Thursday, December 30, 1999

The Bully

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

Sometimes life is funny as hell.
By funny, of course, I mean peculiar. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Roy Coxson was a bully. I had met him for the first time on the playground in the opening days of the fourth grade. He was the guy who pushed me in the chest and made me fall down over Donnie Ritchen. Donnie was on all fours, and I found my feet flying out from under me, and I hit the ground hard on my back. Roy kicked some dirt in my direction, they hi-fived each other, and ran off. Over the following two years, Coxson had done nothing to change my opinion of him. If it is possible for a twelve year old to hate, I hated him.
And then there was that day just before Christmas break when our teacher made an announcement to the class. Roy Coxson, it seemed, had gone deer hunting with his brother and father. The old man had handed the shotguns to Ben while they crawled over a fence. The eight year-old had promptly dropped one of the weapons, and it had gone off. The shot caught Roy in the right arm and the right side of the chest. So Roy was in the hospital, and we were told if we wanted to visit him, it was room 614 at Jefferson Hospital.
I thought little more about it until we came back from Christmas Break. I noticed that Coxson wasn't in class. As soon as we came to order, our sad-faced teacher gave us an update.
"I know you have all been concerned about Roy Coxson. I got a call from his father last night. Roy won't be back in school for at least another month. His lung is fine, and his breathing is much better. But..." She paused a moment and swallowed. "But the doctors say they haven't been able to fix the damage in his arm very well. They are going to amputate his right arm this afternoon."
Mickey Kentz bent over to my desk and whispered "What's amplatate?"
"It's AMPUTATE," I whispered back. "They're gonna cut his arm off!"

Monday, December 20, 1999

Cindy's Fault

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

When you come right down to it, it's really Cindy Thurston's fault that I only have one leg. Now that I have your attention, let me start at the beginning.
Cindy and I had gone to school together since she moved here in the third grade. I can remember the first day of school that year. She came crutching in on those forearm sticks she used back then, and I remember thinking "Far out! This girl ain't got a left leg!"
The teacher introduced Cindy to the class, and explained to us that she had been very sick a few months ago and the only way the doctors could make her well was to remove her leg. She didn't throw words like "cancer" and "amputation" at us. Hell, we were only 8 year olds at the time! Cindy let everyone who wanted to take a closer look at her leg (we were all wearing shorts back then!) I didn't know what a hard-on was back then, but I got one all the same.
That night, when I went to my room to go to bed, I had a thought that thrilled me in a strange way. As I was putting my pajamas on, I doubled my left leg up and put it down the leg of the loose pants. I tied a knot in the end of the pant leg, and stood up. Using the bed to walk on with my knee, I got around to where I could see myself in the mirror! I felt crazy! But my heart was pounding, and the feelings were good everywhere. I remember thinking, "I wonder if Cindy feels this way when she gets ready for bed!"

Friday, December 10, 1999

Circles I

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

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.

Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Circles II

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

 Circles I

I think I woke up fairly soon after coming back from surgery. I say 'I think' because I'm really not sure of anything that first day. I was drifting in and out a lot. Of course, the doctor had told me that would be the way of it. He was keeping me pretty well sedated to let the major healing begin and keep me out of pain. That suited me just fine. Somewhere in there it occurred to me to look down at the foot of the bed. At first I thought the operation hadn't been done yet: I saw the twin rises of my feet right where they should have been; there was no void on the left side. I drifted back into the blackness again.
It was, I think, the next time I drifted into consciousness that I became aware of the tight feeling all around my left thigh. I focused again on the shapes at the foot of the bed. Ah! Of course! I was seeing the instant prosthesis that Dr. Burns had promised he would fit me with. He said he did that for most of his younger patients after amputation anyway, but after what Corky had told me about being able to get up and actually walk after a day or two, I wanted to be damned sure I was one of the guys who got one!
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Thank God! It was over! The twin specters of the horror of having a leg chopped off and death were both past now, one having banished the other. The cancerous knee was gone. The doctor had promised me the night before that the tests showed it hadn't spread; they had caught it early enough. Gingerly, I tried to lift my left leg. It seemed to weigh a ton. I simply shook my head, smiled a silly grin, and drifted back to sleep.

