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Mac was enjoying every minute of his drive along the twisting country road in his new low-slung sports car. The only thing he missed was the rapid down-shifting of the gear box in tight curves, but after he'd wrapped his old one around a tree in a misguided moment, he couldn't complain about the automatic transmission in this one. I'm sure glad the old lady has her own agenda, he thought. Keeps her from bugging me all the time.
He knew the road well, and the
upcoming curve was sharp. He slowed. Best I don't wrap this one around a tree,
too. I might not be so lucky as I was last time. The car clung to the road
better than he expected. He eased through the curve and started to press his
foot harder on the accelerator, but looked at the guy standing by the side of
the road, thumb outstretched.
Mac liked what he saw. The guy was about his age and even better looking. His torn jeans and denim work shirt showed signs of hard wear, but Mac's attention riveted on the wooden peg that replaced part of the guy's leg. Hey, might be worth a try. His foot hit the brake.
"Where you headed?" He asked as the guy stumped up to the car.
"Goin' into town. Thanks for stopping, but there's no way I can get in that."
"Not enough leg room for my peg."
"Hell, man, take it off. I'll wait for you to put it back on when we get there."
"Sure you don't mind? I'd really like to ride in this. It's about the sharpest looking car I ever seen."
"Get in and let's roll."
The young man opened the door and sat down to unstrap the peg-leg. He pulled his stump and right leg in, holding the peg-leg between them. With the jeans leg hanging free, Mac could barely tell the stump ended just below the knee. Lucky bastard, he thought as he stomped on the accelerator again.
The man was pushed against the seat as the car leapt forward. "Boy this thing is powerful," he said to Mac with a grin.
Mac grinned back. "More than my old one, but not as much fun, being automatic."
"Why didn't you get a straight shift then?"
"Couldn't. Had to have an automatic. I'm Mac."
"Tony. Good of you to stop. I got an appointment with some woman in town who's looking for a gardener. You ever hear of Lakeview Terrace?"
Mac snorted. "Heard of it! I live there. I'm headed home, so I'll drop you off. What street you looking for?"
Tony rummaged in his shirt pocket
and pulled out a smudged scrap of paper. "Lake Road."
"Right on my way. I'll drop you off there. I'd take you all the way, but I gotta make a run to the supermarket."
Mac let the young man out at the entrance to Lake Road. After Tony had strapped on his peg-leg, he stood and thanked Mac for the ride, then stumped off. Mac watched his easy stride with envy, before driving on. He actually seems to enjoy showing that peg-leg off, he thought.
When Mac joined his mother for dinner that evening at her request, she looked quite pleased and uneasy at the same time. "MacKenzie, I was so fortunate this afternoon. Louise Johnson sent a young man to me who was looking for employment as a gardener. She didn't want to hire him because he's handicapped. You know how she is about that."
She saw the frown Mac sent in her direction. "I'm sorry, darling. I wasn't implying ."
"I should hope not."
"Could you possibly stay home tomorrow morning to show this young man where all the tools and the mower are? I have to be at the hairdressers at nine. I'll tell Mildred to send him to your apartment door when he comes."
"Why not? Thought I'd get some sun or a swim and do some reading. Got a couple of new books today."
"More? I don't know anybody that reads as much as you. I wish I enjoyed it that much."
Mac climbed the stairs to his apartment over the garage. The stairs were still a problem, but he liked this place of his own where he could hide away from people and the looks of pity. Hell, I'm still me. I just wish I had that guy's attitude towards people. He acted like everybody could go to hell if they didn't like his peg-leg. He was even strutting on it when I let him out. Gotta admire a guy with that much guts.
The next morning Mac glanced out of his apartment window to see a man walking up the drive towards the back door of the house. That's gotta be the new gardener, he thought. I'll head him off before Mildred starts talking to him. Damn! That woman could talk forever. I wish mother would fire her, but what the hell, he shrugged, she's a damn good cook, and, he looked around, she does keep this place straight. Oh, well.
