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Jim Davis Jun 2019
Scrounging local garage sales... near ten years past... I had found a flat, welded iron, rusty seahorse... 3 feet high... with a good seahorse shape and poise... edges welded and cut... after the haggle... twenty-five dollars..... perfectly added to my estate... covered rust in gold sheen... mounted upon a tree... to greet all comers... with a seahorse kiss!    
     Seller said it was made by the same artist... of the turtle lady statue... to be found in Corpus Christi!  Asked if I had seen it... my reply... No, but I liked the seahorse piece! He expounded... the artist... only had one leg... but was a surfer... well known for this trait... in Corpus Christi!  
     After I had mounted the seahorse... upon it's tree...I did an internet search... looking for anything about the one-legged surfer artist of Corpus Christi!  Found... nothing!  
     End of May, 2019... visiting my sister, Donna... we were wandering Corpus Christi!  She guided us to the surf museum... not knowing the story... of the one-legged surfer artist... creator of my mounted seahorse!  
     Girl at the front desk... Kyla... real nice and friendly... told her about the seahorse and questioned her... she didn’t know... she never heard of a surfer with one leg or the turtle lady statue!  Looking at us just a bit strangely... one legged surfer???
      Donna and I... started our stroll through the small museum!  Along the right side... stood a long row of surfboards... I’ve never surfed... but I was imagining trying it with just one leg!  
      Anyhow... I didn’t really stop to read or look in any detail at any of the exhibits until I reached the back... there was a glass case... which had a piece of simple letter paper...  8.5x11... taped to the front of the glass cabinet!  I started in reading the last paragraph...

     “Welch, 53, and his wife, Chelsea Louise, 23, died September 15, 2001, when their car plunged off the edge of South Padre Island’s Queen Isabella Causeway, which partially collapsed after a string of barges crashed into the bridge’s support pilings!

     Thought to myself... Wow... Who is this guy???  I jumped up to the middle paragraph...

     “Welch lost one of his lower legs in an auto accident in the 1970s, but he kept surfing with a prosthesis.  He wore a peg-like prosthesis at first, then got one with a foot.  He won the prosthesis division of the United States Surfing Championships on South Padre Island in 1998.”

     In the glass case was a welded metal sculpture of a beach scene... with waves, palm trees, and all!  The piece did have some resemblance in style to my seahorse sculpture!  Also, there was a picture on top of the case... of Harpoon Barry... striking a muscular, no shirt pose... in his tattoo shop... his torso covered in tattoos!  
     “It is said... he was on the verge of suicide after losing his leg. In one interview with the San Antonio Express News in 1992 he said;  "I may not make it to heaven, but you can be sure I made no deals with the devil to get where I'm at now, "  Looking down at his false leg stretched out in front of him, Welch said quietly: "It is a real empty feeling when you put one of these on for the first time, especially if you are an adult on your own. And your mama'a not there and your daddy's not there, and the people in the hospital tell you, 'This is the best it's going to get.  I made my first leg myself, out of Hi-C cans. I couldn't wait for my leg to get finished. I wanted to walk. I guess I got the idea from the Tin Woodsman in 'The Wizard of Oz.' That leg actually worked pretty well!”

     I had found my one-legged surfer artist!  I walked towards Donna... who was already half-way leaving the museum...  I hollered to her... she just had to come see this ... “I think I found the one-legged surfer!”  She had recently had partial knee replacement... and was hobbling!  She said if I was fooling her... she better not walk back all that way for nothing!! She came back to the glass case... we read through the letter in it’s entirety!  
     Then we went... and told Kyla at the front desk... she again looked at us again a bit strange... but then reluctantly left her post to go with us to take a look... she was then astounded!  Said she never knew about the one-legged surfer... although she had worked at the museum for several years!  Said there were also a couple metal sculptures... at the front of the museum... she thought were also done... by Harpoon Barry!  We took pictures of those also!  

In the letter we also read...

     “Welch had numerous tattoos and body piercings.  He wore a tiny 14 carrot gold harpoon through one ******.  That is how he got his nick name according to a friend, Scott Gangel.”  

     "I am a unique, self-made sensation!” he said matter-of-factly... in the interview with the Express News!  
     It's been 18 years since eight people died when South Padre Island's Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway collapsed... sending 11 people into the water below... four days after the 9/11 attacks!  A string of tow barges had struck the supporting pilings!  A section of the roadway had collapsed...
     I promised Kyla... I would donate my seahorse piece to the museum upon my death!  I only hope my death... is as grand as Harpoon Barry’s plunge into the Gulf of Mexico with his young wife!  Wonder what they were doing during the plunge... what was Barry doing... yelling Yippee Ki Yay... or Surf’s up... Dude!!!... maybe???  
Surfed waves on one leg
Young wife... crazy life... grand death
Harpooned by Barry

