Kieran found a disabled parking spot close to the front entrance. Erin was out of the car before he could even get his wheelchair out of the backseat and assemble the wheels to it. Even though he really would have liked to open the door for her again she shut the door just when he got into his Quickie.
She waited for him at the back of the car and when Kieran came wheeling around to her he said lowly, “I wanted to get the door for you.”
"Don’t worry about it Kieran, I’m fine, really.”They made their way to the entrance. Since there was a live band playing that night, there was a fee to get in. Kieran pulled out his wallet, paid for both and motioning Erin in front of him he followed right behind her. It was busy already but when people realized Kieran wheeling in some moved out of the way and to others he had to make known that he was trying to make his way through. He hadn’t really been out in crowds too much lately and for a moment he deliberated if it maybe had been a bad idea to go into a crowded place like this. Erin looked back at Kieran, then got behind him and watched as he made his way through the crowd trying to find a good spot to sit. She wasn’t sure if he was all right with all the people, some inconsiderate when he tugged on their shirts or said a loud “Excuse me”. Some looked down on him almost annoyed but he stayed calm and finally they found a spot away from the stage where the band was playing and Erin had a chair to sit on at a small table. Kieran pushed his wheelchair closely next to Erin. She smiled shyly, hoping that he was okay with all the people. It was loud and hard to talk to each other.
A waitress came and Kieran ordered another beer and Erin a Cranberry Vodka.
He sat right next to her and leaned over, trying to communicate with her, “It’s crowded tonight.”
Erin nodded and smiled, not attempting to speak, because she knew it was too loud and she would have to shout.
They sat next to each other without talking and listened to the band play 70’s and 80’s rock. Their drinks came and they toasted each other.
Erin glanced at Kieran from the side and watched him as he sat hunched forward slightly with his hands holding the beer bottle in his lap.
He couldn’t ignore the doubts that it had been a bad choice to come to this place and he felt bad about having brought Erin out. It was too crowded and too loud to talk to each other. He felt his hands tremble some at the thoughts running through his mind about how to fix the situation.
Just at that moment to his surprise Erin softly placed her hand on his upper back. She had sensed his doubts and she softly let her hand run between his shoulder blades for a moment. He looked over at her and she smiled at him and took her hand off again.
She wanted to make him feel at ease about his decision, because she felt his tension as he nervously watched the people around them. A weak smile brushed over his face but she saw the hesitation in his eyes.
She leaned over to him and loudly she said into his ear, “The band is really good.”
Kieran nodded but didn’t say anything else. They quietly sat next to each other for another three songs, just listening, watching people, and drinking.
Kieran was more than relieved when the band announced a twenty minute break and the intermission music that was then played out of the speakers was not as loud anymore and it was actually possible to talk.
He looked over at Erin with his green eyes and started, “I’m sorry Erin. I guess it wasn’t a good idea to come here. I didn’t know they have live music tonight.”
“Don’t worry about it Kieran. It’s all right. They are good though but it is hard to talk while they play.”
“Yes, it sucks. I shouldn’t have brought you here tonight.”
“It’s really all right Kieran. We can stay here for a little while and right now they are on break and we can talk.”
He nodded insecurely and tried to shake the tension he felt about his decision.
Erin asked him, “Do you come here a lot?”
“No, I have only been here once with my brother-in-law and they didn’t have live music that night. It wasn’t that loud. I didn’t know about the live music tonight.”
Erin realized he was still concerned about his decision and she tried to think of a way to make him feel better, “Kieran, I really like this place. It seems like a fun place to hang out and have a drink and listen to music. I love all kinds of music and I’m definitely into the 70’s and 80’s music. What kind of music do you like?”
Kieran’s eyes still scanned the place nervously until he met Erin’s eyes again and answered, “I like Rock mostly.”
Erin sensed his apprehension and she thought of something else to say, “What bands do you like?”
