Disability: Spina Bifida / Genre: Erotic Romance
City by the Lake
“Well, this is nice,” Dustin said to himself. “Now I’ve got to get up early on a Saturday morning to save face. Real smooth, dickhead.”
He set his alarm clock for six and drifted to sleep. His mind kept replaying that bed over and over again. Shackles at the head and footboard. “What did she want to do with me? Have wild, kinky sex, or cut me open and sell my kidneys?” he heard himself say out loud in his dream. He pictured the redhead bombshell in leather, holding a whip and licking the handle.
“Bark for me, dog!” she said in his dream. He woke up with a start. 3 AM. Lovely. Dustin opened his laptop and watched hardcore porn, pleasuring himself until he fell back asleep.
The alarm rang sharply at six. Bleary eyed, Dustin took a shower, made coffee and scrambled eggs, and got himself dressed.
“Well, I guess I’ll have the day to kill. Meeting. Ha. I wonder what there is to do in the Windy City. Take in a movie? See the museums? The Shedd Aquarium? Whatever. Next time, come up with a better excuse, Dustin old boy.”
He put on some work attire, just in case she was crazy enough to be waiting for him at her peephole. He even played the part, grabbing a file folder which only had his orientation papers in it. He quietly walked by 212B. The disabled man didn’t possess heightened hearing, but he could swear she was there, waiting with bated breath against her door. Foolish thoughts. Ludicrous.
He went down to the parking garage. It was only beginning to lighten up on the Second City. The parking garage had an eerie, sterile look about it, with bright sodium lights and squeaky clean floors. He felt vulnerable, as if someone would jump out with a knife and mug him. Silly talk. They use guns in Chicago!
He fumbled in his pocket for the key fob to his Grand Cherokee. He entered the car and drove away from the parking garage. “Well, I didn’t get mugged at six-thirty on a Saturday morning, that’s a plus.”
Deciding to catch the sunrise over the lake, he parked near Belmont Harbor and strolled around to find a park bench. The shimmering sun rose with blinding brilliance over the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan. He’d seen many sunrises and sunsets over Floridian waters, but it still blew his mind such a vast body of water could be a freshwater lake. The drive was a short one from his apartment to the scenic lakeshore park, so it shouldn’t have surprised him when he heard a familiar voice, yet it sent shivers down his damaged spine nonetheless.
“Hell of a view, isn’t it, Dustin?” Melissa asked. She was in a different jogging outfit. Blue nylon shorts and a Guess t-shirt.
“Oh…uh…hi Melissa,” he said uncomfortably.
“Done with your meeting already?”
“Haven’t gone yet, oh…look at the time, I should probably get there soon!”
“There…isn’t a meeting, is there?”
“What? Of course there is; see? Got my folder with me and everything!”
“You saw my bedroom, didn’t you?”
“Bedroom? Uh, why…no, no I didn’t. Just your awesome living room, kitchen, and bathroom. Why, what’s in the bedroom?”
“You know what’s in the bedroom.”
“You freaked out when you saw all the bondage equipment on it, didn’t you?”
“C’mon Dustin, I can read you like yesterday’s copy of the Tribune.”
“Look, I…okay…I saw it. I freaked out. I mean, you’ve got to see my point of view. I just met you, and I see what looks like the set of a bad S&M film about to take place, and I’m afraid it’d be staring me. I mean, I’m just a gimp, if you wanted to overpower me, you probably could,” he said.
The words made Melissa tingle with excitement, but she kept her cool.
“Yeah, I suppose…that wasn’t my finest hour. I guess I read you wrong. I’ll admit, I’m kind of a kinky girl. I like to play rough sometimes, and when I first met you, I got these vibes from you that maybe you kind of liked that stuff too. I feel like a perverted fool,” she said.
“Well, nah, no you’re cool. I guess, we both acted a little foolishly,” he said.
“So, I take it you’re not going to a business meeting after all?”
“No,” he laughed, “and I even dressed the part.”
“Not too shabbily, I might add.”
“Thanks. Look, I feel bad for the ruse. Want a cup of coffee or something?”
“I’d love one. I know a little café right around the corner. It’s just a short walk, if you’re alright with that.”
“Yeah, sure. Lead the way.”
They found a kitschy little café called Emmett’s only a few blocks from where Dustin parked. Melissa ordered herself a blueberry scone and a latte, while Dustin just stuck with slightly sweetened black coffee. Melissa started to laugh.
“What’s so funny?”
“Why’s that so funny?” he asked defensively.
