Secret Club
By: Jess Mercer
( 2010 by the author)

  The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...
 

My dad's promotion caused us to have to move to this town three months ago. Ever since the move all my mom has done is complain about how cold and standoffish the people are to anyone new. Dad's reply is that the company offices are almost as bad. Far as I'm concerned, they shouldn't have any complaint cause the high school is far worse. Other than one or two of the teachers, I doubt there's a single student who can tell you my name, and the place isn't all that big.

Dad enrolled me in this school because it's a private school mostly for children of company executives and upper level employees. There are no clubs or extra-curricular activities as a way for me to get to know anyone, it's academics only. There is usually a junior trip abroad for a week each year and a few seniors excelling in foreign language get to spend a semester in that country as an exchange student.

Today's big news is the arrival of three exchange students to attend this school. There's lots of speculation over how they'll be and so on, but as soon as they arrive later this morning there'll be a short assembly to introduce them.

The announcement of the assembly comes in the middle of my beginning calculus class. Couldn't be better! I can do math, but I hate it with a passion, so any break from the involuntary servitude is welcome. When we're all seated in the auditorium the principal makes a few announcements then introduces the exchange students. One is so beautiful he catches my attention immediately. I wish we had been here when the exchange was set up because I'd have asked my parents to sign up. The principal calls a student to the stage and says Deter von Richter will be staying with him. After they've left, the principal calls another student and says Karl Burkholtz will be living with him and his family. When he calls the third name there's silence so he calls it again.

Finally one of the students stands. "Sir, I'm sorry, I thought my mom had called, but we're not going to be able to take any one just now."

He sits back down, leaving the principal looking around the room with a shocked expression. He finally clears his throat and looks at the exchange student. "I'm dreadfully sorry, Colin. We'll find a place immediately."

I see Colin's face flush and he glances down at his left arm which ends just below the elbow as best I can tell. He looks crushed, but he's so beautiful I wanted to jump his bones the moment I laid eyes on him, but for him to have half an arm is already reflecting in my feelings. I shift in my seat and cautiously rearrange my package to a more comfortable position. I hate seeing this poor guy made to feel like a freak so desire overcomes caution. I jump up and say loudly, "Sir, my parents will be happy to have Colin live with us. I will, too."

The principal peers over his glasses then motions for me to come to the stage. I hear some snickers, but I don't care.

"Who are you, boy?" The principal asks.

"Nick Wayland, sir."

He frowns for a moment. "You're new here?"

"At the beginning of school, sir."

"Most irregular since I've not heard from your parents, Wayland, but we'll give them a call from my office. This is Colin Andrews from Britain."

"Hi," I say and hold out my hand.

"Hullo," he replies and shakes with a small smile.

Assembly is dismissed and Colin and I are herded into the principal's office where I'm handed the phone and told to call my mom. I do and after telling her what I've done and, speaking softly so I won't be overheard, why, she asks to speak to the principal.

He hangs up smiling. "Your mother is most gracious, Nicholas. She will be picking you up in a few minutes. Your bags are in the entrance, Andrews, so you and Wayland may wait there. I know you will enjoy your stay with the Waylands, and we shall see you back at school tomorrow."

Mom pops the deck of the trunk with the remote, but I introduce Colin to her before tossing his bags in. Mom's warm and friendly to him, but gives me a 'we'll talk about this later' look as we get in the car. She chats with him all the way, so I don't get a chance until we're in the house.

"Show Colin to the guest room," she tells me.

"He can have the other bed in my room."

"That will be lovely," Colin says.

Mom looks at him in surprise. "You haven't seen the disaster area, Colin. No one in his right mind would wish to live in such a mess given an alternative."

He giggles. "You sound just like my mum."

I put my arm around his shoulders and squeeze. "My kind of guy. Let's go."

In a fit of uncharacteristic energy I had cleaned my room over the weekend, so it's not so messy. I get the linen and make his bed, then find towels for him and show him the bath.

"It's gonna be great having you here," I tell him.

He holds out his arm. "You don't mind this, then?"

I grin. "Yeah, I mind it a lot." His face falls as I reach out and grab it by the end. "I think it's beautiful and so are you. I hope you're not shy about it."

He relaxes and smiles. "I hardly know what to say. I know that other bloke wouldn't have me because of my arm, and now you want me because of it. It wasn't mentioned in anything sent to my hosts because I never thought of it would be an issue."

