(This is a story involving consensual sex between adult males. If such offends you or is illegal for you to read where you live, or if you are under the age of 18, please leave now. Safe sex practices are not used, but this is fiction... in real life, get tested and play safe.)
Copyright, 2008. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced by any means, electronic or otherwise, without express permission of the author.
The dreams bothered him. Not the having of them; that was rather pleasant. It was afterwards, the empty ache they left. Terry looked around at the off white walls, slick enamel, easily washed. Light from the hall outlined the half-opened door. He could smell the scorched odor of burnt coffee from the little break room a short way down the hall. He wondered if it was that that had awakened him. Terry readjusted the sheet and the extra blanket to conceal the rigid erection he had awakened with. Privacy, along with personal dignity, were scarce commodities here. Once again, he reluctantly passed on the pleasure of jacking off and relieving the pressure. He sighed, and gave himself a few tugs, promising himself that he'd find a place and a way... somehow. The rhythmic squeak of the wheels on the nurse's cart stopped outside his door, and Terry edged his hand away from his cock and closed his eyes. The nurse's backlit head peered in around the door. She stepped in, listened to Terry's rhythmic breathing for a minute and made a note on his chart. She walked back to the hall, leaving the door half open as before.
The mood had passed with the interruption, and Terry's softening dick subsided under the covers. He considered turning on the TV, but knew there would only be infomercials and televangelists on at this hour. He settled back down into the bent mattress as best he could and willed his mind to blankness. Eventually, he drifted off into a thankfully dreamless sleep.
* * *
“Well, Mr., ah...” The intern glanced down at the chart he carried, “...Mr. Black, I think we're going to kick you out of here today.”
Terry was surprised. He desperately wanted out of the hospital and to get back to the familiarity of his small home, but he didn't expect it today, or even this week. Quite apart from the fact he couldn't move properly or support his weight standing yet, he knew he couldn't care properly for himself. Hell, if he even dropped something on the floor, there was no way he could pick it up.
“Yes, it says so, right here.” The intern tapped the chart with his pen. “Dr. Richardson will be in in a few minutes. I'll just check your vitals here. Let's get you sitting up.” The intern helped Terry into a more upright position and put the temp probe in his mouth, while slipping the blood pressure cuff on his arm. He pumped the cuff up while chatting.
“A nurse usually does this, but I'm new on this rotation so Dr. Richardson wanted me to make the rounds of all the patients on this floor so they'd see me and I'd be up to speed on their cases. Yes, that looks good.” The young doctor removed the temp probe and slid off the cuff. He made a note on the chart and snapped it shut. “Of course, I won't really need to get to know you, you're going home! How are you feeling today?”
“Oh, I'm stiff and still sore, some. It's hard to get comfortable in this bed at night, but I'm sleeping more than I was. If you're serious about me going home, I'm ready. But...”
The doctor's entrance stopped Terry's question. The intern stepped back and Richardson reached forward and shook Terry's hand. He smelled faintly of cologne and disinfectant.
“Well, are you ready to go home? Silly question, I know. EVERYone is ready to go home the minute they arrive here.” The doctor turned and smiled at the intern. “Isn't that right, Dr. Comstock?” Comstock nodded.
“Doctor Richardson, I really have to say that I wonder if I can...” Once again Terry's question was stopped.
“Now, don't worry. I've been on the phone with your insurance company. Of course, they are interested in minimizing costs to whatever extent possible, and I have to agree with them that, except for personal care, there really isn't any need for you being here now. You are healing up nicely, the labs are all good, and your vitals are nice and stable. The nurses tell me the incisions look good, no heat or swelling. Let me see.” Richardson pulled down the covers and lifted Terry's gown so he could see the knee and thigh. He removed the dressing and gently touched the areas, moving the knee slightly.
