Mass after Mass: A Christmas story

by SamErgule

Joshua returns to his homeland where a tradition of completing nine dawn Masses before Christmas Day is said to ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

5 parts 15k words Added Dec 2022 9,621 views 5.0 stars (8 votes)

Part 1 Joshua returns to his homeland where a tradition of completing nine dawn Masses before Christmas Day is said to ensure your wishes are fulfilled. (added: 24 Dec 2022)
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
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Part 1

It was the middle of December, and Joshua Figueroa still felt groggy from the overlong flight from Heathrow to NAIA and from the two-hour bus ride to his hometown in Urreta. His father Domingo had failed to meet him in Manila. “The car broke down,” Domingo said. But Joshua knew that the old man would rather tend to his fighting roosters than inconvenience himself for his own flesh and blood.

“You’re a big boy,” he’d told him earlier over the phone. “I’m sure you can get home before dinner.”

Domingo’s words proved true that afternoon when he heard his son’s footsteps coming from the wooden staircase leading to the antesala. There at the doorway of the comedor, with luggage in hand, stood a 5-foot 7-inch and 200-pound muscle bound man.

“You grew.” Domingo sipped his hot chocolate which Felicidad had brought him earlier.

“Of course. I wasn’t writing all the time.”

The truth was, Joshua got depressed living solo as a graduate student at King’s College. Sure, the abundance of knowledge and the prestige he could get nowhere else first attracted the 140-pound man when he had stepped inside the university. But he realized later that he needed variety in his life, away from the dusty halls and dreadful conversations too common in his field. And so he used the scant time he had working out. He only wanted to blow some steam off initially. But the next thing he knew, he was putting more hours in the gym, lifting heavier weights, and gaining more quality muscle. And to prove to himself how serious he was, he hired a personal trainer named Liam who got him access to gear.

“You should compete,” Liam said. “Your proportion and symmetry are to die for. If you diet down hard enough, you could place.”

“I’ll think about it.”

The new Joshua surprised his peers and advisers. They could not fathom how he even found time to build a phenomenal body when papers were demanding to be written. Joshua suspected that they secretly blamed his mediocrity to his lack of sacrificial dedication to the academe. But the call of the iron and the pump had already caught his heart.

At least one man other than himself enjoyed his new body. As soon as he landed in Manila, Ethan called for a brief meet up over coffee. “You look like you ate yourself whole. I like it,” Ethan said, sipping his cappuccino. Merlinda, the town chandler, also said something of the like when he arrived in the cemetery to visit his mother’s grave. Such comments boosted his confidence, a little reminder that he had gone beyond that lanky kid who would ruin the game for his teammates.

But there he was now, in the Figueroa ancestral house, standing before his father who kept talking about the time he lifted weights in the 70s.

Joshua slept the whole afternoon and woke up late into the night. Felicidad had left him a dinner of chicken tinola which she herself cooked after Domingo’s favorite rooster lost. He devoured the lukewarm meal. He went back to bed, but he found it hard to sleep. His body was still getting used to the eight-hour difference.

He wondered how he could survive this sleepy town. His friends in high school only consisted of the members of the chess club, and they had all found work abroad. He was basically setting himself up for a lengthy, unproductive holiday. But Manila was too terrible a city to offer a better alternative.

Earlier that morning, inside that small comfort room in the café, Ethan had been kissing his pecs and caressing his biceps. His fingers were tracing the details of his washboard abs down to his hardening cock. Seconds later, the smaller man was ramming his ass, reminding Joshua who the boss really was. At the end of the day, Ethan had powerful friends who could take Joshua to places.

“See you in a few days,” Ethan said after their quick session. “The guys wanted a get-together. Carla suggests we discuss Philippe Léandre’s new work on post-humanism. But it’s Christmas, and who’s in the mood for that?” He kissed Joshua goodbye.

The sound of church bells cut his thoughts short. He checked his phone. It was 4:30 in the morning. He slid the capiz shell window open and watched a familiar scene.

The baroque Urreta church dominated the plaza mayor. In its yard stood a nativity scene, its manger still left empty. Cars, tricycles, and jeepneys sounded their horns to signal the arrival of the faithful. Paról or star-shaped lanterns lit every tree in the plaza where gathered the town’s families, couples, musicians, and street food vendors. It was the 16th of December, the first of the Misas de Aguinaldo or the nine Masses celebrated each early morning before Christmas Day.

None of the Figueroas were religious, save for Joshua’s mother who took the burden of lighting a candle for her unbelieving relatives. Joshua used to attend such Masses with her because she would reward him afterwards with an ice cream bun and a bag of bibingka or baked rice cake. A brass band would play carols in the plaza grandstand. He would play with the street kids before his mother would call him to help her carry the bags from the market. These things made up his childhood memories of the season, different from those of his British peers who talked of Father Christmas and roast chicken and snow.

Joshua got up to get dressed. If he could not sleep, he might as well do something else. He opened his grand wardrobe for some decent church clothes. He’d told his father to have Felicidad wash them before he arrived. But he realized just now that none of them fit him anymore. Nevertheless, he tried on his small PE shirt. Its sleeves just ripped off his arms before he even put the rest of the shirt over his head. He smirked, thinking how big he had become.

He opened his luggage and took out some jeans and his favorite Nirvana t-shirt. He then saw himself topless in the wardrobe mirror. He smiled. His body looked magnificent. His eyes feasted on his broad shoulders, his bulging arms and pecs, the supple lines and curves crisscrossing his torso, all visible under the moon and lantern lights. He got hard in seconds.

But his brief vanity gave way to the sound of the bells. He changed quickly and walked out of the house.

He let the cool air hit his body as he strolled across the plaza. He let the smell of steamed glutinous rice and coconut milk fill his nostrils. The kids were already up, singing Christmas carols and asking strangers for some spare coins. When they saw Joshua, they flexed their arms. He flexed back and let them touch his 19-inch biceps. The town was full of life, and all the misery in the world vanished like vapor. Joshua felt like a kid again. He wished he could feel like one forever.

The church was packed. Joshua came in later than most, so he had no choice but to stand up in the aisles during the whole service. He could force himself in the pews, but he knew he would take up too much space that could have been given for a grandma and her little girl.

The pipe organs resounded. “Veni, veni, Emmanuel!“ chanted the choir up the loft. Incense invaded Joshua’s nostrils and sent his soul to the holy of holies. And there in the wide nave, walked with utmost devotion, the ministers, acolytes, lectors, priests, and finally, the monseñor.

One of the priest had a deep set of eyes which made his face a handsome one when in a good mood and a tired one when not. This time, the gauge turned to “Tired.” Joshua thought he looked familiar, and so he rummaged the obscure parts of his memories. He failed. He leaned against the pillar, letting the ceremony and the prayers pass by his consciousness. He had been dozing off from time to time. Finally his body was begging for a good rest.

“Go in peace,” said the monseñor. Joshua came round from his deep slumber. The faithful who were moving out quickly while the choir was rushing through the recessional hymn.

Joshua rubbed his eyes and yawned. He walked over to the side chapels by the church door where people were lighting candles and saying a few prayers to a myriad of holy images. One that caught his attention was a statue of a Dominican priest holding a ciborium in one hand and a statue of the Virgin in the other. The pedestal bore the name San Jacinto de Polonia, Urreta’s patron saint.

“Making a wish, Josh?”

He turned around. Before him approached the padre with a familiar face. He was two inches taller than Joshua. He was wearing a plain white t-shirt tucked into black slack pants, both oversized and made him look skeletal. His face screamed exhaustion.

“Josh? Figueroa?”

“Padre!”

“Please, just Gío would be fine. Gío Castañeda? San Alberto Magno High School?”

And then it him. Did he use play basketball? Was he that close friend of jock star Harrison Alvarez?

“Oh, yes! Gío!”

“Wow, man! You’ve gotten really big. How much can you bench?”

A middle-aged woman approached the padre. She was carrying an image of the Santo Niño which looked too heavy for her little frame. She pressed her forehead on the padre’s hand and asked him to bless her statue of the Child Jesus.

“Of course, Tita Tess. I’ll be in the grotto.”

Tita Tess smiled and left.

“It’s good to meet you here, Josh,” Gío said. “But I need to go. Duty awaits. See you!” He smiled and walked through the left aisle followed by more women carrying their icons, rosaries, and prayer books. Joshua noticed that the padre had a slight limp.

He thought of Gío’s handsome face which triggered in him an unnamable desire. He brushed it aside. He was in a holy place after all. He turned his gaze back to San Jacinto. People said that if you complete all the nine Misas de Aguinaldo, your wish will come true. He never believed an ounce of it, but it sure filled the church to the brim during the holidays.

He dropped a five-peso coin on the box that stood beside a jar of candles. He took one candle and lit it at the foot of San Jacinto. He rubbed his fingers on saint’s robes and made a sign of the cross. He then walked home, eager for a good sleep.

