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Minus Equals Plus (9k, mature language) (1 Viewer)

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Minus Equals Plus

It happened when his ridiculous boss told him to run across the roof to bring him a tool. He slipped on a piece of tar paper and plummeted from the second story to the ground. He got up and walked away and played it off, at first, but that was just adrenaline. He got to the side of the house with the ladder to go back up and collapsed. He lost consciousness on the way to the hospital as a result of a concussion he sustained in the fall. He woke in the hospital not knowing where he was.

“Well, why am I in the hospital?” Wayne asks.

“You took a fall at work, you have a concussion, we’re keeping you for a few days” the ER doctor says. “we’re getting you a room, just hold tight and we’ll have you off this gurney and in a bed. You’ll be watching TV and eating in no time.”

“Yeah but...” Wayne began but the doctor was already gone. What he wanted to know was if he could have someone call his girlfriend. Wayne had a Latina for a girlfriend and he loved her, she knew how to take care of a man. Even with his girlfriend Wayne had a wandering eye.

“Excuse me” he says to the nurse changing linen on the bad next to his “habla Ingles?”

“Yes, you have to speak English to work here.” the nurse says.

“What’s your name?” Wayne asks.

“Maria.” she says, “Do you need something.” she is obviously busy and hopes he’s not blind to that.

“I’m sorry, I can see you’re busy, I need a phone.” Wayne is as polite as he can be and hopes she recognizes it.

“That’s OK, I can get you a phone if you can wait a minute.” the caring Maria says. “I gotta finish this bed.”

You take your time, don’t rush on the account of me.” He’s not flirting yet, but he’s buttering her up. Maria finishes the bed, leaves the room and comes back with a phone. She comes over to the bed.

“That was fast.” Wayne says.

“We do everything fast around here.” the pretty nurse says while bending down to plug in the phone. Wayne gets a look at her butt. The nurse stands and hands him the phone.

“You dial 9 to get out. The kitchen is 204, and the nurses station is right here,” she picks up a white chord attaches to the wall “ on this button.” Maria is ready to leave.

“So I press this button and you come back?” Wayne is getting ready.

“Me,” Maria flashes a demure smile that sparkles it’s so white. “or another nurse, I’m only here ‘til eleven.” she says.

“So we have seven hours to get know each other.” Wayne is almost there.

“I have other patients ya’ know...you’re bad.” Maria knows when a man is interested in her.

“You don’t even know me, how could you possibly know that I’m bad?” Wayne is just about there.

“I can see it in your eyes, Tus ojos cuentan una historia.” Maria is testing him then she heads for the door.

“Usted tiene buen culo!” And there it is, Wayne told her she had a nice butt in Spanish. He just couldn’t resist a pretty nurse, Maria with her hair like Jacklyn Smith and face of Isabella Rosalini, what guy could? But it was only the second hour he was there and already he hit on the nurse who was, ironically, getting a phone for him to call his girlfriend.

“Y usted no esta nada mal.” Maria returns the volley with ‘You’re not too bad either’. Wayne didn’t get every word she said but got what she meant. ‘Oh, she wants to play’ Wayne thought. He wasn’t a dog or a perv he just was enamored with Latina’s. How they were there to serve their man, at all costs. Latino’s are a patriarchal society yet they worshipped Mary, the mother of Jesus, in church, Wayne didn’t get it. Having a full bladder Wayne needed to go to the bathroom, when he stepped down on his left foot, it gave in and sharp pain shot like a lightning bolt through his body. He got the white chord and pressed the button. Maria came back in.

“I told you I have other patients.” she said feigning anger.

“No, I had to go to the restroom and I tried to walk but there is something wrong with my foot. It hurts like hell.” Wayne says grimacing and rubbing his ankle.

“I’ll get you the doctor and a urinal.” Maria responds to his complaint. She returns, urinal in hand minutes later. She hands it to Wayne. “You won’t need any help with that, now will you.” Maria is too bold for a little Latina and she knows it. “What I meant was, here’s your urinal.”

“I know what you meant...Thank you, how long for the doc?” Wayne is almost too concerned to flirt.

“About ten minutes.” Maria is serious.

“Ya' know, I hate to see you go, but love to watch you walk away.” Wayne is just being honest, he had no ulterior motives, he never does. He’s in it mainly to get the attention back and he already got that from Maria. He has no illusion that he’s going to get out of the hospital and leave his girl for Maria. He was just playing.

“What’s the problem?” the doctor asks.

“I can’t walk! That’s the problem.” a pissed off Wayne says.

“Tell me more.” the doctor is concerned.

“My left foot, I tried to walk and I got a sharp jolt of pain. The doctor lifts the sheet and takes a look but doesn’t find any sign of trauma.

“It’s possible you injured your spine in the fall.” he says.

“And...” Wayne leads the uninformative doctor.

“We’ll do some tests and know more tomorrow.” he says and then zip he’s gone. Wayne was up most the night being wheeled around the hospital, X-rayed, CAT scanned and fed into the MRI tube. Then there was the test where they apply electricity to your joints then watch to see the electric signal shoot down your nerve on a computer screen. In his left leg, from the knee to the foot, there was nothing to see. No electrical charge like there should be. The nerve was damaged irreparably. The doctor read the reports in the morning.

Wayne is getting angry at the TV when the doctor walks in.

