Monday, September 20, 1999

Reality

This story originally appeared on the Secret Garden website and is archived here at the request of author Doug Rogers.



Jim Jackson awoke with a start.
He was where he was supposed to be: at the awards dinner for his college football team. The school year was over. Most of the students had gone home already to enjoy the summer break with their families. He and the others on the team would leave tomorrow, but tonight was the big night... when the season MVP award and other recognitions would take place.
Something Coach Latham was saying caught his ear. What was that? "Even in the face of his personal tragedy, Tommy Waland was the greatest quarterback..."
Tragedy? What had happened?
Tommy got up to go get his award. Shiny forearm crutches took the place of his right leg, missing at mid-thigh! What the hell had happened? Oh yes... he'd forgotten... that car accident on the way home from the final game of the season. He mounted the stairs to the stage far more easily than Jim would have imagined. His stump swaying with each step, almost like the missing leg was still trying to perform its function.

"Too bad about Tommy," Jim said to his buddy, Al Fereer, seated next to him. "A real shame about losing his leg!"
"Yeah." Al returned. "And what about mine? He's got more left to work with than I do!"
Jim's head snapped around! He looked down and saw the totally empty left pants-leg, pinned tightly up, showing Al's left leg missing at the hip!
Ah yes... he remembered again. Why was everything so jumbled up in his mind? Al had been riding with Tommy that night. Both had been in the car when that drunk had...
Another round of applause died down, and Pete Headley walked to the stage. He was at the top of the steps before the bright flash of a steel hook called attention to the place where his right hand used to be. He bent the prosthetic elbow to grasp his citation for the Eastern game... that's right... the Eastern game where he'd broken his arm... and the bone infection had set in...
Why was Jim having so much trouble remembering?
It was becoming bizarre! Every player who was called to the stage was now an amputee! The stories of their accidents, of one's battle with gangrene from a stupid frat stunt, they all flashed through his mind. Each being a major shock as he noticed the disability, and each making sense as the background came back to him.
Finally the Coach called his name. He started to get up, then remembered. He reached out to the joy stick that controlled his motorized wheelchair, and he rolled forward to accept the MVP award...
 

A continent away, school photographer Jeff Wallace shook his head. It was getting late. He had spent over three hours on this job... first scanning in shots of the jocks on his school's football team, then using his electronic retouching program to perform all manner of E Surgery! He saved the last of the bunch, and turned the computer off. He would upload his creations to his web page, "The Good Doctor's Clinic" tomorrow morning. It would be a hoot.

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