Tuesday, November 30, 1999


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

Constance Parring saw the boat coming long before she could hear the cries from the occupants. She had spent the greater part of the day sitting on the shaded porch of her thatched cabana, reading one of the many gothic romance novels she had brought with her to this far-away little island more than three years before. Kusta had crutched by a few minutes before, asking if she wanted anything to drink. He was in the kitchen area now, she was sure, squeezing fruits for a large pitcher of the local variant on planter's punch.
At the thought of the smouldering Kusta she shuddered, an erotic thrill sneaking from the base of her innie navel down the smooth tight line of her flat tummy to nestle warmly deep into the recesses of her most female part. Just thinking about this young bronze god made her vagina ache with desire! He was, indeed, her dream man in every sense of the word. His tall, Polynesian good looks were nothing short of classic. Black hair framed a squared face with exotically high cheekbones. His golden skin covered broad shoulders and a hard smooth chest that she never tired of stroking and caressing. His long left leg was sharply chiseled flesh and the play of the opposing muscle groups as he would hop or crutch from place to place made her marvel at his controlled strength.

Thursday, November 25, 1999


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

I was leaning against the red-orange brick wall of the Student Union reading the campus rag and resting my bare stump on the handle of my left blue-trimmed forearm crutch when I first became aware that he was watching me. The look on his open face was a curious one; something between amazement and disgust. Now, getting looked at when I go out bare-stumped in short shorts is nothing new; I've been having that happen ever since my freshman year when they first cut it off. What was odd was the air he seemed to have about me. Most people are either frankly fascinated or just filled with pity. This guy looked, in short, mad. I finally smiled and gestured for him to come over. He looked around, like he was checking to see that no one was looking, and coke-in-hand he got up from the green umbrella covered outdoor table at the student snack bar and headed my way. I noticed in passing that he had a slight limp. That should have tipped me off as to what was about to happen, but it didn't.

Saturday, November 20, 1999

The Dancer

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

"The guy is a fruit loop," Tommy told me flatly.
"So?" I returned. "This is a gay club. What's your point?"
"Not that kind of fruit loop, Will," he returned. "This dude is like a couple of bubbles off plumb."
I shook my head. "He doesn't look crazy to me. What makes you say that."
Tommy Bledsoe took a long pull at his whiskey and soda. "I bought him a drink a few weeks back and he told me this tale of woe that you wouldn't believe. It was all about his dead lover and some freaky story about how they had made a deathbed promise. It weirded me out!"
I looked over at the lone man sitting at the side table again. He had a half-empty beer held loosely in his right hand. He had a world-weary look that made him look older than the early thirty-something that was his apparent age. His dark good looks had caught my eye when we had entered. He had classic features and was dressed to kill. To any casual looker at Wanderlust he was just another cruiser albeit an upscale and attractive one. The pulse of the disco music and the play of the dance floor lighting only added to the mystique the man exuded. I smiled at Tommy. "Guess I'll go check the story out myself." I grabbed my drink and headed across the room. Bledsoe just shook his head and picked his own target for the evening.
"Is this seat taken?" I asked with a smile as I reached his table.
The man's eyes looked up, surveying me casually. "Not at all," he said simply, gesturing for me to sit down if I pleased.
"Will Ramsey," I said, offering my hand.
"John Allenson," he returned with the shake.
"Buy you a drink?" I asked.
"Still working on this one," he answered. "But nice of you to offer."
"I haven't seen you around."
"I haven't been here very often these days," he answered. He took a swig of the beer as if trying to wash something away.
"You used to come here a lot?"
Memories seemed to cross his face like thin clouds skittering across the moon on a cold autumn night. They obscured nothing but still changed the nature of the way he looked. "Yes," he finally answered. "My lover and I used to come here quite often."
I was crestfallen, but tried not to show it. "Oh? He's not with you tonight."
He smiled wistfully. "No." He paused. "Of course, in a way he's always with me." He looked across the table. "He passed away."
"I'm very sorry," I began uneasily. "I didn't know."
"It's okay."
"I must admit that I was going to ask you to dance," I said with embarrassment. "Now I feel like I've dredged up memories you'd rather not have."
John's smile showed no sign of pain. "There you're wrong. Those memories never leave, and I'm pleased to have them with me." He looked into my eyes. "Are you interested in hearing what happened?"
"It was five years ago," he began, the mild din of the nightclub mentally receding from his consciousness. "His name was Sergei Solokyov."

