by mrs momona © 2017
It was a huge story in 2002 when the news broke that a U.S. Marine guard at the United States Embassy in the small country of Gojazan had been kidnapped. All the major news organizations sent reporters to Trbuh, the dusty little town which was capital of the small country nestled in the mountainous region of the Balkans in the south of what had been Yugoslavia before the break-up of that country in the 1990’s.
The young American, Pfc. Thomas Bradshaw, age 19, had been a guard at the embassy for only a month. One late summer day, his day off, Pfc. Bradshaw told his Marine buddies in the small contingent guarding the embassy that he was going out for a while to meet a girl who had passed him a note a few days before. He never returned. A couple of days later, news filtered to CNN that Pfc. Bradshaw had been kidnapped by one of the many factions which made up Gojazan society. CNN, Fox, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS and other organizations all descended on Trbuh, but nothing could be learned about the fate of the young Marine.
The networks ran analysis pieces about Gojazan. One of the many regions which has become independent in the aftermath of the breakup of Yugoslavia, the population was composed of numerous clans, all of whom, it seemed, had grudges against each other as well as the weak central government in Trbuh. The country was a patchwork of religions—Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Shia Moslem, Sunni Moslem and Jews; languages—Serbian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Turkish, Albanian and Romanian; and even two alphabets, Latin and Cyrillic. The United States had an embassy in Trbuh primarily to monitor events and news from the larger, even more tumultuous countries of the region. United States embassies and consulates throughout the world had small contingents of U.S. Marines assigned to guard them. These Marines didn’t engage in combat and served strictly as the equivalent of security guards for the buildings and staff.
So why was Pfc. Bradshaw kidnapped? Who knew? The President went on national media and promised that the United States would do all it could to bring Pfc. Bradshaw back home. The Department of State and Department of Defense could do little but wait to hear from whatever group had kidnapped the young American marine.
The media simultaneously descended on a small rural town in the state of Mississippi to interview the family of Pfc. Bradshaw and whoever else was in camera range. Mrs. Bradshaw, a heavy-set woman, tearfully talked about “Tommy”, her youngest son. Mr. Bradshaw, a lanky construction worker, stood by stoically while his wife spoke. The anxiety he felt was obvious on his weather-worn face. The young Marine’s two older brothers, one a truck driver and one a tree trimmer, stood with their wives behind their parents in camera range, the young men looking glum, the young women teary-eyed. A couple of toddlers, confused by the sadness of the family, completed the family grouping. The interviewers made sure to pose the grieving family against the background of their neat yard, the trees festooned with newly tied yellow ribbons.
As the family spoke, Mrs. Bradshaw held a picture of her son in his Marine Corps dress uniform, taken right after he completed basic training only the year before. Broad-shouldered, with crew-cut blond hair, blue-eyes, a chiseled chin and a wide smile, the young Marine looked like the visual representation of an all-American boy.
Tommy Bradshaw had always been a typical suburban kid. He did OK in school and was an average student. He loved video games, spending long hours playing Xbox. As the “baby” of the family he was teased by his older brothers because of his love of video games and his efforts to skip out on his chores, which his loving mother always excused. He was her baby, after all. Tommy shrugged off the teasing and hero-worshipped Tony and Terry. They were both athletes and little Tommy went to every one of their games and hung around in the weight room they set up in the family basement. By high school, Tommy was following in the footsteps of his brothers, playing football and baseball and lifting weights. He loved doing bench presses, squats, and leg raises. He soon developed a toned muscular physique, which he proudly displayed during the warm months while fishing and swimming at the local lake or doing yardwork with his shirt off. When he wasn’t lifting weights, he was tinkering with his car, a beat up 1978 Datsun which his oldest brother had passed down to him when he was old enough to get his license.
While the endless number of reporters asked endless questions, all the Bradshaw family thought back to how Tommy had come to join the Marine Corps. During March of his senior year a Marine recruiter came to the local high school and met with Tommy and many of his buddies. Right off, Tommy decided to join up. The lure of seeing the world and doing something good for his country were the main selling points. The recruiter’s sharp-looking uniform and stories of the camaraderie with his buddies in the Corps added to Tommy’s enthusiasm.
That weekend the family gathered for Sunday dinner, Halfway through the meal Tommy announced his plans. His mom started to cry, his father looked serious, his older brothers started to laugh, and his sisters-in-law both looked concerned
“You, Tommy, a Marine?”, laughed his brother Tony. “You’re a mama’s boy.” Tony, the oldest son, always had the most responsibilities while growing up and felt his kid brother Tommy was allowed to “get away with murder” by their mom and dad.
Tommy blushed. Much as he respected his older brothers, he hated it when they treated him like a kid. “Look, the recruiter told me I’m a prime candidate for the Marines. He said I’m in the best shape of any of the guys he met with today.” While saying this, he involuntarily flexed his pecs. He was proud of his physique and looked down at his older brothers, both of whom had let themselves go, developing small but prominent pot bellies. after getting girlfriends and having kids.
This time brother Terry spoke up, “Yeah, right, Lardass (his pet name for his kid brother, whose big muscular bubble butt helped him earn the position of catcher on the high school baseball team). The minute you go to the mess hall and find out that Mom’s not doing the cooking, and Mom isn’t there to make excuses for you when you don’t do your chores, you’ll desert and hop the first bus home.”
The blond young man turned red and scowled at the taunting. His butt was big but it was all muscle. Furthermore, his two older brothers never took him seriously. Who were they to criticize him?
At this point, Mom Bradshaw’s quiet tears turned to loud sobs. “But Tommy, think of the danger. You always said you planned to work with Dad or one of your brothers after high school.”
Tommy drawled quietly, “Mom, I’m almost 18 and this is something I just gotta do. After I finish my hitch with the Corps I’ll be back to y’all, I promise. I just gotta see the world first, and….well, prove myself. Besides, it’s just the right thing to do after 9-11!” His brothers stopped their laughing, sensing the seriousness of their “baby brother”.
Now Pop Bradshaw spoke up. “Well, Tommy, if this is something you want to do, and you’ve thought it through, we all will support you. I know you’ve always kept your commitments and joining the Marines is the biggest commitment you’ve ever made.”
Tony and Terry didn’t dare say anything else to their kid brother. Their father’s word was law. Mom Bradshaw dried her tears. She realized her husband understood her youngest son’s way of thinking more than she could. She’d have to let her “baby boy” leave the nest some time, and now was the time.