 

Part 2

Joshua woke up at 4:00 in the afternoon. He went to the comedor where Felicidad had left him a lunch of cold menudo and rice under the rattan cloche. He was on his last bites when he remembered about keeping a yearbook somewhere. He ran back to his room and found it tucked in his little bookshelf. And then he found the name: Giovanni Ismael Tiongson Castañeda. Within the two-by-two-inch frame was the face of this morning’s padre, albeit younger and healthier, standing on a thicker, meatier neck.

He looked at Gío’s other photos. In most of them, he was either shooting or dribbling the ball or just hanging out with the rest of the team. He wondered how such a popular guy escaped his mind. But then, Joshua realized he did not care much for school sports, especially for those in the basketball team—save for Harrison whom Joshua’s girl friends used to drool over.

He had thought then that the school jocks had a slight arrogance, but they had the money and looks that everyone just brushed it off. Only their bodies interested him. After every game, they would lift their shirts up to wipe their forehead, revealing their cut eight-packs.

Joshua looked again at Gío’s photos. He indulged his eyes not only with his broad shoulders and well-proportioned chest but with his vitality and youth. He thought how the present padre retained only a shadow of his former self. Life had taken a toll on him. Nevertheless, Joshua was glad Gío finally found his calling. And he was glad to have met someone he “used to know” in Urreta. Maybe time was urging him to rediscover his childhood if he wanted to survive this small town.

Joshua found Gío in the side chapels the next morning. He was standing before San Jacinto, his hands caressing the saint’s robes. Joshua noticed that he looked healthier today. A glow appeared to surround the padre’s body. He filled up his shirt fit better, which proved the importance of a well-tailored wardrobe. Gío crossed himself and turned to face Joshua.

“Josh!”

“Padre!”

“Just Gío, please.”

“Nice sermon.”

“Thanks! How’s Tito? Still busy with his cock?”

“You mean dad? He sure is.” They laughed.

They exited the church doors, out into the yard where kids were running around and hawkers sold quick breakfasts.

Meanwhile, Gío told Joshua about the time he went to Manila for college. He enrolled in a business program and was getting straight A’s like in high school. He got into a varsity team and he was winning his university trophies for the first time in decades. He was on his way to become a basketball star, but an injury undid him. He was forced to stay in the hospital for days.

The doctors had told him he might never recover fully. As he lay in his bed, he thought about his future now denied to him. For years, he had made basketball his passion and source of identity. Gío had been indifferent to fame, but he still wanted very much to play. His heart had always possessed a competitive spirit. Who knows what would become of him now?

A few days later, he was sent home where he spent most of his days playing video games and watching porn. What use was his body if he could not move? But one 17th of August, he had the urge to leave the house. He opened the jalousie window and heard the festive ringing of church’s bells. So it was today, he thought. It was the town fiesta when every family in Urreta, including the Castañedas, would hold a feast in honor of San Jacinto, a fact that had escaped his mind.

So on his crutches, he walked out his bedroom, past the dining room filled with guests, across the plaza mayor, and into the church. There, in one of the side chapels, stood San Jacinto dressed in newly embroidered robes, surrounded by flowers.

He recalled his Catholic education. Legend said that when Mongols invaded the city of Kiev, San Jacinto or Saint Hyacinth of Poland ran to the monastery to save the ciborium that held the Blessed Sacrament. But then he heard the voice of the Virgin to take him too. He tried lifting a large statue of the Virgin that was obviously too heavy for him. Nevertheless, he was able to do so, and for that, he was named the patron saint of weightlifters.

Then and there, he realized that his strength came not from him but from the Lord. Hope had filled his spirit. He vowed to rebuild himself, not for his own glory but for God’s. He prayed. His prayer renewed his soul. The following semester, he enrolled in a theology program.

“Padre!” An old man walked toward them. He was carrying across his shoulders a bamboo pole with an aluminum bucket hung on each end. “A good morning for tahô, huh? This one’s on me.”

“Thanks, Tay Angelo, but I already had one earlier.”

But Tay Angelo’s hands were too quick. Before the padre could even say more, he had already handed him a plastic cup of hot, soft tofu with syrup and sago pearls.

“You’ll be needing lots, Padre,” said the peddler. “Lots! Protein does the body good.” And then he left.

Gío devoured the tahô. He drank the whole cup in one go and then wiped his messy mouth with a handkerchief. “I never knew I was this hungry.”

“You were busy during the whole liturgy,” Joshua said. “And that hardly counts as a proper breakfast. You need to eat a real meal.”

“Thus says the bodybuilder. I actually gained weight this morning. I was 154 pounds yesterday and 167 earlier. That’s 13 pounds of rice cakes and hot chocolate!” Gío laughed, rubbing his “round belly” that was just not there. “But I’ll take your advice. I’m sure they prepared some eggs and rice in the convent. Sorry Josh, but I have to go.”

Gío crushed the cup. Josh noticed his forearms bulge. The padre tossed the crushed cup toward a nearby trash can. A perfect shot!

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Three days in Urreta, and Joshua began to feel more energized, his body adjusting to the moods of the tropics. He looked for Gío after Mass. He found he liked the padre’s company which made him comfortable. It did not ask from him the most groundbreaking ideas he could think of. He could just be his old big self, tightly snugged underneath his Pearl Jam t-shirt.

Joshua found him in the churchyard, holding a big paper bowl of congee in one of the stalls.

“You didn’t have to Vicky,” he said. “I don’t deserve two free bowls!”

“You need all the carbs, Padre. You gotta get that energy from somewhere.”

Joshua walked toward Gío who was now helping himself with boiled eggs and a bag of peanuts. As he got closer, Joshua noticed that he has gotten slightly taller, perhaps two inches more. Joshua was not sure, as the padre had always been the taller between them, having been a basketball star. His chest seem to protrude further today, pushing against his cotton shirt. Perhaps he was standing more upright. Indeed, there was no sign of a limp when he walked up the pulpit earlier.

“Hey, Josh!”

“Hey! Still hungry?”

Silence. Gío was too busy munching on a bag of chicharrón—no, two bags! He washed down the pork rinds with a cup of sweet, iced drink of tapioca pearls.

“Sorry! I’m starving. I don’t usually eat this much, but today’s a bit different.”

“It’s okay. You’re a growing boy,” Joshua joked.

“I am?” Gío flexed his arms. There bulged a 17-inch bicep which Joshua stared at for a long time.

“I need siopao,” the padre said who rushed to the steamed bun vendor.

Joshua excused himself, and walked to the comfort room. He wondered if some devil was playing tricks on him or Gío was indeed growing. For the past three days, he had a hard time recognizing the padre if it were not for his face.

He went back to the yard and found Gío drinking a pitcher-full of tahô. Then, before Joshua’s very eyes, the padre’s body inflated slightly, filling up the empty spaces of his clothing. His sleeves rose up gently to make way for his meatier arms being pushed to the sides by his widening back. His pants were filling out. And did something swell behind the zipper? Joshua would have been rock hard if the scene had been less bizarre.

“What was in that thing?” he thought. He suspected Tay Angelo whom he found exiting the church gates. Joshua ran toward him.

“Hey!” he was panting. “Hey, please! Wait!

Tay Angelo stopped. “That would be 10 pesos for a small cup and 20 for a big one.”

“No! I mean, what are you?”

“I am my name. I fulfill desires, if God so wills.”

And the peddler left.

Joshua walked home puzzled. Did it have something to do with his silly wish? It was spontaneous decision. He might now believe that the Holy Spirit had been in him. Or had it been the Devil? When he saw Gío’s limp, he felt not pride nor pity but love, a sincere human connection built on the foundations of life experiences. For the first time in his life, he prayed, and it was a prayer for others: “As soon as I complete all the nine masses plus the final Misa de Gallo on Christmas Eve, may God grant the padre strength.” Those were his words.

When he reached home, he went straight to his bed and slept soundly.

He was walking alone again through the halls of his high school. He heard juvenile laughter coming from the locker rooms. He peeked. There stood the basketball team, topless and in their boxers or white towels wrapped around their waists. There was Harrison Alvarez, the basketball star, tallest in Urreta, owner of the school’s broadest shoulders. There was Gío Castañeda, whom he finally recognized now. There were three others.

“You think I should lift weights?” Harrison said, flexing his arms in the mirror. “Fuck basketball. I’m gonna start bodybuilding in college.”

“Whatever you want, bro,” Gío said. “Girls would love you anyway.”

“Ain’t doing it for the girls, bro.”

The whole room was filled with the scent of boyish sweat and musk infused with bath soap and deodorant. It overwhelmed Joshua’s senses and drew him inside unnoticed. He grabbed the sweaty jersey from the bench. Its back bore the words “Alvarez, 31.”

