. His pleasures are simple, but are they monstrous? He likes to be squashed. Does that make him a monster? Days and weeks of boredom now, but with a television installed next to a deep fryer she will have plenty to keep her occupied. Toni Ann lives on the toilet. No books. Steak is a pet word; burger is literal. Maybe if Harry Grimm became a famous painter the public would be accepting of this fetish. Jason enjoins Harry Grimm to start them young. Soon Toni Ann will become too massive for the limousine to operate. Harry Grimm will have to call his contact in the tow business. Toni Ann will have to remain inside for the limousine compaction. After all, he can always get another limo when business picks up. This will be one of the worst things to happen to me, thinks Harry Grimm.