Chapter 8It was afternoon when Kieran made his way out into the kitchen. Fiona was vacuuming and a cake was in the oven. Dominic was outside in the street with his friends playing Basketball and Ashleigh was at the movies with her friends. Tyler was still at work.
Fiona turned the vacuum off, “Good Afternoon.”
He wheeled into the kitchen and Fiona watched him for a moment, waiting for him to say anything, which he didn’t. She went back to vacuuming the bedrooms. There was no carpet in the family room, the living room area, and also the dining room, only a few accent rugs making the house cozy, but easy enough for Kieran to wheel around the rugs.
When Fiona was done Kieran was back in his room and she knocked on his door. She needed to talk to him about the previous night. He sat in front of his lap top when she came in and he spun his wheelchair around as she sat down on the only arm chair in his room, which was usually cluttered with clothes and not really used for sitting in it.
He had his hands folded in his lap and looked at his sister expectantly when she started lowly, “Kieran, I need to talk to you.”
He didn’t reply but also didn’t decline so Fiona continued, “First off, how was your date last night?”Kieran had expected some other question and looked down at his hands, then back up at his sister, “It was really good.”
“So Erin - do you like her?”
He nodded and answered lowly, “A lot.”
Fiona sighed and with a tremble she asked, “So why did I end up having to get you from the hospital?”
Kieran looked down at his hands again and thought about his answer.
Fiona didn’t wait for an answer and continued, “Why were you out of your wheelchair and found on the ground on two occasions this week?”
Kieran still didn’t know how to answer her and just sat there. Fiona was somewhat tense and because she was worried about him she was frustrated with his silence.
She felt tears in her eyes when she said, “Kieran, we took you in to be there for you when things are rough and I expect you to trust me when you are dealing with stuff. I am not going to talk sweet to you to get you to cooperate but if you don’t talk to me I can’t help you and that goes against everything we wanted to be for you when you moved in with us.”
Kieran was surprised at his sister’s words. He realized she was somewhat angry and he needed to come up with an answer.
He looked up at her and he saw Fiona wipe over her eyes.
He took a deep breath, and felt his hands tremble when he lied, “I have been having strange dreams. I dream I can walk and I have been dragging myself out of bed and when you found me in the bathroom I had heaved myself over there and tried to pull myself up on the cabinet with my hands and arms to stand. It didn’t work and I fell down. After I dropped Erin off at home last night I drove around a little and parked my car down by the water to enjoy the night and eventually I found myself out of my car. I really don’t know how I got there. I blacked out I think.”
Fiona listened to him and a few tears ran down her face hearing him talk about dreams of walking.
Kieran knew he could maybe convince her with that lie, but he felt bad, “I guess I still have this shimmer of hope that I could walk again or something. I don’t know. It’s weird.”
She sniffled her nose, got up and walked over to Kieran, then leaning down to hug him. Kieran felt relieved that he had dodged a more intense interrogation.
He hugged his sister back as she mumbled into his ear, “Oh Kieran, I am so sorry. I wish so much you could walk but you know they have tested you and all, the complete injury makes it practically impossible. I just don’t want you to get hurt doing these stunts of trying to stand or walk. Maybe we can still look into the braces option sometime if you want but they said even if you could manage to stand up with braces it would be such hard work to learn to take a few steps if you could even do it. And if you don’t remember doing any of this stuff you are talking about, you should maybe address that with your doctor.”She cried now and Kieran felt bad for having lied to his sister. There was no way he could tell her the truth of what had happened to him for a week now, about the appearance of the old man and the illusion of walking and standing, even running last night. It felt so amazing and it hurt so much to have this sensation for just a few minutes and then have his legs ripped out from under him.
He held his sister in an embrace and replied, “I know Fiona…I know it won’t work but I guess my brain still doesn’t comprehend it all the way.”
She let go of him and looked at him with tear filled eyes, “I love you Kieran. We all love you and you know we are here for you.”
He smiled at her, “I know that and I appreciate it so much. I love you all too.”
She then asked with a teary smile, “So before all this happened last night at least Erin and you had a good time then?”
