The Zookeeper's Guide to Wild Americans
February 1st, 2043.
The Zookeeper’s Guide to Wild Americans
Marshall Kruk sits bewildered on the cold wood planks of the rear staging area of the production studios in Manhattan, New York. His leather collar irritates his fourth chin which rests atop his massive drooping mammaries.
Not far behind he can hear the gentle voice of his trusted handler Mademoiselle Dufaure who strokes her fingers through the hair of his nervous children with a maternal flair that wife Judy is incapable of both emotionally and physically.
With one hand on each child’s head, she peppers their ears with calming whispers, “C’est tranquille mes petite géants. C’est tranquille.”
Marshall considers assisting in the security of his children, but his mobility is impeded by his own sheer girth and limited to a few degrees of turn in either direction. Even that motion requires an effort and energy of which he is not fond. So he gazes ahead through a small opening in the curtains and scans curious faces in the studio audience. His wet lips hang loose from his pudgy, colorless face. Production assistants and grips scurry past, the odd worker stopping to witness the spectacle that is the Kruk family.
Indifferent to the outburst of activity around him, Marshall clenches his teeth, leans his mass to his left, and releases a steady stream of silent gas that quickly envelopes a three-meter radius with a peculiar and heavy odoriferous cocktail. A passing assistant gasps with agony before fleeing the affected area. Mademoiselle Dufaure notes the suffering of the poor worker and knows at once the culprit of his misfortune.
“Marshall my dear, are you anxious too?”
She enters the stench zone without hesitation having suffered through much worse after his consumption of lactose products, particularly heavy creams, and deep-fried buttermilk. Much of the family’s diet is in the deep fried order and consumed in astonishing quantities. It is hard to imagine any food in such copious amounts not resulting in constant putrid gases.
“What did you feed him?” Questions another passing victim in a nasal tone as he gasps to suspend his breathing.
“Corn beef sandwiches and a bowl of deep-fried peanut butter,” replies Dufaure in a blasé manner. “I’m sorry about this, didn’t Dr. Lecomte mention this would likely happen?”
The victim shakes his head side-to-side, winces, and vanishes in one motion.
She begins to pat Marshall’s back with the base of her open palm. He jolts his head and leans forward to shun her attempts at comfort like a horse brushing away a pesky fly with its tail.
The rolls of fat on his upper back send a massive tsunami of skin folds rippling down toward his diapers and rebounding back upwards, and downwards, and upwards like an artificial wave tank.
“Don’t be difficult Marshall. Not today. I want you on your best behavior. You must be strong and set an example for your family. Can you do that for me? Hmm?”
Mademoiselle has been entrusted as their primary caretaker while her mentor and superior Dr. Lecomte prepares for the most important publicity stop on his latest book tour. Marshall growls at her behavioral request, dropping his lower lip in a grumpy show of discontent.
“What’s wrong Marshall?”
“I’m tired,” he moans like a giant adolescent in need of more attention from impervious parents.
“You’re tired?” Dufaure motions to a nearby subordinate to wheel over two metal cylinders attached with clear tubing. She reaches for a mask and slides it over Marshall’s watermelon-sized head.
His shoulders rise steadily as he takes fresh oxygen.
“Good. Take another.” He does as instructed and takes five more.
“Is that better?”
He nods approvingly, taking even more oxygen. His wide frame settles into a relaxed slouch. The makings of a grin appear on the fleshy layers of his pudding face.
“If everything goes well today, I have a special treat waiting in your cage. Your favorite treat Marshall, so please be on your best behavior and you can have the whole thing.”
He nods again, excited at the thought of digging into a five-liter bucket of butter pecan ice cream. A reservoir of drool forms at the edge of his cheek, gradually oozing from the cover of the oxygen mask. Mademoiselle wipes the leakage with a rag.
“I thought you’d like that,” she coos into his ear.
