Title: Stars Fall
Author: Louis Harris
Keegan Mansfield is a loner.
A bilateral amputee athlete.
With only one goal; to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games. Every move he makes is towards this dream, and even though there are forces trying to stop him, he moves forward because there’s too much at stake. Although he has the determination and the will to succeed, he is dependent on others and there are ingredients missing from his life that he so desperately needs.
Truth, love and happiness.
When team mate Conrad Smith saves him from a violent incident, both embark on a journey of love that would lead to the truth about Keegan’s past and a happiness that will last for only a moment, and a tragedy that will bring them closer, as one, for neither can live without the other. And, just as things seemed as bad as they could get, Keegan learns an important lesson, that trust is not a game, trust is as real as day and night, as real as the wind. He learns, through tragedy, that Rio comes with the sacrifice of his dependency on others. He learns that true love thrives on togetherness.
Not many people invited Keegan out. There was the time that Patrick invited him to play ten pin bowling and the time that he and Jean went to movies at Sandton City. It was difficult for him to get around. Not having a car inhibited his movements. He would dearly love to go out more often but it was no fault of his that he did not have transport. He couldn’t afford it on his bursary. Having to rely on others for transport meant that he would have to schedule lifts to and from varsity, to and from practice, to and from competitions. It wasn’t easy. It felt as if he owed the whole world favours.
The first thing that surprised him was that Conrad opened the car door for him. Nice touch. Gentlemanly. From that moment Keegan held a new respect for him. It felt like he was being courted.
‘Hey handsome, you’re looking good. How’s the elbow?’ Conrad said.
‘I washed it properly in the bath and applied more disinfectant. Hurts a little but otherwise it’s just fine. You look different.’
‘Must be the hair.’
‘Actually, brush-cut suits you. Brings out your brown eyes. You look like an American Marine.’
‘My hairdresser was surprised when I told her I wanted a brush cut. You know what she said?’
‘She said that such a change means that something drastic had happened in my life.’
‘She said that?’
‘Yup. I told her I don’t really think the word is drastic as much as fantastic.’
‘You said that? So what did you mean?’
‘I meant you. I never once thought you and I would be friends. I think that’s fantastic.’
Keegan’s face burned from the compliment. ‘Well, that’s…that’s…thank you. The feeling is mutual,’ he said.
Conrad shut the passenger door and climbed into the driver’s side of the vehicle. ‘Your chest still hurting?’
“A little. Not much.’
‘I wish it was me that Marx beat on.’
That statement was enough to send Keegan’s mind into overdrive. Guy friends didn’t say that to each other. Well, they did, especially if there’s caring involved. And then Conrad said something even stranger.
‘It hurts me to see you in pain, bro.’
‘Believe me, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of Marx’s punches. Not cool. So where are we going? What do you have in mind?’
‘A quiet supper. Just the two of us.’
‘You don’t mind me taking you out for supper?’
‘It’s not like we’re on a date, right? I mean, we’re just two guys enjoying supper, right?’
‘Yes. On both counts. Just two guys enjoying good food. Guy bonding. Bronding. Nothing more.’ Conrad laughed at the word he had just coined.
‘Then why would you ask if I mind?’
Keegan found out very quickly why Conrad had asked him that question
The restaurant, settled in a neat suburb just off the main highway, was dressed in warmth and the smell of Italian cooking from the kitchen. Their small booth had been set with a candle lit table and a violinist played Moon River for them as they entered. Keegan smiled at the maître d’ as he invited them to be seated.
‘I’ll leave you for a few moments, Conrad,’ the maître d’ said.
‘Thank you, Simon.’
As Keegan sat down, he said, ‘You’ve been here before?’
‘My favourite restaurant would you guess?’
‘Never have guessed.’ Keegan laughed.
‘Simon is my aunt’s husband. They own this place.’
‘I guess it’s always better to have a connection in the restaurant business. This is nice, Conrad. Too nice. I can’t afford to eat in a place like this.’
‘Who said anything about paying?’
‘I can’t expect you to pay for this, bro.’
‘I asked you out. It’s on me. All I want is for you to enjoy.’
Keegan smiled at him with a softness in his eyes. An appreciation. ‘Next time it’s on me.’