“Sorry about the late night tests. We got results and I explain it as simple as possible. Your vertebrae,” the doctor turns sideways and points at his back “ has been smashed and it is interrupting the flow. What your brain is saying, your leg is not hearing. And unfortunately, at this time, there is nothing that we can do.” and the doctor’s done smashing Wayne’s future.

“You mean it’s permanent?” Wayne is showing cracks in his facade.

“At this time...you gotta have hope. I’m sorry.” the doctor feels obligated suddenly and escapes from the room.

Wayne felt like someone had shot him in the chest, he could not move, he just sat in the bed trying to grasp what had just happened. He saw himself in a wheelchair, his girlfriend leaving him for one of his friends, him depending on someone for everything, he saw it all in one frightening flash. Later that morning the physical therapist came in and that took his mind off it for a minute. One minute. Time went slow. S-L-O-W, slow. Wayne is an outdoors type guy and doesn’t watch much television but he was flipping through the channels, not even looking, just flipping. He believed in fate and also believed that we write our own future by the way we act in the present. But it wasn’t a surprise, it was as if he knew deep down inside that he wouldn’t be walking again. Instead of it being ‘who are you’ it was more like ‘oh, there you are’. He expected this but that didn’t make it any easier to deal with. He had just moved into an apartment with his girl, Jessica.

She was two years younger than Wayne and wild. She was what he prayed for to a ‘T’. Able to play with the boys but feminine enough to drive him crazy. And she did. Wayne would sacrifice anything for this one. She was uneducated and was pretty good not talking about things she knows nothing about. And pretty good about not fucking his friends, as far as he knows. She knows that cheating would break his heart and get her cut off from it. But she was not the best girlfriend. She would convince Wayne to shoplift at departments stores like Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, she was taking high priced items that would probably be Grand Theft which is a Felony. And Wayne would go down for her. She didn’t deserve it but Wayne would do it. If she went to jail and did time behind Grand Larceny or Grand Theft, he would be doing time, too. Time in his heart. Sure he would have other women but they would all be a poor replacement of her. He would go down willingly without regard for his family or his future. And she knew it but that didn’t stop her. She knew what she was doing. She didn’t try to take the whole store, just what she could fit under her clothes. She would wear the things she stole. It wasn’t the jackpot or anything she just did it for rent or bills she had. Mostly maxed out credit cards. She’d take like two five hundred dollar dresses pay the rent and a bill. Wayne couldn’t stop her and was more of an enabler than anything else. He will say he’s going along to keep her safe when he’s addicted to the adrenaline almost as bad as she is. They almost got caught in Beverly Hills, once. Jessica wore a fur out of the building right as one of the guards was walking up, Wayne pushed her into a planter. It was the middle of summer and she’s wearing a fur, if that’s not a bust nothing is. And Jessica was wild in the sack She even introduced bringing her friend in. Wayne said that he didn’t want to but didn’t know why he said it. He was always trying to prove his loyalty to Jessica. He gave her the best sex that she could imagine. He knew that sex was his secret weapon.

But Wayne was not a cheater. He was loyal and always trying to prove it even to his friends but nobody ever acknowledged him. Wayne was crazy in certain ways but it always benefits other people. He will put on gloves and rob a bank to pay his girlfriends rent, if it were the only way. The problem with that is, he’s always feeling screwed over by his friends because they
aren’t as loyal. They would talk about being ‘down’ with people and things they were say they were always ‘down for their shit’. Wayne was truly down for his shit, that meant being ready to back up anything you say and not claiming anything that’s a fable. He got taken advantage of, all the time. Jessica worried about him for that reason. Wayne had an air of innocence about him and although two years younger, Jessica had more street smarts. Deep down she worried that someone would ruin that innocence. She was right someone would ruin it but it needed to be ruined. If he were to become a man. He called his girlfriend to tell her.

“They say I will never walk again, can you believe that shit?” Wayne says with a mix of anger, sadness and apprehension.

“Well, what are you going to do?” Jessica asks not knowing quite what to say to such devastating information.

“I’m gonna’ prove them wrong!” Wayne sounds determined.

“Oh, babe I’ll come down right now.” Jessica has nothing on her agenda, luckily for Wayne. While he waited for Jessica he asked for a wheelchair. While he waited for them to find a wheelchair he meditated. It was the only place he could get away to. He focused on his paralysis and imagined monoplegia. He wrapped his arms around that loss and it slipped away like a bar of soap. He didn’t need to carry that around. Things happen in life and we are measured by the way respond to them. The wheelchair arrived and Maria gently entered the room to find Wayne sitting upright with his eyes closed. The wheelchair made a squeak and Wayne opened his eyes completely awake.

“Hey...Thank you.” Wayne says.

“You’re very welcome, I heard..” Maria starts to talk but Wayne interrupts her.

“It’s OK, just a bump in the road. At least it didn’t happen to someone I love.” Wayne pretends to be OK with it.

“That sounds good but I think you’re full of it. It’s gotta be hard, if there’s anything I can do, let me know.” Maria says as she makes room for his wheechair.

“Well really, I need to hold a woman and my girlfriend is on her way but can I get a rain check.” Wayne says with a wink.

“Anytime, Papasito.” Maria says with her beautifully full lips that are just begging to be kissed. And just then Jessica arrives. and Maria gets back to work.

“Hey Jess.” Wayne says. Jessica walks toward him with her arms open wide. She knew what he needed. He needed to wrap his arms completely around her and smell her hair. That worked like a drug. He was instantly calm and serene.

