Saturday, October 30, 1999

High Art

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

In Memory of Mac -
Long-time supporter, friend of the Garden, and the best reader an author could have hoped for!
'Nuff said.

The paint flowed smoothly, spread by broad fluid strokes that suggested both depth and texture to the draped cloth. The tightly stretched canvas accepted the pigments as a lover embracing his beloved, the two joining in union creating a more perfect whole.
Before the artist was Jesus. The tortured man was kneeling beneath the weight of the heavy wooden cross where he had fallen in the streets of Jerusalem. He was looking upward, imploring someone... anyone... to help. It was the moment before Simon of Cyrenea would lift his burden and carry it for a ways, thus assuring himself a place in the history of man as well as the eternal favor of the Almighty.
Of course, any artist other than the one wielding the brush would have noticed the flaw in the tableau immediately: the real Jesus had possessed no artificial leg.
The model had the long dark hair and rugged, handsome, chiseled features that have always been the traditional look given by artists to represent the Prince of Peace. His shoulders were strong and well-muscled under the torn cloak in which he was clad. His bent left leg supported his weight, the foot extended behind him in its single sandal. His right leg was bent as well, the mechanical knee making a better than ninety degree angle. The artificial foot, anatomically correct in all details was bare against the seamless paper, making the bright yellow of the metal pylon almost absurd. The bucket that encased the remains of his right leg was clearly visible, including the release button that he would use later in the day to free his stump from its Fiberglas bondage.
This was not, of course, what the acrylics and linen before the artist depicted. Not only was the man whole and robust, but he was amid a throng of strangers, most jeering, his image being immortalized in one of the familiar series of paintings known as "The Stations of the Cross." The artist knew anatomy, and had no trouble replacing on canvas what had been torn away in reality.
Tommy Takeda knew all about things being torn away in reality. His delicate Asian features smiled. Putting down his brush, he raised the stump of his right arm and used the nub to scratch the tip of his nose. "That's it for today, Bob," he called toward Jesus' direction. "We'll finish this up tomorrow."
The model dropped the papier-mâché cross, letting it land with a soft, airy thump. He shifted his weight a bit for better leverage and stood up. "Can I see?" he asked, walking smoothly toward the place on the floor where the artwork lay.
"Sure," Tommy answered. He was not shy about people seeing his work before he declared it 'finished.' Sometimes an off-hand comment would be the spark for further inspiration. He rolled both his shoulders forward until the twin eight inch stumps of his arms just met.
"I don't see how you do it," Bob said with a shake of the head and a smile.
"Do what?"
"Paint!" he answered. "You paint one hell of a picture for a guy with no hands!"
Tommy smiled crookedly. "Well, you're not a bad Jesus for a boy with one leg either," he countered good-naturedly.

Tuesday, October 26, 1999


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


Cal Clemens became acutely aware he was being watched as he was waiting his turn on the lumbering ski lift. He usually didn't like it when the older guys came on to him. Most of them were fat and gross, even here at a winter resort where one would assume a requirement of physical fitness to take advantage of the attractions. But this guy was different. He couldn't have been more than thirty-five and he looked like he worked out several times a week. He was a hottie.
"You gettin' on?" a voice complained from behind.
"What's it to..." he started to retort angrily. He stopped mid-sentence. The twenty-something behind him was standing there on a single ski between twin outrigger poles, his right leg obviously missing all the way up at the hip! "Like I said," he quickly added, "what does it take to get this line moving! Here, dude, you go on ahead. I've got something I need to check."
The amputee passed him and took the waiting chair on the lift. Cal watched as he disappeared up the line, fascinated by the single idly-swinging ski hanging from the chair. He shook his head. Damn! Those guys made him so hot! He'd always had thing 'thing' for amps. His father had a friend who had only one leg, and Cal had seem him around at family functions for as long as he could remember. The man, 'Uncle Bill,' had always been kind to him, once even removing his artificial leg to let the curious youngster inspect how it was made. He smiled, remembering the nights he had folded a leg up in his pajama bottoms and played at 'being' Uncle Bill.
"What run are you going to try today?" a different voice asked, breaking the reverie.
Cal snapped out of his daydream. It was the thirty-something who'd been giving him 'the eye.' "Red Canyon," he replied, then idly bent down to inspect his left binding. "How 'bout you?"
"Funniest thing," came the reply. "I'm going to do Red Canyon as well!"
"Yeah, how the fuck about that?" Cal thought silently. God! Did he have 'Gay Boy' stenciled on his forehead or something? Could the guy have thought of a more obvious pickup line?