Monday, November 15, 1999

Drive By

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

Jeff Carson looked nervously up and down the darkened street. He was alone. Not that he was surprised. The street was a back-water avenue that had seen better days at least fifty years ago. It was dirty and littered. The public library could have filled any missing issue of the local paper for the past three years from those piled in every dark corner. The single-bulb street light at each corner of the block threw a pool of light about 10 feet in diameter. Outside of those circles, the eye had to strain to see anything in the blackness.
For the third time in as many minutes, he put his hand in the pocket of his wool suit to retrieve the car key that would drive him away to safety. And again, he decided against it. The dealer had said there would be no hitches.
He had actually liked the young man. He was obviously a drug dealer. The heavy gold chains reinforced the golden sheen of his teeth against dark skin. Still, there was a sort of street honesty about him that Jeff felt he could trust.
So, here he was. Waiting. As instructed.
A lone car turned the corner. It's headlights were immediately doused. With parking lights only, the 15 year old car crawled down the block. Jeff stepped out toward the curb.
A window was rolled down, and he heard a stranger's voice say, "That's him!"
All hell broke loose.
Both of the back doors of the car opened in unison. Men in ski-masks, jeans and tee shirts emerged. Before Jeff could respond, one had his hands behind him. A second was pressing a cloth over his face... the strong smell of some sort of chemical burned his lungs as he began to pass out. Almost instinctively, he began to struggle; to free himself from the men and from whatever drug they here using to subdue him. He remembered kicking wildly once or twice. Then a huge explosion, followed by a vague sense of fire on his left leg just as he slipped from consciousness.

Sunday, November 14, 1999

Equal Measure

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

I had almost done it again. I had almost dozed off snuggled against Diane's pillow-soft left tit with my leg still strapped up. You'd think that I would learn after a while that doing that's not a good idea.
I sat up in bed as gently as I could so as not to awaken my sleeping beauty. The sexual flush had faded from her ample cleavage quite a while ago. She appeared serenely relaxed, at peace. There was nothing to reveal that scarcely thirty minutes before she had been a caged animal, her claws raking my back, her mouth almost bruising my own with passion. The sex had been that hot!
Of course the sex was always that hot with her when I had my leg up. I reached down and unbuckled the top restraining strap of the harness, the long belt-like part of it that kept it from slipping down off my tightly folded leg when we were in the process of making love. Next, I pulled on the bow knot that held the long shoestring that laced the top half of the device tight. The tension of the lace released, the two halves of the leather enclosure parted with a slight 'pop,' and I easily slipped the mass of leather away from my body.
Slowly, cautiously, I rolled over on my right side, allowing my left foot to turn 45 degrees back to its normal position. The harness kept it pressed tightly against my butt, and the twist that it put on the muscles and tendons would produce a charley horse if I didn't take this part of the operation very, very slowly.
The foot in a more normal position, I now began the gradual process of straightening out the leg. It was asleep, but not badly so. Another half hour and the pain would have set in! It took nearly five minutes for me to ease the leg out as straight as it would go. I knew, again from experience, it would take the rest of the night for the muscles to completely relax and return to their normal tensions.
Pretending offered a lot of problems, but they were a small price to pay for sex of the caliber that being Diane's 'amputee' lover extracted! And, then too, it wasn't like I didn't owe her. She had done something for me, something that I still marvel at her willingness to do.

