Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Beginnings - Chapter 33

Chapter 33

I was off for three days. It was Monday, the day after Christmas, when I woke up to rain outside. I was still in Shane’s arms and at hearing the rain I pushed myself even closer to him, my head resting in the crease of his arm. I realized he was also waking up as he was stroking softly over my arm with his fingers.

I kissed his chest and looked up at him, “Good Morning baby.”
He looked down at me, “Good Morning.”
I moved up to his face, kissed his mouth, and snuggled close to him again, “I don’t want to get up.”
Shane asked sleepily, “We don’t have to get up, do we?”
“No, we can stay in bed all day.”
He now laughed softly, “Actually I’ve been in bed for five months so I kind of have enough of being stuck in a bed.”
I mumbled, “It’s different now. You’re in a bed you should be in and with a person who wants you in bed with her.”
I heard the grin in his voice, “Yeah, I guess it’s a lot better than a hospital bed or a bed in jail.”
He pulled me closer and kissed my hair, “I love you.”
“I love you.”
I saw his legs twitch under the blanket, it was an ongoing issue now with the spasms.

Shane eventually had to make his way to the bathroom and seeing him struggle and having to use all his strength to barely make it the short distance to the bathroom made me think again how good it would be if he had a wheelchair. I really wanted to try to look into that soon.

We spent the morning at home. After getting dressed I helped Shane into his braces and with that his legs couldn’t spasm too much. They still twitched lightly but couldn’t really go anywhere being strapped into the braces.

Shane stood out on the balcony scanning over the area. He had explained to me that he wanted to stand and walk as much as possible to get stronger again and also get the blood flowing in his legs.
I walked out to him and positioned myself behind him, wrapping my arms around him and resting my head on his shoulder.

He turned his head toward my face and I saw him smile, “Hey.”
I said lowly, “Hey, I have a proposal for you.”
“Yeah, what would that be?”
I pushed my head onto his shoulder more and explained, “How about we find out where the closest place is that sells wheelchairs and check it out?”
“You really want to get me into a wheelchair, don’t you?”
He didn’t sound very enthusiastic and I remarked carefully, “But you said you’d be open to it.”
“I did say that, yes.”
I added, “Shane, I hate to see you struggle walking without your braces. And I know even with your braces it’s not easy. Like this morning when you made your way to the bathroom just on your crutches, you barely made it. If you had a wheelchair you could have just gotten into it and wheeled to the bathroom.”

He didn’t reply right away but then said, “A wheelchair may not even fit through the door into your bathroom Anna.”
“I know that. That’s why I’ll measure it and we can bring those measurements when we look at wheelchairs. And I do want to look for another place very soon, an accessible place for us. I hate how you have to go up and down the stairs. I worry about you falling. I love your braces, I love you in your braces but I think a wheelchair would be so much easier for you in some instances.”
“I really don’t have the money for it Anna.”
“Shane, I want to help buy it. And please don’t feel weird about it or anything. I want to do this for you, for my boyfriend who I love and who I want to make things easier for. Maybe one day you’ll work again and make money again, then you can buy me something. Right now you don’t have to worry about it.”
Shane took a deep breath and exhaled blowing the air out, “I guess.”
I pressed my head to him and I kissed him on the neck, “Thank you baby. I know where the closest place is.”
“You do? So you already checked.”
I nodded with a smirk, “Yes.”

At the dining table a short while later Shane sat over the brochures of the wheelchairs again and was looking at the pictures. The closest store that was open was in Madisonville, which was about one hour away over the Pontchartrain Causeway. It was a good reason to visit with my foster parents in Ponchatoula since Madisonville wasn’t that far away from them.

I leaned over Shane’s shoulder and looked at the brochure with him, “Which one do you like?”
He pointed at a couple of slick looking wheelchair models and I could just imagine him in one of those.
“Let’s go today.”
Shane looked at me, “Today?”
“Yeah, there is nothing else going on.”
I leaned down next to him, and wrapped my arms around him, pleading, “Please?”
Shane smiled, “You really can’t wait to get me into one of those things.”
“I can’t wait to make things easier for you.”
I kissed his cheek and he said, “I guess so.”