So, Mom and Pop Bradshaw signed all the paperwork and Tommy was all set to join the United States Marine Corps as soon as he graduated from high school.
So, Tommy—who now at age 17 and a half let it be known he preferred to be called “Tom”—left for boot camp at Parris Island in the swamps of South Carolina two weeks after he graduated from high school. He remembered his brothers’ teasing and never complained about the hard work and Spartan food. In fact, he thrived on the challenge and got through the 13 week program with some commendations.
A ten-day leave at home followed completion of basic training. Accompanied by the local Marine recruiter, Tom went back to his old High School wearing his dress uniform: tailored khaki shirt and tie, sky blue trousers, and white peaked cap. His muscular torso snugly filled both shirt and trousers. His teachers were impressed by his maturity; the female students all swooned at the sight of this handsome Marine and the male students were all envious. His family were all impressed by his self-confidence and politeness. Even his brothers Tony and Terry had to admit that their kid brother was now a man.
Next came a month of Marine Combat Training at Parris Island, required of all Marines. Tom breezed through that. After that, came training for Tom’s MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). After serious consideration of the dozens of jobs. Tom chose MOS 8151—Marine Security Guard, a battalion of Marines who guarded United States Embassies and Consulates throughout the world. Tom joined the Marines to see the world, he reasoned, and this MOS would be the way to do it. He applied and, after a review of his record, was accepted for the MOS. So, off to Quantico, Virginia, for more training.
Again, Tom did very well in his training program. After six months, he was granted a 10-day leave before reporting to his first duty station—the embassy in Trbuh, Gojazan for a 12-month tour of duty. While home on leave, Tom spent time with his family and old friends. He was pleased that he had defied the doubts of his older brothers and completed all his USMC training with distinction.
But where was Pfc. Bradshaw? No one seemed to know. The weak central government of Gojazan was no help. Each of the many clans and factions in the mountainous country spoke up and suggested that another group was to blame—each valley contained a clan of extended family members, suspicious and wary of the people who lived in the next valleys. No one really knew, or if they knew, they weren’t saying.
Investigators from the Defense Department, the Department of State, and the CIA descended on the ramshackle town of Trbuh. They focused on Pfc. Bradshaw’s five fellow Marines, members of Marine Security Guard contingent. They stated that their friend Tom had told them that an attractive local girl seemed to be flirting with him over the past week. She had given him a note in broken English suggesting they to on a picnic on Tom’s day off. He never returned. Did they have the note? No, Tom kept it. Did they see it? Yes, but it was just a few sentences. It didn’t mean anything to them at the time.
One of the Marines recalled warning Tom to be careful, but he had replied that he could handle anything. “Too much self-confidence” harrumphed one of the investigators. When the Marines heard this, they exchanged glances and smiled to themselves. That was Tom, all right. A nice enough guy but somewhat cocky. They recalled joking with Tom about how he was always admiring his muscular physique in the mirror after showering in the lavatory they shared in their quarters.
They discussed the training they had received about acceptable cultural practices in Gojazan, and Tom laughingly replied that he knew enough not to have intercourse with the girl (although Tom had used the “f” word) but if some action came his way he wouldn’t mind. This led to more harrumphing from the elderly investigator from the Department of State, who constantly had a sour expression on his pinched face. He looked like the last time he had sex was in 1951.
The investigation led nowhere. Every local who was questioned denied seeing the missing Marine. All efforts to locate the girl were unsuccessful, too. The girl was described by the Marines as “beautiful, with dark hair and eyes and large breasts”, but that described half the girls in Trbuh.
Over the weeks, no leads to the fate of Pfc. Bradshaw appeared. No statements were issued by anyone claiming to be holding the Marine. No hostage demands were made. Tom Bradshaw seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth. Was he even still alive? No one seemed to know. Experts on Gojazan weren’t surprised. In this country, clan and family rivalries and vendettas were common and there was a strict code of honor. Anyone who did know anything about the fate of the Marine would keep their mouth shut. Fear of retribution kept people from doing anything which might be seen as helping “outsiders”.
As time went by and no trace of Pfc. Bradshaw was found, the media lost interest. The reporters and satellite trucks went elsewhere. Government officials kept contact with the Bradshaw family on a regular basis, but only to tell them that there was no news.
Tom Bradshaw woke up in a dark room. He had a headache and felt groggy. He heard roosters crowing. Where was he? He slowly remembered what had happened. The day before—was it really the day before?—had been his day off. He remembered getting ready for the picnic with the girl who called herself “Ana”. Wow! She was so exotic looking…dark brown hair and big brown eyes…a cute ass and the biggest boobs he had ever seen. He wore his best casual clothes wanting to make a good impression.
They met at the park she had mentioned in the note she passed him. She spread a blanket on the grass in a secluded area, screened by a small grove of trees from the rest of the park, and motioned to him to sit down.
The first words she said intrigued him Her voice was soft and sweet. “My name Ana. What your name?”
“You most beautiful man I ever see. Eyes blue like cornflowers. Long eyelashes. Hair yellow like ripe wheat. Skin like ripe peach, so pink. Big muscles. So beautiful.” While saying this, Ana leaned forward, exposing the cleavage between her enormous full breasts.
Tom’s eyes opened wide. “You’re beautiful too, Ana, the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.”
Ana smiled as she replied, “You like me?”
“Oh yeah!”, replied Tom, his eyes focused on her breasts. He could feel himself getting hard.
Then…wham! Someone must have hit him from behind.
So here he was, lying on a bed in a strange room. As dawn broke, Tom could make out from the looks of the simple furnishings and the sounds of roosters crowing that he was somewhere in the countryside.
Suddenly the door opened and a man strode in. About 5’9” tall, Tom’s own height, with dark hair and brown eyes, he was dressed in a white button front shirt and dark pants. He looked to be about 30. The stubble of a beard unshaven for a couple of days dusted his plump cheeks and double chin. His shirt was stretched over a prominent belly which bulged over his waistband.
“Hello, my braht. My name is Darko and I think you must have many questions.”
Tom thought his voice sounded friendly enough.
“Where am I? Why am I here? Where’s Ana?” The questions came out in a rush.
“First things first, my braht. Ana is my sister. I am her oldest brother. After we finish talking, we will have breakfast. Ana and my wife Slava are preparing it now. You are here because my father wants you here.”
