The beginning of a new life.
|Richard Sutton sat in his wheelchair just staring in to space and doing nothing. It had been six months since he'd arrived home from rehab and so far things were not going well. Richard had been shot just over a year a go while walking back to college with his friends, as a result of the shooting he was now completely blind and also confined to a wheelchair. Although not Paralized the damage that had been done was erepable so it was not possible he'd ever be able to walk again. Richard had been shot twice, once in the eyes and once in each leg. The bullets had damaged him so badly the doctors had not been able to regain his sight or the use of his legs. Richard now depended on his mother Holly for everything and she'd given up work to take care of him and started working from home. Holly was a very successful music teacher and taught people privately from home. Richard's farther had died just before his birth from a drug overdose so it had always been just the two of them. Holly was a strong born again Christian and attended the local church on a sunday. Before his accident Richard had also been a very strong Christian however now he'd turned away from god and everything that interested him. All he did now was just sit where ever his mother wheeled him and stared in to space. He ate and drank and slept but that was all. Everything he'd been interested in was now gone and he had just become angry and bitter. His mother Holly did not know what to do with him and she felt helpless. Richard had been taught braille and even how to get around using his Cane in conjunction with his Electric Wheelchair, however he refused to use the electric chair and always insisted he was put in his manual so his mother could just wheel him around the whole time.|
a hope for richard
| sure, it was hard for holly. very hard. but she did her best. at christmas she would buy richard a new book, or a new electronic game, a new cd for his personal sterrio, something to keep him occupied. something to keep him going. at halloween, she would share candy with him, make a pumpkin, and even read him scary stories. on his birthday, he always had a cake, and he always had baloons.
but it was the rest of the time, it was the rest of the time that was hard on holly.
she had a lot of things going through her head when it came to richard. what would he do with his life?. who would look after him when she couldn't do it anymore. how was richard coping mentally. she tried to not let these thoughts get in the way of her daily challenges. getting richard dressed, keeping him occupied, while trying to live life for herself, too.
1 warm day, she got a call. a rather unexpected call from a local group that specialised in activities for wheelchair users. they had centres around the country, and they were offering richard a place.
" what exactly do you do?. what activities are on offer?"
" well, we do music sessions, art, we go out for meals, we watch movies...
" watch movies?. " holly shot back. " and how, do you expect someone who is blind, like richard, to watch a movie?"
" well, i admit, i know of audio description... but we don't have it at our centres yet. we should really look in to it".
" you should," holly snapped as she hung up the phone.
she walked in to richard's room to see richard, as usual, staring off in to space. next to him was a copy of the latest steven king novel, unopened.
"are you not going to read that?" holly asked.
" i can't do this anymore, mom. i can't do this. i'm so young, and i've so much of life ahead of me. i just don't know what i'm meant to do with myself. "
holly smiled. " well," she said. " i may just have a solution. i got a phone call today, from a company called crusaders. they specialise in supporting people like you, richard. they do activities and events especially for people in wheelchairs, and i think you'd benifit. you like your music, and your art, and you even get to go out for dinner sometimes... it would get you out in to the sunshine!"
" i don't know, mom. do you think they would look after me well?. "
" i'm sure they would, richard!. let me go back and call them, see if i can get you booked in for a taster day. "
when she returned, she was all smiles.
" i did it, richard!. you're going to this centre on saturday. and this nice girl i spoke to on the phone, kelly, well... kelly's going to be your support. she'll wheel you around, and get you what you need, what do you think?"
" okay, mom. if it will make you happy. "
mom smiled. " you've always been thoughtfull of others, and that's what i like about you, richard. "
she left the room
| this was a new experience for richard, which now, when he thought about it, was not sure he was ready for.
" i've not left the house for ages," he thought. " what if i'm laughed at?. what if people at this centre hate me?".
saturday came round soon enough. holly really made an effert with richard, dressing him in his finest clothes. she had sorted out transport, the centre was coming in 1 of their special bussses with a wheelchair ramp, so that he never had to transfer. they could just take him up in the chair.
