Tuesday, January 19, 2016

For The Love Of Not Walking Chapter 14

Kieran has an opportunity to open up to his brother-in-law. He is also nervous at the upcoming meeting with his friend Andy but is hoping very much that the meeting would bring him some answers as to what may have happened the night he got injured.


Chapter 14

After the ordeal he had a restless sleep, seeing strange visions in his dreams and waking up a couple of times until finally his body gave in and he fell into a deeper sleep at five in the morning and only woke up when he heard a knock on his door.
It was Sunday morning after 10 o’clock and he sleepily answered, “Yes.”
Fiona peeked into his room and came over to his bed. Kieran just laid there blinking sleepily at her.
She seemed nervous, “We are going to church.” 
Kieran nodded, still adjusting his eyes to the light, “Okay.”
Fiona seemed like she wanted to say something else and for a moment merely looked at Kieran.
They both started talking at the same time, “I am…”
Fiona stopped talking, Kieran stopped, and said, “You go first.”
She sat down on the bed, grabbed a corner of the blanket, and fiddled with it in her hands, “I’m sorry about what I said last night.”
Kieran pushed himself up on his elbows and looked up at his sister, saying lowly, “And I’m sorry about causing you to worry all the time.”
She looked at her brother from under her dark bangs, “Kieran, I love you. You will always be my little brother and I couldn’t bear anything happen to you. You know you can trust me and if there are things going on I want you to talk to me and not try to figure things out for yourself if it gets to be too much.”
“I know that.”
“If there is anything bothering you, please talk to me.”
“I will be all right Fiona, thanks for putting up with me all this time.”

Fiona leaned over toward Kieran and hugged him. He pushed himself up on his hands and pulled his body up leaning against the head board. Whatever was bothering him, Fiona knew he wasn’t really ready to talk to her about it.
She got up, “Well, we are leaving now. Are you going to be all right?”
“I am fine.”
“We’ll be back around two probably. The kids want to go eat at the Pancake house after church.”
“Okay, have fun.”
“You want me to bring something for you?”
“No, I'll eat something here. Thanks though.”
Fiona looked at Kieran with weary eyes, “I love you baby brother.”
He smiled and replied, “Baby brother…really? I love you too.”



For a while Kieran just leaned there on his headboard and pulled his phone over checking for any messages or emails. There was nothing.
It was almost eleven thirty when he transferred his naked body into his Quickie and wheeled into his bathroom. On his lap he had the balled up incontinence briefs, which he threw away in his bathroom. He catheterized and lots of urine flowed into the toilet as he sat there yawning and still somewhat tired, staring at the yellow liquid running through the tubing into the toilet.

When he was done he stared at himself in the mirror for a few moments. His dark hair was messy on his head, his green eyes were blood shot, and a thin layer of dark facial hair was showing.
In comparison to his strong arms and upper body his legs were thin and weak.

When he had stepped on the IED his right leg had almost been ripped off his body. There were multiple scars running up and down his legs where pieces of shrapnel had penetrated his skin tearing it open. He leaned back in his wheelchair and scanned his body. The scar from his neck down over his chest was only slightly visible around his chest with the tattoo of the Coat of Arms of his former Infantry regiment covering it up mostly. The scar was a reminder of a large piece of metal hitting his body as he was laying on the ground as at the same time the bullets were coming at him and flying over his head. All the small scars of the shrapnel that had pierced his body when his flag vest had been ripped off of him were barely visible but when he ran his hand over his chest he felt them. Some of the wounds he had suffered had been on his back with some bullets having just barely grazed his skin but two bullets having hit him right in his spine and one severing his T-4 vertebrae, and at impact injuring his T-3 vertebrae. He didn’t really remember much since it all happened so fast, the explosions, and the unexpected ambush of rebels who had been watching the convoy make its way through the area and trying to dodge IED’s in the hope of making it to the camp alive. It had been chaos and the unit had lost 10 young men in the attack, a dozen others hurt seriously, Kieran having been one of them. Later on the news they reported that this was one of the worst days for the US Infantry since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan.

Kieran sat there and just stared at himself, lost in thoughts and trying to remember the fateful night. He barely could bring up the memories even though his mangled body was a constant reminder of his fate. He was alive though and for that he knew he should have been thankful but instead he had been bitter and angry a lot, sad and depressed, and had been trying his hardest to come to terms with his situation. He, Andy, and other soldiers from his unit had been recommended for the Purple Heart. The process was ongoing and the Military would inform him when the day would come for him to receive his Purple Heart. He really didn’t want it and had been okay not having heard from the Military yet. Apparently they had a lot of Purple Heart recommendations to work through.