©  2019 Jim Davis
I doubt I could ever match his life!  !  Though...  someday... I might get a tattoo... or two... or a harpoon piercing... perhaps in a ******! Also... still looking for the turtle lady statue!
Terry Collett Jun 2016
I'm outside
in the grounds
I can smell

the fresh air
and flowers
hear bird song

someone has
wheeled me out
from the ward

where the smells
and voices
hemmed me in

hello Grace
a voice says
to my left

I turn my
blind eyes where
the voice comes

Philip is
that you there?
yes it is

he replies
I reach out
to touch him

he holds my
hand in his
where abouts

have you been?
I ask him
war work stuff

its stop secret
can't say much
o I see

he squeezes my
hand gently
your doctor

has said I
can take you
out for that

meal next week
he whispers
take me out

into town?
yes up West
have to risk

the bombing
from ******'s
bombing crew

Philip says
you don't mind
taking me?

why should I?
I've no legs
****** blind

I want to
take you out
he utters

you can wear
that red dress
I bought you

I recall
the nurse talk
about it

the red dress
thank you for
taking me

I tell him
what about
other things?

other things?
what if I
need to go

to the loo?
I can't go
on my own

can't manage
I tell him
Joan's coming

with Donald
she'll help you
Philip says

a foursome?
just the four
Donald's driving

I sit still
and stare at
where he is

she won't mind
taking me?
of course not

Nurse Kavel
will be there

on duty
just in case
she makes five

Philip says
I am thrilled
to be out

not caring
who stares at
me that night

I can't see
I won't know
a weird one

out on show.
Terry Collett Jun 2016
With my hands
I move myself
to the side of the bed,
and stare around
with sightless eyes,
wondering if the nurse
put the commode
near the bed
as she said she would.

I try to balance
on one hand
as I search around
with the other.

The pain
in my leg stumps
nags at me
each time I move.

I touch
the commode arm,
and try and move myself
in a position,
that I may
be able to get
on the commode,
but as I move forward
I fall into darkness,
and hit my head,
and land on my back,
and stare into
a painful blackness.

a voice says,
what are you doing?

I face the voice:
I wanted to get
on the commode,
I say.

You must ask,
the voice says.

I want to be
I say.

Not just yet;
now keep still
while we assess you
for damage,
the voice says.

She calls out for help;
I hear footsteps
running and another
voice says,
what's Grace
doing on the floor?

She was trying to get
on the commode
by herself,
the other voice says.

Shall I call a doctor
to examine her?  

I'm all right,
I say,
nothing broken;
just the usual
pains and aches.

Your head is bleeding,
a voice says;
other voices come.

I lie still
and stare at
the darkness
around me,
attempting to stare
at faces
I cannot see.
Terry Collett Jun 2016
I use my other
four senses to guide me
through the remaining world
about me.

I smell the disinfect
of the hospital ward,
I hear the passing
nurses and doctors,
and the cries and chatter
of other patients.

I feel with my fingers
where my stumps begin
and my legs end.

I taste the warmness
of the cup of tea
they brought me.

I hear talk of invasion
by **** troops;
I hear music
of a dance band
and someone singing.

is washing me
in the bed;
towels are under me
and over me;
I feel like a child again;
hands wash my stumps,
clean my body,
soap and rinse my *******.

This darkness
behind my eyes
depresses me.

Will I walk again?
I ask at random.

Of course, Grace,
once your stumps
are healed sufficiently
and we can
measure you up,
the voice says,
not stopping
her work,
her voice dry as sand.

In my blindness
I recall Clive
touching me
where the nurse touches;
his hands there,
his lips kissing me
as we made love
before he left
for war and battle
and death.

I am being dried
by a towel
a hand feels along
my skin to see
how dry I am.

Clive has gone
and all I can think
is ****.
Terry Collett Jun 2016
We had just made love,
then turned on our backs,
and lit up cigarettes,
staring at the ceiling,
where shadows
from the streets lamp
made patterns.

Why must you
join the army, Clive?

There's war coming,
and I want to be there
to push ****** back,
Clive said.

But why you?
Why not someone else?

Grace I cannot sit back
and let others defend us,
he said.

But you're intelligent,
you could work
in the war effort
in other ways,
I said.  

I don't want to do
espionage work,
I want to fight,
he said.

We lay there smoking,
and now and then
talking about
the coming war,
and afterwards
about marriage
and family.

Grace, Grace,
a voice calls me,
mind you don't slip
in the bath.

I look to where
the voice comes from.


Don't slip in the bath,
not easy balancing
with just two leg stumps,
the voice said.

I move side to side carefully,
sensing the water
about me;
it's the nurse,  
but I cannot see her,
my blind eyes
just stare in her direction.

Must have been daydreaming,
I say.

Your first proper bath
since before you
were bombed out,
she says.

Yes, it is,
I say,
sponging my *******
over with soapy water.

How are the stumps healing?
I say.

Well, they're doing well,
the doctors are happy
with them.

They still hurt,
I say.

They will for a while,
the nurse says.

I'll be an old maid now;
no one will want to marry
a legless blind woman
like me,
I say.

The nurse sighs,
now I don't think
that is true,
that Mr Kimberly
seems struck on you.

What good would I do him?
I'd be a burden,
and I don't want anyone
to marry me out of pity.

The nurse is quiet.

I sit balancing
as I sponge between my legs.

There is pity,
and there is love,
she says.

I don't know what
he looks like,
and how can I ever
bring a child
in the world
blind as I am,
and without legs?
I say.