He went down the stairs and stopped in surprise. "I'll be damned! Tony, what are you doing here?"
Tony stared at the dangling jeans leg and the crutches supporting Mac. He jerked his head in the direction of the house. "The lady in there hired me to do the garden. I was lucky to get this job, 'cause the lady who was goin' to hire me took one look at my peg-leg and said I couldn't do all the things she wanted. She didn't even give me a chance, man, but at least she sent me here. What you doing here?"
"My home. It was mother who hired you. I better tell you she'll be expecting super good work, specially since you've got that peg-leg. It upset her, but at least she's giving you a chance. Hell, that's more'n she gives me." Mac grimaced. "I'm her poor little crippled boy; I can't do anything for myself. She even wanted to hire a guy to live with me and take care of me. That's why I moved out to the apartment over the garage there."
Tony clutched his sides as he howled in laughter.
His attitude pissed Mac. "What you finding so damn funny?"
"You, man. If I had your dough, I'd be happy to sit on my ass all day and let some body take of me."
"Get's boring. That's why I drive around so much. When I'm in the car, nobody can tell."
Tony walked over and ran his hand up the empty jeans leg until he felt the end of Mac's short stump.
"What the hell you think you're doing?" Mac yelled, slapping his hand away.
"Just seeing how much you got left. Ain't much is it? Kinda funny both of us got our left legs cut off. But shit man, why're you so sensitive about it? Ain't gonna do nothin' but make you feel bad about it."
"I suppose you don't feel that way?" Mac snapped.
"No way. Got better things to worry about than my leg. How long's it been gone?"
Mac calmed. After all Tony was an amp, too. "Six months. What about yours?"
"I cut it off when I was about eight."
Mac's mouth dropped open. "You cut it off yourself?"
"Might say that. I was helping my old man when he was cuttin' up a tree for firewood. He set the chainsaw down and I picked it up. Didn't know then the trigger made it go. I was holding it next to my leg when my finger hit the trigger. Cut my leg off slicker'n shit. Been on a peg-leg ever since." He thrust it out toward Mac. "My old man made it for me. I think it looks damn good. Feels good, too." He shrugged. "Well, if you'll show me where everything is, I'll get to work. Your mama ain't paying me to run my mouth."
Mac led him into the tool room at the back of the garage. "Everything you'll likely need is in here. If it isn't give me a growl. Oh, yeah, what time you usually start work?"
"If I get in town quick, I like to start early, specially if it's gonna be a hot day. That the mower I'm 'sposed to use?"
Mac nodded. "That's it. The push mower is for trimming. I hope to god you don't start that damn thing before nine-thirty or so. I like to sleep in sometimes and my apartment's just above."
Tony looked the mower over closely and grinned again. "Good, everything's on the right side, so it ain't gonna give me no trouble to drive it. As fer the noise, no sweat. That thing's got a bagger and they ain't no good less the grass is dry. I like to do the trimming first so's the mower can suck up all the trimmings. Ain't likely to bother your beauty sleep none, stud."
Mac crutched back to his apartment thinking: he's a cocky little son of a bitch, thinking he has a right to put his hand on me like that. I'd almost swear he was trying to feel me up. He'd better watch that attitude of his around mother, she'll throw him out on his ass so fast he won't know what hit him. Mac grinned, admitting to himself that he admired Tony's peg-legged strut, his smart-ass attitude about it and most everything else. The smile was replaced with a look of longing. Tony would clean up well. Wish I could find some excuse to take him out for an evening. I'd like to go out with him. We're about the same size so he could wear some of my stuff. I wish he was gay. If he was, I'd let mother pay him to look after me and get another gardener.
With a shift in the wind direction, the temperature began to rise. Once the sun had dropped enough for the pool to be shaded by the row of trees along the property line, Mac slipped on his swim trunks and started down the stairs.
"There you are." Tony called. "I was just lookin' for you. Got time to look over what I got done today? You know, see if it'll suit your mother."
"Yeah. Oh, shit! I'll have to put on my leg and jeans. Forget it. I'm sure you did okay."
