Brian is pushing 40 (or, more accurately, being pushed inexorably towards 40), and currently does database searching part-time and writing for...read more Demand Studios, also part time. The rest of the time, he's just some handicapped schmuck in a wheelchair, looking for full-time work and to hopefully make a literary name for himself in some small way, someday.
JESUS! IT MUST BE 11 O'CLOCK. I've got an 8:30 class tomorrow, Goddamit! If it's anyone but Cari, I'm gonna be pissed.
I open the door. By God, it's Cari. Holy shit.
She's got sweats and a t-shirt on, but she still looks amazing.
Those blue eyes ... My God ...
“Hey, Dave . I'm heading out with some of the sisters. We're gonna stop at McDonald's on the way back. You want anything?”
“Um, sure.” I hand her five bucks. “Could you get me a value meal with a Big Mac and six-piece McNuggets, hon?” When she's sweet like that, the “hon” thing just comes out. Luckily, she ignores it and smiles.
She smiles. “Sure. I'll be back in a bit... Hey, I didn't wake you up, did I?”
“Um ... No ... No. It's just been a long day's all.”
“Wanna talk about it?”
I smile. “Oh, no. I'm fine. We'll talk when you get back. Thanks, though.”
“Okay, Dave. I'll be back in a little bit.” She pauses. “Take a nap'r something while I'm gone. You look really beat.”
She leaves, and I close the door. Hopefully I can get some sleep now.
I roll half-way back to my bed, and there's another knock.
Must be Cari double-checking on me. I must really look like shit.
It wasn't Cari.
Two girls. They look vaguely familiar, but I can't place them. It's not surprising. Most places, if you're handicapped, you're a minor celebrity. The chair really sticks out. And Ramapo's a little podunk college. Out of 2,000 students, there may be 20 of us. Maybe.
“Hi, Dave. Do you remember us? I'm Sheila and this is Amy. We met you a few days ago? Could we come in?” Amy, the non-blonde one, carries a Bible.
Okay, so there's two girls at my door, it's 11:30 and change, and they want to come in. And I'm gonna say no....why?
“Sure. C'mon in.”
Both girls have their hair up in schrunchie-type things. The one who doesn't have the Bible (Sheila) is wearing a cross. (Not a crucifix, mind you, a cross.) They look nice enough. The kinda kids you wouldn't mind your sons dating, if you had any.
“We were thinking about you tonight. We decided to come over.” Sheila.
I smile cordially. “Oh, okay. Cool. Thanks.”
Why on Earth were two girls thinking about me at 11 at night? I mean one girl, okay, if it's the right girl, but two?
“The Lord put it upon us to come pray with you for healing.”
“Maybe we just need faith that it worked. Let's get him up.” She pauses. “Dave, we're gonna get you up. Is that okay?”
“Well, if you want to try.” I'm starting to get a bad feeling about this.
They both grab me by the arms (which is exactly the wrong way to lift someone in a wheelchair, in case you were wondering) and then let go.
Luckily, the first thing they teach you in physical therapy is how to fall. I catch myself okay.
The two of them are very unhappy with this latest turn of events.
“Oh, my God, Dave. I'm sorry. I mean, we're sorry. I don't know what...what happened. I mean --”
Sheila cuts in. “We're new at this. I mean, I guess that must be what it is. I don't know...”
I'm feeling really bad now. These girls are clearly out of their depths.
“Hey, listen. It's not your fault. Sit down.”
They both sit on the couch off to the right as you walk in the door.
“Listen, the walking thing isn't that big a deal.”
“But you want to walk, don't you?”, Amy asked.
“Well, yeah. I mean, sure. I want it in the same way I'd like to win the lottery. I'd like it, but it's not keeping me up at night.”
“God wants that for you, too.”
I crack a smile. “What, the lottery? That'd be cool. It kinda sucks being a poor college student, y'know?”
Amy looks down, a little embarrassed. “You're not taking this seriously.”
“Look, it's not that I don't appreciate the thought. I do. It's just that, well... You're not listening to me. You're not taking me seriously.” I touched Amy's shoulder. “I know you two mean well. I know you want to help. But I'm okay. Really. And the things that're hard about being handicapped have nothing to do with being in a wheelchair, mostly. So it's okay.”
Amy looks up hopefully. “Well, Christ can help you with whatever that is, too...”.
I lie. “I'm sure he can. Maybe he will. I hope he will. But there's nowhere on my body you could put your hands that would make my body change.” Amy looks at me a little uncomfortably. “Well, yeah, there's that, I guess, but not change in the way you want it to, I mean.”
Amy joins Sheila, who by now was back by the door. “We're going to pray for you.”
I try to smile. “Thanks.”
I roll back to my bed, setting the clock radio for midnight so I'll be awake when Cari gets back.
Screeching brakes fail. Blood everywhere. Andrea knocks on my door. “She's...She's dead. Drunk driver. Head on ...” Panic. “I can't believe thi- ...” My brain can't process it. It can't be real. It can't be rea ...
I shake it off and turn on the nightstand light, climbing into my chair.
Cari. Alive. Here. Holding a bag.
“Hey. I wake you up?”
“You're ... You're okay.”
She nods. “Yeah. Why wouldn't I be?”
I shake my head. “Just a nightmare. Nothing.”
She looks concerned. “You okay?”
“Yeah, I'm fine, hon. Thanks, though.”
She tries to hand me the five dollars. “Let's eat.”
I raise a hand. “Your money's no good here.”
She laughs. “It's your money, remember?”
I smile.“Well, yeah, but you were supposed to spend it on my meal.”
“Yeah, well, your money's no good here, either.” She smiles and starts unpacking the food on my desk, pulling up a chair. She hands me my value meal and pulls out a Diet Coke and french fries for herself.
“You didn't eat out with your sisters?”
“Nah. I figured I'd wait so you wouldn't be eating alone. And John's off with his ZBT brothers.”
(John's the Boyfriend.)
“You didn't have to do that, but thanks.”
Her smile ... “We haven't hung out in a while.” She takes a bite of her french fry. “So, seriously, you feel okay?”
“Yeah, I'm fine.” I smile. “Now. Just had some crazy evangelist faith healers in here before.”
She shakes her head. “Nutjobs. There's nothing wrong with you. You get along fine. Look, I'm a Christian, but if Jesus was gonna heal you, he doesn't need help. And from what I can tell, you're fine the way you are.” She touches my shoulder.
I smile. “Thanks.”
She smiles and takes a bite of a french fry. “Well, you're welcome, I guess.”
I take a sip of my Coke, and I really do feel better.