There is no 15 minutes of fame anymore. It had been shortened to 3 minutes, the average length of a viral video.
The video was a wide angle shot. The caption was “Fat Funeral Fail!” It was a celebrity funeral of an 800 pound professional wrestler, so their was video. The oversized casket must have weighed a ton. The pallbearers carrying the casket down the aisle and up the platform built to accommodate the large crowd were all family members, 8 men, 7 of whom were in excess of 450 pounds, the runt of the litter looking diminutive at 200 pounds. They got to a certain point on the platform, and the platform failed under the weight. That was funny, but it was only the beginning. One by one the huge pallbearers fell through, but the casket stayed up. Two men, one on each side, held all of that weight, the two smallest. It was clear. That the TV show superhero, McCool, had all of the weight, while the fat man was their to balance. They gently put the casket down and helped the authorities with the fallen men. It was a short fall, less than 8 feet, bumps and bruises, but several had chest pains and one had a heart attack, services scheduled for next week.
Rafferty wore a brand-new suit for his brother Aiden’s funeral. He had a closet full of expensive Armani suits, not a “Big and Tall” like this one. This one was a two for one, something you never see at the high end stores. He had “fatted out” of his other suits. He hung on to them in a vain hope that he would fit into them again, one day. No matter what he did, he got fatter. He exercised more than most people. He ate less, but somehow, he gained weight. It was like he was that guy in the Stephen King novel “Thinner” only the opposite, where he got fatter until he died of something fat related.
He had to take one of his heart pills and lie down. Rafferty was exhausted. Being a pallbearer had taken a lot out of him. It wasn’t the 452 pounds he carried, although his heart was racing to the peak zone when carrying the casket. His wristwatch tracker had warned him he was standing into danger with his heart rate. It wasn’t all him. Aiden’s casket was oversized, as he had Aiden beat in the weight loss department. Aiden weighed in at 836 pounds at the time of death. His whole family, all the MacHales died young. All of them died of heart attacks, related to their extreme weight, possibly due to some failure of their Irish gene pool. Aiden was only 55—old by MacHale standards. Part of Rafferty’s problem was emotional exhaustion. When the priest had asked him to come forward and make a few comments at the funeral, he had lost it. Aiden and he had been estranged for so many years. They were close in age, and their parents had always made them rivals and not friends. It seemed as if their parents sucked more than most parents. Not everyone’s mother died in a rare accident when their 900-pound father crushed her in his sleep. When Rafferty the younger won his first hotdog eating contest, it was on. They made Aiden change seats and put Rafferty at the head of the table. They had long since changed their lifestyles, from hotdog eating contests to more traditional obesity sports. They were still morbidly obese. They were both great athletes and gravitated to sports where their girth was not a disadvantage. Aiden made his living as a professional wrestler with the handle “Doctor Angry” where he would allow the fellow wrestler to hit him and try to move him, and of course he was too big to move. Then he would get angry. The crowd would chant “Bood-Duh!, Bood-Duh!” He had this patented move called the Durham Buddha, where he would allow the opponent to knock him down and use the momentum of his fat and the bounce off the floor to come back up and clock him with a head butt. There were fans of his beer yoga class, his red meat diet plan, his radio talk show where he played psychologist (even thought his doctorate was in canine veterinary psychology technology from Papa Doc University in the Caribbean.) Traditional Buddhists were incensed that he used Buddhism for violence. He had once been attacked and hospitalized by an angry mob of Buddhists, as he didn’t think it was fair to fight back, and it would send the wrong message.
What did they think would happen? You had 800-pound Doctor Angry in a 1,000-pound gold plated casket with family members as pallbearers, all more than 450 pounds except for Liam. There was the ambulance as Cousin Finn had a widow-maker heart attack— which he should have survived with the immediate attention courtesy of the local media. Four other relatives had to be treated for chest pains at the funeral, either sympathetic or triggered by the stress of the funeral. The amazing thing was 180-pound Liam’s side of the casket stayed up when everyone else on that side fell, he was super strong.
He didn’t go by Liam anymore. It’s like he disowned the family. He had legally changed his name to a stage name: McCool. Most didn’t know he was related to Doctor Angry until the funeral. He had taken it too far. He thought he really was a superhero because he played one on TV. They were supposed to have lunch. But wow, he did look good. What was his secret? Hollywood trainers? He said he was going to tell Rafferty the “origin story of McCool” and that he could be a superhero too. Yep, probably writing some stupid book, further monetizing his good luck from not getting the fat gene, while he was cursed. Life was not fair.
“Liam” McCool was such a showoff. He did this crazy parkour routine getting Cousin Mike to the paramedics, and then disappeared up a building. He had a TV show called McCool where he played a superhero. I guess he really did do his own stunts.
