So Abby, are you ready to make your decision?
Abby: “I’ve been ready for a while now, thank you very much.”
No more games this time. Abby, please tell us the name of the suitor that you liked best. The one who will receive $100,000 and the other end of a romantic vacation for two.
Abby: “The suitor I picked is...”
Go ahead, Abby.
Abby: “I picked Harrison.”
Harrison saw Abby say his name, but he could hardly believe his ears. Harrison looked over at Ethan, who was giving him an excited thumbs-up sign, then at Noel, who had his eyes lowered but was still trying to smile.
Abby was holding her arms out and they were gesturing for him to come over to her, but he was too surprised to move. Finally, someone pushed his chair over to Abby’s side. He looked up at her beaming face and couldn’t help but feel excited himself.
Harrison, in addition to the $100,000 that you have won, you and Abby will also be taking a romantic cruise together. That’s right, the Amorboat cruiselines will be taking you…
The host droned on about the trip they would be taking, but Harrison wasn’t listening. He was thinking about how the hell he was going to manage on a cruise in this wheelchair. What fun stuff could he do with Abby when he couldn’t even move? This was ridiculous. He shouldn’t have even been in this competition to begin with.
Harrison: “Hold on a minute.”
Uh, yes... what is it, Harrison? Is there something you’d like to say to Abby? There will be a lot of time for that when you two are alone.
Harrison: “No, I have to say this now.”
All right, go ahead.
Harrison: “Abby, I think you made a mistake. I think you should go on the cruise with someone else. Pick someone else.”
Everyone was staring at Harrison. Even that asshole Reese was shaking his head like he thought Harrison was an idiot for passing this up. But this was what he believed in and he had to do what he believed. He didn’t belong here. He belonged back in his parents house, doing the things he was comfortable doing, having Steve around to take care of his needs.
“What are you talking about, Harrison?” Abby demanded to know.
“I think you should pick someone else,” Harrison said earnestly, looking into her pretty eyes. “Pick Noel, he’s in love with you. Or Ethan, he’ll be good to you. Or Jamie. Or even Reese, for god’s sake.”
“Give me one good reason why.”
“Look at me,” Harrison said. “What the hell am I going to do on a cruise?”
“I’ll make sure you have a good time,” Abby promised.
Harrison: “You don’t f***ing get it, Abby. Maybe you like the way I look or you think you can help me, I don’t know what it is. But I don’t think you really know what it is to be with a guy who’s a quadriplegic. You definitely don’t know what it’s like to take care of a quad. And if we went out, that’s what you’d be doing: taking care of me.”
Abby: “Was I taking care of you two nights ago when we were in the hot tub?”
Harrison: “Yeah, that’s a great example. We had a whole TV crew helping to put me in the water. What are you going to do when it’s just you and me?”
Abby: “Same thing I do when it’s me and Amy.”
Abby: “You’re so g**damn presumptuous. You assume that nobody can understand what it’s like to be you.”
Harrison: “You think you know what it’s like to be paralyzed from the shoulders down?”
Abby: “Maybe not, but there are other people who do. I never jump into the water without knowing how deep it is.”
Harrison: “Jesus, Abby, what the f*** are you talking about?”
Abby: “I’m talking about my little sister, you idiot. She was born without arms or legs.”
Abby: “I’ve been taking care of her my whole life. And I love her more than anything.”
Harrison: “Wow... why didn’t you say something?”
Abby: “Nobody asked.”
Harrison: “Okay okay, so you have some experience with disability. But I’m sure it’s a lot different dating a guy who’s that dependent.”
Abby: “I’m not afraid of finding out.”
Abby reached over and picked up Harrison’s hand from his lap. She slid his fingers into her mouth, watching the expression on his face. She leaned forward and he thought she was going to kiss him, but instead she whispered in his ear, “I can tell you like me, Harrison.”
Harrison looked down and saw that his penis was straining again the seams of his pants. He felt tears rising to his eyes: it was his first hard-on since the accident.