“Everybody quiet. We’re on in ten seconds,” announces an eager producer rushing past the Kruk family and their handlers.
Dr. Jean-Paul Lecomte appears fresh from his hair and make-up session and stands beside the Kruk children Royale and Dilly.
“On your feet. Come now, up-up. On your feet mes petite géants.” Several handlers assist Lecomte and Dufaure with the heavy lifting.
Superstar host LaShondra Jones clears her throat and adjusts her posture. The show’s supervising producer calls out, “three, two, one...” and points to Jones emphatically.
“Welcome back. As promised we have a very special guest here to promote his latest book, The Zookeeper’s Guide to Wild Americans. Please give a warm welcome to Zoologist, Doctor Jean-Paul Lecomte.”
The audience applauds as Lecomte emerges from the tiny gap in the velvet curtains where Marshall still peeps through. He struts across a row of cameras toward LaShondra Jones. They embrace in the manner of old friends. Jones waits for the applause to subside and for Lecomte to sit before settling into the host’s chair opposite her guest.
“Welcome back to the show Dr. Lecomte.”
“Thank you LaShondra. A pleasure to be here again.” His French accent is as thick as his subjects.
“You’ve written an interesting book that is part journal, part diary combined with your scientific research of Wild Americans. For those not familiar with your work, tell us about how you started in this field.”
Lecomte tells the story of his first sighting of a morbidly obese man as a child on a family holiday to California and how this event piqued a curiosity that never subsided.
“I think LaShondra, it is important that people learn about zee history of zis field, because most people I meet are ignorant of zis.”
“Very good point Doctor, why don’t you give us a brief history lesson,” Jones insists.
“For most scholars zee important year is 2027 when zee United Nations introduced zee Consumption Treaty in order to deal with famine, drought, and complications from zee overpopulation. By sree years later every nation on zee planet signed zis treaty but zer were some states in old America that did not enforce zis treaty.”
Lecomte pauses to admire the chuckles of the audience with a sly grin.
“In zee years after zis treaty, many nations passed strict laws on individual body mass, or zee body mass index. Here in New York we know zee limit is surty-sree percent for zee man and surty-five percent for zee woman and we now have zee methodologies for zee state can monitor all of zee citizens wis biologics, implants, zee vaccines. Yes, of course you all have.”
“Yes, I’m well aware of that number Doctor and the state’s BMI monitoring board. I’ve paid a king’s ransom in fines for violating this law but...” she rises from her chair and shimmies her hips like a clumsy belly dancer, “I’ve finally beat it and I’m proud to say that I am now even below thirty percent!” The intonation of her voice peaks with the excitement of her loyal followers.
Jones admires the cheers of the many lonely women in attendance as she twirls with her hands on her hips.
“Congratulations LaShondra, you look very good,” extols Lecomte reluctantly.
Jones accepts the compliment with a pompous grin and sits down to let her guest continue.
“And so for a decade people have been getting smaller and maintaining a healthy weight, wis zee exception of zeez American independence states where ninety percentages of zer population is obese and over seventy percentages are morbidly obese as most refuse to have zee medical interventions. Zerfore most of zeez Americans are not allowed safe travel outside zer own borders and zose daring enough to violate zis sanctions are considered Wild Americans and considered fair game for international researchers.”
“They are referred to as MOWAs correct?” LaShondra feels the need to prove she read his work.
“Yes, Morbidly Obese Wild Americans, correct.”
“And you hunt these Wild Americans?”
“Not anymore,” replies Lecomte. “I started as a tracker and acquisition agent, but now I specialize more in behavioral research of Wild Americans. Personally, I have captured or acquired by purchase over sree sousand Wild Americans.”
“And then you sell them to Zoos around the world.”
“It depends. I observe zem first and determine zer worrs.”
“Their worst traits?” Jones inquires confused by his accent.
“Yes, zer worrs…how much money etcetera,” he clarifies.
“Oh, their worth!” LaShandra tries not to laugh.