Kieran wheeled over to the bathtub and with his Quickie parked in its usual angle he transferred his body over onto the shower chair, found his balance on it, pulled the shower curtain and turned on the water. He waited a little, feeling with his hands for the temperature of the water, making sure it wasn’t too hot before he lifted the shower head off its holder and let the water run over his body.

He had the house to himself for a few hours since the family had gone to church and wouldn’t be home until afternoon. In his room he got dressed on his bed and then wheeled out to the kitchen where he made himself a sandwich and sat there eating and watching TV at the same time. He didn’t have any plans until later that evening when he would be meeting Andy. He was somewhat nervous about the meeting.

After he was done eating Kieran hung out in the living room, watching a Football Pre Season game, an indication that fall was around the corner. The family walked in with lots of chatter after 2 o’clock.

Kieran glanced at them from the couch and everyone except for Ashleigh greeted him. He didn’t miss her hostile glance toward him and he knew then that she was still mad at him. He didn’t want his niece to be angry with him but he really didn’t know what he could tell her about the whole deal with Erin.

As the afternoon progressed Tyler worked in the back yard and Fiona was preparing dinner.
Kieran eventually wheeled outside onto the back porch where Dominic was setting up a ring toss game. He had asked Kieran to play with him. When he came wheeling out Ashleigh who had been sitting on a lawn chair on the porch got up and with a mean glance toward him she walked into the house. Kieran looked at her in passing and was thinking about saying something but he couldn’t find the words and she was too quick passing him.

He swallowed and only Dominic pulled him out of the moment, “It’s set up Uncle Kieran.”
Kieran put his hands to his rims and wheeled to the appointed position from where the ring tossing would take place. Tyler joined them and also tried his luck with the game. They enjoyed a few rounds of ring toss and Dominic actually beat Kieran and his dad and won the overall game before he went inside the house to use the bathroom.
Tyler sat down on the lawn chair and turned to Kieran, “It was cool to drive your car last night.”
Kieran smiled, “Thanks for driving her home.”  
Tyler replied, “My pleasure.”

For a moment the two men were quiet until Tyler asked, “So you and Chloe’s mom isn’t going to happen then?”
Kieran watched as Tyler stretched his legs out on the lawn chair and pulled his baseball hat into his forehead some trying to block the sun and glancing over at Kieran.
Kieran looked out into the yard and then back at Tyler whose eyes were still on him, “I don’t know.”
“What don’t you know?”
Kieran wanted to tell someone about everything that had been happening and even though he always could trust Tyler he didn’t think his brother in law would understand.
Lowly he answered, “I’m still dealing with shit or let’s say dealing with shit again…it is not a good time.”
Tyler knew something had been going on with Kieran and he hadn’t missed any of the things he had said the other night.
With his hands interlocked on his belly he asked, “You been having some vivid dreams lately?”
Kieran looked up alert at Tyler’s question and thought of his answer for a moment, then said lowly, “Yeah, really vivid.”
Tyler didn’t stop and asked, “You're walking in your dreams?”
Kieran felt his hands tremble at his brother in law’s questioning, “Yes, it feels like it's real and it happens almost every night.”
“Does this have anything to do with the Erin thing?”

Kieran was breathing a little faster and he still felt the urge to tell Tyler what had been happening to him. From under the bib of his hat Tyler kept his eyes on Kieran, waiting for an answer. Kieran took a deep breath but didn’t say anything.
Tyler could tell that Kieran didn’t feel too good about the issue with Erin and he started lowly, “She’s an all right woman you know. She’s not bad looking at all either. When you went on a date with her I was happy for you man. I’m not sure what is going on but I know Fiona is worried sick and I keep telling her you’re all right and you know what you are doing but even I can see that something is going on with you Kieran. I’m not going to question your decision to not be with Erin or at least not right now because I trust you have a reason for that but I also don’t want to see you alone for the rest of your life. You are still young enough to meet someone and maybe even have a family and even though things may not work the common way anymore you know we would stand behind you in any way and support you in whichever path you choose. You’ve been doing great and you’ve really been getting a grip on life again and when Erin came into the picture everything seemed to go well for you. I’m not sure what drives you right now Kieran but I want you to know I’m here for you just like Fiona and if there is stuff going on that maybe you are more comfortable talking about with me you know I’m here for you man and I don’t have to tell Fiona anything.”