“You sure you ain’t doing it for him, Harry?” one of the boys said.

All eyes were on the newcomer.

“What are you doing here, faggot?” Harrison pushed Joshua against the lockers. The handles and locks poked and hurt Joshua’s back badly.

The other boys laughed, but Gío went to calm his best friend down.

Joshua was standing at his usual place as a water boy. The Magno Manatees had won the game against the rival team, the San Javier Juggernauts. The players were taking their shirts off, showing off their abs—a mere result of being lean. The girls’ whistles and cries resounded throughout the gymnasium.

The now topless Gío walked toward him. Why was he here? He looked bigger, like a gymnast. His muscles visibly bulged and danced at his slightest movements.

“Josh! Water!”

He gave him an ice-cold bottle. Gío guzzled it, his biceps pumped to the max. He poured the rest of the water onto himself, cooling his sore and scorched body. He crushed the bottle which and threw it away.

“Thanks, Josh!” he said. And then he whispered: “Meet me in the gym!”

Josh woke up, sweating. It was 3:00 in the afternoon. He rushed toward his wardrobe. Still there. His body was still there. It was a long time ago. He had moved on from such humiliations and impossible dreams. He possessed something he had worked hard for and was now reaping the goods. Even now, he still could not believe how that lanky chess master—he never was a water boy, that he knew—would turn into a god that he was now. The contrast between time periods made the reflection all the more exhilarating. He was hard in seconds.

He rubbed his dick. His eyes darted among the sweet mounds and lines and crevices that decorated his body. “I’ve become a man. I’ve become more than man.” The pleasure increased. But his mind pictured Gío’s head atop his own body. He came, his cum dripping off the mirror. He was panting.

He looked outside his capiz shell window. The day was getting shorter. He better get moving.

“Dad!” Joshua said, entering the comedor. Domingo was having his usual snackof hot chocolate and caramelized plantains. “You know a good gym here?”

“None in Urreta for your size.” His father eyed him from head to toe. “Pathetic equipment, all of them! But my friend Luis opened a new one in Nueva Infanta. He swears it’s miles better.”

“But that’s next town.”

“Yes, a three-minute tricycle ride. We have small towns, you know. You sound like you never grew up here.”

 

Part 3

Joshua got off the motorized passenger cab and walked toward the new Habubos Gym. It was almost 4:00 in the afternoon, but only a few people occupied the wide hall. Three skinny high school boys were struggling with the weights. Two middle-aged women were gossiping in the treadmills. A young, heavyweight woman was squatting heavy. Joshua approached the old fellow manning the counter. His face looked familiar.

“Tay Angelo?”

“Who?”

“Nothing.”

“That’s 60 pesos per session or 900 per month.”

Joshua paid for the month and started his work out. He enjoyed the moderate volume of the speakers, the mild afternoon sunlight, the murmurs in the gym. It helped that Habubos just recently opened and it stood nearer to Urreta than Nueva Infanta town proper.

He was re-racking the plates after a good squat when he heard a primordial grunt by the bench. A stocky man was heaving a huge amount of weight, heavier than what Joshua could ever bench. He was wearing a long sleeved sports shirt. He looked a few pounds less than Joshua’s weight. Oddly enough, the succeeding reps were beginning looking effortless, as if the barbell was getting lighter and lighter. Then with a last grunt, the man put the bar back in place and stood up, about four inches taller than his spectator. He wiped his face with a towel.

“Gío?”

“Josh! You won’t believe this but I gained a lot since this morning,” Gío said, panting and stepping on a nearby digital scale.

“Wow! How heavy are you now?”

“181 pounds.”

“But that’s 190. No, 193. 194. 195?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“That’s 20 pounds since yesterday.” And ten more pounds the day before. “Don’t you think that’s weird?” Joshua wanted to say but he caught himself. Should he be asking such questions? Knowing he brought it upon his friend? He knew he had to explain himself eventually, and he would not like that.

“Sorry?”

“I mean, uhm, wow, man! I’m so proud of you.” He patted the priest’s shoulder which felt rounder and harder than he thought.

“Yeah!” Gío flexed his pecs which stretched the otherwise loose top. “I’m finally finding that momentum, just like in high school.”

“And your legs?”

“The doctor said they’re fine. That’s why I’m here. It’s a miracle, really. I lit a candle this morning.”

Gío walked toward the dumbbell rack, while Joshua did some leg extensions. The whole time, he was checking Gío out whose grunts had become louder and louder, and weights heavier and heavier—too heavy for the frame that lifted them.

Gío had gone to the bathroom after his cardio when Joshua was working on his calves. Fifteen minutes later, the padre walked out of the locker rooms in his usual white t-shirt and black slacks. His chest bulged a little further, forming a straight horizontal line that marked his pecs. His nipples were finally poking against the fabric. His pants went from straight cut to slim fit, reversely, revealing rather the sweet, curvy lines of his quads. His arms were way thicker and better defined than this morning. They pushed the sleeves up further.

“I have to go, buddy,” Gío said, fist-bumping the still bigger man. “Duty awaits. I have ministries to attend to.”

“Sure. See you tomorrow!”

And Gío turned to leave, showing off his wider lats that pulled the shirt’s hem up further. Meanwhile, the old man in the counter winked at the padre and smiled to Joshua. It sent shivers down his spine.

Joshua had never believed in miracles nor was he ever spiritual. He only did Catholic things as a participant of his culture. Even back in London, he attended religious activities with his countryfolk to feel a little less homesick. But this time, he might be forced to believe.

He knew he would be anticipating something more spectacular than his mind could ever think of. It was all his fault. And yet, he vowed to keep his silence. Gío seemed to be ignorant of how insane his growth was at the moment. There was no need to explain everything first. Joshua had to leave everything to faith.

He’s approaching my weight, he thought. He had wished to be a kid again, and now, he might become one standing next to him.

He never worked out harder in his life. And yet he did not feel threatened, knowing that his wish was making someone else happy. His heart moved toward a kind of brotherly love, a love expressed by growing one’s body. He imagined a hulked-up version of the padre again which got him hard in seconds. He had something to take care of later, a kind of love that would not brotherly.

He prayed for a silent mind. He sighed and said to himself: “Let’s see where this goes.”

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The morning was cooler this time as it went deeper into the season for northwest trade winds. At the churchyard, Joshua found Gío taking free food from the all-too-happy vendors.

“Eat, Padre!”

“Gotta grow, Father!”

“Eat big if you wanna get big, Padz!”

“I’ll show you the macros!”

“Fifty grams of protein, Father G!”

The padre indulged himself with a variety of rice cakes, bowls of congee, fish crackers, chicharrón, hotcakes, pandesal, peanuts, tahô, ube halaya, ice cream buns, plain boiled eggs, deep-fried battered eggs, siopao, pancit, lumpia, and pork barbecue. He washed them down with coconut juice, pearl drinks, sweetened ginger tea, and soda. He devoured all of them whole. As he did so, hands on his mouth, Joshua saw Gío’s biceps grow little by little. He swore he could hear each muscle fiber grow, fed by all sorts of nutrients from the generous hearts of the Urreteños.

“Josh!” Gío ran toward him, his pecs bounced with each movement. “You wanna go for a jog? Let’s hit the gym afterwards.”

“Sure! Now?”

“In a while. I need to change first.” He pointed to his pecs and nipples, now almost visible underneath his shirt, wet and sweaty from the lengthy ceremony earlier. “You won’t believe it but during the offertory, somebody has been giving us tubs of whey protein powder. We usually receive fruits or canned meat or Mass wine. It’s odd seeing these tubs wrapped in colored cellophane. We got three yesterday. Today, we got five.”

“They’re gonna bulk up the whole clergy?”

“I don’t think they’re into this,” he flexed his arm that was nearing 18-inches. “I asked Father Dennis to work out with me but he refused. Besides, I was running out of tubs.”

“You’re what?”

“See you at your house? In an hour?”

“In an hour.”

And so Josh went back home to change into his workout clothes. In less than the agreed time, he heard Gío calling his name from the street below. He looked out of his window. The padre appeared wider and thicker. He looked snug in his cheap hoodie and shorts that were tight in the right places. He looked at the sweet curves of his quads and calves, sturdy ropes of pure sinew.

They avoided the tricycle. They jogged their way to Nueva Infanta which only took less than an hour. The cool breeze overtook Joshua’s thoughts. The sun was still rising, illuminating the vast rice fields and coconut trees that framed both sides of the concrete road. He took in the provincial scene: the palm huts that dotted the pastures, the water buffaloes that grazed on the rich land. He took in the eternal green that persisted against the two seasons of his homeland.

But something caught his interest more. The whole time, Joshua was asking Gío how he was, an excuse to stare at his pecs that were beginning to look like pillows stuffed inside his undershirt. But it was a brief pleasure as the padre easily outran him. Still, Joshua got a good view of his wide back that tapered dramatically to his tight waist, visible even underneath two layers of clothing.