“Oh, babe, you’re strong, you can handle this.” Jessica said but it was complete bullshit. That’s not how she felt at all. She thought he’d crumble. And she’s planning an escape in her mind. Jessica was Wayne’s security blanket and would really progress much faster in life if he is sans Jessica. But Wayne’s heart was invested in a weak stock. Wayne knew , but didn’t acknowledge, that one day she would break his heart. One day she’d find someone new, or get distracted and cheat or something. But Wayne was strong, stronger than he knew. But he was about to find out.

“I know, it’s just these damn doctors, they should never tell someone that they will never walk again. It destroys your hope and confidence, I mean, I don’t want to be lied to but they could have left the part about it being permanent out of the conversation.” Wayne says surprised he hasn’t cried yet. Wayne is sitting on the edge of the bed with his arms around Jessica, still. The scent of her hair did it for Wayne. He would kiss the top of her head for an excuse to smell her hair.

“I know, babe, they’re just doing their job, don’t be mad at them. How did you fall?” Jess asks.

“All I remember is that asshole Ty telling me to run across the roof to bring him a nail gun.” Wayne says not realizing that that’s all he’ll ever remember.

“What? Run on a roof?! You need a lawyer.” Jess tells him.

“No, what I need to do is get out of here so I can beat his ass.” an over-confident Wayne says.

“Sweetie you can’t walk.” Jess reminds him of the thing he’s trying to forget.

“Then I’ll pay someone to do it. Larry hates his ass and will probably do it for free.” Wayne is full of bravado.

“That’s called conspiracy. You go to jail for that.” Jess pulls a bit of knowledge out of her ass.

“You’ve been watching too much TV. I don’t know why you waste your time with that soul draining, time wasting, idiot box.” Wayne turns his head as if he smelled something bad.

“Look at me,” Jess turns his head back toward her “you just relax and get better, I’ll find a lawyer for you.”

“You know I’m not litigious. I’m not that type of swine.” Wayne argues but Jess sees dollar signs and Wayne can see that she’s in it for herself.

“Call a lawyer and you don’t need to come visit me anymore.” Wayne makes her see that he’s not messing around. He uses his ace in the hole. sex. He knows that he’s the only guy who’s ever gotten he off and more importantly, she know it ,too.

“Oh babe, but he’s got to pay.” Jess pleads with him to sue.

“He’ll pay... Oh, he’ll pay. He’s a fucking contractor, the only money he has is tied up in his client’s projects. I would never get paid if I took him to court and it would drag on forever. No, absolutely not, I’ll get street justice.” Wayne says not really knowing what he’s talking about. Jess finds his anger cute.

“Oh, yeah, and how do you plan to do that? I’ll have Larry and his boys handle it. You know Larry, he worked for Ty for one day and told him to go fuck himself. He’ll jump at the chance to kick his ass.” Wayne sounds convincing. He is holding Jess by the waist as she leans back to put her hair up.

“Well, I think you should sue his ass.” Jess repeats herself.

“That’s what’s wrong with this country, everyone wants to stand behind a lawyer when what they should do is have the balls to face the problem.” Wayne is decisive.

“Technically, you’re not facing the problem if you get Larry to handle it.” Jess is speaking out of turn.

“Shut up Jessica!” and Wayne is having none of it. He only calls Jessica by her full first name when he’s really angry.. Jessica has really got Wayne agitated with this lawyer talk and if it were anyone else he’s kick them out of his room but not his security blanket. He would suck up the stress just to keep her around. He was crazy about Jessica but she was blind to it. She had no idea how serious he was about her, but she was killing the thrill by bringing up the lawyer. He knew he deserved better but was all in with Jessica. “Technically, you’re beginning to piss me off. Sit down.” He pushed her shoulders down as to signal to her to sit like he was training a dog. She complied and sat down at the chair behind her. Wayne lay back on his bed and stared at the ceiling.

“I’m sorry.” Jess looks at him with her big brown eyes and melts Wayne’s heart.

“Damn it, stop that, I’m angry and you’re not going to sway me with your eyes.” Wayne turns his head so he cannot see her. He’s angry and is wallowing in it. Wayne never could fight his emotions, the more he tried the bigger it got.

“Fine, be angry, I was only trying to help.” Jessica is sounding like she’s going to leave.

“I know babe, c’mere,” Wayne signals for her to sit next to him on the bed. “I won’t be angry forever, right now I just am.”

“That was some pretty devastating news, I guess I’d be pissed, too.” Jessica is trying but cannot possibly understand what he is going through and gets ready to leave.

“Where are you going?” Wayne asks,

“Me and my Mom are having dinner together, but I’ll be back in the morning.” Jessica is ‘in between’ jobs right now. So she says but Wayne knew better. She always went home when Wayne was broke or didn’t have the kind of food she wanted to eat. Wayne was carrying the apartment on his own because he couldn’t run home to Mommy when things got tough. He knew she wasn’t there for him but couldn’t focus on that, he was just trying to stay afloat. And he didn’t know how he was going to do that now. He called Maria once Jessica had left to come into his room and bring him a pitcher of water.

“Your girlfriend is cute, how long have you been together?” Maria asks innocently.

“She’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We’ve been together for two years now. She’s trouble and I knew it when I met her but that’s kinda’ what I like about her, in the beginning. But now, especially now,” Wayne points to his leg “I need someone who can be responsible and take care of some business for me. She’s not that type of girl. She has a wild streak that is great when times are good but when things are serious that wild streak is just trouble.”

