Thursday Jason finally made his way out of bed in the morning. He did his bowel program, showered long and hot and finally felt refreshed after he was dressed, shaved and hair brushed. He sat in his chair looking in the mirror and tried to imagine himself without the wheelchair. He put his hands on the sink cabinet and for the hundredths time he pulled his body over a little, let his feet slip off the foot rest, adjusted them on the floor and then tried to push himself up on the vanity with all his strength. His arms were shaking; his eyes focused down on his legs and feet as he was breathing heavy and tried with full force to push himself up on his legs. Nothing happened, he didn’t succeed and once his arms gave in, he plopped back into his chair and with a fist he hit the counter and a curse came over his lips, “Fuck!”
The curse was meant for the unsuccessful try of standing up but then the pain in his knuckles from hitting the counter kicked in and he cursed again. Even if things with Ariana would not work out he wanted to get into his braces more, because they were the only chance for him to maybe attempt some standing and manage to take some steps. Maybe he could become more mobile with the braces; he just had to practice daily and hopefully get better at it. He wheeled out to his dad, who was happy to see Jason up again.
Jason wheeled up to the couch and grabbed his braces from it, “Dad, can you lend me a hand getting into them?”His dad came out of the kitchen, “You want to wear them again?”
“Yes, I want to get used to them and wear them as often as I can.”
He took the braces from Jason and watched Jason transfer from his chair onto the couch, adjusting his legs and then they were busy strapping the braces on his legs and around his back. After about 5 minutes he was set and transferred back into his chair. He wheeled into the kitchen to get to the walker, another optional accessory intended for use when in his braces and when he wanted to stand up.
His dad moved the walker over a bit and Jason wheeled himself right up to it, “I should put my shoes on.” His dad brought Jason’s sneakers and helped him get into them since he couldn’t bend down easily to slip them on or tie the laces.
Jason put his hands on the rail of the walker and pushed himself up, gripping the handle rail tight with his hands and ended in a standing position, his head hanging, breathing hard and concentrating on the task. Upright the braces on his legs locked on its own in the standing position, just like the brace locked itself into position along the side of his hips when Jason pushed his hips forward slightly. Once Jason felt he had a good stance, not too wobbly, he looked up at his dad, who was holding his hands out on the side of Jason hoping that he would be able to hold himself up and not topple over. It would not be good with the braces in the locked position. They would break and Jason could get hurt falling from a standing position without any barrier.
Darryl asked a bit worried, “You got it, son?”Jason nodded, “Yeah, I got it.”
His breathing was heavy but he held his position. It was easier to stand and walk a bit with the walker than with the crutches. With the walker Jason could lean his weight forward better, not so with the crutches.
Standing or taking a few steps did always give him an adrenalin rush, the position of looking down at things for a change, feeling his height and how he used to be, feeling the strength and blood flow in his arms and even though he didn’t feel his legs he knew the blood was flowing through his veins and it was a good thing.
He realized the few inches he was taller when looking over at his dad and he smiled at him. Darryl was just standing by and watching him carefully. It made him nervous to see Jason stand like that but he also knew it was good for him. Jason stood for about 15 minutes and took a few steps but he felt his strength subside quickly, probably still weakness from the previous days he had spent in bed. Darryl released the locks on the hip connection enabling Jason to sit back down. His legs were still rigidly straight in the braces as he fell into his wheelchair and he unlocked the leg braces himself. Darryl was relieved that Jason’s little experiment was over for now. Jason was exhausted. He stayed in his braces the rest of the day though and hung out with his dad at the house. He had to work Thursday night and took a nap around 4 that afternoon so he would be fit for the nightshift.
Wednesday night Ariana actually spent the night with her client, a business man from New York City. She had a good night but for the first time while she was lying in bed of the client’s hotel suite at the Luxor her thoughts drifted off to Jason and she felt really bad lying there with this man and having just had sex with him. All the sudden everything that had been o.k. for so long started to not seem right anymore. Jason kept popping up in her mind; she felt bad about what she had put him through and realized how it was not right. If non-disabled guys already had a hard time with accepting her line of work; how would a guy like Jason be more o.k. with it? How could she ever have thought that he would be o.k. with her proposition? Objectification at its finest! She felt horrible and she had to make it up to Jason somehow. He had all the right to be pissed off and angry at her.