Kieran had hung his head listening to Tyler’s warm words and a knot had been forming in his throat. He wanted to talk to him, he wanted to tell him but he couldn’t figure out how and if it was the right thing. He swallowed and his chest moved up and down quicker.
Tyler didn’t miss Kieran’s anxiety increase and he added, “We’re here for you, Kieran. No matter what.”
Swallowing again Kieran’s voice almost broke when he started, “I’m scared I’m going crazy, Ty.”
Tyler shifted some, surprised at the declaration and watched Kieran, who was obviously having a hard time, “What do you mean?”
Kieran shook his head hanging still and he pressed his lips together as he inhaled through his nose. Nervously he looked up toward the door and then over to Tyler.
Tyler was surprised when he saw Kieran’s eyes shiny as he continued nervously, “I keep…I keep seeing stuff and feeling stuff that I can’t explain.”
Tyler wanted to know more because he really had no idea what Kieran was getting at and he asked lowly, “What is that stuff Kieran?”
Kieran stuttered with a trembling voice, “At night…I get…I get feelings back…in my legs…I think.”
He tried to hold it together and not break down right there.
Tyler sat up in the lawn chair and moved closer to Kieran leaning in on him some, “What do you mean Kieran? That you are actually able to stand or walk?”
Kieran nodded and his voice trembled, “Yes…and I don’t know why.”

He took quick breaths now and he wanted to tell Tyler everything that was going on but even hearing himself say the words it sounded insane to him.
Tyler leaned closer, “Maybe I can help you figure it out.”
A tear ran down Kieran’s cheek as he looked up at his brother in law, “There is other stuff too…but I’m scared. I don’t want to get put away because it all sounds crazy and I don’t know how to explain it…”
His words faded.
Tyler took some quick breaths himself now at Kieran’s revelation and he put his hand on Kieran’s knee, “Hey man, look at me! We will figure that shit out. I will help you and I won’t tell Fiona anything if you don’t want me to. It will be between you and I.”
Tyler sensed that the revelation had cost Kieran courage and he could sense the actual fear Kieran had about telling him these things, “Don’t worry man, okay. We will talk about this some more….”
Just then Dominic came running out on the porch again and Kieran swallowed and wiped over his eyes quick, looking at Tyler pleading and scared.
Tyler repeated lowly, “I will help you figure this out. Don’t worry.”
He patted Kieran’s knee.
Kieran just nodded, then putting a fake smile on his face as Dominic interrupted the moment, “You want to play again, Uncle Kieran?”

He really didn’t feel like playing anymore and Tyler answered, “Hey Nickie, why don’t me and you play a couple more rounds? Kieran is tired now.”
Dominic pouted, “But I want Uncle Kieran to play again.”
Kieran had collected himself some but his hands trembled as he put them on his rims.
He took some quick breaths and replied, “I think I need to lay down a bit Nickie.”
Dominic still pouted but was understanding nonetheless, “Okay, I guess.”
“Thanks buddy.”
With that Kieran grabbed his rims and spun his chair toward the door.
He felt shaky and Tyler said, “Hey, get some rest okay.”

Kieran nodded and while Tyler got up from the lawn chair he wheeled off. Tyler felt his heart heavy at Kieran’s disclosure but he knew now something was seriously going on with his brother in law and he needed to help him some way or another. He had no clue at how much truth was in Kieran’s words. It had sounded strange what he had said but he could also sense the obvious fear Kieran had by telling him those things. He would have to find a good and quiet time to talk to Kieran more. He was truly worried about him but he would not mention any of this to Fiona.

When Kieran wheeled into the house he tried to avoid Fiona’s glances from the kitchen but to his relief she didn’t stop him or talk to him. He quickly wheeled toward his room, still feeling weak and like he wasn’t getting enough air. Music sounded out of Ashleigh’s room as he wheeled by it.
In his room he closed and locked the door behind him and he stayed right by the door and let his head hang. He was worried now if it had been the right thing to do and having let Tyler in on some of his secrets. His mind was racing about Tyler and how much he could trust him but in the past his brother in law had never let him down and so he was hoping it was the same with this.

He was going to meet Andy at 7 o’clock at Frankie’s Bar & Grill. It was almost five now and he decided to get some rest after he would cath. He laid down on his bed and before he fell asleep he set his alarm to 6 o’clock.

