Jordan was gone and I just sat there. I felt somewhat abandoned by him. Jordan hadn’t thought twice about it, he had wanted to get out of the hospital as quick as he could.
Tears were slowly running over my cheeks as I sat there in the hospital wheelchair and thought about what had just happened.
I was startled when I heard a voice behind me, “Shay?”
Kim stood there in the door frame with a large bag over her shoulder.
I looked up and she saw my tears, “Are you all right, Shay?”
She set the bag down on the counter and pulled one of the two chairs in the room closer and sat down, “What’s going on Shay? Are you in pain?”
I shook my head but didn’t know what to tell her. I felt silly crying in front of her.
She explained, “My shift ended, I was about to head home. I wanted to check in with you before.”
Kim handed me the tissue box from the counter. I pulled out a tissue and dabbed my eyes.
She inquired, “Is Jordan gone?”
I suppressed the last of my tears and answered, “Yes, he left.”
Kim nodded knowingly, “I guess AMA?”
I now knew what this abbreviation meant and I nodded, “He was very restless.”
Kim remarked, “His body was probably craving the stuff. Most addicts don’t stay here long and leave AMA.”
I nodded again, dabbing some run away tears with the tissue.
“Will you see him again?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know, I hope so. He said I will see him again but he didn’t know when.”
“Do you have a way to get in touch with him?”
I explained Jordan’s phone situation to Kim and finished with, “He said I needed to trust him.”
Kim looked down to her feet in the nurses’ clogs and then back up at me, “So you really care about him then?”
I nodded holding the balled-up tissue in my hand, “Yes, very much.”
Kim took a deep breath and said, “Shay, as much as I want to advice you against this, I see where you’re coming from. I really hope Jordan realizes what he found in you and that you could maybe be the one to help him get away from the stuff and get clean. It’s hard though for addicts like him. And pretty much every time they come to the hospital, they have the option to get counseling and are being offered options of going to rehab or through any other detox program, sometimes the psychiatry hospital. If they don’t take advantage of any of those options there is nothing we can do and we have to let them go again. They’ll go back out to the streets and they’ll do exactly what they did before.”
I nodded, “I know it seems a hopeless endeavor but I can’t just let him go again.”
“I understand. I’m sure it’s been rough for him. I can tell you this much - he has been here a bunch of times in the past. He’s dealing with a lot of stuff, make sure you talk to him about all his health issues.”
I nodded and Kim added, “But then there’s nothing else you can do right now Shay. I hope he’ll call you and that you’ll be able to see him again. And I hope very much that you’re strong enough to deal with this.”
“Me too.” I sniffled my nose.
Kim got up and came over to me.
She leaned down and while we hugged, she mumbled into my hair, “You’re a good person Shay. I wish you lots of strength. We should stay in touch.”
I nodded into the hug, “Yeah, definitely. Let’s exchange numbers.”
Kim let go off me and pulled her phone out. We exchanged numbers and before she left, she told me to get lots of rest, keep my foot elevated once I got home, and take it easy.
Soon after Kim had left, Troy also showed up once more and we talked for a few moments and he basically told me the same things Kim had told me, and he wished me well. We hugged and as Troy walked out, the dayshift nurse showed up.
He name was Chloe and she updated me that they were planning at discharging me later on during the morning. She also moved me to another room where the bed was fresh and untouched. She assisted me getting into the bed and suggested for me to just rest. She explained that she would bring a breakfast tray shortly. It was now almost nine o clock in the morning. I was completely exhausted really and as I lay in the bed, I felt my eyes get heavy and even though I thought of Jordan I was so tired that I dozed off.
Just as I had become comfortable in the bed with some more pain medication in my system, my phone beeped next to me and I had a text message notification. When I checked it was Matt.
- Shay, you called out sick from work? I hope you’re okay. Let me know what’s going on
I held the phone in my hands. If Matt would have known any of this, he would have been so upset. I decided to lie:
- On my way home from work last night I slipped and fell. I sprained my ankle and hit my head when I fell. It caused a small laceration on my head. I’m at Swedish but I’ll go home this morning. I’ll probably be out for a few days.
He responded quickly:
- Wow, I’m so sorry Shay. I really hope you’re okay. Is there anything I can do or anything you need?
- I’m okay. I’ll just take it easy over the weekend. My parents and my brother will take care of me.
