Tuesday, September 7, 1999

Vacation

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



Writers will do just about anything for a good story.
I've been a writer of one sort or the other for most of my life. The poetry of college gave way to mood scripts during my years as an easy listening radio disc jockey in the 1960s, technical writing during my stint as an engineer and computer programmer during the 70s and 80s, and finally to my current activities.
What are those? Oh, I teach, but that's just to make a living. Let's just say that I have found vent for the devotee and wantabe feelings that have plagued me since my childhood. What started as childish pulling of an arm inside a knit shirt and standing before a mirror to admire the results or doubling up a leg held in place by a pair of Bermuda shorts and using crutches leftover from my brother's broken leg has blossomed into a hobby that is akin to a full time job. Over the last several years I've written over a dozen short stories and half a dozen novellas all about my favorite subject: amputees. The fact that I publish them on a website and therefore have given them to the public makes it nonetheless a labor that consumes a great deal of my free time.
Having written that much, you might expect that it would become hard to come up with new ideas after a time. Well, you're right!
Needless to say, I was surprised when my fantasy life suddenly intruded into my real existence! But I'm getting ahead of myself.
It all started one evening when I was in chat with a very nice lady I met a couple of years before through the internet devotee site I operate. She, like me, was a devotee. She had wanted an amputee lover all of her life, but had never had the opportunity. Now, nearing 50, she had connected with a man a few years her junior who was her perfect soul mate... almost.

Carson wasn't an amputee... he was a long time wantabe. They had known each other professionally for years. Then, through the site, they had bumped into each other in a whole new context. For the past couple of years he had been chatting with Angela over the net, giving her long erotic conversations about his dream of being one-legged and how he might realize it. Of course, the chats were just that: fantasies. And, of course, these fantasies often spilled over into her net conversations with me. It was a Tuesday night when the exchange that started it all began.
Angela: How are you tonight?
Scott: Doin' ok. How about you, my dear?
Angela: Horny as hell. Carson was online half an hour ago. He really was chatting me up about wanting to lose his left leg.
Scott: Can't help ya with that one, hon.
Angela: I know.
Scott: Has he ever come up with a plan that'd really work?
Angela: Naw. They all either involve a real chance of dying or a lot of pain or the insurance company finding out it wasn't an accident and him being stuck with all the costs. And then there's his wife.
Scott: I take it that she isn't buying into the idea of a LAK husband?
Angela: Not a chance.
Scott: Too bad he's not shy of her along with that leg. <grin> He'd be about perfect for you! ROFLMAO.
Angela: Well, my bet is if it ever happens, he'll lose both at the same time!
Scott: Sugar, I'd help you both if I could. :)
Angela: I know. Heck, you're a writer! Think up a plot to make this all happen!
Scott: If I could do that I could make a fortune in the wantabe community.
Angela: Yeah. Like in that Garden novel "The Surgeon". They'd be lined up.
Of course, we had been having this conversation and variants on it for the past year or so. Every time that she thought Carson was about ready to make it happen, something came up and it was off. The plan... not his leg! My own opinion was that he was chickening out. Hell, I can't blame him! I've often toyed with the idea of a nice 8 inch LAK stump of my own, but having a major aversion to pain and an even greater one to death, I've never made a serious plan to go after it!
But she had put the idea into my mind with that chat. It had fed into my 'unconscious computer' and I dreamed about it that night.
The dream was unusual in its vivid detail and reality. I could feel the chill of the air and smell the outdoor setting where it was to be played out. I awoke with the entire thing worked out in my mind down to the smallest detail!
I laughed at myself when I was fully awake. It was a fantastic plan, and probably workable, but no one was going to buy into it. I mean, if it worked, Carson would really be without that leg! I was betting that he would want no part of it.
I typed the idea up in an email and sent it to Angela during a break at work. I thought she'd get a big kick out of it. I figured we could have a big laugh in our net chat that evening. I didn't have to wait that long to find out. I had been home about ten minutes when the phone rang.
"Scott?" a richly pitched female voice purred in the earpiece.
"Yeah. Hi Angela," I answered. "What brings a voice call from you, hon?"
"This idea is fan-damn-tastic!" she said with a girlish giggle. "I forwarded your email to Carson and he thinks you're a genius!"
