I'm not really sure what sort of turn my life would have taken if I hadn't met Corky. Quite probably, I'd be dead. In a very real way I owe my life to him.
It was the summer I had turned fourteen. I was running away. I was running away in every sense of the term. I was fourteen and I was running away from the small town where I had been raised, from my parents, from the thugs at school who thought it was really funny to pick on the small kid everyone thought was gay. Well, they were right, but what of it? I never bothered anyone! I was running away from all the problems that had been dumped into my life in the past eight weeks! I was tired of it all and all I wanted was out. So I had saved my allowance for the past four weeks and stolen everything that was in my mother's purse the summer afternoon I finally decided to do it, and I had bolted!
It doesn't take much money to hitchhike. It's scary as hell, but it's cheap. I'd only had one close call so far. This guy in his late 30's I guessed had picked me up outside of Carson City. He'd seemed nice enough and had chattered on and on as we headed down Route 28 toward Lake Tahoe. About the time the night fell he pulled into a Mickey D's just outside of Tahoe.
"You hungry?" he asked.
"Yeah, I could eat," I told him. Actually, I wanted to get out of the car and stretch. My knee was throbbing something awful and I needed to walk it off.
"Great," he said. "Let's grab a bite here, my treat!"
He didn't have to make that offer twice. We sat in the plastic restaurant eating the plastic tasting meal. I'd never thought much of fast food, but at least this was filling and someone else was buying it.
"Want another?" the guy asked, pointing to the smudged carton that had held my Big Mac.
"No, I'm good," I said. "Thanks. I was hungry."
"You on the run, kid?" he finally asked.
"Why you say that?" I was petrified. "I'm just trying to get to Needles to hook up with my cousin's family. My folks said it was okay."
"Just askin'," the man returned. "Well, let's get on the road again. I can probably get you a good deal of the way to Needles before I call it a night."
We headed back down the highway. It was near nine that evening when he wheeled into a roadside motel. "Be right back," he said without telling me to get out of the car. He returned a minute or two later and started to car again. "Room's around the back," he said easily.
I frankly didn't quite know what to do. Something inside me said this wasn't a good idea, but the dude had been nothing but nice to me. I thought, what the hell a night's sleep without having to worry about what kind of lizard was going to crawl in the bag with me would be a luxury. When he said "Come on in, kid," I grabbed my backpack and followed him in.
I hadn't dropped my stuff on the near twin bed when the guy turns to me and puts a twenty in my hand. "Here ya go," he said. "I like to get the arrangements all done up front. That way there's no hard feelings later."
I looked at the money in my hand dumbly.
"It that enough?" he asked, unbuckling his trousers.
"Enough for what?" I asked. It had still not all fallen into place for me.
"Just a blow job," he said. "I been watching you talk for the last five hours. All that time I could just see those sweet lips of yours wrapped around my cock. Come on, kid, do me! I need it bad!"
I stared at the money in my hand for a moment and then at the raging hard-on that was being extended toward me. The guy was arching his back and leaning forward wanting me to service him right there and then with no preliminaries or anything! I looked at him in shock. "I ain't no whore!" I snapped, throwing the money back at him. It would have helped but, hell, I'd never had sex at all except with myself and this was not the way I wanted to learn about it! I grabbed my backpack and beat it toward the door.
Thinking back on it that night as I lay in my sleeping bag behind a billboard looking up at the night sky, I had been very, very lucky! I could have been killed if the dude had decided to get ugly about it all. Even short of that, if the cops had found me I'd probably have been on my way back home, and I couldn't afford for that to happen! I finally drifted off to sleep watching the stars of Bootes, the bear driver slowly drift across my field of view. Knowing the constellations passed the time on the road. It was a good thing to know.
It was the sound of the traffic picking up that finally awakened me the following morning. I stayed in hiding behind the foliage surrounding the billboard as I looked across the road to make sure that the scumbag who'd tried to buy me was gone. He was. The dirty tan car was nowhere to be seen. I packed my stuff and ambled across the road to have breakfast at the greasy spoon eatery that was next to the cheap motel.
I caught a trucker walking out the door about the time I was finishing up. "Where you headed?" I asked him. It actually didn't make any difference. Whatever he said was where I was going to tell him I was headed.
"Needles," he drawled.
"Great! I'm headed there, too! Can I get a lift?"
He looked me up and down a couple of times. "We ain't supposed to take on riders, kid," he said, "but you look like you ain't gonna hurt me."
"Scout's honor!" I said, flashing him my best smile.
"Climb in," he said as he jerked the passenger side door of the big rig open.
