The house itself was an old
farmhouse, a two story wooden building that had seen better days. It was
freshly painted though, and looked cheerful. Beyond the house, the barn
and corn crib could use some repair but still looked like they were
usable. The dirt and gravel driveway back from the highway ended in a
circle in front of the house.
I had been assigned the story. The news director of the cable station
where I worked had heard about this place where some women with
disabilities were living together in a supportive environment and
thought it would make a good soft news piece.
So here I was, hot summer day with notebook in hand, to do the advance
work. The station had called ahead and I had done this kind of thing
before. It was mostly a matter of finding out who the good interview
people were, making contact with the people who run the place and
setting up a schedule for the following week.
I parked to the side of the circle and walked over to the house. Like
most farm houses the most used entrance was in back. One thing struck
me. The news director had said these were women with disabilities, but
both the back door and the front porch had steps. Not a ramp in sight. I
figured that these folks must not be very disabled. No sign of
wheelchair tracks or anything like that. I knocked at the back door.
A minute later the knob slowly turned and a tall, lean woman in her
thirties opened the door. She had reddish orange hair and was wearing
jeansand an aqua tank top. Both of her arms ended just below the elbow.
"Hi!" she said with a smile. She had a nice face, tanned from the sun
and the look of a healthy, outdoors person. "You Mr. Jennings from the
"Yes, hello," I said and automatically stuck out my hand in greeting.
woman looked at me kind of puzzled. She looked down at her arms and back
up to me.
"Most people don't offer to shake hands" she said. "I appreciate it.
Thanks." And she held out the end of her right arm. There was a little
butterfly tattooed just below the elbow on her little nub of forearm. I
was shaken but I had made the offer and certainly couldn't back out now.
I took the tip of her arm in hand and shook it as if it were a hand. The
skin was warm and just a little rough, like a working man's hands.
"My name's Melissa Banning," she said. "Most of the girls call me Missy.
Come on in!"
I followed her through a porch filled with farm hand tools, paint cans,
odds and ends and a few pairs of work boots and into the kitchen. The
smells of a summer farm kitchen came my way: the aromas of fresh
vegetables and the vinegar and spice smells of canning.
"Mr. Jenning's here, girls," she announced. "I'm sorry," she turned back
to me "What's your first name?"
"Steve." We stepped into the kitchen.
"Steve Jennings. He's the one we agreed could come and maybe do a TV
about the place here. Some of the girls are still out in the field," she
said to me, "but they should be back shortly. Meantime, let me introduce
you to Janice," she said, waving a stubby arm toward a girl standing by
the sink. Janice was a little older than Missy, with short dusty blond
hair and was standing on one leg. The other was missing well above the
knee and she had her overall leg cut off revealing the tip of the stump.
As she turned I realized her left hand was only a little pad at the end
of her forearm. She
reached out, hopped a half step and we shook hands. She smiled and
quietly returned to her duties at the sink.
"And this is Betsy," Missy continued, indicating a woman with short dark
hair, sitting at the kitchen table slicing cucumbers with one hand and
an upper arm stump. Betsy waved and swiveled in the chair. She slid
down, and began to waddle over to me on stumps of legs that were only a
few inches long. Her movement was made even more curious by the swaying
of a gigantic bosom that under her oversized T-shirt seemed to be free
of any attempt at restraint. "Gonna do a freak show video?" she asked,
as she reached up for my hand.
"Uh, I beg your pardon?"
"I'm sorry," she said. "It's just that we're a little sensitive about
our disabilities, at least I am."
"We are protective of our image," Missy broke in . "That's one reason
we agreed to talk with you. We want to make sure that if we agree to
appear on TV we'll be seen a people, not a bunch of oddities."
"Well, one thing I can say, " I responded, "is you'll have to approve
whatever we do before it goes on the air. If you think it's
inappropriate or misrepresents you, we'll either change it to suit you
or cancel the piece. Is that OK?" I was lucky to have my response
prepared. My head was starting to spin and the statement I gave at every
interview came easily.
"That sounds OK to me," came a voice from the back porch. A younger,
red haired girl kicked off her boots and strode into the kitchen. She
wasn't wearing anything above the waist except a broad smile. She was
" I got the supplement all set out in the barn. Hi! You the TV guy? I'm
Amy." It was clear from her glorious tan that Amy customarily went
topless. Her blue-green eyes sparkled.
"Hey," she chirped, "am I going to have to wear a shirt or something for
"That's one of many things we'll have to talk about, Amy," Missy said.
"Let's go in the parlor and sit down. I've got a lot of questions and
I'm sure Mr. Jennings does too."
"I gotta wash up," said Amy and disappeared down the hall.
"Shall I bring that lemonade?" asked Janice.
"Yes, please. Oh, and see if Donna's on her way in, too, would you?"