They arrived at gym. They were alone save for the Tay-Angelo-look-alike man restocking the tubs of whey in the counter. Joshua would be doing chest today and invited Gío to do follow his program. But the padre insisted doing a full body workout instead as a “recovering beginner.”

Like yesterday, Gío was grunting loudly and lifting way heavier weights. He even added more plates to each set. But every time, the number of reps just got higher and higher as if the universe prevented him from ever reaching failure. Only free will allowed Gío to stop.

“I don’t know buddy,” he said. “Must be the rice cakes I was eating.”

To hell with that! Reality was bending before Joshua’s eyes.

The padre took off his hoodie which required a bit of effort as his humongous arms hindered his movement. What lay underneath that jacket shocked Joshua. Now, Gío looked about 210 pounds heavy. His arms swole exaggeratedly, having reached the 19-inch mark. They were pushed aside by his mile-wide back. His pecs protruded like basketballs, rising and falling with his every deep breath, pulling the hem of his shirt up to reveal the bottom row of his well-cut abs. His legs were as thick as narra trees, forced to spread apart due to their size. And underneath his shorts, around his left thigh snaked his footlong cock, the size of his bulge almost comical.

“I’ll hit the showers, buddy. See you later,” Gío said with a deeper voice.

His friend walked with a silly, exaggerated gait toward the gym’s only shower stall. After finishing his last sets of dips and flies, Joshua went to wash his hands in the sink which stood by the shower room. The flow of the water hit his ears. He could hear Gío humming the opening hymn form the Mass earlier.

The humming stopped. There was a slight moan and a cry of pain.

“Agh!”

“You okay, buddy?”

“I-I’m fine. Don’t m-mind me. S-shit!”

A sound like that of stretched rubber reverberated throughout the gym. Joshua heard the crackling of bones and Gío’s fists pounding the wooden door. Gío seemed to force himself to silence, but whatever he was going through only escaped all of his efforts.

“F-f–fuck!”

Gío breathed heavily, then softly while the water kept flowing. Then the flow stopped. Joshua heard a childish chuckle. Confused, he simply shrugged and went to take his towel from his gym bag.

Later, the padre opened the shower stall door. A floral towel was wrapped around his waist. Joshua could not believe his eyes. Gío had already surpassed Joshua during that day. Now he went beyond what his dreams could only conjure. He had gone a little beyond the 6-foot mark, and he had added another 60 pounds—a total of 270 pounds of lean muscle!

Droplets of water glazed the immense bumps of the padre’s body, flowing down through cuts so deep that they almost hit his inner organs. Veins playfully wrapped every inch of his muscles. His pecs swole like beachballs which forced his nipples to point downwards. His globe-like shoulders capped his broad frame, like an icing on a cake. His thick, mile-wide lats forced his now 21-inch arms to the side. Even the towel hinted at tremendous pair of limbs underneath, and was pushed further forward by his overgrown dick. And his calves were nearly as thick as the spectator’s own quads!

“Great pump, huh?” Gío did a most muscular. Joshua’s dick leaked.

“Way to go, man!”

“Maybe someday I can catch up with you,” Gío said while rubbing deodorant on the sweet crevices of his underarm. It released a potent air of musk and perfume.

“Patience, man. Mine took years.” And his took days. Joshua felt like a phony with his comment. He never felt so emasculated, having seen a superior being before him. Yet his loss of masculinity only intensified his longing for the padre. For what is desire but a loss? A hunger satisfied only by the very hunger itself?

They ate breakfast at Tita Pacing’s near Nueva Infanta’s plaza. They both ordered eggs, garlic fried rice, and tocino or sweetened cured pork belly, all accompanied by a cup of locally brewed coffee. The padre ordered more for himself plus some sugared glutinous rice cakes. The way he devoured the food fascinated his companion. Joshua wondered if he was letting him commit gluttony. But then, all those nutrients will not go to waste. They would eventually repair his muscles, making them even bigger, stronger, and more beautiful.

This time, Gío’s dark eyes turned the gauge to “Good Mood.” They still made the bearer look frail and innocent like Tita Tess’s image of the Santo Niño. But his colossal body swept away all traces of mortality. It occupied two seats. It looked like it would spill over the edge of the table. It was full of vitality, moving with his slightest gesture. Before Joshua sat a divine vision. Into this single creature was poured the wrath and power of God, demanding from Joshua his utmost adoration. And he would willingly obey.

“So you like my muscles?” he heard Gío said.

“What?”

So you like muscles. I just never thought that chess master Joshua Figueroa would someday lift weights and become grow so big. You had a breakup or something?”

“I’ve always wanted them. I wanted them on me. I just never had the opportunity. And I had to shed off the thought I’ll never have them because I’m supposed to be the nerd guy.”

Joshua remembered how he felt small compared to the jocks in high school. He wanted to be as tall and fast as them. Then he discovered father’s bodybuilding magazines. They made the jocks look puny. Ever since, those superior physiques had haunted the deepest parts of his desires.

“High school has a way of boxing you in, huh?” Gío said.

“I guess so, yeah.”

“You know I love basketball—even now. But growing up, I sometimes felt the thing was forced into me because I was the tallest in class then, and it’s supposed to be a ‘manly sport’. But the teachers—they thought it was the only thing I could do.”

“Let me guess. You also wanted to sing and play guitar, right? Just like in any high school movie.” Joshua chuckled, imagining how Gío could not get any hotter.

“As a matter of fact, yes.” Gío poured creamer into his coffee. “Though I didn’t know it at that time until my superiors assigned me to play for our morning Masses.”

Gío talked more about his life in the seminary where ironically, he learned how to be honest with himself and accept who he really was. There were rules, of course, but there were spiritual guidance from directors and support from his brothers. There, he learned how despite all the chaos in the world, men possess something precious: choice. And choice led him to the priesthood, to his parish, and especially to his companion before him.

Joshua wondered what that meant, but the padre’s words about his life encouraged him to share his own. He talked of his own joys and sorrows of being in the academia. He recalled the cold winters in London, and the loneliness being away from home. He shared his anxiety with the future, how he constantly felt detached from everything. He had lived a calculated life which fortunately gave him success. But he felt like an empty shell waiting to be filled.

“There’s nothing empty about you,” Gío said, denting Joshua’s biceps. The padre’s superior strength slightly hurt the smaller man. “Josh, if we ever caused you pain, the boys and I—”

“It was a long time ago and—”

“I’m sorry.”

“You did nothing wrong.”

“I’m sorry.”

Silence. Then soft smiles. Gío lay his mighty hands on Joshua’s. The hum of tricycle engines and the clanking of utensils resounded in their midst. And right then and there, Joshua, that empty shell of a man, let his heart open up to the gentle beast before him, to that very embodiment of strength and abundance. In such a vulnerable moment emerged the promise of a more fulfilling life. And Joshua felt happy.

 

Part 4

And so followed their routine the next two days. This time, Gio gained 85 more pounds—a total of 355 pounds of lean muscle! Joshua thought how all the Mass offerings that morning had been growing him too quickly.

Tinapay at alak,” bread and wine, sang the choir. People were dropping coins to donation baskets. Young men and women in polo shirts walked through the nave carrying tubs and tubs of whey, creatine, amino acids, pre-workouts, BCAAs, and other supplements and placed them all at the foot of the altar. According to the announcer, they were the sponsors from various supplement brands such as Optimal Muscle, Alpha Bull, and Infinite Nutrition. Also, yesterday afternoon, Joshua found on the comedor table piles of canned tuna wrapped in orange and green cellophane.

“What are these for?” he asked Domingo who was in the balcony reading a cockfighting magazine.

“Oh, can you bring those to Mass tomorrow?”

“You never do church stuff.”

“Well, I do now. We gotta feed the Padre, boy. Have you seen the size of him?”

It only took a whole town to grow an overly muscled priest. The bibingka vendors, the balut peddlers, the pandesal bakers, all were willingly letting the padre consume their means of living. Now, Gío towered over everyone else, reaching 6 feet and 6 inches. Gío had to waddle at the processional march earlier, as too much mass filled every inch of his thighs. He stood wider than a house door, and it was only a matter of time before even the church doors themselves would limit his movement. Even underneath layers of clothing, the parishioners could see that he was as thick as the church walls of Urreta that the Spaniards had built to withstand earthquakes.

As usual, the two met after the liturgy. His vestments removed, Gío now showed off his undershirt, the sleeves cut off to free his insane 25-inch arms. Even his thick calves pushed the hem of his slacks way up.

“Josh! Gym afterwards?”

“Sure, man!”

