At the park I slowly drove along the driveway and Shane asked, “Do they have a bathroom around here?”I thought for a moment, realizing that I actually had to pee too, “Yeah, there is one.”
I drove toward one of the bathroom buildings of the park, and parked right by the building when we got there. As I came around to the passenger side Shane was just pulling his backpack over his shoulders. For a moment I wondered why he was bringing it but I assumed he had a reason.
I watched him move his legs out of the car and he looked up at me, “You can go ahead. You probably realize by now, everything takes me a bit longer.”
I nodded and walked ahead.
I turned around at the building and saw as Shane made his way toward the men’s bathroom and I pointed my car keys toward my car and locked it.
Shane glanced up at me for a moment with a smile and then we parted ways as I disappeared in the women’s bathroom.
When I came out Shane wasn’t there yet and I got into my car, turned it on with the A/C and the music blasting and waited. I pondered about Shane using the bathroom and I couldn’t imagine how he really did it with the crutches and all. I had no idea and realized once again my growing curiosity about his situation.
Shane eventually came back out and made his way back over to the car. He had his eyes on the ground in front of him and setting one crutch after the other forward as he slowly moved his braced legs out to the side some and moving forward with one leg after the other in coordination with the crutches holding him up and steady. My loins were pulsating at watching him. Shane got back into the car as gracefully as possible under the circumstances and when he was in the car he looked over at me and I just smiled at him. He didn’t say anything. I drove off.
I found a close enough parking spot next to a gravel path toward the shore of the Lake.
Not far from the car was a bench under shady cypresses, “Can you make it over there?”
Shane quickly scanned the path nodded, “Yeah.”
The park was right at the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Gentle waves of water hit the rocks piled along the shore line. I had grabbed the six pack and was already sitting on a large rock by the water as Shane still made his way over slowly. Not trying to be too obvious I still watched him making it along the path, his legs stiff in the braces, the black leather cuffs around his thighs and calves, the metal bar along either side of his legs blinking in the sun. His jeans were trapped under the braces and when he looked up for a moment and met my eyes he quickly looked away again.
Watching Shane in the braces fascinated me very much as I had never seen anything like it before and my hands trembled in my lap. I was very attracted to him.
Finally he reached the bench and somewhat plopped on it, “Shit…”
He was breathing heavy and pulled his arms out of the crutches again. He didn’t unlock his braces this time but his legs were just sticking out stiff and straight in front of him. It was a humid day and as I walked over to him I saw he was sweating. He took off his cap, set it on the bench next to him and ran his hand through his hair again. His forehead glistened slightly from sweat. I grabbed a cold Corona out of the six pack and handed it to him.
He looked up with a smile, “Thanks, it’s freaking hot.”
He twisted the cap of the bottle and drank a large sip.
I asked, “May I have one?”
He smiled up at me, “Of course, go for it.”
I grabbed a Corona for myself and took the four remaining bottles in the carrier over to the water and set them inside a cold water spot.
Shane watched me curiously and when I walked back he grinned, “That’s a smart girl.”
I sat down next to him and smiled, “You better watch your mouth.”
We smiled at each other and tapped our bottles, then drank again.
I remarked, “I haven’t drank beer in the middle of the day in a long time. I think you’re bad influence.”
He laughed softly, “Well, I’m kind of a bad boy.”
“Are you now?”
He looked down at his bottle smiling but didn’t say anything else.
Eventually he looked up again and asked lowly, “Are you okay with being here? You didn’t seem too crazy about hanging out with me some more.”
“I’m okay. I’m just a little beside myself lately. It’s all good so far.”
He shifted on the bench, “So far?”
I looked out at the water and thought about what I wanted to say, then turned to him and started softly, “I’m just kind of worried I guess. I don’t know what it is…but I guess…I mean I don’t know anything about you. But here you are appearing in my life at pretty much the worst possible time. It feels…I guess it feels bittersweet or something…”
My words faded and he moved his eyes from me and rolled his bottle between his hands.He looked out at the water now and said lowly, “I don’t know anything about you either but I do know I feel really good being around you. I’ll tell you whatever you want to know about me…just ask me anything.”
I started lowly, “What did you mean at the restaurant a while ago? You said something about having lost your brother too.”
