Kyle came back from class at around five, figuring that Jordan’s father had already shown up and discovered what his kid was up to. That meant he had already won his bet. Kirsten and Jordan would probably never see each other again, much less continue their relationship.
The common room of the suite was empty, so Kyle knocked on Jordan’s door. He couldn’t stand the suspense of not knowing what had happened. Jordan yelled at him to go away, but Kyle opened the door anyway.
Kyle had been prepared for Jordan to be upset, but he was still surprised by what he saw. Jordan was lying on his back in his bed, staring blankly at the ceiling, his brown eyes rimmed with red, his face pale and damp. He was gripping his covers with his hands and Kyle noticed the dark purple bruises on his wrists, but he suspected that had happened before Mr. Grant had arrived. Jordan had on a pair of sweatpants and his legs lay on the covers, his feet knocking against each other. His wheelchair was in easy reach by the bed as usual.
Jordan rolled his head in Kyle’s direction, “What the fuck do you want, Daniels?”
“Wow, you really look like shit,” Kyle commented.
“Thanks, you fucking cocksucker,” Jordan replied. He turned away from Kyle and continued staring up at the ceiling. “Why don’t you get the fuck out? Haven’t you destroyed my life enough?”
Clearly, Jordan had figured out that his father’s surprise appearance was Kyle’s doing. “I guess your dad was pretty pissed, huh?”
“Yeah, you think?” Jordan rolled his eyes. “He caught me in bed with his niece. I don’t know the way things are where you’re from, but that’s not okay in my family. He said if I ever see her again, we’re both cut off. That’s it.”
“Well, what did you expect?”
“I didn’t expect to see him at my fucking door!” Jordan snapped. He propped himself up on his elbows to get a better view of Kyle. His legs shifted involuntarily when he moved his upper body. “Why did you do it, Kyle? Why couldn’t you just leave us alone?”
“She was the one who goaded me,” Kyle reminded him.
A few tears escaped from Jordan’s bloodshot eyes. He wiped them away quickly. “Isn’t it enough I can’t fucking walk? Did you have to take the only goddamn thing I care about?”
“Look, I’m sorry,” Kyle said quietly. He didn’t see a seat in the room so he sat down in Jordan’s wheelchair. “But I think this is for the best.”
“Don’t sit in my fucking chair!” Jordan snapped.
Kyle stood up quickly. “I don’t know what to tell you, Jordan. You and Kirsten were asking for this. You can’t keep fucking with people and expect it not to come back to bite you in the ass. You said it yourself, didn’t you?”
Jordan dropped down against the pillow and turned his head away. “Can you please just leave me alone?”
Kyle nodded. The truth was, he wasn’t sorry he had done it. He was glad Jordan was suffering a little bit. Jordan and Kirsten were not nice people and now they were finally getting what they deserved.
The only thing that bothered Kyle was that it had been so easy. He knew Kirsten would never let him win this easy.
Dr. Carol Westing looked across her desk at her newest patient that morning. She had his file on her desk and she read his name off the top: Jordan Grant. He was twenty years old—a college kid. He was also in a wheelchair, and would be for the rest of his life.
Carol had been working in pain management for over ten years now. She felt a lot of sympathy for her patients, many of whom were suffering from a chronic pain that was destroying their lives, while nobody even believed it was real. But it was always heartbreaking for her when she saw a young guy like Jordan who was in a wheelchair. She was a sucker for the kind of thing.
Carol had flipped through Jordan’s file before he showed up. He had been born with every advantage, but he was in an accident at age nine and his spinal cord was completely severed. With the head injury he had, he could have easily died, but it seemed that the brain damage was minimal. However, Jordan was left a complete paraplegic, with no movement or sensation below the waist. Carol tried to imagine what it must have been like for a nine-year-old kid to find out he would need a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Carol had read that kids adjust best to new disabilities, but she found that hard to believe. Kids desperately want to be like their peers and being in a wheelchair sets them apart immediately. No kid wants to be stared at.