“Who is your father?”, Tom asked quietly. He decided the safest approach in this situation would be to act calm. That’s what the training he received advised for situations where a Marine’s life was in danger and he had no weapon.
“My father is the Shef, the headman or boss of our family and our whole clan. His word is law in this valley. Later today you will be taken to meet him, my braht.”
“Where am I? What’s going to happen to me?” Tom’s voice betrayed his anxiety even as he tried to appear calm.
“Not to worry, my braht. You do what the Shef tells you and you will live a long happy life.”
“And if I don’t?”
Darko’s plump features scowled and his hand touched his crotch. Tom’s eyes widened.
“My braht, you do not want to know that. It is…unpleasant for men to discuss.”
The words poured out of Tom’s mouth now. “OK, OK. But I’m a Marine. I bet they’re looking for me right now. Besides, my mom and dad back home will be worried about me.”
Darko relaxed some. “As for your parents, we will see. All in good time. As for the Marines and the United States government and the Gojazan government, my braht, they will never find you.”
Tom still was confused, hoping his parents would be told he was safe but still wondering why he was being held. But there was one thing that puzzled him that could be answered at once, “Darko, what does ‘braht’ mean?”
Darko laughed. “Ah, I see what you ask. Your name is Thomas Bradshaw, Private First Class in the United States Marine Corps. That is what your papers say. Is that correct?”
“Well,” Darko continued, “in our culture I can call you Thomas or Tom, whatever you prefer, and you can call me Darko since we are of the same generation. But you will be my braht soon and it’s easier for me to address you by that term now.”
“But what does it mean?”
“The meaning in English is ‘brother’. Our word for ‘sister’ is ‘sestra’. You see, I know English very well. I went to technical school in Germany with some other young men from Gojazan when I was your age and we all had to study German, and also English or French. I chose English. I’m pretty good, no? I even teach my sister Ana some English. She is a smart girl.”
“Yes, but what’s all this about ‘brother’”?
Darko laughed. “OK, OK, my braht. I call you that as a term of affection. After tomorrow, you will really be my braht. You will call me ‘braht’ and my wife Slava you will call ‘sestra’. If the Shef approves after he meets you today, you will marry my sister in two days.”
“It is simple, Tom. You will marry my sister day after tomorrow and become one of our family.”
Tom really was puzzled. “But I don’t want to marry your sister and I don’t want to live anywhere but in my home town.”
His voice becoming serious, Darko replied, “My sister loves you and told my father you love her. Ana is, as you say in English, ‘spoiled rotten’. She is the only daughter and the youngest child. She should have been married three years ago when she turned fourteen and she should have at least two children by now, but she refused every young man my father and mother selected for her. She has turned down three young men so far, all good men. After she turned down Erion, the third, the elders of the family told my father he should beat her until she agreed to marry Erion. But…my father could never do that to her.”
“But what makes Ana think I love her?”
“Hah, my braht!”, Darko laughed. “Ana told my wife that the first time you saw her, when she was walking down the street past your guard station at the embassy, she could see that you were staring at her. She thought you were beautiful, that is her word, I know in English the word to describe a good-looking manis ‘handsome’, but she thought you were beautiful like no man she had ever seen before. She was in love with your beauty! She is a young girl and doesn’t know what is true love. She started to walk by your post every time she went to Trbuh and could see you staring at her as she stared at you.”
“…But…but I was just flirting with her, she’s beautiful and she’s got the biggest….”
Darko cut him off with a smile on his face. “Yes, I know my little sister’s…how do you say…attributes. She reminds me of my wife Slava when we were married six years ago after I returned from Germany. After you marry, Ana will bear you many healthy children. Her large breasts and wide hips show that. You are a lucky man, my braht, Ana will give you many sons!”
“But why does she think I love her?”
“Ah, my braht. Ana told my wife that every time she walked past you, you stared at her, licked your lips, and she could see the growing bulge in the crotch of your blue uniform trousers. Now, I am a man and I know the difference between lust and love, my braht. But my sister is a young girl who has never been alone with a man—our culture does not allow that—and so she relies on stories that the women tell each other.”
Tom was silent. He didn’t know what to say. Marriage to a stranger at age 19? Never go back home again? What the fuck—how was he going to get out of this?
An idea came to him. “Suppose your father, the Shef, doesn’t like me?”
Darko replied calmly, and again, his hand briefly brushed the front of his crotch. “He had better like you, my braht. After all the trouble he went to to bring you here, I would advise you to make sure he likes you. If he doesn’t…shall we say…you can forget about having children and your voice will change from bass to soprano. As I said…a most unpleasant topic for men to discuss.”
Tom gulped. “OK, OK,” he said in a rush.
Darko grinned. “I thought you would see the logic of what I said. Now, in a few minutes, Ana and my wife Slava will serve us breakfast. Afterwards, you try to sleep. Unfortunately my brother Nikita hit you harder than required yesterday. Sleep a little and then we will get you ready to meet with my father.”
“Get me ready?”
“I will explain to you the customs you must follow. You will speak in English and I will translate. Also, we need to get some clothes for you. It won’t do for you to meet the Shef dressed in blue jeans and a muscle tee shirt.” Tom looked downwards to his jeans and tee, both of which were very snug over his muscular frame. ‘You can wear the clothes I wore when I asked Slava’s father for permission to marry her. You and I are about the same height. Slava has the clothes packed away somewhere.”
“Can I go outside for a walk? It’ll help clear my brain.”
“No, my braht. For the time being, you cannot leave the house. The authorities are still looking for you. Already there have been some helicopters flying overhead. If they see your blond head from above among all of us with dark hair, they will know it’s you.”
Darko then led Tom down a passageway, past walls of whitewashed plaster, into a large room that seemed to be the dining room. There was a table crowded with platters and bowls of food. Ana was standing at a large old fashioned stove next to a fireplace. Following the rules of her people, she modestly looked downward at the sight of her beloved. Next to Ana, Tom noted, stood an attractive plump woman, heavily pregnant. That must be Slava.
Darko took the seat at the head of the table and motioned Tom to sit at this right. Slava and Ana then brought plates and proceeded to pile them high with food….fried eggs, sausages, what seemed to be fried potatoes. These plates were placed in front of the two men, along with smaller plates piled with buttered bread rolls and pastry. Mugs of milk and bowls of yoghurt stood nearby.
