Authors: Hans M Hirschi
Spanish Bay is a feel-good novel about two young men who, despite having the odds stacked against them, never give up, always see the silver lining, work hard, and are committed to their families, come what may.
Chris, a Texan native who recently moved to Carmel, rescues wheelchair-bound Neil from bullies. Neither question the love that develops between them, although their life together is not without challenges. When Chris’s parents die in a car accident, their young love faces the ultimate test. Will they be able to cope with the additional responsibility of raising Chris’s baby brother Frank, who is also confined to a wheelchair?
Spanish Bay is about love, overcoming obstacles, and finding happiness, wherever you are.
To all of us who feel we don’t fit in.
First published 2015 by Beaten Track Publishing
Copyright © 2015 Hans M Hirschi
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent publisher.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
ISBN: 978 1 910635 86 5
Cover Design by Natasha Snow:
“HEY, FREAK!” they yelled. “Do you
to wheel your sorry ass through here? Get out of the way!”
The bullies laughed and pushed Neil’s wheelchair into a wall, making him fall out. Still laughing, they walked off, leaving Neil lying on the ground.
A young man came running from the café next door and immediately bent down, holding out his arms to Neil. “Here, let me help you.”
“Thank you,” Neil said, accepting the man’s offer of assistance and fighting tears of humiliation at once again having fallen prey to Bob and his gang.
After a bit of wiggling, pushing and pulling, Neil was back in his chair, fortunately with no more than a small cut and a few bruises on his face from where it had scraped against the concrete wall before hitting the sidewalk.
“Come with me,” his rescuer suggested. “We need to clean your wound or it could get infected.” He gestured to the building.” I work right next door, at Sally’s Café.” Without waiting for Neil to respond, he turned the wheelchair around and pushed Neil to the café.
It was a beautiful morning, but most people were either at work or in school, and the café’s outdoor seating area was empty.
“Here, let me take you back to the office. We have a small medical kit there. I’m Chris, by the way.”
“Thanks,” Neil said when he could finally get a word in. “But you don’t have to do that. I’ll be fine. I’ll just go home and do it myself.”
“I can’t let you do that. I feel really bad about how they treated you. You could have a concussion or something. At least let me clean that cut. Doesn’t look bad, but you never know…” Chris smiled, and Neil’s resistance melted.
“Okay,” he agreed with a sigh. ”Just the cut.”
Chris wheeled the chair back into the office, where he gathered together antiseptic and gauze to clean the wound.
“Don’t you need to tend to the café?” Neil asked. “What if someone comes in?”
“At this time on a school day?” Chris shook his head and smiled. “No, and besides, I can hear when someone comes through the door. Okay, this is going to hurt a bit.”
He applied the gauze to Neil’s face and gently cleaned the small wound. It wasn’t deep, but there was grit in it, which he carefully removed. A small Band-Aid completed Chris’s ministrations.
“There you go, as good as new. Now, can I get you anything? A coffee maybe?”
“Thanks,” Neil said, “but I really should get to school. I’m late as it is…”
With that, he turned around and left the office, wheeling toward the front door. Chris followed him.
“Let me get that for you,” he said, walking ahead and opening the door.
The last thing Neil heard was Chris calling after him, “Come back after school, let me know you’re okay? Please?”
School was as school always was. Boring. Neil did well enough, and his teachers tried to include him in all the activities. But it was still boring. Until he turned fifteen, Neil had been just like most teens—more of a laid-back computer person than a sports geek—but then, one day, he fell down. There was no reason; his legs just gave way.
That was the first time, and from there on, the incidences happened more and more, until they became so frequent his parents took him to a doctor to get him checked out. The diagnosis had nearly crushed him. Kugelberg-Welander Syndrome, a rare muscular disease. He was lucky, the doctor said. Children with type I and II often didn’t even make it to their teens, whereas his—type III—hadn’t started until his teens. However, he would end up in a wheelchair, as the function of his legs would only deteriorate.
Three months later, the chair became a fact, as did the bullies. It was bad enough not being a jock, but the chair was like an open invitation, and Bob from his class was the worst offender. He and his basketball gang were relentless, and Neil never understood why.