Around one we were on our way out of Metairie heading for the Causeway. It was raining and it was foggy. It was after Christmas now and New Orleans was still in a dire state. The Causeway had reopened in September and was now an important route for all help arriving in New Orleans. It would take years for the city to recover. Tent cities were erected on the outskirts of the city, all the shelters in a 100 mile radius were filled with people 24/7. Federal aid came only slowly and everyone was still struggling. The whole state was helping the city and its citizens. Many felt that the government was not doing enough for New Orleans and we were left to our own devices which was true. Dead bodies were still recovered on a regular basis and many people had left the city for good, not to return because nothing was left here of their former lives.

My life had been somewhat slow since I had started at the shelter. I had been working and I had been waiting for Shane. I had cried a lot over the last couple of months, sometimes barely making it to work or barely able to make it through the day. I had kept in touch with Nadine and Ray and they kept me updated as to what was going on with the club. We were still waiting on the insurance estimate and with that we would then have to make a decision.

I was driving along on the causeway and all I could see was water. I thought about the last couple of months and Shane being back with me still seemed somewhat unreal. I glanced over at him and he met my eyes and smiled.
“What’s up?”

I turned my eyes toward the road again, a seemingly endless stretch over this huge body of water, the very element that had destroyed so much in my beloved city. I realized that I had never drove over Lake Pontchartrain with Shane before. The last time I had had a passenger in my car when crossing the bridge had been my brother, who had now been gone for five months and one day.

I felt Shane’s hand on my thigh and glanced at it for a second, then at him again.
He still had his eyes on me, “What are you thinking about?”
I turned my eyes forward again, “A lot of stuff.”
I smiled and asked, “Do you remember when we first met up for breakfast and then hung out at West End Park at the shore of the Lake?”
Shane laughed lowly, “Yes, I remember how you set the six pack of beer into the water.”

I laughed and added, “The last person who drove over the lake with me was my brother.”
Shane didn’t say anything.
After a moment he said, “The last time I was behind a steering wheel was with my brother next to me.”
One of the things we had in common having lost our brothers and one of the things that had brought us together. I touched my hand to Shane’s hand on my thigh and rubbed over it, it was warm on my leg.

After a few more silent minutes Shane asked, “What else are you thinking about?”
I shook my head slowly, “I don’t know, everything. These past couple of months seem so strange. It sometimes still feels like it’s a dream and a nightmare at the same time. I don’t know how I made it through this year really. I’m so sad and I’m so happy at the same time.”
Shane stated lowly, “I know what you mean. It has been rough for both of us. But I know how I made it through.”

I looked over at him and he met my eyes again, “I made it through with you by my side and on my mind when we couldn’t be together. I made it through with knowing how much you love me and how much I love you and nothing else matters for me anymore with you in my life. You’re all I need and with you I know I can make it and I hope I can be the same for you. I want to see you happy Anna, that’s the only thing I want.”
His voice trembled and he stopped and swallowed.

He looked down at his legs, “When all this happened to me I never in my life would have thought that my mess eventually would attract the eyes of someone like you, Anna. I still remember the moment I saw you at Charity in the park when you looked at me. I felt like an idiot and I had no idea you were actually checking me out. I just didn’t think for a second that you could be interested in me beyond wondering what the hell was wrong with me….”
I smiled, “Yeah, well…I did wonder what the hell was going on with you but in a very good way, in a way that I needed to find out more about you and those braces on your legs very quickly.”
Shane smiled, then looked over at me and I added, “And here we are.”

We made it over the Causeway and got to Madisonville. The town wasn’t very big and I found the NuMotion store easily. We pulled into the spacious parking lot with mostly disabled parking spots. I was out of the car before Shane was and I waited for him and heard him lock his braces as he stood up, adjusted his arms in his crutches and came around to where I was.
He looked up at me and smiled, standing there. I smiled at him.
“Are you ready to do this?”
He took a deep breath, “I guess.”

We made our way to the entrance and an automatic door opened for us. We came into a large showroom with lots of orthopedic equipment and accessories. There were all kinds of wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, braces and assistive devices. Over on the wall various accessories and products were displayed.

