Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Twist Of Fate Chapter 3

Recap of Chapter 2
Matthew is back to his apartment after spending some time with his family. He discovers with his friend Ted the new technical adjustments made for his need and tries to adapt to his new situation. Melissa is brought up in the conversation and it is still a sensible topic. 

A few weeks have passed since I returned to my apartment and I can say I’m doing pretty good considering the circumstances. I still have to deal with constant spasticity and when my left leg decides to protest, I have to expect sleepless nights but I don’t complain. As the doctors told me, it could have been much worse.

It’s been four months since I haven’t seen or talked to Mel and I’m trying to get used to the idea of not having a girlfriend anymore. Of course I can’t pretend she never existed. I still have feelings for her and I don’t want to completely erase her from my memory. I have news through Ted and I am less shameful since she isn’t angry at me for giving her back her belongings. She is even relieved I took the initiative. I understand she wouldn’t have come herself and I don’t blame her. They are leaving soon for Italy and maybe we can talk when they come back.

My friends come to visit me quite often and sometimes we stay at the apartment and order some takeout food or I cook. Yes, I can cook! Not elaborate dishes but I can do pasta, pizza, steaks and a few specialties of mine. Sometimes my sister comes to my rescue after her classes and improvises a good dinner for a few famished athletes. We also eat out from time to time. It took me a while to venture out on the streets with my new mean of transport, but I am getting more and more at ease and try not to pay attention to the curious and nervous looks of passers-by. I live very close to the Navy pier and my street is boarded with countless restaurants, cafes and bars. It’s easy to go to a different one every night. There is no need to take a car and it is convenient for me as I don’t have one yet. I sold my Porsche 911 turbo to Henrik, one of my Swedish teammates and I plan on buying a less sporty and more comfortable one. Anyway I don’t need such a fast car. It is just that I never had an expensive vehicle as a teenager and as soon as I could afford one with my NHL generous salary, it had to be a flashy one. I do love nice cars but they are not my priority in life, at least not anymore.

And you are going to tell me: what about your sex life? Of course I will be lying if I tell you I am not concerned about sex. I am deeply apprehensive and very frustrated for not being able to know what sensations I have left down there. I know for sure I can’t have an erection naturally and I’m unable to ejaculate. The mechanism still works with a pill of Viagra for the hard-on but that’s about it for my experience as ‘a rookie para’. I can’t feel anything though, and I wish I could find a female partner to help me discover how my broken body can sexually function. Do I still have erogenous zones? Can I still feel aroused? Can I please a woman in any other way other than penetration? I have been on the verge of knowing lately but the encounter didn’t go far enough. I’m sure you want to know what happened, even if there is nothing to be proud of.

So, I am in a bar down my building with my buddies, and they have the foolish idea of hooking me up with a girl they obviously know or hired for the occasion, like for a bachelor party. I am not really in the mood but my friends are desperate to help me out, and I don’t want to sound like a spoilsport or disappoint them. She looks nice but not my type. Her name is Cindy. She is also a bit sassy, talks too much and doesn’t seem too bright, but what do I care? I am set up for a one nightstand with no strings attached, just for testing my sexual abilities. After my friends’ many previous attempts I can’t escape this time. We have drinks, maybe a little too many for me but I need them for stimulation. Then I take my setup date upstairs, pushed by my conspirator teammates with their winks and dirty looks. In the elevator she starts talking, “Matthew? Can I call you Matt?”
“Huh…Sure.”
“So I heard you’re a hockey player?”
“Was.”
“How did you become paralyzed?”
“A bad fall.”
“Is that scar on your cheek also from the fall?”
“No, this one is from a blow with a stick.”
“Ouch! It must have been painful. That’s really a shame because you have a very handsome face.”
When I open the door, she goes on, “Wow! This is amazing. Is it a rental?”
“No, I own it.”
“It must have cost a fortune. I bet hockey pays well. It’s a bummer you can’t play anymore.”

This isn’t a very encouraging conversation as a preliminary step, but I told you she isn’t the smartest girl.
“Make yourself at home. I need to use the bathroom. Help yourself with a drink, I won’t be long.”