After he got up he informed Fiona that he was going to meet Andy that night. Fiona was surprised at the planned meeting but didn’t ask any questions about it. The tension between her and Kieran still lingered and she just wanted her brother to be okay again.
She wished him a good evening when he left out the door at shortly before seven. Tyler nodded and smiled at Kieran as he wheeled out of the kitchen.

Kieran felt okay after his nap but now he was nervous to meet his long-time friend. It was still a warm evening and he had his windows down as he was making his way through town.

He got to Frankie’s ten minutes late and now he was transferring into this wheelchair nervously shutting the car door and locking it with the key. He looked around for Andy but didn’t see anyone. He also knew Andy drove a BMW and was trying to see if the car was already in the parking lot somewhere. He didn’t spot it and for a moment was worried if Andy wasn’t going to show up since it was already almost 7:15 now.

He pushed his Quickie up the ramp to the restaurant front door but he didn’t go in yet and instead pulled out his phone and texted Andy:

Are you here yet? I’m outside the front door.

There wasn’t a reply but instead when he looked out to the parking lot he saw Andy’s BMW drive up and upon seeing Kieran on the front porch Andy blew his horn and pulled into an open parking space.
It didn’t take long and Andy came toward the door with quick steps and a big smile, “Hey man!”
Light footed he jumped up the few steps to the front door. Kieran was nervous seeing his friend.
Andy though smiled at him, “Kieran, man, it’s so freaking good to see you.”
Kieran smiled at him and Andy leaned down and they hugged warmly, Kieran mumbling his greeting.

When Andy stood back up he looked at Kieran with serious eyes for a moment, “I'm truly happy to see you K-Man.”
His voice sounded shaky when he said it and Kieran could sense that it was an emotional moment for Andy. It was just as emotional for him to see Andy. The last time he had seen his friend was almost two years ago at Rehab and now he swallowed and said lowly, “I’m happy to see you too, Andy. It has been way too long.”
Andy replied laughing, “Shit man, IT has been way too long.”
Andy looked good and happy.
He had always been taller than Kieran, even when Kieran was still on his two legs and now Andy towered over him as he was sitting in his wheelchair trying his best to not show his insecurity, “You ready to go in?”
“Yeah, let’s do it.”

They were placed at a table for two with one chair moved away for Kieran to pull up with his Quickie. Kieran didn’t miss the curious glances Andy threw at him.
When he was situated at the table and looked up he met Andy’s eyes on him.
Andy pressed his lips together for a moment and then said with a thoughtful expression, “It is so good to see you.”
Kieran nodded and smiled insecurely, but didn’t say anything.
They both were nervous and the moments were awkward and the interruption by the waitress was welcome. They had menus placed in front of them and both ordered a beer.
For a moment it was still quiet until Andy started slowly, “Kieran…listen man…”
Kieran looked up at him and Andy continued, “I’ve been thinking about you always…and when I wrote to you and you never wrote back I didn’t know what to do.”
Kieran still felt off some from the earlier conversation with Tyler and now he knew that Andy’s and his meeting could become emotional too and he was hoping he would be okay.
He nodded but didn’t say anything and Andy nervously continued, “I really didn’t want to lose our friendship…”
“Me neither but…the last two years were rough and maybe we can just forget about it and pick up where we left off…where we left off the night before everything turned to total shit.”
Andy seemed surprised at Kieran’s word choice but added, “Yeah, definitely…I want to pick up where we left off.”

Their beers came and after the waitress had taken their food order they both lifted and tapped their glasses.
Andy said, “To friendship.”
“To friendship.”
After they had set their glasses back down Kieran asked, “So, you are getting married soon?”
“In three weeks.”
“Are you excited?”
Andy still seemed reluctant to carelessly talk about his life but nodded, “I am excited but I’m also nervous.”
“You’ve been with Carrie for a few years now, right?”
“Yes, five years…I guess it is time to tie the knot.”
Kieran nodded and Andy asked lowly, “What about you? Anyone in your life?”
Kieran looked down for a moment and then up with serious eyes, “Not really. I just went on a date recently for the first time in almost three years, man.”
“And?”
“Nah, probably nothing.”
Kieran felt his heart sting at hearing himself.
Especially at Kieran’s bleak answer Andy had obvious trouble talking to him, “Do you work?”
And again another bleak answer from Kieran, “No, I haven’t been able to.”
Andy nodded and not to have to say anything he took a sip from his beer.