Shane seemed nervous and since we were the only customers at this time a young man approached us, “Hi there, how are ya’ll doing?”
I answered, “We’re good. How are you?”
I saw a name tag on his shirt with the company logo. His name was Matt.
Matt glanced at Shane and smiled at him, Shane only nodded quickly and mumbled a, “How are you?”
“Have you folks been here with us before?”
It was me again who answered, “No, we’ve never been here.”
Matt smiled and asked warmly, “All right, so welcome to NuMotion. Is there anything I can show you?”
Now Shane spoke lowly, “I’m looking for a wheelchair.”

Matt seemed somewhat surprised at Shane’s short statement but stayed friendly, “Okay, cool. Yeah, we can definitely help you with that. You’re welcome to look around the store first or come to my desk with me and we can talk about things.”

I could see Matt’s curiosity about Shane and his situation but I could also sense that he was interested in helping us out.
I saw a woman in a wheelchair roll around the corner and she glanced over at us and greeted us friendly. She also had a name tag on her shirt, obviously another employee of the store.

Since Shane had not really replied to Matt I looked at Shane and said, “Baby, it would probably be good to sit down first and talk about things.”
Matt focused on me again with a smile. I think he wasn’t really sure about Shane, who didn’t seem too happy about being there.
Shane nodded, “Yeah sure.”
Matt seemed relieved and offered, “We do have some scooters for use in the store if you would rather like to sit.”
Shane shook his head, “I’m good on my legs.”
He said it almost in a defensive tone and Matt smiled nervously, “Great. So my desk is over this way.”

He gestured us to a large desk in a cubicle in the corner of the store. There were two other cubicles with desks and I saw the woman in the wheelchair at one of the desks. She smiled at us as we approached Matt’s desk.
I could see Matt glance at Shane when he sat down and unlocked his braces.
He stood by his desk, “Can I offer you some coffee, water or Soda?”
I smiled, “I’ll have a coffee.”
“Of course. How about you sir?”
Shane shook his head, “I’m good, thanks.”

Matt left to get my coffee and I glanced at Shane who was standing his crutches up on the cubicle wall.
“Are you all right?”
He nodded but didn’t have a chance to say anything because Matt came back with a mug of black coffee and a small bowl with sugar and sweetener packs, stirrers, and creamer in it, “Here you go miss.”
He sat down across from us and asked with a smile, “So, my name is Matt. May I ask your names?”
We answered with our names and Matt said, “It’s very nice to meet you Anna and Shane.”
He got comfortable in his chair and started, “So, you’re looking for a wheelchair?”

Shane nodded and even though I was tempted to speak for him I didn’t.
Matt continued, “Before we get into the details of getting a wheelchair I’d like to ask you about your disability if I may.”
Shane answered in short and Matt replied, “It’s great that you still have the ability to walk with braces but I imagine it can be exhausting. Do you have a prescription for a wheelchair?”
Shane looked somewhat surprised, “No.”
Matt nodded, “Okay, so you’re interested in purchasing a wheelchair then?”
Now I answered, “Yes, we are.”
Matt smiled at me, I know he was somewhat intimidated by Shane’s obvious reluctance. I know it was difficult for Shane to sit there and start thinking and especially talking about a wheelchair.

“So Shane, since you seem to be doing good with braces and crutches, what’s your reason for considering getting a wheelchair?”
Shane was somewhat slouched in the seat and had his hands interlocked over his belly.
I held back with talking and he answered somewhat lowly, “Well, it does get exhausting if I have to walk longer distances and I’ve been sick and right now I’m not as strong as I was before I got sick. I can’t walk very long or far and it’d be easier if I had a wheelchair for those times when it’s necessary.

I don’t have insurance and when I got injured I was at Charity hospital in New Orleans and I didn’t have the option of getting a good wheelchair. They would have given me a used or old model wheelchair and so I opted for braces and I’ve been in them for about a year now. It’s good to be able to stand and walk but it takes a lot of strength of course. It’s easier on some days than on others.”