I lied about my family knowing. No one knew that I was in the hospital. As far as my family, they thought I was at work.
- My brother is actually here with me.
I lied again; my brother Chad had no idea about my dilemma. Even though he was the closest ally I had in anything, I wasn’t sure how he would actually feel if he would find out the whole story and everything about Jordan.
- Good, can I call you later when you’re at home?
- Of course, maybe after work. Are you not going to a Halloween thing tonight?
Matt didn’t give up yet:
- I am but that doesn’t matter. I’ll call you later. Please Shay, let me know if you need anything at all.
- I think I’ll be okay but thank you so much Matt. We’ll talk later.
- Okay, please be careful and get some rest. Keep me in the loop.
- I will. Don’t worry about me.
- Shay, you know that’s not possible. But I trust you. Talk later then.
I finished texting with Matt and laid my head back on the pillow. I was really exhausted. I hadn’t slept all night and I felt drained of all my emotions and my strength really. Jordan was the only thing on my mind.
At noon I was discharged from the hospital. Nurse Chloe was surprised that I didn’t call any family member to pick me up, but instead only an Uber. I convinced her that I was okay with the Uber and I would go straight home. I was provided with a prescription of pain medication and an antibiotic to prevent infection of my head wound. I left the hospital with a pair of underarm crutches and a knee scooter so I didn’t have to use crutches the whole time to actually try to keep the weight off my foot. I had stitches in my forehead and a couple of steri-strips over the gash to ensure the wound would stay closed. I wasn’t allowed to get this wet for twenty-four hours.
I was to keep the weight completely off my foot for at least a week and had a follow up appointment scheduled with my general physician the next week to check my foot. I had a note that I couldn’t go to work for at least a week. I really didn’t know if I could stay at home that long and I decided to see how I would feel on Monday. I did have some client appointments scheduled but I knew my colleagues or my supervisor Elaine would take care of that if needed.
The Uber picked me up at the main entrance of the hospital. Chloe helped me out of the hospital wheelchair and into the car. She stashed the crutches and scooter into the back seat next to me and reminded me to get lots of rest at home and to come back to the Emergency Room if anything would get worse or if there would be any problems.
The Uber driver was a middle-aged woman and she was friendly but not interrogating. I was fine with not talking much, I really didn’t feel like talking at all. I just wanted to get home and be alone. We made it to my apartment complex and the driver was nice enough to get the crutches up to my apartment for me as we took the elevator up.
I tipped her accordingly. She thanked me and I closed the door. I was finally at home. It felt like I had been gone forever, almost like I had been to a different world. I stood in the hallway of my apartment and thought for a moment. The familiar smell of my place, the comfort of my own home, and just the silence of nothing and no one talking to me was a relief. With my knee and foot resting on the scooter I pushed myself into the living room. I sat down on the couch and just stared into space, thinking about all of the things that had happened.
I really wanted to take a shower. I had only washed sparingly at the hospital and felt shabby. My high heel boots were in a bag from the hospital. I had been given hospital socks and those were still on my feet. I looked like a mess, my hair was stringy and greasy, my eye make-up was only half way on my eyes and half way smeared around my eyes, and my lips were dry and chapped. Funnily, the way I felt and looked probably would have made me fit right in with the people Jordan usually hung out with.
I made my way to the bathroom and sitting on the tub edge I was able to undress myself. Very carefully I climbed into the tub, put my foot up on the edge of it, and let warm water run in. I made sure I didn’t get the stitches on my forehead wet and I was able to wash the rest of my body. I just laid in the tub for a while, my eyes closed, and I felt fatigue overcome me. The warm water around me felt good and I just let my thoughts run idle for a little while.
When the water cooled off and before I would fall asleep in the bathwater, I managed to get out again and eventually lay on my couch just in my robe, with a pot of tea next to me on the table, my phone next to me on the couch, TV remote in my hand, and covered up with a cozy blanket. It was the afternoon of Halloween and appropriately that’s all that was on TV, Halloween themed shows and movies. I was okay with that and let the TV run as background noise. I sat bundled up for the rest of the afternoon, on and off falling asleep on the couch.
It was around five-thirty when Matt called just as he had told me earlier in the day.
I answered, “Hello.”
“Shay, it’s Matt.”
“Hi Shay, how are you?”
“I’m okay, just tired.”
Matt inquired, “Are you at home now?”