“Eat, my braht! Your first meal with us!”
“I can’t eat all this, Darko. It’s way too much and I’m still feeling kind of sick to my stomach after yesterday.”
“Now, now, my braht. This is your first lesson in Gojazan manners. You must eat everything that is served you. Not to do so is an insult to the cooks. You do not wish to insult my wife, do you?” As Darko spoke, he had started to shovel food into his mouth. The last phrases he spoke were said through a mouthful of food.
Tom was smart enough to realize he better not seem to insult Darko’s wife or Ana. He started to eat.
Darko ate quickly and motioned to Tom to try the rolls and the pastry. Tom did. It was all delicious. Darko cleaned his plate and Slava came forward and piled it high with food again. Tom ate more slowly and deliberately. He wanted to avoid throwing up. His plate was finally clean and Ana placed a dish piled with pastries in front of Tom. Her gaze still directed to the floor as befitted an unmarried woman, she surreptitiously glanced upward and looked Tom straight in his blue eyes. Tom smiled at her. She blushed and quickly looked downwards.
“Ana made these pastries specially for you, Tom, they are traditional. The bride-to-be makes them for her betrothed as a sign of her love. Eat them, my braht, as a sign of your love for her.”
Tom figured he’d eat one so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings. It was delicious…flaky buttery pastry, ground nuts, and honey melted in his mouth. Before he knew it he reached for another, then another. Soon the plate was empty.
Darko, meanwhile, had finished eating. All the plates around him were bare, He leaned backwards in his chair, let out a loud “Ooof!” then an “Ahhhh” as he reached under his overhanging belly and unbuttoned his pants. His round paunch surged forward onto his lap, free from constraint.
“So, my braht, what do you think of our food?”
“It’s great! Is this how every breakfast is?”
“Except for the special pastries Ana made for you, yes. We are fortunate in this valley. Life is good, our crops are thriving, and our flocks are growing. We are lucky…we have enough to eat. When you learn our language the old men will tell you how it was in the past. We haven’t always been so fortunate.” While speaking, Darko’s right hand went to his bulging belly and started massaging it in slow circular motions.
Seeing this, Tom made a mental note that he’d go back to his room and do some calisthenics. No matter if he was being held captive, he was still a Marine and he didn’t want to get a fat gut on him the size of Darko’s.
After a nap, Tom awoke and was all set to do his calisthenics when Darko came into the room. He was carrying some clothing…a white pullover shirt embroidered with a design at the hems, black pants, and a pair of white cotton draw-string undershorts.
“Here, my braht. Try these on. These bring back many happy memories for me. I am happy you will wear them.”
Tom stripped down quickly and reached for the undershorts. As he pulled them on, Darko quickly spoke up. “I see you are circumcised, my braht. By chance are you a Muslim or a Jew?”
“We are Orthodox Christians here and our men are not circumcised. So, you are a Christian, eh? A Catholic or Lutheran?”
“When I went to church with my family it was a Southern Baptist church.”
“Good. The priest will have no problem marrying you then. If you were Catholic it might be a problem. But Protestant is fine.”
“All that is important?”
“Of course, my braht. Tradition is strong here.”
At this point, Tom had pulled on the pants and pulled the fancy shirt over his head. Everything fit fine. The pants were a little snug in the seat and the thighs, but muscular Tom always had that problem. Tom’s muscular upper body filled the shirt, which hung loose around his slender waist.
Then he realized….Darko had said these were his clothes. “Say, Darko, were these really your clothes?” While saying this he glanced at Darko’s physique—a big belly, sagging man boobs, and a big bulky wide ass.
Darko smiled broadly, dimples forming in his chubby round cheeks. “Ha, my braht. You are surprised, yes? When I was an unmarried man in Germany I played basketball and football, what you Americans call soccer. Yes, I was slim. But six years of marriage has done this to me.” He patted his big belly, which jiggled and wobbled, and smiled. “In Gojazan, a man with a good wife is expected to grow fat. And the wife is expected to grow fat too. It shows that her husband is a good provider. Now, let us prepare for your meeting with my father.”
Two hours later, Tom was led to another house, one which seemed the largest in the village. He wore Darko’s old clothes and a large floppy black cap. Darko told him that he needed to wear the cap whenever he was outdoors because his blond hair made it obvious that he was a stranger.
Entering the house, Darko removed the cap from Tom’s head and said, “Now, my braht. Don’t be nervous. You know what to say. Let my father speak first. Remember, cast your glance downwards when speaking to him, as we all do, He is the Shef. You speak only when he speaks to you. Do not worry, my braht. I will translate so I will make sure that what you tell the Shef will be presented in our language in the best possible way.”
Darko led Tom into a large room. Around the periphery of the room were benches, all filled by every married man in the village. They ranged in age from 16 to 96. The air was heavy with tobacco smoke. As Tom’s eyes adjusted to change in light, he glanced to the wall opposite the door. There, sitting on a raised platform, was the fattest man Tom had ever seen. This had to be the Shef…he resembled his oldest son Darko, but with Darko’s plump chubby face and body enormously inflated with bulges, rolls, and massive swags of fat. Tom noticed he wore a version of the same outfit Tom wore except it was so large it looked like it had been made by a tent maker. He sat with his massive legs spread wide to accommodate his enormous low hanging belly. On his head he wore a cylindrical red hat with a black tassel. “Remember, my braht, be quiet until I speak to you in English”, Darko whispered to Tom out of the side of his mouth.
The Shef, who had bushy salt-and-pepper gray eyebrows and a large mustache, looked at Tom. His face did not show any emotion. Looking directly at Tom, the Shef spoke slowly, his fat jowls quivering with every word. His voice was deep and he paused frequently in between words to take a deep breath.
Darko spoke in English, “My father welcomes you to our village and asks your name.’
Tom, eyes downwards as Darko had told him, answered and Darko translated.
The Shef’s next words followed: “I am told that you want to marry my daughter.”
Tom thought of his earlier conversation with Darko when Darko’s hand had made the motion implying castration. Tom gulped slightly and answered clearly, “Yes, sir. I wish to marry your daughter. I promise y’all to treat her with respect in the traditions of your people and I will work hard to provide for her and the children she will bear me.”
Darko whispered to Tom in English, “Good answer my braht,” and then translated his words for the Shef.