Wednesday, November 10, 1999


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

I could not decide which was the more beautiful sight, the vast expanse of the azure-blue ocean to my right or the almost inky blackness of the volcanic sands that met it at the island's edge. The fine powder shifted slightly as I walked through it, my footsteps leaving a series of impressions that were periodically washed smooth as the waves rolled in to wash the beach clean again. It was exactly as I had been promised; the tropical island cooled by sea breezes and verdant with palm trees, fruit bushes and huge-leafed plants. Somehow, I couldn't quite remember the plane trip that had to have brought me here. My senses were so overloaded! A bevy of brightly colored parrots flew noisily overhead, wheeling and chasing each other in a cloudless deep-blue sky.
But it was true! The email ad I had received had looked like just so much spam, but it had been legitimate! 'Fantasy Vacations! Literally!' the notice had proclaimed. A return email had led to a phone call which had led to an interview which had led to a trip to Chicago which had led me to this spot! Or what looked like this spot. Part of my mind understood that I was actually floating in a sensory deprivation tank back at Roark Enterprises. The technicians there were monitoring my well being while all the time an electro-induction helmet was imprinting all that I saw and heard and felt and smelled and tasted directly into my brain. It was an illusion! But what a grand one! I even pinched myself to see if I could feel it. The sting registered just as naturally as any other sensation I was feeling, I could not tell it from the real thing!

Friday, November 5, 1999

First Date

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

I was about to make the only 'B' I'd gotten since coming to college. The fall semester was damned near over, and I still was not over the distraction in 'Broadcast News Writing' that sat a chair up and one over from my own seat.
The distraction was not the person's fault. Not at all. Usually the sort of distraction I'm referring to is along the lines of a girl wearing a much-too-low-cut blouse every class hoping to get the next highest grade by the two points she's showing off to the prof. No, this was not that sort of thing. This person was doing nothing but coming to class and sitting there several rows from the front taking notes.
Besides, it was a guy.
No, what was distracting me today was the same thing that had distracted me every day since the tall attractive green-eyed boy had sauntered into the classroom and taken that very seat on the first day of class. It was not his brown hair or anything about his sharp features that was bothering me. What was distracting me was the fact that Robert Howell was an amputee. I had no idea how high up his left leg was missing, but I knew it was above his knee. I could tell by the shape of the mechanical device that sometimes would be outlined by the cloth of his trousers that he was missing his real one. I had mused about the possible site of his limb loss for a long time, (that being one of the reasons for the upcoming 'B'!) and had decided that he must have quite a bit of his thigh still remaining. He seemed to have no trouble at all managing on his artificial leg. A slight limp and that was it.
Actually, he had at least two artificial limbs that I had been able to identify. The one he wore most often was one of those with the plastic covering that looks more or less like skin until you take a close look at it. I still remember wondering why his gait was a little stiff the first day of class. It wasn't until he turned around to look at me when I asked Professor Cunningham a question that I realized the leg was false. I saw the oval void where the upper and lower sections of the thing were hinged together outlined through the thin tan summer slacks he was wearing. I almost forgot my question, but if he noticed my stare, he didn't say anything about it. A few weeks later I would be totally fascinated by his other prosthesis; the one that had no cosmetic cover. It was just a yellowish tinted metal tube that disappeared down into a sock that peeked out of his left sneaker. The knee for that one was a rather angular metal frame. I had again been able to gather that much by the outline.

Thursday, November 4, 1999

Flowers in the Wind

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

There are two kinds of children: Dandelions and Orchids.
The Dandelions are just like the flowers they are named for; it matters little what the environment, they will flourish. Dandelions can fall into the cracks between the slabs of a concrete sidewalk and grow just as robustly as they do in the midst of a well-manicured lawn.
Orchids, on the other hand, really do need a hothouse.
I was lucky. I was born a Dandelion. Everyone who knows me says they've never seen anyone roll with the punches like I do. Maybe I do. I don't feel that way sometimes. Especially now. But I also had the good fortune to be born into a loving home that was a hothouse. I had more nurturing than I really wanted!
Steven was an Orchid. He was as beautiful a golden orchid as I have ever seen. Steven was one of those incredibly pretty children who, even in the third grade attracted attention! He attracted the attention of damned near everyone except the two people he really needed. Mr. and Mrs. Gwynne never seemed to quite have time for him. It's not that they were bad people. In their way, they were a kind pair. The problem was that he spent all of his time making money and she spent all of her time spending it. Steven got lost in the shuffle.
Steven also attracted the attention of the bullies at school. I suppose that's part of why as an eight-year-old he decided to hang with me. I was always a foot taller than everyone else and no one picked on me! Whatever the reason, there in the third grade with old Mrs. Bell droning on about addition and subtraction, Steven and I became best friends.
In retrospect, I guess I always knew that Steven was gay. I probably realized he was before I realized that I was that way myself. It took him until our sophomore year at Arizona State to come out.