Just then a group of people squeezed behind him and in the process of making their way passed him, laughing and drinking, some drops of a beer landed on Kieran’s head and shirt. In the scuffle someone pushed his Quickie and he involuntarily rolled backward away from Erin. He quickly grabbed his rims to stop the movement but his expression turned dark and he turned around toward the group and said angrily, “Hey, watch where you’re going! Someone spilled beer on me!”
Erin worriedly watched the scene unfold as one of the guys from the group turned toward Kieran, looking down on him, “Dude, fuck off…maybe you are in our way.”
Kieran felt his body tremble and his hands get sweaty as he pondered about letting the moment go or saying something back to the guy.
He felt a charge go through him at the confrontation and before he had a chance to say anything back, Erin stood up and said loudly, “We are not in your way. This is not a walk through area. You could have gone around us.”
The guy moved his eyes toward Erin, obviously surprised at her interference, “It is not YOU who is in my way; it is your cripple friend here in his fucking wheelchair.”
Erin’s expression turned angry now and just as she wanted to say something else, Kieran pulled on her dress and said tensely, “Erin, let it go.”
The broad shouldered guy looked from Kieran to Erin and said slowly with a mean grin, “Yes, Erin let it go.”
Kieran then pulled Erin back down and pushed himself in front of her, looking up at the guy, “Just get the fuck away from us.”
The group that was with the guy tried to convince their buddy to keep moving but instead he actually leaned down over Kieran and placed his hands on the tires of the Quickie, moving very close to Kieran’s face. As Kieran tried to back away some from him, the guy held the tires in place and Kieran smelled the alcohol on the guy as he ordered slow and sarcastically, “Next time cripple, park in the fucking disabled spot and not in people’s path!”
Kieran looked him straight in the eye and with the words he couldn’t help himself anymore as the anger inside of him tried to surface and within seconds he threw a punch directly in the guy’s face, causing his lip to bleed right away.
The guy’s expression turned furious as he grabbed Kieran by his shirt under his chin and pulled him up some, “You should have not done that, asshole.”
Kieran didn’t say anything but prepared himself for what was coming at him. He put his hand to the guy’s wrist but it didn’t do anything but provoke the guy even more as he pushed his fist further up under Kieran’s chin and then with his other hand grabbed Kieran by his neck and actually pulled him out of the wheelchair. Kieran felt his airway get cut off and when he threw another punch into the guy’s stomach he couldn’t react fast enough as the guy violently threw him over to the side, people quickly jumping out of the way as Kieran hit the ground hard. Everyone started yelling at the guy and before the guy could kick Kieran on the ground, his friends pulled him away and two bouncers quickly appeared as someone had called for help.
Erin felt her whole body shake and she screamed from the top of her lungs at the instigator, “You fucking asshole…why don’t you pick on people who can actually beat the crap out of you….you asshole…”
She was furious and she heard Kieran calling from the ground, “Erin…”
She looked over at him and rushed to his side, getting down on her knees, “Kieran, are you all right?”
Some people around them expressed their concerns for Kieran and also yelled at the fight happy drunk guy.
The guy screamed while they took him away, “Cripple threw the first punch….fucking retard. He asked for it.”
His voice became more distant as the two bouncers took him to the exit door escorting him out of the bar.
Kieran was embarrassed at the whole situation and when people asked if he was okay, he just kept nodding. He really didn’t want anyone to help him or even look at him anymore which was close to impossible with a crowd of people standing around him and looking down at him.
He got on his elbows and with a quick glance to Erin he asked, “Can you push my chair over here?”
He avoided everyone’s stares by keeping his eyes down and just pulled himself up to a sitting position. Erin brought his Quickie over but she felt helpless at the situation because she had no idea how Kieran would get up into his chair again.
She squatted down next to him, he didn’t want to meet her worried expression.
He just pulled his chair into position as Erin asked lowly, “Kieran, can I help you somehow?”