The Shef listened solemnly. His head nodded slightly, again causing his large round chipmunk cheeks and plump jowls to jiggle. He then spoke, and Darko translated,
“You look muscular and capable of hard work. But, I notice you have blond hair and blue eyes. Tell me, are you a German?”
Tom was puzzled but answered quickly, “No, sir. My father’s family and my mother’s family have been living in Mississippi since the early 1800’s. My grandma used to tell me that way back we’re Scotch-Irish.”
Darko translated Tom’s explanation.
“Good”, rumbled the Shef, “very good.”
Tom whispered to Darko, “What was that about?”
Darko replied softly, “During World War 2 the Germans came to our valley and killed many men and raped many women. They burned the houses and confiscated all the food. The Shef’s father and mother were among those killed. He does not hate today’s Germans, my braht, he just does not want one in his family.”
After a few minutes of thought, the Shef cleared his throat and spoke loudly. “Young man, I give you permission to marry my daughter. Let all in our village welcome you to our family.”
that all the men in the room nodded in agreement. He let out a sigh of relief.
“Thank you, sir, and thanks to y’all”. Tom looked directly at the Shef and then glanced around the room at all the men. They all smiled at him. Darko translated and the Shef nodded solemnly.
The Shef was relieved. When his beloved only daughter, who was so willful that she had refused three perfectly good men as husbands, told him she wanted to marry a foreigner, he was worried. Would the young man be suitable? He had better be. The Shef knew that if he refused his daughter’s demand, she would throw tantrums and sulk. That he could not bear, He had never told anyone, but his daughter Ana so reminded him of his oldest sister Ana who had saved his life as a child when the German troops burned the village. A day later she was shot for refusing the advances of a German officer. He had vowed when his wife presented him with a baby girl after many sons that his daughter, young Ana, would have the happy life which had been denied his sister.
Remembering the purpose of the gathering, the Shef then rumbled, this time more loudly, “Good. Now let us celebrate your betrothal to my daughter with a meal.” The Shef then beckoned with both arms. A hefty young man standing near him reached over and pulled the Shef to his feet. He slowly waddled down the length of the room, stopping frequently to catch his breath, until he stood in front of Tom and Darko.
He spoke and again Darko translated, “Ah, my oldest son Darko and my newest son Tom! You will sit with me during our meal.”
Darkness had fallen as the Shef, slowly waddling along, led Tom and Darko, followed by the rest of the men, into a nearby building. It was a large room which seemed to Tom to be some sort of a social hall. There were long tables and a head table. Tom noticed the aroma of food, many fragrances, some familiar, like roast pork, and many not—but all delicious. His mouth started to water
The Shef ponderously lowered his massive rump onto a heavy wide bench and motioned that Tom sit next to him. Darko sat on Tom’s other side so he could translate. The rest of the men then seated themselves. Tom was anxious that he would continue to make a good impression on the Shef as they conversed during the meal.
It turned out that the Shef spoke to no one. Shortly after the men were seated, the women of the village emerged from a doorway, carrying platters and bowls of food. Each served her own husband. The Shef’s wife, the mother of Ana, was a plump woman who smiled at Darko. Slava served Darko, and Ana, looking modestly downwards as befitted a betrothed woman in the presence of her husband-to-be, served Tom.
The Shef started eating, He ate ravenously, intently, as if he had not eaten for days. There was no time for conversation as he ate and ate.
Tom was intent on Ana. She served him just as she had done at breakfast, surreptitiously glancing at him, catching his eye, winking and flirting. She was so happy that this beautiful man would be hers! Tom felt he should act like the other men and concentrate on the food. Only occasionally did their glances cross and they smiled at each other.
After his second heaping platter of food, Tom put down his knife and fork.
“What are you doing, my braht?” said Darko through a mouthful of food. He had been eating steadily.
“I’m stuffed, Darko. I can’t eat another bite.”
“Ah, no, Tom. It is bad manners to stop eating before the Shef is finished, Out of respect to him we all must keep eating until he stops. That is the custom. You see some of the other young men here, the young thin ones your age, are eating slowly but they are still eating. You must do the same.”
Tom said nothing but reached to the waistband of his pants, unfastening the button which restrained his food-bloated gut, picked up his fork, and started to eat again. Darko smiled.
“Good, my braht. You are learning the ways of my people, your new people.”
The next few days were busy ones in the village as preparations were made for the marriage of the Shef’s only daughter. Tom remained secluded in the Shef’s large house, away from the eyes of any strangers who might happen by the village. Darko, when not busy with his other responsibilities, started to teach Tom his new language. Ana’s mother worked quickly to sew local style clothes for her new son-in-law. The size 32 relaxed fit jeans and jockey shorts and size XL muscle tee shirt Tom wore when he was kidnapped were packed away. They were replaced by baggy shirts, trousers and undershorts. As the old lady took Tom’s measurements, she admired his toned physique, the play of his muscles as he moved, and his fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. Now she could see why her willful daughter insisted on marrying this young stranger.
At Darko’s suggestion, he addressed his mother-in-law to be as “majka”, or “mother”. Every time she heard Tom use that word to her, she smiled, even though she had to work hard to alter Darko’s six-year-old wedding trousers to accommodate her new son-in-law’s muscular bubblebutt and thick thighs. As she worked, she reminisced about her oldest son Darko on his wedding day. He was so skinny back then when he had returned from trade school in Germany! And her new American son-in-law was so muscular!
After Majka worked on her sewing, Tom made ready to leave the room. She motioned to him to stop, then left the room, saying “You…wait”. She returned soon, carrying a plate heaped with cookies and a mug of milk.
Tom smiled and took the plate and mug. “Hvala ti, Majka!” Darko had already taught him how to say please and thank you.
By now, Tom knew the routine. He sat back down and bit into a cookie. It was delicious—the taste of hazelnuts and honey exploded in his mouth. Before he knew it, the plate was empty and the mug of milk had been drained.
He burped and looked embarrassed. He looked shyly at Majka and aid in English, “excuse me”.
Majka looked directly at him and said “Ees Oh Kay. You…moj zgodni zet…my…bee-you-ti-full son..in law!”
Tom blushed as Majka came to him and kissed him on the forehead.
The new two days were a blur of events for Tom. He was not allowed to spend any time with Ana. He only saw her at mealtimes when she served him, just as the other women served their men.