My hands felt sweaty and even though I wanted to know I also felt nervous about Shane actually telling me.
He kept his eyes on the horizon over the water, “These fuck….freaking leg braces, I didn’t have to deal with this shit about a year ago, you know. I had an all right job, I had kind of a normal life. I lived in Morgan City in a small apartment with another dude and my brother Nick. We split the rent. On a Friday night in May of last year my brother and I were driving on I-10 heading to Baton Rouge. We have a younger brother who lives there and we were going to hang out over the weekend. Nick was driving his little Ford pick-up. We were going about 80 on the left lane when an 18-wheeler swerved over next to us, pushed us through the mid barrier and we shot across the other side of the Interstate and crashed down an embankment, flipping a few times and finally a cypress stopping us right there in the swamp. The fucking 18-wheeler had kept going. We had been buckled up so we were still strapped in but it was bad…”
He paused and drank from his beer, then continued lowly, “It was very bad actually. The roof of the pick-up was smashed so bad it had pinned us in it. I was conscious and when I called out for my brother I didn’t get any sound from him. I couldn’t move my head and the only way I saw Nick was in the rearview mirror, the steering wheel basically digging into his chest cavity, he was bleeding from his chest and his head. He was barely conscious and I tried to scream at him but I could hardly make a fucking sound. He was covered in blood and all the sudden he somehow started talking and he said to me that he didn’t think he was going to make it and he felt he was dying.”
Shane paused and took a deep breath now before he continued, “He could barely speak of course but I freaked out and tried to keep him talking but I was in so much pain. My body was shaking all over, I couldn’t move. I tried to reach over to my brother but I couldn’t reach him, he was too far over. I was pinned in the truck and any slight movement hurt like hell…”
Shane was visibly breathing now and his hands were shaky holding the bottle. I sensed his anxiety about this.I moved closer to him and touched his hand with mine, remarking softly, “You don’t have to tell me anymore.”
He shook his head, “No, it’s cool, I want to…”
He looked at his bottle, took a large sip and finished it.
"Do you want me to get you another one?"
He nodded, "Sure." I got up and came back to Shane with another beer.
He then continued, “Well, I watched Nick die right there next to me while I was trying to scream and help him but I couldn’t move. My legs were trapped between the floorboard and the smashed front end of the truck. I couldn’t move an inch. My arms were bleeding, the windshield had busted. I didn’t know where all the blood came from. Water was coming into the truck from the swamp and I was soon waist deep sitting in water. Gators were probably getting ready to have a good meal. The truck was slowly sinking. I was sure I would die either of drowning, bleeding to death or maybe get eaten by gators. My whole body hurt like hell, from my neck down my back and into my legs. I kept losing the feeling in my legs. The water kept creeping up higher on me…”
He pressed his lips together, inhaled through his nose and looked up in the sky, obviously fighting his emotions.I moved closer, “You don’t have to say anything else, Shane.”
He didn’t seem to hear me and kept going, “I hyperventilated all night. I wanted to die but it wasn’t going to be that easy for me. I stayed freaking conscious when the water came up to my neck and it was blood red around me. Nick actually ended up under water. It was hell…they didn’t find me until the early morning, I eventually just passed out.”
He looked over at me, sweat was glistening on his face. He moved to take his button up shirt off and eventually just sat there in his white T-Shirt. He took another sip from his bottle and shifted some. I was without words.
Shane kept on, “The next thing I remember was waking up at the hospital; that was three weeks later. I had been kept in a coma, intubated and all that crap. I guess then they decided to let me wake up to my fucked up life.” I heard the bitterness in his voice.
Shane leaned over to his legs and unlocked his braces, bending his legs at the knee. He was slouched down on the bench, holding the beer bottle in between his thighs.
“Well, I had a broken back, a broken neck, messed up both my legs with multiple fractures, and other stuff. On top of all of that my spinal cord had been damaged at the L1 up through T11. I was really messed up. I laid there for weeks, had a couple of surgeries, my legs had to get worked on, they put a fucking metal rod into my back and some screws in my neck. I laid there day in and day out, couldn’t do shit. Couldn’t move, had to lay still for weeks for everything to heal.”
I asked carefully, “At Charity?”