"Well, I'm glad he got a grin out of it," I returned.
Then she dropped the bomb. "He wants to know if you and I will come help him."
"Do what?"
"Carson wants to know if you and I will meet him and help him carry out your plan!"
"Right."
"Scott, he's serious! He says he's going to do it with or without help. I'm a little concerned that if we don't help him he's going to do something stupid!"
"Yeah! Like following my screwy idea!" I replied.
"Come on, Scott," she said with that tone in her voice. "How many times have you told me that you think you could do amputations. You keep saying you have the stomach for it. I'm afraid I don't. Help him! He's really hurting to get this done."
I actually pulled the receiver away from my ear and looked at it. The moment was the most surreal of my life. Here I was being asked to take part in a plan the like of which I had always entertained fantasies of. Logic and common sense told me it was nuts to become involved in anything this bizarre. But somewhere, in the back of my mind, the idea burned with a fire all its own. I felt an erection form, and I knew at that instant that if Carson really wanted his left leg gone, I was about to help him!
"What would you say if I agreed?" I asked her as I returned the phone to my ear.
She had, or course, been delighted. I didn't ask her what she planned on getting out of this. I was pretty sure I knew where she would play out in the scheme of things. What I really wondered was, why the hell was I doing this. Then I thought about it a few moments. I knew. I just shook my head and grinned.
Carson had been a medic during his stretch in the Army, and he had pointed out that the weak link in my plan was the lack of pain control. I had the idea of just hitting him over the head and knocking him out before we carried out the rest of it. He very rightly pointed out that that wasn't going to put him out long enough, and it also just might kill him if I didn't know how and where to do it.
His solution was to order a couple of vials of Lidocaine from this body mod website out of Canada and a couple of hypos to go with it. He knew where the nerves in the leg were located, and he could deaden himself well enough to tolerate the pain until we could get him to help. The anesthetic would be sufficiently burned out of his system by the time help arrived that no one would know.
It was a good idea. Angela agreed to order the medical supplies. It took about two weeks, but when she called and told me she had everything in hand I could feel her excitement on the other end of the line.
In that time, I had been able to get dummy ID's for both of us. We would probably have to show them to the police at some point in this adventure. They had cost me about $100, but I didn't want to get caught over something that simple.
"So when do we get this show on the road?" I asked her.
"When can you get off?"
"I'm a teacher," I reminded her. "I've got this whole summer off. The greater question is when can Carson get loose."
"He can tell his wife he's going camping any weekend," she answered. "She hates it and lets him go anytime he wants to." She giggled. "I think he tells her that sometimes when he has an assignation with a lady."
I just rolled my eyes. "So when?" I asked.
"How about a week from this Saturday?" There was a dark conspiratorial note in her voice.
 The drive to Lawton, Oklahoma that Wednesday had me almost giddy with anticipation. The verdant hills of the western Arkansas mountains gave way to the flatlands of eastern Oklahoma. The further west I drove on that bright, cloudless day in July, the hotter it became. The air conditioning in my Mercury Marquis was beginning to have a hard time keeping up with that relentless desert sun. As I pulled into Oklahoma City that night, I was pleased at the prospect of some rest.
Fate is sometimes sardonic. The movie that I caught as I scanned the free fare at the motel was Treasure Island. I drifted off to sleep with visions of Long John Silver dancing in my head.
I heaved my bulk out of the bed about 7:30 the following morning. I could still hear the rich texture of Robert Newton's Welsh accent rattling around in my brain. Yes, the wily old pirate was going to have company on his timber leg and very soon.
Breakfast was good. I polished off two rounds of the scrambled eggs and bacon from the bar and got back on the road. The heat was already beginning to soar, and it was not yet 9:00.
As I drove southwest, the soil became more and more sandy, and began to take on the beige and yellow hues that one associates with the desert. When I stopped for gas a little outside of Lawton, I was surprised at the heat. It must have been over 100, yet it wasn't the killer sort of heat that we have in Southeast Missouri. It was a dry heat, a heat that beckoned one to sweat, then carried the moisture away from the body. Amazing! Nature's cooling system for the body does work, but only if you have the right weather for it. Perhaps we were intended to be desert dwellers. Who knows.
