This is from the crippled boy -- who is a man now, except in the way that a cripple remains always a boy, attached for life to his leg, which does not grow.
I do not think there is a heaven, where my stray sad-hearted wishes will be answered, but just the same those wishes hang round me like unsent letters -- and so there is this wish of mine and nothing to be done with it --
The wish to stand on two whole legs, two legs the same length, with functional equal calves, ankles, knees, with two whole feet which both point forward, with everything the mirror of what is on the other side.
Take a moment to rejoice, those of you immersed in such a form, which seems as remarkable to me as flying through the air might seem to you.
I long to go run barefoot on the beach in such a form, to be seen thus, with legs that would draw no attention to themselves because, well, one is just like the other.
In recompense I possess the crippled arts -- the absolute persistence, the knack of appearing harmless, the air of apology, the small-toothed viciousness. The air of something not expected to survive, which did survive.
The boundless hunger, which goads me cross the world. To Bangkok and the Super A, the sleaziest bar in Bangkok, which, come to think of it, is no small accomplishment.
I find it comforting to rest sometimes on the very bottom of the ocean, deep in the muck, with everything else that is stunted, and half-born, and did not turn out as hoped.
The boys in white underpants perched round my chair, poking at me half-heartedly; they knew I was not buying anything except another beer. Engaging in the usual timid immoral anthropology.
The bored boys found my crippled leg encased in its plastic brace. I tried to shy away. (No one is allowed to touch the leg, none of my funhouse lovers. It is my only private part.)
The boys smiled at me and one said, sympathetically, "Army?" One boy aimed an invisible gun, another mimed a landmine exploding, and what astonished me was the way this made the leg, for the first time in my life, entirely all right. Suddenly I was no longer a freak -- I was a soldier. The leg was a scar in recognition of my service, a commendation, worthy of a star.
If its five bucks to get groped, and ten bucks for a blowjob -- how much do you tip the bar boys when they perform a miracle? The leg was not a deficiency. And it wasn't my fault. I was a veteran, one of the brave. A patriot. Not like I was some freak. Not like I was born this way.