He nodded, “Yes, we did. I will see her again. She is very nice.”
“Oh good, when are you meeting her again?”
“Probably on Friday.”
“I am so happy for you.”
Kieran took a breath of relief when his sister’s worried questioning was over and he was in his room again by himself. He pulled his phone out and texted Erin:
“Hey Erin, how are you? I hope you had a good night and aren’t too upset with me anymore and the situation at the bar. I hope you have a good day today.”
He sent off the message and put his phone down.
After a few moments his phone buzzed, announcing a message from Erin:
“Hi Kieran, thanks for checking in. I am happy to hear from you. I am doing good and I did sleep well. Why should I be upset with you? It didn’t cross my mind at all. What are you doing today?”
Kieran typed his reply:
“I don’t know, it still bothers me that this happened at the bar. I am sorry. I am not doing anything today, just hanging out at the house. Maybe I will hit the gym later. What are you doing?”
Erin’s answer came quick:
“Which gym do you go to? I am just cleaning the house, doing some yard work. Tonight I will meet with some friends.”
“Nice, I go to the YMCA. I am really looking forward to see you again next week.”
“Me too. School starts on Wednesday, thank goodness.”
“I know, it is time for the kids to get back into a routine. I know my sister and brother-in-law are ready. It will get quiet in the house though.”
“That’s true but it’s okay.”
“Well, I will let you go again. Just wanted to wish you a good day and check in.”
“I am glad you did. J Anytime.”
He finished texting with Erin and when he put his phone down he sighed. Erin at least had plans. Just for little bit he had hoped that somehow she would maybe offer to meet up again. He didn’t like the idea of having to wait so long to see her again.Instead of staying home though he decided to go to the YMCA. He didn’t feel all the way good, the situation from the night still weighed on his mind. He needed to work out to get his mind off the previous night and everything that was going on. He got into his workout clothes and told Fiona he was off to the gym.
As Kieran opened the garage the loud voices and laughter of Dominic and his friends came into the garage. He slowly let his Quickie roll down the ramp into the garage and wheeled outside.
The neighbor boys greeted him and Dominic came over, “Uncle Kieran, you want to play?”
“I don’t think so, I am going to the Y. Who’s winning?”
The boys were playing a game of “Horse” and Dominic answered proudly, “I am winning.”
Kieran smiled, “Cool, who’s up?”
Dominic showed the spot where to shoot the ball from and Kieran wheeled over to it, “Here, I will shoot one for you.”
One of the boys tossed Kieran the ball and he caught it in his lap. As he positioned his Quickie once more he then threw the ball and made the basket and Dominic jumped up, cheering, “I am still in.”
Kieran laughed and with the curious eyes of Dominic’s friends on him he then wheeled back into the garage.
Dominic ran after him and asked, “You are not mad if I am not going with you?”
“Of course not. I am just going to lift some weights. Don’t worry.”
As Kieran pulled out of the garage the boys were all standing over on the side of the driveway and waved at him as he slowly backed up into the street and took off.
The Y was somewhat crowded on this Saturday and even in the Yoga room some people were stretching. Kieran found a spot in the corner, then lowered himself onto the ground, trying not to meet the eyes of the other occupants in the room. He did some of his stretches and the range of motion exercises he could do without help. After he was done he was glad when there was only one older man left in the room with him as he pulled himself up into his wheelchair. He wheeled out into the weight room and slowly made his way from one machine to the next, working his arms and upper body hard and letting his thoughts drift off to nothing, only feeling the pain of his muscles working.
That night as he laid on his bed in his room watching TV, it knocked on the door and eventually Ashleigh came in, “Uncle Kieran, you busy?”
With Ashleigh coming in he pushed himself up on his bed some, leaning on the head board, “No, just watching a movie.”
He wasn’t wearing a shirt and Ashleigh glanced at the bandage, “What is that?”
She came over, moved some of Kieran’s clothes out of the way on the arm chair, and pulled her feet up on the chair.
Kieran didn’t know how much Ashleigh possibly knew from her mom about the previous nightly ordeal and he wasn’t sure on what to answer.