I knocked on Angela's door about noon. The medium height woman who answered it was not quite what I had expected.
You must understand that while I have been corresponding with Angela Egan for over three years, I have never seen so much as a picture of her. I knew that she was around 50 and medium height. She had always been complaining to me about how over-weight she was, so I had in my mind that the woman I was to meet was going to be something like Tottie Fields. Amazing how wrong your mental images can be!
Yes, this 5-6 lady was a few pounds heavy. But it was all in the right places. She was wearing a pair of blue jeans that appeared to have been spray painted on. I started to ask her if those were really jeans or something from one of those craft kits that she seems to spend her life working on. Her face was open and pleasant, quite pretty actually. She had aged very well with only the minimum of character lines pulling at the edge of her eyes. The crow's feet that afflicted so many women her age had passed her by. The makeup was minimal and tastefully done. The short hair on her head was a crown of flame. But the real surprise was the pale green knit blouse she wore.
Well, to be more accurate, it was what was in the blouse that was the surprise. Angela had always told me that she was "a little busty." She probably also tells people that Oklahoma is "a little warm" or that Chanel No. 5 perfume is "a little expensive." Being a breast connoisseur from my adolescent years on, I realized that I was in the presence of caviar!  This lady was stacked!
I suppose I left my eyes linger on those carnal treasures a bit too long there in that doorway. When I finally made eye contact with her again there was a twinkle in her smile. "Yes, they are, aren't they," was all she said.
"Sorry," I replied.
"I'm used to it," she said without anger. She laughed a musical note. "You have got to be Scott."
"Scott Hastings, at your service," I said with a slight bow.
"Well, come in… come in," she said, pulling at my hand.
The house was exactly what she had described it to be in her thousand emails. It was impeccably decorated to the teeth, every surface tied either by color or texture to every other within sight.
"Have you had lunch?" she asked.
"Not yet," I answered. "I thought I would treat you."
"Not necessary," she replied. "There no place worth going within 20 minutes of here, and besides, I fixed a crab salad with greens garnish. I thought you might be hungry when you arrived."
The food was the equal of everything else I had found in that house. As I wolfed the seafood down, I can remember thinking, idly, that perhaps I ought to go get the shotgun from my trunk and use it to blow my own leg off. This woman appeared to be something special, and worth just about anything it took to get her!
She, on the other hand, was looking at her watch. I finished the plate and thanked her, then reached into my pocket and withdrew a small card.
"What's this?" she asked.
"An ID," I replied. "If you recall, we are husband and wife in this little adventure!"
"Ah yes," she remembered. She looked at the card. "There's no picture."
"You never sent me one," I replied. Isn't there a mall around here with one of those 4-pictures-for-a-buck photo booths?"
She thought a minute. "As a matter of fact," she replied, letting the thought dangle. She nodded. "We can handle this on the way out of town. Are you about ready?"
"Let's do it," I replied, standing up.
I stopped where Angela indicated. She returned a few minutes later with a strip of color photos. It was characteristic of the woman that she spent ten minutes deciding which one she wanted to use on an ID that possibly would never be seen. I just handed her the scissors and started driving. She pulled the sticky backing off the trimmed photo and carefully placed it in the blank space on the ID. I had purposely gotten an ID for her and not a driver's license since she wasn't there to have the photo taken. My own fake license was perfect… the photo and the false data had been photographically composited using the same sort of machine the cops use to make the real ones. That's why it had set me back $75! Angela's ID was a simple "in lieu of license" ID issued to people who don't drive. A couple of sheets of self-sticking plastic completed the illusion. It ought to work.
It was about ten that night when we hit Memphis. I pulled into a motel on the Tennessee side and we registered as Mr. and Mrs. Charles Graham, the names on the IDs. I entered a fake license number ; they never check those things.
Angela seemed relieved when we opened the door and there were two double beds in the room. I guess she really expected me to come on to her, and I must admit I was tempted. Even the flannel gown she wore when she came out of the bathroom later that evening couldn't make her look undesirable, although I'm sure that was her idea in wearing it.
I nodded to acknowledge her presence and she simply nodded back. I could tell that something was on her mind, but I was going to let her be the one to say the first word. She pulled back the covers of her bed and crawled in. I hit the remote on the TV and silenced the noise.
