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Disgust was deep in Carl’s heart when he locked his eyes on Shareka. She stepped onto the rug, shiny beads of water rolling down her skin as she reached for the towel, hums of melody oozing from her throat. He glared at her, wishing the sight before him could somehow change with a magical twist. With Shareka’s lackadaisical attitude, he knew his fantasy would never come true. She just stood there, acting like she didn’t care. 

Shareka never knew of the countless times Carl would scan every inch of her body in moments like this, sneering or shaking his head behind her back. And there she was wiping the towel across her wet skin, a sunshine smile glowing from her caramel-colored face upon noticing his eyes on her, ignorant to his growing frustration. He could see all of it and he was fed up. Apparently, she could not.

They were all there, all that he hated so much: The projection of oversized breasts, swaying back and forth as she wiped her back; the overhang of cellulite on her arms shaking in unison with her breasts; streaks of wrinkled, discolored skin tattooed in sporadic areas around her light-brown hips and thighs; and the most despicable sight of all—the protrusion of lard hanging from her gut, moving in harmony with the rest of her excess skin. 

Hordes of cellulite put a damper on the areas he knew she could tone up, but Shareka was not getting the hint. 

I’m getting tired of her ass gaining all this damn weight. I wish she would just stick to a fuckin’ diet and exercise so I don’t have to look at this shit every morning. She got all the potential in the world to be tight as hell, but she ain’t feelin’ it. Damn, this is frustrat--

“Why you looking at me like that?” Shareka said to Carl, cutting off the swarm of words in his head. She tilted her head and rubbed her dark hair. Thick strands dangled against her shoulder, concealing a gross indentation caused by custom-made bra straps. 

Carl had been browsing through his Muscle Fitness magazine after they made love that Saturday morning, fantasizing about Shareka’s body as toned and luscious as the Hawaiian woman on the cover; a dream he now realized destined to be just the opposite in reality. 

“No--nothing, baby,” he stuttered, his eyes turning back to the magazine. 

“Well, you going to take a shower?  You know I want to buy that skirt today.”

Without responding, Carl raised up from the bed. The sharp rattle of bone friction coursed through his body as he stretched to the ceiling. Shareka walked into the bedroom, the towel draped around her shoulders. She stopped in front of him and caressed his limp “joystick,” a lover's smile gleaming on her face. 

“Goin’ now,” he said, moving her hand away and feigning a half-heartened grin. 

Shareka’s smile disappeared and a hiss of air brushed his chest, her eyes rolling away as Carl walked to the bathroom. Before he entered, he turned to her and frowned at the deluge of wrinkled skin cascading her lower back. That shit is really getting on my nerves.


As the streaming, warm water pounded against his tall frame, nagging thoughts of an overweight woman he somehow failed to mold picked at him. Shareka was a little overweight when he first met her, but he thought all she needed to lose was about 15 to 20 pounds. He knew she would lose the pounds if they exercised together, but with their conflicting work schedules and distracting lethargy, they were never able to establish a plan. Within two years, another thirty pounds crept up on her in places he couldn’t stand. 

Carl feared at the rate she was going, there was no way in the world he was going to marry her any time soon. He even thought she would follow his example and become more active.  She’d always complained about her expanding weight, but never put forth the effort to lose it. He couldn’t count the times she promised to walk everyday, only to stop after a week or so. Every attempt at a weight-loss regimen fizzled. He was afraid Shareka came to grips with her weight and decided to give it all up without telling him. He couldn’t have that shit. 

Man, oh, man.  What do I have to do to make her understand?  I don’t want her ass to leave me, but what can I say that won’t hurt her damn feelings?  One of these days I’m gonna have to come real ‘cause that overhanging belly be turning my ass off.  What’s messed up is she’s pretty as hell, too.  I bet she could look like one of them thick bitches on Jay Z’s new video if she really tried.  If she looked like that, man, I would never complain. Bitches be looking bad as hell.

Shareka’s sweet hums startled Carl. He was so deep in thought he didn’t realize Shareka was also in the bathroom, preparing for the day’s events. He pushed the plastic curtain aside to see Shareka combing her thick hair. He always loved her full-bodied hair, a blessing created by her Puertorican and African-American mixture. Carl wished she took care her body the way she did her hair.
After pulling the curtain back, he ran the soapy wash cloth down his legs and feet, trying hard not to think too much about his present “dilemma”. More than once he griped his thoughts out loud, to where Shareka would say, “who are you talking to?”

After showering, he stepped out of the bathtub onto the damp rug and grabbed his towel off the rack, keeping his eyes away from Shareka. As Shareka brushed her teeth, her eyes surfed Carl’s lean body, a body she always yearned to caress and embrace. It was the body of a man that littered the walls of her cubicle, calming her when the stress of the nine-to-five racked her nerves. 

She leaned over the sink and spat out toothpaste. “You look sexy when you’re wet,” she said.