“Yes, that does look good. Well, Mr. Black, you are on your way to a good recovery. Now, the insurance will be paying for a home care assistant for a few weeks or so. It will be a live-in, that's the only way I'd OK your release now. Still, it's cheaper for them than this place, I'm sure. Bathing, toileting, some light exercising, and things that need doing around your place, cooking and such, all that will be taken care of. “
The doctor peered over his glasses at Terry, having noted the raised eyebrows at the mention of toileting. “Well, I presume you don't want to have a catheter, so getting into the bathroom to pee and, um, other things, will be kind of necessary. Don't worry, the agency will be sending a male attendant.” Richardson reached over and patted Terry's good knee. “You know, you are one lucky guy. A few inches to the right, and that bar would have taken your head right off. An inch lower, and those shards of glass would have blinded you. I know the knee will likely trouble you in years to come, but the orthopedist insists you will walk normally and have nearly full range of motion.” He paused, and looked closely at Terry's face. “You're lucky Godwin was in the building that night, too. He's the one I called in to do your face while we had you on the table. He's the best plastics man I know, and he's done some nice work on your face, there.” The doctor put his hand under Terry's chin and lifted his head a bit. “Look this way... now, blink. Again. Yes. Eyelids don't droop or pull, excellent! The cuts on your cheeks have healed nicely, and you'll never see the scar in your hairline. I could have done the work, but I'm not nearly as good as he is.”
“Well, we have more patients to see.” He extended his hand again to Terry. “Take care, rest up, and don't be brave about those pain meds. Take them as needed... I mean that. You need to get as much rest as you can.” He started to move towards the door. “You've been a good patient, Mr. Black. Best of luck.” He looked at the intern. “Come on doctor, don't dawdle.”
Comstock did the opposite of dawdling, and the doctor and the intern exited, nearly bumping into the day nurse as she entered. This one was all bustle, too, as she went over Terry's meds and discharge papers with him, reminding him of the appointment with his GP and the scheduled visit at the physical therapy department in four week's time. She reattached Terry's dressing on his knee, folded back the bed clothes, and helped Terry to turn so his legs were over the edge of the bed. She eased him up and helped him over to the one chair in the room. She deftly lowered him into it.
“Now, you just sit there, Mr. Black. One of he aides will be here soon with a wheelchair.” She was about to say something else when her beeper went off. She looked at it in annoyance and hurried off, calling back over her shoulder, “Goodbye, Mr. Black. Good luck!”
Terry sat quietly, looking out the narrow window and the sunny sky and white clouds, anticipating the heady smell of fresh air he would soon enjoy. He would be heartily glad to get out the hospital. He knew the brusqueness of the nursing staff was more a reflection of their overworked schedules and heavy patient loads than a lack of caring; but it still made for an abrupt air that stifled any kind of conversation. There were two nurses in particular he would have liked to have chatted up for more detailed information on his recovery as well as just some human interaction. But literally any time the opportunity presented itself, a phone rang or a call button was pushed or a pager went off. He couldn't fault the medical aspect of his care, but the constant hustle and bustle left him always vaguely on edge. He would be glad to get home. He thought about his small home, the changes he had made to the vintage house, the pleasure he took from having a place to call his own. He had truly missed the comfort of his own bed and his own things about him. 'I guess I really am a stick in the mud homebody,' he thought ruefully to himself.
He continued to gaze out the window, watching the ants below go about their daily business, parking cars, dropping people off, picking up relatives, walking along the street to the bus stop on the corner. A car slammed on its brakes, tires screeching, barely avoiding a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Terry reflected on how auto accidents could change lives in the blink of an eye. He sighed and shook his head, pushing the images of his own accident out of his mind and shifting his eyes to the hills in the distance. He absently rubbed the stubble on his chin. He vowed to re-grow the beard they had shaved off in the emergency room before taking him into surgery. The touched the scars around his eyes and across his forehead and cheeks. They were itching now, another sign of healing. The last of the stitches had been taken out a few days ago. He'd take Richardson's word that they would fade and not be noticed at all in time; right now, they were still an angry red.
He felt the presence behind him before he heard anything. Turning, he saw a bulky figure standing inside the doorway. Taller than the nurses, that was for sure. Broader, too. And none of the nurses had beards like this. Thick and full, golden with a touch of red in it, it framed a handsome face that was gravely studying him with gray eyes.
“Hello. Y'all were lost in thought there, and I didn't want to startle you. I'm Craig, your Home Assistant.” The blond man crossed the floor and shook Terry's hand firmly. “Y'all must be Terry.”
Terry nodded, and extended his hand. “Terry Black. Pleased to meet you.”