“Yes, I’m actually just resting on the couch with some tea. I have my foot propped up on a pillow. I’m pretty tired now.”
“I bet you are. Hey, I’m still in the city but left work early. Should I come over to your place? Do you need anything?”
“I’m fine, Matt. You should go home and go to the Halloween party.”
“I don’t care about the Halloween party, Shay. I’m worried about you.”
“I’m fine Matt. My brother is here with me. He’s taking good care of me. I just want to rest and I will probably sleep soon. I don’t get any Trick or Treaters or anything so I’ll be able to go to sleep.”
“Is your brother going to stay with you?”
“He also has a Halloween party to go to tonight but it’s perfectly fine with me. I’m really okay. My foot doesn’t even hurt that much and my head seems to be okay also. I have pain medications and I’m good.”
“Are you a hundred percent sure? I could go home and change and then come over.”
“I’m sure, Matt. Don’t worry about me. I’m okay.” He was annoying me with his worrying.
“Okay, what about tomorrow? Do you want me to come by tomorrow?”
“Let me see how I feel tomorrow. We can talk on the phone and then go from there.”
I knew he didn’t like the answer but he obliged, “Is it okay if I’ll call you around noon?”
“Yeah, that should be fine.”
I finished the conversation with Matt on my terms because I had a feeling he would have kept talking if I wouldn’t have ended it.
It had become dark outside. I got up and with my foot propped up on the scooter I made it over to the large window in my living room and looked down to the street in front of my building. The street lights were on and additionally cars lit up the street, driving and stopping at the traffic lights. I saw pedestrians hurrying along the sidewalk and even spotted some kids dressed up in costumes with small Pumpkin designed buckets in their hands, probably intended to put candies and sweets in it. Luckily it wasn’t raining and I imagined all the kids having a good time Trick or Treating in the suburbs and going from door to door enjoying Halloween night.
All week I had been planning to go to a Halloween party at a friend’s house but when she had texted me to confirm, I replied to her that I was sick and had been throwing up all day. She was disappointed but wished me to get well again and we planned to get together soon.
For Saturday the plan had been to get together with my brother and his girlfriend. We had all been invited to a Halloween party at my Cousin Terry’s house.
I had pushed off to call my cousin or my brother and let anyone know about my accident or come up with some excuse that I was sick. I was going to wait for the next day and see how I would feel. Maybe with my mind relaxed some, and able to think straight I would find a way to best handle this situation.
As I looked down onto the street my thoughts drifted to Jordan. I wondered where he was and how he was doing. I was worried about him but I had no control over this situation. It was after ten o’clock at night and by then I had given up on getting a phone call from Jordan. I had no idea where he was and a tear rolled over my cheek as I kept looking out the window.
I got back on the couch. Trying to keep my mind occupied and distracted I watched TV again, some of the reruns of old eighties scary movies and some very old black and white movies from the forties and fifties. As I scrolled over my social media, I saw pictures of friends at Halloween parties either out on the town or at people’s houses. I saw pictures of other friends with their kids trick or treating. Everyone looked happy and cheerful, dressed up in scary and funny costumes, and I felt very alone and my injuries made me feel worse and incomplete.
The clock on my wall was just ticking away and I kept checking my phone to make sure I hadn’t missed any calls. I made sure that the volume of my ring tone was up and found it was already to the max.
Sadness crept up inside of me thinking about Jordan. I even had thoughts of getting in my car and driving around to look for him. I knew that was a dumb idea. I remembered what Jordan had said at the hospital, and how he wanted me to trust him. I had to wait, but in my mind, I already prepared that Jordan would never call me. I couldn’t help a tear run down my cheek at the thoughts of having lost him for good.
I was tired and exhausted but couldn’t sleep though. A few times I dozed off for a little while just to be startled awake by strange dreams. I didn’t want to go to my bed because for some reason I felt more connected to the world by staying on my couch with the TV on and a tiny little bit I felt more connected to Jordan. It was a dumb thought but I wasn’t thinking straight. I hadn’t been thinking straight for the past couple of weeks, ever since Jordan’s and my eyes locked under the storefront roof of the Rite-Aid store.
It was after midnight when I turned off the TV and just when I was about to close my eyes my phone announced a text message and I pulled it over and looked at it. The number didn’t look familiar but I clicked on it. It was from Jordan.
- Shay, it’s Jordan. Are you there?
I quickly typed as my heart was beating faster.