“Yeah, that wild streak is fun behind closed doors, too, I bet.” Maria jokes.

“Oh, my virgin ears.” Wayne puts his hands over his ears.

“Oh, please, you’re a player, you have the last thing from virgin ears.” Maria says with a slight accent that Wayne thinks is incredibly sexy.

“Player? How do you know I’m a player?” a perplexed Wayne asks.

“Because you’re good looking, muy guapo, and good looking men are always players,” a confident Maria says “and you’re not mean or stupid.”

“No, pretty women, like yourself, are always players.” Wayne thinks he’s right. Maria starts to turn red. “See, I’m right, you’re turning red, you’re embarrassed because I’m right.”

“Oh, please, I can see it in your eyes remember? ”Maria says as she grabs his empty pitcher.

“Esta bien, she’s not that good in the sack, personally I’d prefer a woman and not a little girl,” Wayne gives her a quick look up and down “You know where I can find a woman.” Maria starts fanning herself with her hand as if it were hot in the room.

“Excuse me while I get your water,” Maria is flustered “Eres un chico muy malo” She tells him he’s a very bad boy. Maria brings levity to Wayne’s situation and he needs that right now. this is just one more way that Jessica has let him down. She returns with the water promptly.

“It’s almost time for you to go, will I see you tomorrow?” Wayne asks hoping for a ‘yes’.

“Yes, Mister Wayne, I will be back tomorrow only, I’ll be working in the morning.” Maria tells an eager Wayne. She didn’t know why he was so eager, although she found herself sort of eager, too. Wayne worked his 6 foot frame into the wheelchair and raced around the hospital for a couple hours then went to bed. His sleep was plagued with nightmares and Wayne hasn’t had nightmares since he was a kid. He kept waking with the feeling that he’s falling. He would jump as if shocked, and wake in a pool of sweat. This must have happened five times. But morning greeted him with a pleasant surprise.

Buenos dias, Papasito!” it was the sweet smelling Maria. carrying a tray of food. “Would you like some coffee?”

“Umm...yeah, coffee would be great.” Wayne responds while having a hard time opening his eyes on the account of the brilliant sun. It was shining through the window like a relentless peeping Tom. Wayne was on the east side of the building so he got the sun every morning and the shine of Maria’s smile was nice , too. Maria comes back in with the coffee.

“Here you go, sleep well?” a perky Maria asks.

“No, I slept, if you want to call it that, like a caffeinated four year old.” Wayne is still trying to wake up, he doesn’t feel good at all. It was already eight o’ clock, well past the time he’s accustomed to waking. He hated the hospital gown they had him in so he called Jessica to have her bring him some clothes. Jessica had to take care of herself first, of course, which meant she had to go to the cafe down the street for a coffee, then go to the gym, then finish her laundry. Then and only then would she be able to help the, now disabled, Wayne. Jess finally makes it just after ten o’clock that morning.

“Hey, babe.” Jess says to Wayne upon entering.

“ Hi.” Wayne is less than enthusiastic.

“Ahh, what’s wrong?” Jess is patronizing him and Wayne has just about had it.

“What’s wrong,” he says while clenching his teeth “gee, I don’t know maybe it has something...” he gets interrupted by Jess.

“Oh, babe you gotta see what I got you at the Farmers Market.” Jess is completely oblivious to Wayne’s predicament. Wayne is about to lose it, he starts turning red like he’s an over heating locomotive engine about to blow. He suddenly turns perfectly calm.

“Oh, honey why don’t you go out of the room and come back in. Ahh, tat, tat tat tat,” Jess starts to interrupt again but Wayne catches her, “why don’t you go out and come back in again, for me?” Wayne is practically begging for her to respect him. He thinks if they try it again, they, really she, can get it right. He’s not being unreasonable but that sudden calm that came over him was Wayne blowing up on the inside. if he bothered to look at his intuition he would know that she’ll never get it right. But Wayne wanted to believe so bad that he would do things like blow up on the inside and not ever mention it to anyone. He used to talk to his Mother but even she got tired of hearing about how she screwed over her only son, once again. She was abusive indirectly. She would allow Wayne to hurt himself for her. Like when they first met she was ‘running away’ from her mother. Wayne gave up his room he had with his buddies to run with her. He conned an acquaintance of his into renting his pool house to her, of course, Wayne paid the rent. She let him hurt his family, too. It was his sister’s birthday and he was supposed to show for the party. Jessica was having, yet another, blow out with her Mother, who was a very reasonable lady, and she needed Wayne. She never bought a plane ticket but sent him on a guilt trip complete with obligatory tears. And Wayne wasn’t innocent in all this, he never put his foot down, so as to say ‘No!” we are not going your way for the two thousandth time. To say Wayne was pussy whipped would be an understatement. He was under the control of and played by it like a Chinese violin. Other than that Wayne was a solid guy, he just was hanging with and trying to prove his loyalty to the wrong person. She used her sexuality to survive when not at Mommy’s. She manipulated men at every turn, at the grocery store, the gas station, school and even in church, if she went. Wayne could see Jessica getting a priest in a lot of trouble, and not thinking twice about it. Jessica was always above reproach. This drove, even his closest friend, insane.

“OK, can I come in?” Jess is being meek to placate him. Wayne is seeing her for her true colors once and for all.