He shook his head and didn’t say anything. The band started playing again and distracted some of the bystanders, but not all of them. Kieran knew some people were still watching, curious at what he was going to do but he tried to block out his surroundings and focus only on pulling himself up into his Quickie.
He put the break on, without looking up he pushed himself up into a sitting position and he pulled his legs up in an angle right next to his Quickie. His legs kept falling over to the side and he had to adjust them again so they would stay put. With one hand on the seat, the other on the ground he launched himself up into the chair with a strong pull, knowing that when it came to something like this, his working out and upper body strength helped him get the weight of his body up. He finally had his butt up enough, his paralyzed trunk still causing him to fall forward some. With his hands he pushed his upper body up the rest of the way into the seat. He still kept his eyes down as he adjusted his legs, placed his feet on the footrest and shifted some to get a final comfortable position. Erin watched him worriedly but at the same time in total amazement. Her heart was beating like a drum all the way into her neck and she felt a charge go through her body at watching Kieran transfer from the floor into his wheelchair. She had never seen anything like it before and now her body reacted in ways that confused her very much.
She watched as he patted some dust from his jeans and eventually he looked up at her and without saying anything she knew already.
She grabbed her purse and nodded at Kieran who then let her get in front and wheeling behind her through the crowds he kept his eyes down.
At the door the bouncers asked him, “Hey man, are you all right?”
Kieran nodded, “Yeah, I am fine.”
“Sorry about that. That asshole won’t be setting foot in here anytime soon.”
“Thanks, I probably won’t be either…it’s all right though. It wasn’t anyone’s fault.”
They let Kieran pass with an apologetic look on their faces at his comment but there was nothing anyone could do at this point.
Erin smiled weakly, nodded a Thank you to the guys and then followed Kieran out into the street.
He pushed his chair away from the entrance in the direction of where his Mustang was parked and Erin had to take quick steps to keep up with him.
As he got too fast for her she called, “Kieran, please wait up!”
He stopped away from everything, in a quiet spot close to his car.
Erin approached him from the side and he didn’t look at her right away until she said, “I am really sorry about…I don’t know…did I do anything wrong?”
He shook his head and looked up, “No you didn’t do anything wrong. It was my fucking mistake to come here in the first place. I am really not good with crowded places.”
Erin stood next to him and she wasn’t sure what to say or if there was anything she could do.
Softly she added, “I got really scared when the guy grabbed you…”
Kieran’s body had been trembling since the guy told him he was in his way. His legs now were spastic and he felt his hands shake from the struggle moments earlier, felt the cold sweat under his T-Shirt from the fear of getting more of a blow than what he ended up getting when the guy threw him to the ground. He had not been in any confrontation with just anyone, except the two times when he was taken to the hospital after his suicide attempts and then got admitted to the Psych unit, where they had to restrain him to keep from hurting himself. Now he felt like a failure, an idiot in front of Erin and an idiot for putting her in a dangerous situation. The date had turned to shit in his mind. She had witnessed him weak and basically helpless at the threat from a guy who was drunk and felt like fighting. He didn’t stand a chance anymore to defend himself or anyone against any kind of danger. After the second time in the Psych ward they also had taken away his guns that he still owned at that point. Fiona had told him straight out she did not want any kind of weapon in her house and if she would ever find one she would throw him out. At that time he had submitted to her request, now he wasn’t sure anymore if it was a good thing to be without a gun but at the same time he also knew that a gun in his hands could be a very bad thing.
When Kieran didn’t say anything else, Erin repeated, “I am sorry Kieran. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything to the guy but I just got so angry when he got in your face. We weren’t in the way…you weren’t in the way. He was just an asshole.”
Kieran heard the crack in her voice and he felt bad but all the sudden he couldn’t bring it over himself to say anything comforting to her besides, “I can take you home now.”
He put his hands to his rims and pushed his Quickie toward the parking area where his car was waiting for them.
