Chapter 2: The Next Day
Sleeping in on Saturday morning was interrupted sooner than Denise would have preferred. At around 8:30 the phone woke her from a weary slumber and she groaned upon checking the clock. Rolling over, she grabbed the wireless phone from its cradle.
“Hullo?” she croaked.
The caller was Betty, the bartender from the Garden Patch restaurant. She reported in a concerned tone that after Denise had left the previous night the man with the leg-braced date had been asking about her.
“He wanted to know who you are and if I knew how to contact you. I told him ‘no,’ but that if you came back I’d pass on his phone number. Denise, this guy was just totally whipped up about getting in touch with you. And, here’s the kicker…Sandi said she knows this guy…he’s the president of her bank over in Halldale!”
“Oh, great…another devotee wants me,” thought Denise. At least this one had a better job than Bart, the postman. She took the phone number, thanked Betty, and hung up. Sitting up in bed, Denise considered the graying middle-aged man and his pretender date or wife. What was it with these guys! Nonetheless, part of Denise was excited by the fact that there were men out there who were extremely attracted to her.
Deciding it was time for a strong cup of coffee, Denise threw back the covers, grabbed her crutches from the floor and stood next to the bed. She looked down at the reason the man in the restaurant wanted to contact her: the five-inches-shorter right leg that flopped uselessly next to its normal and shapely mate. This was her little leg that had been stunted and paralyzed from birth. The little leg with its working knee and flaccid muscles. The little leg that had caused Denise a lifetime of frustration because of her inability to use it. The one that was the subject of stares and muted düzce escort comment when she was in public. And yes…the little leg that was the center of attraction for the devotee men she seemed to encounter more and more often. She had more than once considered having it amputated but felt that, in spite of it all, it was somehow an integral part of her that she didn’t want to lose.
It was chilly in the house. Denise swung herself to the closet and put on a terrycloth bathrobe. She looked for a moment at the neatly arranged wardrobe within her large walk-in closet. Her clothing was arranged from casual-casual on the left through business-casual, business, and most formal attire on the right.
On the floor of the closet was an assortment of shoes that would stun a casual observer. On the left were about a dozen pair of her orthotically-modified footwear, with a normal size-eight left and a massively built-up size-four right. All her build ups towered over their counterparts with eight inches of lift. The shoes gave her tiny foot three inches of berth inside to keep them on and stable as she walked. This depth was offset by the fact that her foot dropped as she swung through on her crutches, and the net effect when walking was contact with the floor just at the front edge of the shoe. Denise leaned just slightly right when standing still in order to place the back of the shoe on the floor as well.
Denise had quite a variety of modified shoes. Most were more formal ones for business wear, and those had separated platform and heel build-ups. But there were also two pair of white athletic shoes with a simple block lift on the bottoms. The edges of the soles of all her lifts were somewhat scarred from dragging on pavement and concrete. This was something Denise tried to prevent as she walked on her düzce escort bayan crutches, but not always successfully, particularly when she was tired.
On the floor closest to the closet door was a few pair of non-built-up shoes. This array of footwear was matched in style but not in size. Denise special-ordered her regular shoes two pair at a time: one pair of size eights and one pair of size fours in the same style. She then donated the large right and small left shoes to an organization that specialized in helping amputees. Denise knew that in most cases the diminutive rights were destined for the foot of a child.
In a custom-built rack on the back wall was her assortment of crutches. Denise had six different pair—five forearm type, in different colors to match her dress and her mood. She was using the gray ones she usually used for work now, but thought she might switch to the metallic blues later. She noted with pride her latest addition, a pair of pastel pink sticks for casual spring and summer wear. Next to these was one pair of polished, dark rosewood underarm crutches that she used on rare occasion when she needed to stand and have full use of her arms. The last instance was a merchandising presentation she had made to a large group, narrating a slide show and using a pointer.
That day she had also worn her one brace, which now stood in the closet’s corner. It was a patten-type extension brace with two leather enclosures at the top to encase her leg. A crossbar five inches from the bottom was designed to support her foot and keep it stationary. At its base was a sturdy block of rubber surrounding the U-shaped bottom. Denise did not like the brace because it tended to pinch her leg uncomfortably. She did wear it occasionally for business because it allowed her to wear loose-fitting pants escort düzce without modifying the garment’s leg to accommodate her lifts. In these instances Denise simply left her right foot bare inside the pants-leg to look as natural as possible.
Denise virtually never wore a lift around the house and she selected a pair of fuzzy bedroom shoes. Noting that she needed to touch up her pedicure, she pushed up on her crutches and stepped into the left shoe. Then, leaning against the closet doorjamb, slipped the right shoe on her little foot. As usual, Denise’s atrophied right leg began to bounce and sway as she released the shoe. She steadied it with one hand and then swung off to the kitchen to make coffee.
Sitting at her kitchen table, Denise looked at the scrap of paper she had kept in her hand. The devotee’s number started with an exchange she knew was reserved for cell phones. On a whim, Denise picked up her kitchen phone, punched in the code for caller-ID block, and dialed the number. After two rings a baritone male voice answered impatiently.
“Hello? Who’s calling?”
“Your girlfriend isn’t really crippled, is she?” cooed Denise into the phone.
After a very long pause he responded cautiously, “who wants to know?”
“The other cripple—the real one—from last night.” Denise hated the word ‘cripple’ as a personal description, but she knew from talking to Bart it was the word of choice for devotees.
“I’m glad you called. Can we meet someplace?” asked the deep-voiced gray-haired man, now with an obvious tinge of excitement.
“I need to know something first,” countered Denise. “The redhead with you last night—was the brace her idea or yours?”
“Mine. I like to pretend. She doesn’t mind. We don’t have a serious relationship…just friends. We don’t have sex. Now…can I meet you?”
“Maybe. Maybe not.” Denise was playing with him now, ambivalent about even talking to someone who would ask a woman to pretend disability in public. But in her mind a plan began to form. She smiled broadly at her idea then turned back to the conversation.
To Be Continued…