"Ready for lights out?" I asked.
"Sure," she answered quietly.
I flipped the switch and the darkness enfolded us. It took her about two minutes to decide to speak.
"Scott?"
"Yes?"
"Are we doing the right thing here?"
"What do you mean? Sleeping in separate beds?" I teased.
"No. You know what I mean. Are we doing the right think helping Carson with all of this?"
"You said yourself that he plans to do it with us or without us. How do you think it's going to be safer for him?"
"I know… I know…" She paused. "I just keep thinking about his wife. I know that they don't have a very good relationship." There was a longer pause. "I almost know she's going to leave him if he loses that leg! And it's going to be my fault!"
"So you're feeling guilty about being the 'other woman'?"
"Not really. I just hate to think that it's because of me…"
"Look," I said, turning the lights back on so she could see my face. "If Carson wants his leg off, he's going to find a way. You obviously care enough about him to try and make sure it happens as safely as we can make it be. That means you are a friend! A very good friend."
She thought about it for a moment.
"And anything else that develops from this," I added, "is what develops. Stop beating yourself up. If there's anyone who ought to be asking what he's doing here, it's me!"
She looked at me. "Why are you here?" she asked intently.
"Mostly, because I'm your friend," I smiled back.
"You're a gentleman, too," she said.
"How's that?"
"You're still in your own bed."
I turned the lights back out. "That's something I don't think I  better comment on," I said. I heard her giggle and then turn over to go to sleep.
The next morning we were on our way. It took about five more hours to get to "Land Between the Lakes" in western Kentucky. This was the area that Carson Stephens had chosen for our little adventure this weekend. I drove up to the visitor's bureau, as planned. I was about five minutes early. Angela indicated that I should park next to a dark blue Land Rover, and I pulled up there.
I got out of the car and crossed around the back, appearing to be checking all of my tires. As I passed the driver's side of the Land Rover, a voice whispered out the window. "Big Piney wilderness camp." I nodded, but didn't look into the ATV.
The interior of the visitor's center was done in false rustic. You know the effect… log walls that are fitted together tongue in groove instead of mud caulked. The park ranger who issued the camping permit took my $12.50 and handed me the two day "wilderness pass" and wished me a pleasant and safe stay in the park. Right. "We're here if you need us, 24 hours a day!" he assured me. Good. Yes, we were going to need him! I almost laughed.
When I came back out the Land Rover was gone. "He's already headed up there," Angela told me. "Let's go get some lunch and then head to the camp site. I'm not looking forward to any more of this 'roughing it' than I have to put up with!"
When we finally bounced up the rough gravel road to the wilderness campsite I saw the now-familiar Land Rover parked under a majestic pine tree. "Where do we pull in?" I asked Angela.
"How the hell do I know," she said with a shrug, those lovely mountains of hers jiggling and competing with the beauty of the other mountains we were in. "Pull in and we'll ask Carson where to go."
"Is that okay?" I asked with concern. "What if someone sees us talking?"
Angela looked around and then addressed me as one might a small child. "Yes, I feel really sure that the crowds up here are going to notice. Besides, we would get to know him in the natural course of being camped near his camp. Pull over!"
I stopped the car and we both got out. A tall, somewhat lanky man stood up from a non-descript labor. He was dark-headed and had an angular face, the hair appeared to be prematurely gray, the clear blue of his eyes sparkled with excitement. Carson greeted Angela warmly. They had obviously known each other a long time. He gave her a light kiss and started to pat her behind until she brushed the caress away, obviously with a well practiced move. "Carson," she said. "I want you to meet Scott Hastings."
"Good to meet you," I told him.
"That doesn't even start to say it," he said with a smile. "You don't know how it bowls me over that you're willing to help a total stranger in a deal like this!"
"You're not a stranger," I returned. "You're Angela's friend, and I'm glad to do it." I paused for a moment. "You do realize that you are going to owe me a hell of a collection of pictures." He laughed. "Afterwards, I mean."
"You'll get 'em," he said grinning.
"Where should we set up camp, Carson?" she asked.
"About 100 yards up there," he said, gesturing up the small creek that ran by his own campsite. "You'll need the water and I saw a pretty clear space up there that's obviously been used before." He looked at both of us. "I didn't figure that either of you were really into this wilderness thing."
