In spite of the
quivering tenseness in his arms Dick Jones lifted himself with
surprising ease from the hospital bed into the shining chrome wheelchair.
The incredible lightness of his body was disconcerting ... that was an
aspect of being legless he had not thought of. As he slid back into the
chair he noticed that his "legs" did not even reach the edge of the seat.
He had not asked how long his stumps were but now he estimated them at
about six inches. They were exactly equal in length and symmetrical in
the blunt roundness with which they terminated.
As the handsome
youth began getting into his clothing his thoughts turned strangely
backward rather than ahead into the unknown future. He was struck by how
lacking in the usual aspects of tragedy the whole thing had been. There
had been almost no pain since he had been mercifully unconscious from
the moment his sports car left the road until he had awakened in the
hospital to find both his long, muscular legs gone except for short,
useless half-thighs. Drugs had controlled the pain of the severed nerves,
muscles and bones until the healing was well underway.
Dick was still
somewhat perplexed at his reaction to the knowledge that he was now,
and forever, legless. That he was only just 23, exceedingly good looking
and classed by the society columnists as a "wealthy playboy" should
only have made him feel the loss even more; but strangely Dick felt a
curious anticipation and excitement, as though the adventure that lay
ahead distracted him from feeling the impact of his loss. There had been
dark moments, of course, many of them. When he thought of the dancing,
tennis and hiking he enjoyed so much ... when he thought of the
prospects of always being physically inferior to the other fellows in
his crowd for the first time in his life ... and particularly when he
thought of the beautiful girls who had been so much a part of his life,
Dick sank into a black numbness. But always these thoughts had been
brief, the despair transitory ... the nagging awareness of the novelty
of his future life made him almost anxious to leave the hospital and
fact the world again, now without feet or legs, without the power to
stand or walk.
The young man
wondered if his curious acceptance of his new condition stemmed from the
curiosity he had long felt about amputees. Many times, seeing one on the
street, Dick had pondered the sensation of being an amputee ...
wondering what it was like to have a stump, a dull-ended appendage that
could only paw at things clumsily or dangle uselessly from his hip. Now
he was experiencing the sensation of being an amputee on a frightening
scale for he had not just one, but two useless stumps. As he thrust them
now into the tops of his pant legs, the feeling of the material pulling
across the sensitive scarred tips was unlike anything in his experience.
The empty pant legs collapsed limply against the seat of the wheelchair
and dangled from the edge.
Calling a nurse
Dick procured a couple of safety pins and soon the legs were folded
twice, due to the shortness of his stumps, and pinned at the waist. It
suddenly occurred to the youth that shoes and socks were no longer
required to complete his dress.
As Dick wheeled his
abbreviated body toward the door he found
himself quivering with a combination of fear, embarrassment
and excitement. He was going out in the world for the first time as a
legless young man.
The doorbell rang just as Dick was slipping into the lower
half of a pair of black silk lounging pajamas. Leaving the long legs
dangling he quickly hoisted himself into his wheelchair and rolled to
the door. When he had it open he was startled to find a most attractive
girl smiling down at him. He remembered her name was Marie, and he had
met her at the home of a friend at a party a few days previous. He had
wondered at her manner then ... Marie had not had pity in her voice but
seemed strangely interested in him and had spent the bulk of the evening
near him. Though she had not commented on his leglessness he caught her
glance resting frequently on the short blunt remnants of his thighs. He
had been embarrassed but curiously aroused by his very embarrass- ment.
Now, before he could speak, Marie stepped into the room and
greeted him cheerily. "I understand you require all your visitors to
remove their shoes in your apartment." It was a statement rather than a
question and as she spoke she pulled the sandals from her small feet and
padded on into the room ahead of him.
"Yes, I keep a Japanese style home. I'm on the floor quite a
bit, so I try to keep it as clean as possible."
"I think it's a great idea ... the carpet feels wonderful."
