Paul and Mary 

Part 2

by bobby.laurel

During the month I met Mary in the zoo I had two more trips with my strong glasses on. I saw a very old castle and a National natural monument. Well, nothing special, you know, but I enjoyed both trips because they made me possible to spend some time with my strong glasses on..

I thought about Mary. I gave her my phone number in the zoo before we said each other good-bye, but she did not call me. I waited, I hoped she would call, because the atmosphere of our meeting in the zoo seemed to me very friendly. Then, at my second "glasses trip" I realized that people who are confined in wheelchair may think in a rather different way. Life is not easy for disabled people. Many of them are often quiet and withdrawn. She did not seem to be withdrawn when I met her, but one cannot make any conclusions after the first meeting. During my second trip I started to think that I would not see her again. 

The first weekend of the following month I decided to go to the eastern part of my country again. I went there not to look for Mary, but to visit a music festival instead. It is a classic music festival held every year. I like classic music. Classic music helps me relax. I drove from my townl to the little eastern town with my minus eighteen glasses on. When I got there I changed my glasses. I felt like wearing glasses that slightly distort my vision. It is a kind of thrill to look at the world through glasses with a lot of cylindrical diopters. So I left my plus contacts in and put on my second pair of strong glasses that have minus 14 spherical diopters and minus 4 cylindrical diopters. It makes minus eighteen, but the image is slightly distorted. Straight lines are not straight when I look through them. The world looks as if you were looking through a special set of lenses photographers use to shoot panoramic pictures. Sometimes I really enjoy the distortion.

So I put the glasses on and went to the center of the town to buy a ticket. I got a ticket for a seat at the end of a row. I was not happy about it, because it is better to sit in the acoustic center, but there were not many tickets left, so I did not complain. As the first concert I wanted to visit was to begin in the afternoon, I had time to have some lunch. The young waitress stared at my glasses when I was ordering my meal. I knew she had probably never seen anybody with so strong lenses. These are the moments I like. You see, it is a part of the game to be seen in the strong glasses, to know the people, who look at me, think 'Oh, his glasses are so strong!' 

I ate my lunch, drank a glass of good beer, and went out to have a cigarette. The old square was quiet and sun was shining brightly. I sat down on a bench, lit my cigarette, closed my eyes and thought I would have a nice weekend. The weather was fine. I was looking forward to listen to the beautiful music. I was enjoying the weight of my strong glasses sitting on my nose. Life is great if you know how to spend your leisure time.

What I did not expect was the velvet alto voice I could hear before I finished my first cigarette.

"Hi, Paul."

I opened my eyes, moved my head the direction from which the voice came, and saw - Mary. Yes, the mysterious Mary I met in the zoo park three weeks before, was sitting in her wheelchair just one meter far from me. If anybody walked by the bench I would have heard some footfalls. The whole square was a pedestrian zone and as there were very few people, the place was very quiet. But I could not hear the tires of Mary's wheelchair. She rolled close to me without being noticed. I could hardly believe my eyes. The girl I had been thinking about for four weeks and who I thought I would never see again was suddenly there, just beside me, smiling.

She had white blouse, white jacket and a very narrow long white skirt. On her feet were very fashionable light blue slip-on shoes. She had very fashionable sunglasses on. She was sitting in the same wheelchair I had seen in the zoo. The first thought of mine was it was just a dream. My second thought in my mind was she was going to visit the festival. Wow! Fantastic! I felt euphoric. 

"What are you ding here?" she asked.

"Oh, I ... I", I could barely answer, "I came to visit the Festival of Bedrich Smetana."

"Me too." She smiled and moved the wheelchair. "Have you bought tickets?"

"Yes, I have," I said looking at her fragile figure. There were no wide belts fixing her legs to the wheelchair. I had no idea why. If she needed to have her legs tightly fixed in the zoo, why didn't she have them this time? The belts seemed to accentuate her disability, but when I saw her in her white clothes she looked very fragile and delicate. Seeing her, I had to think about white blossoms. The only disturbing feature was her cloves. Mary had thick cloves on her hands. I could not remember if she had them in the zoo. Now, they looked rather inappropriate. They contrasted with her fashionable clothes, because they were made of a thick black material. I realized they were to help her push her wheelchair and keep her hands clean.

She asked something, but I did not hear her, because my mind was full of emotions and thoughts about the beautiful young lady in font of me.

"Pardon?"

"I am asking you for the fourth time, what concerts you are going to visit today," said Mary.

I looked at her.

"Ehm, this afternoon concert and the evening one too."

"Ah," she said, "You seemed to be thinking about something else. You did not hear me at all."

"Oh, sorry, I am rather confused, because I hoped you would call me, and when you did not call I thought I would not see you any more. And suddenly ... "

"And suddenly I am here." She finished my sentence.

"Oh .... yes." I was still rather perplexed. My hormones were boiling. I realized how happy I was to see her again. I realized I found her very sexy. Simply said I was not ready to feel that a young girl, however beautiful, confined into a wheelchair, could seem to me to be so sexy. I was blushing.