If you want to
you can, and will,
she says firmly.

She takes the sponge
from my hand
and washes my back
and around my neck.

I think what for?
What the heck.
Terry Collett May 2016
We'd danced until
there was no time left,
the people

were beginning to leave,
Clive and I
walked along

the London streets
hand in hand,
we walked back

to my house,
I invited him in,
the maid

had gone off
for the night,
as I wanted us

to be alone,
then once
we got undressed,

were in bed,
we kissed,
I opened up to him,

then I wake up to blackness,
I hear noise
on the ward

voices and a trolley
being wheeled around,
I am lying on my back,

and I panic
for a moment or two,
wondering where I am,

then it hits me,
I'm in hospital,
I'm blind,

I reach down
with my hands,
I know before

I am there
that my legs have gone,
just the stumps,

and I want the dream again
want Clive and us
making love,

but it has gone the dream,
and Clive,
I hear a voice call out

about a nurse,
but I feel on the edge,
feel along side

of the bed,
can't get the dream
out of my head.
Terry Collett May 2016
It is morning.
I heard birds sing earlier.

Used to look out
and see them
before my blindness.

The ward is busy,
voices calling,
bodies rushing past,
smell of disinfect
and body waste.

I lay back on the pillow
and wait for someone
to put me on the commode
and see how
my leg stumps are,
they ached something
awful in the night.

I hate being dependant
on others, that nurse
in the night I had to call
seemed rushed and said
of a terrible air raid
with many casualties.

Near here? I asked.

Jam factory, girls burnt
or injured in the blast,
the nurse had said.

I wonder if Philip
will come?

Each day seems
a slide down a long
dark tunnel with no light
to welcome, just an echo
of voices calling for me
from empty chambers
and cries from bodiless
voices as I slip by.

I need the commode,
I call, as a body rushes by,
swish of uniform,
won't be long,
a voice replies.

Hands pull back
the blankets, lift me
and undress me
and place me
on a throne,
then leave me,
quite alone.
Terry Collett Apr 2016
The ward is busy
I hear voices,
and calls,
and a bell rings nearby.

My blind eyes see nothing,
but I turn my head
at each sound pretending
I can see.

A hand touches my arm.  

Morning Grace, how are you?

It's Nurse Kavel isn't it?
I say.

Yes it is, she says,
how are you?

My legs hurt,
my toes itch me,
I tell her.

The stumps of your legs
will hurt,
but the itching toes
is in the the brain's memory,
she says.

Are my leg stumps healing?

They are improving,
she says,
once they have healed
sufficiently the doctors
will talk about getting
you artificial limbs,
and you will receive help
on how to walk again.

Will I walk again?

Yes you will, Grace,
the nurse says,
in time, but for now
we must do what we can
to make you comfortable,
and keep the stumps
clean and able to heal.

She pulls back the blankets,
and lifts up my nightgown,
and begins to unwrap
the bandage on my right stump,
and I look into the darkness,
and see nothing,
but in my mind,
I think of Anthony,
and us dancing
(Clive had died
a month earlier)
and he was trying
to cheer me up,
and get me back
into War-time society again,
and he had taken me home,
and kissed me goodnight
on my doorstep.

I lick my lips
as if the kiss is now,
and want it to be a kiss
from someone
not this darkness,
and feeling undone.
Terry Collett Mar 2016
I feel her
washing me
down below

(Irish nurse
this time round)
lifting up

my leg stumps
washing them

then drying
them slowly
I am blind

to beauty
she may have
or may not

my failed eyes
see darkness
nothing else

that better?
The nurse says
from my left

after that
rubbing down

I tell her
ok Grace
always here

to please you
once again
the leg stumps

are bandaged
then I'm dressed
by her hands

all decent
once again
and she's gone

just voices
in the ward
and me here

lying still
on my back
a female

now undone
with no man
to bring fun.
Terry Collett Mar 2016
My total
has gone.

I can't see
where I 'm going,
my blind eyes
fail me.

I can't walk anywhere
as my leg stumps
prevent that.

I can't even do
the usual things
I used to do:
like urinate
or other.

Just dependant
on the nurses
to come
and deal with me,
and the things
that need doing.

I lie
in the bed
listening to voices,
hearing bedpans
being taken by,
needing oiling
being pushed past
the foot
of my bed.

I habitually go
to scratch a foot
that's not there
because it itches.

I go to get up
to go somewhere,
and I realise
I have no legs
to get there.

I call out
and wait
and a nurse
comes and says,
what is it Grace?

I want to get up
and dressed
and go out
in the sunshine
not be stuck
here all day.
I say.

We will be
with you
in a minute,
we had a rush on
last night
the German's bombed
the docks
and quite a few
were injured
and were brought here.

She goes
and I am left
here in the dark.

I think of Clive
that night
he brought
me home
from the dance,
and I asked him
to stay the night.

It was the day
before he was due
to join the army,
and I said,
it could be
our last time
for ages,
so he stayed,
and we went to bed
and made love
as never before,
and it was
the last time.

And that moment
after he left,
I felt so alive
so fulfilled.

Then went
and got
himself killed.
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