Sunday, October 24, 1999


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

Johnny swung his tennis shoe clad foot over the edge of the boat and found his balance on the uneven, rocky surface of the shore. He was already doubting that this was the best idea Ted had ever had. The rocks were none too sure, and his crutches would have a hard time finding secure support. He reached for the aluminum rods, and slid his fore-arms into the housings.
Ted was returning to the boat to get the second, and last, load of gear for the overnight. "Just wait," he grinned. "This island is GREAT at night! You'll LOVE it!"
The island WAS beautiful. The rocky beach met the lakeside in a series of gentle rolling waves, whipped up by the ever-present breeze across the large body of water. The beach turned to grass about 15 yards up a slight incline, and the grass gave way to trees after another 20 yards. The grass was dotted everywhere with the daisies that had given the lake its name.
Ted grinned at Johnny again. It hadn't been easy convincing Johnny's mother that the week-long camping trip with his family would be good therapy. Nor had it been easy to convince HIS mother that the overnight on the island was the best of ideas. Only after his dad had checked the weather forecast did they say "OK." Two 16 year olds with a power boat was not the old man's fondest wish, but they had promised not to use the boat except to get to the island, and back the next morning.
"Time's wastin'," Ted said to Johnny. "There's plenty of driftwood here in this pile. Stack it up for a fire and get it started. I'll set up the pup tent and break out the 'dogs!"
Johnny nodded. At least that was something he COULD do. He set his crutches aside, and slowly lowered his stump to the ground, standing on its tip without much pain. He shifted his left leg to the front. A casual looker would have thought he was any other teen dropping to one knee to build a fire.
The wood was dry, and it caught fairly easily. It only took two matches to set it ablaze.

Friday, October 22, 1999

Looking Glass

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

"Mr. Greene?"
The doctor's voice seemed cordial enough as he stood there at the door. I don't know what I had really expected a psychologist to sound like. Perhaps he should have had an Austrian accent. Who knows what makes us make the assumptions we grab on to?
"Right here," I answered, getting out of my chair. I crossed the small waiting room and shook his hand.
"This way," he told me with a gesture. "I'm Dr. Lockstadt. My office is the one at the end of the hall."
I followed without saying anything more. The room he led me to was comfortable, painted in muted tones of green and tan. The chairs were leather covered and of some dark wood. There was, of course, the obligatory couch against one wall. "Is that for me?" I asked, almost teasing.
"Only if you want it," the doctor answered back with the same sense of fun.
I decided I liked him.
"What brings you to me?" he began. "I read on the primary sheet you filled out that you're being bothered by recurrent dreams?"
"Well, why don't we jump right into it. Can you tell me about these dreams?"
"Sure," I began, "as long as you don't take me straight to the looney bin." I cleared my throat. "The dreams are always different, yet they are always the same. It's like there is a whole 'nother life that I'm living in these dreams."
"Are they filled with familiar things?"
I shook my head. "No. Almost everything is different. In these dreams I'm not a salesman at all. I'm an artist. I paint."
"Perhaps this is an interest you never explored. Have you ever wanted to paint?"
"No," I answered. "I can't draw stick figures. But it gets more and more bizarre. The worst of it is, in the dreams, I'm gay and..."
Lockstadt broke in: "And you are heterosexual?"
"Sure. Been married for ten years. Two kids. Mortgage, two-car garage... the whole package."
"Go on."
"Oh, being gay isn't even the most nuts part of it, doc." I took a deep breath. "In this dream, I'm an amputee!"