Marie stopped and wiggled her sun-tanned toes in the luxuriant
deeppiled rug. "It's too bad you can't walk barefoot on it ... or does
it feel as nice on your stumps?"
startling frankness stunned Dick for a second and before he could answer
Marie dropped gracefully onto some cushions beside the low coffee table
and continued, "Come on down on the floor ... I know it must be more
comfortable than that wheelchair." As Dick obliged by lowering his
legless torso to the floor and with a shove sending the wheelchair
rolling into a corner, the girl went on, "I think your place is
Dick ... in fact, you know, I came over nearly as much to see
it as to see you." There was a twinkle in her eye as she spoke.
"Well, I got a little tired of always looking up at people and
besides a wheelchair is a little cumbersome around the house so I had
this place designed for what I call 'floor level' living. Anyone else
coming here just has to adapt to it. All the appliances and fixtures
are low and as you can see, bookcases, such furniture as there is,
everything is accessible from the floor."
"You just scoot around on your hands all the time, then?"
Marie wanted to know.
"That's right. I don't have too much to lift, as you can see."
Dick was surprised to find himself speaking so casually about his lack
of legs to this lovely creature.
"You didn't answer
my question about how it felt to drag your stumps along on this
wonderful soft carpet." Marie was sitting with her knees drawn up and
rubbing her feet back and forth on the pile as she spoke. Dick's empty
pajama legs had been drawn back under him as he lowered himself from his
chair and were drawn taut across the blunt ends of his stubs. Before he
could think of an answer Marie extended one small nude foot and rested
it lightly on the stump of his right leg and then rubbed it gently
across the silk covering the sensitive tip of the nubbin. Dick's head
swam at both the shock of this action and the strange exhilaration it
gave him. He grasped the girl's foot with his
hand and said in a tight whisper, "It doesn't feel nearly as
... as nice as having them caressed."
Marie slid over beside him and putting her face close to his
she whispered back, "Then you shall have them caressed all you like."
Her left hand dropped to the nearest stump and began softly stroking it.
"Don't feel strange with me, Dick, I want you to know that you are more
attractive to me than any man with legs could ever be."
A sense of elation swept through the crippled young man. He
did not ask Marie to explain her rather strange statement; he seemed to
almost intuitively understand that this was no expression of pity, but
rather that Marie experienced feelings akin to his own reactions to
leglessness. Where he felt a tingling excitement that seemed centered in
his blunt-ended stumps when they were touched physically or by the
glances of others, Marie apparently enjoyed a parallel if not duplicate
feeling engendered by looking at them or touching them. Dick found a
stimulation and a paradoxical sensation of pleasurable sadness linked
to the limitations and frustrations arising from his lack of legs or
feet and heightened by the unique posturing and motions that were a
necessary part of his commonplace activities. Marie, he sensed,
vicariously shared in these novel sensations. The discovery of this
unexpected kinship was the pot of gold at the end of Dick's private
rainbow, the triumphant climax of the half-understood longings that had
been with him as long as he could remem- ber and that had become
anticipations since the amputations that had deprived him of his legs.
Dick clasped the girl in his arms and kissed her with a
passion he had never experienced before. In the midst of the kiss a moan
welled up in his throat and his head swam as he felt Marie's hand on the
bare flesh of his right stump. She had worked her arm up into the
dangling pajama leg and now gently kneaded and stroked the soft flesh
and traced the amputation scar with her finger. Marie freed herself from
the youth's grasp and he sat tensely still as she slowly and
deliberately drew back the silk material baring both the blunt stubs.
His stumps quivered as the severed muscles involuntarily contracted at
the girl's touch. Marie looked at the foreshortened legs for several
seconds, then slipping one hand under each, she bent down and pressed
her warm, full lips firmly against one and then the other. When she
raised her lovely face it wore a tender smile. "Now are you satisfied
that I like your little stumps?" she asked, with a pixie wink.
From that time on Marie would not permit Dick to cover his
stumps when she was alone with him. Clever with a needle, she made
several pairs of "trousers" for him which were little more than briefs,
leaving the full length of his short stubbies completely bare. Dick wore
them with expensively tailored sport shirts and looked "disgustingly
handsome," as Marie put it, albeit a bit unusual with his abbreviated
body in the abbreviated outfit.
