Kieran spent the rest of the night in bed. He was not restrained anymore. Another Officer came in the early morning around four to relieve Officer Figueroa for a few hours.
Officer Figueroa came into the room before he left, “Kieran, I’m leaving right now and I will be back later on today. Officer Barnes is in charge right now.”
“What is going to happen to me?”
Officer Figueroa sighed and blew out air, then answered, “I really don’t know yet. What you did last night on the Interstate wasn’t good and any other person would get charged with reckless driving, resisting arrest, and endangering traffic. Or at least get their license suspended and have to pay a heavy fine. I don’t know what will happen.”
“Is there a chance for me to get out of this?”
The officer sighed again, “There is a chance…but right now you stay in our custody until a decision is made.”
Kieran sensed that he wouldn’t get much more out of Officer Figueroa and stopped asking questions.
He was still on IV fluids, and a very low dose of the sedative. It was just enough to keep him sleepy and unable to resist anything. He knew he was still on the Foley catheter and he hated it. The bag got emptied out twice during the morning and he just laid there. He received some oral Baclofen for the ongoing spasms and they let off sometime during the later morning. His wheelchair was nowhere in sight and he assumed it was with his car wherever the police had taken it to.
He was allowed to have the TV on during the morning and with the head part of the bed reclined up some, he was watching TV and waiting for any news from the police. He didn’t have any way to contact anyone. He thought about the nightly ordeal and now it all seemed like it didn’t even really happen. Everything seemed surreal to him and he hoped very much he would get out of this situation.
Erin had called in sick to work that Monday. She was not capable of thinking clear at this time. Kieran was on her mind the whole time and she was also waiting to hear from the police or from Fiona. She stayed in touch with her during the day, texting back and forth. Fiona and Tyler had both called in to work as well. The kids had not gone to school. Everyone was out of their regular routine, worrying about Kieran and waiting for any news and hoping they could see him soon.
It was late afternoon when Officer Figueroa came back to the hospital, Kieran was just sitting over a tray with dinner. He had been patiently waiting but now was relieved when the Officer finally came into his room again.
Kieran looked at him trying to read his expression on what kind of news he had.
He pushed the tray away from himself, he didn’t feel like eating anymore.
Officer Figueroa pulled a chair over, sat down, and looked at Kieran for a moment.
Kieran felt nervous at what he would find out.
Eventually Officer Figueroa started, “So I’m here on business but I’m also here privately really.”
Kieran didn’t know what that meant.
He felt his hands get sweaty in his lap and looked down for a moment as Officer Figueroa continued, “I still don’t know what I witnessed last night but I do know that all of it was just a rough situation for you. I’m not sure what all you went through on your deployments and nonetheless I thank you for your service and defending America’s freedom. We’re somewhat in this together. I protect within the country’s borders, you protected outside the borders. And I know you sacrificed a lot for that when you got injured, you sacrificed your body and somewhat your mind I assume. I tried to get some sleep today after that whole deal last night but I couldn’t get any because I kept thinking about what to do and I decided I’m going to drop all the charges and let you off with a ticket. I also went by the restaurant today once more and they dropped their charges. You are free to go and I won’t confiscate your license but you are on probation and so you need to keep yourself in the clear because if something comes up again as in speeding or anything of the likes you will have your license suspended.”
Kieran nodded and felt his heart beat in his neck. He took a deep breath and tried to keep his emotions in check. He was extremely relieved.
Lowly he said, “Thank you.”
“I called your family and they will come and meet us here and then you will follow me to the station where we have your car and belongings.”
He got up and added, “The nurse is preparing your discharge papers and the Dr. will talk to you again as well.”
Kieran nodded, “I really appreciate what you did for me. Thanks again.”
“I will be back in a little while.”
The officer left the room and Kieran let his head fall back onto the pillow, taking a deep breath, relieved that he made it out of this.
Dr. Baxter came in a little while later and talked to Kieran once more but still was left with the unanswered questions on how this could have happened to Kieran when now he was just as paralyzed as ever. Kieran felt bad that he couldn’t give Dr. Baxter a better explanation.
The nurse eventually took out the Foley catheter and IV’s, pulled the needle of the IV port and taped over the poke in Kieran’s hand. Kieran was relieved to see the Foley gone.