The powerful roar of the engine was almost deafening as he pulled the truck out onto the road. The noise was dwarfed by the country music vibrating from the sound system. No wonder these guys talk loud all the time! They're stone deaf!
"You look awful young to be on the road," he finally yelled over the din.
"My folks didn't have the money for a bus ticket, and my cousin at Needles wanted me to come down for the summer," I told him. "I thought it'd be kinda fun to hitchhike."
"Has it been?"
"Kinda," I lied.
"Come on, kid," he said. "What ya runnin' from?"
"I'm not runnin'," I said. "I'm just tryin' to get to Needles!"
The big man shrugged his shoulders and pushed the pedal further toward the metal.
By the end of the day, I knew every song Garth Brooks had ever recorded and a good deal of Clint Black's records! By the time Ben, as I found his name to be, dropped me off, I had decided that truckers were the people I wanted to ride with from now on. They may look a little scary, but if they're all like him, they're good people. When he handed me a twenty at first I thought God! Here we go again! But that hadn't been it. He was just worried about me and wanted to be sure I ate tonight and tomorrow!
I slept in the Needles City Park that night under a white painted wooden bridge that spanned a little dry creek bed. I knew the cops wouldn't bother to look there, and probably no one else would think to look for someone there to bother.
It was eight the next morning when the sun made its way into my eyes and awakened me. I rolled up my bag and looked around, idly trying to rub the night's achy stiffness from my knee. I could hear squeals of laughter and the sound of splashing off to my right drifting through a tree line. There was also a faint smell of breakfast food on the same breeze. I decided to investigate.
My ears and nose led me to a food stand just outside the park pool. The dude there had some sausage and egg burritos under the warmer. I handed him a five and held up three fingers. He handed me three wraps and two quarters in change. I made my way to a nearby park bench and ate hungrily.
I looked at my watch. It was just past eight and it was already nearly ninety. I looked at the pool. That might be the best way to pass the day. It would beat cooking. I had a pair of cut-offs in my pack. They ought to let me in the pool in those.
I bought my ticket and changed in the shower room. I had no towel, but decided I would spend most of the day in the water anyway, so why worry about it? I walked out to the pool side and hopped into the middle water. It was wonderfully cool. I floated a minute just enjoying the sensations.
And then I saw Corky. Of course I didn't know his name at that point. That would come later.
Corky Anderson was everything I wasn't. I was a small kid, he was tall. Where I was a red-head, he was dark-haired. I was a little on the waif side, he was obviously a lithe athlete! The broad chest and muscled arms made his body look older than his baby face. He was absolutely gorgeous! I smiled. Hey! It didn't do any harm to look. I had come to grips with being gay.
Then my heart stopped. He'd been sitting on his beach towel, his long right leg extended out the length of it. Suddenly, he called some sort of challenge to a friend a few towels away and got to his feet. Well, sort of. He got to his foot. This young god I'd been admiring was missing his left leg from about mid-thigh down! As he stood there perfectly balanced on his one leg, he said something else to another companion. Then he made a series of incredibly graceful hops to the low diving board perhaps twenty feet from where he was. I followed every move he made in grim fascination. My eyes were riveted on the rounded end where the rest of his leg should have been!
I wondered how he was going to handle getting out to the end of the board. If he tried to hop to the end, I knew the board would return the energy he gave it trying to reach the end and toss him off. That, however, was his plan from the start. He began at the anchored end of the board and without breaking rhythm reached the end on a massive down-stroke that propelled him high in the air on an arc that ended with a graceful slither of the young body into the silken blue surface of the water.
The guy broke the surface of the water coming up for air. His smile was radiant! God! How could he seem so carefree? He had this bod to die for and it had gotten fucked up some way and now he was hopping around with just a leg and a half. He was a cripple, but here he was laughing and carrying on with friends, obviously having a lot more fun than I was having!
He gave me a small "Hi!" as he stroked past me. I nodded back and tried to remember to smile. Somehow, I decided I wanted to get to know him.
The morning swam by with the rest of the revelers at the pool. I saw the one-legged boy dive at least a dozen more times and when he and some friends decided to swim relays, I was under the water, eyes open wide watching him as he swam the length of the pool and back, his single powerful leg propelling him right along with his able buddies. He was awesome.
Noon was upon us. I watched the handicapped boy glance at his watch and grab his towel up from the concrete. As he headed toward the locker room in long easy hops I clambered from the pool and followed him.
In the shower area, he stripped naked, tossing his trunks on a nearby bench. He turned on one of the shower heads and began to lather up. I did the same.