“Why, yes, won’t you please come in.” Jess says nothing and just walks in. The pilot light is on again. Wayne is trying to get her to respect him and she can’t see past her own wants and needs to show some empathy for her boyfriend who has just been clothes lined by a little doctor with a clipboard. It takes crises to find out who loves us, sadly, and Wayne is finally just beginning to get a peek at what his friend and family have been screaming about for a year and a half. Jess was being unreasonable early on and it was that first time that Wayne’s intuition told him that she was more trouble than she’ worth. But then he turned off that pesky voice and that’s when things started getting out of hand. He was doubting his instincts, his divine inner voice.

“Thank you,” Jess curtseys “Sir, I do believe you requested your bathrobe and slippers.” Jess does a poor English accent.

“Don’t you understand, even just a little?” Wayne sounds pitiful even to himself. “I think you should see your therapist again.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Jess takes offense immediately.

“The thing is,” Wayne has had enough and this relationship is going to sink or swim, it has been neglected if for nothing else but to avoid conflict. And now was the time for Wayne to come out from under the umbrella ‘boy’friend. He was a man, a hu-man, that has a heart and has heart. And Wayne opened wide and out came his wore out, kicked around but still beating, heart. “I try so damn hard. I got my own apartment so we could be together more and you split because you don’t like beans. I think of you when I get coffee in the morning, you have not...” “But...” “Ah.ah.ah.ah. you will not interrupt me. You have not once brought me coffee from the bakery, not once. You stopped me from going to Sheila’s party. Sixteen, sixteen, she was turning sixteen. You flirt with Dave.” “No , I don’t” Wayne holds up an angry finger “and yet, I still love you and treat you with the utmost care. Don’t I, don’t I.” Wayne has given in to his hurt and anger and was no longer going to stuff that crap down into his psyche If you were my friend I would have beat your ass long ago.I just think that someone needs to remind you that those people that love, there gonna need that back.. Do not leave a mess in my house and leave. Here I am in the hospital dealing with a life changing event and you are getting your nails done? What are you fucking kidding me you’re cute but not that cute. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to meditate.” Wayne was finished and satisfied with the delivery. Jess set down the bags she’s had in her lap this whole time, stands up off the bed and walks away in tears. “Come back tomorrow.” Wayne was not fazed by the tears, he was going to make a woman of her yet.

But Wayne was tired of playing Daddy and be controlled by her at the same time. The alternative, being alone. For Wayne that’s not the problem it’s not having that soft, warm, curvy doll to hold, but even that pay off was getting worn out.

“Is she gonna be OK?” Maria is concerned as a woman

“Probably not, but she’ll live through it. She’ll be back tomorrow. She just don’t get it, consideration of others. Only bringing positive energy. Not a clue. She’s a danger to herself.” as Maria and Wayne chat a doctor enters the room,

“We’ll be discharging you tomorrow. Wayne didn’t even try to ask a question. Maria was in his presence.

“Where are you from?” Wayne asks.

“Here.” Maria says.

“Where’s your family from?” Wayne is more specific.

“Colombia” Maria is playing coy, and not doing that good of a job.

“Your mother...father... Wayne says.

“My father is Colombian and my mother is from Brazil.” a smiling Maria is opening up.

“Married?” Wane asks.

“No, but he’s out there...I know it.” Maria says

“You know it, huh?” Wayne asks.

“Deep down, from the bottom up.” Maria wants him and is jealous of Jessica.

“Well, he might be closer than you think.” Wayne’s trying to turn her on.

“Is that so? Maria says. She’s feeling a little flush, she’s getting hot. “You’re cruel teasing like that...damn you’re not fair.”

“You’re the one with that smile. That’s a bullet to the heart, to hell with cupid’s arrow” Wayne says. Maria has stood in one place too long and gets back to work. Wayne is proud of himself and the boost of confidence Maria could see and was attracted to.

Wayne got into a meditation on being a whole. One, a singularity, one love, one heart. He meditated for a while until he heard some kind of scuffle in the hallway, then he heard Maria telling someone to calm down.

“Chill out, or Ill call security.” Maria shouts with authority. “Dennis get over there so he doesn’t fall.” hearing her take control, Wayne was intrigued. A strong woman, that would be nice. Instead of this dependent leech that Jessica was, yeah, a strong woman interested Wayne greatly. Not being able to ambulate Wayne was relegated to the confines of his little bed. This is the smallest bed Wayne has used in a log while. He bought a California King when Jessica was supposedly moving in, but he’s the only one who sleeps in it. And he really doesn’t mind. He’s a big guy, only six foot tall but he weighs damn near two hundred pounds. He’s stocky. Maria walks by the door to his room. Wayne yells.

“Permiso senora!” Wayne exclaims. Maria looks in the room. “Are you OK?”

“Yes, it’s all under control.” Maria says. And Wayne was confident that it was actually under control. She looked sexy in the power role. He bet she was single because most men are intimidated by her. He was not.

“C’mere!” Wayne says. trying to get Maria to come in his room. She does, while looking back at the drama in the hall. “What happened?” Wayne asks.

“Nothing, a patient is just getting a little rowdy with one of the nurses.” Maria says smiling. “I can handle it.”

“I can see that.” an impressed Wayne says.

“How are you?” Maria asks.

“Better, now that you’re here” Wayne says with a smile and a wink.

“Dios mio conesta hente!” Maria has had enough of this guy. “These guys drive me crazy, they’re called security but they couldn’t secure a playground full of three year olds.”