Fiona, Tyler, and Erin appeared in the room around seven that evening. Tyler and Fiona hugged Kieran and Erin came up behind Fiona. Officer Figueroa came back and talked to Tyler right outside the door. Fiona had brought some fresh clothes for Kieran. His soiled clothes were handed to him in a plastic bag.
Fiona walked out and left Erin with Kieran. He sat in his bed, still in the hospital gown and Erin came up next to the bed. It was odd but she felt somewhat nervous.
He looked at her and held his hand out to her.
Hesitantly she put her hand in his, “Hey.”
Kieran smiled weakly, “Hey, I’m glad you’re here.”
“Me too. How are you?”
He gently pulled her to him and they kissed softly. Erin looked down shyly.
Kieran felt her nervousness, “Are you all right?”
She nodded, “I don’t think I slept at all last night.”
"It’s not your fault. It was all so much.”
Kieran nodded and sighed, “Yeah, it was.”
He squeezed her hand some, “It’s behind us now.”
Erin nodded and she then moved over to Kieran and hugged him.
He wrapped his arms around her and mumbled into her hair, “I love you.”
“I love you.”
Kieran looked into the bag Fiona had brought, “Let’s see what’s in here. I guess I should get dressed.”
Erin didn’t think she should stay in the room with him, “I’ll give you a moment unless you need help or something?”
“I think I can get it.”
She nodded unsure, “Okay, I’ll be right outside.”
Kieran didn’t stop her and she walked out, pulling the curtain behind her.
Kieran got dressed on the bed. Fiona had brought a pair of sweat pants, boxers, a T-Shirt and a hoodie. Kieran still had his sneakers by the side of the bed.
Eventually Erin called from outside, “Are you done Kieran?”
When she came back in Kieran was sitting on the edge of the bed, holding himself steady with his hands by his sides, and his naked feet were slightly dangling over the floor. His sneakers and socks were still next to the bed.
Erin walked over to him, “You want me to get your socks and sneakers on your feet?”
Kieran nervously accepted Erin’s offer.
She felt her hands tremble and her heart beat fast as she grabbed his white sock. Squatting down in front of him, she took his still foot and Kieran watched her as she slipped the sock on his foot, then into the shoe and tied the laces with trembling fingers. His feet were cold and for a moment she pondered warming them with her hands when she remembered that Kieran wouldn’t feel any of that.
He sensed her nervousness, “I can get the other one if you hand me my sock and my shoe.”
She looked up from the task, “I’ll get it.”
Fiona and Tyler were still talking to Officer Figueroa and came into the room just as Erin finished tying Kieran’s second shoe. Fiona’s expression was somewhat curious, apparently surprised Erin had been helping Kieran with his shoes.
After Kieran got handed his discharge papers they brought a hospital wheelchair into the room. The bed was lowered and not too happy he transferred over into the chair. He didn’t want help from anyone. Erin watched him curiously and she could see on his face that he didn’t like this chair one bit. It was bulky and uncomfortable.
Even as the nurse wanted to push him out to Tyler’s car Kieran insisted to push the rims himself and the way he had said it kept the nurse from forcing the issue. Everyone could hear the tension in his voice.
His Quickie wasn’t around and he couldn’t wait to be reunited with his wheelchair in the all familiar love and hate relationship. He still pushed the rims of the hospital chair himself and when Fiona attempted to assist him some as he hit a carpet in the lobby he told her that he had it. She stepped away and quietly he wheeled out to the family car. The women got into the back of the Outback and Kieran transferred into the front passenger seat. He still felt somewhat weak as he made his transfer. He didn’t say much on their way to the police station.
Officer Figueroa drove ahead of them and Tyler followed. It wasn’t too far and they pulled into the parking lot. Tyler stepped out and as Kieran waited in the car with the women he saw Tyler talk to Officer Figueroa. Tyler turned toward the car and gestured to Kieran that he would be right back.
Fiona said in the back seat, “I wonder if he is getting your Quickie?”
Kieran replied, “They better get me my chair now.”
When he saw Tyler come back out of the station he saw him carry the Quickie down the stairs. Kieran felt a joy in his heart at seeing his wheelchair. Erin also felt some strange excitement seeing her boyfriend’s wheelchair. Kieran opened the door and Tyler set the Quickie next to the passenger seat.