Erin followed quietly and when he unlocked the car, she got in without any words and she only shyly glanced up from under her bangs when Kieran transferred into the driver’s side and stashed his things into the backseat again.
He turned the key in the ignition, the car started with a roar and for a moment Erin was worried he would be too angry to maybe drive now but she didn’t want to say anything.
They silently drove through town and made their way to Erin’s house. She had planned it all so different and had hoped she could invite Kieran in for a nightcap. Now he sat there in the car next to her, quiet and cool and she almost felt like crying because she didn’t know what to think or do.
He stopped the car in front of her house but he didn’t make a move and just kept his hands on the steering wheel and stared out in front of the car and she could see he was breathing quickly.
She had no clue at what to do and so she shifted and said lowly, “Well then, thanks for bringing me home Kieran and thanks for the evening.”
She barely got the words out and she felt her chin shiver, and she tried not to cry. She hoped so much he would say something, anything.
She pondered about giving him a hug or a kiss and decided to just get out of the car and opened the door.
Kieran felt a knot in his throat that prevented him to talk but when Erin opened the door, about to get out he turned and looked at her and swallowed hard, “Erin, wait…”
His voice trembled and he took a deep breath before he started lowly, “I am so sorry about….how this ended…I…”
He couldn’t talk, he felt the knot again and he pressed his lips together, swallowing again and thinking of the right thing to say to her.
She had the door open but she still sat halfway in the car and she looked over to him. She then took his hand from the steering wheel and she felt how it was cold and sweaty in her hand and she said softly, “Kieran, I don’t want this to be the first and the last time…I had a great time tonight. I really like you and I don’t want this to end already. Tell me you did not have a good time tonight until the asshole crossed our path?”
He looked down on her hand holding his, and he nodded, and when he looked up, he answered, “I did…I had the best night in a very long time…but there are things…things that are going on with me…”
He stopped again and he blew out air trying to calm himself and she said, “I don’t care what is going on with you. I like you and I want to get to know you.”
He nodded and again swallowed, “Some stuff is difficult for me and I really….I didn’t want to screw this up tonight…but I did and I made an idiot of myself.”
Erin leaned over some, “No you didn’t. You…I was so worried about you, but you weren’t scared and you were so courageous and the way….the way you…”
She couldn’t finish the sentence because she felt strange all the sudden at telling him how amazed she had been at watching him transfer from the floor into the wheelchair. It obviously had been a difficult situation for him and she didn’t think it was right to actually get some strange enjoyment out of his misery.
Kieran looked up at her attentively, “The way I did what?”
She was worried he would be mad if she explained what she felt but he repeated, “The way I did what?”
She kept her eyes down and took a deep breath, then lowly stuttered, “The way…you pulled yourself up from the floor…into your chair….I have never… I’ve never seen anything like it…and I know…you were angry…or embarrassed…but I was…amazed at how you did it.”
She finished the last few words quickly and trembling at admitting how she had felt about that particular situation.
Kieran was surprised at her revelation because he had felt anything but great when he had to pull himself up with everyone watching and especially in front of Erin and there she was telling him she was amazed at how he had done it.
He kept his gaze on her for a moment finally getting her to look up and she said lowly, “Kieran, I don’t know but I really want to see you again and I would love to get to know you and who you are. Please don’t let this be the end because of some stupid person. We should be above that and not let anyone mess up what maybe could become.”
Erin still held his hand in hers as he thought about her words for a few moments, then he said, “You are right. I shouldn’t let this asshole mess up what I feel being with you tonight. I am just really…I don’t know…I guess I am out of practice and the last time I was with a woman I was still on my legs. Now everything is different and it is new territory for me.”
He now took her hand in his and rubbed his thumb over the back of her hand, continuing lowly, “I do want to see you again and next time I will make sure we won’t end up in some crowded place with idiots in my way.”