Wednesday, October 20, 1999

Mulled Wine

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

1 Gallon Red Wine
1 Gallon Water
2 Cups Sugar
10 Sticks Cinnamon
5 Cloves
1 Orange, thinly sliced
1 Lemon, thinly sliced
1 Lime, thinly sliced
Combine in crock and steep covered three days next to fireplace.
Serve warm, directly from crock.

Annie Clowers was almost asleep as she sat covered in a cozy quilt in her high-backed wooden rocker. She had already banked the fire for the night so that the last of the logs would still be there when she awakened in the morning. That way she would only need to add more wood to rekindle the cheerful blaze. Her farmhouse had central heating and cooling, but the winter nights always seemed warmer with a fire in the stone fireplace. Annie had allowed her eyes to close "for just a minute or two." She might have passed the night there had the knock at the door not awakened her.
She glanced at the pendulum clock on the mantle: 11:45. "Who in the world?" she said out loud, but to herself. The knock sounded again. Annie got up and walked to the front door. She flipped the switch of the front porch light and looked out the cut-glass window to see who it might be. The man there was unknown to her, but one look at him made her open the door.
He was fairly tall, but totally under-dressed for the weather. The snow was still pelting down on this December 28th, and the light wind that blew across the mountains and through the valleys of northwest Arkansas made the night bitter. The man was clad in a sweatsuit and a light jacket. He wore no hat.
"I'm sorry to bother you at this hour," the well-modulated voice began.
"Dear Lord in Heaven! Get yourself in here out of this cold before you freeze!" Annie said, cutting him off. She opened the door wider and gestured for him to enter. It was only when he leaned forward and planted his forearm crutches across the threshold that her eyes flickered to his lower body. The left leg was missing about half way up from the knee. He had tied the leg of the sweat pants in a crude knot where the limb ended, obviously trying to keep warm.

Tuesday, October 19, 1999

The One-Armed Boy

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

"God! Kenneth is so lame!"
Karen Stevens looked up from the book she was studying to assess her roommate. Dana Keith's make-up was smudged beyond repair and the right side of her blouse was not completely tucked in. "I don't know," she quipped back. "Looks like he did a pretty good job with you!"
Both girls giggled.
"Oh, he got the job done alright, at least from his perspective! But damn, girl! Don't these guys have a clue about there being more to it than 'Gee baby, you're pretty, let's screw, it won't hurt much, did it?'" She began to take the wrinkled clothes off and get ready for bed.
"I'm afraid we've got a lot of training to do to make most of 'em worth snuggling up to," Karen agreed. Then she got a far away look in her eyes and a sad smile began to play over her lips.
Dana raised an eyebrow. "You okay?"
Karen shook her head as if to clear it. "Yeah. Sure. Sorry."
"What was that all about?"
"I was just remembering something... someone."
Dana shifted the raised brow up another notch. "Well?"
The young woman looked at her roomie seriously. "I was remembering the very best lover I ever had. That's all."

Friday, October 15, 1999


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

The Beginning

He sat there for three full minutes, looking at the computer screen.
It seemed like three hours.
Damon Green finally clicked the mouse of his new computer on the button marked "Send."
Somewhere, far, far away, in the bowels of one of the servers for, Damon's message was written to disk, and a header was created, giving his name as the sender, and the first line of his message as the subject. The Yahoo computer dutifully posted the header to the message list in the Yahoo club "Sons 4 Dads." It was done.
The message was the last link in a plan that Damon has been implementing for almost two years. "God," he thought. "Has it been THAT long?"
His mother had passed away almost two years ago to the day. Damon had known that the old woman was rich, but the extent of her holdings was shocking, even to him. His father had been a rather highly paid civil servant, who had retired shortly before interest rates went sky high. His mother, shrewd old Scotswoman that she was, had invested almost their entire savings in high yield securities, and the totals just took off! By the time she died, that $53,000 investment was worth almost 3.5 million dollars! And there was no will. Nothing to probate. Damon was the only child, and his name was on, quite literally, EVERYTHING. It was his. Outright. He wasn't sure about the legality of it, but he just withdrew the monies from her accounts and put them in his own.
Even Ruth, his wife, had no idea of the amount of money involved. "Good thing," he thought out loud. "She'd be after it to waste on something or the other!"
The fact that there was little love lost between them any more had been one of the major forces in his decision to build an alternative life for himself. He looked around his new home. "Not bad, if I say so myself," he thought. Then he laughed. "I guess I really AM gay! I'm a damn good decorator!"
It was so. The bright colors... the contrasts of light and dark areas... the functionality of the soft, yielding furniture... it was what he had dreamed of. It looked like one of those pads in the gay porno movies that he and Charlie had watched when they could steal a minute or two.