She nodded at his belly again, “So what is that? How did you get hurt?”
“I kind of fell last night. It was all weird.”
He told Ashleigh the same thing he had told her mother but unlike Fiona, Ashleigh didn’t seem convinced with his answer but she didn’t ask any more questions concerning his injury but instead asked, “I also want to know how your date was with Chloe’s mom?”
He smiled, “It was good. We had a good time.”
Ashleigh kept pushing, “Like how good?”
Kieran laughed lowly, “Ash, you are not nosy at all?”
“You know me Uncle Kieran…so, are you going to see her again?”
“Yes, I am going to see her again on Friday.”
“Cool. That is what Chloe said.”
“So you already knew because you guys are talking about me and Erin?”
“Heck yes, we want you to hook up.”
Kieran looked down for a moment and then back up at his niece, “All right then.”
“Chloe’s mom has been single for a while and she has been on a bunch of dates.”
Kieran shifted some, “She has?”
“Yeah, she has been divorced from their dad for about two years now. She has been on dates but nothing came out of them yet. So I want you to be the one she picks.”
“That would be nice but we will see.”
“I think she will pick you.”
“Why you think that?”
Ashleigh grinned, “Because I say so.”
Kieran laughed, “Okay then.”
He then asked, “Are you ready for High School?”
Ashleigh looked down, “No, not really. I am kind of nervous. I hope the classes won’t be too hard and I hope the kids are nice and stuff.”
“You will do great. You are a popular girl and you have your friends there too. You won’t be alone.”
Ashleigh nodded, “I guess. I may not have classes with all of them though and I’m nervous about that. I hope Chloe and I will have classes together. I hope I have the same lunch with her.”
“Lot of stuff you think about, huh?”
Kieran tried to sound reassuring, “You will be fine and if anyone messes with you, you come to me and tell me. Stay away from the boys too.”
Ashleigh smiled, “Why?”
“Because…I say so.”
They laughed together and then Ashleigh asked lowly, “Where are your friends, Uncle Kieran?”
Kieran turned serious and looked down, thinking for a moment, then looked up at Ashleigh from under his bangs, “I guess sometimes things change in life and friendships change.”
Ashleigh asked, “Aren’t you lonely?”
Kieran moved his head from side to side and shrugged his shoulders, “I have you guys.”
“That’s different. We are family. You should have friends outside your family and a girlfriend maybe.”
Kieran nodded, “You’re probably right.”
Ashleigh thought for a moment, then asked, “I wonder how it would be if like Chloe or Sandra or I would get into an accident and be paralyzed? I wonder if we would still be friends.”
Kieran looked at her questioning but didn’t say anything until Ashleigh remarked, “I think we would still be friends.”
She then got up, walked over to the bed, and leaned down for a hug.
Kieran pulled her close to him hugging her and Ashleigh said, “I love you Uncle Kieran and I don’t want you to be lonely. I think your friends may miss you and I will hold my fingers crossed that you will hook up with Chloe’s mom.”
For a moment Kieran felt a pain in his heart at his niece’s comments and he held her close and he thought of everything that had been going on and he wondered if maybe Ashleigh would believe him if he would tell her what had been happening to him night after night and how much it hurt him every time and how much he wanted the feeling to stay and not be taken from him so harshly night after night. But he couldn’t. Ashleigh was a young girl dealing with her own share of teenage problems, he didn’t need to burden her with his serious issues.
They held each other for a moment and when they let go Kieran said lowly, “Thanks Ash. Love you too.”
For the next few nights he still experienced the same mystery night after night, his sensations coming back to him with a violent spastic episode and then lingering for a couple of minutes. One thing he realized though was that every night he had one minute longer than the previous night. He actually timed the episodes but he was smart enough to not stay too far from his bed now. He couldn’t afford to get hurt more seriously and he didn’t want to stir up any more suspicions form his sister or the rest of the family. He still couldn’t explain why it happened to him but for a few minutes he indulged in the sensations of standing and moving his legs and even though it caused him pain and he couldn’t understand he started to just go with it. He still thought about the old man and what he had said about remembering the night he got shot to get answers. He tried to remember but he couldn’t figure out what was going on and what the night he got shot had to do with it all.