Before Jordan arrived, Carol had spoken briefly to his physician back at home. The things she heard from this doctor were not positive. The doctor told her about the Grant family’s fantastic wealth and his feeling that Jordan was very spoiled by it, despite his disability. He also warned Carol that Jordan showed some drug-seeking behavior.
But as Carol eyed the boy sitting in his wheelchair in front of her, she knew she wasn’t looking at a drug addict. She also knew he was wealthy enough that he wouldn’t need to sell pain medication for extra cash. That was always a concern of hers when she met a new patient, especially a young man.
“I’m in a lot of pain,” Jordan said, in answer to Carol’s question of how she could help him. “I’m in pain all the time.”
His voice broke and Carol’s heart went out to him. “What kind of pain?” she asked him.
“Sharp pain in my back,” he answered. He leaned forward and held the area where he claimed pain. “I can’t even stay in my... my wheelchair for very long, because it just hurts so much... it hurts just to sit up...”
It was a story Carol had heard before. She knew if Jordan weren’t so wealthy, he was the sort of person who might end up on long-term disability. As it was, he’d never be able to hold a job. “Does anything make the pain better?” she asked him.
“I guess if I lie flat on my back in bed, it’s not too bad,” Jordan replied. “But I can’t just lie down all the time. I just started college and I want to... to go out. I want to be able to stay in my wheelchair for more than a couple of hours. I don’t mind being crippled... I just want it to stop hurting...”
“I’m sure we can do something for you,” Carol said sympathetically.
Jordan flashed her a grateful look. “Percocet has helped... in the past.”
A little alarm went off in Carol’s head. She didn’t like the way he had asked for the drug by name. Carol eyed Jordan’s motionless legs, positioned carefully in his footrests. He shifted in his chair, lifting his bottom completely off the seat using the strength in his arms. Carol recognized this exercise as the weight shifts paraplegics are taught to do in order to relieve pressure on their legs. He didn’t wince or look uncomfortable as he shifted his weight. She watched as he restlessly locked and unlocked the brakes on his chair. Carol was usually able to spot fakers a mile away, but she was having trouble with Jordan Grant. The way he shifted... it honestly didn’t seem like he was in pain, but it was so hard to tell because of his paralyzed legs.
In the end, her sympathy won out over her good sense. She couldn’t say no to a young guy in a wheelchair asking for pain medication. She’d rather be wrong about him than risk him wheeling out of her office with no hope of getting rid of his chronic pain. “I’ll write you a prescription for percocet,” she told him.
“Thanks,” Jordan said, offering her a weak smile.
When Jordan was first injured, he spent most of his days in terrible pain and the doctors told his parents that he would most likely have pain for the rest of his life. But as time went on, the pain gradually faded to a dull background noise. Jordan did have some back pain, but no worse than anyone else would have when they spent an entire day in a chair. The pain in his back was tolerable. The pain Kirsten had caused was not.
Jordan intermittently used his paraplegia as a ploy to get painkillers. He sat in his chair and looked pathetic for the doctor and they wrote him a script for whatever he wanted. Jordan wasn’t that interested in taking them most of the time, but Kirsten had a few friends who were. That little bottle of pills made him very popular and he had no qualms about lying to doctors to get them.
On occasion, Jordan took the pills himself. He wasn’t sure what they did for pain, but they made him feel good. Very good. After a few perks, he had a feeling that everything was right in the world. It was a great cure for depression, even better than the Paxil. The only problem was that when the perks wore off, he felt even worse than he had before, which was why he generally tried to avoid them. But right now he needed them to forget what had happened yesterday.
Jordan came back to his room after seeing Dr. Westing and immediately swallowed five of the percocet tabs. He transferred to the couch and closed his eyes, waiting for the pills to kick in. He waited for it to stop hurting.
Jordan opened his eyes and saw Kyle staring at him. Jordan didn’t feel like he wanted to punch Kyle in the nose anymore, so he figured the perks were working. “Hiya, Kyle,” Jordan said.
“Are you okay?” Kyle was frowning.