Jason had a good night at work on Thursday, it was not too busy and he had some time in between to watch some shows on TV or play games on his phone. As much as he tried though he couldn’t shake his thoughts drifting off to Ariana.
She wanted to see him on Friday; it would be his chance to tell her he couldn’t see her anymore and it hurt him to even think about ending something that had barely begun. He had hoped so much that things could have been normal with Ariana, a normal relationship whatever could be called normal now for him, a girlfriend for him, someone to spend his off days with and someone to explore his sexuality with once again. All of it was not really what Ariana wanted and even though it sounded all good at first and she definitely turned him on he now knew he couldn’t follow through with the proposition.
Friday morning he wheeled along the sidewalk around 8 o’clock after his night at work and he was tired. He needed to get some sleep before the evening. She wanted him to be ready at 6 pm. What was she going to do? Pick him up at his house or something? He really didn’t know and started wondering if he had missed the information where he should actually be at 6 pm.
He texted Ariana, “Hey Ariana. I was just wondering; if I remember right, tonight at 6 p.m.? Where do you want to meet?”
He didn’t get a reply; she was probably still asleep or maybe out and about already.
Just then Jason realized a car pulling up slowly beside him and at first he didn’t want to look over in fear it may be someone trying to take him down but then he heard a female voice call him, “Jason, hey Jason….”
He slowed his pace and looked over to the car realizing it was Britt from the gas station. She smiled and waved and called to him, “I am going to pull over.”
Jason just nodded in surprise and saw how Britt pulled her car over in a bus stop right ahead. Jason wheeled toward the bus stop and rolled around to the driver’s side with Britt smiling at him happily, “Hey you! Where are you heading to?”He smiled at her, “I thought I was going to get mugged there for a moment, you pulling up all slow next to me….”
“I would never mug you.” Britt laughed, “So, what are you doing out here?”
Jason realized how pretty Britt was and after a moment he answered, “This is my way home from work. I work nightshifts.”
“At a taxi dispatch center.”
Britt nodded, “Oh o.k. you do look a bit tired.”
Jason put his hand on her door, “I do?”
Britt grinned at him, “Tired but still hot….you were buzzing pretty good when we met on Monday.”
Jason laughed and looked down embarrassed, then back up at her, “I know, I had a bad day I guess.”
Britt turned serious, “Well, I hope you are better again.”
He nodded and looked at her smiling, “And You? Are you going to work?”
“Yep, got to be there at 8:30…” She paused then added, “You live close to here, right?”
“Yeah, just up the road and then turn left, trailer park is on the right and no you don’t have to ask me about catching a ride…”
Britt laughed, “Guess what I wasn’t going to.”
Jason smiled, “Really, you wasn’t going to?”
Britt said smiling, “No, you look like you got it all under control, rolling so speedy down the sidewalk…I can see you are a pro at this.”
Jason looked down and then up with a smile, “I guess you can say that.”
She asked with a serious expression, “How long have you been a pro at this?”
Leaning his head to the side Jason answered, “About two years now.”
Britt nodded, “O.K.”
The moment had turned serious and she asked in a lighter tone, “Hey what about that girl you were seeing?”Jason looked down again, and then up from under his bangs, “Well, I am actually going to see her tonight.”
Britt wasn’t beating around the bush with her obvious take on Jason, “Dang, I guess I am out for tonight then.”
She smiled at him and he smiled at her, “What is your phone number?”
“You are a pretty straight forward guy, Jason…it’s 567-8544!”
Jason had pulled out his phone and typed in her number with a smile replying to Britt, “It depends on the situation and the person how straight forward I am.”“So is it a good thing that you are straight forward with me?”
He nodded, “Yeah…I may call you.”
Britt smiled and said lowly, “I heard the “may”, Jason.”
He looked up at her with a serious expression, “Well, yeah, I do see the other girl and I have to see what happens. Please understand. I wouldn’t mind hanging out as friends sometime if you want.” Britt smiled, “I wouldn’t mind either. We can hang out sometime, have a drink or something.”
Just then a bus approached on the street and Britt was really not allowed to be parked in the bus stop and got a bit hectic, “Oh no, I have to get out of here!”