That night, Joshua jacked off again to a bigger, godlier image of Gío. He imagined the giant embracing his inferior body, engulfing him in all the meat a real man can possess in his body. All those mounds of flesh buried his face deeper into the trench between his pecs. He came many times. He lay his back on the soft bed, staring at the ceiling. How can a man of cloth, a man of God, drown in testosterone and ooze sex to become an epitome of virility? Has God made a new creation, a different species? Was he testing his people?

Josh fell asleep, but not well. Images of the padre kept interrupting his dreams. For the first time, he felt emasculated. If he thought Liam’s gear was growing him fast, nothing could prepare him for the might of God. No matter what he did, he would always be the lesser man. But his dreams then led him to gentler images of the padre who was caressing him by the capiz shell window. He whispered into his ear: “Everything will be all right.” Gío smiled. He never felt more secure in his life.

The following day, Gío gained another four inches in height and another hundred pounds in weight! His alb now looked too short for his mighty legs, showing his feet struggle to fit into his sandals. His shoulders were so wide he made the chasuble looked like a sleeveless poncho. Joshua could even see the sharp contours of Gío’s muscles every time he scratched his head or when he raised the chalice and the host.

After the Mass, Joshua found the padre in the yard. He was chugging a whole tin can of silken tofu. The hem of his sleeveless shirt revealed his deeply cut eight-pack. The Urreteños were cheering him. When he finally dropped the can down, he flexed his biceps for the onlookers who clapped before the amazing spectacle before them.

“Yeah!” Gío cried.

Joshua saw Tay Angelo among the crowd. The tahô peddler winked.

Later that morning, Gío was posing in front of the gym mirror. He had just finished his shower, and he was naked save for his usual floral towel. Every muscle on his bulged cartoonishly. At the same time, he possessed an insane conditioning, as if all fat melted off. Every striation popped, every crevice darkened. From behind where Joshua was looking, the spectator cannot help but notice the overly wide back like angelic wings tempting him to ride their owner so they could both fly away to paradise. Even Gío’s calves from below the towel were almost as overly thicker. Joshua cannot believe that such leanness is possible in a 455-pound beast.

Gío did a awkward most muscular. Despite his size, he looked as if he was only thrown into such a body yesterday, which was not far from the truth.

“Just goofing around, Josh!” he chuckled. “But you gotta teach me how to pose, like you do in your shows.”

“I never competed.”

“Really? I think you should.”

No, you should, Joshua thought. “Can you do a double bi? Raise your arms, like this. There! Hold it.”

Joshua walked closer to the padre to correct his pose. He held his 27-inch arms. They were hard as steel, his calloused fingers felt every vein. He pushed them a bit forward, but he did so with great effort. Next, he tried to push his hips further to one side, one shoulder slightly higher, one leg a little lower. Joshua was trying to mold an artful pose worthy of the muscle-bound padre. And every time he did so, he had to move his body around the hulking figure. He had to raise his heels to work on the other arm. His fingers made contact with Gío’s wet and warm skin, heating up as his body kept growing. His ears caught the soft, manly breathing of the living artwork. His nose caught whiffs of soap and deodorant mixed with his pheromones, which made the excited sculptor slightly high.

“There!”

The mirror before them both showed a body that transcended the mediocre imagination of Michelangelo himself. The overhead, warm white lighting cast a Caravaggesque chiaroscuro that dramatized and softened the mass monster into an aesthetic, heroic masterpiece. But such vision lived shortly as Gío let go of his pose.

“I was showering this morning,” Gío whispered. “I was soaping my pecs and I suddenly learned how to bounce them. Wanna see?”

“Uhm—”

The padre did so with great control. Each pec danced as if it possessed a life of its own. Gío gripped Joshua’s frail wrist and led the smaller man’s hand into the rising and falling flesh, in sync with its soft and deep breaths. Joshua cupped them. They twitched in turn but then cooperated. His hands wandered around the round and firm chest.

“It felt wonderful, you know?” Gío said, “seeing your body do weird things.”

Joshua let his other hand trace the padre’s rock hard abs. They were cut so deep he can hear the screams escaping from the underworld. He caressed his arms higher up his shoulders which were almost as big as basketballs. His fingers moved lower to his impossibly thick arms. Gío guided his hands back to his pecs which he flexed harder. They hardened like diamond. Joshua felt something twitch underneath Gío’s towel, poking him like a baseball bat. It was huge! It was excited. His smaller cock responded the same way.

He felt the warm breath of the priest in his cheeks. He looked up—way up now—and gazed on his angelic face, his deep eyes deep in thought. His thick lips, a slight cry of prayer. His jaws were of the Devil, so hard and sharp that Joshua felt his heart bleed.

He raised his heels and leaned closer to kiss Gío. The giant responded back. Right then and there, he tasted real strength and learned what a real man is. It was neither hostility nor violence nor competition, but provision, protection, safety. It was the power of creation that filled him with his own power. It was the power of God.

Joshua cut the kiss short. It took huge effort, but it was necessary. Gío looked confused.

“Josh?”

“I’m sorry,” Joshua said, rushing toward his gym bag he had left on the bench. “I can do this to anyone but not to you. I’ve taken advantage of you already. You have a new life now. It’s unfair.”

Joshua left. He took the tricycle home, thinking about the events earlier. He still had a taste of Gío’s mouth in his lips. His fingers still possessed the imprints of his incredible body. And even now, as the tricycle engine roared, he wanted the feeling back so badly. But he knew his limits. It was not because of sin that he believed he should leave Gío alone. No. Rather, he refused to cause stain his reputation, especially in a small town where word spreads so quickly. He refused to shake Gío’s unshakeable faith. He refused to take him from the Urreteños who loved him so dearly. He refused to compete against the Almighty who had already claimed Gío as his servant. He had witnessed the strength of Samson and believed. But he will not be his Delilah.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

“Where are you going, son?” Domingo was eyeing the grandfather clock in the sala, looking for some glitches. It was 2:00 in the afternoon, and Joshua had just gone out of his room, a backpack in hand.

“Manila. My friends and I will have a little Christmas get-together. I’ll be spending the night there. Have you fixed the car?”

“Nope. Sorry, son,” he said, still eyeing the clock.

“Gotta go.”

“Take care. And can you buy me a box of Krispy Kreme?”

Joshua got out of the Manila-bound bus at 4:00. During those two hours, he just stared mindlessly from his bus seat. He witnessed the bungalows and huts and palm trees gave way to skyscrapers and flyovers and ghettos. The horrendous traffic jam and the unbearable noise made him depressed. He should not have come.

He checked in at a nearby hotel. Settled on his bed, he spent the rest of the evening going numbly through useless TV channels until his friends’ meetup at 8:00. For that event, he had bought an extra-large polo shirt from a thrift store in his hometown, a more appropriate choice than any of his band shirts.

He and Ethan had agreed to meet an hour earlier. And so, they had a little merienda at some café whose beans Ethan swore were to die for.

“Planning to publish this year?” Ethan said.

“I don’t know.” Joshua sipped his coffee which he found overrated.

“Well, you have to.”

They talked more about Joshua’s life in London, his future in the field, and Ethan’s sexual adventures. They were strolling through the high street, finding their way through the overwhelming Christmas rush. Families were crowding the restaurants. People were filling the queues in the stores. Mariah Carey was being played on repeat. Meanwhile, a mini-bodybuilding show was being held in the public square. Joshua stared at the tanned and oiled bodies. His mind drifted into a different world.

“Good thing Stephen reserved us a private room. We’re here.” Ethan said. They had stopped at a Chinese restaurant. “Josh?”

“Oh, after you.”

Already set on the table were small baskets of dim sum and noodles and a plate of roasted fowl. Their friends Carla, Stephen, and Fergus, had already made themselves comfortable. They greeted the two newcomers. Predictably, Joshua’s new body shocked them. Stephen jokingly flexed his arms. Carla tried to dent Joshua’s bicep and she found it hard to do so. The others were asking questions. How did he find time to workout? What was his secret? Will he compete? How to be the best of both worlds, brains and brawn?

But the praise died down as soon as they were munching on the side dishes. The conversation shifted into their academic careers: whose papers were being published, who were finally getting tenured, whose careers were at risk. They all talked about Ethan’s new published book, the pains it took to have it released, the powerful men whose feet he had to kiss. Late into the night, the concerns devolved into academic gossip, especially the controversial politics of their peers.

“Carla,” Ethan smirked. “You said you wanted to talk about Léandre’s work?”

“Revolutionary,” Fergus said, “although problematic. Listen.”

And the table turned into an intellectual debate. Joshua would have wanted to join the discussion had he not failed to read the article Carla had shared in the group chat. Every time he opened his mouth, he would be cut off by the more experienced debaters. He was less invested on the academic cause than his peers. He blamed himself for wasting his time growing a padre who had been leading a comfortable life of his own until he arrived in the scene.