“Yes, as I say, zer worrs, but most are eventually sold and end up in Zoos around zee world.” Lecomte reaches for his mug of water and moistens his dry lips.
“Not to delay the show any longer. Today you’ve brought some special guests with you, are we ready to bring them out?” Jones looks back toward the curtains.
Her supervising producer nods from between the cameras.
“Yes, okay, tell us Doctor who we have first.”
“Today we have, all zee way from zee city Zoo in my hometown of Lyon, some Wild Americans captured from your old country, one of zee most fascinating families, zee Kruk family. First is zee father, Marshall.”
Mademoiselle Dufaure parts the curtains with her right hand and pulls Marshall by a chain attached to his leather neck collar. Marshall offers an expected gaze toward LaShondra Jones who greets her massive visitor.
“Well hello there big guy. Don’t be shy. Wow, he is enormous Doctor.”
“Yes, he is one of zee biggest ever held in captivity. He weighs about four hundred forty kilos or nearly one ton.”
Dufaure escorts Marshall past Dr. Lecomte to an open area with padded and scented floor mats cleared for the Kruk family.
“Wow, you must have quite the appetite there Marshall.”
“He will not answer,” insists Lecomte. “He is trained not to speak to strangers.”
“Oh well we wouldn’t want to upset him would we?” Laughs Jones.
“Zer is nothing to fear, zey are very docile creatures and highly immobile,” assures Lecomte. “You can see it is two meters around his waist and one meter around his chest. But you are right LaShondra, in order to maintain zis mass we use a combination of intravenous and trough feeding or binging techniques also called C.F.C. or Continuous Feeding Cycles which are between twelve and eighteen per day.”
“What would one cycle consist of?” Asks Jones.
“It depends. Donuts, fried cookie dough, fried cheeses, pastries, intravenous ice creams, and so forse. Any-sing high calorie, high sugar, high sodium, high addictive properties, high processed.”
Marshall stands timorously aside chewing the corners of his inflated lips.
“Some say what you do actually defeats the purpose of the consumption treaty by capturing these Wild Americans and feeding them exorbitant amounts of food, and keeping them alive and on display only encourages their capture and the demands of this market, to say nothing of their methane footprint-” Lecomte has heard enough.
“No-no. We are actually shortening zer life. For example if zey stayed in zer home country, old America, zey would be free to eat more zan zey do now and put on machines, given surgeries, transplants, and sings like zis to live longer and consume more and more. Also ze foods zey receive from us are primarily artificial. Not foods any of us have a need or desire for any longer. Most of it is produced in laboratories wis chemical ingredients, so the impact on our natural resources is very, very minimum. What we do is only make benefit for society, for zee planet, for our preservation because zey are removed from abusing zis system.”
“That’s very interesting and you point that out in your book. Now what if he wasn’t wearing a diaper?” Jones tries to force a joke.
Lecomte doesn’t see the humor. “Yes, because of zis C.F.C. zey are prone to constant defecation. So is much better zat zey wear zeez always.”
The audience laughs on cue to Jones’ satisfaction.
“Tell us how Marhsall was acquired Doctor?”
“Marshall was discovered wis his wife Judy in an alley behind a pizzeria in a coast city in zee state of Texas where everysing is beeg. Zey were lured by acquisition agents into a nearby ice cream truck, zen onto a waiting container sheep, and sree week later zey arrive in Lyon under my care.”
As Lecomte describes their capture, an assistant pulls Judy by her leash toward Marshall and past the row of cameras. The audience gasps in disbelief with some scattered whines of pity.
Judy’s hair hangs over her face. Disheveled charcoal and silver streaks with split ends conceal her shame. She arrives at her husband’s side and stares at the cold mat beneath her bare feet.
“Judy is only one hundred sixty-seven centimeters but weighs about two hundred ninety-five kilograms.”