The solemn wedding ceremony in the village church was attended by the whole village. The chapel in the village was decorated with flowers. Ana wore the same wedding dress her mother wore. It had to be let out to accommodate Ana’s large full breasts. Even with the alterations, her breasts stressed the fabric, drawing Tom’s attention during the ceremony. Ana thought Tom looked so handsome in Darko’s altered wedding clothes.
The wedding feast went on for hours, course after course of delicious food and round after round of toasts in the local plum brandy.
At last, Tom and Ana were alone in a bedroom especially set aside for them. Ana sat on the bed watching as Tom undressed. She was fascinated by what she saw…Tom’s muscular body, his large chest thatched with blond hair. His pink nipples. His muscular abdomen, distended into a round firm ball by the massive amount of food he had just consumed. The curly blond pubic hair which provided a nest for his tumescent penis and hanging balls. She could see how much he wanted her.
When Tom was totally nude, Ana approached him and he helped her undress. Every article of clothing removed caused him to gasp with lust. He had been with women before, but never with such a woman as this. Breasts the size of bushel baskets, tipped with round dark areolas, the breasts hanging free and low. A small round belly, indented with a deep navel. Wide hips and plump thighs, lush with soft flesh, centered with a mass of curly dark hair which covered her womanness. Her wide round derriere provided a lush counterpoint to her amazing breasts.
They both fell on the bed and lustfully tore at each other.
Early next morning, the crowing of the roosters awakened Ana. She was lying, content, in the strong arms of her husband, her beautiful husband. He was dozing peacefully, the smile on his face showing how pleased he was with her and the events of the night. She managed to disentangle herself from his embrace and slowly rose from the bed. She must go and prepare breakfast for her husband, her beautiful husband.
It was almost a year later to the day. The blond man lay on the bed as the day lightened outside the window. He could hear the bustle as his wife prepared breakfast. He listened to see if any noise came from the nearby crib, where his three-month-old daughter was nestled. He had just got up and checked to see if she needed changing. Three months into fatherhood, he was still amazed by the little daughter born to Ana exactly nine months after their wedding day. Some of the men of the family had joked with him about that, and even his father-in-law, usually so serious, had laughed when he was told the good news.
Yes, his family. That’s what his identity papers said. One month after he had come to this valley, his brother-in-law Darko presented him with a set of identity documents. His first name was listed as “Tomislav” (“Just in case any strangers her us call you ‘Tom’”, explained Darko) and his last name matched that of the Shef and Darko. When Tom had asked where the documents came from, Darko just smiled.
The smell of breakfast cooking and coffee brewing got stronger. Tom decided to get up and get dressed. He arose and reached for the pair of undershorts on the chair next to the bed. Ana preferred that he sleep in the nude as she did, and his wife’s wish was his command. He smiled as he recalled the fun they had last night.
His smile turned to a frown as he tugged the white cotton shorts up past his knees. They became more and more snug the higher he pulled them. He managed to tug them over his hips and ass so the waistband rested atop his haunches and beneath the tire of flesh which encircled his waist. When the undershorts were new six months ago, he had to pull the drawstring tight and knot it to keep them up but now they clung to his body like lycra and the two ends of the drawstring barely touched.
Tom glanced at himself in the mirror which sat atop the dresser. “Shit,” he thought to himself, “I’m really getting a gut on me”. He grabbed a thick handful of belly flab and shook it. “I used to kid Tony and Terry about their pot bellies and now I got one bigger than either of them.” Tony and Terry. His brothers back home in Mississippi. Mom and Dad. Not a day went by that he didn’t think of them. He wondered if they missed him.
Over the past months, he had hinted to Darko about his folks back in Mississippi. Did they know he was alive? Darko’s abrupt reply was always, “Ana is your family now, and all of us here.”
At first he had thought about escaping and trying to get back to Trbuh and the Embassy there. He noticed right away that he was never left alone. There was always someone nearby. The day after his wedding, before his lust for Ana had turned to love when she told him she was pregnant, he asked Darko what kind of work he would be doing. He thought that if he were a shepherd or even a farmer, he’d be by himself most of the time and could, with some planning, just walk away from the valley and head to Trbuh.
When he asked, Tom recalled, Darko had smiled enigmatically and said. “Our family has a business in the village where we need you, my braht. We repair things, such as cars and farm equipment, and shoe the horses…, how do you say in English… blacksmith. With your muscles we need you there.”
The shop was a great place to work, Tom thought. Of course, he was never alone there, but it gave him a chance to perfect his language skills and just get to know the other young men he worked with. Darko was the boss and he spent most of his time in the office. And yeah, the hard work kept his muscles pumped.
After a couple of months, after Ana told him she was pregnant, Tom stopped thinking about escaping. He couldn’t run off and leave her. It wasn’t just the coming baby. Ana showed her love for him in so many ways. Every day around noon, Ana appeared with two baskets…their lunch, or rather, Tom’s lunch. His co-workers had to be content with sandwiches packed by their wives while Ana brought out container after container for her Tom. Ana sat and spoke to him while he ate.
Looking in the mirror, Tom’s frown tuned to a smile. “Well, that’s how I got this, I guess”, patting his pot belly. Continuing to look in the mirror, he took stock of himself like any 20-year-old man would. His big pecs and arms were bigger than ever because of all the heavy work he did, even though there was no longer any definition to them and, Tom had to admit, his pecs were acquiring a roundness and overfilled look that pushed them close to being man boobs. He flexed and was happy to see that he could still make them jump in rhythm, even if they jiggled at the same time.
He turned to the side and pushed his belly and in and out, and then let it relax. It formed a soft round mass which sagged over the waistband of his undershorts. He took stock of the rolls of flab on his sides. About six months ago they had replaced the creases which showed up a month or so after his wedding, and had steadily grow in size ever since.
His glance shifted further downward and to the side, focusing on the big soft globes of flab which rounded out on his backside. He flexed his glutes and was pleased to see there was still muscle there even it was buried under the jiggly, wobbly fat which paddled the muscle. “Jeez, Terry used to call me ‘Lardass’—if only he could see these.” Tom shifted his pelvis, trying to minimize the size of his fat ass. No matter how he moved, the two big jiggly wobbly cheeks stuck out from his torso.
Tom’s thighs were thick, round and sleek with excess flab. He flexed his quads, setting off wild jiggling. Tom groaned.