“Y'all ready to head out? Is that all your kit?” Terry nodded and Craig hefted the gym bag and hooked the straps across the wheelchair that sat just outside the doorway and then wheeled it into the room. With smooth movements obviously born of practice, he easily maneuvered Terry out of the chair and into the wheelchair. At 5' 11” and 210 pounds Terry wasn't exactly light, but the ease of Craig's lift and move spoke both of strength and experience.
“Feet up. Here, I'll get that one.” Craig eased Terry's bad leg up slightly and set his foot on the footrest. Terry looked around one last time, checking to see if he had forgotten anything. Reassured, he said, “Home, James.” Craig grunted slightly, but did not laugh. He rolled Terry and his possessions down the hall to the elevators and into an open car, pressed the Lobby button, and stood back as two nurses entered. The doors closed and the car descended, the nurses' professional chatter filling the car for the brief trip down. The door glided open and the nurses exited, still discussing the need for a more efficient method for accessing the narcotics cabinet. Craig pushed Terry's chair out into the light-filled lobby.
The two crossed the lobby and Craig parked Terry's chair next to the automatic doors at the entrance. “I'm just going to get the van and pull it up by the door here. I'll be right back. “
Terry sat, looking with pleasure out the windows and the bright daytime sky. He was so looking forward to getting home and sitting outside in the fresh air. The antiseptic, almost stale smell of the hospital had been getting to him more and more. In short order, Craig pulled up in a blue and white Dodge Caravan fitted with a wheelchair lift. He parked, got out, and circled around and pushed Terry to the lift.
“I can manage sitting in the front,” Terry said, making to rise.
“No. Not yet, anyway. I need to assess your abilities and limits before we try anything fancy. Stay in the chair for now.” Craig's voice was quiet, but firm. He quickly secured the safety straps and flipped the switch that raised Terry to the level of the van, unhitched him and rolled him in, and the fastened him down again. He closed the doors, raised the lift to the traveling position, and reentered the driver's side.
“Can y'all see well enough out the front? Give me directions to your place. I've got a general idea, but I'll need some specifics.” Craig piloted the van out of the parking lot and onto the main street. Terry called off directions and the van proceeded to the highway.
“Full name's Craig Ferguson, by the way,” Craig called out over his shoulder. “I'll be with y'all for at least a couple of weeks. I've been doing this for a while, so don't worry about asking for things. I'll try to anticipate your needs, but if y'all need anything done or any errands or such, just ask. The idea is for y'all to rest and get your strength and mobility back, heal up... oh, and save the insurance company the cost of a hospital room. I'm cheaper.” Craig's voice carried a note of humor and irony, though Terry couldn't see if he was smiling or not.
“You're not to try doing anything with that leg for a day or two. I'll get you up and to the bathroom and kitchen and outside; any mobility will be my responsibility. Remember that. Y'all drop something, let me get it. Y'all need to get out of bed at night, call out for me, got it?” Craig looked in the rear view mirror, eyeing Terry.
“Yes, SIR!” Terry shot off a mock salute. “And really... thanks. It's going to feel great just being home. And I promise not to sneak out and run marathons.”
“Good man.” There was a slight pause in the conversation as Craig avoided a lane changer who wasn't signaling. “Y'all have family in the area?” he asked.
“Nope. Well, none that claim me. My mom and dad both died some time ago. My bother and sister sort of... disowned me.” Terry hadn't intended to touch on family matters, but his usual caution was seconded to his elation at heading home.
“Ah... sorry about your folks. Did they live around here? Y'all local?”
Craig nodded, then realized that Craig's eyes were on the road and said, “Yes, they did. We moved here when I was 12 or so. Dad was transferred. They died less than a year apart.”
Craig tracked a motorcyclist splitting the lanes. Once he was safely ahead, he said, “Y'all mentioned 'disowned'... ?” When Terry didn't answer immediately, he added, “I didn't mean to pry. None of my business, really.”
“No, it's OK. “ He paused. “ I'm gay. My brother and sister blame me for Mom's death, say that my divorce and telling her caused her heart attack. I don't know, maybe it did. I was young, I'm sure I could have handled it better than I did. But, anyway, they have nothing to do with me now.” There was a long pause. “I hope it's not a problem for you.... my being gay, I mean.”