Abby looked over at the host, “This show is over, right?”
Without waiting for an answer, she seized the handles of Harrison’s chair and began wheeling him in the direction of her bedroom. He looked up at her, wondering what she was planning to do with him. When he was full of anticipation, he didn't get that "butterflies in the stomach" feeling anymore, but he did get the sensation that his heart was beating a little bit faster.
Abby opened the door to his room and wheeled him inside. She took his hand off the controls, so that he was unable to move the chair himself--completely at her mercy. He watched her fumble with the zipper in the back of her dress until it fell off her body, revealing her silky black undergarments.
Harrison stared at her, filled with frustration that he couldn't jump out of his chair and do her right on the floor. He could almost feel his hands grasping at her breasts, her nipples grinding into his chest...
Abby walked over to him and put her hand under his chin, lifting his face toward hers. "What are you thinking, tiger?" she asked him.
Harrison blinked his eyes. "I was just thinking... back in the old days, I would've fucked your brains out."
"I see," Abby said, "well, I guess it's up to me then."
Abby picked up one of Harrison's hands and pushed his fingers into her pussy. She moaned with pleasure as he looked on in fascination. She sat down on his lap and continued to rub herself with his paralyzed hand. He bent his head down and began to kiss her neck, licking her soft skin up and down. She used her free hand to unbutton his shirt, exposing his rather thin chest. "I used to have a six pack," Harrison said apologetically.
Abby just smiled at him as she worked her way down to his pants. Harrison held his breath and watched as she undid the button and unzipped him, freeing his penis from its restraints. He still had his erection, although it was nowhere near as big as it used to be way back when. The catheter was still snaking out of his urethra, although it was blessedly free of urine.
"Can I take it out?" Abby asked him, pulling gently on the tubing.
Harrison nodded and gave her instructions on how to pull it out. He watched her carefully, mildly afraid she might do something to injure him. It was a very sensitive area, after all. But Abby did it like a pro.
With the catheter removed, Abby placed his dick in her mouth with unbridled enthusiasm. Even in the old days, Harrison had never seen anyone go down on him so passionately. That Abby was really something. She rubbed her hands all over his paralyzed body and he watched her, although he could not feel it.
Gradually, Harrison became aware of a deep sensation of heat rising in his face. He inhaled deeply and felt the sensation quickly spreading to all the areas he could feel. Finally, a profound sense of well-being came over him. For the first time in a long time, all his problems disappeared and everything in the world seemed right.
"Hey, Mr. Burke," Abby breathed, looked up at him. "You came."
And before he could stop himself, Harrison began to cry.
Jamie was too busy packing his clothes to notice that someone had entered his room. If he had thought about it, he would have assumed it was one of the crew from HBC, coming to clean out the room now that he and Noel were leaving. He was shocked, however, when he looked up from folding his shirt to see the face of Reese Cameron.
“Hi, Jamie,” Reese said.
Jamie frowned. Noel had told him some of the awful things Reese had said to him and Harry yesterday. “What do you want?” Jamie said.
Reese winced. “What kind of greeting is that?”
Jamie studied Reese suspiciously. What did Reese want from him? He examined Reese’s face and didn’t see a trace of the hostility that Noel claimed was present. “I’m sorry,” Jamie said quietly, deciding to give the other man the benefit of the doubt. “How are you doing, Reese?”
“I came to ask you the same thing,” Reese said. “You don’t look too broken up over losing.”
“Neither do you,” Jamie observed.
Reese smiled and sat down on Jamie’s bed so that they were nearly eye-level. “Well, I knew I was going to lose.”
Jamie remembered Noel had related to him Reese’s cocky statements about winning the competition. “Oh? That wasn’t what I heard.”
“Oh,” Reese laughed. “I see you talked to Noel, huh?”
Jamie just stared at him.