Rafferty drove through McDonald’s and ordered two double quarter pounders with cheese and a large diet coke. The portions at the restaurant where he was meeting McCool were small, and he had to keep up his strength. He didn’t want to lose muscle mass. They were Irish by heritage, but let’s face it—Irish food sucked at the Irish pub where they were eating, it was all potatoes all the time. He was going low carb, with meat like in the quarter pounders.Rafferty ate his pre-lunch snack in the parking lot of the restaurant, trying not to hyperventilate. He had anxiety with expressing his feelings. They were having lunch at the Embassy Suites Hotel near the airport in Philadelphia, featuring a beautiful atrium with a high end restaurant with all plants, water features, glass elevators, exotic birds, and twenty floors of rooms the overlooked the internal landscape. Of course, McCool hadn’t arrived yet, fashionably late, that jerk. They had reservations so he was seated. Just then he got a text from McCool.
Sorry I’m late.
Then another text:
About to drop in. Look up.
McCool dove off the rail of about the 19 floor did a somersault, and hit feet first on the balcony of about the 17th floor, and thrust his way off into space, somersaulted, repeat, ten or fifteen times until he landed in a gymnast stuck landing in the middle of the atrium. Everyone stood and clapped. Well, everyone except him. Show off. They must have been filming for the show. He can’t believe he didn’t notice until he heard a director yell “Cut! That’s a rap.”
“Hey Rafferty—what’s up” said McCool. He wasn’t even sweating. Rafferty was still sweating from the exertion of walking into the hotel from the valet parking station.
“I mean besides your cholesterol, your weight, I have you in the Mac-great white- Whale pool---your next.” McCool snickered.
“Nice. You jerk” said Rafferty. They were brothers. They ragged on each other regularly. They exchanged some unpleasantries and laughed, just like old times, or so it seemed to McCool. Apparently, Rafferty was having a dramatic moment. McCool just let him rant wondering whether it was nature, nurture, or his mother’s hormone treatments that made him so dramatic.
“It’s not fair. You show off. You really do your own stunts. You are a TV superhero. Big whoop! I work out so hard and all I do is gain weight! You missed the fat gene and you are here taunting me! Its like you were born on third base and here you are bragging like you hit a triple!”
McCool smiled. “Is that all? Come on, tell me how you really feel. It’s okay I checked; they have a defibrillator onsite—several in fact in case you need two shocks at once to penetrate the blubber.”
“Yeah! And another thing! If you really are super, why aren’t you out there really helping people? If you are super strong, can climb like spiderman, shouldn’t you be really doing something?”
“Spiderman” said McCool.
“With great power, comes great responsibility.” He paused, took a sip of some water.
“Yeah!” said Rafferty.
Just then the server came. Rafferty ordered an 18-ounce ribeye with all the trimmings, seemingly forgetting his quarter pounder rationale. McCool ordered a large potato soup.
“Well Rafferty. I invited you here to listen to my origin story. Perhaps some of these questions you have will be answered if you will listen this time. But, like I said, I have you in the pool. I don’t think you will.”
Rafferty called McCool a colloquialism for a man who doesn’t bathe and has carnal knowledge of mothers.
“Sticks and stone, Bra, sticks and stones.” McCool laughed.
“Do you even know why I chose McCool for my name?” asked McCool.
“You think your cool, obviously,” said Rafferty.
“Nope. Everyone else thinks I’m cool. Also, we have the same genes. The superhero gene and the fat gene? One and the same.”
Rafferty looked perplexed.
“McCool is the Americanization Mac Cumhail, the legendary Irish demigod of myth and legend. Do you remember when I went to study with the Fionn Monks in Ireland?” asked McCool
“That cult!” said Rafferty. “They aren’t even Catholic! The protestants don’t like them either.”
“Remember that book I sent you, ‘How the Irish Saved Civilization?” asked McCool.
“All of my technical reading is on cosmetics and their application. I only have time for novels.” Said Rafferty.
“Well if you actually read, Rafferty, you would know that catchy title described how the monasteries in Ireland preserved knowledge during the dark ages. The Fionn Monks are part of our family tree and preserved the truth behind the myth of Fionn Mac Cumhail.”
“Weren’t Mac Cumhail’s giants?” asked Rafferty.
“Is that what google says? Why do you have to act like you know more than you do? Why can’t you listen, just listen, to anybody? I can see you googling it under the table, you have your phone in your lap. I think you have some quarter pounder on your tie...”
Rafferty called him another name that implied his mother and father weren’t married when he was born, something that made no sense since they were brothers and McCool was the youngest.
“They were giants—like you, like good old Doctor Angry, may he rest in peace. Did you see the size of that crane they used to lower him into the hole? The truth is that gene that makes you fat is a gift if you are responsible. With great power, comes great responsibility.”