“First in Baton Rouge, then when they figured I had no insurance and all that shit they took me to Charity. After about four months, I could start moving very little and very carefully. My back and neck fractures were healing, they had me in braces, casts, and all that. But my legs were still fucked up and there was no healing for my spinal cord. So in the end they just gave me the facts, incomplete L1-T11 paraplegic.”
He had not been worried anymore about using swear words and he took the last sip from his second beer. I was trembling at hearing his story.
“Well, the doc at Charity sat me down, and he explained my options. Since I’m incomplete I’ve some sensations left in some spots on my legs. Just not enough to actually walk unassisted anymore. So I had the choice between the braces or a wheelchair. Doc and Physical Therapist told me about the advantages and disadvantages and then I basically had to opt for one. I really didn’t know what to do but I just couldn’t imagine being in a wheelchair. I don’t have insurance and I had no money for any of that stuff. Since the SCI is incomplete I decided to get braces instead of a wheelchair. I couldn’t have both. It all just sucked big time, still does.”I took a deep breath and shook my head, “I’m so sorry”
During Shane telling me his story I had realized some of the expressions he had used I had never heard of, “What’s SCI? And L-1 and T-11?”He looked at me slightly surprised, “SCI is the abbreviation for Spinal Cord Injury. My spinal cord is severed at the L1, T12, and T11 vertebrae. It’s not completely damaged so it’s called incomplete, meaning I still have some sensation below those vertebrae, some signals from the brain can still reach below those vertebrae.”
I nodded insecurely, “Oh okay.” I lowered my eyes, then looked up at him again, “I’m sorry Shane…I just don’t know much about this stuff.”
He smiled, “No biggy. Why should you? I didn’t know any of that stuff either until I had to deal with it.”
I nodded again and he asked with a smile, ”You think you can grab me another cold one?”
I got another beer for him which he opened right away and drank from.
I sat down next to him again and asked softly, “So what happened then?”
“Well, as soon as my legs were somewhat okay again I was casted and fitted for the braces and soon thereafter they strapped them on me and made me walk. It was hideous. I was in inpatient rehab for a few weeks but then they switched very quickly to outpatient. Since I could only do this for free at Charity, my friend Mitch out in Kenner took me in, so I would be close to the city and be able to come for rehab. I really owe him, he was there for me all the way. I was in real bad shape when I came out of the hospital, physically and mentally. I probably should’ve stayed in the hospital longer but without insurance they kicked me out as soon as I could stand and take five steps. I made it through the worst I guess, I’m here now. I’m getting better with walking. It’s still not easy but I’m making it. My last year was just fucked up. I was a total mess.”
“What happened to Nick?”
Shane looked out to the water again, “He’s buried in Morgan City. I haven’t been out there since the accident.”
“What about the 18-wheeler who caused this?”
“They never got him.”
I was sincerely shocked about everything Shane had just told me, “I’m so sorry.”
Shane looked over at me and surprisingly he smiled, “Well, if it wouldn’t have been for the accident I would’ve never met you, right?”
I shook my head, “But it doesn’t change the fact of all the things you’ve been through. We shouldn’t have met like this.”
I sighed and he said lowly, looking at me with deep dark eyes, “Then we wouldn’t have met at all.”
We sat next to each other on the bench and I touched his hand again, “What about your family?”“What about your parents?”
“’I’ve three brothers, two in Morgan City, and my youngest brother lives in Baton Rouge. We were five boys growing up. Now we’re four.”
“’I’ve three brothers, two in Morgan City, and my youngest brother lives in Baton Rouge. We were five boys growing up. Now we’re four.”
“My mom’s been dead for a couple of years. I’ve no idea if my dad is still alive, I don’t know where he is.”
He paused and smiled, “Well, I’m sure your life is a lot different. Hearing all of this you’re probably about to get the heck out of here and leave me.”
I looked out over the water, “You couldn’t be more wrong with your assumption.”
Shane shifted and turned to me, “Well, then it’s your turn now.”
I turned my eyes back to him and our faces were very close now.
He smiled his sexy smile, “Or do you want to know more about me?”
I moved my eyes down to his legs and asked shyly, “So, you can only walk with these on?”
He nodded but didn’t say anything else.