“Look,” Reese said, “I don’t want you to think I’m a bad guy or anything. That’s just stuff that I said because… you know, it’s TV. I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“I don’t really care,” Jamie said with a shrug. He really didn’t understand why Reese was going to such lengths to convince him that he wasn’t a bad person.
Reese pushed Jamie’s suitcase away to get his full attention. “The truth is,” Reese said, “I wasn’t really in the competition. I’m an actor. They hired me to… shake things up a bit.”
Jamie’s eyes widened. “Really?”
“Yeah, Abby doesn’t know anything about this. I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone.”
Jamie frowned. This whole conversation was so bizarre. He believed that Reese was telling the truth, but why was he coming clean about this now, to him? Was it guilt? “Well, I’m glad you got it off your chest. Now if you’ll excuse me…”
“Not yet,” Reese said. He smiled. “First, tell me the truth: you’re glad you lost, aren’t you?”
“I don’t really care,” Jamie said.
“Oh come off it. You’re relieved as hell you don’t have to go on a cruise with that Abby chick.”
“So what if I am?”
“So nothing,” Reese said.
Jamie reached for his suitcase again, but Reese pushed it just out of his arm’s length. But instead of feeling annoyed, Jamie felt his heart rate speed up. “What are you doing here, Reese?” he said again.
All humor was gone from Reese’s face. “I’m here to help you, Jamie. I’m here to help you stop living a lie.”
“What lie?” Jamie squinted at him. “I’m very happy with my life, thank you very much.”
Reese leaned forward and put his hand on one of Jamie’s stumps. He dug his fingers into the flesh. “You’re lying to yourself too.”
Jamie felt his breath catch in his throat. “What… what are you talking about?”
“Take a look,” Reese said.
Jamie looked down at his pants and saw his dick straining against the seams of his pants. He closed his eyes, feeling a flush rise up in his cheeks. It felt like all the blood in his body was either in his cheeks or his dick. He tried to think of something to kill the erection, but Reese’s hand on his stump was keeping it alive.
“Admit it, Jamie,” Reese said. “You’ve never allowed yourself to get this turned on before. You probably barely ever even masturbate because you’re too scared to think of the one thing you like.”
Jamie blinked back tears. Everything Reese was saying was true. “How… how do you know these things?”
“Call it gaydar,” Reese said with a smile. “Or maybe I just have a good intuition about men I find attractive.” Reese slid his hand up the side of Jamie’s stump, toward his crotch. “So Jamie, you feel like losing your virginity today?”
Jamie felt the last of his protests springing up from the back of his mind. His parents were so conservative for a mixed couple…what would they think if they found out their only son was gay? What would the people in the math department think if he showed up for the next social event with a man? They wouldn’t be thinking, “That poor Jamie McDonnell, can’t get a date,” they’d be thinking…
Aw, fuck it… who cared what they’d be thinking?
Jamie pulled Reese close by his collar and jammed his tongue into the other man’s mouth. They swapped spit as Reese lifted Jamie clear out of his chair, into the bed next to them. Jamie shoved the suitcase onto the floor, spilling all his clothes onto the ground.
Reese unbuttoned Jamie’s pants and pulled down his boxers and his dick sprung out, slightly curved and nearly as long as the stumps of his legs. Reese lowered his mouth onto his penis and Jamie sighed as his stumps flailed wildly. He threaded one hand into Reese’s hair and clutched one of his stumps with his other hand. When he came, he felt the orgasm intensely in his missing legs.
Jamie didn’t need any time to recover. He pulled Reese’s penis out of his pants and pushed himself down the bed with his arms so that he could reach with his mouth. Reese pulled off his shirt and Jamie gazed at Reese’s amazing chest. He felt lucky that his first time was with someone so amazingly handsome. Jamie tasted every inch of Reese’s penis and felt a flash of disappointment when Reese came and his penis began to deflate.
“Jesus Christ,” Reese breathed, as the two men lay together in bed. “You really needed that, didn’t you?”
