Bobby Simpson’s physiotherapy conference is cancelled at the last minute, so he’s forced to travel home earlier than expected. Being blind, Bobby requires passenger assistance at Leeds railway station in order to change trains. When this doesn’t arrive, Bobby sets off on his own, only to be told by someone on another platform that he’s about to fall onto the tracks.
Phil “Beasty” Beeston is about to catch his train when he sees a blind man near the edge of the platform opposite. He calls out, tells the man to stay where he is, and goes to the man’s rescue.
They both miss their train and Phil suggests going for a pint till the next train is due. As they drink, they talk. Phil tells Bobby he’s a builder and plays amateur rugby league for the Longton Lightning. He also confesses he’s ugly, which partially explains his nickname.
Bobby is more concerned with what a person is like on the inside, and what he’s learning about Phil, he likes. Phil’s work-acquired muscles don’t harm either. As he enjoys helping people, Bobby agrees to become the Lightning’s unpaid physio. The job has the added benefit of being able to interact with the hot if emotionally damaged Phil, both professionally and personally.
Phil’s life starts to turn around. He gets a promotion at work and his rugby playing improves. He puts this down to Bobby’s confidence in him. If only Phil had confidence in himself.
Can Phil’s and Bobby’s relationship continue to grow, or will it all come crashing down when Phil’s ugly past is revealed?
The man smelt of sweat, but it was clean, fresh, and Bobby liked it. He also liked the man’s voice. He had a local accent, but it was tinged with something else -- Midlands, maybe? His voice was deep, masculine, and had a slight roughness to it. Was the man a smoker? Bobby couldn’t smell tobacco on him. Bobby’s limited assessment of the man was interrupted when said man let out a sharp hiss and faltered.
Bobby squeezed the man’s elbow. “You okay?”
“Sorry, I’ve got a limp.”
“A limp what?” Bobby shot back immediately.
The man paused for a second then laughed loudly, the noise echoing around the station. “That’s a good ‘un.’”
“Old physiotherapist’s joke.” Bobby smiled. “Name’s Bobby by the way.”
“Phil. But most people call me Beasty.” Before Bobby could ask why, Phil said, “We’re coming up to the top of a flight of stairs. You okay with stairs?”
Bobby nodded. “Fine. Just show me where the hand rail is and I’m good.” He let go of Phil’s elbow and Phil guided his hand to the rail. Using his cane in front of him, Bobby started to descend. He could hear Phil struggling behind him, so slowed his speed. “If you don’t mind me asking, what happened? To cause your limp I mean.”
“Slipped on a wet patch in the changing room after a rugby match the other week.” In a change of subject that momentarily confused Bobby, Phil added, “You’re coming up to a flat spot in a sec.”
Bobby detected the hand rail levelling out. He also felt ahead with his cane. “Yeah, got it.” To pre-empt Phil’s likely next comment, he added, “I’ll be able to tell when the stairs start again.”
“I’m impressed.” Phil stopped on the landing. “Shit, mate, I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to sound patronising or owt. You’re probably rolling your eyes at me from behind them dark glasses.”
Bobby laughed, stopped, turned around, and raised his glasses. “No eyes.” He tapped his left eye with a fingernail. “They’re both plastic.”
Bobby resumed walking. “Sorry, probably shouldn’t have done that, grosses some people out.”
“Nah, mate, I think it’s fascinating.”
Bobby had had to have both eyes removed as a baby due to eye cancer. He had no memory of being able to see.
When he reached the bottom of the stairs, Bobby waited for Phil to catch up.
“Wanna go for a pint or something before our next train?”
“Uh, sure. And I’m buying,” Bobby insisted. “It’s ‘cause of me you missed it.”
“Okay, but you don’t have to.”
“I do.” Bobby found Phil’s arm and they resumed walking.
“There’s a Wetherspoons just outside the station. It’ll be air conditioned in there.”
“Sounds perfect.” Bobby sighed and Phil chuckled.