Monday, November 1, 1999

Mr. Gilton's Last Christmas

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

I don't remember if it was the fourth or fifth day after they did the second amputation to my leg that they moved Mr. Gilton into the bed next to me. My insurance isn't that good, to put it bluntly, and they didn't view an above knee amputation as a condition 'requiring a private room.'
I, on the other hand, had taken the situation a bit more seriously. I was depressed as hell and mad at the world. The privacy curtain was pulled between the two beds so I couldn't see much as they wheeled the fellow in on a Gurney. He was just a shape under the white sheet that I glimpsed as he cleared the door. I forgot the interruption to my angst almost immediately.
The door closed and it was quiet in the room. Quiet. Man, was that ever the bane of my existence in those terrible days. All I could do was seethe. "It's so Goddam unfair!" I thought.
"Life is often unfair, young man," a voice called.
I gasped. I hadn't realized I'd spoken my thought aloud. "I beg your pardon?" I returned.
"You were saying it was unfair," came the answer. The voice was obviously old and somewhat shaky. Still, there was a calm there that somehow gave me comfort.
"I'm sorry," I told him. "I didn't realize I was thinking out loud."
"Nothing to be sorry for," the voice returned. "We need to let our feelings out, to be heard." He paused. "And we need someone to listen to them."

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.

Thursday, September 30, 1999


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

Constance Griffin looked around, over her left shoulder. Yes, he was still there. The blond young man with the close-cropped hair and blank expression had been behind her for the last 10 minutes. He had to be a dev. Why else would someone be stalking her?
The statuesque woman took one more step with her forearm crutches, and turned on her left foot. The suddenness of the move caused her full skirt to flare, almost like an ice-skater performing a spin. The young man started in spite of himself. When the skirt had raised he had seen just a flash of the stump of her right leg under it.

Tuesday, September 28, 1999


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

The white reef shark was circling.
Billy knew he was in danger there near the surface, but if he tried to dive deeper he might draw the creature's attention even more. Then too, if he decided to dive, the boat would never find him. Here his blond hair stood out as a marker of his position in the water. He heard to motor start. Ed had heard his cry of "Shark!" Help was on the way. All he had to do was wait it out and hope the boat would get close enough to frighten the denizen before hunger caused it to attack.
His luck ran out. The shark lunged toward his flipper-clad foot. Pain shot up his leg as the powerful jaws made a "tasting" bite, trying to decide of the object was edible. The blood that flowed from the wounds answered that question very efficiently. Smelling the blood, the shark opened its massive jaws and clamped down on the leg mid-calf. The razor-sharp teeth sliced through the rubber wetsuit and tore into the muscled flash below.
Billy Townsend woke up, sweating. Yes, he had suffered through the dream again. His psychologist had assured him that, in time, it would go away. But, Jesus! It had been six months since that nightmare in the sea. He maneuvered to a sitting position and began to rub the stumps of his legs. They always seemed to itch a little after he had slept. He looked at them. The doctor had done a good job. They were identical: nine inch nubs extending below his knees. The shark had not actually bitten them off, and Ed had thought he was going to be OK when he had pulled his friend from the bloody ocean waters. However, the time it took to get him to the hospital ashore had been too great. The lack of blood flow had taken its toll, and there really had been little else to do.