For herself, Marie wore leotards, tight fitting jersey capris,
or black opera hose with snug briefs. These costumes were designed to
accentuate the long perfection of her legs in contrast with the useless,
blunt fragments that were all her lover had. She would pirouette around
the apartment while Dick took in every detail of the smooth rippling
muscles of the suntanned limbs. Then she would drop to the floor beside
him and the two would clutch at each other hungrily. Marie almost
constantly fondled his stumps and pressed kisses upon them nearly as
much as on his lips.
Then one day Marie
swept into the apartment with a strange look
on her face. No sooner had she bent down and kissed Dick than
she slipped off her skirt revealing snug shorts.
"Darling," she began seriously, "I think I understand you
better as an amputee than anyone. But you know, lately I've been wanting
more and more to somehow share with you the feeling of being legless
... not able to stand up or walk or even cross your legs. So I've
decided to do something about it." She reached into her bag and produced
what looked like four extra heavy leather belts, backed with soft felt.
She laid them out on the floor in two parallel rows of two each. Then
the lovely young girl dropped to her knees on the belts and sank back on
her bare heels.
"I got the idea from that little cart you strap yourself on
for scooting around the kitchen when you want to carry things on your
* * * * * *
In spite of the active social life that Dick pursued, largely
in the company of Marie, he began to feel restless. Also he wondered if
the smooth pattern of his life wasn't "spoiling" him. The specially
adapted apartment, where people with legs were at a disadvantage, and
the techniques he and Marie had adapted for minimizing the inconvenience
of his leglessness threatened to make him incapable of coping with
difficulties of being without legs in a society of two-legged people.
And, Dick noted, he was also losing some of the bittersweet excitement
engendered by his unique situation. Consequently, he was thrilled when
Marie agreed to join him on an extended tour abroad.
On the liner steaming across a calm Pacific toward Hawaii the
beautiful girl pushed her legless lover from place to place in his
wheelchair, and in every other way was helpful to him. The attractive,
but somewhat tragic couple, so far as other passengers were concerned,
was the main topic of shipboard con- versation and drew many curious
glances and flagrant stares, as they gaily moved about the ship, Marie
striding gracefully on long, slim legs... Dick rolling along in the
metal chair that had replaced his legs. From his rather low vantage
point the legless boy was very much aware of the legs that seemed to
surround him. Suntanned youthful legs, sinuous and curvaceous legs,
strong muscular legs ... long legs, short legs, thin and fat legs, but
all serving their possessors in unconscious servitude as they carried
them about the decks, raised them from chairs, moved them fluidly over
the dance floor, or propelled them through the water of the pool. Dick
was acutely conscious of the short, thick nubs that shifted on the seat
of the wheel-chair occasionally as though reminding themselves of their
Attired in tailored shorts and a "loud" sport shirt, the
legless lad lay on a deck lounge next to the now bronze-skinned figure
of his companion one day when he happened to glance down at the unused
length of the lounge that would have accommodated his legs if he had had
more than the short stubs whose tips protruded from his shorts. Looking
across at Marie, who was also in white duck shorts and wearing a halter
across her lush breasts, he was struck by the contrast. Though Marie was
a short girl her perfectly contoured legs looked incredibly long
stretched out on the lounge. Dick again felt the full impact of being
imprisoned in an amputated body. He quickly swung himself into the
wheelchair that stood beside him and said to his companion, surprising
himself as much as her, "Let's go swimming."
After changing into
trunks, which exposed the blunt, cut-off ends of his stubs for the first
time since starting the cruise, Dick
wheeled himself to the pool edge where Marie waited with an
apprehensive look on her face. "How can you swim, Dick, with no legs to
"Well, remember," he smiled, "I don't have very much to keep
Dick locked the wheels of his chair, leaned forward til one
hand rested on the concrete lip of the pool, and swung his legless torso
gracefully down from the chair. Just then a small boy of about eight
stepped up to him and without any hesitation asked, "Why haven't you got
any legs, mister?"
Dick looked up at youngster, smiled, and then reached out and
affectionately gripped one of the boy's sturdy, suntanned legs, then
without a word, swung on his hands to the edge of the pool and launched
himself into the water.