Kieran was the one who put it all out there when he started, “Listen Andy…I know this is weird and awkward. I’m not really sure if we can actually pick up where we left off. Too much stuff happened and I’m not really living a great life or anything. I’m happy for you and it seems that you were able to move on and you are going to be really happy with Carrie, I know that. A lot of things are going through my mind lately and I really needed to see you because I have to ask you some stuff about that night.”
Andy swallowed and looked at Kieran with sad eyes, “You don’t think we can be friends anymore like we used to?”
Kieran looked down and shook his head, “Definitely not like we used to be.”
“Why are you so sure about that?”
“I don’t know…I’m not very stable. I’m dealing with a lot of shit and I’m still working through all of it. I’m not a good friend at this time.”
Kieran took a deep breath and then looked at Andy with serious eyes, “I mean…fact is that I’m messed up. My body and my mind is fucked and I don’t know how you are coping but I haven’t been coping very well. I still need meds, freaking support group and even a Psychiatrist.”
Andy’s eyes were sad still, “I’m sorry…I haven’t forgotten – I’m messed up too.”
Kieran nodded and added, “But you will be all right. You were always a strong dude.”
“I’m getting med boarded out. I can’t do 20 years man.”
Kieran was somewhat surprised at Andy’s revelation. He had thought Andy was still doing all right in the Military.
“PTSD messed me up too. I have to get out. I did some stupid shit. I have flashbacks all the time. I’m on meds too. I’ve been sitting in a fucking office for the past year because they can’t let me go out in the field anymore. The unit is going to deploy again in spring, I’m getting out.”
Kieran watched his friend curiously, “I’m sorry.”
Andy shrugged his shoulders and took another sip from his beer.

There was a silence again and their food was brought.
Before they started eating Andy said, “Maybe we can’t pick up where we left off that night but I think we could try to start anew. I haven’t forgotten about our friendship Kieran. We had some good times. You are partly the reason I am with Carrie. She wants to see you again too. I don’t think we should just give up like this.”
Kieran took a deep breath, “Maybe you are right. We should give this another chance.”
“We both went through a lot and I’m dealing with stuff just like you but I think we should be friends and not lose touch again. I wouldn’t want that K-Man.”
Kieran nodded and lifted his glass again and they tapped their glasses.

Both started on their food and were eating quietly for a moment. Kieran was glad things had been said and also that Andy didn’t want to give up on their friendship. They just needed to overcome their insecurities and try to find each other again as friends.

During dinner Andy asked, “So what is it that you needed to talk to me about?”
Kieran stopped in his eating and finished his bite, then started, “Well, a lot of stuff has been on my mind and I kind of want to remember what happened that night.”
“The night we got attacked?”
Kieran nodded, “Yeah.”
Andy finished a bite, “I’ve been trying to forget about it all….”
Kieran just looked at him and Andy added, “Unsuccessful…”
“There are things I don’t remember…I want you to help me remember.”
“Okay, what do you want to know?”
“Everything! From the moment I stepped on the fucking IED my mind is drawing a blank. I know I collapsed and thought my leg was ripped off and that is it.”
“They were shooting at us then.”
Kieran nodded, “Yeah…”

Andy ate some more and then looked up again at Kieran, “Well, you were on the ground when I got there. There was blood everywhere, your leg was injured badly and you had that metal piece on you, it had cut your neck and chest. Your flag vest was ripped off. There was so much blood.”
Kieran felt his hands tremble at Andy recalling the moments and he nodded.
Andy set his silver ware down and drank from his beer, “I need another one.”
Andy looked around for the waitress and when she walked by he showed her his beer glass. She nodded.

Kieran had stopped eating, he wasn’t hungry anymore and he asked, “What happened then?”
Andy sighed, “Well, you were screaming and the bullets were all around us. I dragged you away from all the bullets to try to get to cover. You were screaming and bleeding a lot. When I dropped you in the ditch for cover you passed out on me and I kept screaming at you to stay with me. You kept opening and closing your eyes and I thought you were going to die.”
Andy was visibly shaking now, his hand picked up the glass and he set it down again because his hands were shaking so much.

He looked over at Kieran, “Why the hell do you want to know all this stuff again?”
Kieran saw that his friend was struggling with the memories of the night but he needed to know, “I’m sorry Andy…I need to know though.”
“Why?”
“I’ve been dreaming shit and seeing shit and I need to know what happened and what I said that night.”
“You didn’t say anything, you screamed in agonizing pain and nothing you said and screamed made sense.”
“What did I scream?”
“Gosh, I don’t know Kieran.”