As he astonishes the crowd with her proportions, her shame turns to anxiety and shortened breaths. Mademoiselle Dufaure motions toward the rear staging area and another handler appears at once wheeling the oxygen canisters toward Judy. Dufaure quickly wraps the large clear mask around her pumpkin-sized head.
“Is everything alright with her?” Asks LaShondra Jones in a half-mocking tone, keenly aware that very little is right with her.
“She is just nervous and maybe fatigued from the walking,” replies Lecomte to the dismay and laughter of the captivated live audience.
Judy sucks fresh oxygen with several heavy breaths in succession. Dufaure removes the mask.
“Alright Judy, all better?” Inquires Lecomte.
Judy nods and leans behind Marshall’s girth to escape the invasive eyes of millions of callous strangers watching the spectacle which is being streamed to audiences all around the world. LaShondra continues the show.
“And Judy and Marshall have two children, one son, and one daughter. They are named after menu items from an old fast-food restaurant from the last century. Their names are Royale and Dilly.”
Dufaure assists several handlers with escorting the children past the cameras, past Lecomte and Jones, and their mother and father who show very little interest in the frightened youngsters. The crowd continues with simultaneous sounds of disbelief, mockery, wonder, and sympathy.
“Bose children were bred in captivity, so zey are part of a different generation of Wild American. Daughter Dilly is nine years and already weighs one hundred fifty-five kilos.”
“That’s incredible for such a young girl,” notes Jones.
“Yes, we are very proud of her progress,” confirms Dr. Lecomte, beaming at the results of his work. He announces their measurements which astonish the crowd.
The children try desperately to hide behind their parents, but Judy uses her superior size to force them center stage. Their diapered bodies and bare feet appear blueish purple from the cold temperatures on the show’s set and generally poor blood circulation.
The bright lights, cameras, and crowd rattle Royale’s nerves and he protests with an unexpected lurch forward, jerking his handler by the leash. Lecomte rises to his feet to defuse the show of disobedience.
The giant boy turns to his master with a sheepish grin and lumbers back to his sister’s side. Lecomte nods to Dufaure who pulls a syringe from a waist pack and flicks the unusually long needle twice before it disappears into Royale’s fleshy arm. The man-boy is oblivious to the injection penetrating dead nerves on a dermal layer covering an enormous mass of gelatinous cellulite.
“Now what is she giving him?” Inquires the haughty host.
“Just a little snack to settle his nerves. It is sixty CCs of pure grade A high fructose corn syrup concentrate,” answers Lecomte. “She will administer five more now.”
The injections which would normally send a boy of his age on a significant sugar high, actually produce a calming and satisfied state in Royale, to the delight and scattered chuckles of the entertained crowd.
“Royale is actually zee heaviest twelve-year-old Wild American bred in captivity. We are very proud of his progress.” Lecomte glows at his giant experiment. The audience applauds this statistic.
“Yes, very impressive. The Kruk family, such fascinating creatures can be seen for a limited time at the Bronx Zoo, until September?”
“Correct, September zee twenty-two.”
“The book is called The Zookeeper’s Guide to Wild Americans. If you’re watching at home, you can download it anywhere. For those here today you will get a free audio copy uploaded to your cloud when you leave the studio. Dr. Jean-Paul Lecomte and the Kruk family ladies and gentlemen!”
The crowd erupts in a frenzy. Marshall settles into a half squat as the weight of a newly filled diaper pulls him down. He scans the cheering audience still chewing the corner of his puffy mouth. His thoughts turn to the promised treat by Mademoiselle Dufaure, a five-liter bucket of butter pecan heaven that waits back inside his cage.
A spot of saliva dribbles from his lower lip and falls through canyons of flesh between his H-cup breasts, down over three thick rolls around his waist and is finally absorbed by the heavily reinforced seams of his comforting cotton diapers.
I lives unknown, I loves unknown, I ams unknown.
Claude, where are you living right now?
Zat is unknown. I do not know.
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