* * * * * *#
It was only two days after arriving in Hawaii that Dick looked
up from the broiled lobster he and Marie were enjoying in the hotel
dining room to see a lovely, dark haired Polynesian girl approaching
their table. The girl, about 16, Dick thought, would have attracted
attention anywhere for her exotic beauty, which already had the ripeness
of womanhood, but what caused the diners to stare sadly rather than
admiringly at her was the fact that she was on crutches, her full skirt
swirling with each step about a single slim leg. The legless boy envied
the young girl the grace she displayed, for even on crutches she seemed
to float across the floor, the rhythm of her swinging gait a sort of
macabre mockery of island gracefulness. Her one tiny foot seemed to come
to rest so lightly it was almost a surprise to see that the deep pile of
the carpet was depressed.
Dick and Marie exchanged a puzzled glance when they realized
the one-legged girl was coming to their table. They smiled and said
hello when she stopped and looked shyly from one to the other. Her voice
was as sweet and lovely as her dark beauty when she introduced herself
as Leah Martin.
"Mr. Jones, I
wonder if you would permit me to visit you
later ... I would like to ask your advice on some things."
Noting the girl's nervousness Dick pressed for no details,
though he did wonder what a one-legged girl could expect to learn from a
legless man whose life, in probably every respect, was quite different.
He expected she wanted to discuss generalities about the broad subject
of "being handicapped" which, he felt, probably would have little value
to her other than the value of a sympathetic ear. He told the girl he
would be in his room in a half hour and she might call on him there. She
murmured her thanks and pivoted on her one foot and crutched back to her
table where Dick saw an older couple, obviously Leah's parents.
Later, as Dick in his wheelchair and Marie on the divan in
Dick's suite, were enjoying cocktails, a light knock indicated their
young visitor's arrival. Spinning about in his chair, Dick wheeled his
legless torso to the door and admitted the girl on crutches. When she
had lowered herself to the divan and propped her crutches beside her
Dick and Marie saw from the way her skirt fell flatly to the divan on
the right side that Leah's leg had been cut off very high. The soft
material outlined a rounded shape that went straight down to the surface
of the cushion, without the slightest hint of a protrusion in front.
The three young people chatted aimlessly for several minutes
in the way people have of establishing communication lines before
turning to serious business. Leah's nervousness left her very quickly
but Dick noticed that her one lonely and very shapely leg waved from
side to side and the foot tapped lightly on the carpet. Catching his
glance, Leah laughed and said, "Although I've been one-legged more than
a year I still often feel the impulse to cross my legs. I can't, of
course, since I have nothing to cross it over, so I just wiggle it like
"I know what you mean," Dick said. "I still try to cross my
legs even though I know it can't be done since my stumps are too short
to make one stay on the other."
Island music was softly issuing from the speaker on the wall,
a service of the hotel, and Marie turned to Leah, saying, "I've always
wanted to learn to Hula ... I bet you used to do it, didn't you, Leah?
"I still do ... would you like me to show you?" was the
"Well ... uh ... sure!"
Reaching down and pulling off the slipper from her single tiny
foot, the Hawaiian girl said, "You'll have to take off your shoes and
stockings. The Hula is only danced barefoot."
Marie promptly kicked off her shoes and pulled up her skirt,
displaying her two lovely long legs. Dick watched with fascination as
she unhooked the garters and peeled the dark, sheer nylons he liked so
much down the evenly tanned legs. Leah's face wore a look of envy and
one hand dropped unconsciously down to the rounded end of her empty hip.
Marie stood up, Dick rolled his chair back, and Leah pushed herself
erect and wavered a moment as she sought her balance on her one bare
foot. Leaving her crutches behind, she hopped to the center of the room
and began the lesson.
"The Hula is done mostly with the hands and the hips so two
legs aren't really essential. Do it like this, Marie, and take tiny
steps with your feet close together and then turn slowly. I'm sorry but
I can't demonstrate that part," she grinned. Then Leah, with incredible
grace, began following the music with fluid motions of her hands while
her slim hips swayed rhythmically. Dick noticed that the hip motion
caused the girl's skirt to swing, outlining the short nubbin of her
amputated leg. Occasionally she took little hops to maintain her
balance, but all in all it was a beautiful performance. The legless lad,
imprisoned helplessly in his wheelchair, was pressing his fingers into
the soft flesh of his leg stumps as he watched the two girls with their
three legs, the only legs in the room, in the strangely exciting and
Soon Marie, her muscles unaccustomed to the motions required
by the dance, dropped wearily onto the divan. Leah, though she had been
balanced all the while on her one foot, showed no signs of fatigue but
with a smile, hopped gracefully back to the couch and sat. Some of her
earlier nervousness seemed to return and Dick noticed the small toes of
her lonely bare foot were curling against the soft pile of the carpet.