The boy's body was unbelievable. God! If he still had both his legs, he'd have been a young god! He couldn't have been much older than me, but he was chiseled and one look at his cock made me realize that perhaps nature had compensated him more than a little for his loss. I didn't realize he had noticed me looking at him until he spoke.
"I had cancer when I was nine," he said. There was a slightly amused smile on his lips. No bitterness, just entertainment.
"I, uh... I'm sorry," I stammered.
"No need for you to be sorry," he said. "They put me to sleep and cut my leg off. It cured me, and I've never looked back."
"I meant I was sorry for staring," I told him, a bit ashamed.
Again he grinned. "No problem, man. I been noticin' you lookin' at me all mornin'."
I didn't know what to say.
He spoke again. "What's your name?"
"Randy. Randy Hankins."
"Glad to meet you, Randy. I'm Corky Anderson." He offered his hand and I shook it. "You from here in Needles? I haven't seen you at school."
"Aw, I'm just passin' through," I told him.
Corky looked me up and down. "You look awful young to be on the road," he said. God! Was everyone going to say that? "How old are you?"
"Me too." He looked at my slight frame. "You eaten today?"
"You got money?"
"Hey. Why don't you come home with me for lunch. My folks are away for the weekend, but our housekeeper's a good cook."
"What am I to you?" I asked.
"You look like a guy who could use a friend," he said. "Get dressed."
I dressed all right, but I kept peeking at Corky. He quickly put on a bright red tee shirt and iridescent green gym shorts, but the key accessory to his wardrobe was the truly striking device that he wore to replace his amputated leg! It looked nothing like a human limb. The top part of it was a white plastic bucket-like thing that he sort of cinched into place with a couple of attached straps and buckles. Corky had put all sorts of sports decals on the gizmo, obviously taking great delight in decorating it! Below the white plastic, was a black mechanical assembly that formed the knee. I didn't have a clue how it worked, but it appeared to be articulated in an odd way. It didn't just swing back and forth but seemed to move with a sort of scissors action. The rest of it was a shiny yellowish finished metal rod that ran all the way down into a tennis shoe clad foot.
I changed back into the clothes I had worn coming in. I only had one more clean pair of jeans and I didn't know when I'd get to do laundry.
As we walked out to the parking lot, I was really shocked at how well the boy walked! He was really smooth on that thing!
"Here we are," he said, pointing to a high-end mo-ped. He grabbed an extra helmet from under the seat. "Here. Grab it and climb on the back!" Corky seated himself on the seat and braced the little bike with his sound leg. When I put my arms around his waist he hit the starter and we putted away.
I had sort of wondered what was going on. Was this kid rich or something? He finally turned the bike into the driveway of a rather nice brick, upper middle class home more or less like my own. I still didn't have a clue why he was being so nice to me.
"I'm home, Mrs. Dobbins," he called as he led me through the inside garage door.
"Well, I wondered when you were coming home, Corky," the rather rotund lady told him. Then she noticed me.
"Oh, this is Randy," he said. "We met at the pool today. Got enough to set another place?"
"Always," she smiled. "I fixed my own lunch and decided I'd wait until I saw you to do yours! I hate to serve food cold!" She looked at me. "Do you eat hamburgers, young man?"
"Sure," I said quickly. I liked this lady. She seemed like everyone's grandmother should have been but never was.
"You do video games?" Corky asked me.
"Come on. I got a Playstation 2 for Christmas. Let's do a quarter of Football before lunch."
As we played, I kept watching Corky out of the corner of my eye. I still couldn't figure him out. How in the world could he be as happy and carefree as he seemed to be? I looked at my own leg, trying to imagine the nightmare of it being gone where his was. I shuddered.
Finally, Mrs. Dobbins called a halt to the action and we downed the meal she had prepared. It was the best food I'd had since running away from home. I was sincerely thankful.
"Well, I've got to go get some things at the supermarket," she announced as we neared the half on the Playstation ballgame. "Anything in particular you want for supper tonight, Corky?"
"Naw. Just no liver."
She guffawed and walked out without another word.
I saw Corky looking out the window. "She's gone," he finally announced.
I looked at him, questioningly. He looked back at me as if trying to screw up his courage. Finally he spoke.
"I got a question to ask you. If the answer's no, please don't freak on me, okay?"
"What is it?"
He took a deep breath. "Are you gay?"
I smiled. What the hell, I thought. "Yeah, I am. Why."
Corky swallowed hard. "Well, I think I am too."
"You don't know?" It was my turn to smile at him.