During the day he texted with Erin and at night he called her and they talked for a little while. It was Tuesday night before school started on Wednesday when Fiona was getting Dominic’s school back pack ready and Kieran and Tyler watched one of their favorite shows. Ashleigh was lounging on her favorite chair in the living room playing with her phone. Everyone had already eaten dinner and now enjoyed the last evening of summer break.
Kieran didn’t get up at the same time like everyone else the next day but instead he let the family deal with the stress of the first day of school and only right when the kids were getting ready to go to the bus he wheeled out in his shorts to send them off and wish them Good Luck. Ashleigh looked nice and wore her new clothes, wanting to make sure she made a good first impression in High School and Dominic showed off his new back pack. Kieran hugged them tight and they were out the door, Tyler taking them to the bus stop and then going to work. Kieran was sleepy still, it was only seven thirty, the earliest he had gotten up in a long time.Fiona was almost ready to go too and with Kieran sitting in the kitchen she gathered her purse and her lunch bag, “So this is it. You have the house to yourself again. Ashleigh should get home around three and Dominic gets home shortly after four.”
Kieran ran his hand through his hair, trying to straighten it somewhat, “Yeah.”
Fiona walked over to him and asked him lowly, “Are you going to be okay?”
Kieran’s voice was still sleepy, “Yeah, I will be fine. I have support group at noon today.”
“Oh okay, don’t miss it then.”
Fiona wasn’t all the way comfortable leaving Kieran alone but she was relieved he had his support group appointment and she had been making sure he was taking his medication regularly. She looked at her brother with a weary face.
Kieran knew her expression all too well and assured her, “Fiona, just go to work and do your thing. I am not going to kill myself and I am not going to do anything stupid. I got this, okay?”
She nodded and leaned down to hug him, “Have a good day, I will see you tonight. Call me if anything is up.”
He hugged his sister and mumbled into her hair, “Nothing will be up.”
“I love you Kieran.”
“I love you.” Fiona stood back up and left out the door.
Kieran stayed in the kitchen and sighed. It was very quiet in the house all the sudden. He knew Fiona worried about him all the time and he needed to keep it together and show his sister once again that he would be okay.
He put his hands to his rims and wheeled to his room and bathroom. He wanted to get into the shower but before that he got on the toilet and tried to empty his bowels. He had taken a laxative the night before and usually the next morning it worked.
In the shower he only let the water run over his legs and lower body, careful not to get the bandage wet that was still wrapped around his torso. He washed his arms with a washcloth and tried to avoid as good as possible to not get the bandage wet.
As the water ran over his legs in the shower he looked down at his skinny legs and he thought about the things that had been happening to him every night and he remembered the old man again and everything seemed so unreal. Keeping this mystery to himself made him feel like he was alone with this and it weighed heavy on his mind.
He threw himself onto his bed and put on his boxers and sweat pants, then his socks and sitting somewhat wobbly on the edge of the bed he pulled his one leg up on his knee and pushed his foot into his sneaker, then repeated the same with the other foot. He transferred quickly into his wheelchair and made his way out to the kitchen to eat something. Coffee was still on and he poured himself a cup and then balanced it between his thighs and wheeled over to the table. He got the milk, a bowl, and the cereal in two more runs and eventually pulled his Quickie up to the table where his spot was. He had his phone in his pocket and looked over his emails, social media and eventually checked in on one of his favorite spinal cord injury websites. After looking over it somewhat he started a new thread in the Medical Question section:
“Hey you guys, got a question. For almost two weeks I have been experiencing freaking severe spasms at night, always around the same time. They rip me out of my sleep and shoot through me like a lightning bolt, from my toes up to my T-4 and it almost hurts, just very uncomfortable. The weirdest thing is that it feels like I get some sensations back when that happens, I have touched my legs with my hands during that episode and I swear I can feel my hands on my skin. The same thing on my belly, I can feel my hands on my skin. I don’t know what is going on but the other night I was able to move over to the edge of my bed easily and I let my legs and my feet down on the floor and I felt the floor under my feet. I even pushed up some and it was like I could stand up maybe but I was afraid I was hallucinating or something and so I didn’t try to get up all the way. Unfortunately this episode only lasts for about twenty minutes every night and I am clueless. I don’t know what is going on. Anyone have any ideas or feedback? Has anyone experienced anything like this? It really messes with my head and it makes me angry but also a tiny bit hopeful. Thanks guys! KOM”
It had been a real test to their friendship, a friendship that had unfortunately diminished over the pain and the insecurities they both were dealing with. Their communication had been very rare and not very deep.
