Petroleum Jelly Therapy
by Matthew Dexter
Who needs seafood shacks when the Creole shrimp are covered in oil? Purple slick runs through the Bayou behind our house, kissing the grass, flanking the pillars on the dock. Marsh covered in tarballs and the alligators have disappeared. As I hug my wife, we watch rainbows ride toxic currents. Times have been better, but things will pick up. British Petroleum is one of the richest companies in the world. They’ll fix this.
Boiling bacon for breakfast, restless bubbles bouncing to the surface as I scoop out her eggs. Tempers rise with the temperature of the cleanest water we’ll see for weeks. Tired of waiting for answers. So far their only solution consists of chemicals and dissolvent, polluting our futures to make the purple disappear. Three months and the stilts of the house are caked in sludge. Still no boats or booms helping with clean-up, not in this toxic forgotten Bayou a hundred miles from our nearest neighbor. I wade in the water with knee-high rubber boots. Wife cries and eats fried foods all day and night. Our savings dwindle. We rack our brains for employment ideas. We broil potatoes, rub petroleum jelly on her tummy, and watch the moon staining the lagoon.
The crickets have stopped chirping. Starry night, moaning body beside me my only inspiration. We make love inches above the worst oil spill in American history. Then it hits me. Sinking my hand into the fleshy labyrinth of her abdomen, my fingers get lost in the mazes of her meat. They find their way to the belly button, that endless crevasse that leads god only knows where. “We need to sell this fat,” I tell her. She shoots me a peculiar look as she climaxes—brown eye twitching as the other rolls back inside her head. I grab those rolls on her sides as she writhes with the Milky Way galaxy, stars forming constellations in the shape of dollar signs for our amusement as she rolls over and abusive pollutants: our only witness.
She grows bigger as the tarballs grow fewer and farther in-between. Lies in bed most of the day watching Glee. Wife already pushing four hundred pounds before the explosion, but reaching six hundred will make her legend. Such a pretty face. Our ultimate goal is eleven hundred pounds. Could take many years. Beneath the surface, residual petroleum globs will be here decades after we’re gone. The alligators have not returned. “We’ll make a website,” I tell her. “There’s a million guys out there with sick fetishes who would pay to see a big, beautiful Bayou lady get naked and eat. Hot damn! They’ll pay for our food too. We’ll beat that woman from Old Bridge, New Jersey. Get you on the Howard Stern show, the fattest woman in human history.” We fall asleep to the echo of distant thunder. I sink my entire elbow and forearm into the sea of our desperation, watching lightning shoot across the swampland.
Goddamn men in Hazmat suits finally make it through the marsh. “Howdy Doodles.” We wave our arms as they shake their heads and dismiss us as savages. The wife ravishes what little food remains. She’s already made a splash on the Internet and the food donations have begun flowing down the tributary. We’re making a fortune but the government says we will need to leave our home. But they’ve taken away my boat to assure we stay quarantined until the scientists figure out about all those boils and strange lesions and the biopsy results return from the laboratory. We’re having a baby. Living here for the better part of a year has left us with hope, a future. We’ve run out of toiletries, medical supplies and many modern conveniences, but we’ve improvised. Purple our magic potion. Petroleum jelly in hand, rubbing the goose who laid the golden egg, I wonder where all the alligators went.