McCool took a bite of potato soup. Then, he pushed the bowl away as if he were finished.
“Let me ask you. Do you still have digestive problems, I mean beyond what all fat men have?” asked McCool.
“You are so freaking insensitive and politically incorrect!” shouted Rafferty. He seemed like he might cry.
“Yes, I have to eat as I do because—”
“Yes, was fine got it.” Interrupted McCool. “I don’t have all day. Spare me the violins.”
“Did you ever notice that you can have a negative caloric balance for a long period of time yet gain weight?” asked McCool.
“It seems that way but that’s impossible” said Rafferty.
“No, it is not only possible, but a fact. I am living proof. It is the MacHale superpower. A mutation evolved during one of the many potato famines back in our homeland, a long time ago. Our wonderful bodies harvest more energy from food than any other creature on earth. You can survive and grow on one small potato a day.” Said McCool.
Rafferty looked incredulous.
“Do you find you are more flatulent than most people?” McCool asked. Rafferty didn’t understand the long word. “That you fart a lot?”
“Well, yeah,” said Rafferty. “How is this a superpower and not a curse?”
“Simple” said McCool. “Most athletes are limited based on how quickly their muscles can be supplied nutrients. We aren’t. All we must do is eat less and push the limits, like the Fionn Monks taught me. That is how I achieved so much.”
“Well, if you really are so super why aren’t you out there really helping people, like a real life spiderman?” asked Rafferty.
“I did- for a while. Do you remember the vigilante they called Jabba the Nut? That was me! Then the government wanted me to work for them. They made like they wanted to study me. I feigned incompetence and went into the movies. I can help more people this way anyway. I can do outreach. I want to focus my energy on my brains not brawn.” He took a sip of water.
“That couldn’t have been you. That guy wore a hood and was huge, like Jabba the Hut. Like me. He wore a hood and fought crime, worked with the navy seals-“
McCool interrupted, as the only way to get a word in with Rafferty, “ I was a giant, like the Fionn Monks of old. I started off with them like this, smaller. I did not want to focus my energy on maintaining the physical muscle. That means I must eat much less, and the hunger never goes away—but I am healthy.” McCool paused. There was a rare moment of silence. McCool hoped that meant Rafferty was thinking.
“Do you find you sleep less than most people?” asked McCool.
“You know I always have had insomnia” said Rafferty.
“It’s not insomnia. You just don’t physically need the sleep. I sleep four hours a night. I study the scriptures. First Timothy says physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
“When I was fighting crime for real, I would spend four hours a day training my body. I now use my MacHale energy to become wiser, and more knowledgeable. I find this incredible stamina with which we are gifted can be for working one’s brain as well, and it is preferable.” McCool put an envelope on the table and slid it to Rafferty.
“This is an all-expense paid trip to Ireland. You can stay with my friends in the Monastery, in the County Mayo, village of Westport. This is my gift to you. Go see for yourself. This superpower isn’t a free lunch. You have to work at it. ”
“You see Rafferty, every blessing is a curse, and every curse a blessing. It is what you do with it. I know a young man who had an illness that prevented him from pursuing his dream and his natural talent at basketball. Man could that kid shoot a basketball. I think maybe God took him off the basketball court on purpose so he could be a writer. Think of all the great writers you ever read. They all had something besides desire that put them into it. You could have been a great writer, but you made more money being the CEO of a cosmetics company. Who has time for writing? To be a writer you need to be cursed. I mean you make no money and have no clue if you will succeed or fail until that fateful day when people start reading your stuff. “
Let me think about it,” said Rafferty. Then Rafferty passed gas, loudly. “I need to check, make sure I won’t be excommunicated. I mean they are a cult.”
McCool took three running steps, jumped, and did his leapfrog parkour thing along the balconies, going up this time, effortlessly gliding to the 19th floor, like a superhero, like McCool.
“You do that!” he shouted behind him. He knew he wouldn’t. He knew that there would be an oversized Mac-whale casket in Philly within six months, but he hoped he was wrong.
This was the age of miracles and wonders, but not the kind Paul Simon meant in his song the Boy in the Bubble. Today’s miracle is blindness to wonders, and the ability to take offense at just about anything. They invented a miracle cigarette called vaping, where it doesn’t have the tar and smoke particles. One could smoke a little and not get cancer. Is it a miracle? No, because with our selfish evil desire’s children vape without limit of any kind but the destruction of their lungs. They invented a cellphone camera to get awesome pictures, but folks kill themselves taking more and more crazy selfies falling off cliffs. We have food and complain we are fat.
The MacHales are gifted to survive all manners of famine and protect their people as leaders, but they die young and the size of whales. McCool wept.