I hurried against the main flow of the pedestrian crowds toward the pub where I was supposed to meet my coworkers. I realized I didn’t even have a Rite Aid bag on me to actually show proof that I had been at the drugstore. I didn’t want them to know that I went out of my way to actually see this random homeless guy. In hindsight the part about getting him a coffee just seemed plain ridiculous and if they would know I actually had run after him, they would probably think I’m crazy. I couldn’t let them know.
The guy occupied my mind though. Once again it had been a wheelchair that had caught my attention. It was my dirty little secret and the source for lots of shame and guilt. I had a thing for guys in wheelchairs, always had had it. Usually though it wasn’t some homeless guy I would check out but instead I followed good looking, attractive guys on YouTube and I admired them doing their work-outs in wheelchairs, how they instructed on doing wheelies off or onto the curbs of sidewalks, how they showed their accessible homes or told their stories about how they became paraplegic. I had a serious thing for those guys and I had my channels I was subscribed to under a random name. None of my friends knew about this side of me. I had always felt it was wrong, and had kept this very ingrained trait of my personality hidden away from everyone, including my family or my ex boyfriends who had all been able bodied and fit. In my fantasies I had very different images from the real-life men I was dating.
I arrived at The Black Bear pub which was one block from my work place. I was glad to get out of the weather into the nice and warm pub. I spotted my coworkers at a table in the corner and made my way through the happy hour crowd. Matt had saved me a spot next to him on the bench along the wall. They all had drinks in front of them already. I took off my coat, bundled it up, and stashed it next to me.
Matt inquired, “Did you get what you needed at Rite Aid?”
For a split second I was confused and then remembered my excuse, “Oh yeah, they didn’t have what I was looking for. It’s a lipstick color I like but they were out. They’ll get more in next week.”
I was shocked at my lying and felt bad at the same time.
Matt smiled, “You don’t need lipstick.”
I smiled back at him, “Don’t need it but like it.”
He laughed and asked, “What would you like to drink?”
He pushed the beverage and cocktail list over to me and I started looking over it and also scanned the drinks my coworkers had in front of them. We talked about the Happy Hour beverage selection and I decided on a Mai Tai. The waitress had seen me join the group and came over. Matt ordered for me and I thanked him.
I joined the conversations and we talked about our jobs, other coworkers, and life in general. Even though I was laughing and chatting with everyone I kept thinking about the guy in the wheelchair.
We stayed at the pub until almost seven thirty and I wanted to catch the next bus out to Queen Anne at seven forty-five. Matt walked with me to the bus stop, it had finally stopped raining. He had his car parked in the parking garage under the building we worked in. Our bank had assigned spots down there for its employees. Dealing with the traffic to come into and out of the city was one thing but at least people like Matt had a parking spot at all times, one advantage of working where we did.
Matt insisted to wait with me at the bus stop so I let him. I wasn’t a fearful person but it was nice to have his company while I waited. I had lived in and grown up around Seattle all my life. I was a city girl and had encountered lots of shady people throughout my life just hanging out in the city. I think I possessed a certain street smartness when it came to my surroundings and living in a city.
The bus arrived and we said a quick Good Bye and that we would see each other the next day.
Matt wished me a good evening and I did the same to him, then I stepped onto the bus with a few other people. I found a spot by the window, and I saw Matt hurry across the street in front of the bus. I sat back and pulled out my phone checking over my social media and websites I frequented.
It took about thirty minutes to get to the bus stop closest to my apartment. From the bus stop I didn’t have it far and soon was at home in my warm and cozy apartment. I lived on the fourth floor of a large new apartment building.
After the four-year relationship I had come out of just a few months earlier, I had moved out of the apartment I had lived in with my ex-boyfriend Justin. He had stayed in the apartment and lived only a few blocks away from me. We didn’t really see each other anymore and we also didn’t really speak. I knew he was actively dating again and I hoped he was doing good.
I spent my evening bundled up in comfy clothes on my couch watching TV but went to bed on time because I was tired.
On Wednesday morning I went about my routine like I did every morning. I usually had to get up around six and get ready so I could catch the bus at seven to be at work at eight. I had woken up to heavy rain again and I felt slightly depressed because this was how it was going to be for a few months.