"It's been gone that long?"

He smiles. "You could say. I was born this way, so I've never missed it."

I grin again. "Like I said, it's sure adds to your looks and I'm gonna be looking a lot. Touching, too, if you'll let me."

"You're a devotee?"

I have to think for a moment because of the way he pronounces it. "Yeah. Hope you don't mind rooming with one, a gay one at that." I slap my hand over my mouth cause I hadn't intended for that to slip out.

His arm slips around me in a hug. "I'm pleased you are so up front about everything. It saves a lot of time we can put to better use. My best friend back home is a dev, so I know all about them." He grins. "He's gay, too, so living here is going to be a treat."

While he's putting his things away in the two dresser drawers I emptied for him to use, I go down to talk with mom. After I tell her everything I know, she pours another cup of coffee and takes a couple of sips, then says, "I could have used some advance notice you know, but I'm proud of you for bringing Colin here after such a rude rejection. Your father is going to be very surprised to find he has another son. We're both going to depend on you to do your part in making Colin feel at home and that includes keeping that disaster area you call a room a lot cleaner and straighter than you have been. Now go see if you can help him with anything."

I lean over and kiss her. "Thanks, mom. It'll be like having a brother."

Colin quickly charms my parents at dinner. I assume mom told dad about his arm and why he's here, because he doesn't ask. Instead he starts telling Colin about all the places of interest we'll be visiting on weekends and holidays.

"Please, sir, don't go to any trouble. I'm here to study in an American school, so just treat me like you would Nick."

The next day at school, I almost fall out of my chair at lunch when two seniors, both jocks and great looking studs, make a point of sitting at the table with Colin and me. Walt says, "You've proved out, Wayland. We need more guys like you around here."

"Yeah, Parton got dropped from the club. What a miserable shit he turned out to be," Tim adds.

"Right on. He never did really get into the spirit of the game."

Then they both begin to talk to Colin.

While we're walking back for our first afternoon class, Colin says, "Unheard of that upperclassmen would sit and talk with us. I can't believe they invited us to join their secret club."

"They did?"

"Where were you? We meet Walt and Tim after school. You nodded so I assumed you meant agreement."

"Gee, I don't know. I mean did they tell you anything about the club?"

Colin shakes his head. "No, but I gather it has something to do with my arm. Tim couldn't keep his eyes off it. He asked if I have a hook."

"Do you?"

"And a hand. I wouldn't have brought them with me, but my father insisted. He wants me to use the hand all the time, but I hardly ever bother unless he's home."

"I like you better without it."

"But you haven't seen it yet."

"Covers up your stump doesn't it?"

"Of course."

"Then I don't like it." I reach over and grab his stump, kissing it on the end.

"Oh, really, Nick, you're incorrigible."

After school Walt and Tim are waiting for us. Walt leads the way to his awesome Firebird and tells us to get in. "I'll take you home any time you want," he promises.

Walt's house is a huge colonial. He leads us into the basement by an outside door he unlocks, and tells us this is his private space. There are several small windows and I can see the room is nicely furnished like a living room. There's a digital TV, surround sound, and lots of entertainment stuff. He turns on the lights and tells Colin and me to stand facing him and Tim.

"Nothing we do in our club is illegal, but anything that is said or seen here and during a meeting must kept in absolute secrecy. What one member does, all must do." He looks at me closely. "Wayland, I think you're man enough for this. Andrews is a natural. Do you now swear to keep the secret? You can still back out and leave or you can keep our secrets forever."

Colin says solemnly, "I do swear," then nods at me, so I say, "I'm in and my mouth is sealed."

"Good. Tim, you first."

Tim takes a key from his pocket and unlocks a door, going into a dark room. I look around the room we're in. One wall is covered with pictures of leg amputees, some on crutches, a few on peg legs. I wish I had a safe place of my own so I could put up my favorite picture and some I'll take of Colin. A few minutes later I hear a light switch click and the door opens. Tim steps out of the darkness. It takes a moment before I see the change, my mouth drops open. Tim's wearing a hook similar to Colin's on his left arm and has a big smile. "Like?" He asks.

Colin walks over and looks at the plastic part covering Tim's lower arm. "Most convincing. Somewhat larger where the hook attaches, but a sleeve will cover that. You really like pretending like this?"