The women got out of the car and Erin watched as Kieran transferred out of the car into his wheelchair. He seemed very relieved as he positioned himself and he glanced at Erin as he pushed away from the car.
Inside the station Tyler and the women had to wait outside as Kieran disappeared with the officer in another room and had to sign papers releasing his belongings and he was also handed the ticket for $ 380 and his probation paperwork.
Officer Figueroa handed him his backpack and a small plastic bag with his cell phone and wallet in it, “Here is your stuff.”
Kieran looked down for a moment, then back up at the officer, “Thanks again for letting me off the hook. I’m not sure how you did it but I can’t thank you enough. I never meant to cause any issues and I never meant any harm to anyone but it was just too much what had been happening to me. I was getting closer and closer to a breakdown and even though I tried to fight it I knew I wasn’t going to make it much longer. That night I just couldn’t keep it together anymore. Too much shit had been happening and it was stuff I didn’t understand.”
Kieran took a deep breath and Officer Figueroa thought for a moment and then replied, “It was a close one Kieran but what I saw last night, I just don’t know how all that was possible. I could see that it was a lot for you and everyone else really. I couldn’t get it out of my head and I kept thinking about it all over and over again and something told me that I needed to let you go. I have never done anything like this before and I had to work around regulations a little to make this happen.”
“Well, I won’t forget what you did for me and I will keep myself in check. It’s over now and I want to move on with my girlfriend and my family. I want to forget about all of that stuff.”
“I wish you all the best Kieran.”
When they came back out everyone followed the officer out to the Mustang parked in the back. Kieran felt a rush when he saw his car again.
Officer Figueroa smiled, “Well, you better not drive like the devil with that ride of yours again. I get it but you are on probation Kieran and if you violate that you will have a problem. They will take your license for sure then.”
Kieran nodded and the officer handed him his keys.
He unlocked the car and Tyler asked, “Are you okay to drive?”
Kieran threw his backpack into the back seat.
They said their Good Bye and after Kieran had taken the wheels off his Quickie and stashed everything in the back seat, Erin got into the passenger seat.
Tyler turned to Officer Figueroa before he got into his car, “Thanks for letting him go. We can’t thank you enough for that.”
“It’s all good. He’s on probation for six months and he needs to pay his ticket soon.”
“We’ll make sure of that. Thank you.”
In the car Kieran turned to Erin and looked at her for a moment. She felt nervous but leaned over some and kissed him.
When they detached their lips Kieran said lowly, “Let’s go home.”
He started the car and the all familiar powerful V-8 engine roared and it sounded so good.
Tyler stayed ahead of Kieran on their way home.
Erin looked over at Kieran and asked lowly, “How are you feeling?”
“I’m all right. Just exhausted.”
“Are you okay to drive?”
Erin put her hand on Kieran’s thigh and even though he couldn’t feel it he saw it.
She said lowly, “I’m just so glad you are able to go home Kieran. I didn’t get any sleep after I got home last night. I called out of work. Actually Tyler and Fiona did too. We were waiting all day to hear from the police or from you. We were so worried. I was so scared, Kieran.”
“I was too.”
Erin was quiet again and eventually started nervously, “Kieran…what you did last night…it was…it was a big deal you know.”
“I know…I could have been charged and booked.”
Erin realized he thought something different, “I’m not talking about the car thing and all that. I’m talking about you confessing your love for me in front of everyone and with that apparently losing your...losing your ability to walk.”
Kieran stared straight ahead onto the road and his mind was drifting off once again to the whole situation and what he had given up.
Erin looked down shyly and then added, “I’ll do everything in my power to show you that you made the right decision. I’ll be everything for you, just like you are everything to me. I hope I can make up for what you lost last night. You are everything I want in a man Kieran and I can’t wait to spend my future with you.”
Kieran sighed and started lowly, “You don’t have to make anything up to me or proof to me that I made the right decision. The night I got injured it was meant to be that way. I was meant to not walk anymore and things happened the way they were supposed to. Here we are, I’m paraplegic for good and you are special in your own way and I’m very glad about that. I really just want to forget about it all now.”
Erin was still nervous, “I looked at the links you sent me…”
She stopped again and Kieran glanced over to her somewhat surprised. He had forgotten all about that in the midst of all the chaos that had happened the night before.