" try to have fun, richard. i know this experience is scary for you, but i'm trying my best. you don't want the rest of your life to be void, right??"
" no, mom. i'm sure i'll be fine. "
holly kissed him and sent him on his way.
kelly wheeled him up on to the bus. as she did so, she introduced herself to him.
" you must be richard. holly's told me all about you... i'm kelly, your 1 to 1 support. "
" hello kelly, what are we doing today?. "
" well, i figured we'd have a music day. play instraments, sing songs, things like that. do you like music?".
" yes, i do. i like the guitar, actually. you have any guitars?. "
" sure do," kelly said. as she did the bus began to move towards the centre.
" best go up the front with the driver, only for a little while.... i'll be back.".
now richard was alone with the other people on the bus, none of which he knew. he started to pannic.
" hi, richard!. did she say your name was richard?". a boy's voice behind him was calling his name. but he remained silent.
" hey, rich!. are you death?. i'm saying hello to you!".
richard still didn't respond. he just sat their, dreading what awaited him at the centre.
soon kelly returned and anounced that they'd be ariving soon.
" i don't like the people here," said richard. " they don't seem to understand me. especially some boy who was just talking to me!. "
kelly reached out a hand to richard. " you need to give them a chance, you've only been here a few minits. anyway, if you mean craig, pay no attention to him. he's constantly demanding attention from anyone who will listen. "
when they arived at the centre, kelly wheeled richard down the ramp, before helping some of the others.
craig, who was with another support worker, hellen, kept saying " hey, rich, rich!. talk to me rich!."
" he needs speaking too," mumbled kelly, as she wheeled richard inside.
the music session was great. richard, as promised, showed kelly his skills on the guitar, while craig demonstrated to hellen how good he was playing the piano.
" you see," kelly said, " it's not bad here, huh?. how was the music session for you, richard?. "
" i still don't like craig, " he said. " and i still don't know anyone else here. just you."
" you'll get to know people, hey, i tell you what.. when it's lunch time, i'll introduce you to some of the others."
when it was lunch time, kelly and richard didn't sit round the table with the others, they circled the centre, looking for another friendly face that richard could interact with.
" that's colin," kelly said as they passed a teenage boy eating a sandwich. " and the girl next to him talking to herself?. well, that's cathy. ".
" you see richard, you're not alone here. everyone here is in a wheelchair, because of 1 reason or another.
" are their any other blind people here?" asked richard.
" a few," said kelly. ". " mostly sighted. "
the afternoon passed slowly. the group were read a story. something about a puppy, and his adventures on the farm. boring, boring, boring!. richard thought to himself.
cathy came over to kelly at the end of the story, with her support worker leanne.
" she wants to meet richard properly," leanne stated.
" say hello to cathy, richard!." said kelly smiling.
" hi, cathy!. " cathy touched richard's chair, and started talking to herself again. something about diffrent words that began with the letter R.
" she likes you," kelly said. " don't you cathy?".
soon, it was time to go home. richard was to take the same bus, back to his house, and as before, kelly did the honours of helping him on and off.
he requested to sit next to cathy, and kelly allowed it. all the way home, the 2 teenagers held hands, and the support workers smiled.
at cathy's stop, cathy said goodbye, the first proper word she'd spoken all day, and left the bus with leanne.
richard was last off. he thanked kelly for helping him, and in turn, kelly thanked him for great company.
holly met richard at the door.
" good time?" she asked. " it sure sounds like it. i could hear you and kelly laughing from inside. "
" it was great, mom. it was great. help me inside, and i'll tell you all about it. "
kelly with tears in her eyes, helped him through the door.
" i hope to see you again, richard!. it was so much fun!. "
before she had a chance to start holly crying, she turned and headed back down the drive.
holly wants answers
| " so richard, what did you get up to at the centre?" holly asked, when kelly had left and closed the door behind her.
" it was great, mom. we did music in the morning, and then in the afternoon we were read a story. it was quite boring, the story that is, but the rest was good. kelly's so supportive. i like her, mom. "
" and did you make any other friends besides kelly?"