Seattle was the rainy city and usually around September, October time frame the rainy season started and it stayed until April or May causing the vegetation of Washington to live up to its reputation of being such a beautiful, green state. If the population made it through the dreary winter months, we were rewarded with beautiful summers though and everyone spent as much time as possible outside.
It was like every other morning when I sat on the city bus heading into downtown for another day at work. I got out at my regular bus stop and as I hurried to work, I glanced over to the spot from the day before to see if the guy in the wheelchair was there. He wasn’t there but I already planned to check during my lunch break because that was when I had spotted him the day before.
I met Matt in the hallway as I got out of the elevator and we chatted for a few moments. The night had been too short really, it had only been a few hours earlier when we had left the pub. We walked to our cubicles, ready to start another day of pushing money around.
I was mostly happy with my job and my life but lately it had been somewhat dull and during the last months being single again I had pondered on how my life would continue now. I had been looking into signing up for some classes again and start that path toward my Master’s Degree in Marketing or Finance. So far, I had not taken the steps yet and had pushed it off to the spring semester.
I was thirty-two and over the last few years I had witnessed some of my friends getting married and having kids. I was slightly paranoid that I would possibly not have kids. Justin had been the one I was going to most likely get married to and have kids with but then he decided he wasn’t ready to settle down but wanted to meet and sleep with other women behind my back. So, the dream of the white picket fence and a happy little family had gone out of the window. Along with that dream, my stuff and I had gone out of the door never to return to the apartment I had shared with Justin for over three years.
I was afraid that Matt was my rebound. In a way I felt bad that I had agreed to go out with him just because in the back of my mind I still had that image of a white picket fence in the suburbs with kids running around. I really didn’t know if things would go far with Matt but I had to at least give him a fair chance. He had known my ex-boyfriend and he had also witnessed the break up and everything leading up to it. He had been patiently waiting on the sidelines to finally make a move. Matt could have any woman but had chosen me and I really couldn’t let him down.
I processed two clients that morning and made them happy property owners by having them sign a stack of paperwork depicting lots of numbers and words. I had had a successful month already and my bank account was looking good. I was financially independent which was a good thing.
Lunch time came around and with that the guy in the wheelchair pushed into my mind again. I really didn’t want to spend lunch with Matt and was relieved that he was actually tied up in a meeting and I didn’t have to dodge a lunch invitation.
I also didn’t want to spend lunch in our break room with other employees but instead slipped into my coat and made my way down in the elevator again. I wanted to see if he was there. I got out of the elevator in the lobby of the high rise building we shared with other organizations and businesses.
From what I saw looking out through the large window front it was raining again and even windy judging to people’s coats and hair flying.
I pulled my coat tighter and debated pulling my hood over my head but decided against it. I usually wore my long blonde hair in a pony tail, braided or lose buns, depending on how much time I had in the morning. That day I just had my hair held back with a hairband and didn’t want to stuff it under the hood of my warm fall coat.
I stepped out onto the sidewalk and the noise around me was that of the city bustling in rainy and windy weather. For a moment I considered going back inside and spending my lunch with my coworkers in the warm break room. There was really no reason for me to be out on the street for my lunch.
I made my way along the side of the building staying under the storefront canopies and roofs over the sidewalk. I turned the corner and now had the Rite Aid store ahead of me on the right and among the pedestrians I spotted him again in the same spot as the day before.
I really didn’t know what I was going to do or say. I could go up to him and give him money again or get him maybe another coffee from Starbucks but at the same time I felt that would be awkward.
Then again what was wrong if I would give him money if I just happened to be passing by him. I was sure he would happily take it. I really didn’t know and I was nervous. He wore the same torn jeans and worn out sneakers, and the hoodie was pulled far into his face again. I paused in my step and for a moment I looked at him from a safe distance, debating if I should forget about this whole thing and go back inside where it was dry and warm. There was no reason for me to connect with him.
He sat hunched over and his legs were aligned side by side with his feet on a single footrest of his banged-up wheelchair.
His hands were open in his lap again but he didn’t look at the people passing him. No one stopped to drop any money into his hands. He was invisible to everyone but me. I took a deep breath and pulled my purse over my shoulder some more, then made my way toward him.