He looked straight at his face in the mirror and spoke to himself. “That’s it…I got to start exercising today.” The face that looked back at him was still handsome, but fuller and rounder. His chin line was softened with padding and merged into the double chin which had appeared about six months before and grown steadily ever since.
While struggling to pull on his dark work pants, which were just as tight as his undershorts, Tom mentally started to plan a schedule of calisthenics, what exercises he could do and when in the day he could do them.
His concentration was interrupted by baby Ana. She was crying. He walked over, picked her up and cuddled her to his chest in his left arm. He walked out into the kitchen, handed the baby to his wife and sat down and faced the plates and bowls in front of him. Ana sat across from him, unbuttoned her blouse, freed her left breast, and put the baby to nurse.
Tom had a proud smile on his face and he looked at his wife and daughter, the two things he most loved in this world.
By the time baby was full, the plates and bowls in front of Tom were empty. He softly belched and unbuttoned the top of his pants. Having a nice full belly left him so happy and contented! He starting thinking again, not about exercising but about what he needed to do at work that day. He remembered to ask Ana to tell her mom that he need some new clothes and could he see her soon to get measured. He rose, kissed his wife and daughter, and went to finish getting dressed so he could head to work. All thoughts of exercise and calisthenics disappeared from his brain.
They never reappeared.
All his time was taken by his wife and daughter (followed by more daughters every year), his job responsibilities, and the socializing with his father-in-law and Darko and his other brothers-in-law every evening. After heavy filling dinners, conversing, smoking the hookah, and grazing on the heaping plate of his favorite pastries which Ana made sure was always next to him, Tom would bid good night to the other men and heft himself up from his chair and head for his bedroom and the arms of his sweet Ana.
One day in the summer of 2009, a small group of people met in the building housing the C.I.A. in Washington, D.C. There was the host, who was a top administrator in the Eastern European Division, a Marine colonel, a young Marine Sergeant, two women from the Department of State, and an aide from the Oval Office.
After the niceties and introductions, the host started talking. He held a thick dossier in his hand as he spoke.
“I called you here today because of a possible development concerning the case of Marine Pfc. Thomas Bradshaw, a member of the Marine Secuirty Guard at our embassy in Gojazan, who disappeared six years ago. Despite an exhaustive search and many enquiries at the diplomatic level, no trace of him was ever found.
“Two weeks ago, one of our operatives was traveling in a region about a hundred miles from Trbuh, the capital of Gojazan. What our operative was doing there is not relevant to this discussion. The operative’s car broke down and she was directed to the local repair shop. While there, she heard the manager of the shop speaking perfect English, with a strong southern American accent, to one of the other employees. The manager was obviously not a local—he had blond hair and seemed to have blue eyes. Could he be an agent for another country? Russia? Some other place? What was he doing there?
“Our operative was told by this man that her car would be ready the next day. He spoke in the local language, with only the slightest trace of an accent. She stayed for the night at the local inn and used her time in the village to surreptitiously take pictures of this man. All attempts to lead the locals in conversation about the repair shop manager got nowhere. You know the locals in the Gojazan are very secretive when discussing anything with outsiders.
“Our operative reported this curious incident, and we checked our records to see who this person, who spoke English with such a distinctive accent, might be. The name of Pfc. Thomas Bradshaw came up.
“I called this meeting so we can discuss how to proceed. Even though six years have passed since the disappearance of Pfc. Bradshaw, the policy of the Marine Corps is to leave no man behind. If he is determined to be Pfc. Bradshaw, we have ways of…shall we say…spiriting him from Gojazan back home to the USA. Was he kidnapped and held against his will? Is he the victim of the ‘Stockholm syndrome’, where a hostage held long enough begins to identify with his kidnappers? If he is a deserter, he falls under our Military Code of Justice”
The C.I.A. official then opened Pfc. Bradshaw’s dossier and reviewed his background and Marine Corps record. Came from a loving family with long roots in Mississippi, high school graduate, successfully completed the rigorous Marine Corps training. In excellent physical shape, according to his last Marine Corps physical. 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighing 175 pounds, and a muscular physique.
At this point, he asked that the lights in the room be darkened. He opened his laptop and prepared to project images on a screen which stood on one side of the meeting room.
“These images were taken by our operative as she hung out at the auto repair shop, waiting for the car repairs to be finished. I should note that, from what she overheard, she is of the opinion that our ‘person of interest’ was speaking English to his young assistant because that young man would soon be emigrating to Australia and wanted to practice his English. To everyone else, including our operative, our ‘person of interest’ spoke the local language.”
The images flashed on the screen. The room was silent at first, but then comments came from the two Marines, the Colonel and the Sergeant.
“My God!” The Colonel spoke quietly.
“No way is that Tom Bradshaw”, said the young Sergeant more loudly. “I was assigned to the same detachment as Tom and shared quarters with him.”
“That’s why we asked you here Sergeant”, the C.I.A. official quietly said.
“Like I said, no way is that Tom. Tom worked out every day and was proud of his build. That can’t be Tom—-look at the size of that dude! He’s fucking huge. And look at the size of the ass of that guy! Jeezus Kee-rist! Tom would never let that happen to him. He used to brag about his big muscle butt!”
The group closely observed the series of images, taken at different times over the course of a few hours, as they flashed on the screen. There were front, back, side and face shots. They showed a blond-haired young man who seemed to be in his late 20’s. Everything about him was huge. His round face had fat chipmunk cheeks, so full they forced his lips into a pouting expression when he wasn’t talking. It was difficult to tell the color of his eyes because his round cheeks pushed his eye openings into mere slits in his fat face. His jowls merged into a wide double chin which had replaced his neck. Views of his head from the rear showed three thick rolls of fat on his neck above his wide fat-padded shoulders.
His arms and legs were massive. His chest appeared to be two sagging basketballs of flab which rested atop a huge round belly which hung over the waistband of his dark pants to below his crotch. He wore a button-front work shirt that fit his body like lycra. Gaps showed where the shirt buttons were straining to contain the man’s massive man breasts, huge belly, and his truck tire size side rolls. His upper arms completely filled the sleeves of the shirt. Even his fingers were fat—as round and plump as frankfurters.