"Yeah, man. I mean since Walt found out where to get the hook and all it's been a blast. Before, all I could do was keep my hand inside a long sleeve and pretend it was gone."

"Why do you want to pretend?" I ask.

"Cause I've been turned on by amps ever since I was a little guy, arm amps specially. A nice nub of an arm makes a guy sexy as hell. If I'd thought I could of gotten away with it, I'd of told the principal Colin could live with us cause he's such a sexy stud, but my mom would have killed me. You're lucky, Wayland."

I hear Colin gasp and turn to see Walt coming through the door on a real wood peg leg.

"Ta, da!" Walt says with a grin.

"You ? you look great, Walt," I manage to say. He does, with his height, muscular build, and dark handsomeness.

"I say!" Colin says. "If I couldn't see your calf and foot sticking out behind, I'd swear you were real as Tim."

Walt's grin widens. "Think I've got that problem licked. I hope UPS comes this afternoon. How you like our secret?"

"This is a devotee club, then." Colin says.

Tim puts his arm around Colin's shoulders and pulls him close. "Sure is, buddy. And for amps if they're open-minded studs like you."

"I didn't think there was anybody else at school got turned on by amps." I say.

Tim grins at Walt. "Told ya Wayland started drooling the minute he saw Andrews."

Walt looks at me. "Colin's a real amp, so what kind of amp you want to be?"

"I always wanted to have one leg and use crutches. I like your peg leg, too."

Walt looks me in the eyes. "Ever think of having a fake leg?"

I shake my head. "No way. Those things are really expensive."

"You'd look great on one and wearing shorts. Come on in."

He leads us into the dark room and switches on the lights. I come close to fainting from shock, because there are several pairs of crutches of different types, two more wooden peg legs, and a prosthetic leg for someone with a just below knee stump. There are several types of hooks, too.

"How? I mean where did all this come from," I stammer.

Walt winks. "Don't you have a computer?"

"Sure."

"Check out e-Bay under peg leg, prosthesis, prosthetic, wooden leg, amputee, and crutches. Sometimes you can get things really cheap. Those aluminum crutches were only five bucks."

"That's fantastic. I'd get a pair if I had somewhere to keep 'em."

Walt stumps over and puts his arm around me. "Long as you're in this club, you can use anything here, but only here, unless we decide to go out."

"Go out? You ? you go out? I mean in public?"

Tim smiles. "Sure. Not here in town, but over in the city where nobody knows us or cares. That's why Walt's waiting for UPS. He's got a new peg leg coming he can use with his leg folded up so it won't be sticking out behind."

"Here, try these." Walt's holding out a pair of crutches he's shortened to my height. It takes me some time to get used to them, then it's fun holding one leg up and walking around with them.

"Hell, do it right," Walt growls. He pushes me down on the sofa, takes off my right shoe, then drops my jeans and folds my leg up, pulling the jeans back up.

He rolls the empty part of the leg up to my knee and pulls me up. "That looks better."

I find a mirror, and at one angle I do look a real amp. It would be a lot of fun if I could make someone think that. I suddenly find I'm getting a certain amount of arousal from looking at the four of us.

"If the new peg looks the way I hope, we're all going out for a night on the town. You game, Wayland?" Walt asks.

"Yeah! This is great."

"Andrews?"

Colin shrugs. "Nothing new for me. Should I wear my hand?"

Tim and Walt have seen it at school. "Hell, no, your hook."

Colin nods.

"You can show me a lot of things, and I can watch and learn for real." Tim says.

"I wish ?" Walt starts, then a buzzer goes off.

Walt has the peg off in a flash and is taking the inside stairs two at a time. A few seconds later he's back holding a long cardboard box. His smile splits his face. "It's here!" He pulls a knife from his pocket and slits the tape, tossing packing aside. He holds up a wooden peg leg with extensions on either side of the peg having three leather belts attached. He runs into the other room coming back with a wide leather belt. Tim holds Walt's left foot up back against his butt while Walt wraps the belt around his waist and foot and fastens it tightly. I pick up the peg and hand it to him, watching him slip his stump in between the extensions and tightening the leather belts to hold it in place.

He takes a few steps. "How is it?" Tim asks.

"Just a little short. I'll add a piece to the bottom and maybe under my stump too. I'll clean it up tomorrow morning."