Sunday, September 26, 1999


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

Sometimes the wildest, most absurd ideas are worth a million dollars. You never think it's going to happen to you, but it can. And it finally happened to me.
I suppose the club actually started in a dream when I was about 10 years old. Of course, I knew I was a devotee even back then. I just didn't know what you called the attraction. I also didn't know that there was anyone other than me who had it! We had gone to California to visit an aunt, and I was sleeping fitfully. My vision of California centered on night clubs and movie stars. I was vaguely disappointed that I hadn't seen any. Maybe that was what triggered the dream.
The dream was in black and white. Like a movie. I suppose it was a low budget dream. It consisted of nothing but scenes at the door of the club, and shots of the dance floor. All of the women were dressed in evening gowns, and the men in tuxedos. But all of the men had one thing in common: they were all sporting crude peg legs... the kind that look like the bottom half of a crutch. I even remember asking the doorman about it. He explained that the place was called "The Peg Leg Club" and that the only men who could get memberships there were those who had lost a leg and could wear a peg leg.
I woke up the next morning to find that my bed was wet. I had experienced my first nocturnal emission. It was a memorable first wet dream.

Monday, September 20, 1999


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.

Sunday, September 19, 1999

Sweet Dreams

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

I kept telling myself that this was crazy. It was crazy and I just kept right on doing what I was doing.
My boyfriend was here. His thick dark hair contrasted sharply with the almost luminous blue of his laughing eyes. He was beautiful. Turned up nose... knowing smile. The mattress lay there in the middle of the living room, where it had been left earlier in the day. The cutoff jeans showed the ripple of hidden strength as he slowly knelt there. He looked up at me and smiled again.
I smiled back and joined him on that soft surface.
He reached down with his right hand and grabbed the tail of his white tee shirt. With a single deft movement, he pulled it over his head, and discarded it. I looked at him, and melted. The smooth skin of his chest drove me crazy. I loved the visible strength as he flexed his arm to scratch the back of his head. The line of his stomach. The asymmetry of his pecs, as the slightly smaller left side led my eye to the 4 inch stump of his left arm.
He was beautiful. And he was mine. I reached out to kiss him... a long, lingering kiss of adoration. And then I remembered! My wife was in the next room asleep!
And then I woke up.

Thursday, September 16, 1999


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

I actually needed to be back at my photo shop retouching, but I wasn't. It was the first week of September, and the wedding season had passed. The senior sittings of August were now a thing of the past, and I knew I had at least a month to do all of the zit removal to the latest pack of teenagers before the fall sitting crunch for Christmas portraits began. I'd been doing the job professionally for five years: I had the pattern down pat.
What I was doing probably met the legal definition of stalking, but I didn't care. I was willing to embezzle my time and nibble at the edges of a perfectly serviceable law because I was in love. I was in love and I had no idea what to do about it or how to move it off dead center.
I'd been waiting about ten minutes when the object of my affections came out the front door of the row house I'd been watching from the corner. I scrunched a bit further down in the front seat of my low-end Lexus and put the 35mm SLR camera to my eye, the telephoto lens bringing him up as close as if I'd been just across the street. I began to make exposures.
I still use film sometimes because it gives me greater latitude at the 'taking' end. In this case, it was late afternoon, and through the long lens I knew I was losing a great deal of that fading light. I would push the film a stop when I processed it, producing far better colors than the print-end enhancement my digital printing system could supply. I wanted every detail.
He was tall, perhaps six or six-one, with blond hair and light blue eyes. His nose on a girl would have been referred to as 'pert' and his mouth sported full, sensuous lips. The seashell ears were perfectly shaped and remarkably evenly spaced. (I'll bet most people don't know that one of their ears is typically about 1/4 inch lower than the other!) He had a swimmer's build, and the cutest ass I'd ever seen. His tight jeans showed it off to a 'T.'
The shocker for me, the first time I saw him, was his right arm, or should I say, his lack of one. When I had first glimpsed him on the drive home some three months before I had thought him to be a shoulder disarticulate, as his tee shirt sleeve appeared to be empty. I'd followed at a distance, just watching, and finally saw him flex his shoulder, the tapered tip of a nub finally peeking out the open end. It was there and gone in a flash, like the flirtatious winks of potential beaus at the clubs and bars that I find myself drawn to these days.