- Yes, I’m here.
- I’m sorry it’s so late. Can I call you?
It didn’t take very long and my phone was playing its ring tone to the tune of Audioslave’s “I am the Highway”.
I answered, “Jordan?”
“Yes. Hi Shay.”
He stammered, “I’m sorry it’s so late but I was…I couldn’t get to a phone earlier. I didn’t know if…I was hoping you…you would still be up.”
He sounded nervous but relieved.
“I was waiting for your call. Where are you?”
“I’m in the city. This is a friend’s phone.”
I inquired, “Are you all right?”
“Yes, there are lots of people out tonight, with it being Halloween and all.”
“Are you…are you…” I was debating how to word my question.
Jordan kept talking before I could finish my sentence, “I’m getting a lot of money tonight.”
It all seemed so wrong that the guy I cared about was out on the streets on Halloween night panhandling for money. It all seemed so very wrong. He should have been with me and not out there like that.
I bluntly stated, “I miss you.”
It was quiet for a moment and I heard voices and laughter in the background.
Then I heard Jordan’s voice again, “I miss you too. How’s your foot and your head?”
“I’m okay, it’s all right. The pain meds are working. I’m just tired, I haven’t really slept - Jordan?”
“Are you really okay?”
“Yes, I’m all right, Shay.”
I felt sad but Jordan then asked, “Do you think we can see each other tomorrow?”
I wanted nothing more than to see him, “Yes, of course.”
“Where do you want to meet me?”
I didn’t want to meet him anywhere out there and told him, “I want you to come to my place. I can pick you up wherever you need me to. But I want you to come here and stay with me.”
Jordan sounded hesitant, “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”
I heard loud voices in the background again and after a moment he then came on again, “I just don’t know. Where do you live?”
“I live in Queen Anne.”
“What about your family?”
“I live by myself, Jordan. I have an apartment. There’s also an elevator so you can come up easily.”
It was quiet for a moment and I heard voices in the background again. It was obvious Jordan was out on the city streets on this Halloween night.
I stated with determination, “I want you to come to my place. I can pick you up from wherever you need to be picked up.”
“Can you drive though with your foot?”
“Yes, I can drive. I have an automatic. It’s my left foot that is hurt. Jordan, I can pick you up anywhere. I really don’t care where.”
I thought I heard him sigh before he agreed, “Okay.”
I was relieved, “Where do you want to meet me?”
“Do you know where the downtown Union Gospel Mission Shelter is?”
I asked, “Yes, I know where it is. Is that where you’re staying right now?”
“No, but I can meet you there.”
“Okay, what time?”
Jordan replied, “I can be there at three.”
“Okay, I will be there at three then.”
We were quiet for a moment and I then said, “Jordan?”
“I was afraid you would not call me.”
His voice sounded warm, “I told you I would, Shay. I promised you.”
“Yes, I’m sorry I had doubts.”
“You can trust me, Shay.”
I nodded to myself and added, “I’m really looking forward to see you tomorrow.”
I remarked, “Please be careful out there, Jordan.”
“I always am. I know the streets of Seattle like the back of my hand, so don’t worry about me.”
Now I heard a voice in the background and then Jordan apparently talking to someone other than me, “I’m finishing up.”
He came back on, “Shay, I’ve to go. I see you tomorrow at three at the Union Gospel Mission.”
“Okay, be careful and good night.”
“You have a good night too. Don’t worry about me.”
We finished up and once I hit the red “End Call” button I fell back onto the pillow and took a deep breath. The man I cared about was a paraplegic homeless drug addict out on the streets in the middle of Halloween night begging for money. How had this happened and how had I gotten myself into this?
Even though I was worried about him, I had to trust him and I had to try to sleep and just look forward to the next day and that I would then see him again. For now, I had no control of what Jordan did out on the streets, who he was with, and if he was in danger or not. He had most likely been living this kind of life for a long time and I had no control over what he was doing out there or if he would be okay. I had to trust that he would be. He said he knew the streets of Seattle like the back of his hand. As I had grown up in and around Seattle all my life, we did have this in common, I knew most areas in the city very well.
Compared to Jordan though, I had lived a regular middle class life in Seattle and growing up with the daily view of homeless scattered on the streets of the city. Over the years this had become a real problem and had become worse. Cost of living in the city had increased tremendously and the city had become home to professionals with high paying jobs, working for multi-billion-dollar corporations, or wealthy foreign investors buying up property and renting or selling to other wealthy world citizens.
