By: Jess Mercer
(© 2011 by the author)
The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's
consent. Comments are appreciated at...
I'm wandering rather disconsolately down the main street of our fairly large city looking for some diversion. I know my one or two gay friends would double over in scornful laughter if they knew my motive for this walk, and dismiss me as a pitiful old fart hoping to score. They'd be only partially right. Yeah, men have always been far more attractive to me than women, though I have a number of women friends. Only one of them would suspect the real reason why I'm out; I'm attracted to amputees. Who knows what quirk of the mind causes this? Certainly none of my college psych courses near mentioned this phenomenon. Some say it's new, but I suspect it's been around as long as humanity, just as gays have.
My last sighting was an accidental encounter in Sams when a tall guy, probably in his early thirties and wearing Bermuda shorts, stopped in front of a freezer cabinet I was going to look in. When I looked down to the shelf where the snow crab is usually located, I see virtually all of his left leg is prosthetic. Being at his back, I can see the leg is an exo-skeletal with a hydraulic piston knee. I'd seen him earlier, but he was walking so smoothly I'd have never suspected. I could well have been accused of stalking him had not I been with friends who were in a hurry to get to the checkout line. I regret I didn't have my camera and the time to station myself outside to get a shot of such a nice sight. Ah, well, who said life is fair?
My stomach reminds me it's feeding time, so I walk another block to a favorite restaurant where the food makes me feel better any time I'm down. Yeah, I could go home and nuke something from the freezer and drool over some great looking pictures of amputees, but nothing beats the real thing, to parody the Coke commercials.
Perhaps patience is rewarded after all. The hostess shows me to a small table next to one occupied by a very attractive young man no more than in his early twenties. It takes no more than a second for me to note the left sleeve of his short sleeve shirt hangs empty from the shoulder. What a vision of beauty! His thick brown hair is parted in the middle and frames his face. Though he looks a bit lonely, his dark eyes have a mischievous twinkle. He must be having an amusing thought, because he has an impish grin that makes me wonder what sort of devilment he's been up to.
Oh, hell! He's noticed me staring at him. I'm embarrassed at being so flagrantly open in my admiration. By way of apology, I lift my drink toward him. He rewards me with a sweet smile, then asks if I am alone. When I nod, he gestures to the chair across from him. I'm strangely reluctant, but I started this, so I move over to his table. "Thanks," I say.
"You a stranger here, too?"
"Lived here all my life. Just decided to eat something I didn't cook for a change."
He's quick on the uptake. "Not married, then."
"No. Never seemed to get around to it. Besides, after a day in the classroom, I'm ready for the peace and quiet of home."
"What do you teach?"
"English. Creative writing, mostly, but I have one class of grammar for boneheads."
"I hated grammar in school. I'm glad I have a job that doesn't require more than technical report writing."
"And what is that?"
"I'm a designer and trouble shooter for Internet service providers."
"Good Lord! You young people know far more than my generation ever will. I use mine mostly for word processing and e-mailing friends."
He smiles. "I'm responsible for seeing that your e-mail goes through, along with a lot of other services you probably never use. You ever visit any websites?"
"I have several favorites I look at frequently. I'm finding the net is quite a liberal arts education in itself. I wish I knew how to exploit it better. It's just luck that I came across one of those super search engines, I think they're called. I never have time to look at more than a few hits it gives me, but I do like being able to search for and buy books that are out of print or hard to find locally."
"Then you're getting some benefit from it. You're right, the net is an education in itself, but most people forget that all of this doesn't happen by machines alone. Guys like me are there to keep it happening smoothly, or at least as trouble free as we can."
"Then I'll thank you for that. I'm Ken Johanson, by the way."
He smiles and holds out his hand. "Kirk Michaels. Nice to meet you, professor."
"Ken, please." I take a short breath, then forge ahead. "Might I ask about your arm?"
"Lost it in an accident when I was little, so I seldom think about it, unless," he smiles again, "someone is staring at me."
Now I'm really embarrassed. "I apologize, but you're most attractive."
One eyebrow rises quizzically. "Are you by any chance a devotee?"
"How can I deny it. You've caught me! I hope that doesn't make you uncomfortable?"
"Not really. I do hate my arm being the main attraction. I'm a person, too. Most devotees seem to forget that."