Kieran tapped on the message icon with shaky hands and after some hesitation he started to type:
“Hey man, how are you?”
He really didn’t know how to formulate his message. He took a deep breath and typed again:
“I hope things are going good for you. It looks like the wedding plans are in full drive.”
For a moment Kieran paused again and thought about his next words. Just writing about the wedding plans hurt him some but he needed to talk to Andy:
“I am doing all right I guess. Dealing with some physical stuff but otherwise hanging in there. I was wondering if we could maybe catch up sometime over food or a beer?”
He pondered if he should let Andy know that he needed to ask him some questions about the fateful night in Afghanistan but he decided he wouldn’t:
“Let me know if you want to get together sometime and when a good time is for you. I am flexible. Take care, Peace out.”
Kieran hesitated a moment to click send but after reading over his message one more time he sent it off. He leaned back in his wheelchair, stretched his neck from left to right and sighed, then with his hands placed on his rims he lifted his body off the seat for a moment, a movement he adhered to many times during the day to prevent lengthy sitting and possibly causing pressure sores to develop.
He stared at his phone and was lost in thoughts, reminiscing about the past and the friendship he had shared with Andy for a couple of years until everything changed.
At eleven Kieran pulled into the disabled parking spot in front of the Veterans Hospital. At least one whole parking lot with about 200 spots was reserved for disabled parking. He saw old veterans on walkers, canes, or crutches, some in wheelchairs being pushed by their wives or caretakers. He also saw young veterans from the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan using some of the same devices as their elderly counterparts but added to the picture lots of amputees, a sign of a different type of war in modern times. Wars where the weapons were much more insidious and vicious, weapons that couldn’t be spotted right away and when found already too late to dodge them. Aside from all the physical disabilities so many dealt with the debilitating psychological disabilities.He transferred into his Quickie and locked the car, then wheeled into the hospital’s main entrance. He made a stop at the coffee shop in the basement floor of the hospital before he headed to his meetings. The girls at the coffee shop were always very friendly and quirky and greeted him by his first name after he had had to tell them his name so many times over the past year every time he placed his order.
Sylvia at the register smiled down to him, “Hey Kieran, how are you?”
“I’m good, how about you?”
Sylvia laughed, “Another day right?”
Kieran nodded and she asked, “Order as always?”
Kieran already pulled out his wallet and his money while Sylvia announced to her colleague Tara, “As always for Kieran.”
Tara got busy preparing Kieran’s Latte Macchiato and Sylvia took his money, “Thanks Kieran.”
“Thank you ladies.”
He pulled over to the side of the coffee stand where he waited to pick up his coffee.
The third girl Michelle came around to the side and leaned over the counter smiling at Kieran, “Hey handsome!”
“Hey Michelle, how are you?”
“I’m always good when I see you.”
Michelle had not really kept it secret that she had a crush on Kieran but she was a lot younger than him, being only in her early twenties. It had never stopped her though to bluntly flirt with him when he came around and even though Kieran would have never started anything with her he still enjoyed her flirty comments and attention.
Michelle asked him, “Are you going to your support group again?”
She handed him his coffee which Tara had finished and Kieran reached for it, nodding, “Yeah, same thing, as always.”
Tara walked away and Michelle said, “You don’t look like you need that group anymore.”
Kieran looked down with a smile and then up, “Ah yeah, I still need it.”
He liked Michelle’s naivety about everything to do with being a combat veteran. Maybe it was her daily exposure to all the veterans that made her see things in a different light and for a moment Kieran actually pondered if he still needed his support group or if he just went because the VA offered it to him.