Angela made a face at him and I just laughed.
"When are we going to do it?" I asked him.
"Tomorrow afternoon," he returned. "It'll look odd if I do any heavy duty hiking this late." He turned to Angela. "You got the stuff, hon?"
The woman withdrew a pair of medicine vials from her purse and companion syringes, holding them up like prizes. Carson looked at the materials and nodded. "That'll do the trick. Good goin'!"
"It's what you told me to order," she replied.
"Well, go pitch your camp," he said. "It's getting late and you guys are bound to get hungry. We better not eat together. It'll look too chummy for later."
"Okay," I said, pulling Angela by her arm back to the car. It took a couple of hours for two novices to figure out how to wrangle the various stakes and ropes involved in putting up that damned rented pup-tent. I was just about for spending the night in the car, but Angela insisted we had to get it put up for the sake of appearances. It was about dark when we got it all done.
We ate sandwiches that we had purchased at a deli before we hit the gravel. A hundred yards down the way, we could see the flickering of a campfire from Carson's camp, and admittedly delicious smells were drifting on the slight breeze. Although it was mid-summer, the mountain air was cool and clear. Somewhere out in the thicket crickets began their nightly serenade. There was a sort of primitive rhythm to it all that made me wonder if I was missing something by not doing this on a regular basis.
Angela made a rather large production out of being sleepy and crawling into the pup-tent. I shrugged my shoulders and followed her in. I noticed that she was still fully dressed and lying on top of her sleeping bag. I decided that it was, again, to prevent my being tempted, so I did the same thing and drifted off to sleep, the crickets song lulling me into much-needed rest.
It must have been at least an hour later when I awakened. I'm not sure what it was that woke me. Perhaps it had been Angela as she'd crawled out of the tent. At any rate, I was alone there. Concerned, I wiggled out of the tight enclosure and began to look around.
The first place I checked was the car. I suspected that she had been taken by second thoughts about this sleeping on the ground business, but it was empty. There was no sign of her anywhere. Concerned, I started walking toward the still active campfire at Carson's clearing. Perhaps she had been unable to sleep and had walked up to talk with him.
I was about 15 yards from the camp when I found Angela. I had been correct. She had walked the rough path down to his camp, but she had not come to talk.
The light of the fire was playing on the two nude bodies. I've always heard that nature is a powerful aphrodisiac, and that there are few pleasures equal to coupling between the earth and the sky. I will have to remember to ask Angela about it sometime. She now knows.
Carson was lying on top of a goose down sleeping bag. He was on his back, his knees drawn up to make a support for his partner's back. Angela was sitting on his pubic area, leaning back against the offered legs as hard as she could. It was clear that she was attempting to make the pressure at the point of their joining as intense as possible.
She stretched her arm back and over her head. For the first time I could see that my fantasies about her bust size were not in error. She must wear a double-D bra at least. Possibly bigger! Her breasts had just the right amount of sag to make them look mature and sensual. They were obviously natural; silicone boobs that size just stick out like they're pasted on. Carson reached his hands up and took one large melon in each hand, lifting and weighing them as though trying to estimate their mass. Finally, he pulled up from the waist and placed a kiss on the nearest mammary. Angela's head leaned further back and she began to moan.
The voyeur in me wanted to stay and watch this performance to its logical end, but somewhere in the back of my mind I decided that it wasn't right. I took a little walk up from our camp in the other direction and found out a little about orgasms between the earth and sky myself. Even alone, they have something to be said for them.
 It was about 9:30 the next morning when Carson and I got down to business. The three of us had hiked about half an hour up Big Piney Mountain on the advanced trail. Trail, hell! It wasn't even a goat path as far as I could tell. Still, Carson seemed to know where he was going. This was his show and I was just trying to keep up.
He had indicated a place for Angela to rest and the two of us had rounded a curve. It was perfect.
A large collection of rocks had recently slipped down from the rough side of the mountain and were partially blocking the trail. We looked around the place for a couple of minutes and found a spot that suited our needs.
Even though we had all planned this to the n-th detail, I felt like I had to ask Carson 'the' question one last time. Once we started this there would be no backing out.