I asked furthermore, “How are you doing with that?”
“What do you mean?”
“Are you okay with your situation and having to wear the braces to walk?”
He looked down to his legs too and answered, “Well, I’m okay to an extent of not letting it get to me too much anymore. I try not to let it interfere with my daily life. I really have no choice but it’s not always easy. I have my bad moments and then I get very angry and pissed off and that sucks. You know, if there would at least be someone I could get pissed off at, because of what they did…but there’s no one. I can’t let it out on anyone, so sometimes, yeah, I get pissed off and then I hate dealing with this shit.”
Shane kept his eyes on me and I felt very nervous all the sudden. I also felt how my heart beat faster in my chest as I looked up at him and into his dark eyes scanning my face.
He asked lowly, “How do you feel about the braces?”
It was a question I didn’t want to deal with because for some odd reason I felt very much drawn to him with his leg braces and seeing him in them and walking with them and dealing with them excited me very much, but I didn’t know if I should tell him.
I looked down and answered shyly, “Well, I’ve never seen anything like it before but I do like them on you.”
He seemed a little surprised but smiled at me, “Really?”
His eyes were deep and dark and I could barely stand his gaze, and he added, “Well, I’m glad you like them.”
I felt the heat radiate from him, we sat so close and he added softly, “Anna, I’m really glad we met. Not too much good stuff has happened to me in the last couple of months. Even though I can feel that you have doubts, I really hope we can keep seeing each other and that you can relax about hanging out with me. I’m trying to get back on track with my life and everything, it hasn’t been all easy. I know I’m not exactly a guy a girl wants to have around, but I also know that going through all this crap by myself was tough and I could use something positive in my life right now. I know you’re going through a rough time but I want to show you that I can be there for you too, Anna. We can support each other. I really hope you have some room for me in your life despite everything that’s going on.”
I was startled when he softly ran his fingers down my arm. Even though it was humid and hot, I felt chills run down my back. I was somewhat overwhelmed with his words and felt like we were maybe moving too fast.I stuttered, “Shane…I…I…there are things about me, which may change your mind. I don’t know how you will feel about those things. I don’t want to hurt you.”
He looked at me still, “Try me!”
I shook my head in despair, “I’m not this average girl that you think I am. It’s not been all rosy for me either.”
His eyes were questioning, “It can’t be worse than my mess, can it?”
I looked at him, my hands were shaking as I started, “I work as a dancer in a nightclub in the city. I’ve been there for seven years. I’m one of their main girls. I work nights only and I’m also an assistant manager there.”
He moved his fingers from my arm and he opened his mouth to talk but swallowed first and then asked unsure, “Like what kind of dancer?”
“An exotic dancer at Maison de la Maitre in the city, off Bourbon Street. A stripper if you will…”
He inhaled deeply and pressing his lips together he exhaled through his nose, “You don’t do anything with those guys though, do you?”
“I dance, I wait tables, I entertain, I mingle, I flirt and I also do private dance requests.”
My voice faded and I tried to read his expression.
He didn’t say anything for a moment, took another deep breath, and then said, “I don’t care…it’s just a job and…”
He stopped and sighed, “I care about you and I want to be with you, simple as that…”
He took a sip from the beer and looked out over the water again.
I added lowly, “Men usually don’t stick around when they find out what I do for a living. I’ve had my heart broken too many times. I have a hard time letting you in because you may change your mind and turn around, leaving me. Do you realize what I mean?”
From my purse I pulled out a business card and handed it to Shane. He took it from me and without saying anything he looked at it. I was pictured on the card, in some skimpy outfit, my name next to the picture and the information of the club on the side of the card. In quote on the bottom it said “Come and see me at New Orleans’ #1 nightclub”.
He stared at the card and I saw his hand shaking as he held it.
I asked softly, “Shane, do you think you can handle this?”
He kept looking at the card and then he turned to me, shifted on the bench, moved closer again, and said, “I will try my best to handle it, because if that’s what it takes to keep you around then I will manage.”
He then smiled, “Can I keep this card?”
I was surprised at his comment and his smile and I nodded with a smile, “You have every right to keep it.”