Kieran was somewhat discouraged at what Andy told him about that night.
He took a deep breath and carefully asked, “Did you see someone there with me?”
Andy tilted his head some and asked right away, “Someone there with you?”
Kieran knew it sounded strange but he had to know, “Yeah, like a person…not a soldier. Not anyone from our unit.”
He was reluctant to actually describe the old man.
Andy looked at Kieran questioningly, “A person? No, there was no one. I was with you and then all our guys running around, screaming, some were hurt, some were dead and people were just running around trying to defend and secure the perimeter.”
“What all did I scream? I need you to try to remember Andy!”
Andy seemed to be getting annoyed, “Kieran, I don’t know what you were screaming. You were in pain, you were delirious. You were going in and out of consciousness. I applied a tourniquet to your leg, it was bleeding like crazy. I pressed my hand on the wound on your neck and I told you to stay with me. I really thought I was going to lose you.”

Andy stopped and looked at Kieran with dark eyes, “Why does it matter what you screamed? I don’t understand man…Tell me what this is about!”
Kieran replied lowly , “I can’t tell you yet. I just need to know if I made like a promise or something.”
Andy was wondering about his friend at this time, “Kieran, I do not remember you making a promise or whatever…I’m sorry. Maybe if you would explain to me why you need to know this I would be able to help you.”
Kieran contemplated if he should open up to Andy about his encounters with the old man and after a couple of moments he asked Andy, “Do you believe in angels?”
Andy was even more surprised now with the question and wondered if Kieran was all right.
“No, I don’t…”
Kieran nodded and then he just asked, “During the whole time I was screaming stuff did I say something like trading a relationship or love for my life or not being paralyzed?”

Andy sighed at the strange questions of his friend but he wanted to help Kieran and he wanted to remember but he couldn’t remember anything like it.
He shook his head, “I’m sorry Kieran. No you didn’t say anything of that kind.” He paused and thought for a moment, “Maybe you said stuff to the medics when they picked you up with the helicopter. I don’t know.”
When Andy mentioned the helicopter Kieran saw another opportunity where he could have encountered the old man and possibly having made the deal then.
“I need to find the medics who picked me up.”
“You won’t ever find them Kieran. It is impossible, they were a medic unit out of Fort Drum and we don’t have their names. You won’t find them Kieran.”

Andy was most likely right, there was almost no way to find the medics that had treated him for first response and just the thought of it made Kieran feel bad.
He nodded and when he looked up at Andy, his friend was surprised to see Kieran’s eyes shiny and glistening, “You are probably right Andy. There is no way I can find them.”
Andy realized how this whole issue had really moved Kieran and he leaned over and lowly stated, “Kieran, I wish I could help you with whatever answers you are seeking but I can’t. I’m just happy you are alive and here with me right now. I wish I could help you in any way and if you let me know what it is that bothers you or what it is that is going on maybe we can figure it out together. I hope you know you can trust me.”
Kieran wiped over his face and nodded, “Yeah, I know…I know. Thanks for trying to remember. I’m so sorry I put you through you this.”

Andy’s voice trembled, “I wanted to forget about all of that stuff, man. I was so scared and I was so fucking pissed. I didn’t want to lose you and when they took you away in the helicopter I knew I wouldn’t see you for a long time and maybe never again. I was almost sure I would never see you again. You here with me now makes me so happy and I want us to move on past all this shit and what happened that night. I dream of it all the time and I wake up screaming and crying and it doesn’t stop but I want it to stop. I don’t want to see the pictures anymore in my dreams but it doesn’t matter which medication I take. When I sleep it is always with me, always there and it will never go away Kieran and I hate it so much….”
Andy’s voice faded and he took a deep breath. They didn’t say anything anymore.

They got distracted by the waitress asking if they wanted another drink or dessert. They were done and asked for the check. They stayed quiet and Kieran felt bad for having put Andy through the conversation and the memories of that night. Above Kieran’s protest Andy paid for the dinner and they gathered their things and left the table. It was difficult for Andy to see Kieran in the wheelchair but he couldn’t help glance at his friend swiftly moving through the restaurant under some curious glances of other guests.