He asked lowly, “And?”
Erin sounded sad, “It’s a lot and I’m overwhelmed. I’m also shocked and it makes me feel…” She paused and took a deep breath, “It makes me feel weird and ashamed.”
Kieran looked over at her again and started, “Erin, listen to me…you don’t have to be ashamed for things you like and I want to look at those links with you and I want to be there for you with that. Just like you want to be there for me through whatever, I want to do the same for you. You’re the most important person in my life right now and I love you so much. I want to explore this with you and I think it’ll be good for you and me. I don’t know anything about it either but what I know about this so far, is that it’s definitely a good thing for a dude like me and I want to make you feel good about it all. If you are that way, it will be amazing for us and it will help me with my situation. And no, I’m not with you because I want to feel better about myself but I truly love you and I’m excited about this added benefit of our relationship. I hope you’re excited about it too.”
Erin felt tears in her eyes at Kieran’s words and sniffled her nose before she spoke, “I love you too not only because of the way you are but I love you as a person but I think I do need your help with all of this. It’s all new for me and I feel so overwhelmed.”
Kieran looked over at her again, “And that is what I will do baby. I love you and we will do this together.”
Erin nodded and wished she could have kissed Kieran right then and there but he had to keep his eyes on the road. He looked over at her and they smiled at each other.
When they got to Erin’s house she wasn’t sure if Kieran wanted to come in with her. He turned the car off and without hesitation he pulled Erin closer to him and looked at her for a moment in the light of the street lantern, “Erin, I’m so glad this is over. I want to be happy with you and spend every bit of time with you from now on.”
“I’m glad too that it’s over. I was so worried about you.”
He pulled her closer and kissed her hard and long.
Once they finally let go off each other Kieran said lowly, “I won’t get out tonight. I’m really tired and should get home. I hope you can understand.”
She nodded, “Of course. I’m tired too and I have to go back to work tomorrow.”
“Can I see you tomorrow after work then?”
“Yes. I get off at four thirty. Why don’t you come over for dinner at seven?”
“That sounds good.”
“The girls are here but I need them to meet you.”
“Yeah, sure. Should I bring Ash?”
Erin smiled, “You know the girls would never mind that.”
He smiled back at her, “I know. Well, if she has nothing going on I will bring her then. Seven sharp.”
Erin nodded and leaned over to him again. They kissed again.
“I love you Kieran.”
“I love you.”
Erin got out and Kieran watched her walk up to her door. At the door she turned around once more and waved at him.
At the house he pulled into the garage and after he had turned his car off he pulled his Quickie from the back seat, attached the wheels to its axles, and once the chair was positioned next to his seat he transferred into it enthusiastically. He paused, just taking in the moment of sitting in his own wheelchair again. It felt good and unfortunately it felt so right. He took a deep breath, got out his things and then locked the car.
Fiona was setting the table just as Kieran came wheeling into the house.
Ashleigh came running over and hugged her uncle, “Oh my Gosh, Uncle Kieran, I’m so glad to have you home. I was so scared.”
He held her, Ashleigh fell on his lap hugging him wildly.
“I’m glad to be home too.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, pumpkin.”
Dominic was a little more hesitant when he approached Kieran.
Kieran sensed his nephew’s reluctance and he reached his hand out to him, “Hey bud, I’m glad to see you.”
Dominic slowly moved his hand up to shake Kieran’s hand, “I thought you were going to jail.”
Kieran looked down for a moment, “Well, I’m not and I’m home again. And I’m very happy to be home with you guys.”
“I was scared for you Uncle Kieran.”
“I know, but I’m here now. We will shoot some hoops tomorrow okay.”
Dominic seemed a bit more relaxed now and grinned, “I will beat you.”
Kieran smiled, “You probably will. Come here.”
He pulled Dominic in for a hug and just then Tyler came into the front door and was balancing three Pizza boxes on his hands and arms, “Dinner is here.”
Kieran wheeled over toward the hallway and said, “I’ll be right out.”
He wheeled into his room. He dropped his back pack on the arm chair and wheeled himself into the bathroom where he had to cath.