" yes, mom. this girl, cathy. she was so sweet. she was with her own support worker leanne. i got to sit next to her on the bus on the way home."
" and was everyone nice?".
" well, not everyone, their was this guy, craig. kept calling me names. asking me if i was death, too. being really nasty actually. but kelly told me not to pay attention to him. "
holly frowned. " i'll see what i can do about that, i'll ring the centre tomorrow and find out what happened exactly. but tell me this, would you go again?"
" of course, even if it's just to see kelly and cathy. they were so lovely. "
as holly wheeled him back to his room, she knew she had done a good job. she knew that it was good for both of them in the long run. richard was experiencing life, while holly was getting some time alone, to do stuff, to see her friends, to go out, etc. things were coming together nicely for the both of them. now, if only things could stay that way, she thought.
now, back in his room, richard had time to reflect on the day. he had forgotten how good it was to get out, to do stuff. to have fun.
holly, meanwhile, was in the kitchen doing some paper work of her own. while richard had been at the group, holly had some time to catch up on some of her own work, and she wanted to finnish it before the night was over.
tomorrow, it was firework night. holly wanted to do something special for richard, and though he couldn't see the fireworks, she thought about buying him some things to make the night extra special for him. but, she wouldn't tell him what. that, would be a surprise.
that was also the main reason she wanted to get her own paperwork finnished, to spend time with her son.
the next morning, was november the 5th. firework night. as promised, the first thing holly did that morning was ring the centre.
" i know it's not such a big issue," she said when the phone was answered. " but my son, richard. he told me about craig, he told me about how annoying he was, and he clearly got annoyed by him. "
" and," asked a rather angry voice. " what do you want us to do about it?. "
" i'd apreciate it if he stayed away from my son. you know, it's hard for richard, and i'm proud of him for going. but if you're going to let people like craig...."
" lady, " said the voice at the other end of the line, " we can't do anything about it. people can be nice, people can be nasty, get over yourself. "
the line went dead...
| holly sighed. she felt hopeless. after the conversation with the centre, she wondered what really went on behind closed doors, whether kelly really looked after richard, and whether richard was really enjoying it, or if he was putting on a brave face for his mom.
"can't dwell on it now. " she thought. "firework night to get ready. "
she rose from her chair in the kitchen to prepare the evening.
she had lots of party food, a few fireworks, and some bangers- you just simply throw them on the floor and they go, "bang!."
holly had decided she wouldn't invite anyone round, mainly because richard had told her that he wanted it just to be him and his mom, and holly thought that was a good idea, seeing as she never really spent much time with him lately.
the night was a success. holly wheeled richard out to the back garden where she'd lit a bonfire and was about to set off the fireworks.
" wait their, richard. i'm going to set off the fireworks...." she stopped, remembering the box of bangers. "here. you can throw these about while i'm doing the fireworks. "
richard sat their, in the cold night air as holly lit the first firework, a rocket.
it was loud, and almost scared the both of them as it went off.
richard seemed to apreciate it, though he couldn't see the firework itself, time with his mom meant a lot. and it wasn't just that, this was a proper display. holly had always been the sort of person who treated him the same as any other child. so what if he couldn't see the fireworks, she thought, i don't want him to think he's diffrent. that's why i'm doing this.
as the night went on, various other fireworks went off. kathrin wheels, fountains, roman candles, the works.
richard made the night even more entertaining, as when it was quiet he'd throw 1 of the things holly had given him on to the floor, making a banging sound- which perhaps wasn't the biggist sound in the world, but it was still exciting for him.
then it was time for food and hot chocolate. richard had some sausage rolls, some pizza, some crisps, some burgers, and lots of hot chocolate.
" very nice, mom. " he said when it had all finnished. "thank you for such a wonderful evening. "
holly grinned. " i knew you'd like it, richard. i'm so glad i could spend time with you as well. "
" yes, richard?. ".
" i love you. "
holly hugged her son, then wheeled him to his room, and tucked him in to bed.
tomorrow would be another day at the centre, and no one knew what would be in store.
cathy's pet rabbit
| when kelly came to collect him for the centre the following morning, she was all excited
"richard!. how are you!. it's so good to see you!."