“You have no idea,” Jamie replied. Thesis? What thesis?
“Maybe we could make a habit of it,” Reese suggested. He had his hand on Jamie’s stump. Jamie felt himself growing hard again.
The door to the room swung open and Jamie saw Noel’s red hair. Noel stopped in mid-wheel. “Oh!” Noel said, his eyes wide. He started backing up. “Jamie… I, uh… I’m sorry I didn’t knock!”
“That’s all right,” Reese spoke up. “I wanted to apologize for yesterday, Noel.”
“No problem, man,” Noel said quickly. “And Jamie, uh… congratulations, I guess.”
As the door slammed shut again, Jamie burst out laughing. “Poor Noel,” he said.
“Considering how shocked he was, I guess he was pretty supportive,” Reese commented. “Seems like he thought you needed that too.”
Jamie shook his head, amazed at the way things had turned out. But the truth was, this was the best he had ever felt in his whole life. Finally, things felt right for him. No more feelings of obligation that he had to go out there and meet a girl when he had no desire to do so. From now on, he vowed he was going to follow his sexual desires. If he felt like having a guy fuck his brains out, that was what he was going to do. And if he felt like being with a girl, that would be okay too. “Thanks, Reese,” Jamie said.
“My pleasure,” Reese said, rolling on top of Jamie once again.
Noel back his chair away from the door to his room, his head spinning. Jamie was gay? God, he hadn’t sensed that at all. Then again, he had a feeling Jamie didn’t know himself. It explained a lot, anyway.
Noel had been hoping to shoot the shit a little with Jamie before they had to clear out. He was feeling a little depressed over losing the competition. He had really liked Abby and she knew it. But maybe she felt that Harrison needed her more. He supposed he could understand logic like that.
In many ways, the competition was making him reevaluate his life. He was getting sort of sick of all the games. With each new girl he met, there was always this uncertainty about what she thought of him. He always had that nervousness that she might freak out when she saw his legs. It would be nice to finally be with someone that he felt comfortable with.
“You look a little shaken,” a voice from behind him commented.
Noel looked up and saw the face of Lynn, the cute wardrobe assistant. She was smiling down at him. “Uh... no, I’m okay.”
“What? Did you just walk in on Reese and Jamie?”
Noel stared at her in surprise. “How... how do you know about that?”
Lynn giggled. “I was talking to Reese last night and he was going on and on about Jamie. It was so cute. I was hoping he’d score.”
“How’d you know Jamie would go for it?” Noel asked.
“Guys as good looking as Jamie or Harry have a fifty-fifty chance of being gay,” Lynn said. “And since Harry is straight...”
“What about me?” Noel asked.
“Oh, I know you’re straight,” Lynn laughed.
“You don’t think I’m as attractive as Jamie or Harry?”
“I didn’t say attractive,” Lynn said, “I said ‘good looking’. You’ve got the whole ‘boy next door’ thing going on.”
“I see...” Noel looked into Lynn’s eyes, trying to read her thoughts. Usually, he would have gone for it by now with her, but he was starting to doubt himself.
“So,” Lynn said, “are you going to ask me out or what?”
“I’m working up the nerve,” Noel said with a smile.
“But you should know,” Lynn said, “I’m not like Abby. I’m not going to sleep with you on our first date, no matter how sweet you are to me. You’ve got to put in your time and I’ve got to get to know more about you than that you’re cute and an ex-player.”
“An ex-player?” Noel raised an eyebrow.
Lynn placed her hands on the armrests of his chair and leaned toward him. “I think you’re ready to reform.”
Noel swallowed hard and looked into Lynn’s pretty green eyes. She was right.
“But before you do, you’ve got to be comfortable with yourself,” Lynn said. “I mean, after all that shit you gave Harry about sticking up for himself and not being ashamed of being in a wheelchair, why do you hide your legs?”