As I approached him, I felt my heart beat faster and my hands tremble, not from the cold but from being nervous.
I was almost next to him and stood only a few feet away from him under the same roof just watching him. People were passing him by without a second thought. I saw he was shaking and I knew that hoodie he wore just wasn’t keeping him warm.
I moved closer to him; my heart was racing in my chest. I was stunned when all the sudden he sat up some and turned his head toward me and from under the hoodie I saw he looked directly at me with his dark eyes. I had to say or do something because now the situation was very weird.
He looked at me for a moment and I said a soft, “Hi again.”
His eyes stayed on me and he nodded a greeting, then turned his head again facing the pedestrians passing by him.
I stepped closer to him and I pulled all my courage together when I said, “Can I get you a coffee again? I was about to grab one for myself.”
He turned his head toward me and I searched for his eyes which were hidden below the bangs of his dark hair. I couldn’t read his expression what he thought about my offer.
I forced a nervous smile to feel less awkward in my attempts to make contact with him.
He moved his hand to his hoodie and I was surprised to see him push it down and I could see him all the way. He was shivering still but with a quick jerk he shook his bangs out of his eyes and I now saw his dark and beautiful, yet suspicious eyes. His hair was somewhat long and hung unkempt around his head. He swallowed and shivered still, but he nodded.
I moved another step closer and confirmed that I had read his nod right, “Do you want me to get you a coffee as well?”
He nodded and said lowly, “That would be…great.”
I nodded enthusiastically, “Cool, I’ll go get that real quick.”
He started digging in his front hoodie pocket and pulled out three one-dollar bills.
I was stunned when he handed them to me, “Here, that’s all I got today.”
His hand was visibly shaking and looked very cold.
I think my jaw dropped and I was speechless for a split second until I found my voice again and said, “Don’t worry about it. I got it.”
Thinking about it for another moment I then suggested, “I got it but why don’t you come with me to get warmed up inside the Starbucks for a few minutes?”
He quickly shook his head and the strands of hair from his bangs fell over his eyes again when he explained nervously, “They don’t like…the coffee place doesn’t like…seeing people…people like me in there. I can’t go in there.”
His voice trembled but it had a depth to it.
His hand was still in the air with the three one-dollar bills in it.
I touched his hand with mine and his hand felt ice cold as I pushed it toward him, “Okay, I’ll get it for you then and I don’t want your money. I got it.”
He stuck the money back in his pocket.
He scanned my face with his eyes and I said nervously, “I’ll be right back. Coffee like yesterday or do you want cream and sugar in it? Or some kind of other coffee creation.”
He shrugged his shivering shoulders, “Any way is fine.”
I tore myself from his dark eyes and hurried toward the Starbucks. My heart felt like it was about to pop out of my chest and splatter on the sidewalk. His eyes were in my head now, dark, nervously flickering eyes that seemed to be looking at me with a weary but curious interest.
Inside the Starbucks I ordered his coffee with cream and sugar in it this time and without even thinking about it I paid and left the store again. It was such a difference from the warmth inside the store to the outside; it had really been getting cold over the last few days. The rain didn’t help.
I hurried back to where he was. Somehow, I had had this vision that he would be gone again but he was still there.This time I didn’t stand oddly next to him but got right in front of him. He had his hoodie back on his head and as I positioned myself there, he looked up.
I held the coffee cup out to him, “Here you go.”
He reached out and took it from my hand with both of his hands, right away wrapping them around the cup again in his lap.
He shivered and he trembled and thanked me.
I smiled, “You’re welcome.”
He glanced at my hands and asked, “Where’s your coffee?”
I had never intended to get a coffee for myself; I had already had three cups just in my office during the morning. Getting a coffee for myself had merely been my excuse to talk to him and get him a coffee. I met his eyes and they were drilling into me; I could barely stand it.
I thought of my answer and said weakly, “I changed my mind.”
He licked his lips now and nodded, “I see.”
I knew that he didn’t believe a word I had said. He put the cup to his mouth with shaky hands.
I remarked, “You should probably get some gloves and maybe a thicker coat. It’s getting cold now.”