Jordan though was another type of inhabitant of the city and had lived on Seattle’s streets and probably dealt with all types of situations and people all the time. And the wealthy professionals passed by him daily and didn’t even waste a thought on the bigger picture of this.
Not having a home and relying on strangers when he begged for money, finding a dry place to sleep, and dealing with lots of other addicts, homeless, and most likely some criminals had surely given him a set of survival skills I couldn’t even imagine. On top of this he was paraplegic and in a wheelchair, easy prey for anyone who would mean him harm, but I remembered how he had told me that he had been living on the streets for a long time and he had been in the wheelchair for eight years and obviously he was still out there, alive and surviving. I wanted a better life for him and I hoped very much that he would be willing to accept my help in any way possible. I wanted Jordan in my life, on the right side of it.
I did fall asleep on the couch eventually. I slept until ten o’clock the next morning when pain in my foot rose me from a restless sleep with lots of strange images in my dreams. I had a mild headache and lethargically I made it into the bathroom and then prepared myself a bowl of cereal and took some more pain medication. I laid on the couch again when my brother Chad called. I was hesitant to answer but I knew I had to.
I tried to sound cheerful, “Hey favorite big brother.”
“Hey lil sis. Did I wake you up?”
“No, I was up already.”
“How are you? Did you go out last night for Halloween?”
I debated if I should lie again but then answered, “Actually I stayed in because I feel like I’m getting sick or something. My body hurts and I feel the sniffles coming on.”
Chad sounded upset, “No way, we have that party tonight, remember?”
“I know but I’m actually not sure if I can do it. I didn’t sleep well and the way I feel right now, I really don’t think I will be able to go.”
I pretended to sound sick and congested. I also coughed some.
“Shay, that sucks. Try to get some rest and take some medication. Do you want me to bring some stuff by? Like some Dayquil, EmergenC or something?”
“No, I’m okay. I’ve stuff here. I don’t know about tonight. I’ll have to see how the day goes and decide later.”
“Did you call Terry already and let him know you may not make it to the party?”
“Not yet. I figured I’ll wait until later and see how I feel.”
Chad sounded disappointed and worried, “Dang, I hope you can make it. Everyone’s going to be there. It’ll be fun to see everyone. Just try to medicate and if you want, I’ll come and pick you up.”
“I’ll try to get better. Let’s talk again later.”
“Okay, do you want me to come over earlier or something?”
“I’m okay Chad, I’ll just sleep some more.”
I wanted to tell my brother so many things. I had the strongest urge to let him in on everything but I just couldn’t do it. I was too worried about how he would react and how everyone really would react. My parents would be worried sick, my friends wouldn’t understand, and my coworkers would think I’m a nutcase. It was one thing that Jordan was in a wheelchair, but everything else about him would really make people think I was a lost cause.
If anyone would possibly understand, it would be my brother and I really didn’t know how long I could keep up this charade of secrets and ultimately if things would stick with Jordan, I would possibly need all the help I could get.
Chad was the caring and kind big brother on the other end, “Shay, please try to get some rest now and if you need me to bring you anything, please call me. I hope you’ll be okay later.”
“We’ll see. I’ll call you.”
I finished the conversation with my brother. My brother was really the sweetest person I knew and I hated that I had lied to him. I was so worried though about everything. The next one I had to ward off was Matt, who called me around noon. I kept up the charade and the lies and told him that I was just resting with my foot and I convinced him that he didn’t need to come over or bring me anything.
Of course, Chad had told my parents that I was getting sick and my mom called shortly after Matt.
“Shay, are you okay baby?”
“Yes mom, just a cold maybe. I’m okay.”
Mom was everything a mom should be; warm, caring, gentle and smart, “But Terry has that party tonight with all the cousins and friends.”
“I know, I will try to make it.”
“Should your dad and I come over and bring something from the drug store?”
“I’m okay mom, I have everything here that I need. I already told Chad not to worry about me. I’ll just try to sleep it off and hopefully by tonight I’ll be feeling better.”
Mom kept asking me questions about my work week, about Matt, and about other people we both knew. She also updated me on my aunt’s cancer status and how my dad had been under the kitchen sink fixing a broken pipe. I felt bad for also keeping things from my mom, but there was no way I could let my mom in on anything concerning Jordan. She would be worried sick.