Tuesday, October 12, 1999


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

It's hard to believe. I sit here in this hospital bed and I realize that I am a mother. A mother at 42. A mother for the first time at 42!
I look at the thick shock of dark hair that crowns his round face. It is his father's hair. Every strand of it! The penetrating blue eyes that he squints open occasionally are also gifts of his father. He is his father in so very many ways.
I lay here, letting him have his lunch; my breasts finally being used for their intended purpose. I lay here and I am happy. I'm happier than I have ever been in my life. He nurses and my mind drifts back to that first night when his dad and I met. It seems ages ago now.
There must have been a hundred-thousand college kids in Lauderdale last March. The colleges had disgorged them like cheap whiskey from a drunken teenager's stomach; suddenly, but not without warning. We knew they were coming. Those of us who own the bars near the beach have been working for the past five years to repair the damage to the spring break trade that the religious right did to our community. The clean-up campaign the do-gooders had instituted had cleaned the town up all right; it had almost cost us our livelihoods in the process. But those fellows had been caught fishing in their neighbors' ponds, so to speak, and the scandal had returned a more enlightened, pragmatic leadership to the local body politic.
Spring Break (capitals required for such an event!) was back!
I was tending bar in my club, The Shark's Fin, when I saw the group come in. They looked like any throng of the other faceless clients. Well, three of them did. The fourth kid caught my eye. Yes, his close-cropped black hair caught my eye: it was coal black; almost blue-black. His eyes in contrast were deep pools of azure-blue. I had never seen such deep blue eyes before that night. I would find out, later of course, that the color was true; it was not a trick of the light. The tee shirt was cut off just below his pecs, displaying a washboard-hard ribbed stomach. The shorts displayed the chiseled muscles of his right leg. He was a Greek God except for his lack of a left leg.

Friday, October 1, 1999

Just a Little Scratch

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

Jamie ought to wake up soon. I've been sitting here next to his bed for the last four hours, waiting for him to come out from under the anaesthetic. I wanted to be here for him. After all, I was there at the beginning of this, just a week ago...

"You certainly look smug," I told Jamie as he came in from work. "Did you discover the cure to cancer today?"
My lover raised one eyebrow and gave me a crooked smile. The blue eyes peered out from beneath the blond locks that he cared for so attentively. "I found a way to do it!" he said, bursting with excitement.
"Do what?" I asked, totally left out.
"I figured out a way to get them to take my leg off!" he said cheerily.
Dear God, I thought. Not this again. Jamie was what is called a "wantabe". He's always wanted to be an amputee. To be exact, he wants his left leg removed half way up his thigh.
"Well, Gil," he asks, "are you just going to sit there, or are you going to hug me or what?"
"You know how I feel about this," I told him. "I think you're a fruit loop."
"You not going to love me with one leg?" he vamped.
"You know I'd love you regardless," I started. "I told you that a long time ago. But I still think this is nuts. Is pretending not good enough any more? I mean, I must admit I get entertained seeing you strap your leg up some weekends, but come on! For real? You know you won't go through with it!"
Again, he raised one of those eyebrows at me. "Really?" he asked slyly.
"Really," I returned confidently.