He decided it was time to learn what had brought the one-legged girl to
Leah anticipated him, however, and spoke quietly. "I came to
see you, Mr. Jones ... Dick... because I thought maybe you could give
me some pointers on ... on getting along with no legs."
"Well, I'd be glad to, but ... why should you want to know,
"Because, you see, the day after tomorrow I go into the
hospital to have my leg cut off."
Marie gasped and Dick was speechless. Leah went on, "I lost my
right leg about a year ago riding a motorcycle with my boyfriend. My
left leg wasn't injured, as far as anyone could tell, but a few weeks
ago it became very sore. My doctor x-rayed it and found a growth in my
thigh--about here." She indicated a spot about halfway up her thigh.
"Sure enough, it's malignant. So ... off comes my other leg. Friday ...
well, I'll be legless like you."
After Dick had recovered his composure he talked as
matter-offactly as he could about some of the "secrets" he had learned
of successful living without legs. Though he seemed to succeed in some
measure, to allay the girl's fears by answering her questions ...
questions she would have found difficulty in even voicing to anyone
else, he knew that no amount of conversation could duplicate the many
strange sensations that awaited her. Even though Leah had experienced
the feeling of having her movements restricted by the absence of part
of her young body; even though she knew the feeling of new physical
sensation engendered by the loss of a familiar portion of her anatomy,
he knew that losing the other leg would not be just a repetition of the
reactions to the loss of the first. The shortening of total body
length, the abrupt alteration in balance, the strangeness of never
feeling the contact of a foot with the ground and, perhaps most
important, never again standing or walking, perpetually sitting; sitting
and looking up at the world.
The next day Dick and Marie shopped for a wheelchair, one like
Dick's, without footrests, which neither he nor Leah could ever use, but
of smaller size considering her petite figure. They delivered the
shining chrome symbol of Leah's tragedy to her home and then hurried to
the airport to catch the flight they had previously scheduled to Papete.
After a glorious two weeks in that "Paradise of the Pacific"
they returned to Honolulu and immediately after settling in the hotel
they drove out to Leah's home. Marie pushed the legless boy in his
wheelchair up to the door of the low bungalow and knocked. They heard no
sound of footsteps from within but the door swung open ... and Dick his
glance unconsciously turned upward, dropped his gaze and looked directly
into the dark eyes of the lovely Leah, who sat before him now, as she
would always sit, in the wheelchair that would carry her rolling through
life. She had stood erect and walked for the last time.
Dick thought there was something of paleness about her
normally golden-hued skin but she wore a warm smile as she greeted the
couple. Leah rolled her chair back from the door and Dick wheeled
himself in. Marie felt exaggeratedly tall as she stood looking down at
the two in their wheelchairs ... and she felt strangely left out.
Somehow she was now a "third party."
As Leah fired
questions about their trip to Tahiti Dick adjusted himself to her
altered appearance. Though he had had to accustom himself to a new body
image not too long before, he still found it hard to believe that the
once graceful one-legged girl who had danced a hula in his room how sat
before him as a tiny legless torso. Her flowered skirt draped down over
the front of her hips and lay smooth and flat over the unused front
portion of the seat of the chair, and then cascaded several inches
toward the floor. Leah caught his glance and stopped talking. Plucking
nervously at the emptiness of her skirt below her slim hips she said
"We're a pair now, Dick."
While Marie looked on, Dick spent the afternoon showing Leah
how to maneuver her wheelchair and for many days after the legless pair
worked on the problems of living without legs.