My mom told me she would light a candle for me in church as she was planning on going to the All Saints mass in the afternoon. She assured me that the candle would most certainly help to make me feel better. I thanked her for this and told her that I was sure it would help. My parents were active in their Catholic faith community. My grandparents had come from Ireland and even though I had distanced myself from this, my mom still did her thing. I finished with my mom promising to call her again the next day. She wished me well and hoped that I would be able to enjoy the party with my cousins and friends at night.
It was one thirty when I hung up with my mom and made my way into the bathroom and freshened up. I wasn’t going to take a shower because I had taken a bath the night before and I didn’t want to overexert myself with showering or bathing. I did have a slight headache still. I applied some make up and draped my hair into my face somewhat to cover up the stitches on my forehead.
Eventually I stood in underwear and a bra with my foot on the scooter in my bedroom in front of the closet mirror. I wasn’t planning on going anywhere except to meet Jordan and bring him to my apartment. I thought it was okay to wear something comfortable. I decided on a pair of joggers and a tank top with a hoodie over it. With my injured foot I carefully slipped into some socks, having to stretch the sock some as my ankle was still swollen and hurt. I did the same with my running shoes. Once I had a shoe on my foot it didn’t feel so unstable though, and I actually put it down and used the crutches for a few steps. I didn’t put any weight on my foot but it worked okay as I was wearing shoes now.
I looked around in my apartment, checking if it looked presentable and right away thought to myself how silly this was, because Jordan probably didn’t care one bit about the way my apartment looked. My place was probably by far better than anywhere else he was staying usually. I still had no idea where he slept and where he stayed.
My refrigerator and pantry had plenty of basic food in it and I ate a few crackers and some dip. I checked myself once more in the mirror and eventually with my purse over my shoulder and my foot on the scooter, I locked my door and took the elevator down to the garage of the apartment building.
I was nervous as I sat in my car and drove through the city. It was somewhat busy on that Saturday, lots of events happening everywhere and with all the construction in the city I had to take some alternate routes as roads were either blocked or there was construction on buildings. I had lived in Seattle for so long that I knew the city well and I knew short cuts or secret back roads to dodge the regular traffic of out-of-towners or tourists. There was a mist coming down and it was just enough that I had to use my windshield wipers.
I made it to the shelter and as I was driving by, I looked for parking around the building. There was a one-way back alley and I turned into it and parked on the side behind a row of other cars. I was hoping Jordan would either check the side street or I would just have to get out and go to the front of the building and hopefully find him there.
There were a number of homeless hanging around the building and in this back alley. They were talking, smoking cigarettes, or just sitting there, staring into nothing. Some had dogs with them, some didn’t seem too old yet, and some looked like they were high. I was a little scared and I stayed in my car, it was only a quarter to three. I looked around to see if Jordan was somewhere. My eyes were searching for the wheelchair. I did see an older homeless person in a banged up old hospital wheelchair, his feet touching the ground though and moving about this way. Another one sat in an old hospital wheelchair, apparently both legs missing. I tried to not meet anyone’s eyes but some of them had seen me pull into the alley and park my car and now eyed me suspiciously. I was hoping Jordan would find me and that he would actually show up soon. I wanted to avoid very much to get out of my car.
Just then I saw wheels rolling around the corner and I recognized right away that this was Jordan in his regular Quickie wheelchair, even though a banged-up frame as well, this was a regular wheelchair and not something donated from old hospital inventory. I let my window down and called out his name. He had heard and seen me and quickly spun the wheelchair into my direction, seemingly pushing his rims harder as he made it over to me. I felt my heart beat faster at seeing him in his wheelchair.
I was parked close to the wall and for Jordan to be able to get in, I would have to pull the car out.
Jordan rolled up to my side of the car, “Shay, hi.”
He had on a hoodie but it wasn’t the faded red one with the holes but instead a dark colored one and he wore jeans without holes and stains as well. On his lap he had a fairly large backpack.
He was next to my car and I said, “Let me pull the car away from the wall so you can get in.”
He nodded and he backed up his wheelchair so I could pull out my car. Some of the homeless people nearby had watched us talk and I saw how one talked to Jordan and then fist bumped him. With the window down, I smelled the smoke from their cigarettes and obviously some other smoke scents.