Matt was now tuned in to Shane and watched him compassionately. I was relieved that he was actually talking to Matt.
Matt seemed to understand, “So, I’m getting the feeling that even though you’re open to getting a wheelchair it’s not an easy decision on your part?”
Shane seemed to be surprised at Matt’s intuition and answered lowly, “It’s not but I think it’ll be better for me. It just feels…” Shane paused and took a deep breath, Matt just sat there waiting.
“It feels like defeat I guess.”

I reached over to Shane and took his hand in mine.

Matt nodded, “Okay, I see. Thanks for opening up to me about this Shane. It’ll make things easier for me to determine what we need to look for and it’ll also help you with your decision. There are a lot of things to consider when getting a wheelchair for the first time but I think you’ll be positively surprised at what all we can do for you and I promise we are absolutely committed to your wishes and getting you what you want.”
Matt looked over at me, “And you’re supportive of the decision, Anna?”
Shane answered for me, “She’s the one who suggested it and talked me into coming here.”
Matt smiled at me and I explained, “Yes, I want him to have it easier. It’s great that he can still walk but I think for some situations a wheelchair would make things a lot easier for us.”
Matt nodded, “Definitely.”
He then added, “So, before we start with everything I want to ask you if there is a price range that you’re thinking about?”
I answered that question, “We don’t really have an idea but we’re open to a wider price range.”
“Okay, great. There are good manual wheelchairs starting at $ 1000 up to $ 4000, depending on what the customer wants.”
I added, “We looked at some brochures and there are some that he likes.”
“Oh yeah, great. Did you bring the information?”

I pulled the brochures out and handed them to Shane. He found the wheelchairs he had picked and showed them to Matt.
“Yes, we do carry a variety of brands and we have various models of those companies. Depending on the customization we either have them here or can get them manufactured within 4 weeks and have them ready for pick up here then. Until your customized chair is ready we have loaners you may use until your wheelchair comes in.”

Shane knew he wanted to look at rigid frame ultralight wheelchairs and he had picked out some from the Quickie and TiLite brands. Matt looked over the one’s Shane had put a check mark next to in the brochures and I was embarrassed when I realized my little hearts I had drawn next to the wheelchairs I liked were also in there. I had forgotten about those.

Matt remarked with a smile, “So, the ones’ with the check mark and the heart next to them are the ones’ you both like I assume?”
Shane glanced over at me with a smirk and I felt embarrassed and didn’t want to look at Matt or Shane. Shane answered, “Yes, they are.”
Matt then said, “Okay, I have a variety of models here and some that you checked in the brochures. So if you would like to we could now look at some of those models and I’ll tell you more about them or answer any questions you may have.”

We got up and walked over to the area in the showroom with all types of manual wheelchairs. They also had a section with used wheelchairs and another section with electric wheelchairs. During our walk over Matt talked about different considerations for a wheelchair, various options and types.
As we stood by the Quickie manual rigid ultralight wheelchairs Shane was quietly looking at them. I didn’t want to push him toward a chair so I just walked away and looked around.
Shane had stopped by a black framed chair and Matt started talking about the model. He also pointed out models of similar style and make.

While Shane just stared at the chairs Matt explained softly, “So I know it’s kind of strange for you
Shane but you should try them out and sit in as many chairs as you want and also wheel around. I’m happy to give you a quick lesson in the push rims and everything. I assume since you didn’t really go for a wheelchair at Charity you never had any kind of education on using a wheelchair?”
Shane shook his head and mumbled, “They barely showed me how to walk with braces.”

He was obviously nervous at the prospect of having to sit in a wheelchair and I felt bad for him in a way but I knew he had to try the chairs.
Matt pulled out one of the Quickies and sat in it, “Here you go Shane. I’ll go first. Whenever you’re ready sit in the one you like.”
I stood by and I touched his arm and said softly, “You should try it baby.”

He didn’t say anything but approached the wheelchair and turned himself around. Matt wheeled up and made sure the break was set as Shane let himself down with his legs still locked straight in front of him. I took his crutches from him and he pulled the lock behind his knees and bent his legs, then pushed himself up on the seat all the way, his feet still oddly hanging over the single footrest of the wheelchair. He didn’t look at us and I could see his chest rise up and down quickly as he pulled his legs up onto the footrest and adjusted his feet on it. I could see his insecurity and tension.