"Don't see why you gotta put on your leg and jeans just to look at what I've got done. You can see just as good like you are."
"My leg, damn it."
"Who's gonna see you? I done felt your stump, so I don't count." His easy grin convinced Mac.
Mac shrugged. "What the hell. Let's go."
Whatever he expected from Tony, it certainly wasn't the perfection he'd achieved in the area where he'd worked. "Wow! Mother's going to be over the moon, man. It's never looked this good before."
"You think she'll keep me on?"
"You know it. She hire you full time?"
"No, man. She said she'd gimme a try. That's all. I'm keeping a time card like she told me."
Mac smiled. "I expect tomorrow she'll tell you to tear it up and take you full time. Let me know."
"Sure will. You're an okay guy fer a rich one, Mac. You ain't no snob like the kids some places I've worked."
Mac started to move on toward the pool without answering, but he liked Tony's words. Tony followed behind him. When they reached the pool, Tony looked at it hungrily. "Damn that water looks good. Wish I could jump in and cool off."
"All right, sport. You want it, you got it. Come on up to the apartment. I've got another pair of Speedos you can use."
"No way, man. Your mama'll have a hissy if she sees me in her pool."
"I invited you. That's all she needs to know. If she says anything else, I've got my ways of shutting her up."
"I told you I'm her little cripple boy. I use that to get most anything I want."
"Damn! Ain't you got no shame, man."
Mac grinned and put his hand on Tony's shoulder. "Only sometimes, buddy. Come on."
Mac looked with envy at Tony's build. Wow! He thought. If he had his leg he could make a fortune modeling. Aren't many guys that good looking. He handed Tony a towel and watched Tony strap the peg-leg back on, then picked up his crutches. "Okay, buddy. Let's go."
Mac dropped behind to watch
Tony's bare stump on the peg. "Damn! I never thought it would look that sexy.
Gotta find a way to touch it."
Tony unstrapped the peg and hopped to the edge of the pool, then dove in. Mac watched him swim for a minute or two, until Tony called, "Ain't you comin' in?"
"Yeah." Mac dropped his crutches and plunged in, swimming several laps gracefully, to Tony's admiration. When he clung to the edge of the pool to rest for a moment. Tony swam up beside him.
"Man, you swim real good, even with one leg. Wish I looked that nice when I swim."
"With a little instruction you could do as well. Hell, even better. You've got enough stump so you can kick pretty well."
"Guess so. I don't get much chance to swim with workin' and all." He looked up. "Oh, shit, man, I gotta get out of here. Here comes your mother."
Mac grabbed his arm. "Stay. I'll take care of this."
"MacKenzie, who is this young man?"
Tony, your new gardener. He finished up for the day and I wanted a swim, so I asked him to join me. Just in case. You know."
"Of course. Tony, any time MacKenzie asks you to do something for him, I shall expect you to drop whatever you might be doing and help him immediately."
Tony noted that she carefully avoided looking at either Mac's stump or his. As she walked back toward the house, the grin he'd been smothering burst forth. "You sure got her figured out, man."
Mac grinned back. "Told you. Let's get out of here and grab a beer."
"What time is it?"
Mac looked at his waterproof watch. "Almost seven."
"Damn! I always forget when they change to daylight time. I gotta get going. Ain't likely to hitch a ride late as it is."
"You don't have a car?"
"Naw, man. Don't got that kind o' bread. I use my dad's truck if he ain't using it, but that's kinda rare."
"Don't sweat it. I'll take you home. Want to eat with me?"
"Ain't no way your mama's lettin' me put my feet unner her table. I just work here."
"She won't be here. She's dining out tonight and I hate eating alone. Like I said, I'll take you home after. Please, Tony."
Seeing the obvious plea for friendship from a great looking guy like Mac, Tony's reluctance faded. "I guess maybe I can. It ain't no fun being lonely."
Mac pushed Tony into the shower, then hurriedly showered himself. Tony was sitting in his recliner, still undressed, with his stump propped up on the hassock. He got up as Mac came back into the room.