He drank a cautious sip from the cup, his hands visibly shaking and I was a little worried that he would actually spill the coffee or drop the cup.
He then looked at me and nodded, “Okay.”
I caught how his left leg jumped quickly up and down. He glanced at his leg and held the cup up so it wasn’t touching his leg in his lap. My eyes were on his leg and when I looked back at him, I was surprised to find his gaze on me. He didn’t say anything and I tried to think of something to say.
“Well, I have to get back to work.”
I wished he would have made it easier on me and been slightly more talkative but he wasn’t and just nodded again while his leg was still jumping up and down with his foot almost slipping off the foot rest.
My heart was racing and I said, “Maybe I’ll see you again sometime.”
His eyes moved up to me and he smiled weakly, “Maybe.”
Just as I was about to make my awkward getaway he asked, “What’s your name?”
I stopped in my motion and looked back at him, “Shay.”
He nodded, “My name’s Jordan.”
I smiled at him, “Nice to meet you Jordan.”
He smiled still, weary but beautiful, “Thanks again Shay. You’re very kind.”
I pressed my lips together and shrugged my shoulders insecurely, “No problem.”
Jordan took the cup to his mouth again with shaky hands and drank from it. The coffee was steaming in the cold air.
I attempted to leave again and this time he didn’t stop me and I said, “Bye Jordan.”
I took off and my heart was drumming like crazy. Jordan was his name and Jordan was in my head for the strangest reason, a homeless guy in a wheelchair with beautiful dark eyes. Something about him had my head spinning. Even though it was cold, my hands were sweaty and trembling.
I made my way back to the office and had about ten minutes left in my lunch break. I went to the break room which was bustling with employees chatting and eating, some looking at their phones and some reading the newspaper. We had a few vending machines in the break room with fresh products, packaged snacks, and beverages. After I quickly greeted a few of my coworkers I pulled a candy bar and Juice from the machine.
I wasn’t really hungry and even though I had pulled the candy bar and juice from the vending machine I didn’t eat. Instead I stashed the items in one of the cabinets of my cubicle with a couple of other snacks I already had in there for bad times.
My mind was still occupied with Jordan and how he was and how we had talked some. I was glad Matt wasn’t around because I really didn’t want to talk to anyone at the moment. I had some time before my afternoon client appointment and just sat there and pondered in my thoughts. I remembered how Jordan’s leg had been twitching. I knew a good amount about disabilities requiring wheelchairs and I wondered what Jordan’s disability was. Seeing the twitching of his leg led me to believe he was possibly paraplegic and my heart was beating quickly thinking about it. Having interacted with Jordan, I was very interested in him.
I eventually pulled out the files to prepare for my afternoon appointment with a client.
Matt came walking up, “Hey Shay.”
I looked up from my papers, “Matt, Hi.”
“Did you have lunch already?”
“Yeah, I actually wasn’t hungry but I grabbed some stuff from the vending machine.”
Matt snapped his fingers and smiled, “Dang, I had this meeting until now. I’m going to take a short lunch break now.”
“Yeah, I have a two thirty with a client.”
He looked at the watch on his wrist, “It’s almost two, wow.”
I asked him about the meeting and we talked for a few more minutes until he went on his way.
My afternoon went well. I cut a good deal, made a nice commission and was actually happy with my productivity lately. Financially I was independent and I had a satisfactory cushion saved up and was really never without money.
Matt walked out of the office with me when we were done for the day but this time he didn’t walk me to the bus stop but instead we said Good Bye in the lobby and he went down to the garage. I passed the desk with our building security guys and they told me to have a good evening and I did the same and walked out. The rain had finally stopped during the afternoon but it was still somewhat breezy and cold. The wind came up from the Sound and blew through the streets in downtown Seattle. It was still busy as everyone was heading home or going about their business.
I walked to the bus stop and from there I could see the Rite Aid store where Jordan had been but he wasn’t there now. I looked around the area but I didn’t spot a wheelchair anywhere. Jordan’s spot under the Rite Aid storefront roof was empty.
Throughout the evening I actually couldn’t wait to go to bed and get ready to go to work again the next day, go on my lunch and then hopefully see Jordan again.