The Fat Man’s Chance

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

The mid-day shadows moved with precision along the walls of the great house as if it were a giant sun dial. Against the north wall of the canyon, in contrast to the straight lines of the stone structure, ran a ramshackle course of lean-tos built with spindly sticks and scraps of cloth and animal hides. Beneath the shade of one sat the rarest resident of the canyon: a fat man. In a land of people made thin by constant physical labor and the threat of famine, the Fat Man stood as the best evidence that humans were capable of accumulating layers of body fat.

Lightfoot jogged across the canyon floor with two boys. The Fat Man’s headquarters sat in an indention in the cliff wall, a sort of corner in the long east-west run of the canyon, and men thronged there as if for a prize fight — which, indeed, the Fat Man sometimes sponsored.

Today, the action included only the usual games of chance, the endless supply of corn beer, and the draped-off rooms of the prostitutes.

Lightfoot knew the guards and they knew him. “Can we see him?”

“He’s busy,” said the guard with the broadest shoulders.

“He’s busy eating,” said Lightfoot. The guards laughed and allowed the boys inside. They passed the giant clay pots from which old women served corn beer and a room where a curtain had been pulled back showing two naked women with men on top of them, a crowd of men watching, some openly masturbating. Lightfoot looked away, but his two companions gawked.

They found the Fat Man with a platter of sweet corn dumplings, mugs of corn beer, and the picked-clean carcass of a roasted bird.

“Ah, my light-footed young renegade,” the Fat Man said. “Come, eat and drink.” He ignored the other boys, who alternately eyed the food and the ground.

Lightfoot sat facing the fat man and took one corn dumpling and ate it. The Fat Man handed him a mug, and he drank.

“Now, what brings you to the Fat Man’s house of pleasure?” His eyes gleamed with wetness.

“I have friends who need help,” Lightfoot said.

“What kind of friends?”

“This kind of friends.” Lightfoot pushed aside the plate of corn dumplings and from a pouch poured a pile of human teeth, each filed to a point.

The Fat Man leaned forward with effort, examined the pile of teeth, and grabbed a handful of sweet dumplings. “What kind of teeth are these?”

“Fifty-three pointed teeth from the heads of two dozen Masaw Warriors.”

The Fat Man stopped eating and stared at Lightfoot. “Somebody killed two dozen Masaw Warriors?”

Lightfoot nodded.

“Who?”

“My friends who need help. Sort of.” The fat man’s eyes narrowed. Lightfoot told the story of the fifty-seven pointed teeth, of the boy, Tootsa, who kept four teeth for himself, and of the band of orphan warriors who waited in a side canyon to the southeast.

“What do they want?” asked the Fat Man.

“To get close enough to the High Priest and the Chief Masaw Warrior to kill them.”

The Fat Man’s eyes leaped back and forth across the room and he clasped his hands over his belly. He squinted at Lightfoot. “Don’t say that too loud, even here.” He stared into space, smacking his lips. “That’s ambitious beyond …” He played a greasy finger over his lips. “If they managed to do that, it would change everything.” Then more in a mumble to himself than a statement to Lightfoot, he said, “I would love to move out of this hovel and into the great house.”

He turned his attention to Lightfoot. “Send this orphan warrior leader to me. If he’s worthy, I may help him.”

He waved Lightfoot and his two friends away, and then struggled to his feet. He scooped up the pile of pointed teeth and put them back into the pouch, which he slipped into an inside pocket. Then he walked to the edge of the shade, where he stared long and hard across the bright canyon floor at the gleaming great house of the High Priest.

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13 Comments

Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Ancient Americans, Chaco Canyon, Chimney Rock, Historial Fiction

13 responses to “The Fat Man’s Chance

  1. Hi, Jeff. I just gave you the Kreative Blogger Award. You can pick it up here:
    http://www.jmstrother.com/tiki-view_blog.php?blogId=1

    You should now pass it on to seven other creative bloggers you know, and name seven mystery authors you like.

    I think you are doing some very interesting and innovative things here. You well deserve the award.
    ~jon

  2. KjM

    We all have our ambitions – as was mentioned above, the Fat Man might yet turn out dangerous.

    He will help, only so far as it is of benefit to him. Should something else turn out more beneficial…

    You are creating a wonderful set of complex interrelationships between these different, and differing, characters. I can’t stop reading.

  3. Well, I finally made it around to your story, Jeff. Always a treat. I’m doing these in alphabetical order off my list, so it takes a while to get to “The…” :p

    What is so neat about your stories is how very real they feel. Here we see the corrupt underbelly of this society, which mirrors corrupt underbellies world wide. Universal truths are ageless. Really a fascinating world you’re building here and something I look forward to every week.
    ~jon

  4. Aloha Jeff,
    After reading this I could not resist dipping into your earlier entries, eager to know more about the story you are spinning. You are able to create such vivid characters.

    As Stephen mentioned, your ending line seemed a perfect and ironic ending to me, for to everyone else, the Fat Man already stood in a “house of pleasure.”

  5. I’m new to this group and I really have enjoyed reading all the stories, including yours! Well done!

  6. I can’t wait to see how this ends. The imagery of Tootsa picking out the exact four teeth still resonates with me. Nice call back.

  7. I am with the others, and can’t wait to see how this is played out. I love the progression of these stories. You are slowly drawing me into the culture (and the bigger story) AND trapping me there.

    There is so much of interest, I don’t mind at all.
    I always look forward to reading more.
    ~2

  8. battypip

    I hope those kids know what they’re letting themselves in for. Fat Man is not a nice person, and won’t just be a means to an end. Interestingly, this story shows the aspects of Anasazi culture that are similar to 21st century Western culture, whereas the previous stories I’ve read show how different the Anasazi culture is. I love it 🙂

  9. dan

    Again it is the humanity of the characters that helps us enter the cultural world of your fiction, Jeff. The envy and desire of the fatman is palpable at the end. Great stuff.

  10. Nice piece. This is the first I’ve read of your work – I love how you have become inspired to study and write about the Anasazi. I have a few topics like that rattling around in my brain – fertile ground for fiction. I look forward to reading more!

  11. Intriguing. I can’t wait to see how this one plays out. I like the way you have the Fat Man looking at the gleaming house. So many thoughts running around in his head, and I can feel the longing in his heart. Good stuff.

  12. And Fat Man would be running Vegas if he were alive now. 🙂

    Great continuation of the story, as always. You do an excellent job of it, Jeff!

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