"I just thought, man, I ain't got nothing but my dirty clothes to put on. Guess you'd better take me on home."
Mac tossed underwear, slacks, and a sports shirt on the bed. "Put these on. We're about the same size. That shirt's big on me, but you've got broader shoulders than mine."
"I can't wear your stuff, man. It's too good."
"Nothing good about this stuff. It's just what I wear every day." He smiled at Tony. "If you don't want me to turn into a snob, you'd better do as I say."
Tony grinned and began to put on the clothes. When he started to put on the peg-leg, Mac stopped him. "Here. Fold the empty part up under your knee. It'll look better. Doesn't bother you does it?" He asked after he had folded the slacks leg under Tony's knee.
Tony shifted his weight. "Feels a little funny, but it's okay. I always let it hang free."
"This is the way you should do it when you dress up. It looks a lot neater."
Tony grinned. "Don't dress up that much. Hey, ain't you gonna put on your leg?"
"To hell with it. It bothers me some and I like my crutches better, but only if no one sees me on 'em."
"I'm here. I can see you."
"You don't count."
"Why not? Because I'm just hired help?"
"That hasn't got a damn thing to do with it, and you know it. You've only got one leg, too, so I don't care what you see. Let's move it. Mildred's probably got dinner ready."
While Mac was driving Tony home, Tony put his hand on Mac's arm. "Thanks for everything, man. I ain't never eat that good before, and that swim felt good, too. And now you're driving me home. Like I said, you ain't no snob, you're good people." When Mac turned his head to look at him, he added, "I could get to like you a lot."
"If you want me to like you, you can begin by calling me Mac instead of man, I hate that and you say it nearly every time you address me. You can stop arguing when I ask you to do things with me, too."
"Sorry, Mac. When I say man, it's just the way I talk. I ain't callin' you that personal like. As for helpin' you, I already figured that out with what your mama said. I don' mind callin' you Mac, but what's your real name? Your mama called you somethin' else."
"MacKenzie Brookwood Thornhill, the fourth. You satisfied now?"
Tony's mouth dropped open. "Man, that's some fancy name. Sounds like a bunch of lawyers or somethin'. I guess I oughta expected it, livin' like you do. Poor folks got names like mine, plain ol' Tony Jones. Bet there's lots more of us around than there is with a name like yours." He put his hand back on Mac's arm. "You can let me out here. I live up that lane there."
"I don't mind taking you to the door."
"No way this car's gonna make it up a lane rough as ours." He strapped his peg-leg back on and stood. "See you tomorrow, Mac. And thanks fer everything."
Mac drove slowly home, his mind whirling in confusion. He wished Tony had given him some sign of his feelings. He didn't back off when I touched his stump, and he wasn't shy about touching mine either. He seems always ready to touch my arm when he's speaking to me. He was so damn good looking in my clothes, too. I'd like to get my barber on that hair of his. With a little styling and decent clothes, he'd be one sharp stud, especially if he'd clean up that peg-leg and make it shine.
When he was in bed, Mac closed his eyes seeing Tony as he wanted him to look. God, what a sexy stud. I wish he was here beside me. Maybe tomorrow I can find out more about him.
Mac woke to the ringing of his phone. "What?" He answered. When he hung up, it was with a broad grin. Hot damn! No way Tony could get out of this. He jumped out of bed, hurriedly shaved, showered, put on his prosthesis and dressed, then went to the house for breakfast.
He bent and kissed his mother, before he took his seat. She flushed with pleasure. "Why MacKenzie, it's been a long time since you've given me such a kiss. I was beginning to think you didn't love me any more."
"I do love you, mother, especially when you come up with ideas like this."
"But you've always resisted when I've suggested that you have someone stay to help you."
Mac grinned. "I know, but it wasn't Tony. He's a lot better young man, than you think."
"But how can he help you when he's handicapped himself? That peg-leg thing he uses to get around on is hideous."