“Because here you are in business attire and I’m wearing exercise shorts and a sweaty t-shirt.”
“Well if anyone asks, just tell ‘em I like to look sharp when I burn calories,” he said in a deadpan voice. The fiery redhead burst out laughing. If she was worried about the café staring before, they definitely were now.
“Man, with a sense of humor like that, you must’ve been crawling with ladies back in Florida,” she said.
“Well, uh, no…not really.”
“What? Come on! Tall, dark and handsome with a killer smile, a wit sharp as a tack, and a sense of humor ready for the Second City Comedy Club? I won’t accept that answer.”
“Well, it’s the truth, accept it or not,” he said as he stirred his coffee with the little popsicle-stick stirrers common at coffee shops.
“So?” she asked.
“Why didn’t you have a dozen gorgeous women clinging on your shoulders?”
“I don’t know,” he said looking away with discomfort. “I guess, I guess it’s the disability thing. I just…I don’t see why anyone would find this body attractive.”
Melissa choked on her coffee. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah, I mean…who other than a devotee would find a disabled guy attractive?”
“Devotee?” Melissa asked innocently, yet she fully knew the term. She WAS the term. In every sense of the word.
“Yeah, I guess there are a few folks who are attracted not in spite of a person’s disability, but because of it. I don’t know. Whatever, forget I mentioned anything.”
“No, I’d like to hear more about them. Have you ever met one?”
“I doubt it, I mean yeah, I used to visit a website friendly to devs…as they like to call themselves, but that was a long time ago.”
“Oh, and did you meet any of these…devs…from that site?”
“I was supposed to, but she lived in Austria, and I lived in Florida. It wasn’t like you could…just take her out for a cup of coffee.”
“So it didn’t work out, eh?”
“Well, do you think you ever met any devs in real life?”
“I don’t know. There was this one girl in college who seemed overly curious about my leg braces. She wanted to touch them.”
“Yeah?” Melissa asked, trying to contain her eagerness.
“Yeah, and I let her. But she was weird, seemed she wanted to always watch me walk in them, show off my gimpy limp to her. It got awkward.”
“Ha ha, you poor thing.”
“Oh, don’t worry, she showed me her boobs as a reward,” he said, and quickly reddened and said “sorry, bad joke.”
“No, not at all. It sounds all so sweet. A bit different, but sweet. I doubt she meant to make you feel uncomfortable.”
“Well, whether she meant it or not, she did,” he laughed nervously.
“So I guess you’ve taken dating devs off the table for good,” Melissa surmised.
“I wouldn’t say that. I just…I guess I’m sometimes kind of guarded about my disability. See, a person walks into this café, they see us talking at the table, they can’t tell I’m disabled. Not until I get up and walk around. People see a wheelchair, they get that, they know what that is. They see a guy walking around like Quasimodo, they wonder, holy shit, is he from the limping dead?”
“Sorry, I had to laugh at that,” she said, putting her hand to her lips.
“So what’s your deal?”
“Yeah, I mean…why me? Of all the millions of people in this city, why would a pretty girl like you waste your time on a self-loathing cripple like me?”
“Who says I’m wasting my time?”
Dustin looked down again at his black coffee and then at a passing fire engine. “I mean, look, if you’re spending time with me to make me feel better about myself, or out of charity or something, that’s a waste of time.”
“I’m not that charitable, Dustin. I don’t ‘waste my time’ with any lonely disabled guy I meet. Have you ever stopped and considered maybe I like hanging out with you for you?”
“Again, I ask why?”
“Maybe because I think you’re cute. Maybe because we share the same interests. Maybe because I like the way you stare at me. Maybe because despite what you think, you actually are fucking hot…yes I said it, fucking hot, and I want to tear your clothing away with my teeth. Devotee? I like that term. Kind of sounds sexy, doesn’t it? Someone devoted to you?”
“You’re waving to a ship long since sailed away.”
“Yeah, well, mayday, mayday, mayday, turn back to port, all hands on deck, sailor.”
“I’m giving you lots of outs here. I’m giving you lots of ways to not fall for someone who would be a terrible choice for you.”
“Do you see me taking those outs? Like it or not, I like you, and I want you as my friend. If it develops into something more, I’d like that too. Right now, you’re not going to scare me away with your insecurities.”
“Fine…you can be my friend. But no bondage bed,” he warned wagging his finger. A couple, one table over looked over their shoulders at Dustin, shrugged their shoulders and continued eating.
“Ooh, a challenge, I love a challenge,” she said as giddy as a schoolgirl at a boyband concert.