He grins at all of us. "Well, dev club, tomorrow for playing around and trying things out?"

Colin looks at me. I shrug. "Long as we're home in time for dinner. I'll have to tell mom where we've been."

"Tell your dad my name. I'll take good care of you and Colin. Real amps and guys who don't freak out at the thought of pretending aren't that easy to find."

"Thanks. We'd better get going."

"Okay, we'll take you." Walt stumps out on his new peg, tossing the keys to Tim. "You drive. I can't with this."

Walt has to push the passenger seat all the way back to get enough room for his peg. Once he's settled, Tim backs out of the drive and takes us home. I'm surprised at how cool Tim seems using the hook as naturally as Colin would.

Mom's putting dinner on the table when we get home. "Where on earth have you been?"

"With a couple of guys from school. We'll tell you about it at dinner." I tell her.

"Then run wash up. Your father's due any moment."

"Your mother says you and Colin were out with a friend all afternoon. Who was it?" My dad asks.

"Walt Whittier. He asked Colin and me over to hear some new CD's he got."

"Whittier?"

"Yes, sir. He said you'd know the name." Colin says.

My dad looks shocked. "Walt Whittier is the general manager and my boss. Isn't his son a senior?"

"Yeah, but he's a good guy. So is his buddy, Tim Turlington."

"Did you say Turlington," my dad asks.

"Yes, sir."

Dad's shock turns to smile. "Turlington, if I've got the right one, is the assistant manager. Your getting to know boys like them is an asset. I'm pleased, son."

They want us to go back tomorrow after school, and maybe out somewhere Friday night."

"Where?"

"I don't know. A movie or something. Maybe just cruise the mall."

"Since Walt is the first friend you've made and you'll have Colin with you, I suppose it's all right. You know what your mother and I expect of you."

"Yes, sir. May we be excused to do our homework?"

Dad smiles at us. "If spending time with the Whittier boy makes you ready to do homework, I hope you'll see a lot of him."

Since Colin is an amp for real, he's not much interested in watching Walt, Tim. and me playing around. He asks Walt a question and Walt puts him in front of his computer and shows him an index. Walt and Tim wrap my folded leg in a long Ace bandage and pull my jeans back up. It's tight around the waist with my foot against my butt. Walt ties a knot in the empty part of my jeans leg which I happen to think is very sexy looking. Tim tells me to wear looser pants the next time, then hands me the crutches. He already has his hook on, and Walt's using his old peg leg. When he comes down from upstairs, he hands each of us a beer.

"Aaaah, I've missed this," Colin says, turning away from the pictures of amputees he's been looking at.

Walt looks surprised. "You have?"

"Quite. My dad and I have a pint at the pub every evening."

"You can do that?"

Colin grins. "I'm old enough at home, but my dad has been slipping me some at home since I was twelve."

"Wow! My old man knows I drink a beer now and then, but it's not legal until we're twenty-one."

"You colonials always have been a bit behind," Colin says with a smirk.

To my surprise Tim hugs him. "Yeah. You even beat me to having one hand."

"Wish we could trade." This is the first time I've heard Colin indicate he wants his hand.

"Me, too." Tim pulls Colin up, sits down in the chair, and pulls Colin back down on his lap, stroking his stump. "Your stump is so sexy. I love it."

Colin grabs Tim's hand and holds out his stump. "To be precise, this is not a stump; it's my arm."

"But you don't have all of it so why's it not a stump?"

"Because I was born this way. It may be incomplete but it's still an arm. If a portion of it had been amputated, then it would be a stump."

"Oh." Tim shrugs and starts to stroke it again. "Arm or stump, I don't care cause it's beautiful. I wish I had one."

"Believe me, you don't."

"You hate having one arm that much?"

"Not really. Since I never had it, I don't even think much about it until I see guys with two arms doing things that are difficult or impossible for me. Then I wish I had been born fully equipped. Why do you want to have just one arm?"

"I don't know, love, it's just the way I am." Tim holds out his left arm. "I don't even use it very much. If the folks aren't home I strap it behind my back and put my shirt on so I can't use it. I feel best when I'm here with Walt and have this hook on. It ? it just feels right and I like trying to use it. I don't know how else to say it."

Walt sees me watching them and grins. "Tim can move fast when he wants. I think we have a romance starting."