Matt must have realized it too because he encouraged Shane sincerely, “I can imagine it’s a strange feeling.”
Shane only nodded and I said softly, “Put your hands on the push rims.”
He did this with shaky hands and Matt wheeled away from the group of wheelchairs, “Just push the rims forward when you’re ready, both hands in the same position and push both wheels evenly at the same time. Keep your shoulders lose and relaxed.”

It was obviously not easy for Shane to be in this situation but as much as I felt anxious for him my heart was racing in my chest and I almost had to hold myself up somewhat on Shane’s crutches. Seeing him in the wheelchair made my head spin and my heart was pounding like a drum solo in a Rock concert. My boyfriend turned me on so tremendously at that moment and when he finally pushed the rims slowly and insecurely I could hardly watch without my whole body trembling.

Matt was encouragingly wheeling around and even seeing him in the wheelchair was very enjoyable for my eyes. Matt wasn’t bad looking and even though he was not disabled, seeing him in the wheelchair somehow affected me as well.
Shane though blew it all over the top. He was so sexy to me. It was incredible what just his being himself did to me.

He was slowly pushing the rims and when he easily rolled over the smooth floor he glanced up at me for a moment and as our eyes met I could swear I saw that familiar flicker in his dark eyes. It was the flicker of the knowledge about the way I felt about him and his paraplegia and the flicker of the power he knew he had over me when it came to these disability related things. He moved his eyes from me and I watched as he slowly wheeled around the show room with Matt doing wheelies and also instructing Shane on how to operate the wheelchair, what to consider and also talking about the different features of the wheelchair. I sat down on a regular chair nearby and watched them with a smile and a racing heart.

We did this for another forty five minutes at least. Shane tried various wheelchairs and as he got used to it he pushed himself around the showroom faster and became more comfortable. I watched him with joy in my heart.

When he was done test wheeling some chairs we made our way to Matt’s desk again and before we sat down Matt actually measured how tall Shane was, measured his legs and his arms and wrote all this information down. Apparently Shane had been in one wheelchair that was perfect for his height and measurements of his body but it was an expensive Invacare wheelchair. The one Shane really liked though was from the Quickie GT series. It was a black framed, rigid wheelchair with a single footrest. The backrest was somewhat low and could fold down. Shane could get the chair with or without armrests. He wanted it without armrests.

After talking for a while and discussing some more options Matt pulled out the order sheet, “So it looks like it’s going to be a Quickie GT?”
Shane looked over at me and I met his eyes and smiled.
He then answered, “Yes, most likely.”

After we had discussed all the various measurements and options and Matt had all the information written down the price came up to $ 1699.
When Matt told us the price I took Shane’s hand and squeezed it. He glanced at me from the side. This was actually a discounted price because the model Shane had picked was a 2005 model.
I smiled at Matt, “That sounds great.”

Shane didn’t say anything and in my mind I was thinking about my finances. I had enough money to pay for this and that was exactly what I was going to do. It wasn’t really a question for me anymore. I wanted to do this for Shane.
Matt looked at Shane, “So do we want to go ahead and finalize the order?”
I answered again, “Yes.”
Now Shane remarked lowly, “Maybe we can wait for a few more months?”
I held his hand and I tried to ease his mind, “No babe, we’ve been pushing it off and we should just go ahead and get it done now.”

It was a little lie about having pushed it off. If Matt knew the real story behind mine and Shane’s situation he probably would have been surprised. He didn’t need to know all of it.
Shane said, “May I talk to you for a moment Anna?”
I looked at him, “Sure.”
Discreetly Matt got up, “I’ll give you a little while to talk it all over again and you’re welcome to check out the floor models of the GT again.”
I smiled at Matt who was getting up, “Thanks so much Matt.”
Matt was obviously pleased with my presence. He walked away and disappeared in a hallway.

I got up and Shane followed me with his eyes, “Where are you going Anna?”
I went over to where his favorite chair was and pushed it over to him, “I just wanted to look at it again.”
I pushed it next to Shane, “Why don’t you get in it one more time?”
Shane looked at the chair, then up at me, “Anna, it’s almost 2000 dollars. I can’t let you do that.”
I patted the wheelchair seat, “Get in it!”
Shane hesitated and I repeated, “C’mon babe, get in it again. I want to see you in it.”