"I gotta ask, Carson. Are you sure you want to go through with this?"
"Sure as the day," he answered back solemnly.
"There's still time to turn back."
"Why?" he asked.
"I don't know. I mean… the rest of your life is a long time to live with one leg."
He smiled and shook his head. "Not near as long as I wish it was. I wish I'd had the guts to do this when I was 15 years old! I've been wanting it that long!"
I just nodded as I knew all of this. Angela's emails and chats had made me acquainted with this man far more than some people I have met in the flesh. Carson pulled the medical supplies Angela had provided from his backpack and filled both syringes from the vials of pain killer. With the practiced moves of a medic, he jabbed the first needle into the outer part of his hip and pushed the plunger. I saw him wince a little as the burning liquid slipped into the flesh and began to deaden the nerves.
He withdrew the first needle and handed it back to me. "Fill it again," he said, gesturing to the second bottle. I complied while he was injecting the second site.
It took six shots to use up all of the medicine. When he was done, Carson replaced the needle caps on the instruments and handed them to me. I grabbed the vials and the injectors and took the whole mess back around the curve of the path to Angela. "Put this in the trunk," I told her. "We'll have to dump them later."
"Is… is it done?" she asked, her voice trembling. I couldn't decide if it was with fear or anticipation.
"No. He's waiting for the stuff to numb him up," I answered. I'll come get you… after. I'm going to need some help moving a few rocks to make it look convincing."
She nodded dully, and I went back up the trail.
Carson had selected the place he thought would work. It was near the center of the trail, where he might have been expected to be walking when the slide occurred. He had picked a spot where two rocks, each about 12 inches in diameter, had landed 18 inches apart. They were both flat on the bottom and rounded toward the top. They weren't going to shift.
I fingered the gray granite. It was rough as a file. This stuff was really going to tear him up. I would have to be careful. Carson lay down and placed his left leg across the two selected rocks, his mid thigh resting on one and the middle of his calf on the other. He pulled his right leg back as far as possible to keep it out of the way of what was about to happen.
I looked about and selected my weapon. It was a small boulder about two feet in diameter, almost more than I could lift alone. Cason nodded his approval. I hoisted the mass as far up as I could and dropped it. The stone hit the earth almost a foot above Carson's leg, took an impossible bounce, and actually rolled over the knee. We both looked first at the stone, then the knee, then at each other and burst out laughing.
"You've got a lousy aim," he said.
"I'll get it this time," I assured him.
Retrieving the missile, I carried it back to a position a foot or so nearer the prone man. Again, my muscles strained to lift the burden. I held it is high as I could get it, moved a bit closer, and slammed the rock down as hard as I could.
This time my aim had been perfect; the stone struck the leg right at the kneecap. I heard the crunch as it crushed the flesh below, and quickly walked around to check the damage. Carson's knee was bent backward at a 30 to 40 degree angle. The rough stone had torn his jeans and jagged edges of bone and blood could be seen through the open rips. I quickly looked at the man's face. There was pain there.
"You okay?" I asked.
"Yeah. The meds are getting about 90% of the pain. It hurts, but I'm not going crazy. Get on with it!"
I quickly went around the bend and nodded for Angela. She trembled as she got up and followed me. I noticed that she and Carson exchanged smiles, but she did not really look at the injury. As quickly as we could manage, I took off my leather belt and made a tourniquet around the injured limb. Carson looked and told me to do it lower. "I want that part left," he said simply. We spent some ten minutes pushing and rolling two dozen other rocks into place around and on top of the one that had done the deed. When it was done, we rolled one other stone so that it appeared to pin his shoulder, but was not really causing any pain.
"That's got it," he nodded. "Time for you to go do your part, Angie," he told her.
Angela nodded, and began to hurry back down the trail.
It was nearly an hour later when we heard the rescuers coming up the trail. By this time I had artistically smeared dust over both of us, and made sure that a nasty handful had been scattered into the wound.  The bleeding had slowed to almost nothing a few minutes after I had strapped my belt into place. Carson was sure that between the damage from the rock and the lack of blood the leg was ruined.
I looked down the trail and nodded to him. He began to moan softly.
"Over here!" I called to the mountaineers.
The EMTs quickly cleared the rocks that we had labored so long to place into position, and began to assess the situation. "Is this the way you found him?" one asked me as he took the man's pulse.
