At the end of the month Steve was beside himself with fear. He would be on tour again, dealing with all those guys, avoiding all that food and laziness, having to make public appearances. He didn't know if he could stand the change in routine. He took solace in the warm haze of rolling hunger pangs, the ones that made his head spin, made his mouth water, his tummy gnaw and crunch and rumble and complain. He hadn't enjoyed the sensations when he was hustling. Now, however, he wondered how he'd ever lived with out them. They were hard to take when they first hit, but he discovered that if he concentrated on the intense sensations that coursed through him, when it finished he felt more relaxed than he could ever imagined.
If drug addicts ever found out about dieting, the dealers would be in big trouble.
He dragged himself to the tourbus, afraid of what the others would have to say to him. To his surprise, no one seemed to care about his weight loss. They just kept on joking around and having a good time. They tried to include him in their joviality, but he was too upset that they hadn't noticed.
He had worried they'd be mad. Now he wished they were. At least he'd know they'd seen his hard work.
The first month was hectic. The band returned to the pattern they'd set up when Steve first joined. He also returned to his workout pattern. He did have to change his diet, because the lumps surrounding his bellybutton wouldn't shrink. The only things allowed to pass his lips in a twenty-four hour period was water and a single Libby's Chicken Vienna Sausage in Chicken Broth. Not an entire 5-ounce can, which would feed him for 9 days, but a single, solitary link. It had to be rinsed, to remove any traces of the fatty, congealed chicken broth, then wrapped and patted in a paper towel for 15 minutes before it could be consumed. Most importantly, however, was that he eat it at least an hour before bed. Any sooner and he just couldn't sleep. The two inch long sausage would sit heavily in his abdominal cavity and not digest, because he wasn't exercising. It would lay there and rot inside of him, creating a massive, intensely vile cloud of toxic gases that would have his belly exploding in an effort to purge his delicate system.
Or so he told himself.
The beginning of the second month was better. Everyone had settled into his routine, and to Steve's surprise, no one bothered him anymore. The road manager even made sure he got his own room at all times, even though he hadn't asked for it. Best of all was the reading on the scale. Once he finally cleared that stupid 10-pound hurdle, the weight finally began to melt away. He was a cool, slender 113. He still battled with the sickening bulges covering his stomach, but he wore large, flowing shirts to cover the gross protrusions. That meant no one could see his progress, but he just couldn't look at the icky humps. Not that anybody ever saw him long enough to see the weight loss, anyway.
The third month of the tour was spent hiding in the dark. The holidays had arrived, full force, and everyone was eating and drinking and having a merry old time. He was trying not to gag on the scent of all the food coming in and out of the rooms they occupied. He took solace in the fact that while everybody complained about gaining winter weight, he was still losing. On Thanksgiving, he weighed 109.
By Christmas Eve he was 102 pounds.
Those humps were still there. He had to keep going.
The fourth month of the tour had him scared to death. His birthday was approaching rapidly. He was so afraid the band would try to give him a cake in front of the whole crew, and he just couldn't take that. His daily sausage had already been cut in half after Christmas, to help hasten the dissipation of the revolting disfiguring sacs that pressed urgently against his translucent skin. If they made him eat something else, he... didn't know what to do. He checked his weight every single day, sometimes twice. If he made it to 100, maybe he could take a bite of cake... maybe.
By the time his twenty-ninth birthday arrived, he was 97 pounds and sick to his stomach. The perverse mounds that forced through the skin of his guts seemed denser than ever, dashing any hopes to endure a slice of birthday cake. Though there was nothing in his aching body to throw up, he spent a great deal of time in his room hunched over a trashcan, belly crushed with disgust and fear. He went on stage later that evening and ran around in crazy circles, whooping it up, pretending to have a really great time on his birthday. When they got off stage, there was a giant cake with thick, shiny white frosting waiting for him, just as he feared. He just smiled and cut the dark chocolate cake himself. He played consummate host, passing out huge chunks of cake, making sure everyone got seconds. When someone commented on the fact that he hadn't had any himself, he'd already devised a plan to get around having to digest the fatty dessert.
He cut the biggest hunk of cake for himself and grabbed a handful of napkins. He then walked around the room, mingling with everyone, talking to the crew more that night than he ever had over the course of both tours. He conspicuously put big forkfuls of cake in his mouth, chewing slowly and even pretending to swallow. He complained to whomever he was speaking of an annoying cough he was developing and, as if on cue, raised his napkin to his mouth to cough daintily. He didn't realize everyone he spoke to could see him spit each forkful of cake he put in his mouth into one of the napkins he hid under his plate. When the plate was clean, he thanked everyone, said he wanted to go to his room early for any birthday phone calls from his parents, and left. When he got to his room, he unplugged the phone and stripped to change into the sweatpants he slept in. Before he had a chance to put the sweats on, he took one look at the taut, hard, bulbous mounds thrusting obscenely through his skin and frantically, viciously and spontaneously barfed what crumbs of chocolate made it down his throat.
The fifth month was even worse. His weight had plateaued at 96 pounds, and the cordy knobs around his navel were still hanging on. It marked the one year anniversary of his arrival in the band, but he didn't even acknowledge it. All he knew was those... things on his stomach weren't going away. He had his gofer buy him every exercise book he could find to try and get rid of the things, but they sat there, humped under his navel, lumping under his ribs, making his belly stick out. He avoided mirrors, knowing he would retch if he saw his repugnant belly.
The sixth month finally arrived, and the band was in the studio as soon as they got home. Afterwards, they would get a decent break. A whole year off the road was promised to them, as they were popular enough that people were recognizing them on the street. That meant the promo work could be done with a few interviews and some video clips. That would come after a minimum three month rest, after the album was finished. Steve was glad for it. He could get to work on getting rid of the abhorrent distortions on his belly in peace.