"I know you hate the word, darling, but you must face reality. You are handicapped. I cannot understand your reluctance to admit it. You practically threw that handicapped insignia for your car back in the doctor's face. It was very rude of you."
"I'm not handicapped, mother. I wish you'd realize that. I've already learned to do nearly everything I could before. I'm still me and one leg isn't making that much difference in my life. Hell, you've seen how good Tony's work is. His leg doesn't slow him down a bit."
"Don't swear at the table, dear," she said automatically. "If that unfortunate young man had a leg like yours, it would be impossible to tell. He would certainly be more acceptable looking."
"He's a nice looking young man and I like him. I'll let him stay with me, if you want me to have somebody around, but nobody else. I'm sorry, mother, I know you want to do what you think best for me, but it's Tony or no one."
She sighed and folded her napkin. "As you wish, dear. Tell Tony to have Mildred call me when he comes."
"Thanks, mother." As she left the room, Mac's grin grew broader. No way Tony would turn down a weekend with him, if he was getting paid for it. I'm gonna show that kid a good time.
A short time later, he heard Tony's peg-leg thudding against the stairs, then the door to his apartment flew open. Tony held out the clothes he'd borrowed the night before, washed and ironed, and stood glaring at him. 'What's this crap about my spending this weekend with you?"
"Mother's going out of town. She wants you to stay around to help me."
"Shit! You don't need no help, man. You could do as much as me if you put your mind to it."
"What's your beef? You're getting paid for it."
"I don't like getting' paid to sit on my ass or have fun. Things like that I do 'cause I wanna."
"I'm hurt, Tony." Mac put on his saddest look.
"I thought you liked me, at least enough to spend some time with me. I was looking forward to getting to know you better."
"You know plenty of rich people. You don't need to know a guy like me."
"And you call me a snob! What have you got against me? My money? Well, I'll tell you, my friend, I haven't a penny except what little allowance I get from my trust. I can't touch any of it until I'm twenty-five."
"You mean you ain't loaded?"
"Hell, no. Now you gonna stay or not? If you don't I may just get drunk and burn the place down."
Tony's face turned pale. "You'd do it, too. I can tell."
"Okay, Mac. Don't do nothin' you'll regret. I'll stay." The infectious grin returned. "Hell, it'll be fun to live the lifestyle of the rich and the famous, like on TV."
"Don't plan on watching that crap while you're here. I'm planning every minute. Don't bother to bring any clothes with you either."
"If you're thinkin' I'm gonna run around naked all weekend, forget it!"
"No, we're not. You can wear some of mine. I'm taking you out on the town."
Tony shook his head. No way to get through to this guy when his head's made up. Guess I'll have to see what happens.
Friday after lunch, Mac paced the floor impatiently waiting for Tony. He threw open the door of his apartment the minute he heard the thud of the peg-leg on the stairs. "It's about time," he yelled. "Get your ass up here."
"What's your rush? We got the whole weekend."
"Sit down and take a look at this. See if there's anything in there you like." Mac tossed a catalogue in his lap. "They told me about this place at the rehab center."
"Why? I got shoes, man." Tony grinned. "Course, I don't ever wear but one of 'em. Hate wastin' money on the one I don't never use." He looked at the cover of the catalogue. Shoe Exchange. "Never heard of it. What you do, send them your old ones and get new ones back?"
Mac laughed. "No way, buddy. It was started by a one-legged man who got pissed off at paying a lot of money for a pair for shoes when he could only wear one, like you. He figured there oughta be some guy out there who wore the same size, but had the other leg missing, and would trade. That's how it started."
"You mean if I was like to buy a new pair of shoes here in town, I could send the left one to him and trade it for something in this here catalogue?"
"That's about it. See anything you like?"
Tony pointed to an engineers boot. "That 'ud be great in the winter. That's a pretty loafer, too."
"Know your size?"
After Tony had given him the information, Mac picked up the phone and called the company, asking for over-night express shipment of the two shoes Tony had picked out. He promised to have three of his left shoes ready to send by return post.
"You mean that's it?" Tony asked.