Viewed from the rear, the entire middle part of his frame was filled by two enormous round buttocks, wider than his broad shoulders, and supported by massive thighs. If this young man was indeed Tom Bradshaw, his bubble butt had inflated into two weather balloons of fat. Side views showed the enormous protruding bulk of the buttocks, belly, and chest of the man as each feature ballooned outwards. He was even wider front-to-rear than he was side-to-side.
“Does anyone have an estimate of this man’s height and weight?” asked the represent of the Oval Office.
The CIA man checked the dossier and replied, “Our photo analysts confirmed our operative’s estimate that the subject is about 5 feet 9 inches tall. We asked an obesity expert from the National Science Foundation to try to estimate the subject’s weight. She estimates his weight at between 475 and 500 pounds. You will remember that the last physical Pfc. Stafas had before his assignment to Gojazan showed his weight to be 175.”
“Jeezus”, interjected the young Marine Sergeant, “if this porker is Tom, he’s gained more than 300 pounds in six years! I just can’t believe Tom would let himself go like that!”
followed. Why would a fit young Marine, proud of his physique, allow himself to
be transformed into something like this? If he had been kidnapped, why would
the kidnappers overfeed him to this extent? Trillions of excess calories must
have been consumed by this young man. Was overfeeding a prisoner to this extent
a new form of torture? If this person was indeed Tom Bradshaw and he had
deserted, why would he trash his fit body and gain so much weight of his own
free will? Surely there were other ways he could disguise himself.
“Have these pictures been shown to the Bradshaw family in Mississippi?” one of the State Department representatives asked.
“Yes, they were met with yesterday, Mrs. and Mrs. Bradshaw and their two sons and daughters-in-law. Our agent reported that only the older Mrs. Bradshaw seemed to feel the young man in the pictures might be her son. The others, especially Pfc. Bradshaw’s two brothers, all denied that the person could be Tom Bradshaw. You can understand it was especially difficult for Mrs. Bradshaw. She said that during the past six years with no news, the family had come to accept that Tom would never be coming home to them. When they were notified about the possible sighting, their hopes were raised. Our agent quoted her as finally saying, ‘I so wish this could be my baby boy. But I guess I have to accept what the rest of the family says, that it can’t be him.’”
After some deliberation, the group decided that the young blond massively obese ‘person of interest’ couldn’t be the fit young Marine.
The matter was dropped.
That same week, thousands of miles away in Gojazan, in an isolated valley about a hundred miles from Trbuh, two fat men were having a conversation. Dinner had been completed and the two brothers-in-law were smoking a hookah. They were both relaxed, full to capacity with the dinner their wives had served them. The conversation was about the day’s happenings in the quiet community.
The blond young man, by far the fatter of the two, put down the pipe and spoke quietly to his compatriot, “Shef…”
The other man, dark haired and dark eyed and about ten years older than the blond man, said quickly “No, no, no, my braht. To you, I am still Darko. Even though my father died two years ago and the village chose me to replace him, between us we use first names. Is OK?” His fat face was peaceful and content as he reached for the pipe.
“Darko, I have been thinking. I would like to make contact with my family back in the States”. He spoke smoothly in the local language. “I want them to know that I am happy here and they should not worry about me. I want my mother and father to know about my beautiful wife and five little girls.”
The other man was silent for a while and then spoke quietly and with feeling. “If I was you, I would feel the same way. But, my braht, you must consider the situation in another way. After six years of hearing nothing, they must have accepted that you are not coming back to them. To them, you are only a memory. They have other sons, and daughters-in-law, and grandchildren, no? So, they will be cared for in their old age. You need not worry. And there is one thing more…..”
He paused to take a puff and continued, “…you must consider what the American authorities would do if you re-appeared.”
“I’ll just tell them what happened” the blond man replied emotionally, his fat cheeks and jowls quivering as he spoke.
“Do you really think they’ll believe you? Our customs are so different from those of America. They will think you deserted from the Marine Corps out of lust for my sister. What is the penalty for desertion? If you are imprisoned you will be lost to two families, you wife and daughters and all of us here…as well as you family in the USA.
“Consider, my braht. Do you remember, when you were first brought to us…I admit…not by your own choice, I gave you the clothing to wear when you approached my father to ask permission to marry his daughter?”
“Yes, I remember, but…?” The fat blond man reached for a piece of pastry from a plate which sat next to the hookah. It was baklava, his favorite. He couldn’t resist it. His mouth watered as he opened his mouth and shoved in the whole piece.
“Let me finish, my braht. Remember how amazed you were that I had once been slim and slender and that I told you that men in Gojazan are expected to grow fat after marriage because of the love of their wives?”
“Yes, I remember.” The blond man spoke with his mouth full of the delicious pastry. His right hand was reaching for a second piece.
“So, Tom, my braht, pause for a minute and look at yourself. Look how you have changed in the past six years. All the young unmarried men in our village envy you because you have grown so fat. You are by far the fattest man in the village now that my father has passed away. Right before he died last year, The Shef remarked on how fat you were becoming. He told me that all your fat showed him that you were really one of us and that he was happy he agreed to your marriage to his daughter.
“Your size shows how much you are loved by your wife. All the women in our village envy Ana because her husband provides for her and his children so well, and because Ana has such a beautiful man with hair the color of ripe wheat. Your fatness now only magnifies your beauty to the women.”
With some effort, the blond man inclined his head downwards. His fat jowls and wide double chin impeded the movement of his head, but he was still able to get a good view.
The wide curved shelf of what had once been his taut pecs was the first in view. His massive round man boobs sat atop the protruding round bulge of his belly. Crumbs of the bakalava sat on the slope and he brushed them off. The round hanging mass of his belly was bracketed by his widespread thighs, each the size of a barrel of wine, stretching the fabric of his dark pants. His wide haunches bulged outwards on each side of his body below the round soft mass of his thick side rolls. Seated next to his brother-in-law his head was a foot higher than Darko’s because the mass of his huge fat buttocks took up so much space..
His concentration was interrupted when the door opened. He could hear the laughter of his daughters playing with their cousins. Ana entered the room carrying another plate heaped with pieces of baklava. Her enormous breasts, enlarged by five pregnancies, swayed from side to side as she walked toward him. Dimples showed on her plump face as she spoke to her husband.
“Some more baklava, my sweetheart!” She looked directly at her husband and winked.
As she spoke, the blond fat man could feel his dick, buried in masses of blubber as it was, stir and harden. He smiled at her and winked back.
His decision was made. He was where he need to be.