"hi kelly," said richard. " guess what?. yesterday, my mom did a firework display for me and we had rockets, and fountains, and loads of bangs!. I even had food like sausages and crisps."
" oh that sounds really good," said kelly. "I'm glad you did that. I spent my firework night at a local park, they had a display with funfair rides and stalls!".
richard thought about this before replying
" what's a fun fair?" he asked
" it's a place with lots of fun seats, that move up and down and round and round" said holly, who was actually amazed that richard had never been to a fun fair before.
" come on," she aded, " our bus awaits!."
on the bus, richard asked to sit next to cathy.
" sorry richard," said kelly. " you can't sit next to cathy this morning. her and her mommy are coming in the car. cathy's bringing her pet rabbit to the centre, and her mommy is going to tell us all about rabbits. that is today's activity!"
" oh wow," said richard. " a rabbit. I used to own a rabbit when I was smaller, our mom braught us one".
"so you know what they are like," said cathy smiling. "i'm sure cathy and her mommy will let you stroke him.".
" hey rich!. do you love your mommy?. does she give you kisses?".
craig was shouting from the back of the bus
" richie why can't your mommy come on the bus and give you a cuddle."
his support worker hellen, turned to craig and spoke to him quietly
"kelly supports richard, just like I support you.".
she aded, " richard is grown up. he does not need mommy with him on the bus."
inside the centre kelly got everyone to draw pictures of rabbits to show to cathy and her mom when they arived
presently they did,, and they walked in with the fluffy rabbit.
craig decided that now would be a good idea to cause a sceen
" but I want to stroke a pussy cat!, or a doggy!, I don't want to stroke a boring old rabbit. rabbits are lame."
" you don't have to stroke the rabbit," hellen said to him. " but I bet other people want to stroke the rabbit, and that's why cathy braught him in."
" right, quiet everyone, " said kelly. " if we're all ready, then i'd like you all to meet carot the bunny rabbit!."
"I want to stroke a fucking puppy." said craig as loud as he can. " you hear me?. a puppy!. you know what I mean?. a puppy?. it goes woof woof!".
" well," said kelly calmly, " we don't have a puppy, but we do have a rabbit, and you are welcome to stroke the rabbit.".
" fuck off." shouted craig. " I want to stroke a fucking puppy."
hellen looked shocked and had no idea what to say to craig.
meanwhile, cathy was grinning, as her and her mother angela passed the rabbit around of people to stroke him.
everyone who stroked the rabbit gave an " awww!", or " he's lovely!", some even asked if they could take it home for the weekend
when it got round to richard, kelly helped him sstroke him gently, and even feed him a carot.
"awwww!" said richard. " what a lovely rabbit!".
" he is nice," kelly said grinning
soon, it was craig's turn to hold the rabbit
angela and cathy aproached craig, and started to explain about the rabbit, and the best way to stroke him.
" do you want to feed him a carot?" asked angela.
" fuck no. " said craig. " I want to stroke a fucking puppy."
" now now craig," said angela, " everyone's stroked the rabbit and enjoyed it. what about 1 little hold."
"puppy, bitch!" screamed craig. " puppy!."
at the sound of craig's loud outburst, cathy burst in to tears, and angela ended up having to give the rabbit to hellen so she could comfort her daughter.
all the while craig was screaming and cursing about wanting a puppy.
" right," kelly said, trying to move things forward, " I think everyone who wanted to stroke the rabbit has had a go, so now angela is going to tell you a bit about rabbits. isn't that right, angela."
angela didn't respond, and when kelly turned round she could see why
craig had hit angela in the face, because he couldn't stroke a puppy. now he had his hand around angela's kneck and he was squeezing really hard.
"craig!", said hellen in shock. she reached up and took craig's arm away from angela.
no sooner had she done that, than a couple of things happened
craig, still not having his own way, made his hand in to a fist and punched hellen in the face
angela, who was trying to get her breath back, suddenly felt ill, and was sick all over the floor
the rabbit which hellen had been holding escaped, and was now wondering around the centre.