He laughed lowly and Erin joined in. She leaned over some more and he looked at her, only the street lamps reflecting off his eyes when he moved in on her, with his hands pushing his body closer to her, the gear shift in between them, keeping them from being even closer.
He touched his hand to the side of her face and pulled her in for a soft kiss. Erin felt her heart beat quicken and she was so relieved that he had not given up already. She let him kiss her lips but was surprised when he didn’t let the kiss become more intense, instead softly taking his lips off hers again and letting his hand run down the length of her hair.
He looked down when he took her hand in his again and she said softly, “Thank you Kieran.”
She pondered if she should ask him to come in but something told her that he would probably decline and for a moment she waited but then she gave it a try anyways and asked lowly, “Would you like to come in for a nightcap?”
Kieran thought for a moment, then looked up at her and answered lowly, “Better not tonight. Maybe some other time.”
Erin looked down on their hands and said softly, “I was afraid you would say that but it’s all right.”
He seemed to grip her hand a bit tighter, “I’m sorry Erin but I hope you can understand.”
She nodded and looked up at him again with shiny eyes, “I do.”
With that though she pulled her hand from his. Now she leaned over to him and Kieran didn’t have time to think when she took his face in between her hands and kissed him again, this time harder and more assertive. She felt Kieran’s hands up in her hair as they kissed for a while.
Kieran felt Erin’s enthusiasm and his heart was beating fast at her kissing him. He had thought taking it slower with the kissing was better but here was this woman who wasn’t shy about showing how she felt for him. She finally let her kiss subside and then looked down shyly.
Kieran asked lowly, “Does that mean there will be a second date?”
Erin looked up and smiled, “There better will be!”
“How about Sunday?”
“I have to pick up my girls from their dad’s house on Sunday.”
“Okay, when is a good day for you next week?”
Erin took Kieran’s hand again, “How about Friday again?”
He was disappointed about the long wait but he didn’t want to be too pushy either and he nodded, “Friday it is.”
“Thank you Kieran.” She looked at him with a warm smile, “I had a really good time tonight, even though it ended rough. I am glad you are okay though. I am really looking forward to seeing you again.”
Kieran smiled, “I had a good time too. Thanks for being understanding.”
With that she shifted some, took her purse from the floor board and with one more quick kiss on his cheek and a, “Call or text me”, she opened the door and climbed out of the car.
Kieran leaned over some looking at her and she turned around once more, “Bye Kieran.”
She let the door shut and he watched her walk up to her front door. At the door she turned around again and waved, then unlocked it and disappeared in the house.
Kieran took a deep breath and even though he felt very happy he couldn’t help that deep inside he felt a kind of anxiety about the whole thing.
He drove off but he didn’t really want to go home yet. He always loved driving around in his car, it let him forget everything and he felt independent and free. Even when he operated his car with the hand controls that had been installed for him it still made him forget that his body was broken and his legs didn’t work.
He drove through town and thought about the evening with Erin. She was beautiful and she was warm and seemed to have a good heart. He had kissed her, she had kissed him and that seemed enough to maybe say that they would see each other again and hopefully many more times. Kieran wasn’t sure what she really knew about his disability though and there were things he knew would come up sooner or later. Those things were one reason why he had declined her invitation to come in because even though it was probably not going to happen he was not sure what she expected of him. He had pushed the issues concerning his sexual performance out of the way for the longest time and he was fully aware that things didn’t work anymore for him but now there was a woman in his life again and he was nervous about eventually having to face those issues with Erin.
It was shortly after midnight now and he drove down to the Waterfront and found a parking spot where he was able to look out over the water. The full moon cast its light over the water and it blinked and glistened. In the distance he saw the faint lights of Sun Island, one of the nicer suburbs of the city connected to downtown by a bridge. He lived on the middle class side of town with Fiona and her family. He leaned back in his seat and just let his eyes scan over the water thinking about Erin. He wanted to see her again and he thought about how he could address his disability with her….