He shifted some, I pushed the wheelchair closer to him and Shane adeptly transferred over into it.
He found a comfortable position and pulling his legs up he set his feet onto the footplate. Then he looked at me shy and insecure.
I took his hand, “Shane, I want to do this for you, for us. It’ll help you so much and on top of it you look so extremely hot in this wheelchair, I can’t get enough of seeing you in it.”

I actually then moved from my chair and sat myself on Shane’s lap right there in Matt’s cubicle.
Shane was looking over his shoulder nervously and I wrapped my arms around his neck and whispered into his ear, “Shane, I love you so much and I really want to do this for you. You deserve to have it easier sometimes and even though I love you in your braces and I want you to still wear them I also want to make life easier for you when we’re out and about. I love you in this wheelchair just the same. Seeing you wheel around a while ago and the way you looked in the chair drove me crazy Shane. You’re so hot and so attractive to me, I can barely stand looking at you. Please let me do this for you. You won’t regret it and it’s not a defeat as you call it, it’s making life easier for you. You’re the strongest person I’ve ever known and nothing will ever defeat you. I love you.”

He held me on his lap and all he could do is nod, “I don’t know how I deserve you and all of this Anna. I love you so much and if this is something you want for me, then I’ll be okay with it. You’ll never ever get rid of me again Anna. I love you so much.”

I stayed on Shane’s lap for a moment and we were caught by surprise when Matt came back. He saw us sitting there, Shane in the wheelchair and me on his lap and I was about to scramble off Shane’s lap in embarrassment but Matt smiled, “Don’t worry Anna. The Quickie can easily carry yours and Shane’s weight. Looks like you two may have agreed.”
Shane looked around to Matt who sat down across from us again, “We have agreed. The Quickie GT is the one.”
With that we all laughed and Matt said, “All right, we can finish the paperwork then.”

Together with Matt we then specified all the measurements and accessories of the wheelchair and Matt filled out all the forms and paperwork.

About an hour later we left the NuMotion store with an order form in my purse. The custom made wheelchair for Shane would be in by the end of January. I had made a down payment of $ 500 and the rest would be due at pick-up. When we sat in my car Shane leaned over to me, pulled me close, and kissed me for a very long time.

He eventually let go, but his eyes stayed on me, “Anna, thanks so much for doing this for me. You’re going to be so proud of me and I’ll be in that wheelchair whenever you want me to be.”
I smiled, “I’m looking forward to seeing you in it.”
We kissed again.
“So are you ready to meet my foster parents?”
“Yes, I am.”
Al and Cindy knew that we were coming and Cindy had already been planning to have us over for dinner. They were looking forward to meet Shane.
It wasn’t far from Madisonville to Ponchatoula and we pulled into the driveway at around five.

Al and Cindy lived in an older rambler, the same house I spent most of my childhood years in. I waited for Shane to get out of the car and then locked the doors.
Cindy must have heard me pull up because she came out of the house already, “Anna, sugar, I’m so happy to see you.”
She came over to me and I fell into her open arms.
She mumbled into my hair, “I’m so happy to see you, sug’. We missed you over Christmas but I know you were working and you did a good thing being there for those poor people in the shelter. How are things down there?”

She held me close to her and I enjoyed every moment of it. She was a heavy set woman and everything about her was soft and warm.
When she let go she looked at me for just a moment and then she glanced over my shoulder at Shane who stood there holding on to his crutches and looking nervous.
Cindy walked up to Shane and smiled at him, “Shane, it’s so nice to finally meet you.”
Shane nodded, probably trying to figure out how to greet Cindy, “Yes ma’am, likewise.”

Cindy didn’t hug Shane or anything. I think she realized that greeting Shane was a bit complicated.
She did touch his arm though, “Okay, come on in young man.”
I had told Cindy and Al about Shane but they had never seen him and I saw Cindy curiously glance at his legs and how he was moving forward.