"That's it, buddy. They know me."
Tony shook his head. "Wish I'd of known about that place before. Could of saved some money."
"Get your ass in gear and let's go in town." Mac looked back at Tony. The guy wore clean jeans and a sparkling white T-shirt. He'll be okay, he thought.
"I got some shopping to do."
Mac was half way down the apartment stairs before Tony caught up with him. Their first stop was the barbershop. Tony protested, but was soon in the chair with Mac standing behind, telling the barber how he wanted Tony's hair styled.
When the barber was finished, Tony stood in front of the mirror. "Hell, Mac, I don't even recognize myself." He raised his hand and touched his hair, then nodded. "Never thought I'd look so good with my hair cut like this." He admired himself a few moments longer. "Thanks."
Mac grinned. "Just wait 'til I'm through with you, buddy. You won't look like the same man."
Mac had to drag Tony into the department store's men's department while he picked out a pair of crisp chinos similar to those he had on, then added three knit pull-over shirts in complimenting colors.
"Them for you?"
"You, buddy. You're gonna need some decent things to wear when we go out."
Tony's jaw grew stubborn. "You ain't buying me nothing, Mac."
"Oh, yes, I am. I'm buying these and if you don't take 'em, I'm throwing 'em in the trash. I wanna see you looking like you did in my stuff, only these'll fit you right."
Mac snapped his fingers and a clerk rushed over. "Can I help you, Mr. Thornhill?"
"Yeah. I want you to fit these chinos on my friend here."
The clerk escorted Tony to the changing room and waited until Tony stepped out. He measured the inseam on Tony's good leg while Mac watched. "These will need to be hemmed about an inch to fit properly, Mr. Thornhill. I What should I do about the other leg, sir?"
Mac gathered the loose material in his hand. "Hem this one about here, I think." He took a pin from the clerk's hand and pushed it in just a couple of inches below the end of Tony's stump."
"May I suggest we sew the end together?"
Mac scowled. "No way. Hem it open where I showed you."
"But but If I may say, sir, you will be able to see his leg."
Mac grinned. "Exactly what I have in mind. Now get to it. We'll be back in about an hour." After Tony had changed back into his jeans, Mac said, "Okay, buddy, now for the shoe department."
When the new deck shoes were in hand, Mac looked at Tony. "With these, the chinos, and the shirts, you'll be in, buddy. You're gonna be so roaring beautiful you'll drive the guys wild in the place I'm taking you tonight. Let's go. Got a couple more stops to make."
Tony simply stared at Mac without comment. This stud's nuts, he thought.
Mac drove several blocks then stopped in front of a medical supply store. He dragged Tony in and pointed to a display of forearm crutches. "See which ones fit you."
"I don't need no crutches, man. I got my peg-leg."
"You're gonna need 'em for a little while, buddy. We got things to do and I'm not sitting around with you."
"Why'm I gonna need 'em?"
The crutches paid for, Mac drove to the industrial section of town and parked in the lot of a wood working shop. "Gimme that peg-leg, buddy. Grab your crutches and let's go."
When Tony failed to respond, Mac reached over and grabbed the peg-leg so swiftly it was in his hands before Tony could move. Curious, Tony followed Mac into the business.
The owner, covered in wood dust, greeted Mac. "What can I do for you today, Mr. Thornhill?"
Mac held out Tony's peg-leg. "Clean this up and give it a coat of urethane or something that'll hold up under hard use."
The man examined the peg-leg, then nodded. "I think we can clean this up so it'll look nice."
"While you're at it, can you get new straps made at the shop down the street and put them on it? Those are getting worn, and I want this thing to be a show-piece."
"I'm sure I can. This is going to be interesting, never worked on a peg-leg before. I'll use a quick drying finish. You can have it back around four this afternoon, if that's all right."
"Fine. We'll be here."
After all the purchases had been made and picked up, they returned to Mac's apartment. Tony looked at him. "Why you doin' all this?"