Michelle’s expression turned serious, “I think you need to find a girl and then you won’t need that support group anymore. The right girl will help you overcome your issues.”
Kieran smiled, “You may be right but since there is no girl I guess I will keep coming here. If I wouldn’t any more than I wouldn’t see you any more either. Would you like that?”
Michelle laughed, “No I wouldn’t like that but I am talking about me being that support girl for you…”
Kieran now laughed with her and added, “Not giving up on me, huh?”
She still smiled, “Never, just wait a couple more years when I am older…you’re going to realize that you need me.”
“You don’t want to deal with this old dude, I am telling you.”
“You are only 32 Kieran….”
“Maybe in years but my mind and body is a lot older, believe me.”
Michelle leaned over some more and reached her hand out over the counter, “I am going to keep bugging you, handsome.”
Kieran took her hand and kissed her softly on the back of it, then smiled at her, “I can’t wait until you find a guy your age.”
“I find them all the time but I don’t want to keep them.”
She laughed, pulled her hand back and stood up, “Bye Kieran, you made my day once again. I love Wednesday every three weeks.”
Kieran put his cup in between his thighs and with another smile he said, “Bye Michelle, have a good rest of your week. I will see you later.”
“Yes, you will.”
She blew him a kiss and they parted ways.
Michelle did put a smile on Kieran’s face. It was her childish confidence and giving him a feeling of life being a good thing, no matter what happened. He did feel good around her for the few minutes every three weeks when he got his coffee at the Care Coffee Shop. She always chatted with him and always hit on him and it had crossed his mind to take her out on a date but in the end he didn’t think it was a good idea. She was a 22-year young, fun and happy young woman, she didn’t need to deal with him and his issues in her life. There were guys out there for her that would fit into her life a lot better than a 32-year-old paraplegic veteran with PTSD who didn’t really have a plan.
He arrived at his support group room and some of the members were already there. He wheeled in and was greeted by the men and women, all of them combat veterans with different issues but mostly dealing with PTSD of different severity. A couple of handshakes and quick hugs and they fell into a chatter about their days and their lives, waiting for the social worker Terry to show up.
Kieran had been referred to the support group after his second suicide attempt and moving in with Fiona. It had been up to him if he wanted to join and when at first he had been hesitant he finally went and for the first couple of sessions it had been difficult but now he was somewhat well adjusted and more of a support for newer members.
Brandon, another younger veteran, showed up and came right up to Kieran and greeted him with a handshake, “Hey bro, it’s good to see you.”
Kieran and Brandon had been connecting through the group and had been out a few times for a beer. They were about the same age, Brandon only two years younger and even though not physically disabled, Brandon dealt with a lot of psychological issues. He had been a Marine and been exposed to some horrific situations.
“Hey Brandon, how is it going?”
“It’s going man, it’s going.”
Brandon sat down on a chair next to Kieran and they started chatting.
Kieran eventually opened up to Brandon, “I went on a date, man.”
Brandon held his hand up for a high five, “That is good news. How did it go?”
Kieran told Brandon about his date and even about the situation in the bar when Brandon cut in, “Oh Shit, I am glad I wasn’t there. It wouldn’t have been pretty. I just can’t deal with assholes anymore. Kudos to you for staying calm, man.”
“There wasn’t much I could do, I am not really a winning match in any fight.”
"You have a gun on you, don’t you?”
Kieran thought for a moment, then shook his head, “No, I don’t. It’s better that way. I don’t trust myself with guns, man and my sister made sure that I couldn’t get my hands on any.”
Brandon looked down for a moment and then up at Kieran nodding, “I guess you are right but damn, I won’t let anyone take my right away to carry a weapon. There are too many crazy motherfuckers out there.”
Kieran nodded and grinned, “You are one of them too!”
Brandon slapped his thighs and laughed, “Fucking right I am so no one better mess with me or the people I care about.”
Kieran smiled, “That is exactly why we need to keep coming to this fucking meeting.”