"Yes. He was hiking a few hundred yards ahead of my wife and me," I said, gesturing to Angela who had returned to show the way. "We heard some noise up ahead and then we heard a scream. I got here first and found him like this." I gestured to the prone figure. "He was bleeding real badly so I put my belt around his leg there to try and stop it."
"How long's that been on there?"
"An hour maybe?"
"Damn."
"Why?"
"It doesn't matter, Davey," the second tech interjected. "No femoral pulse at all. It's all screwed."
"What does that mean?" I asked dumbly.
"It means your friend here is going to lose his leg," the man answered simply.
"He's not a friend of mine," I answered back, playing the fool. "We just bumped into him down at camp last night." I paused. "He was the one who suggested this trail to us."
"Yeah, it's real pretty up here," the guy returned. "Too bad you had to see this today."
Angela and I debated following the ambulance to the hospital, but decided not to chance it. Carson only lived a couple of hours from here, and his wife had already been called. It wouldn't do for her to see Angela there. Sure, it had been 14 years since they had met, but there was no need to chance it.
We packed up our camping gear and I headed back for Lawton. Angela was quiet the whole trip, obviously lost in her own thoughts. It had all gone according to plan. No one had even asked her name. Or mine. No one had been able to take the time to care. Now, we were gone, and all that was left was for the surgeons to craft the body that Carson Stephens had wanted since he was 15.

All of this was four months ago.
Angela has, of course, kept me up to date as to what has gone on. Yes, they did take the leg. Yes, he does have a ten inch stump. Yes, it has healed very well, and he's been fitted with a new leg. Yes, he can walk on it. Yes… he loves it!
I had wondered what the payoff for Angela was until tonight when I got the call. It was the call I had suspected would be coming all along.
"Scott?" she had said as I answered the phone.
"Yes. Hi Angela!"
"You'll never guess who's here with me," she teased.
"Santa Claus," I teased back.
"In a way of speaking," she giggled into the receiver. "At least it's a guy who just brought me what I've always wanted."
"Put him on," I laughed back.
"Scott?" Carson's voice was strong and bubbly.
"Right here. How ya' doin', guy?" I asked.
"Never better," he answered. "I can't thank you enough! They did a great job on me. Took it right where we planned. And, man, did they do a good job grooming the stump. It's got a great shape to it and the new leg fits like a dream."
"Any phantoms or anything like that?" I asked.
"Nothing to amount to anything," he replied. "The deadening pretty well took care of that. I still think the leg's just numbed up sometimes."
"Well, I'm glad for you," I told him. "But remember… you owe me!"
He laughed. "Angela is going to start taking pictures of me tomorrow. We'll have them in the mail for you by the weekend."
"So how long are you there for?" I asked innocently.
"I think for the haul," he said happily. "Dora couldn't take it. She filed for divorce before I got out of rehab. Didn't ask for a thing but out." He paused. "I've made out like a bandit on all of this!"
"Insurance paid?"
"Every dollar. After all, I've lost my leg in a terrible accident."
"Well, I'm proud for you," I told him again.
"Angie wants the phone back," he said.
"Scott?" she began. "How am I ever going to thank you?"
I started to tell her she didn't owe me a thing, but decided to have some fun. "A tittie pic," I told her.
"A what?"
"A picture of you, my dear," I said with an audible leer. "Without a top… or a bra. You and those lovely breasts of yours!"
"You are terrible!" she giggled back. "I'll see what I can arrange."
"I'll expect it," I joked back. Somehow I'm not convinced I won't actually get it!
"I just have one last question," she asked me, a serious note creeping into her voice.
"Sure," I answered. "What?"
"Why did you do this, Scott? Why did you spend the time and the money? You wouldn't take a dime from me to help on the trip. Why would you do this for the two of us. You must have known why I was in… but why you?"
"I'm a nice guy," I said.
She laughed. "Really. Why?"
It was my turn to laugh. "As you said on the front end of this crazy business: I'm a writer. Can't you imagine what a great story this is going to make?"
"Sure," she agreed. "Except no one will believe it really happened."
"So what?" I asked. "That's the wonderful thing about writing. No one ever knows for sure."

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