“Oh, I’m fine,” Jordan replied, grinning crookedly. Yeah, the pills were definitely working.
“Do you want to get a beer at McDougal’s?” Kyle asked. “I’ll treat this time.”
“Nah,” Jordan said. Alcohol and percocet didn’t mix and the combination was liable to kill him. He felt very pleased with himself for remembering that. “I’m just gonna chill out here.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Kyle was squinting at him now.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Leave me the fuck alone.” Jordan spoke very calmly.
There was a knock on the door and Jordan smiled pleasantly at Kyle. “Would you mind answering that? I can’t walk.”
Kyle obliged, casting suspicious glances in Jordan’s direction. Jordan saw Kirsten standing at the door and suddenly five perks weren’t enough. He wished he hadn’t left the bottle in his room.
Jordan knew Kirsten had too much power over him. He had always been fascinated by his pretty little cousin, but perhaps if he had never lost use of his legs, he might have discovered other, better things. It was easy for her to boss him around while he was in the chair. She was a beautiful young girl and he was just a guy in a wheelchair. And since his father had pulled him out of school after his accident, all his social contact during his teenage years was through Kirsten. She controlled who he met and what he did. Without her, he’d have nothing.
But there was more to it than that. Jordan always felt somewhat uncomfortable with the fact that he couldn’t feel or control half his body. Kirsten was the only one who knew the full extent of his disability, knew that he sometimes wet himself, knew that he couldn’t always get it up when he wanted to, and she had already accepted him like that. She knew him better than anyone else in the world. Maybe even better than he knew himself.
As his eyes met Kirsten’s as she walked into the room, he could see her face fill with concern. She didn’t know about the perks, but she knew something wasn’t right. “He’s been acting really weird,” Kyle said to Kirsten.
Kirsten marched straight over to Jordan and lowered her head to his level to examine his eyes. He hadn’t looked in a mirror, but he assumed his pupils were like pinpoints. He squirmed under her scrutiny. “Oh great, you got high,” she muttered. “And you didn’t even invite me to join you.”
“I didn’t expect the pleasure of your company,” Jordan said, smiling at her. “Unfortunately, I don’t think I took enough.”
“Look, snap out of it,” Kirsten ordered him. “I need to talk to you about something serious.”
“I’m snapped out of it, go ahead.”
“Really, Jordan. I need you to concentrate.”
Jordan reached out and took her hand. “I’m fine,” he insisted. He wasn’t sure if he was fine, but it had nothing to do with the perks he had taken. All he could think about was the look on Kirsten’s face when his dad bust in on them. “Really, go ahead.”
Kirsten took his other hand in hers and spoke earnestly: “I don’t want to break up with you.”
“What?” Kyle nearly choked.
Jordan just stared at her. He shook his head. “What the hell are you talking about, Kirsten? Didn’t your mom call you? We’re fucked.”
“My mom called me,” Kirsten admitted. “She told me she’d cut me off if... if it ever happened again. But you know what, I don’t think they’d do it to us. And even if they did, they’ll never catch us again.”
“Oh no?” Jordan glanced at Kyle.
“We’ve always been so careful,” Kirsten said. “We thought since we were away at college, we could be a little sloppy. But we were wrong. We just have to be more discreet.”
“You’re crazy,” Kyle spoke up. “There’s no way you’ll get away with this. It’s not that big a school... you’ll almost definitely get caught eventually.”
“We won’t get caught,” Kirsten said confidently. “And even if we do, I... I don’t care. I love you, Jordan. I want to be with you.”
Kirsten put her hand on his knee. He looked down at her hand—he wouldn’t have even known it was there if he didn’t see it. She began massaging his kneecap and he saw his penis starting to respond to her. She was the only one who knew just how to touch him below the belt. He looked back up at her. “I love you too, Kirsten.”
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Kyle said. “I think I’m going to puke.”
But neither Jordan nor Kirsten were listening to him anymore. Kirsten pushed Jordan down onto the couch and began touching him places he could feel. Kyle had no choice but to back out of the room before he saw something he didn’t want to see.
To be continued...