He smiled still, “Along with hundreds of other guys…”
I laughed and softly I added, “But you are the only guy with braces on your legs which I find very hot and no other guy can beat that.”
He laughed lowly, “You don’t have to say that just to make me feel better.”
I shook my head, “I’m not saying it to make you feel better. I mean every word of it.”
With this Shane sat his beer bottle next to him on the bench and shifted some to move closer to me, I heard the soft noises of the braces on his legs as he positioned himself right next to me. He scanned my face with those beautiful dark eyes and he moved even closer with his face.
“Anna, I really like you.”
Gently placing his hand on the side of my face, he pulled me closer and almost as to ask for permission he nodded slightly and somewhat nervously I moved closer until our lips touched and we fell into a kiss. He pulled me in with a firm grip on the back of my head. His other hand was running through my hair. I let him take over and let myself fall into his demanding kiss.
Not far from us I heard the waves break against the rocks, and the humidity lingered between us like in a sauna. Shane’s body was radiating even more heat and just a very light but hot breeze was brushing over us as we held each other and kissed for a while.
I moved my hand down to his thighs and felt the thigh cuff of his brace under my fingers. It startled me to feel the warm and soft leather on top of his leg. My breathing quickened at the touch of the brace on his leg and for a moment I let my hand run over the cuff strapped around his thigh and then over to the metal rod along the outside of his leg. I had to take my hand away again because it excited me very much and very quickly.
My kissing turned more intense as my thoughts spun around the image of the braces on his legs. I didn’t think Shane had felt my hand on his leg but he fully took in my kissing. I felt him breathe quicker until we slowed down and gently unlocked our lips, taking some quick breaths and processing the situation, not able to look at each other for a moment.
Finally Shane stroked his fingers over my cheek, and said softly, “That felt really good.”
I nodded and he added, “I really want to be with you Anna.”
I looked up at him, “I want to be with you but I’m still worried about things.”
I was still processing the kiss as I had not been that close to a guy in a long time. And as much as I felt attracted to Shane I had doubts if it would work out. I knew he wasn’t exactly living a stable life at the moment.
He asked somewhat tense, “What are you worried about?”
I took a deep breath and got up, interrupting our connection. I walked over to a tree and leaned on it looking out over the water. It was still confusing to me how Shane made me feel and I just didn’t know how to sort my feelings. Was it just the deal with the braces or was it actually Shane who I was attracted to? I imagined in my head how it would be if he wouldn’t be paraplegic and be just an able bodied guy walking like any other guy.
I had always known that somehow guys in wheelchairs or somehow depending on assistive devices intrigued me. About two years earlier I had dated a guy who got injured in a sports accident, broke his leg and was in a cast and on crutches for a few months. We probably had had the best sex during that time, he had turned me on very much being that way and I had been almost a bit sad when he had been done with the cast and his leg was healed again. Now I questioned my intentions about being with Shane.
I heard Shane shifting on the bench and when I turned to look at him his expression was dark and questioning, “What’s wrong?”
I shook my head, “Nothing, I’m just…I’m confused, I’m sorry Shane.”
His expression was earnest and his voice was tense when he asked, “About what? What is so confusing?”
He took a large sip from his beer, wiped his hand over his mouth, and said, “I just spilled my guts out to you, and told you all this shit you wanted to know. Why can’t you just go with it Anna?”
He sounded angry and I was somewhat surprised at his tone. I opened my mouth to say something but then I didn’t.
Instead I kept looking out over the lake. Across the bridge was where Jay and I had grown up and had spent our childhood. Many times we had driven across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway to come into the city. In the car we used to joke, laugh, and sing crazy songs. I heard Jay’s laugh in my mind, I saw his smiling face. For a few moments my mind had drifted to my brother and I had forgotten about Shane.
When I turned around and looked at him his eyes were pleading. I walked over to him and sat down beside him again, reaching for his hand. I could sense his relief, as his hand felt shaky.
He said lowly, “Anna, I’m sorry if I did or said anything wrong or moved too fast…and I’m sorry I put you on the spot like I did.”
I squeezed his hand, “Shane, it’s not going to be easy for us; you realize that, right?”
He almost whispered, “I know, I’m trying to get it together. Please give me a chance, Anna.”