“Relax, let them do their job.” Wayne pleads with her to stay in his room.

“There’s nothing I’d like more than to sit and chat with you, Mister Wayne...” Maria starts but Wayne interrupts.

“Just call me Wayne, please.” he says.

“But you’re my patient and...” Wayne stops her again. There was that Latina instinct to respect and care for a man, Wayne just wanted her to relax, he wanted to get past the formality of their relationship.

“But nothing,” Wayne whispers as to get her undivided attention, ”I will not be called Mr. Wayne, by anyone, especially someone like you.”

“What is someone like me.” Maria says angry with her adorable accent.

“Someone not below me, you are not my servant you are my nurse, we are the same, just two people in this crazy, sold-out world trying to get by.” Wayne almost started in on a tirade but stops because he doesn’t want Maria to be scared of him. “Do you really have to go?”

“Yes, I have work to do.” Maria says meekly.

“What time do you get off?” Wayne asks.

“In five hours, at three o’clock.” Maria answers.

“Will you come by and see me before you go? You know I’m being discharged tomorrow.” Wayne says hoping for a visit later.

“I will.” Maria tells an anxious Wayne.

“Well, alright then,” Wayne gets a little louder, “that would make me happy.” Wayne says as Maria exits with a wave and a smile. Oooh weee! Wayne thought, she’s much nicer than Jess who has worked Wayne last nerve and really broke his heart by not being there for him. Maria is almost too good to be true. But only nearly. He was looking forward to seeing her later. But he would not get the chance. The doctor ordered some final tests and Wayne wasn’t in his room when Maria came by. The next morning before her shift Wayne was discharged. He didn’t even get a chance to get a phone number. The social worker set up Wayne with In Home Supportive Services. They arrange for a nurse to come out a few times a week and assist in any way that is needed, cook do laundry, help Wayne maneuver himself until he became proficient in the wheel chair. Luckily their, or really, Wayne’s apartment was on the ground floor and the front door was wide enough for his wheel chair. Physical Therapy gave Wayne a cane but he wasn’t adept at that, yet. Jess was with him when he discharged which did not make Wayne happy, which was good, he was finally seeing the light. And Wayne thought that if he saw Maria he would ask her if they could get together. Jess was there and then not as soon as they got back to the apartment. Wayne got comfortable on the couch and planned a night of meditation. He hobbled around the house setting up candles and lighting incense. Jess said she would be back, but Wayne knew different. He didn’t know where she was sleeping or even if she really went to see her Mom like she said.

In the past Wayne would have been worried sick until he knew where she was as to make sure she was OK. But now things were different. He was in an accident, spent two nights in the hospital and she didn’t miss a stride in her life. She didn’t miss her nail appointment, didn’t miss her dinner out.

Her Mother, whom he knows asked about him. Wayne thought quite often that her Mother loved him more than her. This unrequited love thing was growing old and Wayne was tired of suffering. He called one of his good friends, Larry.

“Hey, man, I heard about your accident and know that Ty was the cause.” Larry says.

“How do you know that? Wayne asks.

“People talk and I know everyone that works for that jack ass, nobody likes him and we’re gonna take care of this for you.” Larry is just being a good friend.

“Ty can kiss my ass, whatever he gets, he has coming to him.. Jessica wanted to sue but I ain’t down with lawyers, you know that. Hey, listen, the reason I called you is I want to talk to you about Jess.

“I’m listening.” Larry is attentive.

“When I was in the hospital she totally flaked...” Wayne starts.

“I don’t want to hear this, again. Bro, you know she’s a flake, your friends have been trying to tell you this all along.” Larry is ready to hand up the phone.

“No, I didn’t call you to cry, I’m thinking about dumping her.” Wayne says sullenly.

“You’re preaching to the choir, bro, so what do you want from me, my sister would love to kick her ass, just on principle alone.” an excited Larry says. He’s wanted nothing for his friend but the best and he can see that he is capable of getting it, but Jessica was always pulling him down.

“No, no, that’s not necessary. Me leaving will hurt her enough, I think, something occurred to me at the hospital. I love her, but she doesn’t love me, it’s a lie she convinced herself of so she doesn’t have to be alone.”

“Like I said, bro, you’re preaching to the choir. Now what do you want, me to hook you up, because my girl has lots of fine girlfriends, just don’t tell her I said that.” Larry is serious, he’d love to see his good friend with another girl..

“Bro, I would never and no I don’t need to be hooked up. I think I really need to be by myself, for now.”

Weeks went by and Wayne hadn’t told Jess, yet. He was having a nurse come in three days a week, that was all the time that was allotted. He saw her Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. She was a big German lady able to lift Wayne off the ground if he fell, which he never did. Her name was Inga.

“Your girlfriend is never here, why’s that?” the curious Inga asks.

She doesn’t love me, she afraid to be alone, so she leads me on to keep me around.” Wayne says slightly embarrassed.

“That’s no way to live, Wayne. Set her free if she comes beck...” Inga starts.

“I know, I know, she’ll be mine forever. But she won’t come back.” Wayne says.

“Oh, she must be good in the bedroom, then.” Inga says with a thick accent.

“No, she’s not good there, either.” Wayne admits.

“Then why are you still with her?” Inga is completely confused Germans are way more direct than American’s.

“I think, the truth is, I’m the one who is afraid to be alone. Nobody to come home to, no one to go out to eat with.” Wayne is thinking.