Friday, September 10, 1999


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

I suppose in the final analysis, it all started with Janie. She's my girlfriend, you see, and about a year ago, they cut off her leg.

"Shit! Really?" Sam Hastings asked me.
"No shit. I... I can't believe it," I told him. We were sitting at a corner table at Common Grounds, the coffee house that pandered to the high school crowd in the area. "This guy just plowed into the right side of her mom's car... it really fucked her leg up... they cut it off above the knee just as soon as they got her to the hospital!"
"Goddam! That's fucked up."
Sam looked across the table. "You okay?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
Sam looked away for a minute like he didn't want to go on, but finally said, "I mean, how do you feel. I know the two of you were tight. But, like, she's not gonna be able to do a lot of stuff now..."
The thought sobered me. I had been so shocked at the news that I hadn't had time to consider the ramifications of having a one-legged girlfriend. Would she ever be able to dance at the raves again... even when she got a wooden leg? Would she barricade herself in her room and never come out? What would it be like to make love with a girl who didn't have both her legs to wrap around me?
I finally spoke. "I guess I'll know when I know," I said simply.

Thursday, September 9, 1999


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


Alex Costain woke up. It could have been the clatter of the breakfast trays on the service cart outside his door that did the trick, or it might have been the muffled sound of the voice on the hall PA that roused him from the edges of sleep. More than likely, it was simply that he was tired of sleeping. He had done little else the past four days.
His eyes focused on the TV, still on from the night before. Hanging there from its wall bracket, it oversaw the antiseptic white of the hospital room like a huge, unblinking eye. It was the Today show. The time block in the lower corner of the screen showed December 12th. It was his birthday. Alex fumbled around on the right rail of the bed and pressed the "off" button. The screen and its muted dialogue died.
For the hundredth time in the last four days, Alex looked at his shoulder. The mass of bandages that had greeted him on the first day had given way to a more modest dressing that simply outlined what was left of his arm. He flexed the stub, noticing that it didn't hurt as much to move it today as it had yesterday. "Happy Birthday. What a wonderful present," he thought sourly. "Just fucking wonderful."
The flashback hit him without mercy. He and Clark had been coming home from a day at the beach. It had been one of those bright cloudless California days; the sand had been warm and tan and soft... the surf had been the best of the year. They had spent the day alternately riding the 30 foot waves and cuddled together in the privacy of a little grotto at the end of the rocky point. It had been a great day by any measure. Then came the drive home.

Wednesday, September 8, 1999

A Turn of the Wheel

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

"Mr. Allen?" the nondescript stranger asked softly.
James Allen heard the voice over the various noises the hospital monitoring equipment made. He opened his eyes and waited for them to focus on the source of the intrusion. Finally he made out the figure: medium height, medium build, medium looks... a completely ordinary looking man in every regard. "Yes," he heard his own weak voice answer. "I'm Jim Allen. Who are you?"
"My name is Cristo Skylar," the man replied. He gestured to the empty chair next to the bed. "May I sit and talk with you for a while?"
"Knock yourself out," he replied. "But you'll pardon me if I don't talk too much." He gestured weakly to his chest. "Third heart attack this morning. Doc told me last time this'd be the last. Suits me fine." He coughed. "...tired o' this shit."
"You've not had a pleasant life?" the stranger asked.
Allen turned to look at this man a bit more clearly. No, he didn't recognize him at all. "Who th' hell are you?" he asked. "I never saw you before."
"Oh, that's of no matter," Skylar replied. "I spend a lot of time around the hospital. My work here keeps me rather busy."
"Dear God! A preacher!"
Skylar laughed. "No, not at all. I promise not to try and sell you any bill of goods along that line."
"Well, then what do you want? I'm dyin'. I ain't buyin' anything."
"Nor am I selling anything, Mr. Allen. I assure you that I'm simply here as a friend... Someone to sit with you and keep you company during this somewhat frightening time in your life. Is that all right? I'll leave if you object."
"Suit yourself. But you've got it wrong. I'm not afraid. I'm ready to leave this shit-hole of a world. There's nothing here that makes a good fart in th' wind to me."