"No," he said. "I mean, I like lookin' at guys. I sneak on the internet and look at some of those really great lookin' guys on the gay porn sites, but I've never had a boy friend."
"Why not?" My eyes cut to his prosthetic leg, wondering if that was why he hadn't found a sex partner.
He shrugged his shoulders. "Hey. I've lived here all my life. My parents are in business here. I was always afraid that if I came on to some guy and he turned out to not be, well... you know... I was afraid of all the shit that might come down." He looked at me. "I saw you looking at me this afternoon, and I knew you weren't from around here. I thought... you know... Maybe you could tell me about... being that way."
Corky looked almost deflated. I smiled at him. "Stop laughing at me!" he snapped.
"I'm not laughing at you!" I assured him. "I'm laughing at the way things work out some times."
"I've never had a boyfriend either."
Corky raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
"That's hard to believe," he told me.
"You're so great looking," Corky told me. "You're pretty as a girl! I thought you were so good looking at the pool. I didn't know if you thought I was good looking or just freaky, but either way I had a hard-on all morning 'cause I thought you might be interested!"
I smiled at my new friend. "I'd love for us to fool around," I told him. "I think you are so-o-o sexy. But I don't have any rubbers."
Corky thought for a minute. "You've never done it, right?"
"Ever do drugs?"
"Me neither. There's no way either of us could have the plague." He looked into my eyes. "Mrs. Dobbins'll be gone at least two hours. She always drops over to her sister's when she's out. Please, Randy!"
I reached down and pulled my tee shirt over my head. Corky took my hand and led me back down the long hall toward his room at the end.
**********I don't know which of us was enjoying the warm golden glow more, Corky or me. We had both enjoyed the orgasms we'd given each other, but it was the cuddling there in his bed afterwards that had me on cloud nine. I was fascinated by the fact that Corky kept rubbing the stump of his leg against me. It was oddly arousing!
"How long have you known you were a devotee?" Corky whispered happily. "I can't believe it! I find a great guy who's gay and a dev first try!"
"What's a devotee?" I asked.
My first lover looked at me oddly. "You know. How long have you been attracted to us one-legged guys?"
"I'm sorry, Corky," I told him. "I really don't know what you're talking about."
"Aw, come on," he said with a grin. "I saw you looking at my nub all morning. I figured that was what had you in heat!"
I swallowed hard. He seemed okay with the fact that I'd been looking him over. "Yeah, I admit I was doin' that," I answered. "Did you say you were nine when you got cancer?"
"Yeah. It was all in the bones in my knee. When my dad told me they were going to have to cut it off, I went to pieces. I thought it wasn't fair and in my mind I thought I'd have to spend the rest of my life just sitting around!"
"That obviously wasn't the case."
"Naw," he grinned. "The doc put my first new leg on right when he cut the old one off! I had one of those temporary legs they use sometimes. It only took me three days to learn to walk with it! As soon as my stump healed, I was ready to go! And like, I'm serious Randy, it doesn't really slow me down at all! It's no big thing!"
I shook my head. "But, God! I mean, having to put part of you on every morning and take it off at night!" I looked at his naked stump. "And, doesn't it hurt? The scars and all that stuff?"
He wiggled the short cone of flesh. "Hurt? Naw. It hurt a little the first couple of days when I started to walk on it, but since it healed it's not much trouble." He took my hand and guided my fingertips along the slight fissure where the surgeon had closed the massive wounds. "See? Scars don't really have any feeling. When you touch it, it just feels good, like when I rub your leg!" He took a breath. "As to the rest... hey. It's really not all that different from wearing a hightop tennis shoe." He giggled. "Just takes a little practice."
"God, you are something."
"Every day I wake up, I'm glad they took this leg off," he said. "Because that's what it took for me to wake up and enjoy this day. It was the leg or my life. I haven't had a bitter day about it. I get along fine." He kissed me. "And now that I've found you, I understand how good life can be!"
A tear ran down my cheek.
"What's wrong, Ran?" he asked. "What did I say?"
"Everything right," I told him. "You said everything that I guess I needed to hear."
"What? What is it?"
I smiled. "I guess I need to get dressed and use your phone, Corky," I said. "I need to call my folks and have them come and get me."
"Huh?" He was totally confused.
I put my arms around his neck and kissed him. "I'll be back," I told him. "It's just that I've got to go back and face what I was running away from. I'll do that, and in a few weeks, I'll come back to you."
"What are you talking about?" he asked one last time, holding me close.
"I've got to go back," I said. "You see, back home there's a doctor waiting to help me get rid of a big bunch of bone cancer all up in my left knee."
to be continued...