I pulled into the middle of the alley and Jordan pushed his rims and came around to the passenger side. I was actually surprised that he was there and on time. I was very nervous but also very happy to see him. He opened the passenger door and he smiled and my heart skipped a beat.
“Will my chair fit into your back seat or do you want me to put it in the trunk? I can have someone help me.”
My car had back doors but I wasn’t sure how Jordan would stash his wheelchair into the back seat. And I wasn’t exactly too swift on my own two legs at the moment.
He seemed to realize my questioning expression.
“The wheels come off the axles, the seat cushion comes off, and I can fold the backrest down and make the frame a bit more compact.”
I nodded, “I think it should all fit into the back seat.”
Jordan opened the back door and he tossed his backpack into the back seat, then closed the door.
I watched as he aligned his wheelchair next to the passenger seat and without looking at me, he said, “It’ll take me just a moment to get in.”
I didn’t know if he needed help or if he was able to get this on his own. I couldn’t really be much help myself at the moment though.
I didn’t say anything but just watched how he adjusted his wheelchair skillfully right next to the passenger side and set the break. He scooted his butt forward on the wheelchair seat so he only sat on the edge of it. He swayed and seemed unsteady but now grabbed his right pants leg with his hand and pulled it up by the jeans causing his foot to slide off the foot rest and landing on the ground. His leg twitched up and down slightly and he then did the same thing with his left leg, pulling it up on the jeans and letting his foot slide off the foot rest.
He held himself there on the seat, barely on it with his butt, and with a quick glance he seemed to judge the distance to the car seat. He pushed his left fist on the car seat and I saw both his legs twitching and falling over to the side that gravity was pulling them to. It was obvious that his legs weren’t any help to him and they wouldn’t support him. My heart was racing inside my chest as I watched Jordan with his head down, fully concentrating on this task, and hoping he would make it.
Without looking at me he mumbled, “I haven’t had to transfer into a car in a long time.”
I saw his arms were slightly shaky and he said, “Here goes.”
And with a quick lift and push over, he landed halfway on the car seat. His legs still hung out of the car. He seemed nervous. I watched as he pulled himself further up onto the car seat. His hips seemed stiff and he wasn’t able to bend them all the way. He sat somewhat awkwardly and unsteady on the car seat. With his arm he hooked his legs under the knee and lifted them both into the car. His legs were still shaking as he adjusted his feet on the floor board in front of him. My heart was beating in my neck, witnessing his transfer into my car. Breathing heavy, Jordan adjusted his position and then turned to the wheelchair again.
I asked, “Do you need me to help you with anything?”
“I got it.”
He first removed the cushion from the wheelchair seat and tossed it into the back seat. He took each wheel of its axle and first one wheel and then the other was put in the back floorboard of my car. Lastly, he folded the back rest down and only the basic banged up frame of his Quickie wheelchair was left and carefully he stashed it into the back seat. He was breathing quickly and I saw both his legs were shaking more now. He pulled the door closed and finally was done. With a deep breath he looked over to me. I could see that his had cost him some strength.
He pushed his hood off his head and I was surprised to see his face groomed, leaving only a thin dark shadow of his beard and mustache. His hair looked different too, not as stringy as it had the night before. His dark eyes were alert and I was really stunned for a moment. Jordan looked so different but he looked so good. Seeing him in this way made me smile and I felt my hands get shaky. Having witnessed his transfer into my car had really stirred things up in me.
Jordan seemed insecure and said softly, “Sorry, it’s such a hassle to get into the car.”
I shook my head, “Don’t worry about that. I’m sorry I couldn’t help really.”
Jordan now smiled at me, “I didn’t expect it; you’re dealing with your own stuff.”
He now scanned over my face and asked, “How are you feeling?”
I snapped out of it and quickly checked to see if my hair still covered my head injury, “I’m okay. The pain meds are working their magic.”
He nodded and lowered his eyes.
For a moment we were quiet until I stated, “You look…you look different.”
He smiled with his eyes still down, “I tried to clean up some.”
I smiled, “You clean up nicely.”
He moved his eyes up and his expression was serious when he said softly, “I took a shower and all that in the shelter. Also pulled out my good set of clothes. It’s not much but I wanted to look somewhat all right for you. I wanted you to be happy about seeing me.”
He laughed softly and his laugh combined with his groomed face and his dark eyes made my heart skip beats.
I found my voice again, “I am happy to see you and you look really good, Jordan.”