Jason looked up at the bus and put his hand to his rims, “Hey it was good seeing you.”
Britt already started pulling up and called back at him, “You too, Jason…call me!”
Jason could just call an “O.K.” and Britt drove off, he wheeled himself over to the sidewalk quickly and the bus pulled in, blowing its horn. Jason threw his hand up mad and almost wanted to show his middle finger to the bus driver but held it in.
His dad was already up and sitting at the table drinking his morning coffee and reading the paper when Jason unlocked the door and wheeled into the trailer. His dad looked up from the paper, “Good Morning Jason.”“Morning dad. How is it going?”
“It is going pretty good. How was your night working?” Jason told him about his night at work and wheeled up to his spot at the table. He felt tired and weak again after the night of staying up and working. The last three days had not left him without fatigue and exhaustion still. He would go to bed soon! For a little while he talked with his dad about stuff in the paper and eventually Jason told him, “Tonight I will be meeting Ariana.”
His dad looked up in surprise, “So what was all this about the last few days?”
“She called me yesterday and told me she could make time for me tonight so I am going to meet her, but I am thinking this may be the last time.”
Darryl nodded, “I have to leave that up to you Jason. I can’t give you any good advice but it seems the girl is causing you more grief than joy and it shouldn’t be like that, son.”
“I know dad, I will figure it out.”
He hung out with his dad for a few more minutes and then headed for the bathroom to get ready to go to sleep. He wanted to get up about 3 o’clock to get ready for Ariana. He hadn’t gotten a text message from her anymore and he just went to sleep, lying on his side to not put more pressure on the sores on his butt. They were almost healed with the three days laying in his bed and his dad putting ointment on regularly.
Jason woke up around 3 in the afternoon and felt somewhat tired still but knew he had to get up. He rolled over and grabbed his phone from his night stand and was surprised to see a message from Ariana, “Just be ready at 6, I will make sure you get picked up. Bring some stuff for overnight!”Now he was really surprised. She wanted him to bring things to plan an overnight stay. Right away he thought about not being able to get upstairs into her apartment.
He panicked a little and sent Ariana a message, “Ariana, you do know that I can’t make it upstairs, right?”
This time he got an answer right away, “Don’t worry about it! Looking forward to seeing you soon, my sweet boy. Please still wear your braces!”
Jason sighed and was really curious now, not knowing what was going on. How did Ariana imagine the evening? She called him sweet again and he started worrying about his intentions of telling her he needed to “break up” whatever it was that they had. She seemed to be turning things around on him.He replied, “O.K. I will!” He didn’t write anything else and all he got back from Ariana then was a smiley face.
About an hour and a half later Jason was done. He had catheterized, got in the shower and was dressed in some blue jeans and just an undershirt when he wheeled himself into the living room. His braces were still in the living room from the day before. His dad was not in the trailer and Jason wheeled over to the door to peek outside to see if his dad was outside maybe. He was right in his assumption, his dad was across the drive way at his neighbors trailer, sitting outside on their front porch under the patio roof, chatting. Darryl didn’t see Jason at the door but it was o.k.
Jason wheeled back inside; he would eat something and have some coffee. While he sat at the table he had the TV on zapping through the channels. He still had to get some stuff together for the night. He was worried about this and didn’t know if it was really something he should do, an over-night stay. How was he going to spend the night with Ariana? He hadn’t spent the night with a woman since before his accident and he wasn’t really certain if he could do it now. Maybe he could still back out of that arrangement, but he still needed to prepare for maybe not sleeping in his own bed that night.
After his coffee he wheeled back to his room, parked his chair and transferred quickly into the smaller chair to get into his room where he grabbed his backpack and thought about what he should pack and what he needed.
He threw his medications in the back pack, socks, a bunch of sterile packages of catheters, two incontinence briefs, which he thought about for a moment until he decided to just bring them in case, he didn’t necessarily have to use them. He also came across the condoms his dad had bought for him at the store and after looking at the package for a moment, he threw them on the very bottom of his back pack. He also grabbed his tooth brush and tooth paste and shower stuff. He wasn’t sure though if he would be able to actually shower depending on where he would be spending the night. A change of clothes were the last few items he threw in his back pack. Back in the kitchen he put two bottles of water in it and just then his dad came into the trailer.