Noel looked down at the blanket covering his legs. He had started using the blanket toward the middle of high school. His doctor had suggested it, saying that in cold weather, it’s good to avoid injury to an area he couldn’t feel. But even in the hottest days of summer, Noel usually kept the blanket on. He hated the way his legs looked. If only his injury had occurred after his growth spurt, then his legs would look at least a little bit normal.
Noel knew that Ethan felt a separation between himself and the able-bodied community, but Noel didn’t feel that way. He had been AB for more than half his life (although it was getting close) and he related to both communities. When people first met him, they had no idea why he was in a wheelchair, and many people assumed it could be temporary. But if they saw his legs, they’d know he was different.
But then again, wasn’t that the truth? Noel wasn’t ever going to be able to walk again. He was a paraplegic and he’d be a paraplegic till the day he died. Why try to hide that?
“Okay,” Noel said to Lynn. He pulled the blanket off his legs and threw it on the floor, exposing his sweatpants-clad legs. They were almost too short for his wheelchair—the footrests were adjusted to go as high as possible for his feet to reach. He wasn’t wearing any shoes as usual, there never seemed to be a point, plus he had a lot of trouble fitting his feet into a shoe. His feet never seemed to lay flat—they curved in. Still and all, it wasn’t too bad, since his legs were still covered by the thick fabric of his sweatpants.
“Was that so bad?” Lynn asked.
Noel had this feeling in the back of his mind that if he went to a bar like this, he might not be so successful in picking up women. But then again, he never met a woman at a bar that he really liked.
Lynn bent down and kissed him softly on the cheek. She slipped her card into his open hand. “I expect you to call me, Noel Stevens.”
Noel closed his hand around her card. “Don’t worry, I will.”
Ethan Saunders smiled up at the woman sitting in front of his desk. “Everything seems to be in order, Miss Taylor,” he said to her. “Your account is now active. I can give you some temporary checks now and the personalized ones as well as your ATM card will arrive in the mail next week.”
“Please, call me Julianne,” the woman said, crossing her long legs. “Thank you so much, I thought I was going to be here all afternoon.”
“You’re very welcome,” Ethan told her.
Julianne smiled. “Have you been working here long?”
“About six months,” Ethan replied.
She leaned forward. “I have to tell you, Mister... uh... Saunders, you look just like that cute guy on that show that was on recently... Wheelchair Joe.”
“Yeah, that was me,” Ethan admitted.
“Oh my god!” Julianne’s eyes went wide. “You’re Ethan from Wheelchair Joe? I can’t believe it! Wait’ll I tell my sister... she had such a crush on you! She was so angry when Abby picked Harrison.”
Ethan couldn’t help but smile. In the month since the show had aired, people had been recognizing him right and left. It happened less often at the bank where he now worked, because nobody could tell he was disabled from behind his desk. But people came up to him all the time on the street and told him they loved him on the show and thought Abby should have picked him.
Truth be told, there was no shortage of women now that he was a television celebrity. Women gave him their numbers without him even having to ask. But Ethan rarely called these women. This wasn’t how he imagined meeting someone. It seemed just as artificial as the circumstances of Wheelchair Joe.
“Wow, Ethan from Wheelchair Joe,” Julianne sighed. “But... then where are your...?”
Ethan reached under his desk and pulled out his crutches. “This what you’re talking about?”
Julianne looked a little uncomfortable all of a sudden, but she quickly recovered. “Listen, Ethan... I live around here, so if you’re free one night or something... well, you have my number, right?”
“Unfortunately,” Ethan worded his next lie carefully, “it’s against bank policy for me to ask out a customer.”
“That’s too bad,” Julianne pouted. “Well, thank you anyway. It was such a thrill meeting you, Ethan. Really.”
Ethan watched Julianne walk away, slightly relieved. Aggressive women frightened him, but they seemed to be coming out of the woodwork lately. Ethan would feel better in a few months, when people started to forget about the show and stopped recognizing him. It was sort of fun, but it usually made him feel anxious.