"Right. What about Courtney?"
There was a hush. Missy looked down at the floor then turned to Janice.
"Talk to her. See what you think. She's come a long way, but it's up to
"Courtney?" I asked, taking a seat on a blue velvet Victorian settee.
"Courtney's a basket case," Betsy said swinging her ponderously
top-heavy body up onto a wing chair near the window.
"Betsy!" said Missy, sharply.
"Well she is. She can't do hardly anything for herself, for heaven sake!
And she's, what, 21, 22 years old?"
Missy just stared at Betsy. "Maybe I'd better explain to Mr. Jennings
how this place is set up, why we're all here and what our goals are."
"That would be helpful," I agreed, getting out a pencil. "And you can
call me Steve, OK?"
"Thank you, Steve. A woman named Donna Gilman, who should be here
shortly, and I bought this farm two years ago with the expressed
purpose of making it a place where women with physical limitations could
realize their fullest physical potential, away from stares and social
restraints. By doing so, it was, and is, our goal to bring our
self-esteem and self confidence up to a point where we're on the same
level, both socially and economically as other women.
"Yes. People generally don't realize it, but most people with physical
differences put even greater limitations on themselves by thinking of
themselves as less worthy than those around them. 'can't do this, can't
do that...nobody wants to date a cripple, can't dance'...that sort of
thing. What we're doing here is replacing those attitudes with
self-confidence and a positive self image."
"That sounds admirable. Now, that girl who came in late, Amy? She seems
to have a pretty good self image."
"Amy does. She's been here over a year now, and..."
"And what?" Amy appeared at the parlor entryway. She had changed into
pink shorts and sandals. Still topless, her firm young bosom jutted
boldly out before her.
"Oh, hi Amy. Have a seat. We were just talking about how we try to
improve self-confidence and Mr. Jennings thought yours was good."
"Thanks. It wasn't when I came, though," she said, plopping down next to
me on the settee. "I was really a scardy cat. See, all my life I'd been
treated like a helpless cripple. They...my folks...strapped plastic arms
on my so I'd look like other kids and they just held be back. I couldn't
make them do anything and they hurt, too. They fed me and did everything
for me and so I really and truly believed I was a total cripple. Then
when I got to be a teen-ager I started to develop...you know..." she
shook her chest back and forth..."but right away they strapped that up,
too. Totally useless, right?"
I was puzzled, but nodded. Her bright pink nipples were fully erect and
seemed to be reaching out for something.
"I was really down on myself and then I heard about Missy opening the
farmand got word to her that I wanted to come."
"What made you think that things would be better for you here?"
"The ground rules. Did you explain about the 'no wheelchair, no
prosthetics' rule, Missy?"
"Yeah, tell him about the rules," Betsy chimed in. "That no wheelchair
thing really slowed me down at first but I'm doing better, aren't I?"
"Betsy, you've improved tremendously."
"No wheelchairs?" I asked.
"That was Donna's idea and I think it's worked out quite well." Missy
explained. "I had never worn prosthetics myself, and it occurred to both
of us that the people who came here should learn to be independent of
mechanical aids and become confident in their own bodies. The idea of
being 'confined to a wheelchair' is the sort of thing we wanted to
overcome. Take Betsy for example. When she first got here," Missy said,
"she couldn't even stand up. She'd never even tried to use her legs and
they were pitifully weak. But she didn't give up and now walks quite
"I'm OK indoors. My butt's too close to the ground to be any good
outdoors." She looked down.
"That reminds me, Bets, You have milk barn duty starting Monday."
"One step at a time, right?" Betsy looked up.
"That's another rule," Janice said hopping in with a tray of lemonade,
glasses and cookies. "Progress at your own pace, but you has to show
progress." She hopped easily, softly, not endangering the pitcher of
lemonade or glasses. "I had trouble doing without my crutches at first
but not now. Leaves both of my hands free to do my chores."
"That's another rule," Amy piped up. "' Don't restrict yourself. Let
everything you have be free to work.'. That's why I don't wear a top
now, except in the winter if it really gets cold." She leaned forward
and hunching her little shoulders, cupped a glass of lemonade between
her breasts. "I guess it looks pretty funny but it's my way of doing
some things I never could do before. See?" and she lifted the glass.
"Here, hold this a sec, will you?"
I did my best to keep my hand from shaking as I took the glass from
between her breasts.
"Thanks," she said and curled one leg under her, and raised the other
leg, putting her foot on the edge of the seat.
"OK, Gimme!" she said holding her chest out to me. I replaced the glass
and she hugged it in her bosom, turned and rested the glass on her knee.
"There," she said. All set. I can do stuff with my feet, too, but who
wants smelly feet on the table, right?"
"Show off," muttered Betsy, and slid down off her chair and waddled over
to the refreshment table, her gigantic bosom swaying so violently that
she nearly lost her balance.
