Never Too Late

by K G Follett

Never Too Late - KG Follett
Editions:Paperback: $ 9.99
ISBN: 978-1791906023
Pages: 240

As the 1970s came to a close, the mantra of “sex, drugs and rock & roll” was still being practiced with wild abandon in the younger generations.  The “baby boomers” had come into their own, and the “gay rights” movement was a decade old.  

Alan Fritz was spending these happy, care-free times with family and friends – old and new – as he pursued a burgeoning modeling career that would soon make images of him world famous.  Dean Swanson was a struggling actor in New York City, who met the love of his life at an obscure audition off-off Broadway, setting up a pairing that was destined to be a force in the New York theater scene.  Things were looking up for both men as the new decade dawned. 

But what the 1980s had in store was about to change their lives (and the lives of millions of others) drastically.  Little did they know that they were about to face trials, tribulations, and losses brought on by a mystery disease that would come to be known as HIV/AIDS.   The results of their own personal traumas with the pandemic would bring them to a brief, chance meeting, then put them on an unlikely path that would (re)unite them 30 years later. 

“Never Too Late” is a sometimes sad, sometimes funny, often heart-warming tale of a long-term survivor and a supporter, as they make their way through the AIDS crisis and eventually find each other years later in a twist of fate.  As the title suggests, you never know when love may make its way into your life, even if you think it may have passed you by – it’s never too late to find love.

 

Published:
Genres:
Tags:
Pairings: MM
Heat Level: 2
Romantic Content: 3
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: Varies During Story
Protagonist 2 Age: Varies During Story
Tropes: Coming Home, Families/Raising Kids, InstaLove / Love at First Sight, Love Can Heal / Redemption, Reunited and it Feels So Good, Second Chances
Word Count: 42430
Setting: Chicago, New York City
Languages Available: English
Excerpt:

*** PROLOGUE ***

The Meeting

 

Present Day, May:  Brooklyn, New York City

Dean Swanson looked at the address above the door on the brownstone building in front of him.  It matched the number on his phone GPS screen, but he didn’t expect to see such a well-kept neighborhood and building.  The history he knew about the man he was looking for led Dean to think he might be living in a “less desirable” location.  He climbed the steps and pushed the button under the name “Fritz - Nakemura”.

“Yes?” a voice crackled from the speaker.

“Hello.  My name is Dean Swanson.  I’ve spoken with Alan Fritz on the phone before.  I was wondering if he would have a few minutes to meet in person?”

There was a long pause, and Dean almost pushed the button again.  Just before he did, the voice came over the speaker again.

“Third floor rear.”

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With that, the door release buzzer sounded.  Dean entered the building and climbed the winding stairway to the third floor.  Once there, he knocked on the door at the far end of the short hallway.  The door opened, revealing a handsome thirty-something man of Asian descent.

“Mr. Dean?” the man asked.

“Yes.  Dean Swanson.  Is Alan Fritz here?”

“Yes,” the man replied, his voice laced with an Asian accent Dean could not quite place.  “He’s in the shower.  He told me to have you wait, and he’ll be out in a few minutes.”  The man ushered Dean to a leather sofa in the living room of the apartment.

“Are you Alan’s roommate?” Dean inquired.

“Yes.  Takumi Nakemura,” the man said, offering a handshake.  “I go by Kumi,” he added as they shook hands.

“Nice to meet you, Kumi.”

“Likewise, Mr. Dean,” Kumi replied.  “Can I get you some tea while you wait?”

“Yes, thank you.  That would be nice.”

Kumi gave Dean a slight bow before leaving the room for the kitchen.  While he waited, Dean spent a few minutes perusing the books and artifacts occupying the large book cases on either side of the fireplace.  There were books on Japanese culture, the history of Broadway, male models, and HIV treatments and the history of the AIDS crisis.  There was a large samurai sword hanging on the wall over the fireplace with Japanese artwork above it.

As he moved to the bookcase on the other side of the fireplace, he saw histories of New York City, Boston, Chicago, and other cities around the country.  Dean’s attention was grabbed by a particular book: “Historical Photo Tour of Rockford, Illinois.”  He reached up and pulled the book from the shelf, opened it, and began looking at the old photos.

“You have a particular interest in Rockford?” a voice asked from behind him.  He turned to see a tall, handsome man possibly in his mid-sixties, standing with a cane near the sofa on the other side of the room.  His lanky form was athletic in appearance, his graying hair ringed his balding head, and a closely cropped hint of a  beard and moustache gave him a very distinguished look.  Dean immediately liked what he saw.