“You see, from the post-colonial lens…”

“This returns us to the Marxist dilemma…”

“No, you misinterpret me. The trajectory of the present intellectual movement…”

“But the post-structuralists would insist…”

Joshua lost the strength and will to speak. His mind wandered back to Urreta and its festive lights, to the provincial air of the road to Nueva Infanta, to Gío’s loving arms, to the scent of his hulking body that had been haunting his dreams. The bittersweet songs of his favorite bands played in his head radio. He sank deeper into a painful longing, making his stomach churn amidst the increasing volume of the conversations from other tables.

“Josh,” Ethan said.

Joshua had lost track of time. Ethan had already paid the waiter. Stephen and Carla were standing at the door. Fergus was taking the bags of leftovers from the table.

“You wanna come with us?” Carla said. “We’re still up for some drinks and karaoke.”

“Sorry, guys.” Joshua said. “I’m tired.”

“We don’t want to mess up with his workouts.” Stephen joked.

“Hey,” Ethan whispered, his arms around Joshua’s shoulders. “I’ll take you to your hotel.”

“Not tonight, Ethan. Not tonight.” And maybe not again, he thought.

He went back to the hotel and lay on his bed. He felt restless. He held his phone the whole night, scrolling up and down, changing from one social media app to another.

He was about to doze off when he came upon a post by Liam. These past few days, he had failed to keep track of his personal trainer’s affairs. And now, on his screen, stood a tanned and better conditioned Liam in his posing trunks, raising a trophy before the bodybuilding enthusiasts. He had won the show and finally got his pro card. In other photos, Liam stood with his Joshua’s buddies from the gym, the 200 pound club as they would call themselves. There were Jude and Seamus and Odongo and Ahmed cheering for their beloved coach. Cool and humble guys, all of them, he thought. He saw considered them as brothers. From them, he had only gotten utmost support.

Congrats, coach!“ he typed in the comments.

Tnx! Nothing’s impossible, Josh. Hope u can compete too. We’ll be here for u .”

And maybe he would. He had nothing else to lose. There was only life, a single passing life whose fleeting moments he had to capture and own for himself. There was nothing to fall back on, but that very limit would free him to reach unknown heights. He looked at his body. It had gone far enough than he had thought was possible. Now, there were other possibilities. He slept right away with a smile, knowing that there was something to look forward to at last.

The church bells woke him up at 4:30 in the morning. The aircon still hummed. He turned on the bedside lamp and opened the curtains in his hotel room. Outside, the people gathered around a well-lit church. Perhaps coincidence or his own subconscious had played a trick on him. He had thought then as he was leaving the Figueroa house that he would not complete all the nine Masses. It turned out he had conveniently picked a hotel by a church. He laughed. He can complete the whole damn thing after all!

He wore his tight Black Flag t-shirt and walked toward the church. The vibe was less festive than Urreta’s, but the faithful were just as sincere. For the first time ever, he stayed focused during the whole Mass. He really prayed this time, even if silently, and for what he did not know. He smiled at the parishioners when they gave each other the sign of peace, a brief but worthwhile acknowledgement of his fellow human beings. He thought how there, within a point in this meaningless world, sparked a bit of divine magic.

He left the churchyard with a bag of bibingka and a bun of ice cream. He thought extending his stay in Manila for one more night. And so, he ate his second breakfast at the hotel, took a nap, and left again at noon.

He did not mind the traffic. This time, he roamed around the metropolis like a tourist. He went to the museums, ancient churches, old Spanish walls, and book launching events. He went to an exclusive spa for some self-love treat. He booked a buffet just for himself. Merry Christmas, he said to himself as he raised a glass of wine.

The next morning, he heard his phone alarm at near dawn. He had set it last night so he could get a better seat at the Mass. After the liturgy, he went back to his hotel and checked out. He then went to buy doughnuts not only for his father but for the whole laborers in the house. He took the bus and fell asleep.

He dreamed again of Gío. He dreamed of his hands. It was holding him, carrying him off the ground. He could not see his face, but he was sure that the hands were Gio’s. He could have slept there forever. How huge would he be now? He thought. If he had been gaining a hundred pounds a day and he had not seen him for the past two—Holy shit!

 

Part 5

The bus stopped by the Urreta plaza mayor. Joshua got off and rushed toward the church. He was thinking about how he could make things right again, but words escaped his mind. It did not matter. He must find Gío first.

The church was empty save for a few old women in veils standing by the side chapels, lighting candles before the myriad of holy images. Then he heard a sound from his right. He turned. He failed to miss the giant in a white soutane and purple stole, who himself had to turn sideways to enter the old baptistry. Joshua followed.

The old baptistry had been converted into a confession room decades before. The old Spanish font still stood there, but so did a confessional. It was a wooden box of ornate gothic style, just narrow enough for a normal sized priest. Gío had already sat inside, as Joshua could see his faint shadow from the other side of the confessional screen. He knelt down and clasped his hands together.

“Father, I’m not that much of a believer,” he whispered. “I’m not here to confess.”

“Josh?” said a voice deeper than Joshua remembered.

“I’d like to talk. I’d like to fix things.”

“Josh.” The voice dropped an octave lower. “J-Josh, it’s okay.”

“I did something that might compromise your vocation.”

“J-Josh, help me!”

And then, a grunt. It began softly, then more intensely by the second. Gío was breathing heavily. Then he screamed in primordial pain. The confessional shook. Joshua heard pounding from the inside which forced him to stand and walk backwards in panic. Before him, cracks appeared on the antique wood. Then, something punched a hole into each side of the confessional. There clenched Gío’s hands, now as big as plates, overly veined and muscular.

“Agh!”

Joshua saw two humongous feet lift the whole confessional off the floor. It revealed the most detailed calves Joshua had ever seen, perhaps larger than Joshua’s own quads. Meanwhile, Gío’s hands pushed further to unveil his bulging arms, each mound of meat visible even from afar. With a violent shake, the sides of the confessional fell and crashed to the floor. There jutted two muscular shoulders larger than any human head.

The limbed confessional stood still, amidst the padre’s panting.

“You okay, Josh?”

He nodded.

“Stand back.”

Joshua did so. Gío took off the remaining wood as if they were mere scraps of clothing. The fallen debris echoed loudly throughout the ancient chamber. Slowly, he uncovered his exhausted face and the full view of his inhuman body.

“Phew! What a hangover!”

There glistened a hulking beast. Save for the purple stole, he was naked. Scraps of his soutane had fallen to the floor. If Joshua’s estimate was right, Gío would be standing over 7 feet tall and weighing over 630 pounds. He was almost five feet wide. His arms could be over 30 inches cold. Every muscle in the padre pumped out like mountain ranges. The mountains were dressed in veins which ran like a complex road map. And there throbbed a giant cock, 14 inches erect and as thick as a one-liter soda bottle. It was dripping precum which quickly formed a puddle on the arabesque tiled floor. Gío was huge all over that his enormous silhouette that stood before the large stained glass window only let in small streaks of morning light.

“I can explain,” Joshua said, wanting to come clean this time.

“Suck it.”

“What?”

“I said suck it, please!” Gío sounded anxious. His large fingers pointed to his pulsating dick. “That would be your penance.” He grinned.

Joshua did not think twice. His mouth suck on the cock’s tasty head in seconds, his tongue licking the delicious precum. It possessed a sweet, euphoric taste which reminded him of tahô. The precum kept flowing as if coming from a broken faucet. At the same time, Joshua could hear Gío’s essence sloshing inside his pomelo-sized balls, producing more cum as soon as a milliliter was emptied from them.

Joshua’s small hands gripped the padre’s legs, thick and corded like a century-old banyan tree. His hands ran through the great hills and valleys of the beast’s body. His eyes looked up only to see a part of Gío’s face covered by his overhanging pecs, sheltering him from the harsh light penetrating through the window.

“Keep going,” Gío was panting. “Nice. God, I’m so big. Oh fuck, so huge!” Gío pinched his nipples. Joshua felt it was his own nipples being pinched. An electric current ran through the beast’s body. Every inch of the muscle god before him must be so sensitive.

“Have you ever seen somebody as big as me, Josh?”

“No.” Joshua grumbled, nearly being choked by Gío’s monstrous tool.

“What are you? Like 200 pounds?”

Joshua nodded. Gío laughed. He flexed his left arm from which bulged a balloon-sized bicep, its veins as thick as fingers. He was rotating his flexed arm, inspecting every muscle, some of them he had never seen before.

“So much man, don’t you think?” the padre said. “So much power, so much testosterone, all inside me. Agh!”

And Josh felt it. Gío’s balls sloshed louder. He felt the huge dick inflate. Suddenly, a surging cum shot overflowed Joshua’s mouth.

“Fuck!”