"So you'll look great when we go out tonight. I like to be seen with a hot looking stud like you. It's nothing I wouldn't do for any of my friends. Let's shower and dress. I can't wait to see how you look."
"That man sure made my peg look good. Ain't never had one finished off like this before." Tony said as he strapped it on. "I like the way it shines. I'm glad you thought of new straps. One of them old ones was about to come apart." He took a step or two. "Feels better than ever. This leather ain't as stiff as what I was using."
When Tony was dressed to Mac's
satisfaction, Mac looked at him with longing. "God, you're beautiful, Tony." He
hugged the boy, letting his hand slip down to caress the stump.
Tony did not respond except to ask, "My stump shows, don't it?"
Mac grinned. "Just enough. You gotta be standing back some to see it. Looks fantastic."
Tony grimaced. "That's why I always let the jeans leg dangle. Hides it."
"You shouldn't hide anything looks as good as that. You're showing just enough to tease. With the way you sometimes strut, it'll be a real turn-on. I've turned you into a real stud, buddy. Let's go eat."
After they had gotten out of the
car at the restaurant and Tony had his peg-leg back on, the valet drove Mac's
car off with a huge grin. Mac touched Tony on the arm. "Do me a favor, buddy."
When we go in, give 'em that go-to-hell look you've got and that sexy strut."
"Hell, that's easy. I'm beginning to like this."
The headwaiter gave Mac a broad smile. "Good evening, Mr. Thornhill. Table for " his jaw dropped when he saw Tony's peg-leg, "ugh two, sir?"
"I want a good one, too."
Mac grinned at Tony's strut on the peg-leg as he followed the waiter to a table in the center of the room. He saw, too, that nearly every eye in the place was taking in the two of them. Yeah, folks, take a look. Two good looking guys and one of 'em on a peg-leg, he said to himself. Wish I'd had the guts to come in here on my crutches, then you'd really have something to look at.
Mac didn't notice Tony's look of dislike aimed at a bus boy who looked at them in disdain and turned up his nose as he passed their table. A few seconds later he jumped at a resounding crash. He looked down to see the bus boy flat on the floor surrounded by broken dishes.
The headwaiter rushed over and jerked the bus boy to his feet. "Clean up that mess right now, and be careful. I'll be watching you." He turned to look at Mac. "I'm terribly sorry about this, Mr. Thornhill. Did you or your guest get splattered?"
Mac looked at Tony who shook his head. "We're fine. I think perhaps my right shoe might need wiping off, and my guest's leg." He answered calmly.
"I'll send a boy immediately. Thank you for your understanding. Accidents sometimes happen with new staff, sir."
The bus boy hurried to their table and knelt to wipe Mac's shoe with a damp cloth, then buff it back to its shine with a dry one. Mac saw the boy shudder as he wiped Tony's peg-leg down and dried it, then rush back to the kitchen. When he looked up, Tony had that grin.
"Okay, what did you do?"
Tony's grin widened. "Snotty little bastard," he whispered in a vicious voice. "I fixed his wagon."
"You deliberately stuck your peg-leg out so he'd trip on it, didn't you? Damn! I knew I liked you for some reason. Wish I could use a peg-leg so I could pull that trick."
"If you got pissed off at somebody, you'd do it, too, wouldn't ya?"
"Damn right I would. I'm gonna have to keep you around since I can't do that myself."
"Oh, man, that was super good," Tony said when they were back in the car. "Where we goin' now?"
Mac grinned. "A little bar I like. Want you to see it. A beer will taste mighty good about now."
Mac pushed open a dark painted door and stepped inside with Tony following. He was immediately confronted by a burley man in jeans and T-shirt. "Hi, Jim, just me and my buddy here."
"Sure thing, Mac. Didn't recognize you at first. No seats right now, but you can stand at the bar if you want."
"Two beers, Joe," Mac called to the bartender when he and Tony had pushed their way through the crowd.
"Mac, you beautiful boy, where've you been hiding? You haven't been in in ages." The question was accompanied by a kiss on the cheek from an effeminate young man.
