A/N. I didn't think I'd write anything else with Kevin, but this just came to me. I also have another snippet with Beth, but I'm not sure when I'll get around to writing it. I've thought about putting this as an additional chapter to "Some Girls", but decided to make it a standalone piece, because not everyone read that. If you're among those who haven't, all you have to know for this piece is that Kevin has a girlfriend named April (that's not psychically in the story).
Heads-up: a bit of cursing here and there, but not really mature content.
Please tell me what you think!
"Wow, they're really shooting therapists at me!"
Kevin looked a bit confused, then figured out the kid thought he was another psychologist. He was himself lost for words and for a moment wondered whether not he'd harm more the kid, than do him good, by talking to him.
"No, dude, nothing like that…I'm Kevin", he half-smiled, as he reluctantly wheeled next to the 16 year old to shake his hand hello.
Scott looked at him, checking out his slick wheelchair, and then looking down on his own. He patted slowly his right leg, still not being accustomed to not feeling the warmth on his hand on his own thigh. Holding tight to the table next to him, he bent over to try and get the basketball that lied on the floor, next to him. Kevin watched him struggle for a few moments, and then effortlessly bent down and got the ball, which made the teenager scoff.
"It gets easier, I promise", Kevin said, felling like the look on Scott's face was mirroring his own, during his first stint in rehab, more than decade ago.
"So are you here to brag?" This kid was going to be hard to get to, but it was worth a try.
"No…they thought…they thought I could help… considering that…I've pretty much been where you are…", he said, as he bent down again to get the ball Scott threw.
Scott didn't answer; instead, he was putting all his energy into wheeling a chair clearly too big for him back to a table where his phone rested on.
"They didn't fit you for a chair yet?" Kevin pointed at the boy's wheels. "The first thing you should do is get a more appropriate chair. When I…when I got injured, about two years after I was still riding the chair they got me at the hospital. I did have another one, I just…When I finally switched, it was like a whole new world", Kevin laughed nervously.
"Good for you", the young boy answered dryly.
"Listen, I know your whole routine and I know what you're going through", Kevin made another attempt at connecting.
"You think you're the first gimp to come here and talk about how great you life is and how things will get better? Then go home and feel good about yourself that you helped another poor little injured kid set his life on track? I've had plenty of that, thanks."
Kevin never thought of himself as being inspirational, he was just trying to get on with his life. What he thought now was normal – having a decent job, a nice place to stay, a great car and a girlfriend – other people admired him for. And even if he thought that his own life was pretty ordinary, he knew that for a newly injured kid, that normality was simply impressive and just another thing to strive for.
"Listen, I'm not getting anything out of this", Kevin started, in a firm tone. "Seeing kids like you…it just reminds me of a very dark place I never want to go back to. I just come here twice a week to do my range of motion and ride the FES bike, that's all. They just thought I would get through you since we pretty much ended up here in the same way…"
"Yeah, stupidity, that warm, fuzzy feeling that just connects everyone!", Scott snorted.
"You know when I got injured", Kevin started again, as he approached the table Scott was sitting on, "I rehabbed at this place where this guy, who was playing Murderball – you've heard of that? It's rugby…for quads,…anyways…-he was playing for the…Team USA, he was an Olympian and in his free time he volunteered at this rehab center. I mean he was…that guy kicked ass. He…he didn't even have full use of his hands, but he seemed like he had all his life figured it out. And I was just sitting there, feeling sorry for myself, not giving a crap about all the things that guy was trying to tell me. And now, when I look back, I just think if I had given this guy a chance, if I actually listed to what he had to say, maybe I wouldn't have wasted all that time hid up in my room. Or maybe…I don't know, maybe now I would've been playing basketball at the Special Olympics instead of just writing about sports. So…don't make the same mistakes…". Kevin played with the ball a bit, then shoot for the basket.
"Yeah, well, I'm not interested in sports…"
Kevin decided to stop with the speeches and just try and talk to the boy. "What do you like then?"
He was getting uncomfortable. His thoughts ran back to that first accommodation period he's had after the accident and how maybe this was how he was making people feel whenever he reminded them in a way or another that he couldn't walk anymore. But instead of just sweeping the issue under the rug, he decided not to give the kid a break.
"So you were going to become a professional walker when you grew up? Or just a globetrotter by foot? So…when you were out with a girl and she was asking you about your hobbies, you listed 'walking' as your number one passion? Dude, that had to b a conversation killer…I mean..there's no way anyone could compete with such a great hobby…."
Scott looked at Kevin going on and on about walking, as he couldn't believe how lame his jokes were.
"I want to be an architect", the boy said, hoping Kevin will shut up.
Kevin thought a bit for a moment before he spoke again. "You don't really need legs to be an architect". Great. He was now sounding like his own mother.
"And that's supposed to make it all better?"
"Um…no…But…whatever plans you had before…before you got into that car, they're not…really ruined now…"
Scott was too much into the game he was playing on his phone to answer him.
"I mean…for me…", Kevin went on, "after my accident I was pretty sure my life was over because all I cared about was playing sports. Sports and chicks", he paused a bit and laughed to himself. "I had never been good at anything besides sports, I didn't even know I could do something else, I had no other skills or passion. Doing something from this chair was out of the question. So was a girl finding me attractive, or whatever. But you…you can still do what you like!"
"What I'd like is to be left alone!"
"Dude! Do you even have any idea how much this program costs? You're going to have to learn how to take care of yourself! Do you really like other people helping you shower all the time? This is what rehab's all about…they're gonna teach you how to become independent and that's the first step to having a life! Just…cooperate for your own good!"