Carl turned his back toward her while wiping his behind and said, “Yeah, I know.” 

He knew he had to return the compliment, so he took a second, rolled his eyes, and said, “you … uh, look good, too.” It was a thin response, no emotion in his tone to emphasize a remark she deserved.

Shareka smacked her tongue and shot her head back to the mirror. “Damn, you sure don’t sound like it,” she replied. “I know you wished I looked like one of those girls in that magazine.”

Well, if you know that why don’t you get off your ass and start trying to look like one? “Naw, girl, I like you the way you are,” he said, a hint of sarcasm in his voice. 

She turned to Carl and rolled her eyes as he sat on the toilet, wiping off his wet feet. He knew she was staring at him hissing under her breath, so he kept his eyes off of her. 

She turned off the water and placed the toothbrush in a small cup. “Whatever,” she replied. She stomped into the bedroom and grabbed a curling iron off of her dresser. 

"Humphf," Carl huffed under his breath. 

After destroying enough bacteria with a Colgate scrub-down, he grabbed his Norelco electric razor to trim his bushy mustache. Shareka was standing in front of a small mirror on her dresser, straightening her naturally curly hair, and giving it the length she knew her man would like. She then dressed into a sleeveless, medium-length dress and walked out of the bedroom.  Before she walked out, Carl noticed what she was wearing and frowned. There she goes putting on shit she knows her big ass shouldn’t be wearing. Damn, damn, damn. He shook his head.

He placed the razor in the cabinet, then studied his tone frame in the mirror, vain eyes perusing his arms, chest, and stomach. He clenched his belly and glared at his reflection, wearing his best warrior face as he tightened his jowls and pursed his lips, convincing himself the rock body of Carl David Lovell — all 6”2’, 185 lbs of him — belonged on the September edition of Muscle Fitness magazine. His fingers caressed the rippling hardness of a self-made six pack, a satisfied grin etched on a conceited face. 

Then he balled his fist and raised both arms, flexing his biceps and looking like a 185 lbs Lou Ferr-“Negro.”  He tried to strike a stance better than the pro-builders in his magazine. His crunched face resembled the ills of constipation than of a man trying to pose. He had no doubt in his mind his three-day workouts would allow him to send in a before-and-after picture soon. He gave his biceps a peck. 

Damn, I look good. Shit, even if I pinch myself I can barely feel an ounce of fat. Why is that? Is it because I’m motivated? You damn right. What I’m looking at right now is exactly how she’s supposed to look, for real.

After a few more minutes of self-flattery, he returned from his beefcake fantasy and walked into the bedroom, throwing the towel on the bed. Rays of morning, summer heat seeped through the window blinds, so he pulled out a pair of denim shorts and a white tank top and threw them on the chair in front of the computer. 

He stared at the monitor. “Hmmm,” he said, concentrating on the evil deed brewing in his head.

He sat down in the chair and clicked on the Internet Explorer icon. With the high-speed connection of DSL, the Yahoo! web page jumped to the screen. Ever since they switched from modem to DSL a few months before, Carl had become a late night Internet junky, especially on nights when Shareka would fall asleep in the living room. It the best time for him and his Ebony Ecstasy pinups to get into a freaky fantasy right there in his bedroom. 

Before typing in the web address, he put a halt to his X-rated secret. He finally acknowledged what the left side of his brain told him. If Shareka caught glimpse of a cyberspace woman with spread legs and plastic breasts staring at her man from a computer screen, her angry shrieks and flying objects would fuck his day all up. His hobby was for him and his hard, little homey only. He had to check his shit another time, when Shareka couldn’t mess up his nasty flow. 

“I’d better not,” he said, remembering Shareka was in the other room. He shook his head, then decided to check his email.  The list of junk advertised from a gazillion folks who bought his email address littered his inbox:

Subj: Get 2% APR on a VISA!
Subj: Are you drowning in debt?
Subj: Why didn’t you call me last night?
Subj: I have what you’ve been waiting for…
Subj: Re: your new account
Subj: If you want it, come and get it… 
Email filters and address blocks couldn’t stop all cleverly disguised X-rated advertisements. Sneaky online hackers used more creative ways to get past them. As many X-rated web-sites Carl visited, Hugh Hefner, Larry Flint, and any other tycoon specializing in visual fuck candy were probably having a bidding war over his email address.

He deleted his junk mail, then checked his online backing account and stock portfolio before closing up the web pages. As he stood from the chair, he caught a glimpse of Miss Hawaii on the magazine cover and smiled, deciding to give her a mental visit. It was the August swimsuit edition, so he plopped down on the bed and flipped through the pages to find her. 

Upon setting his eyes on her golden body, her naked image manifested on his waterbed, lying against his pillow, staring at Carl with exotic, cat eyes. Her tongue swirled around her bright-red lips. Naughty eyes invited him in ... swollen breasts like large cinnamon-flavored lollipops ... meaty legs spreading wider ... and wider ... and…

“Carl, you want an omelet?” screamed Shareka from kitchen. 