"I guess. Colin's really cool."

Walt drops his arm around my shoulder. "You don't have a thing going with him, do you?"

"Not really, just two guys helping each other relieve the pressure. He thinks it's a kick that touching me with his stump gets me off when we're fooling around. He does let me fool around with it some cause I love the way it feels."

"Wish my stump was real. It'd be fantastic to have you stroking it, making love to it and me."

I drop down on the sofa stunned. Walt has been in my dreams ever since we moved here and I saw him, but I know a stud like him has to be straight. He sits down beside me and puts my hand on his knee where it rests on the pad of the peg leg. "Feel as good to you as it does me?"

I stroke it, loving the transition from flesh to wood and getting my usual reaction. "Oh, yeah, man. It's so sexy like the rest of you. I wish you were gay."

His arm goes around me. "What makes you think I'm not?"

"Come on. Every time I see you, you've got some cunt hanging on you, even between classes."

He grins. "Looks like my cover is working just fine. I gotta keep the coach and team convinced I'm the biggest stud around." He squeezes me. "All in the reputation you know. That's why this club is so secret. I mean if anyone saw me pretending it would be almost as bad as having them find out I'm gay." He reaches over and strokes my stump, starting high enough to get a good feel of my package and the instant reaction.

I throw my arms around him and get the kiss I've been wanting then he's gently pushing me away. "I love you, Nick, but this is too fast. Think about what you want just as I will, then we can plan how to be together without anyone catching on." He raises his eyes. "Hey, you two, break it up. This isn't an orgy."

When I look at Tim and Colin, Tim has Colin's shirt and hook off and is madly kissing his stump from end up to shoulder and back. Colin must like it because his eyes are shut and he's moaning softly.

"Damn it, Walt," Tim snarls, "things were getting off to a good start."

Colin looks at us and blushes.

"Sorry, guys, but no orgies in this club, just pretending. Sex you arrange on your own and somewhere else. Now I've got my new peg, I'm gonna practice on it some more. Nick's good enough on crutches and you've picked up a lot from watching Colin, Tim, so what say we make our public debut Friday night?"

"Not here in town?" Tim says.

"Of course not, stupid. We'll drive over to Westridge and have dinner then cruise the mall or something. And we've got to look totally convincing." He grins at Colin. "Looking like a real amp going to be any problem for you?"

Colin throws one of the pillows from the sofa at him.

"Wear some pants that are loose enough in the ass that your foot won't show, Nick. Tim will pick you guys up about five-thirty and bring you here to get ready."

As Colin and I are about to leave, Walt hugs me. "You're going to be a beauty."

After school Friday, Colin and I rush through our homework, then shower and get ready. Tim comes by in Walt's car.

"We're gone," I call to mom and dad. "It may be late when we get in."

"As long as you're in before midnight. Don't wake us when you come in."

"We won't."

Colin has dressed neatly in slacks and a long sleeve shirt after he let me put his hook on for him. It's only the second time he's used the hook since he's been here so I find it fun. I put on baggy cargo slacks and a sport shirt like Walt told me to.

"Colin, you look fantastic!" Walt says. "Come on, Nick, let's make you look as great as Colin."

In a few minutes, Walt has my leg wrapped snugly in a long Ace bandage, my cargo pants back up, and has pinned the empty part up neatly in back to help hide my foot. After I'm on the crutches, he backs off and takes a look. "Turn all the way around," he asks.

"Man! Completely real! This is gonna be a blast!"

"Yeah. Get your peg on and let's go." Tim has put on his hook and looks as real as Colin.

"Had to wait for you to help." Walt drops his Dockers and lies on the bed for Tim to wrap his leg like he did mine, but looser. When it's done, Tim helps Walt up and steadies him while he slips his stump in the peg, neatly folds the empty part of the pants leg underneath, and pulls the straps snug. "How's it look?"

"Awesome!" Tim replies. "You did a great job cleaning it up."

Walt did, for the peg fairly shines as it must have when it was new.

"Why don't you wear it under your pants?" Colin asks. "You could, you know."

Walt reaches over and hugs Colin. "I know, but why hide a nice peg leg like this? You don't ever see one now, except the kind made like a fake leg. Hey! I'm proud of it!" Walt struts a little and I've never seen a sexier sight.