" you know," said kelly, " i'm not really sure that angela's going to be able to tell you all about rabbits, she looks a bit worse for wear."
kelly walked over to angela, to tell her that it was okay for her to go home if she wanted, and they would bring cathy back later in the bus.
but angela had fallen, and she was down.
she was breathing really weakly, and he was pale
" if their's a death at our centre," kelly roard, " we'll be closed down."
she kneeled over angela and spoke quietly to herself.
" you can't do this, angela. you need to come out of this."
kelly moved angela in to the recovery posision, and watched as her eyes opened, then closed, then opened again.
"guys?", said kelly, "you know, I think we're going to close early. today's been um, interesting."
kelly was particularly worried that hellen, craig's support worker, seemed to do very little to help the situation
at that moment, to kelly's relief, angela sat up and rubbed her eyes.
" are you okay, angela?" kelly asked her, a look of concern in her eyes.
" no," said angela. " I feel really sick."
" okay, you go to the hospital if you need to. cathy can..."
"come home with me," said angela. " i'm sure i'll be fine, it's not like i'm dying".
as she struggled to her feet, everyone else got up too
cathy, who was in tears, bearly knew what was going on
| "but," said holly, " your centre is a joke. you hear me?. a joke."
holly was in the kitchen with kelly having coffee.
richard had filled holly in on the day's events, and holly had exploded
now she was talking to kelly, trying to get answers.
" so you currently run the centre?" holly asked.
"well, yes, I do," said kelly, " I am in charge of the entertainment and the food, and everything."
"right, " said holly. " you can't get audio description for the movies, you can't control the situation today with the rabbit, can I ask, what's richard eaten since he's been at the centre?. you've fed him, right?.".
" um... sure, a few sandwiches," she said.
"that's really going to fill him up," said holly. " anyway, you never told me. how's angela?."
"I don't know," said kelly. " we left her to make her own way back. she was sure she could manage."
"she has a daughter, and a rabbit to take care of. are you sure she..."
kelly interupted, " she said she could handle it, so we trust her."
holly thought for a while, then turned the subject to craig.
" so what about craig," she said. " are you planning to do anything about him?."
"craig does what he does, it's natural." said kelly
" it may be what he does," said holly, " but his support worker, what, hellen I think you said her name was?, should be doing more to control him."
" oh I agree," said kelly. " today she just sat their."
"well can't you step in?. if hellen's not doing what she's meant to do, find him a new support worker, support him yourself. send him to a more specialised centre."
"I'm not in charge of craig," kelly simply said. "I am the manager of the centre, not craig."
"and be watching everyone, and making sure that everyone is behaving, and that everyone as manager," snapped holly, " you should be belongs at the centre."
" hellen's craig's support, I can't say anything more on that" said kelly
holly scowled. " you really don't know how to run a centre do you?."
"I have to go now," said kelly. "the centre's still covered in rabbit shit, and someone has to clear it up, and that person..." she paused so she could sigh, " that person is me."
"unreal," thought holly as she showed kelly to the door and let her out
after kelly had gone, holly went in to see richard.
"i've been thinking," said holly, "you don't have to go to this centre if you don't want to. mommy can look after you if that's what you'd prefer."
richard simply said, " but i'd miss cathy"
"but if you had cathy's phone number," said holly, " then what?."
"I like kelly too," said richard. " and it gets me out the house. I love livingl ife again. I want to continue going to the centre, honestly I do."
"I don't know," said holly. "I mean, well, it's just not what I hoped it would be."
with that, she walked out and closed the door gently
A new break threw with Richard.
| The day after the rabbit incident Richard surprised his mother when she got him up and dressed the next morning.
"Mum I want to go in my electric chair today and go to the park with you if that's ok? I want to practice the root I learned to see how I get on."