“Y'all mean, am I worried you're going to try to have your way with me? Hell, man, you can't walk, you can barely stand. I think I'm safe.”
Terry bristled a bit at that. “Hey. I'm not always going to be in this chair. And we're not ALL crazed sex maniacs who can't keep our hands off anything in pants. Besides, I'm... selective.”
“Oh, I'm not good enough for you?” Craig glanced up in the rear view mirror.
“Let's just say I'd go for someone with a bit more tact.” Terry bit off the last word sharply.
Both men were silent for a bit, and the temperature inside the van dropped a few degrees. Eventually, Craig spoke.
“Look, man... I'm sorry. I was trying to be funny, and y'all were being serious. I should have picked up on that. My fault and I apologize.” He paused. “And 'gay' doesn't bother me. My job is to make things easy for you so you can heal up faster. That's all.”
Terry reached forward to squeeze Craig's shoulder, then thought better of it. “It's OK, I flew off the handle there, too. I guess the hospital has made me cranky in my old age.” He leaned back in the chair. “You have family here?”
“No, I'm from Mississippi. I moved here three years ago, but before that I lived in Chicago for ten years.”
“Lost most of your accent.”
“Well, Chicago will do that to a guy.” Craig kept his eyes on the road. When he didn't offer any more information, Terry again spoke up.
“What did you do there? Ah, you want to get over, it's the next off ramp.” Terry pointed and Craig shifted over to the far right hand lane.
“I'm a physical therapist. I trained in Chicago, and worked in a clinic and then in private practice there. But California doesn't have reciprocity with Illinois so I have to re-qualify out here. I had to re-take three classes, so I got this assistant job to pay the bills while I did that.” Craig pulled to a stop at the base of the off ramp. “Which way?”
“Left for two blocks, then right. How much more do you have to go with the classes?”
Craig made the turn. “I'm finished, just need to take the exam now. That's in a month or so. The hospital's offered me a job, but I'd really like to get back into private practice.” After a bit, he swung the van to the right. “And now?”
“Three blocks, then bear right. Follow that for about three miles, it's kind of on the outskirts of town, all residential.”
Craig piloted the van through the intersection and out along the road Terry had indicated and into the quiet neighborhood where Terry's house was. Terry watched the neighborhoods pass by with pleasure.
“There. That one, on the right. The black shutters.” Terry's voice showed his excitement at finally getting home.
Craig pulled into the driveway and parked behind what he assumed was a visitor's car. He noticed a decal in the back window in the shape of a bear with horizontal colored stripes. “Looks like y'all have company.”
“No, that's mine. I asked my neighbor to put it in the garage, but I forgot she didn't have a key to the garage, just the house. She's been watching the place for me.”
Craig turned in his seat. “I thought y'all were in a auto wreck?”
“I was. I was the passenger. A truck swerved and slammed on its brakes to avoid a kid on a bike. A load of steel pipe and rebar came loose and slammed into the car. Tore off most of the top of the car. The driver died.”
“Damn. You're lu...”
“Yeah. I know. Lucky.”
Craig eyed the front steps. “Is there a side or back door without steps? That would be easier.”
“Yes,” Terry said. “Around back. Level with the drive.” He handed the house and car keys to Craig. Craig moved the car, which thankfully started right up, to the top of the driveway, and then pulled the van up as close to the back of the house as he could.
The process of off-loading Terry was a bit slower than loading him had been, since it involved Craig wheeling Terry around to the the back door and shifting the chair first this way then that to coax it through the narrow opening; but eventually everything was squared away and Terry was shifted out of the wheelchair and handed a cane. With support from Craig on one side and the cane on the other, he hobbled to his recliner. Craig watched carefully.
“Damn me, but it's great to be home!” Terry sighed, looking around. His house was a small one, built in the 1920's, a sort of pseudo-Norman style that could still be seen in a few neighborhoods in and around LA, and, more rarely, in other California cities. Terry had bought it with money he had inherited from an uncle after his divorce. The divorce had left him without a place to live or much in the way of furniture or other possessions, so he had furnished this place slowly and carefully over the years since. The initial bareness had been replaced gradually with pieces of furniture he'd carefully selected from catalogs or found in flea markets or estate sales. It exactly reflected his interests and tastes. It was compact, small, even; but that suited Terry, who had long since shed any expectation of sharing his abode. His rare guests were accommodated in the tiny second bedroom that usually served as Terry's office.