When Leah's new amputation had healed completely and lost its
painful sensitivity they started on the active part of the program...
getting from wheelchair to floor and back, swinging along the floor on
her hands, getting in and out of the bathtub, and many more things that
now had to be learned or relearned. A skirt was a hindrance for many
activities so when he arrived one day he suggested to Leah that she put
From the bedroom she talked to him as she changed. "One thing
I don't think I'll ever master is the problem of balance, Dick. When I
lean forward a little or even if I just reach suddenly for something I
start to fall over. When I got up this morning I resolved to spend the
whole morning out of my wheelchair and you know, just sitting still on
the floor without anything at my back I felt unsteady."
"That's strange, Leah, I have never felt that way ... I just
... well, I guess my stumps support and balance me. I never thought
about it much."
Just then Leah appeared in the doorway and rolled slowly
toward him. "Well, then I guess I never will get over that problem
because my stumps don't give me much help."
Dick had to suppress a gasp. The shorts Leah was wearing were
very short. They were cut like the bottom of a swim suit. For the first
time Dick saw the tiny rounded ends that were all that remained of the
slim, youthful legs the girl had once been very proud of. She had almost
no stumps at all. Dick had known they had to be short but under a skirt
it had not appeared as short as he now saw they were. She had really
nothing more than rounded out-swellings. Dick looked down at his own
short stubs and for the first time regarded them thankfully. He had
often called them "useless" ... now he realized that those remnants of
thighs were a great help to him in many ways, including the simple act
of sitting. He felt sad to think that Leah, for the rest of her life,
would be even more handicapped than himself. She would never be able to
forget the absence of her legs because the simplest acts would be
complicated by the lack of them.
* * * * * *
One morning, three weeks after returning from the hospital
Leah awoke, as always, to the music of the birds who gathered in the
small garden outside her window. An observer would have seen a lovely
sight. The sunlight danced in a dappled pattern across the bed and the
tiny figure in it. He might have noticed nothing unusual at first as the
lovely girl pushed herself up to a sitting position, causing the light
cover to fall away from her body. He would have seen that she was
unusually lovely, for Leah, in the tropical fashion, slept nude and the
graceful lines of her body and the golden tone of her skin spoke of
features of her face contorted prettily in a yawn and she raised her
hands and ran the slim fingers through the glossy black hair. Then she
extended her arms upward in a sinuous stretch. Suddenly the girl gave a
small cry and fell over backward on the pillow. The reason became
apparent for the movement had brought her completely free of the
bedclothes and it could be seen that her physical perfection ended just
below her gently
Raising herself up again, Leah stared down at the blunt end of
her body where once there had been long and lovely legs. She was
reminded even this early in the day that her her empty bottom was of no
help to her. She was literally a legless torso.
These thoughts brought a sudden look of alarm to her face and
she abruptly turned her head to look at the spot where her chrome
wheelchair normally stood glittering in the slanting rays of the sun.
Yes, it was really gone. A quiver ran through the young girl as she
remembered the agreement she had made with Dick. He had persuaded her
that she would only acquire real mastery of her legless body if she
freed herself from dependence on the convenient wheelchair. So she had
agreed that for one week her chair might be locked up inaccessible to
her so she could not weaken in her resolve. That week began today, and
she knew there was no choice but to begin her daily activities depending
only on her hands and arms to lift her from place to place.
Visibly setting her jaw, Leah dropped face down on the bed and
lowered her hands over the edge til they rested on the floor. "Walking"
them forward she dragged her legless body off the bed till it swung
downward. Keeping her shoulders hunched and the tiny empty hips slightly
flexed her body hung suspended between her arms until she lowered it to
the floor. Leah felt grateful for the thick shag rug that had always
felt so good on her bare feet. Now that she had no feet she found it
felt equally luxurious to her soft, bare bottom.
By placing her
hands ahead of her like a pair of crutches and swinging her legless hips
through them she made her way into the adjoining bathroom and to the
side of the tub. She looked up at the shower nozzle and thought again of
how useless it now was to her since she could no longer stand under the
spray and it would
only wet her hair if she used it in her permanent sitting
Reaching over the
edge of the tub she started the water running for her bath, then lifted
herself back to the sink. She pulled a bath stool into place and with
one hand grasping the edge of the sink and the other braced on the stool
she swung herself up onto the stool. She could now reach the things on
top of the cabinet, including her toothbrush and the other items
necessary for the beginning of her morning routine. By the time she
finished with everything the tub was full. She swung down off the stool