1954, Part 10

John was only days away from returning home. His mother had made all the necessary arrangements, including setting up a room for him in what used to be the den, hiring an attendant, and purchasing an iron lung for him to sleep in. The attendant his mother hired was a pleasant woman in her forties who would work part time, helping John during meals, change him, bathe him, and push his chair for him.

The more time John spent in his wheelchair, the more the reality of his new situation began to sink in. Yes, he did need help with everything now, but there was still a lot in life that he could enjoy. He had to adjust to asking for help and abandon his modesty. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary.

Clara seemed to be working less frequently these days, so John was pleased when he saw her coming in for the evening shift. John just had eaten dinner with his mother and she was pushing his chair back to the respirator. John recognized Clara’s slim figure in her white uniform from all the way down the hall.

“I can take it from here, Mrs. Gallagher,” Clara said, shooing his mother away.

John’s mother kissed him on the cheek, “I’ll be back tomorrow, sweetheart.”

Clara was smiling down at John as his mother walked away. “What?” he said.

“Nothing,” Clara said. “I was just remembering how scared you were that you’d never be able to breathe on your own. Now look at you.”

John couldn’t help but feel a little proud of himself. “I couldn’t have done it without you though.”

“Nonsense,” Clara said.

John noticed Clara’s breasts standing out underneath her uniform and his breath caught in his throat a bit. He scolded himself these days for thoughts about women. He had to forget the opposite sex existed.

“Are you breathing okay or do you want to go back in the respirator?” Clara asked him.

“I think I need to go back,” John admitted. He wanted to be macho, but he had been out for over six hours now and he was feeling a little tired.

Clara unstrapped him from the chair and enlisted the help of a physical therapist to lift him back into the lung. As soon as he felt it slam closed, he felt a sense of relief. It was certainly easier being in the respirator sometimes, even though he didn’t have as much freedom.

Clara went to tend to the other boys and John drifted off to sleep. He didn’t wake up until several hours later, when Clara was opening the respirator to get him cleaned up. The lights were dimmed in the room so that the boys could sleep.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you,” Clara said as she winked at him.

“It’s okay,” John said.

He knew that his diapers were soiled and he felt Clara removing them. He felt the damp cloth being run over his private areas. As Clara cleansed his genitals, John became aware of a feeling he hadn’t had in a very long time. Before he could stop himself, he said, “Do I have an erection?”

He blushed immediately and wished he could take back the question. But instead of being offended, Clara smiled. “You certainly do.”

“Oh,” was all John could say.

An erection. He had actually gotten a hard-on, even with the rest of his body completely paralyzed. John couldn’t help but feel really happy about this development, even if there wasn’t much he could do about it. He felt like a man again, for the first time in a long time.

That’s when John became aware of another sensation. Clara’s hand moving up and down the shaft of his erect penis. His heart pounded in his chest as he watched her. He couldn’t quite read the look in her eyes, but it was far from pity. He felt his pleasure mounting as she continued to do what he couldn’t do for himself. He swallowed hard, not daring to talk.

He had initially been scared that he might not be able to cum, but then the waves of pleasure suddenly gripped him like he had never felt before. Every inch of him felt electrified and his crippled body shook with the power of his orgasm. John bit his lip to keep from moaning and waking the other boys.

He closed his eyes for a second and when he opened them again, Clara was dabbing his forehead with a cloth. “You’re sweaty,” she commented.

“I want to kiss you,” John managed.

Clara smiled and lowered her soft lips onto his. He dared to even move his tongue slightly into her mouth, which she accepted. When she pulled away, there were a thousand different thoughts running through his head, and he simply said the first one: “Why?”

“Just because you’re paralyzed,” Clara said, “it doesn’t mean you don’t have needs.”

It wasn’t quite the answer that John had been hoping for. He wondered if she had done this before for other crippled boys in respirators. He didn’t want her to pleasure him because she felt sorry for him. Yet… she spent her days changing his soiled diaper and moving his paralyzed limbs… how could she be attracted to him? It didn’t make sense.

But he decided some things were better not to question.


“Hey, Dave, wanna race?”