The top of the pet peeves’ list for a paraplegic is bowel or bladder accidents, especially in an intimate moment. With a disposable catheter I thoroughly empty my bladder, take a quick shower, put some briefs on and a towel on my knees. I don’t want to shock her right away with my skinny legs or undress awkwardly in front of her. When I get out she is lying on my bed already in her lace underwear, a glass of white wine in hand, “You want one?”
“No thanks. I had enough to drink for the night.”
“Come.”
She pats the sheets with her free hand. Well, she isn’t the shy type either and to be honest she has a great body. It feels awkward for me to invite a total stranger in my bed and worse, I have the bad feeling to be with a hooker. I had a lot of temptations during my touring across the States and Canada for years, but looking at pretty girls and making cheeky comments on butts and tits is neither a crime nor an infidelity. However, I am not a ladies’ man and was faithful to my long lasting relationship. For that matter, my first thought right now goes to Melissa, thinking I’m deceiving her. I haven’t been with a woman since our break up and am not thrilled about the strange situation. After all, it is not like I am in love with this girl. I didn’t even ask for this to happen, so let’s not feel guilty and take the best of it. I transfer quickly on the bed and scoot over making sure the towel is still hiding my withered limbs. 
“Are your legs that ugly you don’t want me to see them?”
“I don’t know. They are thin compared to the rest of my body.”
“You sure are in good shape. You must exercise a lot.”
She is giving me a once-over with an appreciative glance and I suddenly feel more confident,
“Every morning. There is a fitness center and a pool in the building.”
“You can swim?”
“Yes, but not as fast as I used too though.”
“Can I?” She is asking me permission to remove the towel. I nod. She stares at my legs for a long moment looking uncomfortable.
“You cannot move them at all?”
“Nope.”
“You can’t feel anything?” She starts poking my left thigh, exactly where one of my sensible spot is.
“Just a little bit in some areas on my left side.”
I am the one feeling uncomfortable now. No one has ever touched my legs intimately since my return, except for Abby’s massages. I remove her hand and put it on my chest.
“I can feel here.”
She starts caressing my bare and hairless chest and my shoulders. When she brushes my nipples I feel a tingling in my lower abdomen. It is an unknown but pleasant sensation. 
“Can you do that again?” I ask timidly.
“Do what?”
“Touch my nipples.”
It is such a strange feeling after all those months of sexual abstinence that I'm suddenly taken by a strong feeling of embarrassment.

She is clumsy and I am too. We are not sure of what to do. It is a first for both of us. She resumes caressing me and with her fingers she tweaks the tip of my nipples.
My heart starts beating faster, my breathing becomes heavy and loud and I feel a few drops of sweat dripping from my forehead. Is it pleasure? Sexual arousal? I glance down between my legs, but my penis is as flabby and limp as a noodle. She shots a glance in the same direction and taking my cock in her hand she starts masturbating me.
“No… please stop this!” It’s more of a shout than a friendly pleading.
She looks up at me baffled.
“I can’t feel a thing. You’re wasting your time.”
“You mean you can’t have a hard on?”
“That’s exactly what I mean. At least not like this.”
“Like what then?”
“I need a… chemical stimulation… like Viagra.”
“Well, do you have any? You want me to get it?”
“Not really.”
Now she definitely looks nonplussed. How could she understand that having a hard-on won’t give me any pleasure at all. It will just be visual for my male pride. And how could I tell her that egoistically I am using her for a personal experiment. I need to know how I can get aroused, but I have no intention to return the favor. 
With a jaded sigh her hand goes back to my chest, but my feeling of excitement subsided. She is straddling me while I am seated straight with my head and back resting on the headboard. I just wonder if this whole idea is really a good one, when I feel a sharp pain in my hip which makes me groan. Cindy jumps in surprise, “What happened?”
“Can you move a little bit? My leg hurts.”
“But you told me you couldn’t feel anything.”
“Barely but when I feel something it’s painful.”
Abashed she shifts from my lap and my leg starts convulsing like crazy. She instantly climbs off the bed frightened. Then my other leg joins the spasm party.
“Oh, my God! What is that? Can I do something? Should I call someone? 911?”
“No, no! Don’t worry it’s normal. They are just spasms. I have them quite often. It will calm down in a minute. I’m sorry. I should have warned you. I can’t control them. It looks bad but it’s not a big deal.”
“Not a bit deal? But look at you. You don’t seem good to me. The whole bed is shaking.”
She keeps staring with a frown of uneasiness. She doesn’t know how to react, as I am pressing my hand hard on my knees to stop the shaking. It is another bad attack and it won’t go away that easily. I don’t want her to keep witnessing this.
“I’m going to the bathroom and come back, ok?”
As I move to the edge of the bed I am unable to transfer into my chair. I am experiencing a combination of spasms and muscle contractions and the pain in my hip worsens. I feel bad, really bad and I cannot pretend I am ok.