Outside Andy asked, “Where is your car?”
“Over there!”
Kieran pointed to his Mustang and Andy whistled, “Damn K-man. Nice ride.”
As he started down the stairs Kieran let his Quickie roll down the ramp and he met up with Andy at his car.
“Yeah, my one and only luxury.”
“That’s a sweet ride dude…V-6 or V-8?”
“V-8 of course.”
They laughed and Kieran added, “Here, you can have a look inside.”
He unlocked the car and told Andy, “You can get in and check it out.”
Andy didn’t have to be told twice and got into the car while Kieran wheeled up right next to him and watched as Andy admired the inside of the Mustang.
He did find the hand controls and looked over at Kieran, “This is what you use for breaks and gas?”
“Yeah.”
“Neat.”
“Your Beamer isn’t shabby either. It’s a cool ride too.”
“Yeah, I love it too.” For a moment Andy checked out the features of Kieran’s Mustang and eventually asked, “You want to go for a night cap somewhere?”

It was almost nine and Kieran did feel somewhat tired but then again he felt he should maybe still go for a drink with Andy since their dinner had been so serious and full of painful memories.
“I guess.”
Soon they were both pulling out of the parking lot and Kieran followed Andy to a bar he had recommended.

The place was accessible and not too crowded for a Sunday night. They found a table for Kieran to pull up to and only Andy ordered another beer. Kieran opted for a Soda and even though Andy joked about Kieran just drinking Soda he did understand.
They talked about the Military, Andy’s upcoming med board and also the wedding when Andy said, “I want you to be there too. I’m inviting you to my wedding dude.”
Kieran smiled, “Thanks.”

The more he talked to Andy the better it felt to be hanging out with his friend again. Andy took his mind off all the things that had been happening. He joked and laughed and in the process made Kieran laugh.  A group of women sat at a table not too far away and they had been eyeing Kieran and Andy as soon as they had come in. Kieran didn’t want to meet their curious glances but Andy wasn’t too shy. He smiled and held his bottle up to them for a cheer which all the women replied with giggles and laughter.
Kieran didn’t push the issue and Andy asked, “So, you said there is no one in your life?”
“Not really.”
He started telling Andy about Erin and how he met her and who she was but he didn’t tell him that at this time their relationship was not really going anywhere and his excuse was that he was still dealing with stuff which was true in a way but not in the way Andy understood it, “Well, you shouldn’t be alone K-Man. She sounds like she could be good for you. You shouldn’t let all this PTSD shit stop you from enjoying life man.”
“It’s not just the PTSD….I happen to be in a fucking wheelchair too. It’s kind of a turn off for most chicks and some stuff doesn’t work anymore for me.”

At that moment he remembered the strange things Erin had said to him the night he left her house angry and confused. He didn’t tell Andy about that.
Andy looked down, somewhat embarrassed at Kieran’s words but also curious.
When he looked at his friend questioningly Kieran just said it out loud, “Yeah, my junk is dead, man. No more use to me. Fucking dead meat.”
Andy didn’t know how to respond and Kieran added, “So yeah, I don’t have sex anymore.”
“Isn’t there stuff you can do or medications?”
“Yeah, I can use freaking Viagra and see if that will give me a hard on but even if that would be the case I don’t feel shit anymore. I can’t feel none of it, it’s fucking useless.”
Andy was somewhat oblivious at what advice he could give Kieran and he knew anything he would say wouldn’t make the situation better. He couldn’t imagine what Kieran went through when it came to not being able to get an erection anymore or have sex.
All he brought over his lips now was, “I’m sorry man.”
Kieran shrugged his shoulders and took another sip of his Soda, “It is what it is.”

Andy changed the subject asking about Fiona and the rest of the family. They spent another hour at the bar when Kieran felt slight spasms in his legs. It was time to go home.
At Kieran’s car Andy said, “So don’t forget! October 3rd is the wedding. I want you to be there. I will send you all the details and stuff.”
“Thanks, I’m looking forward to it.”
“Carrie is going to be so thrilled.”
Kieran laughed, “It’ll be good to see you guys get married.”
“I guess…” Andy paused and then said seriously, “Kieran, I am really glad we got together tonight. It means so much to me to be in contact with you again. We’ll have many drinks together from now on.”
Kieran laughed and Andy leaned in for a side hug and hand shake.
“It was good seeing you Andy. I’m glad too and I’m sorry I made you talk about stupid shit.”
“You didn’t really tell me what all this was about but I will just let it go for now. Whenever you are ready to tell me more I’m here for you, okay?”
Kieran nodded, “Thanks man.”
“Anytime you feel like shit and need to talk, call me or let’s get together.”
“Sure thing.”