"Sorry I'm late," came a call from the kitchen. "Is Mr. Jennings here
"Hi, Donna," the girls all called at once. "We're just getting started,"
called Missy. "Come on in to the parlor."
The voice sounded like a woman, say, in her early thirties. By this
time I was becoming accustomed to the physical variety of the women at
the farm and I hardly expected to be shocked by anything. The appearance
of the woman who appeared at the entryway, however, changed that.
She was short, to begin with. As far as I could see, she had no legs at
all, She stood erect on her bottom. Her arms were only stumps, tapering
to tips well above where her elbows might have been. As she moved, these
little arms spun and whirled as she switched and twisted her way along.
Her generous bosom moved freely within a long, loosely fitting T-shirt,
cut away deeply at the shoulders. From what I could see, she wore
nothing below the waist. Her hair was curly and platinum blond above a
deep tan. Her eyes were...missing. Her blond-lashed lids fluttered, then
opened, revealing only deep, empty sockets. She blinked twice and made
her way into the room.
"Sorry I'm late," she said, cheerfully.
"Your chair is unoccupied," Janice volunteered, "and I made some
"Smells great," Donna said and swiveled her way to the table. "Any seen
my step-stool around here anywhere?"
"It's just to your right, Donna," replied Betsy.
"Thanks, dear. I understand you picked the cucumbers yourself this
"Legs getting stronger?"
"Yes, Ma'am, all the time."
"Glad to hear it."
Donna put her arms on the edge of the table, leaned forward and swung
her bare bottom onto a needlepoint covered stool. She felt around the
table with her little arms.
"Oh, I smell cookies, too!" Her arms found the lemonade pitcher and
glasses and slowly and deliberately she moved a glass near to the
pitcher and tipped lemonade into it, touching the rim of the glass to
see when it was full. When the glass was filled she took it between the
tips of her arms, took a sip and turned to me.
"I'm glad you took time from your schedule to come out and meet us, "
she said, "It's such a pretty day." Her eyelids fluttered again but
I thought about what to she wanted to hear, but only managed to say that
I'd enjoyed meeting everyone.
"Everyone except Courtney," added Betsy.
"Courtney is our most recent arrival," said Donna, slipping down from
her stool and taking her lemonade between her arm tips. She moved
carefully toward a low chair to one side. "Her problems are both
physical and emotional." She put the lemonade on a low table beside her
and pawed her way up onto the chair. She turned and settled in,
completely exposing her bare lower torso "Did anyone ask her if she
would come down to meet Mr. Jennings?" I tried not to stare.
"I'm here," said a soft, hesitant, but sweet sounding voice. I looked
back to the entryway but the owner of the voice wasn't to be seen.
"Oh, here you are, Courtney," said Donna. "Come in, dear and have some
"I still can't dress myself," the voice said, apologetically.
"Mr. Jennings won't mind, dear," Donna said.
"Besides," added Missy, "didn't we decide to forget about clothes until
you'd learned how to use every bit of your body more completely?"
"That's true. All right, then." Very slowly the figure of the latest
arrival inched into view. She was small and pale, with soft, light brown
hair and alabaster skin. She was completely limbless. Tiny points,
representing rudimentary shoulders, wiggled as she moved first one side
of her tapering pelvis forward, then the other. Aside from the total
absence of even the tiniest trace of limbs, her body was breathtakingly
perfect. No painting or sculpture could have been better. She was the
perfect torso, down to the clean shaven cleft that disappeared into the
Oriental carpet. She looked up at me with large, violet eyes.
"I...I can't shake hands or anything. I'm sorry."
The expression on her face was that of a child of disaster that still
somehow had trust and hope. She looked into my eyes and all I wanted to
do was pick her up and hug her.
"No problem, "I stammered, "It's nice to meet you."
"Come in, dear," said Donna, "have some of Janice's nice cool lemonade."
"That would be nice," Courtney said, softly. "I'm...I'm very warm."
She moved toward the table, slowly, thrusting one hip forward and then a
pause to get her balance, then the other. As she moved her tiny
shoulders twitched and jerked, causing her outstanding breasts to bob in
playful response. The exertion of movement brought tiny beads of
perspiration on her forehead as she worked her way along. She smiled
shyly at me as she passed.
"Courty's come a long way since her mother brought her here," Missy
explained, "but she still has a way to go."
"I guess I was pretty much of a mess," Courtney said, catching her
"I guess I still am, really."
"Come, on, Courty," said Amy, "when you first came here you could barely
roll over by yourself. Now look at you, running all around the house
just like everyone else!"
"I wouldn't call this running, exactly," she said, her head down.
"OK, OK, but you're still up and around doing things for yourself,
"I guess." She was up to the table now. "That lemonade does look good."