Brandon nodded and even though he talked rough and was definitely a guy not to be messed with he was also suffering from PTSD, taking medication and trying to get a grip on life again. Something to look forward to for him was the upcoming birth of his first child but on the inside he was trying to fight his demons every day and was getting there slowly with the support from his family and the programs of the VA.
Kieran took a sip from his coffee when Terry showed up. Terry was a middle aged social worker and had been working for the VA for all his life so far, side by side with the psychologists and psychiatrists. He was an extension of the doctors to get connected with the veterans on a more non-clinical level. He had a way to gain their trust easy and even spent some of his time outside of work with some of his patients in non-institutional settings, taking trips or socializing with them outside of the hospital on some occasions.
The group consisted of ten people and everyone talked about their past few weeks and if there were any situations that were difficult to deal with. Everyone seemed to be doing okay and while Kieran sat there listening mostly he thought about if he should talk about the things that had been happening to him at night and the two encounters with the old man. He still wasn’t all the way convinced that the man was a real appearance in his life or if his mind was playing a bad trick on him, maybe some medication causing him to see things that were not there.
He was pulled out of his thoughts by Terry’s soft voice, “How have you been Kieran?”
Instead of Kieran talking though, Brandon cut him off and laughed, “He went on a date.”
Everyone smiled, laughed and clapped their hands, Terry gave a thumbs up into Kieran’s direction, “Good for you Kieran. Hopefully it was a good experience.”
“It was a very good experience and I will see her again this week.”
Everyone still nodded and smiled and Terry asked, “Anything going on you want to maybe talk about or address? Any questions for us?”
For a moment he was still torn between telling or not telling and with a deep breath and pretending a carefree attitude he said, “No, actually everything is going good. I’m happy and I’m doing all right.”
Brandon patted him on the shoulder and mumbled, “That’s good man, that’s good.”
Since Kieran didn’t have any issues he wanted to discuss they moved on to Brandon and he had had a few bad nights lately he talked about and everyone listened and tried to make him feel better. Terry supported with his professional advice and Brandon seemed motivated enough, “Yeah, it’ll be okay. My wife is due in three weeks, I’m fucking excited.”
Again everyone clapped and they all were happy for Brandon.
Even though sometimes Kieran dreaded the support group with its motivational and encouraging speeches he usually felt good afterwards and he usually left with a boost of energy and feeling ready to tackle the next few weeks.
It was a little different this time, he had not had the courage to talk about his mysterious encounters and so the feelings and confusion stayed bottled up inside and when he said Good Bye to Brandon that afternoon he couldn’t help feeling just a little envy for Brandon who was on his two legs and was waiting for the arrival of his baby with excitement and joy, something that most definitely would brighten his days and hopefully let him forget the horrors he had seen in his young life.
Just as he wheeled out of the hospital through the automatic doors of the main entrance he couldn’t believe when out of nowhere he saw the old man entering the hospital through the rotating doors. Kieran felt his heart beat speed up and his hands tremble when he spun his Quickie around, got cut off by an elderly couple in front of him and then swiftly rolled back inside the hospital through the automatic doors right behind the couple, having to make his way around them and almost bumping into another elderly veteran who wasn’t too happy about the very close encounter with Kieran’s wheelchair, “Young man, slow down your horses there!”
In passing Kieran quickly managed a, “I am very sorry, sir.”
He looked around in every direction for the old man but couldn’t see him anymore, “Fuck!”
He mumbled to himself and pushed his rims making his way through all the people close to the entrance and exit doors to get into the open space of the lobby.
The lobby attached to four hallways into the different wings of the hospital. Kieran looked around himself and down the hallways when he spotted the old man walking way down one of the hallways. He put his hands to his rims and took off in an attempt to catch up with him.
He rolled along the smooth floor, giving his Quickie a push every couple of feet and letting it roll. He kept his eyes in front of him, dodging some people walking in front of him or into the opposite direction, not trying to lose sight of the old man down the hallway.
He got closer and called out, “Hey, old man…wait up. It’s your boy Kieran here.”