“Matt I like you. You are nice and you really are my type of guy, but I can’t do this. I have to leave I’m sorry.”
“Ok, don’t be. I understand.” I flinch and bite my lips.
“Can I do something for you before I go? Help you get in your chair maybe?”
She is really trying.
“No thanks, I’ll take it from there. It’s best if you leave now.”
She approaches me warily making sure not to touch my legs, which are now very stiff and trembling feebly. She pecks me quickly on the cheek, the good one and leaves silently. What a complete fiasco.
                                                                   ****

“Thank you guys, I made a fool of myself.”
“Ok, not a big deal. Next time we’ll find you a more willing and experienced girl.”
“Oh no, please! No next time. Let me suck this up. Where are you taking me now?”
The instigators of the disastrous date came earlier today to pick me up, but without telling they decided my grieving period was over. Meaning: I cannot stay away from the ice rink anymore.
“I am not sure I’m ready for this.”
“Please Matt, we need you in there. You have to come and root for us. It’s an important game. You haven’t seen us play in a year.”

They are great guys and they are my friends and my teammates. I can’t fail them any longer. They waited patiently for my come back. If not on the ice, I could still support them and cheer them up from the bench. At least I have to try.

Entering the arena gives me an intense emotion. The cold, the noisy and cheerful audience, the skates scraping the ice, the advertising jingles, loud music, all of those are boosting reminders of good times. My closest friends, Jarrod, Greg and Rob take me to the locker room with them. I am welcomed by Coach Mike and the rest of the teammates I played with. They all hug me warmly. I haven’t seen some of them since they came to visit in the hospital. They are from all over the world. It is a cosmopolitan team as all of the other teams: Russia, Norway, Denmark, Croatia, Czech Republic and Canada. I know after my injury the players went through a rough patch for a while. We were a united team and no one wanted to be captain after me. The coach had to hire Garrett Lewis, a player from the Boston Bruins who has outstanding results, but not as good as mine yet. We all played against his team and I know he is great stricker. I congratulate him and welcome him cordially with a slight twinge of sadness, thinking he is officially replacing me. Then I tell everyone how I missed those vibes. 
All of a sudden my eyes are attracted to the corner of the room and I freeze in astonishment,
“How come my name is still on a locker?”
Coach who had been silently looking at me for a while starts speaking, “Because it is still yours with your gear in it too.”
“But why? It’s already been a year. I won’t use it anymore.”
“It’s our lucky charm and it really brought us luck. We couldn’t wipe away our captain’s name, and Garrett also wanted it that way.”
I am touched and can’t reply to that.
“Come, you still have your spot on the bench as well.”
As a spectator I am not really allowed to be on the players’ bench. Anyway, if my wheelchair is sporty and not bulky, I can’t fit in the narrow and bustling bench. While being settled in the first bleachers just behind the Black Hawks’ camp, I have another shock.
“Dad! What are you doing here?”
“Supporting my son’s team.”
Now I’m sure of a plot to drag me here, but I’m really glad to have my father by my side.
“It’s good to have you here, son.” He hugs me with emotion, and then the voice of the speaker starts echoing in the microphone,
…And tonight we have the privilege and the honor to welcome a special guest. Matthew Vincent, former Captain and the star player of the United Center is now in the bleachers with us to support the Black Hawks. Let’s give him a big round of applause…
I guess it is a day for surprises and emotions. All the giant screens are showing my face, cameras zooming in on me, and all the audience stands up to pay me a tribute. Needless to say I can’t get up, but my dad takes my arm and lifts it in sign of victory. I wave at the crowd while I am thinking: Please remove the cameras from my face before I start crying like a baby.

Fortunately the players are entering the ice rink and the attention is drawn to them.
As soon as the referee throws the puck between the attackers, it is like I am skating on the ice with them, holding my stick, running after the puck and...scoring. I feel a jolt of adrenaline rush into my brain and my veins. I’m screaming, encouraging, cursing, and ranting. The coach shoots me glances over his shoulders the entire game, nodding, smiling and winking at me. We win. It is a great game. Oh jeez! I missed all that. Tonight I am a captain in spirit and I love it no matter what. We all go to celebrate our victory including my father.
                                                                ****
Not having a job is weighing me down, but working in an office is less an option since I went back to the arena, and I am busy these days. I spend a lot of times watching the players practice and play, and I’m going to all the Chicago games. I am also back to the gym on a daily basis and going to the rehab center once a week for my ROMs and the ‘stand- up’ sessions with my therapist Shawn. And today is the day.