He was very tired and exhausted and knew after dinner he would have to take a shower and then go to bed. After he washed his hands he looked into the mirror for a moment. His beard was showing darker now, he would have to shave in the morning. His hair looked stringy and his eyes looked very tired and were blood shot.
When he came back out the family was already sitting around the table and Kieran pulled up to his spot at the table.
Fiona touched his hand lightly and smiled, “I’m glad to have you home with us.”
Kieran nodded at his sister, “Me too.”
Dinner was somewhat quiet, no one wanted to mention the night before and everything that had been going on with Kieran over the weekend.
It was time to leave these things behind and look ahead.
The family didn’t object when Kieran excused himself after dinner and retreated to his room. He was exhausted but managed to get in the shower. Afterwards he got ready for bed and it was after eleven when he was in his bed, positioning his legs and leaning back on the two pillows behind him. He grabbed his phone and saw a couple of messages.
He read through Erin’s message, the one he never got after they took his phone away.
He also had a message from Andy and when he opened it, it was not short and had an attachment.
Kieran read through it:
“Hey K-Man, I wish I could go for beer tonight but I’m going out to eat tonight with Carrie. I’m sorry. Hey, I’ve been thinking about our conversation and you triggered some stuff in my memory. I’m actually kind of nervous about it and I didn’t really want to say anything because I didn’t know if I was just making up crap or if something actually happened. You asked me all these questions about the night you got shot and it was kind of painful to remember. I’ve been trying my best to forget about it but I wake up on many nights screaming and laying in cold sweat. God, how much I hate that we had to go through this shit, and seeing you in a wheelchair makes it all the more fucked up for me. I wish I could have helped you better. I really tried but when they shot again and it hit your back I knew it was going to be bad for you. So, I went through some old stuff and some old pictures. I found one for you and I don’t know if it means anything or if it somehow helps you with your questions but I have pushed this stuff so far away. I haven’t looked at any pictures or anything of us back then. Well, this is one I found and if you look at it you can make of it what you want. I thought I was crazy and maybe the lighting was weird, I don’t know but here you go. I just want you to know that I want us to hang out a lot more again. I missed you and I know things are different now but you’re a good friend and I care about you and your life. I want you to be part of my life again. So, we will have this beer later on this week, all right.”
When the message got to his phone the day before Kieran had been in the restaurant. Now he opened the attachment and it brought up two pictures and quickly Kieran realized they were from the fateful night. It was a sight of chaos and destruction in the first one, he couldn’t really make out anything but realized in the background himself on the ground and a type of light next to him. He couldn’t make out his face or any of the other faces, it also looked like there may have been someone’s finger on the lens because the left side of the photo was blurry. But Kieran could make out exactly the bright light over him and when he clicked on the next picture it was the same scene but zoomed in a lot closer and now he could see the light hovering over his whole body, inside of it the faint shape of a person. Kieran wore his Kevlar helmet in the picture, so he couldn’t make out his own face but he knew it was his body lying there in the cover of a building where Andy had dropped him after he had dragged him out of harm’s way. He was already shot in the back at that time and he could now also make out the metal piece in his chest. He saw a caption under the picture:
This is you on the ground after you got shot in the back. Freaking Pvt. Dixon took these pics. You remember that idiot, he wanted to become a journalist and had his camera with him everywhere. I don’t know why this light is above you.
Kieran stared at the two pictures and the light hovering above him. This was him, his angel hovering over him and probably making a deal with him at that very moment. He felt his hands tremble and took some quick breaths.
When he scrolled back over the other messages he saw one from Brandon about wanting to have that beer with him. He had never answered Brandon back because again he had been dealing with things at the restaurant.
Then another message popped up and he didn’t recognize the name right away but when he opened it, it read:
Sorry Kieran. Of course we have access to cell phones and all of that and so when I checked yours last night I came across the two pictures your buddy had sent you. I guess even though this presence visible in the photos seemingly made your life hell lately, it did help you get out of a bad situation you put yourself in last night. It made me believe what you had said and what had happened to you was indeed true and with that I made my decision to let you go. After all, the light had been clearly visible even in the pictures your niece had taken until it all disappeared. Take care!
The message had been from Officer Figueroa. Kieran dropped the phone next to himself on the bed and leaned back again, letting his mind drift off, eventually just falling into a deep sleep.