Carl shook like he got caught staring at a Heather Hunter spread on the Net. He punched the pillow where Miss Hawaii once lay. Shit, I was just about to get in some Oloha ass, too. “Yeah!” he exclaimed, realizing the anger in his voice.

After flipping through more pages, he decided there was no use torturing himself, so he threw the magazine up on his dresser and sighed. Well, I ain’t ever gonna have somebody as fine as her on my bed, so I got to settle for Shareka’s ass

After getting dressed, he grabbed some lotion and a hairbrush off of his dresser and walked out of the room. The aroma of Shareka’s infamous bacon and cheese omelet tickled his nostrils as he entered the small dining area. Shareka was rolling the omelets with a spatula. 

“You ready for yours?” she asked.

“Hell, yeah,” he replied, wiping lotion on his arms. “You know I love that shit.”

It was a typical Saturday morning ritual: she always made it a priority to whip up a breakfast dish she knew he loved.  Before meeting Shareka, he never met anybody with the kind of cooking skills she had. Even though he didn’t like the weight she had gained, he couldn’t see himself telling her not to cook certain foods, knowing she would have to eat, too. He decided since he couldn’t cook and since he loved to eat, it didn’t make sense for him to tell her, “I want you to cook me up some baked potatoes, fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, and green beans—but you can’t have none ‘cause it’s too fattening.” At times, he definitely wanted to tell her that, though. 

While they chewed their food at the glass table, Carl was thumbing through the pages of another men’s magazine, similar to the one he left in the bedroom. 

He did not say one word to her. 

While skimming through articles detailing the next hot vitamin supplement and workout regimens, he didn’t feel the heat from Shareka’s eyes. 

“You didn’t say a word about how I look,” she said.

Aw hell. Carl’s eyes inched up. He noticed her hair was a little more relaxed and wavy, touching her shoulders. A trace of mascara over smooth skin. Light brown eyes that sparkled like crystal. Full Afro-rican lips. A face of beauty, just a little chubby. The same face that made Carl whip his car around upon noticing her standing at a bus stop. A face of a woman now craving her man’s recognition. 

Carl only noticed the girth in her arms and the need for curl-ups to tone them.

He returned his eyes to the magazine. “I think you look nice,” he said with no enthusiasm. He said nothing more. The only sound that followed was the clatter of their forks against their plates. 

Carl continued flipping through the magazine. He turned to a page of a young sista with honey-colored legs spread like peanut butter, a finger tugging on her bottom lip, her wet body posed under a tropical waterfall, angelic face floating with orgasmic bliss. 

He nibbled his bottom lip. He could taste the honey. He pushed the magazine away and concentrated on tasting his omelet. 

Shareka looked down at the magazine. Fury growing. Eyes cutting. Fingers balling. 

“You trying to tell me something?” she said.

Carl looked up, trying his best to look innocent.  “What?” he replied amid his chewing, sounding like a toddler who knew he did wrong.

“You know what! Why did you leave this page open? You obviously wanted me to see it.”

Here we go.  Maybe your ass will get the hint. “Shareka, you crazy,” he said, his eyebrows crunching together. “I just finished reading it, that’s all.”

Shareka rolled her eyes and stood up, banging her knees against the glass. Carl placed a hand on his vibrating plate. He didn’t say one word as Shareka grabbed her plate that was still full of uneaten bacon and eggs.

“Whatever,” she said, her back toward him. “You’re a fuckin’ asshole.” 

She marched to the small kitchen trashcan, pushed her food in with the fork, and dropped her plate in the sink. Without looking his way, she grabbed her car keys off of the kitchen counter and walked to the front door. Carl said nothing as she opened the door.  She slammed it behind her with a loud thud. Carl could hear her wooden sandals pounding against the steps. Crybaby ass.

Carl huffed as he chewed, hardly feeling any guilt despite the devious suggestion of a half-naked, well-toned woman in the magazine. He finished his omelet and put the plate in the sink.  He knew she would be in the Honda Civic pouting, so he was in no hurry. 

He strolled to the front door and opened it. As he closed it behind him, he whistled a tune from his favorite artist Nelly, acting carefree. He reached in his pockets for his keys and locked the door.

After descending the two flights of stairs, he walked to their designated parking spot and saw Shareka sitting at the wheel with her arms crossed and an blank stare. She had not started the car yet. 

He pretended like he didn’t notice her and reached into his pocket for his shades, acting cooler than an Eskimo. Shareka started the car the moment Carl got in. He noticed her moist cheeks and looked out his window, cursing the “crybaby” in his head; the “crybaby” that sat next to him. Aw hell, her ass was crying. Her ass always crying. I’m going to have to keep my ass quiet. Shit, I can already tell this is going to be one fucked up day.



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