Al came out of the house, “Anna, hon, so glad to see you.”
I approached him and he also held his arms out for me to fall into.
We hugged and Al also scanned Shane curiously. Shane had stopped and still seemed nervous.
Al nodded at him, “So you are the young man she keeps talking about?”
Shane looked at him nervously, trying to keep a steady stance, “Yes sir, I guess.”
Al smiled, “Welcome to our home Shane. It’s nice to meet you.”
Shane nodded, “Thank you sir, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Come on in.”

I saw Al watch as Shane started making his way toward the house. I know it was difficult for him to be stared at. Al put his arm around me and we walked toward the house.
Cindy was already up on the porch. There were three steps into the house and she watched Shane with a weary expression, most likely worried about him getting up the stairs.
I saw her glance at me and read her questioning expression.
I walked up next to Shane and touched his upper back softly and said lowly, “You okay?”
He only nodded and focused on making the first step.
Al also watched Shane as he stood behind him.
I smiled at them, “Shane is a pro at stairs. He goes up the three flights to my apartment.”
Cindy held her hand to her mouth and mumbled, “My Lord, that must be difficult.”
Shane didn’t say a word but took the other two steps with stiff legs, placing his crutches on the steps and pushing up.
I assured her, “He got it.”

Shane was up on the porch and passed Cindy who held the screen door open. The inside door was open and we all walked in.
Al walked around us, “Come on in you two.”
We gathered in the family room and Cindy moved the pillows off the couch some, “Here, sit down Shane.”
Shane smiled at her, “Thanks.”

They watched as he let himself down with his legs sticking out in front of him and then bent them as he unlocked them.
Cindy asked, “You kids want something to drink?”
We eventually sat there with homemade Ice Tea in front of us. Cindy sat down next to me with her arm around my shoulders.
Al sat in his usual recliner and asked, “So what were you kids doing up here in Madisonville?”
I placed my hand on Shane’s thighs and explained, “We went to a store to order a wheelchair for Shane.”

Al seemed a bit surprised and thought about his next words. They had known about Shane’s disability and I had told them about the braces and the crutches but I think it was still somewhat strange for them to actually see him in them and meet him.
Al stated, “So, I would think that would make things a lot easier for you son?”
Shane looked up, “Yes, sir…it’ll make it easier if I’m out and about and would have to walk a lot, which is difficult. Anna had come up with the suggestion and even though I was reluctant at first I’m glad we decided to do this now.”
I added, “His wheelchair will come in at the end of January.”
Cindy replied, “Wonderful. I’m sure it’s a good thing.”

Al then asked, “So Shane…tell me again what kind of disability you’re dealing with? I think Anna told us a while back but I don’t remember all of it.”
I knew it was always difficult for Shane to talk about the accident and the disability so I took his hand in mine as he started to tell Al what had happened and what his disability was.
Cindy and Al listened attentively and I could see sorrow in Cindy’s eyes. She was always emotional about things and I was hoping she wouldn’t get too distraught by Shane’s story.

Shane finished, “So, with the leg braces and crutches I can still walk which has been a good thing even though it gets difficult at times.”
Al nodded, “I can just imagine, son. Well, hopefully the wheelchair will make it easier for you.”
I smiled and then added, “We’re going to start looking for a place to move in together. Shane can’t keep going up to my apartment with all the stairs and my place is somewhat unpractical for him with the bathroom and all.”
Al took the word again, “So, you two are getting pretty serious then?”
I smiled at them and then at Shane, “Yes, we’ve been pretty serious.”

I had told Al and Cindy about the whole situation with Shane and they had tried to talk me out of this for a while, thinking I put too much on myself and there had been plenty of times I had been at the house the last couple of months where I felt sad and cried a lot. They never talked bad about Shane but they also worried about me.

Al didn’t hold back, “So, it’s been rough for our Anna with you in jail the last couple of months. Then the hurricane and all the bad things that had been going on. What are your plans Shane? Are you going to stay out of trouble?”
I squeezed Shane’s hand and he took a deep breath and answered confidently, “Yes sir, I’m going to do everything in my power to make this work with Anna. I love her very much and I know it’s been rough for us but I’m cleared now and even though I’m still on probation I won’t be going back to jail or prison ever. I’ll help Anna in every way possible and I’ll be there for her and with her. I want to do anything for her. She means the world to me.”
I felt his voice tremble and held his hand and added, “It’s a new beginning for me and Shane and really for everything. I love Shane very much and I know we’ll make it.”