I nodded and then looked out to the water once more, “I was thinking about my brother. We grew up on the other side of the lake. I’ve driven over this bridge so many times with him.”
Shane sat up some, “You were close to him?”
I nodded, “Very close. We didn’t have a great childhood either until we were both placed in foster care. We both lived in Ponchatoula through our childhood and teenage years. Our foster parents helped us deal with all the crap we had been through before we were taken away from our mother.”
Shane sat quietly next to me and just listened with his eyes on me. I told him some things about our childhood, Jay coming out, moving to New Orleans, tending bars, my becoming a dancer and getting hired on at the Maison, and about Jay getting sick.
Shane just sat there and listened and when I finished he stated lowly, “Well, I was wrong about you. You have seen it all, haven’t you?”
I smiled and lowered my eyes, “Well, life has been crazy at times.”
I looked back up at Shane and told him, “You know, I told my brother about you and how we met, how I had first spotted you in the courtyard. Jay knew everything about you and he let me know that you would be good for me.”
Shane smiled, “Did he now?”
“He did. I think he would’ve liked you. You would’ve liked him. He was a good guy as a friend and as a brother.”
I felt some tears run down my cheeks.
Shane touched his hand to my cheek and softly wiped them away, “I’m glad you told me all of this, it means a lot and I want to be there for you Anna. When you feel bad, please don’t shut me out.”
I nodded and pulled a photo of me and my brother out of my purse and showed it to Shane.
He stated lowly, “You guys look very happy.”
A speed boat zoomed by close to the shore and we both turned to look at it. Shane pulled me closer to him, and with his arm around my shoulders, I rested my head on his arm and we just looked out over the lake. Shane finished the second beer, I finished my first.
Eventually I reached over to Shane’s thigh and let my finger run over the brace cuff. He watched my hand and we glanced at each other.
I let my finger run along the cuff and along the metal for a few moments and Shane asked me, “Do you want to see how it works?”
I nodded shyly. Shane took his arm off my shoulders and moved them to his legs. He pushed his legs out some and then took his crutches, slipped his arms through them and gripping the handles tight he pulled himself up and with a quick jerk both his legs straightened and the braces were locked in the straight position.
I watched as he stood there and then he turned around to me, “Do you see the thing in the back of my knee?”
“Yes.” I felt nervous and excited at the same time.
“Pull it upwards on both legs and then I can bend my legs again and sit down.”
I did as he had instructed me and right away the braces’ lock mechanism unlatched and Shane was able to sit down with his legs angled. He took his arms out of his crutches and placed them next to him again on the bench, then pushed his butt all the way on the bench again.
I took a deep breath and he smiled at me, “You’re a pro already.”
I lowered my eyes rather embarrassed and he assured me, “It’s all right. You did good. It’s actually easier for me when you unlocked them while I was still standing. That way I can sit down somewhat normal with my legs bent. I can’t do that when I am by myself.”
I touched his brace again, the leather was warm and soft on the front. I rubbed over it and pushed my fingers under the soft material that padded the leg the leather cuff and his jeans. Behind his legs the cuffs were enforced with a thin metal band. Shane just sat there and watched me curiously as I pushed my fingers under the thigh cuff, then brought them out and stroked over it again and down to the metal rod on the side to the knee pad. My heart was beating so fast and Shane just sat absolutely still, watching me explore his braces with my hands and fingers. I was lost in thoughts and I felt very excited.
When I finally looked up at him his eyes were questioning, and I said lowly, “I’m sorry Shane, it’s just…I don’t…”
I didn’t finish the sentence because I didn’t even know myself what the heck I was doing.
He took my hand and pulled me to him, “You don’t know what you’re doing to me right now.”
It wasn’t what I was doing to him, it was what he was doing to me and it confused me as much as it excited me. The feel of his leg braces under my hand triggered something I couldn’t explain. I was surprised by my own reaction to my touching his braces and I felt embarrassed.
Shane added, “It’s all right you know. I’ve got no problem with it. I want you to feel okay about it and if you’re okay with the braces then it makes it all the better for me.”
He pulled me closer and I looked down but he lifted my chin again to look at him, “I don’t want you to feel weird about it. I for one am freaking happy you feel that way about them. I wouldn’t think that they would’ve been exactly a chick magnet, probably not at all.”