It was after 5 then and Jason needed to get ready and into his braces, “Dad, can you help me into my braces?”Darryl nodded and walked after Jason into the living room where Jason transferred onto the couch and his dad grabbed the braces, “Why don’t you go without them?”
Jason answered, “I want to wear them. It is o.k. They keep me upright and stuff.”
Darryl sighed, “Is that what she wants?” Jason decided to ignore his dad’s question, of course he was right but he played it off.
Darryl added, “Jason, if the girl makes you feel bad, you should really reconsider being with her.”
At that point Jason had to tell his dad, “Dad, it will be o.k. I will figure it out and by the way I may stay gone all night.”
Darryl was surprised, “Really? Where are you going to stay?”
Jason looked up from buckling his back brace, “Actually I am not really sure, but Ariana texted me to bring stuff for overnight.”
“Where are you going to meet her?”
“I am not sure about that either, she said to be ready at 6 o’clock here at the house.” Darryl was wondering now and also a bit worried about Jason’s intentions to stay gone all night.
He said lowly, “Do you have all your things?”
Jason nodded, “Yes, I have everything, catheters, briefs, meds, that’s the main stuff.”
Darryl asked, “Are you sure about all this?”
Jason pushed himself up to a sitting position, “Don’t worry, it will be o.k.” He knew his dad was worried. He had not spent the night outside the house since his accident except for being at work. He felt he needed to remind his dad, “Dad, I will be all right. I am not a little kid!”
Darryl sighed, “I know but…”
He didn’t finish and Jason cut in, “Dad, please trust me and don’t worry about me. I think I can deal with it; I am o.k.“
Darryl shook his head and sat back on the recliner, “I do trust you but there are crazy people out there, people who will prey on people like you or want to do bad things to you.”
Jason transferred into his wheelchair which was always a bit difficult in his braces, his body rigid and stiff, not much room for wiggling into the chair, his leg braces were still locked and his legs stuck out stiffly in front until he unlocked them and then adjusted his bent legs on his foot plates.
He had put his sneakers on while on the couch, now he just needed a T-Shirt to put on. He was breathing heavy finishing up his comfortable positioning in his wheelchair. Darryl watched him and still worried but told himself he needed to let Jason do whatever he wanted, he was a grown man who wanted to be independent as much as possible and who wanted to have his life back. Having lost his son Brandon already this was always on his mind and seeing Jason struggle sometimes reminded him every day how close Jason had come to death as well and it seemed Jason should not put himself in dangerous situations but then again Darryl couldn’t worry about him. Going to spend the night away from the safety of his home seemed like he was putting himself in a tricky situation. Darryl sighed and watched Jason slip on a T-Shirt over his back brace. He grabbed his hoodie from the coat rack and back pack from the chair and asked his dad to put it on the back of his wheel chair. It was almost 6 o’clock now; Jason grabbed his wallet and phone and put both under his thighs.
He thought for a moment and turned to his dad, “Dad, can you get my crutches from my bedroom?”Darryl looked surprised, “Your crutches?”
“Yes, please! I want to bring them.” Darryl didn’t ask anymore, he could hear the tension in Jason’s voice and went to get the crutches. He attached the crutches to two looped Velcro straps which held them on the backrest of the wheelchair.
Jason thanked his dad. He was now ready and just waited with his dad.
Darryl said again, “Please be careful Jay! Call me if you need to get picked up or something, no matter what time or where you at. Maybe text me to let me know you are o.k.”
Jason sighed, “O.K. dad, I will text you when I know where I am staying. Does that sound like a plan?”
Darryl nodded. Just then it knocked on the door. Darryl looked at Jason questioningly and got up to check who it was. When Darryl opened the door, a familiar face appeared in the door, one of the taxi drivers from Speedy Taxi Services, Miguel.
Jason came wheeling up and greeted Miguel surprised, “Ola Miguel, what are you doing here?” Darryl stepped to the side and Miguel replied just as surprised but with a big smile, “Mr. Jason, I am here to pick you up. Taxi was ordered to pick up Mr. Jason here at address.”Jason asked, “Who ordered it?”
“Me don’t know, Mr. Jason…” Miguel still had a heavy Spanish accent, rolling his “r”.