“If you can’t sit with yourself then no one wants to sit with you. That’s what we say in Germany. You should have women chasing you down the street.” Inga is trying to be encouraging.

“Maybe before, but not now.” Wayne points down to his leg.

Oh, nonsense, women are incredibly forgiving, and anyway, think of your disability as a filter. Only quality women will approach you. Not those superficial with fake boobs and fake lips and God knows whatever else. In my day you took what God gave you and you played to your strong points. That’s what you need to do forget all about that leg. What are your strong points?” Inga says.

“My what?” Wayne says.

“Your strong points, what you feel confident in about yourself.’ Inga says, “ you must have some.”

“Well, I’m sincere, I’m loyal and I’m a good lover. I know that, I believe that.” Wayne says.. Inga laughs.

“All men think they are great lovers. That’s good, you’re sincere and you’re loyal, two great qualities. Don’t you know that loyalty is one of the number one reasons for divorce. And you’re sincere, I could tell that just by looking at you. You have a real honest energy.

“So how is this all gonna help me?” Wayne asks.

“I’m trying to make you see that you are still desirable to women and that ‘ole leg isn’t going to change that.”

I took Wayne a night of meditation without Jes to finally push him over the edge. He meditated on that question, should he stay or should he go? By sunrise he had his answer. He would tell Jess the next time they were alone. Wayne was considerate of her ‘til the end. He didn’t want to embarrass her. He prepared everything in the house that was hers except the gifts she bought him. She’s really lucky she got her stuff back. If Wayne’s friends had a say she would just get a post-it note on the front door. But then again she had a key.

Wayne was anxious to talk to her but she didn’t show up at his house for a couple days which was out of the ordinary. Jess usually calls to check up on him. She says she’s calling to check on Gabby, Wayne’s stray cat he picked up, but he knew the score, Jessica seemed to forget that Wayne isn’t some dumb construction worker. He’s had other jobs. He worked for a lawyer for five years, that’s why he has an aversion to them. Wayne called Jessica’s Mom to check on her.

“No Wayne, I haven’t seen her, I thought she was with you, now I’m worried. I saw her this morning but after that I haven’t seen her. And she didn’t come home for dinner.” Jessica’s Mom says.

“I’m sure she’s fine she’s probably out with Cally, you know how those two are.” Wayne says.

Wayne went back to cooking his dinner and didn’t think much of it. Then after he was in bed, just as he was falling asleep the phone rang. It was Jessica’s Mom.

“Wayne there’s been a terrible accident, Jessica is hurt.” she says.

“Where is she?” Wayne asks.

:She’s at Cedar’s.” her Mom answers, I’m going down there right now.

“I’ll meet you there,” Wayne says.

Wayne called Larry and got him to give him a ride, wheel chair and all to the hospital where he finds her Mom in tears.

“What happened?” a concerned Wayne asks.

“She wrecked her car.” her Mom says as she puts her head in her hands. He wrapped his arms around her the best he could. What was he to do now? He would be there for her, that’s what he was going to do, because that’s the type of guy he is. He went down to the lobby and bought some flowers. It was late so he couldn’t see her so he just filled out the card and had a nurse bring them in. The card just said simply “from Wayne”. He went home that night and thought long and hard about Jessica. It had been a month since he was in the hospital. It’s taken him a month to decide to leave her but now she’s hurt and in the hospital was he a hypocrite? He had to decide what to do. But the next day he was at Cedar’s, the same hospital he was laid up in, early in the morning. She had been beat up pretty bed with a skull fracture and a broken femur. He was waiting to see her and went down to the cafeteria when he heard a familiar voice come up from behind, “Tus ojos cuentan una historia.” It was Maria.

“Oh my God, you came back.” Wayne said thinking of what Inga told him.

“What?” Maria didn’t understand.

“Nothing, nothing, can I get you something? a polite Wayne asks.

“I should be asking you that.” Maria is happy to see Wayne but is perplexed as to why he’s back. “what are you doing here anyway.”

“Oh. Jessica got into a car accident.” Wayne says with no emotion.

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” Maria says.

“Well, the thing is , I was going to break up with her but never got the chance, shall we sit?” Wayne asks. “Now what do I do?”

“I always follow my heart, it’s as simple as that.” Maria says as she digs into her salad..

“Yeah, you’re probably right.” Wayne says as he watches those beautifully plump lips.

“”Well, if I followed my heart I would have never left this hospital.” Wayne says as he’s interrupted by a doctor.

“Well, Maria, I hears of your move upward, Congratulations!” the doctor says trying to keep his interest professional.

“Thank you doctor.” Maria replies with reverence. She now turns her attention to Wayne, “What do you mean you would have never left the hospital?”

“I mean, my heart was with you,” a bold, out of character, Wayne says. Maria starts turning red., “I’m sorry I know this is not the time, nor the place. But last time I waited I didn’t get the chance.” The conversation dies. “Aren’t you going to say something?”

“Yes, I’m flattered,” and flustered, she drops her fork and they both reach down to get it. The heads nearly touch as they both bend down to reach to wayward fork. As their heads are beneath the table they both look up simultaneously. Wayne gets a close up gaze into those big brown soulful eyes. She finally gets a look into his sky blue eyes, Maria reads people by looking into their eyes and she can see a lot of pain and need for love behind Wayne’s. “and excited to get to know such a warm, intelligent and caring man. You came to see your girlfriend in the hospital after she treated you the way she did. You are quite a man, Mister Wayne.” Maria said ‘Mister’ just to play with Wayne.