He still smiled and his eyes travelled over my face and hair and ended on my eyes, “Thanks, and you look…you’re beautiful, Shay.”
I smiled insecure, “I don’t feel like it at the moment. Halloween is over but my face still looks scary…”
He laughed again and I laughed at my own comment. Looking at Jordan and hearing him laugh made me so very happy.
His legs were still shaking and I glanced at them, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m okay.”
“What’s going on with your legs?”
Jordan glanced at his legs for a moment, then looked back up at me, “Just spasms. It’s kind of normal for me.”
When I nodded shyly, he explained, “It doesn’t hurt or anything. It’s just annoying.”
I nodded again, “Okay.”
We looked at each other for a moment but I felt hesitant to get closer. Jordan also seemed hesitant. He seemed different than the night before in the hospital, more alert, and like he felt a lot better. He seemed shy. From the corner of my eyes I saw how his legs were twitching, the only thing that only remotely reminded me of how he had been the night before when his whole body had been shaking and had been tortured by tremors and tensions.
He still smiled with his eyes down, then looked at me, and I was surprised when he reached over and took my hand in his, “I’m really happy to see you, Shay.”
“And I’m happy to see you.”
His dark eyes were on me and I smiled shyly. His hand was wrapped around mine and it felt warm and strong.
We were interrupted in the moment when a horn sounded behind me. I was still in the middle of the alley and there was a car behind me wanting to get out of the one-way street.
Jordan moved his hand from my hand and we smiled at each other. I then put my car in gear and we took off.
I made my way back out to the main road and we drove through the city. We didn’t really say anything for a little while but I had so many questions for him.
I finally asked him, “So you’re not actually staying at the shelter?”
“Not right now, only sometimes in the winter. When I have a chance, I take a shower there, wash my clothes and stuff. I made it a point today because I wanted to be…”
He paused for a moment, then finished, “I wanted to be okay for you.”
I didn’t want to be too curious and make him uncomfortable with my questioning.
We didn’t talk the rest of the way. I caught glimpses of his legs twitching and I saw him hold them down with his hand. It was like he wanted to do it discreetly, but there was no way of hiding the spasticity of his legs. They were hopping up and down and I felt Jordan was annoyed with it.
Just as his leg fell somewhat to the side roughly, he mumbled very lowly, “Freakin’ leg.”
I glanced over at him for a moment and he apologized nervously, “Sorry! They’re just…my legs get…”
He stopped and seemed to think about his further explanation but I remarked, “You deal with spasms a lot?”
He looked over at me and seemed slightly surprised, “I do. All the time.”
“It must be frustrating.”
He held his leg down again, “It is.”
I felt his curiosity on my question but he didn’t say anything else.
We arrived at my apartment building and I punched in the code for the metal garage gate. It opened in front of us and I drove in and found a spot close to the elevators.
I parked my car and looked at Jordan, “This is it. I live on the fourth floor. There’s an elevator.”
He nodded and opened the door. He pulled out the frame of his wheelchair and set it up next to the car. I pulled out the first wheel from the back and handed it to him. He thanked me and snapped it onto the axle of the wheelchair. While he did this, I pulled out the second wheel from the back and handed it to him. Jordan did the same thing with this wheel and I gathered the cushion as he set up the wheelchair right outside the car. I gave it to him and he placed it on the wheelchair seat. Now his Quickie was set up.
He turned to me, “I’ll get into my chair first and then get my back pack from the outside.”
I got out on my side and pulled the small scooter out with me. I rested my foot on it and closed the door and made my way around to Jordan who was in the process of pulling his large backpack out from the backseat. He set it on his lap. I closed the door and locked my car with the keys.
He curiously looked at the scooter, “They gave you that at the hospital?”
“Yes. I know it looks stupid.”
He looked at my foot, “But that way you don’t have to use your foot.”
“Yeah, it’s all right I guess.”
He watched as I half walked, half rolled ahead to the elevator. I pressed the button and soon the door opened and we got in.
At my apartment I unlocked the door and I gestured Jordan in.
He pushed his rims and slowly wheeled on in; I followed right behind and closed the door. He stopped in the small foyer and didn’t go any further.
I stood next to him and he grabbed his back pack from his lap, “Can I set this here?”
He dropped the backpack down in the hallway next to his wheelchair but didn’t move. I set my purse on the dresser and our eyes met.
I smiled at him, “Welcome to my humble home.”