‘Yup. And I don’t mind KFC.’
Both of them laughed and from that moment the evening turned into one filled with music, wine and good Italian cuisine.
Getting to know a person is always like finding a new product. That may sound beaten and clichéd but it’s true. As the evening wore on, they spoke about life and the universe, and special friends and what friendship meant to them.
‘Do you have a special lady?’ Keegan asked.
‘A special lady, you mean as in girlfriend?’
‘No. Nothing like that. I can’t afford a girl. That’s not to say that I haven’t ever had a girlfriend. I have. Didn’t turn out well at all.’
‘Sorry. I’m prying here.’
‘Not at all. We had a so-so relationship right from the start. My brother asked us to babysit for him once. That night we had sex. Embarrassing for me, but not for her apparently. I was a virgin. Had no idea what to do. I know I didn’t cum inside her. So when she told my family that she was pregnant, I almost married her. She didn’t tell me first. She ran to my mom and told her instead and before I knew it I was hauled over the coals by everyone. But my mom insisted that she be tested before I committed. Thankfully the test came back negative. I wasn’t ready for a family. Damn, at 18, who is? Anyway, we went on a last date. It was then I told her that we weren’t ready for each other. She asked why and I told her the truth.’
‘What did you tell her?’
‘I told her I had feelings for guys. I simply wanted to sleep with her to see if I could sleep with a woman.’
‘You said that? Selfish, don’t you think.’
‘No. I knew I would never marry her. But at the same time I felt as though she tried to trap me.’
‘What did she say when you told her you’re gay?’
‘She cried, she said all of her boyfriends had told her that they were gay.’
‘You’re not serious.’
‘In a way it was so funny. In another it was damned sad, but that ended our relationship. Now, what about you? Tell me about Jean.’
‘She looks after me, there’s no doubt about that. Helps me whenever she can. Transport that kind of thing.’
‘You have any special feelings for her?’
‘You mean is she my girlfriend?’
‘I could have asked if you sleep with her.’
‘I do not sleep with Jean. We don’t have that kind of relationship. It’s platonic. All platonic.’
‘Maybe from your side, but from what I’ve seen, I think she wants more than just a friendship.’
‘It’s not going to happen.’
‘And what do you think of me?’
Keegan sipped at his wine. ‘I think you’re amazing. And this….all this…is very special. You care. You’re a fine guy, Mr Smith, and I’m happy that you and I are friends.’
Conrad responded by turning away from Keegan’s gaze. The sadness in his face caught in the light.
‘Wanna tell me about what you’re thinking?’ Keegan asked.
‘I…I was kind of hoping that….I don’t know, I’m being very unreasonable…’
‘That you…that you were attracted to me in some way. I’ve watched you since you were a freshman and always been too scared to approach you. Now that we’re finally friends, I’ve gone and fucked it up.’
Keegan held his glass to his lips for a moment while Conrad’s brown eyes searched for an honest answer. Keegan had observed his directness earlier that day; he had displayed humility, subtlety and tact. Coming to Keegan’s rescue earlier required an impulsive, positive and self-confident nature. Keegan was attracted to that.
Keegan reached for Conrad’s hand and held it gently. ‘No…no… don’t think like that Conrad. I just have to discover what it is that’s stopping me from having a relationship. It’s bugged me for years.’
Conrad held his hand tighter. ‘I’m hitting on you and I don’t want to scare you and if you think I’m coming on too strong, just say so and I’ll back off. Can I be perfectly honest with you?’
‘I wouldn’t expect it any other way.’
‘I looked at you today in the locker room when I helped you fit your prosthetics, and I noticed that…’
‘What did you notice?’
‘I could have sworn you had a semi hard-on.’
A moment of silence followed.
‘I did?’ Keegan knew he had had a semi hard on. He played it coy.
‘I would like to think that I can make you feel that way again.’
‘I need time for this to register, I had no idea you felt this way about me.’
‘Then time I will give you. But, I’m not going to stop thinking about you, and I’m not going to stop touching you.’ Conrad said, his hand slid over Keegan’s gently, and when Simon approached to take their order, he didn’t remove it.
‘I think I can handle that.’ Keegan said breathlessly, his heart throbbing. The fullness of his cock wanting escape.
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