It was too much. The surge was choking him. His mouth was leaking with the padre’s wasted essence. He lamented his failure to take every ounce of man inside him. Eventually, the force of the surge pushed him a few feet backwards. Gío kept cumming, splashing Joshua’s ecstatic face, bathing his whole body. It went on for minutes until it flooded the floor.

His cumming gradually subsided. The whole time, Gío was bursting into a primordial laughter. That deep, manly voice made Joshua cum himself.

“Another round, buddy?” Gío said, his dick still rock hard.

“I want to.” Joshua was panting. “But I can’t.”

The padre shrugged his humongous shoulders. He rubbed his eternally excited cock a few more times. He came again with the same amount of flow, coating Joshua further all over. Then he jacked off for a third and a fourth time until the baptistry walls were drenched in musky, white fluid. Even so, Gío was still hard.

“I guess that’s it for now.” Gío closed his eyes, his hands on his narrow hips. He let his mind drift into something other than sex.

Ay, Dios mío!

The high-pitched voice came from the entrance. They noticed just now that Tita Tess was watching them the whole time, waiting for her turn to confess. She looked horrified. She crossed herself and left in a hurry.

“Well,” Gío said. “That was fun.”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

The following morning, Gío was not at the liturgical service, the last Misa de Aguinaldo. He would not be at the Christmas Eve Mass either. He said so after their oral session. Rather, he would be presiding at a different barrio.

Yesterday, after Tita Tess had left them in the baptistry, they rushed out of the church toward the convent. Gío was still naked, but fortunately, the church grounds was empty, and no one saw the hulking giant with a semi-erect cock. The convent too was uncannily silent.

“Everyone’s busy for tomorrow,” Gío said. He then opened a small door by the old wooden stairs. “You can take a shower here. I have old clothes you can wear.”

Joshua let the steady flow of the water cleanse him. At this time, he felt a wonderful emptiness of being away from the hulking man. He looked at his muscular body. He thought it would never be complete without his big other. But it was all right. The longing would make every encounter meaningful. And for that he was grateful.

And as if the universe heard his call, the bathroom door opened effortlessly. Gío entered, still naked and covered with dried cum.

“I thought I locked it.” Joshua said.

“You did. I’m just—” Gío flexed his right arm.

“Come here.”

Gío struggled to fit into the small shower stall. He had to come in sideways. Joshua went under the shower head to let the padre occupy the bigger side of the stall. The water barely hit Gío, so Joshua rubbed some of the water into the hulking mass before him. He rubbed soap into the padre’s body. It was so thick and wide that Joshua had to exert great effort to cover every inch of him.

“I guess from now on, I have to shower with the bucket and dipper in the backyard,” the padre said.

“What would become of us?” Joshua said.

“I don’t know, Josh. I obviously cannot keep this priest thing up. I don’t know if a hypersexualized muscle giant being sucked by his confessee is the bishop’s idea of a good priest.

“Would he change his mind if I were a 12-year old altar boy?”

They laughed. Then, silence. The water kept flowing.

“Listen,” Gío said. “I was at the gym yesterday. The owner, Luis, saw me and suggested I compete. He had connections in California. We could both go there. We can start a new life or something.”

“I don’t know, Gío. I—”

Gío held Joshua’s hands. Their foreheads touched.

Joshua recalled how during his grade school days, the nuns taught the whole class how to confess. The idea of sharing all his sins to the priest scared him. But when the priest heard him and gave him penance, he felt a huge burden lift off of him. He felt clean. He felt heavenly.

But seeing Gío’s face smiling under the flow of the water promised a better kind of redemption. Nothing was lifted off of him. There was no burden at all. Every choice he made in his life was right all along. And his desires, his lust, his love, all these were good. He was glad to have let his heart lead him to places he had never been before. And he could go on further, wading through life blindly yet with so much wonder and enthusiasm. And for him, that was a leap of faith.

“Round two?” Gío said. He smiled as his cock came alive again. “Please?”

Joshua sighed. “Okay. Round two.”

Joshua walked back home after the Mass. He slept the whole day. At noon, a pig’s squeal coming from the backyard disturbed him from his deep slumber. He rushed to the comedor and found the house workers walking in and out of the kitchen. Soledad was putting ground meat on the flat lumpia wrappers. Felicidad was boiling the macaroni for the sweet salad. Estrella was chopping ox tripes for the callos.

“No raisins, Estrella,” Domingo said. “Nobody likes raisins on anything. Son!” Joshua’s father walked out of the kitchen to the comedor. He was carrying a queso de bola, a ball of edam cheese covered in red wax.

“What’s going on?” Joshua asked. For years, the unbelieving Figueroas celebrated Christmas with only a simple dinner of meat and rice. They said it was better to spend everything on New Year’s Eve.

“It’s Christmas Eve tonight. You have plans? We’ll join the Misa de Gallo.”

“The two of us?”

“No, the whole house!” Domingo put the queso on the table. He went closer to his son to say in a gentler voice: “Look, I want something to remember your mom by. You’re here after many years, and so I want to take this opportunity. I also invited our relatives to the noche buena. The padre too.”

“The monseñor?”

“Who cares about the monseñor? I meant Gío, your old school mate. You know he used to come here back then looking for you, but you were always busy with your chess club friends. Anyway, you know he likes to eat. You know what happens when you serve priests chicken neck, don’t you? So we’re gonna have lechon tonight! I had Manny slaughter two suckling pigs: one for us and one for the padre alone. We gotta feed the big guy.”

“Yes,” Joshua smiled, not at the thought of the opulent meal but how he used to mean then for the young Gío.

“And you better catch up.” Domingo said, eyeing his son from head to toe. “You need some meat on your bones. And oh, I had the grandfather clock fixed. The car too.” And his father left.

“What’s going on?” the still half-puzzled Joshua asked Felicidad.

“His rooster won, Sir.” And that made sense.

Joshua went back to his room to catch up on his sleep. He now saw a paról hanging from his capiz shell window. It would be the first time his family celebrated Christmas. Urreta would not be a sleepy town tonight.

And so at 7:00 in the evening, the Figueroa household—Joshua, Domingo, their cooks, chauffeurs, errand boys, and their own families—went out of the old house in their best clothes for the eventful Misa de Gallo .

Traditionally, such Masses were held close before midnight. But for the past decade, parishes had been giving consideration to the children and elderly, and so they moved the liturgy to 8:00. Tonight, the church would be packed more than any of the nine Masses held. Good thing they arrived early so they could have the whole pew to themselves.

While waiting for the Mass, they watched the panunulúyan, a dramatization of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem looking for a suitable birthing place. It was during this time that a statue of the infant Jesus was finally placed in the manger. Then, at the sound of joyous bells, the choir sang a hymn that marked the end of their Messianic waiting: “ Adeste fideles, laeti triumphanes…“ The ceremony for this celebration was longer and grander. The monseñor led the liturgy, and this time, he chanted all the prayers.

A new priest went up the pulpit for the homily. Again, Joshua noticed he looked like Tay Angelo.

“…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt of among us,” the homilist said. “This is the message of this season. At some point in history, God became like us, a human being, flesh and blood and bone. And by doing so, he sanctified the body.”

The Mass ended with a local carol accompanied by a tambourine. The faithful exited the church, eager for the unwrapping of gifts and the noche buena or the evening feast.

Joshua found Domingo before the image of San Jacinto. His hands were on the saint’s robes. He made the sign of the cross. Suddenly, a dark thought entered Joshua which made him smile. Maybe next year, Pops, he thought.

The household returned home at 10:00 to wind down and wait for their many relatives from Nueva Infanta, San Sebastian, Tayabac, and Malabulacan. The table was now filled with all sorts of fiesta food such as lumpia, callos, pancit palabok, pineappled chicken adobo, paella valenciana, queso de bola, Chinese ham, and ube halaya. Two roasted pigs served as center pieces. Joshua went to his room and changed into his more comfortable NOFX t-shirt. He lay down his bed, staring at the paról now lit with a quiet glow.

He was about to doze off when he heard a plucking of bronze strings outside the house. He hurried toward the window. There below, Gío stood holding an acoustic guitar, too small compared to his colossal body. As expected, he had added about 6 more inches to his height, and over a hundred pounds to his weight, which would make him 7 feet, 10 inches, and 780 pounds of pure, erection-causing sexiness.

He was wearing an oversized mustard gym stringer tank top with the words “Alpha Beast” written on the front. He probably bought one from the thrift shop earlier for an emergency. Even his neon green skimpy shorts struggled to cover his massive legs and overgrown bulge. No normal clothing could possibly fit him now.

At the guitar’s cue, the padre sang a familiar carol:

Malamíg ang símoy ng hángin <br/> Kay sayá ng báwat damdámin <br/> Ang tibók ng pu—

The strings snapped. Gío broke the guitar neck from too much pressure coming from of his 35-inch arms. He laughed, shrugged his shoulders, and spread his tree-thick arms as an acknowledgement of his musical failure.