There is a way, how to overcome embarrassment: You have to express what makes you embarrassed. So, I told her she looked fantastic in her clothes. She thanked and rolled to the other side of my bench, probably because the sun was shining too brightly into her face. Suddenly, I felt like pushing her wheelchair, so I suggested that we could go having a cup of coffee. Mary smiled as if she expected me saying that. I looked at the restaurant where I had had my lunch, but Mary shook her head and pointing the other direction, said: "That one."

"Which one?"

"There, on the other side on the square."

"Is it better than...?" I asked.

She smiled again and said simply: "No, but that one is wheelchair accessible."

Oh, I blushed again. How stupid I was, I forgot those three stairs! What an idiot I am, I thought.

Mary unlocked the wheelchair, pushed the wheels; and, as the square was on a slight slope, she was rolling pretty fast. I did not know if she wanted me to push her, but as she was rolling so easily and fast I thought she did not need me to do the job.

When we got into the restaurant the waitress quickly came and removed one chair at the table close to the bar. Mary rolled to the place, locked the wheels, and put her cloves off. Her nails were silver. I noticed her hands did not look strong. They were gentle and smooth instead. How nice, I thought. I like women with fine hands. Mary changed her shades and put on the tin rimless glasses I had seen in the zoo. They were so thin I could not tell if there were any diopters at all. The glasses did suite her. They were probably a fashion accessory rather than an optic aid for her.

We ordered two cups of Vienna coffee with thick cream and talked about the festival. I found out she had visited the recent two festivals. We kept talking and a the relaxing atmosphere I remebered from the zoo was there again. Again, I had the feeling as if I knew her for a long time. We ordered an ice-cream sundae and hazelnuts; we smoked, talked, and laughed. I decided I would ask her for her phone number later. I did not want to make the mistake I made in the zoo and leave the town without the phone number of that mysterious beautiful young woman.

Then it was time to go to the castle where our concert took place. Outside the restaurant I pushed her wheelchair. This way we got to the castle. The building was wheelchair accessible but we had to go to the side of the large building to enter it through a side door. So, no pulling upstairs today. 

The music was fantastic. At one moment, when the orchestra played the final part of Vltava symphony, Mary was holding my hand. I felt energy flowing from her to me. It was a very intense moment, very physical. I was sure I would have her phone number before I have leave the town.

When leaving the concert hall Mary rolled along the corridor and stopped at the staircase. She looked at me. 

"Shall we go this way? I asked.

"If you don't mind the hard work," answered Mary.

I took the handles, bent her wheelchair backwards and started to go down the stairs slowly. The runner was fixed to the stairs firmly, so after several steps I calmed down and looked at Mary's face. I could see the dreamy expression I had seen in the zoo for a short time. She trusted me, and she liked my care. Her eyes were closed, a gentle smile appeared on her lips. I thought I could hold her like that for ages. Suddenly the stairs seemed too short.

We had dinner before the evening concert began in the same restaurant where we were in the afternoon. When Mary had to go to the bathroom I was sitting there contemplating. I was happy and puzzled at the same time. Mary was beautiful. Mary was tender. Mary was delicate as a water lily. However there was a problem. She did not meet me in my real everyday life. She met the other Paul, the high myopic Paul. She met Paul who looked visually disabled. She met the fake person. If I wanted to start a serious relationship with her, I would have to tell her about my strong glasses soon. I never wear my strong minus glasses over plus contacts in the city where I live. If she ever visited me in my place she would find out I am not visually impaired. I did not know how I would explain my obsession with strong glasses to a normal healthy person, let alone to a disabled one. I was sure she would be offended by the fact that I pretend a kind of disability while being in perfect condition. It seemed to be very uncomfortable situation for me. I wanted Mary, I liked her, I knew I was already almost in love with her, but I could not tell her who I really was.

I felt I could not just flirt with her. One can flirt with anybody, but I thought a flirt with a disabled girl might be really harsh. Mary was nice, bright, and pretty. I wondered if girls confined in wheelchairs have any boy friends. There are not many people who have the courage to start a relationship with a disabled person. 

In fact the wheelchair was also a problem for me. I did not think about it that evening in the restaurant, but it came to my mind later. On Monday evening, when I was at home I was thinking about the life that a paraplegic has to live. I did not know anything about it. How does she move from her wheelchair into a car? How does she do it in the bathroom? Does she sit only in the wheelchair or does she also sit in a sofa when she is at home? And sex? How? Does it go the usual way? What can she feel there? Can she feel anything there? My Monday was full of questions and doubts.

Although I could have been thinking about it on Friday, while she was in the bathroom in the restaurant, my mind was busy solving the unsolvable problem with my pretended sever shortsightedness.

When Mary came back we sat and talked for a while. Then she said she felt tired and asked me to escort her to the hotel. For a moment I hoped we were staying at the same hotel. However, her hotel was near the square, while mine was three kilometers far for hers. 

In the lobby Mary said simply: "Thank you for the nice evening."

I must thank you." I complimented.

"Will I see you tomorrow?"

"Yes. I intend on visiting most of the concerts." I reassured her.

"OK. Good night."

I watched her rolling to the counter, waved her good-bye once more, and went out of the building into the dark old narrow streets. On my way to my hotel I realized I forgot to ask her for her phone number.

to be continued

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