"This is a good chance to show Mr. Jennings how self sufficient you're
becoming," suggested Missy.
"What? How?" A look of fear came across Courtney's face. "I can't..."
"Courtney, try. Try, dear," said Donna quite firmly. Her eyelids were
wide open, as if moving Courtney to action by staring at her with those
dark, empty sockets.
"C'mon, Courntey," urged Amy. "Remember the stuff we went over together
? You can do it."
"I'll make a mess...I can't!"
"TRY!" commanded Donna. "Use my footstool if you want. It's still there,
"Then get up on it and pour yourself some lemonade so we can get on with
r. Jennings' questions."
Courtney shuddered with fear. Slowly she moved next to the footstool,
hooked her chin on the marble topped table and lifted her body off the
carpet. Her torso writhing, I realized that she was trying to use what
most women reserved as their most private parts to reach for the
footstool and pull it under her. It also became quite clear that she had
greater control of those muscles and tissues than I had previously
With some twisting and turning, she managed to move the footstool and
straightened herself up on it. I looked around to see the reaction of
the other women and discovered that they were chatting quietly among
themselves, seemingly paying not the slightest attention to the drama
playing out before them. Courtney splayed her perfect breasts on the
table before her. She was still a moment, then looked over to me.
"Are you sure that you don't mind me being...I mean...well, all naked
like this? I know it must look pretty weird."
"We won't be shooting you from the front, if that's what you mean, " I
replied, "Except your face." She smiled and nodded.
"This is the tricky part," she said. "Amy's worked with me almost every
day, helping me, but I'm still really clumsy."
Pushing her self to her fullest extent, and turning her head, she
captured the handle of the lemonade pitcher in her teeth and pulled it
to the edge of the table.
"Well that's one good thing," she said, "At least the pitchers not full.
I can't lift heavy things."
"What's that?" Donna's voice was friendly but had a hard edge.
"I can't lift heavy things YET," Courtney corrected herself.
"Much better!" The hard edge had disappeared.
"Go, girl!" encouraged Amy.
Amy watched intently now. The others returned to their quiet
conversation but she leaned forward, observing every move.
Courtney leaned on the table and adjusted the position of the little
footstool beneath her, then settled back.
"If I can do this at all, I'll have to stand on tip-toes," she
"The stool has to be exactly right."
"Tip-toes?" I asked.
"Yes. Well, not 'toes' exactly, but I have more reach if I tip myself
forward and stand on my front stuffs. I just call them toes. Makes me a
She paused again.
"I know I'm going to make a mess...I can't..."
"Go ahead, Courtney," said Donna, staring again.
Courtney looked at Donna, then tipped her pelvis forward, raising
herself to her greatest height and tilted her upper body forward. She
tensed her pectoral muscles, first one side, then the other and each
perfect breast first lifted dramatically in response, then relaxed onto
the table top.
"We're waiting, Courtney," said Missy, gently.
"I'm afraid..." Courtney said, obviously petrified.
""C'mon, Courty," said Amy, "Your boobies are way bigger than mine...If
I can do it, you certainly can!"
Courtney nodded and without another word lifted and splayed out her
breasts, leaned forward and captured the pitcher.
Amy became even more intent, her own breasts moving in involuntary
"Oooh, it's colder than I thought," Courtney chirped. The room became
silent. Adjusting her position on the footstool and turning her body on
an angle, she tipped the pitcher, pouring first a few drops then filling
the glass, then slowly, her whole body trembling, she tipped the pitcher
back up. Her
glass of lemonade sat before her at the edge of the table. She smiled.
So did Amy.
Betsy broke the ice. "Damn, you're getting good with those things," she
"She is, she really is," agreed Janice.
"Very good, Courtney," smiled Donna, tapping the tips of her arms
together in symbolic applause, "Now, Mr. Jennings, Steve, excuse me, Now
that you've met us all, tell us what your thoughts are and let us answer
any questions you may have."
Courtney slipped down from the stool, took her glass of lemonade in her
teeth and came over beside the settee.
"My first thoughts are that I think at this farm and you, the people
here, will make a wonderful statement about the possibilities and
are within each of us. I think that what I should do, if my boss agrees,
is do an overview, especially focusing on Donna and Missy, then go a
little deeper with each individual, finding out why she's here, what her
background is, and so
"Yeah, but how are you going to take pictures of Courtney, buck naked
and flapping her boobies all around?" asked Betsy.
My cameraperson is a woman, and knows just how close she can get to the
taboo areas, as far as TV is concerned. Same with Amy."
"Goody," chirped Amy, dancing her bosom in an approximation of applause.
"I won't have to get into a straight jacket! You either, Courty!"
Courtney, who now cradled her drink between her breasts, looked up at
me, smiled and snuggled against my leg
I would return to the farm house the next week, with Ginger and her
But that's the subject of my next report.