I whispered, “I like them a lot.”
He smiled, “Thanks”
And he pulled me closer and with his hand on the back of my head he pulled me in for another long kiss.
Just as we were done kissing my cell phone played its ringtone in my purse. I hesitated for a moment and when I looked at Shane he nodded for me to get it.
It was Nadine calling, “Anna?”
“Are you all right? I was waiting for your call honey.”
“I’m all right, I’m sorry Nadine, time slipped away from me today.”
When I glanced at my phone I saw it was after 3 p.m.
“Are you at home?”
“I’m not. I’m actually out with someone right now.”
“Out with who?”
Nadine sounded worried.
“I’m out with Shane, who I had met last week at Charity. You remember?”
“Oh, the boy that called you a few times when I answered?”
“Anna, please be careful. I don’t know if you are in a good place right now to be with some guy.”
“I’m okay Nadine, I’m a big girl.”
“A big girl who is a bit unstable right now. I’m just worried about you hon.”
“Don’t worry about me Nadine. I will call later on tonight.”
We eventually finished up and when I looked at Shane he just smiled.
I explained, “Nadine is my boss from the club and really like a mother to me, and a very good friend. She’s just worried about me.”
“Well, that’s a good thing.”
I then also remembered that I had promised my foster parents I would call them and I told Shane, “Shane, I’m sorry but have to make another call to my foster parents. I promised them. They are probably worried too.”
Shane grinned, “No problem, but can you do me a favor?”
“What do you need?”
He smiled, “If you get me another last beer I’ll be a good boy.”
I laughed lowly and fetched the beer from my makeshift cooler in the water. Shane was on his third beers, I had drank two.
I stayed on the bench next to him and called Cindy and Al. We talked for about ten minutes. Everyone had been worried about me and in a way I was thankful for this. People cared for me and I knew there was always someone there for me if I needed someone.
Shane watched me as I finished up with Cindy on the phone and when I clicked off he said lowly, “Sounds like they really care about you.”
“Yes, I’m grateful to have them around.”
Shane rolled the bottle between his hands, “I don’t even have a cell phone and I guess it wouldn’t really make a difference. No one gives a damn about what I’m up to anyways.”
I leaned in on him some, “Well, there’s at least one person now who gives a damn.”
I laughed softly.
He looked up and smiled and I kissed him on the cheek quickly.
I asked him bluntly, “Shane, would you like to come to my place?”
He seemed very surprised and looked up at me, “Your place? I don’t know. You sure?”
He shrugged his shoulders, “I guess if you really want me to.”
As I gathered my purse Shane pulled himself up to a standing position and locked his braces. While I fetched the last bottle of beer and threw away the trash he focused on getting a good stance.
I watched him make sure he was standing all right, he had had three beers after all. He had left his backpack in my car and I walked ahead, unlocking my car and watched him make his way over slowly and stiff legged.He called, “You can get on in…get that A/C going, fucking heat…”
I walked over to my car, unlocked it, and I opened the door to the passenger side of the car.
Sitting in my car with the A/C blasting, I watched Shane make it to the car and get in. It was quite a hassle every time for him to get into the seat, take his arms out of the crutches, unlock his braces and then pull his legs and his crutches into the car. My car wasn’t that spacious and Shane wasn’t short and with the braces, back pack, and crutches it got crowded in the passenger seat. My car was not very accessible for him.
Shane looked over at me with a smile and panting, “I’m in…”
In the car we sat next to each other silently. At the lake when we kissed I couldn’t ignore anymore that I wanted to be with him and I did care for him. I assumed there wasn’t much going on in his life but I didn’t want to worry about that, I didn’t want to be scared to let my feelings go. For way too long I had kept up this invisible wall when it came to emotions. The last couple of months had been filled with lots of tears, sadness, despair and even some anger. I had been there for Jay and for everyone else but had forgotten about myself and how much I wanted someone in my life. Someone who adored me not just at the club while I’m up on stage but someone who adored me for who I was. Deep inside I was afraid for some reason Shane would disappear from my life again but I didn’t want that fear to stop me from letting him into my life. I had to give him a fair chance.
For a moment our eyes met and we smiled at each other.