Holly was hoping for this and had hoped for a long time now that Richard might discover the confidence to have a try at going out in his electric chair. Dressing quickly in Jeans and a warm jumper she Got Richard into his electric wheelchair and handed him his cane. Richard left the house successfully navigating the wheelchair ramp without any assistance. He then turned on his Treker Breze and programmed it to take him to the park, Richard managed to successfully complete the root without any mistakes and as the journey continued the more confident he became. When they got to the park Holly then directed Richard as the Breze GPS would not work well there. They went to there favourite bench they'd always sat on when coming here before Richard had his accident.
"Richard, what made you want to try this today Richard and get your other chair?"
"Going to the centre mum, it's made me realise that I could still have a life and that maybe it's time I explored the possibilities that life has for me now. I would like to talk to you about maybe trying to see if I can start getting my computer set up again and trying to use that accessibility stuff."
Holly smiled, although she had her doubts about the centre she was glad it had finally made Richard start to take stock of his life and realise that there were still possibilities for him. She knew Kelly was not a bad woman but she wanted to make sure that Richard would be ok when he went there in the future. She wondered weather maybe going as Richards support herself might help the centre and Kelly manage things better. Maybe she would suggest it and she knew Richard would like her there.
| "quack quack, quack quack" came a noise
" look richard," she said. " the ducks are happy and swimming about in their pond."
" can I feed the ducks?" asked richard.
holly was just about to say yes, when she spotted 2 human figures standing by the duck pond.
one was an adult woman with a scowl on her face.
the other was a man. he was picking up stones, and throwing them at the ducks.
" hang on a minit," said holly, and she got up from the bench and made her way over to where stones were being thrown.
" what do you think you're doing?" she asked sternly. " don't you know that what you are doing hurts the ducks?"
" don't care" came the man's reply, and he thrrew another massive stone at the ducks.
" who are you?" asked the woman standing next to him.
" holly" said holly. " and you are?"
" I'm brenda," said brenda. " and this is my son craig"
" my sos richard" said holly. " he goes to that centre down the road."
" craig goes their too" said brenda. " he's been going for quite some time."
at the mention of richard, craig stopped throwing stones at the ducks, and screamed.
" richard!. richard?. are you with your mommy?. you're mommy is by the pond, richard!"
richard shuddered. he knew that voice anywhere.
he knew it was the voice of craig
" holly?" richard called towards the pond. " holly?"
" I'm coming" said holly, she quickly waved to brenda and went to join her son.
" what's wrong richard?" she asked when she reached his side.
richard simply said, " craig."
" craig!" screamed craig. " you've learned how to say my name!"
and with that, he picked up 4 huge stones (2 in each hand), and through them at richard
" craig!" screamed brenda. " what are you doing?"
she rushed over to holly and asked, " is richard okay?. I am so sorry about my son. "
" he'll be fine," said holly. " I'm not sure he expected to see craig. from what i've been hearing they don't get on."
"OW!" screamed richard. " Ow!"
one of the stones had hit richard's eye and he was rubbing it
" don't rub it richard, it won't get better that way" said holly. " we can find something at home to make it better, come on, let's go home."
" oh don't leave on our account," said brenda. " I'll take craig for an icecream, then you can have the park to yourself."
" actually" said holly, " we did come for a lovely day out, that would be lovely."
" come on craig" shouted brenda. " Icecream."
craig came towards brenda, carrying with him 2 more stones.
and when hee got in range, through them both in richards direction.
the stones sailed through the air, eventually hitting holly in the back of the head.
" holly!" gasped brenda. " I am soooo sorry!".
"it's okay" said holly rubbing her head. " hyst... take him, and try to keep him under control. he is your son."
after they had gone, holly turned to richard.
" you were saying about the computer?" she asked.
richard smiled. " I'd love to start using my computer" he said. " I'd love to play some games online, or find some people online in my situation."
" yeah, but...." holly hesitated, " I don't know anything about this accessibility software, I really don't. we'd have to talk to someone who didd."
the afternoon past.
holly gave richard some bred, and richard did his best to throw the bread to the ducks.
craig and brenda didn't come back, and holly was greatful
she also wondered though
what did brenda think of the centre, and did she share holly's concerns?