“So... Craig. How does this work? They didn't explain much at the hospital. How long before I can ditch this chair?” Craig sat on the small love seat in the little living room. Terry looked at Craig, while Craig gazed quietly back at Terry.
“Actually, it looks to me that most of what you'll need will be mobility help. From what I saw of your chart and seeing y'all move here a bit, I think we can ditch the chair today or tomorrow. But don't get too revved up. We'll have to take things slow and see how that knee and leg support weight. The leg was nasty, but it's healing well. This place is small and everything is handy. It shouldn't be too long. You comfy in the chair for a bit? I need to get my things from the van and lock it up.”
Terry nodded and Craig went out the back door to tend to the van and his luggage. He came back in with a duffle and a small case. “Where do I sleep?”
Terry said, “In there. If you push the chair in tight under the desk, the big chair opens out into a futon. There are hangers in the closet and you can use one of the filing cabinets as a night stand.”
Craig walked into the indicated room and Terry called out, “There's an empty drawer in that chest behind the door for your other stuff. Linens are in the hall closet, so are towels. Bathroom's just across.”
In a few moments, Terry could hear the duffle being unzipped and hangers moved in the closet. A few moments later, Craig stepped out and the looked at Terry with approval.
“Very nice... neat and clean and organized. Y'all should see some of the places I've been. No sense of order. How people live like that...” He shook his head.
Craig walked into the galley kitchen. “Y'all must have re-done this. It's nice. The outside looks like... what, the 30's? 20's?”
“1923, near as I have been able to determine. When I worked on the kitchen, I had all the wiring re-done and a new gas line put in. After that, I worked on it slow but steady. It took almost a year and a half, but I think it turned out well.”
“Ah... y'all did the work yourself? Even the tile? Nice!” Craig nodded approvingly and set about making lunch.
Opening the refrigerator, he said, “Good. No science experiments growing in here.”
“Yeah, my neighbor came in and cleaned out the perishables. There probably isn't much in there for lunch.”
“That's OK... I'll shop later.” Closing the freezer and opening some cupboards, Craig pulled out a couple of cans. “Chunky soup and some frozen mixed veggies, I can make a stew of sorts. Where are the spices?”
“Above the sink, to the left.”
“Got 'em.” Craig set to work and soon the small house was filled with the spicy scent of simmering stew. “You got a tray somewhere?”
“Next to the refrigerator, wooden folding ones.”
Shortly, Craig brought in two folding trays and set them up, brought out napkins and silverware, crackers, and salt and pepper. He followed with bowls filled with steaming stew and set them on the trays. “Bet it beats hospital fare. Dig in.”
The two ate in companionable silence, neither feeling the need to fill the space with conversation just yet. Later, after the dishes were cleared and the kitchen tidied, Craig made out a list with Terry's help. “Y'all be OK for a while?” Craig asked.
“Oh, sure, no problem. I'm fine, you know... just gimpy.”
“Right, then. I'll use that Von's we passed driving here, if that's OK? And there's a RiteAid next to it, I need to pick up a couple of things for your dressings and turn in the prescriptions. I'll be back in about an hour or so.” Craig set the portable phone by Terry and wrote his cell number on a post it and put it by the phone. “Call me if y'all think of anything for the list. Oh, and which key for the garage? I'll put your car in and lock it up for now.” Terry told him, and he waved and set off.
Terry leaned back in the chair and thought about the events of the past few hours. Craig seemed nice, but was really quiet, almost reserved. He had not really talked much in the van except to acknowledge Terry's directions. They had not talked much during lunch, and that was OK; but Terry thought, or rather, expected that Craig would talk more either about himself or about Terry's injuries and prognosis. He had done neither, but instead had confined himself to comments about the house. He certainly seemed competent, and the slow, soft quality in his now almost absent drawl was restful after the hurry and bustle of the hospital staff. Maybe he was one who took his time about opening up. That was OK, too. Terry let himself doze a while.