Seemingly not hearing him, the old man didn’t wait and didn’t stop and just when Kieran gained some momentum again, his left leg was thrown up with a sudden severe spasm and banged down onto the frame of the wheelchair, with his left foot getting caught under his caster wheel, abruptly breaking the speed of the chair and violently making it tip over and Kieran actually getting thrown out of his wheelchair right in the middle of the hallway.
While people came rushing to his aid he cursed under his breath, “Fucking shit….dammit.”
On the ground he hit the floor with his hand, “Shit!”
Two service men in uniform were at his side quickly, “Are you all right, sir?”
Kieran was angry and lifted his head to look down the hallway but the old man was gone.
The patrons around him asked again, “Sir, are you all right?”
He moved his eyes toward all of them and tried to get control of his anger, “Yes, I am all right. Thank you.”
One of the two uniformed men asked, “Can I assist you somehow?”
Kieran looked over and saw his Quickie over on its side, his seat cushion scattered in the hallway, his backpack halfway off the handles and also the rest of his Latte on the floor, the lid off and the brown liquid running over the floor.
The other of the two men already tended to get the wheelchair set up, put the cushion back on the seat and also adjusted the backpack on the handles again.
Kieran was embarrassed and angry at the whole situation. His hands though trembled and he felt his body charged, his legs were shaking with spasms now and he slowly pulled himself up and held himself on his hands.
His Quickie was pushed over to him and he looked up at the man, “Thank you, I can get it from here.”
“Are you sure sir?”
Kieran’s voice came more tensely than he intended it to be, “Yes, I got it, Thank you.”
The two serviceman stepped away somewhat but still hovering around. Some of the other onlookers slowly resumed their way toward their original destinations. The easy way would have been to have someone help him up into the Quickie but the pride and the anger he felt prevented him from asking for assistance and as he saw a cleaning staff wipe up his coffee with a mop he pushed his Quickie against the wall, locked his wheels and did his floor to chair transfer by placing his left hand on the frame of the wheelchair and eventually pushing up from the ground with his other hand he managed to get his butt up on the edge of the seat, then using his hands to get situated and pushing his butt all the way onto the seat.
He was breathing heavy but eventually sat in his wheelchair again. The two servicemen had stuck around obviously waiting to assist if they needed to and when Kieran looked up at them he knew he had sounded angry and he changed his voice, “Thank you so much for helping.”
He lifted his still spastic legs and placed his feet on the foot rest.
The two men looked on encouragingly, “You are welcome. You are not hurt or anything?”
“No, I am fine, thank you.”
At that point Kieran had no idea how his ankle was swelling up and that he had actually sprained it when it got caught in the caster wheel.
The two men eventually left and he then just sat there for a moment. His legs were twitching and his left foot came off the foot rest again. He placed it back onto the footrest, unlocked his wheels and then spun into the direction of where the old man had disappeared. There was no trace of him anymore. He pondered wheeling into the direction again but the whole ordeal had been bad enough. He apologized to the cleaning lady who was finishing up with his mess and thanked her.
She humbly nodded and in a heavy Spanish accent she said, “Chou are welcome, no problem…I clean coffee quick.”
Kieran thanked her again and when he wheeled away he saw a bathroom on his way and made a stop there. He was glad he had stopped as lots of urine was flowing through his catheter, probably all the coffee he had drank already, almost 24 ounces.
He still thought of the old man again and more and more he feared that he was just a vision of his imagination and it worried him. Seeing things that weren’t really there were not really helping with the issues he dealt with already.
As he washed his hands over the sink and looked into the mirror he stared at his mirror image for a moment, “What the fuck is going on with you man?”
His legs were still twitching and as his left foot came off the foot rest again he forcefully set it back on.
He didn’t feel the pain that his sprained ankle would have caused him if he wasn’t paralyzed. It was swelling up in his sneaker and Kieran had no idea what was going on with his foot.
The whole situation had left him tired and with weak pushes he made his way out of the bathroom and out of the hospital toward his car.
He just wanted to get home again. After he had transferred, took the wheels of his Quickie and placed the parts of his wheelchair next to him on the passenger side, he turned the key in the ignition, and revving his engine he pulled out of the parking lot and headed home.