“Boo! I want my money back!” Joshua laughed. “Come in!”

Joshua watched the padre disappear into the front door. He lay back on his bed. Seconds later, he heard thundering steps coming from the wooden staircase. A loud knock. The door opened to reveal further details of the hulking giant before him. The padre looked pumped to the max. Joshua could see every striation and vein in his body. The size of him seemed to create its own gravity. The spectator felt fascinated and scared at the same time.

“Merry Christmas!” Gío handed him a gift box. “Open it.”

Joshua tore the colored paper and lifted the lid off the box. Inside was a basketball jersey. He unfolded it to unveil the writing on the back: “Castañeda, 22.”

“It’s not Harry’s,” Gío said. “But I hope that would do.”

“No, it’s better.” They kissed.

“I want you to wear it,” Joshua said softly.

“That won’t fit me anymore, you kn—oh, I see.”

Gío took off his stringer top. He revealed the rest of his insanely cut body, especially his eight-pack abs. He took the jersey from Joshua’s hands. He pulled it over his head, after which he found it hard to even put an arm through one of the holes.

“I know the feeling.” Joshua laughed.

“Awesome.” Gío just ripped the jersey apart, growled, and did a most muscular. His muscles grew a few inches, the crevices cut deeper into his body. Joshua wondered how the head had not yet disappeared behind all those impossible mass of meat.

“You like seeing me like this?”

“I do, very much. So bad it hurts. It hurts because it was selfish of me.”

“What do you mean?’

Joshua told him about his wish. He told him how he used to have a crush on him in high school. He was a bit depressed when he came back to Urreta, and meeting him sent him sent his childhood memories flooding. He told him how that spontaneous moment made him wish for something random. He was sleepy that time. He never thought that a silly wish would actually come true.

“No,” Gío shook his head. He chuckled “You did not make that wish. I did. The first time I saw you being so big and hunky, I was jealous. I was used to be the big guy in high school. Every year, I make general wishes. You know: world peace, health, wisdom, faith. But this time, I made a very selfish wish. I knew God won’t give it to me if it won’t be for my own good. He had a different idea, apparently.” Gío flexed his arm. “And I was teasing you the whole time to make you jealous of my gains.” He laughed.

“Don’t you think it’s the Devil?”

“The Devil can’t create anything. He can only twist minds.” He flexed both his arms this time, showing off the overall breadth of his body. “Surely only God can make something like this?”

Joshua licked his lips. “So you wished to be bigger than me? So you wanted to have muscles on top of your muscles?”

“I wished to be over 7 feet tall and over 700 pounds. I have my fantasies.”

“Weird. And the giant, leaking, hyper-dick?”

“I guess God knows me more than I do myself.”

“So God doesn’t want you to become a priest?”

“I guess he wanted me to be one for five years. I think that’s enough time for him to bring us together. That’s what I believe.”

“And that’s what I’ll believe too.”

They kissed again. Joshua ran his hands over Gío’s shoulders which reminded him of the volcanic boulders that stood by the Urreta river since time immemorial. His pecs were so round it pushed the worshiper backward. They were so thick they seem to drop from the padre’s body. They rose and fell, synchronized with the padre’s breathing. And then, they began to feel warmer first like an overcharged phone, then hotter like a frying pan.

“S-shit. I think—” Gio was breathing hard. “Josh, what was your wish again?”

“Strength, if I ever complete all the nine Masses.”

“Plus the Misa de Gallo?”

“Yes, plus the—Oh fuck!”

“Holy fuck! Agh!”

And Gío swole into different directions. His veins thickened into ropes and covered more of his body. His shoulders grew rounder and bigger, pushed further to the sides by his bones, jutting out two feet from his normal sized head. His chest pushed Joshua further back toward the headboard.

“Agh!”

His arms became thicker and thicker, engorged with overgrown muscles fighting for every inch of space. His widening lats pushed them both up and sideward. Meanwhile, his quads were now larger than Joshua’s torso. His calves became rounder and more detailed, now covered with ropes of pure sinew. His feet were being pushed further to the side, suggesting that he was also growing taller.

“Fuck, yeah!” The padre screamed. “Bigger!”

Gío flexed his abs which turned into a sharp 10-pack. His neon shorts ripped, giving in to his veined monster cock, two feet long and as thick as Joshua’s arms. It leaked thick, copious amounts of precum as if he was already orgasming. His balls grew to the size of watermelons, overproducing cum and testosterone, giving birth to a demi-god that owned them.

“Fuck!”

As Gío grew taller, his frame also accommodated bigger muscles. His height blew up to a foot, and so did the rest of his body to all sides. At the same time, his body burned all traces of fat, unveiling every cord and vein and striation in his body. Yet his muscles still look full and pumped.

And then, the growth subsided. Gío’s body made minor adjustments to make him more beautiful and polished. Joshua could still hear the cock drip, soaking his bed with sweet essence. Then, the padre stood back nearer against the wall. His body was lit by the paról hung in the window. He must be over 8 feet tall and more than a thousand pounds heavy. He inspected his body, excited, like a kid with an ice cream. He flexed his 40-inch arms and growled. He moved his testosterone-filled body in various artful poses. And as if he only realized just now how magnificent he was, he laughed and came hard, making a thick puddle on the antique wooden floor.

“Thank you!” Gío said. His dick remained erect, ready for more.

“You’re welcome.”

“Josh?”

“Yes?”

“I want to fuck you!”

“Please,” Joshua said in desperation. He made himself ready in the soaked bed. “But I’m not sure if that dick’s—”

“Oh you of little faith.”

Gío dived toward the bed which caused it to creak. Joshua showed his ass eagerly to his clearly superior predator.

“No, face me.” the padre said. “I want to see your face.”

The padre lifted Joshua’s ankles and rested them on his mile-wide shoulders. He leaned closer to kiss his prey. His immense weight almost buried Joshua deeper into the bed, further into oblivion. The movement inevitably crushed the bed’s legs.

And Joshua felt it, the large throbbing manhood entering him. He felt every detail, every vein of Gío’s divinely grown cock, even the continuous flow if his manly essence. And as it slowly impaled him, Joshua screamed in mixed agony and pleasure. Nothing had ever gone further inside him than Gío’s powerful tool. He felt his insides shift to make way for the great invasion.

“Almost halfway.”

“Halfway?” Shit!

Joshua breathed slowly, taking in all of Gío’s manhood. Meanwhile, the giant’s rock-hard muscles kept rubbing Joshua’s torso. The worshiper let his hands wander frantically all over the mounds of his lover’s body from which he felt a emanating heat. His memories ran back to London, to the times his tropical body fought against the harsh winters. But now, the winters faded like vapor. At once, he felt at home with this beast of a man whom he kept kissing and fondling as if he would never experience like this ever again. He let his nostrils take in a mixed scent of musk, sweat, and perfume. The padre’s soft, low grunts sent his senses to highest sphere of Dante’s Paradiso.

“I’m in,” Gío said.

“Fuck, yeah!”

“Ready?”

“Ready.”

And Gío thrusted his tool in and out all night, as both continued their caresses and kisses and whispers of affection. Time stood still. No, it retuned further back to the first of times when God, the big other, so filled with love, began the creation of the universe.

“I’m cumming.”

“Please.”

And there came the Big Bang. And there came the gases and galaxies and planets and stars. And there came time and space and plants and creatures. And there came millenniums and eras and periods. And all that time, Gío kept filling Joshua, his new world from which he would plant his seed and build a more beautiful future.

Gío removed his cock. Both men were out of breath. Joshua faced the giant, and he saw the most beautiful man in the world, an Adam he can call his own.

“You’re a god.”

“Now, that’s blasphemy.”

“You’re still hard?”

“I’m never not hard.” He ran his fingers through his wet cock head and licked some of his seed. “I would never get used to this.”

“Me too.”

“Round two?”

“Maybe later. My relatives are coming.”

Gío lifted Joshua off the bed. He lay himself down the crushed furniture and put the smaller man on his chest. They looked at each other, smiling, amidst the ruins and the overpowering smell of the padre’s cum. They could go on like this forever.

“You know what old women say?” Joshua whispered. “If you jump at exactly midnight during New Year, you’d get taller.”

“You think I should get taller?”

Joshua shrugged his shoulders.

“Whatever you want, babe.”

They kissed and dozed off a little until the rest of Joshua’s family arrived for the much awaited noche buena.

And outside the Figueroa ancestral house stood Tay Angelo, carrying his two cans of tahô over his shoulders. He gazed on the paról hanging from one of the house’s capiz shell windows. Earlier he felt the house shook. He smiled and went on his way, wishing everyone in Urreta a merry Christmas.

5 parts 15k words Added Dec 2022 9,621 views 5.0 stars (8 votes)

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