“Matt, will you stop that please. That’s not the right way to do it. You have to let us lift your feet one at a time and take slow steps, instead of swinging both your legs at the same time.”
Both therapists are looking at me rather unhappily and I’m laughing. They are still way behind me while I have almost reached my finish line.
“It’s much faster this way and I am saving you some time guys.”
I am pushing hard on my crutches to lift my dead hips and literally throwing my legs forward in a risky momentum. Shawn seems really pissed off, “You know that’s not the goal. It is not a race. You need to keep your muscles toned so they won’t weaken more. Like this you are straining your hips and back way too much.”
“What muscles? They are already atrophied. Do you think making four steps in ten minutes will help me walk again without braces?”
I am a bit cynical there but I am tired today and I want to speed up the session.
“No Matt, it won’t, but it is good for your joints to stand on your two feet the longer you can without doing your antics. If you go too fast like you do, you can lose your balance and make a bad fall with your braces locked.”
“Sorry guys. I didn’t want to sabotage your work. Let’s start again and I’ll be a good patient.” 
Unfortunately I can’t do any of it. Both my legs are convulsing. I can barely return to my wheelchair under Shawn close supervision. He gives me a ‘I-told-you-so’ severe look, takes my crutches away and removes my braces quickly. 
I feel guilty. “I didn’t do it on purpose, promise. I’ll make it up to you next time and let you do whatever you want with my legs.”
I was nicknamed ‘the stuntman’ by the rehab medical staff and they like my sense of humor. I am relentless, always in a good mood, trying to stimulate the new patients and encouraging the kids. I joke around with the therapists and I can say despite the adversity, everyone is more upbeat when I am around.
For the time being, I am more like trying to deal with my spasms while Shawn is massaging and tugging at my left leg, which is competing with the right. 
A mother and a little boy in a wheelchair have been staring at me for a while with interest and curiosity. The mom gets up and approaches me shyly, “Hi, I am sorry to interrupt in a bad moment but…my son has a lot of spasms too…and he doesn’t want to get out of the wheelchair. He was in a car accident, breaking his pelvis and his two legs. The casts had been removed but due to some nerve damages he is having a hard time to walk again. The doctors are confident he will regain full use of his legs but it is a long process. He is depressed and I am helpless. He doesn’t want to do any of the exercises, and he doesn’t listen to anyone…I was wondering… if you could try to put some sense into him. He admires you and he wants me to take him to the center only when it's your day.”
Then, her eyes glance down at my legs, “I feel bad asking you this but as you also have…spasms, I thought…maybe…”
“What’s your son’s name?”
“Tim.”
I look at the motionless boy slouched in his wheelchair. If he is sulking and seems sad, he is nevertheless looking straight at me intensely.
“Hey Tim! Come over here.”
 I can see a hint of a smile on his sullen face. He rolls towards me and his mom.
“How old are you Tim?”
“Ten. Well… nine and a half and you?”
“Twenty-nine. Well… twenty eight and three quarters.”
“When I’m twenty nine I want the same cool wheelchair as yours.”
I chuckle, “That’s not going to happen because in a few months you’ll be walking and you won’t need wheels anymore.”
“But I can’t walk, I tried!”
“You have to try harder because being in a wheelchair is not fun. I wish I could walk.”
“But I saw you walk with the crutches. My spasms are so bad I can’t even stand up.”
“I couldn’t at the beginning either, but I worked hard and I succeeded even with my spasms. You think we could do it together?”
“You mean you’ll show me how?”
“If you want me to.”
“Ok. Can we do it now?” His face lits up and his mom is all smiles now, giving me a grateful look. Reluctantly, I have to disappoint the suddenly enthusiastic boy, “Not now. I worked too hard and I’m tired. But how about tomorrow?”
He turns to his mother. “Can we come back tomorrow Mom, please?”
She nods. That’s how I started to come every morning to help Tim to walk.

8 comments:

  1. What a cool way to end this chapter! I really love where you are taking this.

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  2. this is great. More chapters please

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  3. This is awesome! The whole chapter was great but ending was very sweet and good. I am looking forward to future chapters to come!

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  4. Love your writing!
    Great hero!
    Looking forward to his adventures.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

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  5. Just read the first three chapters and I love this story! The ending to this one was awesome and I'm looking forward to the next one. :-)

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  6. Thank you for your support Mille. I love your stories too!

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  7. Nicely written, it sounds like Matthew is getting his life together and even feels confident enough to help the little boy, Matthew seems like a strong minded guy

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  8. You're doing a great job in English! I couldn't imagine writing a story in French. I love the male point of view. Matthew is a sweetheart. Thank you!

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