"To be honest, I'll have to agree. I could say that about myself, but talking with you has made me all but forget it."
"Good. At least you're being honest about your feelings."
"Now I'll ask that same honesty from you. There's quite a difference in our ages, yet you were kind enough to ask me to join you. Why?"
He gives me a smile. "Because you were alone and you seemed to be admiring me. You looked like the type to be honest about being a devotee."
"I try to be honest even if I find it embarrassing at times. Like now."
He grins winsomely and with no animosity. The waitress comes to our table. I order dinner and look at my companion. "The steaks are quite good here."
He nods and orders one as well. "I'm glad you told me. Restaurants in a strange city are always a gamble."
"This is the best place in town for good food. Nothing fancy, but good wholesome fare at reasonable prices. The fanciest place in town has poor food by comparison."
"Not unusual. I'm glad you tipped me off, though."
"Going to be in town long?"
He shrugs. "I'll probably finish up late tomorrow and leave the morning after."
I want to see more of this appealing young man. "Would you consider having dinner with me again tomorrow night?"
"I'll be happy to. I hate evenings alone, but I'm not into clubs. I don't like crowds, so I usually wind up looking at TV in my hotel room, if I don't happen to find a book that interests me. Didn't have a chance to look for one this afternoon."
"The best book shop is downtown, but it closes at five."
"I'll have to remember to bring one the next time I come this way."
"Is that often?"
"Usually twice a year. More if a client has a problem."
The waitress sets my steak in front of me then glances at Kirk's one arm and looks down at his steak. I motion for her to set it next to mine. When I've cut it into bite sized pieces, I set the platter in front of him.
"A true gentleman. Thank you."
"Not at all. You'll find it quite tender, but not enough to cut with a fork." Not the best of manners, but thinking to save him any feelings of being different, I proceed to cut mine up as well, then set the knife aside.
He handles his baked potato easily, and begins to eat. "Excellent. I'm surprised."
"They buy their meat whole out west and cut it in the kitchen. I'm seldom disappointed."
"That I can believe."
Neither of us wants dessert, just coffee over which he says, "You're an interesting man. I wish we had longer to talk."
"Well, if you've nothing to do this evening, why not spend it with me? You have a car?"
"Yes, a rental. This is very kind of you."
"Not at all."
I'm thankful the cleaning service has been the day before so the house is presentable. He takes me to the municipal lot where I've parked, then follows me out to my small home in the suburbs.
When I come out of the kitchen where I've started the coffee maker, I'm surprised to see him looking at the section of shelves holding my books with a gay theme. He looks up with a grin. "Caught me. I see one or two I haven't read."
"I have the feelings, but I've never acted on them. Frankly, I'd find having sex with a man uncomfortable now."
"I admit that I was a little hesitant in coming here, thinking you might be interested in me only as a sex object. To be completely honest, I find you interesting as a man, but not for sex. If you want, I'll leave now."
"Please don't. I enjoy looking at you." I paused. "The most I'd ask is to hold you and stroke your shoulder."
"I can live with that." He sits down on the sofa and pats the cushion next to him.
I'm stunned at his response, but I sit down and he leans his head against my shoulder. I put my arm around him and hug him closer. It's a few minutes before I pull away, to get our coffee. Once I've set the cups on the coffee table I sit back down. Instantly he resumes leaning against me.
I finally dare to gently stroke the armless shoulder.
"Oh, yes," he purrs. "That feels good." After a few moments, he stands and takes off his shirt and T-shirt. "Now it'll feel better."
I can see clearly that his arm was disarticulated. There is a neat scar from the end of the shoulder to the armpit. I stroke it with my finger, then proceed to rub the entire shoulder.
"You don't use an arm?"
"Oh, I have one, but it was a waste of good money. With no stump it's not very useful, and it feels awkward. I prefer to go without it," he answers softly.
"I'm glad. You're far more attractive this way."
That gets me a smile. "Thank you. No one has ever been so gentle before, not that I've let many people touch me."
"I wouldn't want to hurt you. This is a dream come true."
"I'm enjoying it, too." He looks at his watch. "Where's the time gone? I'd best be going."
I reluctantly stop rubbing his beautiful shoulder, and hand him his T-shirt and then his shirt. I'm surprised at how quickly and smoothly he puts them on.