It's nearly an hour's ride into the city. Tim parks in the lot of a nice restaurant. "This is it," Walt announces.

Once we're inside I see it's a better place than I expected. There are a few suppressed gasps when the people see four teens, two with hooks, one on crutches, and one walking proudly on a peg leg.

Despite the attention we get, I relax and enjoy my dinner. Colin seems vastly amused by it all. At first I feel a little self-conscious, but when I mention it to Colin, he says, "Live with it, after a while you won't give a damn like me. My hand never was and wishing wasn't going to make me grow one."

Walt grins. "Good man. You can teach us a lot."

Colin raises his eyebrows. "I rather think you've got the scene covered. There's probably no one in here would guess the three of you are having them on."

Walt pays the check with a credit card and we walk out more at ease than when we entered. The moment we're in the car Walt starts laughing. "Did you guys see the headwaiter's eyes? I thought they were gonna pop out of his head!"

Tim starts laughing, too. "Be glad I had Colin to watch or I'd have screwed up a lot." He looks at Colin. "You're really cool, buddy. The waiter loved your accent, too."

"To the mall, Tim," Walt orders, then looks at me in the backseat. "You doing okay, Nick?"

"Yeah. Nothing's hurting." I shake my head. "At first I thought crutches were easy, but they sure take a lot of energy."

Walt nods. "Until you build up your arms. I want to get a pair of those forearm crutches when I see some cheap enough. They'll really take some work to learn."

"You'll look great on those, Walt," Colin says. "I never see crutches like Nick's in Europe."

We cruise the mall a few times, then I'm ready to sit down and take ten. The rest do, too. The attention grabber is Walt's peg leg sticking straight out in front of him, my crutches along side. Some older people give us sorrowful looks and nod, small kids flatly stare, and one little guy about six pulls away from his mother's hand and climbs onto Tim's lap, holding out his handless left arm.

"See, mine's gone, too," he says.

Tim reaches up with his hand and strokes the kid's stump then hugs him. "I'm sorry, buddy. But maybe you'll get a hook like mine or Colin's."

"I'm so sorry Don bothered you." His mother has come up and is looking at Tim and Colin. "You're the first two young men he's seen using hooks so he had to come see for himself. Come along now, Don, and let these young men enjoy themselves."

"I want to see his hook."

"You've seen it and he's shown you how it opens and closes. You mustn't make a nuisance of yourself."

"I won't do it here, but if you'll let him go into the men's room with me, I'll take my shirt off so he can see the entire prosthesis," Colin says.

"That's far too much trouble, but it's kind of you to offer. You're British, aren't you?"

"I'm an exchange student and I have a most wonderful host family." He puts his hand on my shoulder. "This is my brother while I'm here, and these are our friends. It's a lot of fun, and I'm fortunate to find people like me."

"Mommy, I wanna see his arm."

"I hope you're going to enjoy your stay."

"Mommy, I wanna see his arm."

She looks exasperated as Colin gets up and reaches for the child's hand. "Please. I don't mind in the least and it'll only take a half a mo. The men's room is just there." He points to a nearby alcove.

"Very well. It's either that or listen to him whine all the way home."

Colin has hardly gotten into the men's room with Don when a rent-a-cop comes over. "These kids bothering you, ma'am?"

"Certainly not. We were talking."

"You know these kids?"

"No."

He looks at her in amazement. "And you let one of 'em take your little boy in the men's room?"

"Why, yes ?" She doesn't get to finish because the cop's going to the men's room faster than I thought he could move.

He comes out a moment later, looking embarrassed. "I'm sorry, ma'am. Everything's fine, but sometimes there are child molesters in restrooms in places like this."

"I'm sure, but if you had let me finish, you'd have known that young man was kind enough to show my son his artificial arm. He certainly wasn't going to undress in public."

"Yes, ma'am." The rent-a-cop moves on.

"I suppose I should be thankful one of them is vigilant." She says, sitting down on the end of the bench and looking at Tim. "May I ask how you lost your arm?"

I see Tim thinking fast. After a moment he grins. "Stupidity. I got one of those super power firecrackers when I was nine. The fuse was short and I lit it without throwing it immediately. After it went off there wasn't much left of my hand."

"Oh, dear, I'm so sorry. But there's always something for kids to get into. Don was playing near the wood his father was cutting last fall. He reached for something and the axe came down on his hand. It couldn't be reattached."