Kieran thought about the conversation in his car on the way home. Apparently in Andy’s presence during that fateful night he had not said anything strange or agreed to some divine proposition some angel had put to him. He really believed that Andy didn’t have any idea about anything beyond the horror of the night in which Kieran almost died. If it did happen in the helicopter Kieran would never find any witnesses. He was disheartened that the meeting with Andy had not brought him any answers at all. They had ignited their friendship and that was a good thing but he had no answers and still no easy way to make this impossible decision of having to choose between Erin and walking.

At home everyone was already in bed, it was Sunday night after 11 o’clock as he made his way quietly through the house and into his room. Fiona had been waiting up in her bedroom but she didn’t come out when she heard Kieran in the house. She was just very relieved that her brother was home safe and sound.

In his room Kieran got ready for bed and played the evening over in his mind. It was a good thing that he and Andy had met up.
As he lay in his bed he brought up the messages from Erin and he read over them and his heart was heavy. He had no answers but all he had was a proposition from an old man who he wasn’t even sure was real or just some horrible joke of his imagination.
He felt tempted to text her, he wanted to talk to her, he wanted to feel her close to him, and he wanted to ask her questions about the things she had said to him. He wanted to apologize to her for having been impulsive and possibly having overreacted.

All of these thoughts were interrupted when at punctual 12:48 a.m. all his senses awakened again and put him through the nightly torture and ordeal of gaining sensation in his lifeless limbs and giving him the painful experience of a short time of life being normal again. This time he didn’t get up and he didn’t get his crutches to stand up with. This time he stayed in his bed and didn’t do anything but feeling the urine moisten his briefs, the sensation of the blanket and sheet on his legs, the pain his sprained ankle still caused him when he actually moved it, the distant itch of the healing wounds on his belly from a desperate night not long ago, and the sensation of being a normal man in his bed. And he cried once again, without sound but just tears streaming over his face as all the emotions came out from having seen Andy again, having talked about the pain they shared and now lying there in his bed, alone, confused and scared.
It lasted over 30 minutes, the illusion getting longer with every passing night just like the old man had told him. If he would get more minutes every night he could be walking in a year.

He pulled out his phone and with shaky hands and some tears dripping on the screen he tapped on the message option to Erin:

Erin, I’m sorry about everything. I don’t know if you could give me another chance but I think we need to talk and clear up some things. I’m hurting so much at the problems I have caused but I don’t know who to turn to anymore. There are things going on with me and I’m scared and confused. I can’t keep this to myself anymore and I need to talk to someone before it is too late. If you can forgive me for running out on you Friday night and for all the bad things I have written to you let me know and maybe we can talk. I really would love to see you again. I’m so deeply sorry, Kieran

He held his finger over the Send button for a moment and the pain in his heart was almost unbearable but he needed to talk to someone about what was going and maybe if she cared for him she would listen and believe him and not think him to be crazy and out of his mind. He tapped on the Send button and watched as the phone was sending the message across town to Erin’s cell phone.

9 comments:

  1. I'm happy you were able to upload the new chapter. It is such an emotional story and I enjoy it really much.

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  2. Hi Dani, I really love your story but there is one thing which is bothering me. It just doesn't make sense to me that Kieran ist afraid no one will believe him when it is so damn easy to just show them. I mean he has about half an hour of walking every night, he could go over, wake up Fiona and Tyler and -bam!- proof. They could see it with their own eyes. So why doesn't he?

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    1. Patience my dear...:-)...no, I get what you are thinking but he can't, not yet...it will all tie together I promise, thanks for reading though

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    2. Ah, patience... what was that again? ;-)

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  3. Everything is slowly unfolded. I like it! I think his story would be very interesting even without this supernatural twist. Antways, I like it nonetheless.

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  4. OMG! Med boarded? Great chapter. Your writing is getting so good. Thank you for the wonderful stories. You seem so knowledgeable of issues soldiers face.

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    1. :-) Thanks so much...20 year Military spouse but been around it even longer than that, a little bit got stuck with me

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  5. It's sometimes hard to see Kieran struggle, but I know you will put it all right in the end.

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  6. I'm really loving this story. I am surprised that he never tried to jack off when he has feeling. That would be the first thing I would do :)

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