He looks at me. "I know I'm a stranger, but if we're still on for dinner tomorrow could you possibly trust me with one of your books. I'm a speed-reader and I promise to return it before I leave town."
"After the pleasure you've given me, how can I say no? Of course."
He walks over to the shelf and takes out Chrome, a gay science fiction book I love so much my copy is well worn from frequent reading. "This looks good. I like sci-fi."
"I used to read more of it when I was younger, but Chrome remains a favorite of mine."
He tucks the book under his arm and holds out his hand. "This is really nice of you, Ken. I'm glad fate brought us together."
"As am I. I shall be looking forward to your return tomorrow."
My mind is filled with anticipation all day, so much so that I've probably made several outrageous statements in my one lecture, for the students laugh out loud several times and I'm not noted for being humorous. My other two classes get writing assignments so I can stand at the window and daydream of Kirk.
I leave the college early and shop on the way home. With Kirk as an incentive, I'll enjoy cooking tonight. At home I call his hotel and leave a message for him to call back, then start work. It doesn't take long to prepare chicken breasts rolled with chipped beef and baked in mushroom soup. Steamed fresh asparagus, I'm hoping he will like, because it was so beautiful I couldn't resist. I boil a couple of eggs to chop and put on top with some butter. A tossed salad and rolls will be enough. Prosaic, but if he wants dessert, I have ice cream.
When he calls, I ask if he can find his way back to my house. He assures me he can, so I start everything cooking. The bell rings a few minutes later.
"Wow! I certainly didn't expect you to cook dinner for me."
"My pleasure, and we can enjoy our dinner in peace and quiet."
"Just what I need after today. Those guys must have asked ten thousand questions while I was trying to work." He holds out a plastic bag. "I hope this goes with your dinner."
It's a nice white wine, already chilled. "Perfect. Thank you."
He lets the book slide down his arm to his hand and holds it out. "This was a great read. I'm going to see if I can find a copy. Thank you."
"Not at all." I look down at the book again in his hand. "The way you handled that is the neatest trick I've ever seen."
He grins. "A one armed guy with no stump learns to do a lot."
I glance at the wine bottle. "Drink? Dinner will take a few minutes longer."
"That would be nice."
I open it, wondering how he would manage a corkscrew. I pour us each a glass and find it excellent, then leave him to look at my books while I check on dinner. I cut his chicken with a very sharp knife, then reassemble it so it doesn't look cut, before I set it at his place. When I have my own plate, he looks down at his, then at me questioningly.
"Please, go ahead. You don't need a knife." I pass him the asparagus. "I'm taking a gamble with this, but I couldn't resist. It's local."
"Fresh? My god, it costs a fortune in the city, and I love it."
"Help yourself. The bunch was large as you can see." He must be telling the truth, because he loads his plate.
He says little as he eats, his attention being given to his dinner. He finally pushes back and wipes his mouth with the napkin. "I enjoyed the meal last night, but it was nothing compared to this. Wonderful dinner. I'm more relaxed than I've been in a long time."
"I'm glad. Dessert?"
"No. Just some coffee after we've cleared."
"I'll do it. Go relax."
He grins. "It'll be faster if I help. Besides, I could use some more of last night's therapy on my shoulder. The weather makes it hurt a little."
I turn on the CD changer for some soft music, surprised when he says, "I like Mozart." He's already shed his shirt and T-shirt and is sitting on the sofa. The moment I sit down, he leans against me. I begin to stroke his shoulder. His eyes are closed and I'd think he was asleep were he not making soft occasional rumbles of contentment. If he's content, I'm in heaven caressing this beautiful young man.
We exchange few words the entire evening; they would be an unwelcome intrusion. He finally straightens up and reaches for his shirt, then smiles. "Whatever I've thought about devotees, you've certainly changed the way I look at you guys. I'll never forget the past two evenings with you."
"Nor shall I forget you, Kirk. Your kindness has made me very happy. You're welcome any time you're in town. Next time, plan on staying here instead of a hotel."
His arm goes around me in a gentle hug. "I'd like that. I left my card on your desk. It has my home number on the back. Please keep in touch."
"I shall. Let me give you my address and phone."
I stand in the doorway and watch him drive off. I'll dream of him tonight, one of life's rare and precious moments to be treasured.