"Be thankful it happened while he's so young," Tim tells her.

"Why?"

"It's a lot easier to live without an arm or leg when you grow up that way. It's tough when you're older and know what you're missing."

"I never thought of it that way. I suppose you're right."

"He is," Walt says. "I lost my leg last fall. It's been awfully hard to learn to get around on crutches or this peg. I have a leg, but it needs to be worked on again before it's comfortable."

I wisely keep silent, but she looks at all of us when Colin comes back with Don. "You're such fine brave young men and you've given me something to think about."

"Mommy, Colin's hook is neat. There's cables and a harness and he makes it open by moving his shoulder. He didn't get his hand cut off like I did. He was born that way." He hugs Colin. "Thanks for showing me, Colin."

His mother takes Colin's hand in hers. "Thank you so much for being patient with a little boy."

Colin grins and ruffles Don's hair. "Oh, he's no trouble at all. I'm glad I could show him a prosthetic arm and how it works. He paid close attention."

"Oh, good. Perhaps he'll let us get him one now. The man we saw at the hospital wasn't at all understanding or patient with a child Don's age."

When she and Don have moved on, we get up and make another round of the mall as the closing bells are ringing.

"Have fun, guys?" Walt asks when we're on the way back home.

I sure did," Tim says. "Man, we fooled everybody. I wasn't sure how you'd be on that peg leg, Walt. It's different from the other one."

"It's not as easy to use with my leg doubled up, but it wasn't any trouble. How about you, Nick?"

"I'm okay I guess. I'm tired of the crutches and I haven't felt anything in my leg for a couple of hours now. Hope it don't hurt when I take it down."

"That's okay. I'll put you in my whirlpool if it does."

While we're getting out of our pretending get-ups, Colin looks at all of us with a smirk. "All you fake amputees had enough fun now?"

Suddenly I feel like a fool. My leg's not working, but I hop over to him and hug him. "I'm sorry, Colin. Us pretending when you're for real was kind of stupid, wasn't it?"

He hugs me back. "It's no big turn-on for me, but not if you learned something that'll help you sometime. I am glad I was there to help the kid. He's really cute."

"I am, too," Tim says. "No way I could have shown him my hook. He was a cute little guy, though."

I use the crutches to get to the tub and turn the hot water on, feeling it loosen the muscles and slowly the turbulent jets of water brings feeling back into my leg. Walt's joined me and groans as he stretches his leg out. I get to see his awesome build and nice package. As soon as I can, I get out before I betray myself. He's really the stud I thought he was.

I'm back in Walt's bedroom just in time to see Colin pull the hook off Tim's hand and set it on the bed. Tim grabs him and kisses him. Colin's arms go around Tim and he returns the kiss. I'm suddenly grabbed from behind and spun around to be kissed soundly by Walt. "No need for them to have all the fun," he whispers as I kiss him back.

As soon as we're home and ready for bed, Colin says, "Sleep with me tonight. I need you and we need to work things out."

After we've satisfied our needs, I lay back with Colin in my arms and try to remember when I've had a better day.

"Nick, I have no wish to upset you, but I've fallen hard for Tim."

"I thought you loved me." I say, half teasing.

"I do, but like a brother. That's why I won't feel like I'm cheating on Tim when we make it together." He strokes my chest with the end of his stump. "I know you like Walt a lot. Do you love him?"

I hug Colin closer. "Yeah. I've been in love with him since my first day at school, but I thought he was straight. I love you, too, but like you're my brother. It would be great if I'd fallen for you, but I'm glad we love guys who like each other and are fun to be with. You sure it doesn't make you feel funny or something when we're pretending?"

"I don't mind. It seems a bit odd, especially when Walt says he wants to find a way to get his leg cut off for real without having to answer a lot of questions."

I can see in my mind's eye Walt with one leg. He's so handsome on his crutches with the stump hanging down I have my reaction and feel Colin move away slightly when I poke him gently.

"I say, not so soon! Does the idea of Walt having one leg do that to you?"

'Yeah," I mumble, embarrassed at being found out.

"And playing with my arm?"

"Yeah. Seeing or touching a stump always does."

I hear Colin giggle. "You can play with my arm any time Tim's not around. I think he'll give brothers that much."

The End

Posted: 01/28/11