Vicki Hooks
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The Conference
By Vicki

It was the first day of a three day business conference I was attending. It was time for the afternoon coffee break. I picked up my purse and headed for the break room. As I approached the coffee table a man came up to me.

"Hi. My name is Bill Parks. Can I get you a cup of coffee?"

Bill was a very handsome man dressed in a blue suit. What set him apart though, were the two shiny prosthetic hooks showing below his sleeves where his hands should have been.

"Sure. My name is Emily Brown. How do you like the conference?"

"A bit boring," Bill said.

"Yeah, I think so too," I replied.

"How do you like your coffee?" Bill asked as we were next in line at the table.

"With Equal and cream," I said.

I watched Bill as he first took the paper coffee cup off the stack with his right hook. He held it by the rim as he used his left hook to press the lever on the big coffee urn. After he put it down he tore off the top of a packet of Equal and dumped it in to the coffee. He finished things off by grasping the carafe of cream and pouring it in the cup. He then got a plastic stirrer and stirred the coffee. He handed it to me using his right hook, again holding the cup by the rim with his hook.

"You do that quite well," I commented.

"Practice makes perfect," he said. We both laughed.

We found a seat at a vacant table and chatted about the conference, and where we were from and who we worked for. The fact that Bill had prosthetic hooks never came up. I didn't want to bring up the topic and Bill probably felt the same way.

"Would you like to have dinner tonight Emily?" Bill asked just as we were about to go back for the rest of the afternoon session.

"I would love to," I replied. I am in room 905. Why don't you stop by around six and we can decide where to go. The restaurant in the hotel is not bad I was told."

"Sounds great. I will see you at six," Bill said.

I spent the rest of the day listening to more boring speakers and counting the minutes until the day ended. Finally I was able to go back to my room and freshen up. I didn't have much time. I did manage to change from my pantsuit to a nice dress. I also swapped my day shoes for a pair of nice high heels revealing my red polished toes. The dress was fairly short and I know my legs looked pretty good. I touched up my makeup and sat down to await Bill's arrival. I heard a knock on the door a few minutes later.

"You look absolutely stunning Emily. You didn't have to change for me," Bill said as he entered the room.

"Thank you Bill," I replied appreciatively.

We left my room and headed for the hotel restaurant. When we were seated, the waitress asked us if we would like a drink. I opted for a glass of red wine. Bill had white.

"I guess you will have meat and I will have fish," Bill said laughing.

As we read the menu the wine arrived. Bill skillfully picked up the wine by the stem by opening his hook around it. The glass balanced nicely. A few minutes later the waitress came back to take our orders. As it turned out both of us ordered the baked stuffed shrimp.

During the meal we chatted about the usual things strangers chatted about without becoming too personal. Things like how long we had worked for our companies etc. I did find out that Bill was single as was I and we had no children. Bill was very good using his hooks to eat. He held his knife and fork with his hooks of course. I noticed that he tilted his right hook to angle his fork to a better position. He had articulating wrists. He could push a button and the hook would tilt. We finished the meal off with pie and coffee.

"This was a lovely meal Bill. Thank you so much," I said as he insisted on paying the entire check. He signed the credit card slip very easily holding the pen with his hook.

He walked me back to my room.

"Would you like to come in for a few minutes?" I asked.

"Thank you Emily, but I am really wiped out. It has been a log day with traveling and all. However, if you would like to have dinner again tomorrow we can try some place in town," Bill said.

"That would be wonderful. Let's get together for lunch tomorrow as well," I offered.

"Deal," Bill said as he gave me a little kiss on my cheek.

I closed the door, kicked off my heels and sat on the bed thinking about the most interesting day I had had. I had never met a man who was a double arm amputee with two hooks. Of course that fact didn't bother me in the least.

When most people see a person who has two hooks instead of hands they probably wonder what it would be like to have to do everything with metal hooks for the rest of their life. Of course they couldn't really know what it was like. I was different. I never wondered what it was like to use hooks. Instead, I wondered what it was like to have hands. I was fitted with my first pair of hooks when I was an infant. I remember that they were not like my current hooks. They were small and covered with a thick plastisol coating.

I looked down at my two hooks. To me having hooks was natural. I never knew anything else. I was born a double below the elbow arm amputee. I grew up using hooks. Of course needing hooks was certainly a handicap, but I could do pretty much anything I wanted. The things I couldn't do somehow didn't seem all that important. Maybe if I had done them in the past they would be.

Bill and I had avoided talking about our hooks. Since we had agreed to meet again for dinner before the conference ended I knew it would be time to discuss the topic. It was something that few people ever had in common. It would be an interesting discussion. I had the feeling that Bill had lost his arms in an accident or in the military. I was sure I would find out .

I would tell Bill my story, what it felt like to grow up with no hands and suffer the attention that my hooks generated. I remember how difficult it was integrating with other kids my age. Later, in college, things got easier as adults were more sensitive to those with handicaps. Sometimes that wasn't good either.

I got undressed and finally slipped out of my prosthesis. I pulled down my stump socks with my teeth revealing my two smooth and round stumps that ended six inches below my elbows. They weren't that way when I was born. I had a little useless finger at the end of a tapered forearm. Corrective surgery amputated the vestigial fingers and enough of the end of my arms to give me nice rounded stumps that fit into the sockets of my prosthesis comfortably.

I was looking forward to getting together with Bill. It would be nice to discuss life with hooks with someone who really had an appreciation for what it was like to live with them. 

The End


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