“I told you..” Wayne starts as Maria flashes a big smile. He understands that Maria was just messing with him. They raise their heads above the table and start in on their food. “So. what was that doctor talking about?”

“Oh, I got my LVN certification.” Maria says.

“And that means...” Wayne wants to know more about this beautiful woman.

“That means I can pass medication and I don’t have to clean up after patients anymore..” Maria is excited at the prospect of not being a CNA anymore. “CNA’s do all the dirty work, which is what I was but now I’m a Licensed Vocational Nurse. Only took a year of night classes.” Maria says.

“Wow, good for you it’s important to make strides forward.” Wayne says to a proud Maria.

“And what about you? How was the real world? You’ve been gone for what, like a month now?” Maria asks.

“Yep, good memory.” Wayne takes a bite of some pasta.” Wayne says.

“I was sad when I came by your room and you were gone. I wanted to give you something.” Maria pulls a piece of paper out of her pocket and starts writing. “Here, it’s my number. Call me sometime.”

“I was hoping you would be my in home nurse.” Wayne is hopeful.

“That would be interesting but I could not arrange that. IHHS arranges that and I don’t work for them. I’m sorry. ”an apologetic Maria says. Wayne smiles.

“I kinda’ figured that. It would be too good to be true.” Wayne says.

“But call me, I don’t mind pushing a wheel chair.” Maria is serious.

“I will NOT have you push my wheel chair,” Wayne says feigning offense, “I can push this thing anywhere, see check me out.” Wayne has only been in the wheel chair for a month and he was already doing wheelies. “I lowered the seat height so I could get a longer stroke when I push.” Wayne was not going to play ‘cripple’, he was going to make the best of what he had. Play to his strong points, as Inga would say. That German lady said some things that stuck like a spitball to a chalkboard.

“OK, OK. That’s typical for someone new to a wheel chair. They never want any help.” Maria says matter-of-factly.

“Now, I didn’t say that, I just don’t want you to push two hundred pounds around. You are a lady, ladies do not push men in wheel chairs’. Wayne tries to be chivalrous.

“Well you better tell all the female CNA’s that because they push men around all day”. Maria is chuckling.

“I don’t mean those ladies,, I mean the one before me. Sure I will call you, it just feels kind of weird because Jess is broken up and in a hospital bed, I don’t want to be a hypocrite.” Wayne is sullen.

“Worry about you, I can tell by looking in your eyes that nobody has cared for you in a long time, not even you.” Maria says, “Why’s that?”

“I put out so much energy for Jess because I don’t ever want to hear that she needed me and I wasn’t there. That would cut like a knife, split me in two. Wayne is completely honest. Speaking his mind, for once

“But what about Wayne? Who is putting out energy for him? Huh? You cannot take care of someone else by not caring for yourself.” Maria is not playing around.

“But now, she will need me, I cannot leave her hanging, wouldn’t that be selfish?” Wayne asks.

“Taking care of yourself is never selfish. She did the same when it was you.” Maria is making him see the light, not for her benefit but just as a decent human being.. “ How did you get here, anyway?”

“Maria is curious.

“Bus.” The bus humbles Wayne, he kind of likes it. Getting out with the people that are the foundation of the city.

“You did not take the bus...” Maria acts angry.

“I most certainly did.” Wayne mocks Maria’s anger.

“Do you have to be here right now“ Maria asks.

“I’m stuck here.” Wayne isn’t joking, he is stuck until he gets back on the bus.

“Would you like to have some fun?” Maria has a crazy hair up her ass.

“Fun? Let me think,” Wayne is acting like he’s considering staying. Wayne saw the light thanks to Maria, he decided that he would not hang out here when he looked into her eyes under the table, “Uhhh, Yes, of course, and with you. What have I done to deserve this.”

“You don’t have to do anything to deserve fun and you have done plenty by being there for someone who doesn’t love you. You’ve done your time, now let’s be free and go to the beach or something.” Maria tells Wayne.

“Life is funny isn’t it?” Wayne asks a smiling Maria.

“Cuando menospiensa elgalgo, salta la libre.” Maria is really testing him on his Spanish with a saying, “Things happen when you least expect them.” They have gotten up from their table and emptied their trays and are now outside in the Luke-warm Fall sun. Maria’s hair is dark brown with some red in it. Her skin was like that of a baby’s bottom, her eyes shone like caramel colored marbles. Her eyes were peculiar they were not brown but more of a tan. You could tell by looking into her eyes that she was reading you, stripping down your meticulously built facade. Wayne feels naked all the time because Jess was taking all that he had down to his self worth.

“I know basic Spanish and have down the accent, I don’t know complex words. Well, to you there probably not complex words. But you can teach me.” Wayne says.

“When?” Maria thinks she knows what’s coming. It better be coming, she took a risk by showing affection at work.

“When we go out for dinner, when we go for o walk in the pork, when you come back to my apartment unless you wanna go to your place.” Wayne says with unbridled confidence.

“You have it all planned out don’t you.” Maria shoots an agreeable smile. Well, fitst la playa.” Maria is playing along but wants to hit the beach before all that romance. She still doesn’t know much about him, but her intuition tells her to go. Maria hasn’t been on a date in over a year, due to school. She needs this as much as Wayne does. They both will be reminding each other that they are still desirable. And that they are desired.

“Now, about that rain check.” Wayne says as the moved toward Maria’s car.

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