Tuesday, September 7, 1999


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.

Wednesday, September 1, 1999


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

It was the sound as much as the movement that told me the young man was an amputee. Although he was wearing blue jeans, the long pant legs could not hide the hesitation in his gait as he would do the forward swing to lock the prosthesis into position before taking a step. Even more of a giveaway was the almost creaking sound the device made whenever he shifted his weight to it. I thanked him as he placed the plate with its burger-and-fry lunch before me and reveled in the sight of him as he walked away.
The smile he had flashed me was brilliant; all white teeth and sensuous lips. The hair was jet black and that, coupled with the olive rather than brown tone of his flawless skin, suggested Greek extraction as opposed to the Hispanic roots one would expect in a small Texas town. The eyes were as dark brown as brown can be without turning black. His features were delicate, almost femininely beautiful, the kind one sees on classic statuary of young men.

Monday, August 30, 1999


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

I hadn't thought about that crazy weekend in years. I probably wouldn't have thought of it now had not my gay nephew been egging me on.
Carroll's parents had played a cruel enough joke on him sticking that name on his birth certificate. I even remember objecting to it when they had announced the intention to name the still unborn first child after his grandfather. However, as an in-law, my opinion counted for very little in my wife's family, so the deed was done.
And that's not to suggest that the name made him gay. We all know that orientation is a matter of genetics coupled with our experiences and internalization.
Some twenty years later, when they found out that their brilliant college boy liked to get it on with other college boys, they did what any other sane, rational and god-fearing Arkansas family would do: they kicked his ass out. I can remember that night like it was yesterday; Carroll's voice on the phone, choked with tears, asking me what to do and where to go. I asked Janice what she thought and in about 15 seconds we had agreed to take the boy in. Atlanta is a much larger place and the gay culture thrives here. My position as a college professor could easily stand an openly gay family member, so what the hell. I wired him the money to come and was there waiting on him at the airport.
It was a long six months that followed. Carroll found comfort in the fact that I am a closet bisexual. Not that I ever did anything improper with him! It was just knowing that someone else close to him could understand a man having sexual feelings for another man helped him to accept himself.
We had settled into a family routine by the fall semester. I had done the paperwork to claim Carroll as a dependent and he was using my faculty scholarship to attend classes and finish up his degree. He helped with the chores around the house and contributed what he could toward the family upkeep from his part-time job. It was early one Saturday afternoon when the wife was gone on one of her wild goose chases looking for new clothing that he asked the question that would trigger so many memories.

Friday, August 20, 1999

Wrong Turn

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

Twice in my life I've found that a wrong turn can change everything.
The first time was about four years ago when I made a wrong turn on the St. Louis Expressway and woke up with only one leg. Well, no, I'm not totally one-legged I guess, but what's left of my right one is something around eight inches. Close enough.
I spent the next four months healing and getting fitted for what my prosthetist laughingly refers to as an 'artificial leg.' Yeah, it works well enough, I guess. It's got computers and all sorts of whiz-bang electronics inside and it seems to pretty well read my mind and know how I want to walk. Still, it looks like hell. There's no mistaking it for the real McCoy with all it's shiny metal and the blue composite shell over the wizardry. The life-cast foot that it sports is almost funny by comparison. They obviously spent so much time and care making it look totally real, and then it gets stuck on the end of a glorified pipe. Really fools people. Go figure.
Now, to say that this little event changed my life is an understatement.
First, you have to understand that I'm gay. I've known I was since, oh, about the fifth grade, I guess, when the other little boys were starting to talk about little girl's boobies. Big deal. I liked talking about dicks much better, especially when mine started getting big.
Second, I owned the St. Louis club scene. I was gorgeous! I've got classic male features, like you see on Greek statues, except I'm blond. I'd spent several hours a week in a gym since I was sixteen, and I had my body buffed to the 'n'th degree. I suppose what's left of it still is. I still work out three or four times a week. No sense letting the rest of the stuff go south just because a piece is missing.
Third, I had a good job. I was a model, you see. One of the guys that you see in the mens underwear and fashion ads and the like.