By Russell McGilton
There, right there in a dark lounge room sat Bob Maxwell, the ghostly hue from the television washing over his middle-aged face, a face so large that it could have been its own country. Sparkles of sugar, from a pack of donuts he was reloading his mouth with, twinkled on his chin and cheeks like stars in the Milky Way.
‘Welcome!’ up came the red puffy face of Eddie Effington as he stood in a studio kitchen full of people in white chef hats. ‘We pit the cooking skills of ordinary people against each other to see who will be Australia’s most Gormless Gourmet!’
Applause crackled from the TV just as the doorbell rang.
‘Oh!’ Bob shifted with annoyance causing his numerous chins to slap into each other like dominoes. ‘Doris!’
‘DORIS!’ But then he realised that she was at work and wouldn’t be home for another half hour.
DING DONG! DING DONG!
‘Hang on!’ He rocked back and forth, trying to flip himself out of the chair.
DING DONG! DING DONG! DING DONG!
‘I said, ‘HANG ON!’ ’
Finally, he swang himself up and lumbered breathlessly to the door and opened it.
‘Hello?’ He looked around the porch. There was no one there.
Just as he was about to close the door he noticed something on the door matt.
It was a gold cardboard box.
Bob looked around again, took the box inside and closed the door.
Moments later, there was a loud crash inside the house.
In the middle of the lounge room, Bob laid writhing and clutching his stomach, his face glazed with sweat, the gold box now empty.
He tried to get up but being so big he couldn’t. However, without really trying he felt himself going upwards because Bob was expanding! First his tummy, then his thighs, his arms, his face and lastly, his bottom.
‘WHAT IN GOD’S NAME!?’
‘What did you use? Self-raising flour? ’Effington’s voice cheesed from the television.
And then Bob felt it. A deep urgent stab somewhere deep inside him.
‘‘Ooh!’ He ran (well, tumbled) towards the toilet but got stuck in the hallway, his bloated limbs and body pushing against the walls. He began to cry, ‘PLEASE! MAKE IT STOP!’
Alas, his body continued to blow outwards, tsunamis of white flab knocking over bookshelves, pictures, chairs, the dining table and the refrigerator – its contents spilling loudly onto the floor. Bob could now feel himself all over the house: in the bathroom – the sink cold on his belly button tickling him momentarily; the bedroom – the warmth of the dooner on his shoulder; the lounge room – the television hot on his left cheek butt.
Yes, when Bob sat around the house, he sat around the house!
‘This soufflé reminds me of a Cumulus cloud in a John Constable painting.’
Unable to contain him, the walls started to splinter, the floorboards bowed and cracked. Something ruptured and hissed in the kitchen.
Still, he kept filling up the house. ‘Like a balloon,’ Bob thought, just like the ones that had on occasion crossed over his house on clear mornings, their gas jets waking him up.
Gas. That’s what Bob could smell now. Gas. ‘I’ve got to get out of here!’
But as he struggled he heard the car door of his wife’s car slam shut, her feet scuffing the deck, the key sliding into the door lock.
‘RUN, DORIS!’ he begged. But all Doris could see was that her husband was everywhere.
‘BOB! WHAT ON EARTH DID YOU EAT THIS TIME?’
‘A – ’
The house exploded into a jet of blue flame, blowing the roof right off. A confetti of debris scattered the lawns of neighbours while the roof crashed down on Mr Weatherbee’s Honda Civic, at last creating the garage he’d always wanted.
‘What temperature did you set the oven on to get such a lovely golden brown?’ Effingtion spoke, his face cracked and disjointed like a Picasso painting.
‘Two-hundred and twenty degrees for fifteen minutes. Any longer and you’d burn it.’