Ethan looked down at his watch and saw that it was almost closing time and there were no customers left. He turned to the paperwork on his desk that he had to complete for the day. He liked some aspects of his job, in that he got to work with customers, but he hated paperwork more than anything. He didn’t like being stuck behind a desk all day, but it seemed like that was the only sort of work he could get.
“Sorry, we’re closed,” Ethan said politely, without looking up.
“Ethan? Is that you?
Ethan looked up and his mouth fell open. It was Amber.
“Oh my god,” Ethan breathed. “Amber, what... what are you doing here?”
Amber smiled at him. She still looked the same, although her soft auburn hair was cut shorter, and her face seemed a little wiser than it had back in high school. She sat in her wheelchair, one hand curled in her lap, the other positioned on the hand controls. She was wearing a long green dress that hung loosely on her thin frame. Ethan thought she looked beautiful.
“I saw you on that show,” Amber said. “You know, Wheelchair Joe. I couldn’t believe it was really you.”
“It’s me, all right,” Ethan said. He stared into Amber’s green eyes, unable to comprehend that she was actually here, sitting in front of him.
Amber cleared her throat. “I, uh... I moved out of my parents house. I’m living in a subsidized community for people with cerebral palsy. We get help with everything and they don’t try to control me like my mother always did. They’re the ones who gave me a ride here.”
“I moved out too,” Ethan said. “I just rented my own place a few blocks away from here.”
Amber lowered her eyes. “You look really good, Ethan.”
“God, so do you,” Ethan breathed.
To his surprise, Amber burst into tears. Ethan quickly grabbed for his crutches, laced them into his arms, and pulled himself around the desk to be by her side. He put his hand on her shoulder to comfort her.
“I’m sorry,” Amber sniffled. “I just... I can’t believe I’m really here talking to you. All these years, I’ve been thinking about you. No other guy has ever been interested in me besides you. And I’ve never loved anyone else the way I loved you. But I thought... I mean, I assumed you had forgotten about me. But then I heard you mention me on that show...”
“I would never forget you, Amber.” Ethan picked up a tissue from a box on his desk and used it to dry Amber’s face. He supposed that by convention, Amber wasn’t pretty. Her face was as twisted as her body, sometimes causing her words to slur when she spoke. But to him, she had the most beautiful face in the world. “I love you, Amber.”
That only made Amber sob harder. She lifted one hand off her lap and tried to reach out and touch him. He took her hand in his and she gave him a weak squeeze. “I wasn’t sure if I should come here,” Amber sniffled. “You’re... just becoming more independent. Me... I’ll never be independent. I’ll always need help with every aspect of my life. I don’t want to burden you with that.”
Amber was right, to some extent. Ethan was in no position to take care of another person at this point in his life. He couldn’t help Amber push her wheelchair when he needed both arms to walk himself. And what would happen if they wanted to have sex? Between both of their immobility issues, the logistics would be almost impossible. Having an assistant there to help two cripples have sex would sort of kill the romance.
Yet even though logic cried out against it, Ethan only knew that he loved Amber more than anything. Just the thought of having sex with her, of unzipping that green dress and touching her soft bare skin, was enough to make a sweat break out on his forehead. And even if it was impossible, he didn’t care. He had never had sex before and he wasn’t about to let it rule his life. He loved Amber. That was all that was important.
Ethan decided he was going to do something he had been wanting to do ever since high school. He leaned forward, supporting himself on his crutches, and pressed his lips against Amber’s. He slid his tongue into her mouth and felt her tongue weakly moving against his. Back in high school, he had dreamed of doing this nearly every night. Now, thanks to that stupid TV show, his dream was finally a reality. Ethan and Amber were now independent—they could be together now and nobody would stop them.
Ethan pulled away from Amber and gazed deeply into her green eyes. “Amber, I love you so much.”
“I love you too,” Amber sighed, summoning all her control to press her lips against his one more time.
What became of the cast of Wheelchair Joe? Find out for yourself.