"You know what I hate most? Hypocrites. You and all the others that came here…you all say you're happy with your lives, but you'd kill to walk again… "
"Wait, one does not exclude the other!" Kevin almost yelled at Scott.
"…you didn't get what you wanted so you just settled for watching sports and writing about it for a living", the boy went on, taking all of his anger and frustration out on Kevin. "Yeah, I've seen you around here, exhausting yourself on that stupid bike and for what? Being able to stand like a normal person for two minutes? I'm sure you think you recuperated a lot! Kudos to you! So yeah, I don't want any advice from you or another sorry-ass cripple who lies to himself. Your life is shit in that chair, people are only feeling sorry for you and all everyone ever sees is those wheels you're sitting on. You're just another piece of furniture!"
Kevin wheel back, taken aback by the boy's words. He knew he was just a kid suffering, he knew he should be more tolerant, be the bigger person and give him a break. But then remembered how he felt when people were giving him a break after the accident.
"Fuck you, you little shit. You know nothing about me". So much for trying to help.
Kevin turned the wheelchair so fast, Scott didn't have time to say anything. His cheeks were red, there were tears in his eyes and his hands were trembling. All the things he told Kevin were just the one he told himself every night, Kevin was just a mirror he was looking into. He had no hope left; finally saying everything out loud turned his anger into immense sadness. He threw his phone into a wall, causing it to break into many pieces, then put his head on the table and started sobbing.
Kevin wiped the sweat out of his forehead, then stood up for a few seconds holding tight on the bike and arching his back, before getting back to his wheelchair. He checked his phone and saw a message from April asking him to pick her up later, as she had to stay a bit longer at the office.
Getting out of the locker room, all changed back to street clothes, he stopped on the hallway to call April. He realized he stopped right in front of Scott's room, as he saw the boy struggling to get from his bed to his wheelchair. He hung up fast, before April answered, rolled his eyes at his decision, and went in.
"If you paid attention to what these people here were telling you, you would've known by now how to get out of bed", Kevin pointed out, as he stopped in the middle of the room, with his arms crossed.
His words startled Scott, even more after he saw Kevin again, almost a week after his break-down.
"Can….can you pass me the transfer board?" Scott asked, not looking Kevin in the eyes, with clear humiliation in his voice. "Please?"
Kevin gave him the board without saying a word and watched as the boy finally managed to get back to his wheelchair, with great effort.
"You know…with your level of injury, you were supposed to be easily doing transfers without this thing", Kevin said, as he pointed at the transfer board.
"Are you here to lecture me again?" Scott became defensive again, as he didn't need any help anymore and was feeling safe in his wheelchair.
"No, nothing like that, I'm done talking, man".
"Then why are you here?"
Kevin thought about abandoning his plan for a second, then changed his mind, again, as he started looking for something on his phone. Finding what he was looking for, he wheeled closer to Scott and showed him a picture of April.
"What do you think about her?" Kevin asked, very confident.
Scott didn't know how to react. He tried searching his mind for a few jokes but couldn't find any.
"No, really, do you think she's cute, hot, beautiful, ugly…unimpressive…what?"
He was so taken aback by the whole situation, that all he could do was to answer truthfully. He couldn't figure out what Kevin's game was and that was making him nervous.
"She's…she's beautiful", Scott stuttered.
"Yeah?" Kevin went on and showed Scott more pictures, pictures with April and their friends, her at parties or while trying to get tanned, on the side of a swimming pool.
"I know how to download women from the internet, thanks!" Scott said ironically as he got over the initial shock caused by the novelty of the situation.
Kevin didn't stop and went on showing Scott pictures of April, this time with him also. The smirk on Scott's face started to fade as it became clear to him who this woman was in relation to Kevin.
"So what is she, like your girlfriend?"
"No like. " Kevin put away his phone. He made his point. "She's my girlfriend. We've been living together for quite some time now."
"Good for you! Are you done bragging now?"
Kevin just ignored his remark. "Saying my life is worth crap is saying that this girl's life is worth crap. Does it look like that to you? Does she look unhappy? Depressed? Does she seem worthless to you?"
"Don't ever judge yourself just by that chair."
For a few moments, neither of them said anything. Scott was just looking down, his hands holding on tightly to the rims of his wheelchair, while Kevin was just waiting for the boy's next move.
"I figured…" Kevin started to explain his actions, "after the accident, I figured my life was over because I couldn't have the two things worth anything, the only two major things I enjoyed: playing ball and girls. Your plans didn't get derailed because you got injured, so I figured you're pretty pissed because you think you're never getting laid again…"
Scott was now listening to his every word, trying to understand how the guy in front of him actually managed to read him. His anger was about women, but mainly about what they represented, a normal life. He felt stripped of his manhood, right in the middle of him becoming a man.
"Just…be who you are, without minding the chair. It's a bit harder but it's as sure as hell more interesting. You wouldn't believe how many women are out there that don't really care, as long as you're there for them. "
Another big pause and Kevin started wheeling out the door, without a word. Scott fussed a bit in his chair, starting to feel ashamed of himself.
"I saw you on TV a couple of nights ago. I mean, I don't voluntarily watch ESPN, it was just on, in the break room…"
Kevin turned around, waiting patiently for Scott's next move.
"So you're like…a sportscaster?"
Kevin laughed, as he wheeled back into the room. "Nah, I just appear in a couple of shows when they don't have anyone else invited…"