Jason took his phone out and dialed the number to the dispatch center and Peter answered. After he introduced himself and exchanged some friendly words with Peter he found out from Peter that the taxi was ordered by Ariana. Jason thanked Peter and looking at his dad he shrugged his shoulders. Miguel stood there with a big smile still, showing his white teeth. Darryl was somewhat surprised as well but they said their Good Byes and Jason left out the door. Miguel waited by the taxi passenger door and had the door open for Jason already.
Miguel asked, “Mr. Jason need some help?”Jason smiled, “No thanks, Miguel. I got it.”
He threw his hoodie into the car, then pulled his chair right up to the door and transferred into the taxi. He grabbed his back pack and the crutches from the back, folded his wheelchair swiftly handing it to Miguel who looked on curiously, “Good thing with wheel chair!”Jason smiled, “Yeah, it’s pretty easy.” They left out the trailer park, Jason saw his dad in the mirror standing on the porch looking after them.
After a moment Jason asked Miguel, “Where are you taking me?”
Miguel shook his head, “I cannot say, Mr. Jason. It is surprise!”
“Yes, I cannot say.”
Jason smiled, “O.k. I won’t bug you about it.” He changed the subject, asking Miguel, “So, how are you Miguel?” Miguel was happy to talk to Jason a little and told him about his wife and 4 kids and how they were doing. Jason listened to him with interest while they made their way toward the Strip.
Jason was somewhat anxious to find out where they were going and realized soon it was not going to be Ariana’s place, at the same time he was relieved that hopefully there were no stairs involved. The Strip was busy, people everywhere starting their weekend, walking all along the sidewalks, in and out of the casinos, restaurants, and bars and watching all the street performers. Limousines, nice cars and lots of taxis were driving all around. Jason had not been to the Strip in over two years, the last time he was at the Strip he was still on his two legs, walking and it was for his work back then.
The millions of lights were coming on now, dusk setting in and covering the city in an array of all colors and flashing lights. They passed the Luxor, Excalibur, MGM, Paris, and many other casinos. Jason saw the water fountains in front of the Bellagio shoot up with the light show and he really wondered where Miguel was taking him. Eventually they pulled off the strip and headed to the main entrance of the Venetian. Miguel smiled big at Jason, who looked out at all the people and the setup of the casino. It was one of the nice casinos with the water channels and the replica of the Rialto Bridge in Venice with people looking down onto the water. Now he also wondered if he should have brought some dress clothes, not just his jeans and T-Shirt with a hoodie. Ariana surely would have told him.
Miguel parked in the front, “We are here Mr. Jason.”Jason nodded, “O.K.”
He waited for Miguel to open the door and hand him his folded wheelchair which he quickly unfolded, attached his crutches again and he had Miguel hang his back pack onto the back of the chair. He transferred into his chair with Miguel watching. Jason asked him, “How much is it, Miguel?”
Miguel waved his hand, “Is paid for already, Mr. Jason. No worry!”
Jason nodded, “O.k.”
He wasn’t all the way sure what to think of all this and felt somewhat out of place and a bit overwhelmed.
Miguel said, “I go in with you Mr. Jason”
Jason said, “You don’t have to Miguel.”
“Yes, Mr. Jason I have to, part of order is.”
Jason shrugged his shoulders, “Really?”
Miguel nodded, “Just for moment.”
He gestured Jason to wheel on and locked his taxi with the beeping key. Jason wheeled toward the door, it opened automatically, valet attendants were standing off to the side, and a security guard was at the door as well and let Miguel and Jason pass without problems. Inside the foyer it was busy and Miguel told Jason, “You have sit over there.”
He pointed to an area with some lounging chairs and some tables, some people were sitting around. Jason did as told but didn’t want to wheel up to the area all the way. He stayed where he could see Miguel going to the reception desk and talk to the receptionist.
They talked, laughed and then Miguel came back to Jason, “Is done Mr. Jason. You wait here for Miss.”Jason swallowed, “Miss who?”
“Miss Ariana! She come and get you.”
Jason nodded, “O.k.”
He was still confused what all this was about.
Miguel smiled warmly at Jason, “You have wonderful night and lot of fun, Mr. Jason. I will see you soon.”
“O.k. Thanks a lot Miguel. I will see you soon.” Miguel knuckle bumped Jason and left.