Not that understanding would have made any difference. It wouldn’t have made them stop. Feces, Coke or trash in his locker, pushing his chair into walls or down staircases, stealing his backpack, throwing his lunch away—Bob pulled all the tricks, sending Neil to the nurse at least once a week and to the hospital twice. Yet Neil refused to give Bob’s name to the principal. It would only make things worse. Such was the law of bullying; a snitch pays the price, twice.
So Neil had endured it, and now the end was in sight. He was just a few short weeks from graduation, his grades were good, and his SAT scores guaranteed he had his choice of school this fall. He’d decided on a local school—a community college in neighboring Monterey—because he didn’t want to move away from his family. They had renovated the entire house for the chair, and they supported him, doing everything they could to make sure he was as independent as possible. He didn’t mind relying on his parents, but he hated the idea of moving to a college dorm, where he’d have to rely on strangers for assistance, like he had that morning with Chris.
Despite passing by Sally’s Café twice every day, and despite it being one of the favorite spots for high school kids to hang out after school, Neil had never noticed Chris before he’d come rushing to his rescue and pretty much taken over. Not that he wasn’t grateful, but Neil prided himself on his independence and didn’t like to rely on others or—worse—feel like he was indebted.
Chris was cute though, he had to admit. And very kind, but still. How come he’d never seen him before? He’d noticed an accent, and it wasn’t that big a city, although it wasn’t impossible for Chris to have only recently moved into the area. Neil was definitely curious to know more. He decided to take up Chris’s offer and go back to Sally’s after school, to check in and check him out.
When the final bell rang, Neil wheeled himself out of school and set off for Sally’s faster than ever before, but halfway there he had to stop. His heart was beating all the way up to this throat, and he was uncertain whether it was due to overexertion or a…
Crush! My god, I don’t even know if he bats for our team.
Well, there was only one way to find out. Slowly, and with a little more care and deliberation, Neil continued on his way and soon after arrived at his destination. He paused to observe the many customers now sitting outside, enjoying frozen lattes, smoothies and ice cream in the late May sunshine. Sally’s was packed, and Chris was nowhere to be seen.
Neil’s heart sank as he rolled into the café and saw Sally behind the counter.
“Neil!” she exclaimed. “Glad you’re back. Chris told me what happened this morning. Why don’t you get comfy outside, and he’ll be right with you. He’s just out back bringing in some deliveries.” She offered him the broad, warm smile that had made Sally’s famous in their town.
Neil returned outside and glanced around, spotting the one empty table in the corner of the crowded seating area. There was a “reserved” sign on the table, and one of the chairs had been removed.
Seems they’ve been expecting me.
He was surprised, because when he’d left that morning, he’d had absolutely no intention of coming back. He was embarrassed by the whole situation—the bullying, the sense of helplessness—and that Chris had witnessed his humiliation. But as the day had progressed, and he’d endured the boredom of another trigonometry class at the hands of the ever-dulling Mr. Smith and then snoozed through sixth-period English with Ms. Walker, Chris’s image just wouldn’t leave his consciousness. Heck, he’d even had to fight a boner at one time, as his thoughts drifted elsewhere. Chris had left a mark on Neil’s mind, that was for sure.
At nineteen, Neil was older than most of his classmates, but he’d lost so much time during the onset of his illness that he’d had to repeat the year. Plus, his birthday was in January.
Nineteen, and still a virgin.
Neil knew that most of his classmates were already having sex, with the exception of the weirdos and virgin pledges. To Neil’s mind, they were two sides of the same coin, and in any case he knew of at least one virgin pledge who had “been around town,” so to speak.
But not Neil, although it wasn’t a pledge that held him back, and even if he did find someone who’d take pity on him, how would they do it? In all the porn he’d seen online, sex seemed to require the use of your legs, either to stand behind your partner or to crouch on all fours. Lying flat on his stomach didn’t seem very sexy, nor did being on his back with his legs sticking in the air—especially legs that looked like toothpicks. The same thoughts and imagery that brought on his boners—and also relieved him of them—absolutely did not involve his legs. He’d never show them to anyone; he didn’t even show them to his mom anymore.