It was Sy Phillips, a kid about four years David’s junior. Ever since David beat Tom, everyone wanted a crack at being the next hallway champion. Thusfar, David was still the champion of wheelchair racing and since he was spending less and less time in his chair these days, he thought he might still leave here undefeated. “Sure, Sy,” David agreed.

Sy was one of the guys who couldn’t walk at all so he had more wheeling experience than David did, but David had it over Sy when it came to upper arm strength. David knew that this was the best condition his arms and chest had ever been in, even though it was at the expense of his legs turning into withered sticks.

A few other boys checked the halls to make sure there were no nurses around to stop the race, then the boys were off. David zeroed in on the end of the hall, trying to ignore the way his legs bounced lifelessly as he pushed forward. After less than half the distance, David already had a commanding lead but he didn’t let up until he had reached the finish line.

Sy and David shook hands. David wiped sweat from his forehead. “You’re really making me work for it,” he commented, even though it had really been an easy win.

“I’ll get you next time,” Sy promised.

“Good luck,” Tom scoffed. He had pulled up his wheelchair next to the two boys. Tom always had something to say to ruin the mood. “Nice job beating a 14 year old, Barnett. You going for the kindergarteners next?”

David was about to retort, when his mouth suddenly went dry. He looked up and saw Sally Jones was standing in the hallway. He had no idea how long she had been standing there or if she had seen his race.

David was very surprised by Sally’s first visit to the rehab unit. Sally was a girl he hadn’t thought about in a very long time, but back in the day… boy, did he have a crush on her. But then, what had happened? They just grew apart, he supposed.

No, what happened was that you become a popular asshole football player who only dated cheerleaders.

“Hi, David,” Sally said. “I hope this isn’t a bad time?”

He felt his face turning red as he realized that this was the first time she had ever seen him in his wheelchair. He was wearing shorts and his atrophied legs were fully exposed to her. He would have made sure he had his braces and crutches on if he had known she was coming.

“David, is that your girlfriend?” Sy asked.

David felt himself blushing even deeper and he couldn’t even look at Sally anymore. “No, uh… she’s just a good friend, Sy.”

He remembered how the last time Sally had come, she had placed her hand on top of his. He had wondered what that gesture had meant. Did she like him? Or was she just being friendly? He couldn’t imagine that she could look at him all crippled like he was and actually like him.

The other boys scattered and David was left alone with Sally. He looked up at her, feeling very inferior in his wheelchair. “Let me go back to my room and get my braces,” he said.

“You don’t have to,” Sally said.

“No, I think I should,” David insisted.

David wheeled back to his room, his biceps still aching dully from the race. He tried to make conversation with Sally as they traveled. “I can’t believe you made it over here again,” he said.

“Well, I got an after-school job,” Sally said. “So I’ve got some spare money.”

“And you’re spending it to come here?” he asked.

“Well… yes.”

David’s room was quiet. None of the boys were around except for Walt, who was asleep. David transferred to his bed and Sally sat down beside him. David picked up his left leg brace and began fumbling with it. “David?” she said.

“Uh huh?”

“Are those braces… permanent?”

David winced when he heard the question. He had hoped she would have figured it out by now. “Yeah,” he said. “The doctors told me this is the best my legs are ever gonna get.”


He held the brace in his hand, no longer motivated to put it on. He stared down at his thin legs, which would never again move on their own. Suddenly he felt angry at the thought of having to deal with this equipment for the rest of his life. He’d never be able to go anywhere again without getting stared at. Nothing would ever be easy for him again.

“David? Are you okay?”

He let the brace fall to the floor. “Just… sort of sick of it, you know?”

Sally put her hand on top of his, just like she had last week. He looked into her eyes—she was so pretty. He remembered how they had played together all the time when they were kids. She was his best friend.

Before David could stop himself, he was pressing his lips onto hers.

Sally jumped back and stared at him. He wanted to smack himself in the face. That was the dumbest thing he could have ever done. Sally came here to be nice, to be a good friend, and what she had gotten was a kiss from a crippled polio. How could he have done that to her? “I’m so sorry, Sally,” he said. “I’m so, so sorry. I can’t believe I did that. I didn’t mean to…”

“Shut-up,” Sally said, as she leaned forward and kissed him back.

to be continued....

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