"Busy, fellow. No time to play."
"Who's this gorgeous stud with you?"
Tony's beer fell from his hand, when he felt the end of his stump being rubbed. Mac grinned at his expression. "Hands off, Micky. That belongs to me."
"Shit, Mac! Anything you come in with is always spoken for. Why don't you give the rest of us a chance once in a while?" With a pout on his lips, Micky slid into the crowd.
Tony grabbed Mac's arm. "Let's get out of here. This place gives me the creeps."
Mac swallowed the rest of his beer. "Okay, buddy. Just want to show you off."
"I didn't know places like that existed, Mac." Tony said as they drove away. "What a bunch of screaming queers."
"Turn you off?"
"First look I got in there. Jeez, guys wearing makeup and prissin' around like a bunch of two dollar whores don't do nothin' for me. I'd take a stud like you any day."
Oh, shit, Mac groaned to himself, he is. He's just bashful. Maybe when we get to bed. I hope, I hope, I hope.
Tony stripped and stood looking at Mac. "I'm whipped. Bed's gonna feel good. Where'm I sleeping?"
Mac pointed to his king-size bed. "In there."
"What about you?"
Mac grinned. "You don't think I'm going to have the sexiest one-legged stud I've ever seen in my bed without being in there with him, do you?"
Tony wrapped both arms around Mac and pulled him into a bear-hug. "I was hopin' you felt like that. I done fell in love with you, Mac."
"I love you, too, Tony. You've had me sweating with wanting you, and you not giving me any signals."
"I don't know nothin' about no signals, Mac. I went slow 'cause I was scared you was just playin' 'round with me. You got a wicked sense of humor sometimes."
Mac's hand reached down and squeezed Tony's stump on the end. "Wish I had a stump like yours so I could wear a peg-leg. God, it's sexy."
Tony's hand rubbed Mac's stump in return. "I like yours just fine. You look fantastic when you're wearing your swim trunks and usin' your crutches. I like seein' you with your pants leg pinned up tight, too. It's a real turn-on, specially the way it makes your stump shiver sometimes. I get hard every time I see it happen."
Mac grinned. "It's a nerve close to the surface of the skin makes it happen. I can feel it, but it don't bother me like it did at first. The doctor told me it would stop after a while."
Tony's fingers probed until they found spot at the end of the stump. He thrilled at the muscle spasm against his hand. "Yeah," he breathed, "I sure do like feeling it do that. Let's get in bed."
Mac dropped his crutches and sat on the edge of the bed until Tony started to sit beside him to take off the peg-leg. Mac stopped him. "Let me do it, buddy. I sure wish I knew what it was like to feel these straps around my stump."
Tony's grin flashed. "I can tell you one thing, buddy. It sure feels good when your hands are down there strappin' it on, or takin' it off."
They lay back on the bed in a gentle embrace. "You belong in my arms, Tony. Move in like my mother wants. I want you here forever."
"I ain't got nothin' to give you, but I love you, Mac."
"I love you, too, buddy."
Mac's mother was shocked when she came in to dinner Monday night and saw her son sitting at the table with a handsome young man equally as well dressed. Mac stood up and kissed her.
"Don't you think you should introduce me to your friend, MacKenzie? I do like to know with whom I'm dining."
Mac's grin flashed as did Tony's. "Don't you recognize him, mother? You're going to have to find a new gardener. Tony is my companion now."
Mrs. Thornhill fell into her chair. "My god, son, I can scarcely believe that's Tony. I'm delighted you have found such a handsome young man to take care of you." She looked Tony over closely. "Yes, MacKenzie, this has worked out better than I ever dreamed. After you obtain a leg similar to yours for him, he will be presentable anywhere. I hope you will be happy with my son, Anthony."
Tony smiled at her. "I already am, ma'm. My name's just Tony, though."
"Anthony is far more suitable for a fine looking young man like yourself. I shall call you that. Welcome to our home, Anthony. I think MacKenzie has chosen well."
Mac gave her his best smile. "Better than you will ever know, mother."