Al was sitting there listening to us and looked at us with a serious expression. I know he made Shane nervous but I knew deep inside Al was on my side and was okay with me and Shane. He was just worried. I had opened up to them about Shane and everything that had been happening and at times they had just been there for me, had been holding me when I cried and when I had missed my boyfriend so much. They knew how I felt about him but I knew worry was still there.

Al now said, “I’m sure you two will do great. And Anna knows we’re here for her and I want to extend that to you as well Shane. You’re with our Anna and we’re here for you too.”
Shane nodded and looked up at Al nervously, “Thank you so much sir. This means a lot to me. I won’t disappoint you and your wife nor Anna.”
Cindy said now leaning over some to look at Shane, “The Lord will be on your side. You and our Anna are meant for each other.”
Shane nodded again, “Thank you ma’am. I think so too. I love Anna very much.”
I think Shane was relieved when the questioning was over.

Cindy got up, “Well, I made some Seafood Gumbo, your favorite Anna.”
I got up too and left Shane there on the couch in the family room with Al. I heard Al ask Shane about his family and if they had been affected by Katrina. I gave them some time to connect and helped Cindy in the kitchen.

As I stood by the cabinets to get the bowls Cindy came up next to me and said lowly with a weary smile, “Anna, you’re such a strong young woman. I’m so proud of you my child. And I’m so glad you’re okay with all this tragedy going on in New Orleans. How’s your job at the shelter?”
I explained to Cindy that I was off for a few days and that everything was going good and that I was planning on staying there until something else would come up. She also asked me about the club and about Ray and Nadine.

I updated her on the situation with the club and she asked, “So if they get the club running again are you going to work there again?”
I looked at her with a smile, “Yes, I plan on it.”
“What about Shane?”
“I may not dance anymore but just help run the place. I don’t want him to have to go through this with me and I also don’t want to hurt him.”
Cindy nodded and said softly, “That’s good. The boy has been through enough and you have too. You both should be there only for each other. You’re responsible for each other now.”
“I know, I want Shane to be okay, that’s all that matters to me and I think I can work something out with Ray and Nadine if it comes down to it.”
Cindy nodded and hugged me once more, “I love you dear.”
“I love you Cindy. Thanks for always being there for me.”
“You’re my baby.”

I smiled and we set the table for dinner. Cindy gave the food her finishing touches and eventually we called the men into the dining room.

We had a pleasant dinner, talking about the city and Katrina and everything that was going on. Cindy started crying some and Al tried to assure his wife that things will turn around again and the city will come back stronger than ever. I wasn’t all the way sure about that. It would take a lot of work and a lot of persistence from all its people but maybe the city could rebuild. It may take years though of recovering.

After dinner we sat with Al and Cindy some more in the family room.
It was almost ten when I said, “We should probably get going.”
Al asked, “Why don’t you stay here over night?”
I didn’t think it was a good idea with Shane to stay there and declined.
Cindy said, “I hate to see you have to drive so late.”
“I’m okay Cindy.”

Reluctantly they let us leave. Shane looked tired and we said our Good Bye’s and this time they hugged him even though he couldn’t hug them back but only held on to his crutches.

It was a cold night as we drove over the causeway. Only a few cars were on the road with us. The lake lay as one huge dark body of water and only in the very distance the sky was a tad brighter then right around us driving.

Shane fell asleep in the car and when his head fell forward he jerked up and mumbled, “Fuck…”
He then glanced at me and I met his eyes and he said softly, “Sorry.”
“Don’t be, why don’t you let the seat back and sleep.”
He did that and when he was laying back he said lowly, “I hope Al and Cindy are okay with me being with you.”
“They are, I saw it tonight.”
He reached his hand over and touched my arm softly and said, “I love you.”
I kept my eyes on the road, “I love you.”



  1. I really loved this chapter! I look forward to next week!

  2. Al and Cindy are pretty cool!