“I have friends there,” Dean replied with a smile.  He replaced the book on the shelf and crossed the room, offering his hand to the other man.  “Dean Swanson.  You must be Alan.  We spoke on the phone.”

“Alan Fritz,” the man answered, taking Dean’s hand to shake.  “Pleased to meet you.  Have a seat.”  Alan gestured towards the sofa, and both men sat, just as Kumi returned carrying a tray with two mugs of tea.

“Thanks, Kumi.  I see you two have met,” Alan observed.

“Yes,” Dean responded, nodding towards the other man.  “I take it you’re responsible for some of the beautiful Japanese artwork in here, Kumi?”

“Yes.  It comes from my family’s collections.”  He sat the tray on the coffee table.  “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some work to do on my computer.”  He gave a polite bow and exited the room.

“Kumi was a student of mine years ago when I was teaching tennis.  We hit it off and we’ve remained friends.”  Alan sipped his tea.  “This being New York, of course, when he ended up needing to find a new apartment a while back, we decided to share.”

“He seems like a very nice guy,” Dean observed.

“He is.  So, tell me why you are here.  In our phone conversation, you told me you needed to speak to me about my family back home.  Has something happened I need to know about?”

Dean took a deep breath and sighed, his lanky body heaving in the process.  “Actually, the person I’m here to talk to you about is a family member you have maybe never met.  And until fairly recently, he was not aware of you or the importance of you in his life.”  Dean took a sip of tea to moisten his nervous throat.

Alan looked at Dean warily.  “I’m not sure where you’re going with this.”

“I’m here about your son, Chase.”

COLLAPSE

About the Author

K G (Ken) Follett has lived in Rockford, Illinois for over thirty years.  Born in the Chicago area, he moved to Rockford after growing up in the suburbs and exurbs.  He graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1980, with a BS degree in business/marketing, and worked in the banking and marketing fields for over fifteen years.  After his move to “the Forest City”, he obtained his ADN from Rock Valley College in 1997, and began working as a Registered Nurse.  He now lives with and is happily married to his partner of nearly twenty years, Brent Cabrera.

Follett started writing the short story about a gay man named Brad Kelly the mid-1990s as an “escape” during a difficult time in his life.  (He had been told in school that he had a good “conversational” writing style, but never attempted anything beyond his school assignments.)  During the Clinton years, with the AIDS crisis still out of control, the term “family” was being hijacked by various socio-political groups to be used to “morally” bash LGBTQ and other alternative family structures.  Follett felt compelled to write something positive about being LGBTQ in modern “middle” America, and his original short story began to grow.  Hence the concept of A Different Kind of Family as a novel was born.

However, as the new millennium dawned, Follett put the story aside due to positive changes in his life.  The story lay forgotten for nearly two decades, until he rediscovered the unfinished manuscript in a file cabinet in his basement in early 2017.  Inspired by the ever-increasing numbers of gay romance novels he had been reading, and by numerous gay feature and short films he had watched on the internet, Follett decided to revisit Brad Kelly’s life in earnest.  He revamped his original concept and completed the book, publishing it that September.

Shortly thereafter, he realized he had grown attached to a number of peripheral characters in the novel, and he launched The Bears’ Den series of books devoted to them (Frankie & Josh:  The Faces of Love, Jacob Makes Three, and Transformations).  After publishing the third The Bear’s Den book in the spring of 2018, Follett revisited his original story.  He found that his characters still had more to tell about themselves.  Hence, A Different Kind of Family: The Trilogy was born, delving more deeply into the lives of Brad and his “family”.  He split the original novel in to three free-standing books, each covering a different “era” of Brad Kelly’s life.

More recently, Follett has been spreading his literary wings, with an historical fiction novel reviewing the early AIDS crisis of the 1980s and its effects on those who lived through it and those who are long-term survivors (Never Too Late).  His most recent publication was his first exploration of the Science Fiction genre with a gay twist.  It explores artificial intelligence and human emotions as well as time travel (Ganymede:  Time for Love).  His current project, Hello Again, is a gay romance novel with a bit of a paranormal twist.

In his books the author’s attempts to reclaim the terms “family” and “love” to be used legitimately for any kind of family structure in today’s society.  He also hopes to shed light on how LGBTQ life has improved over the past five decades, what challenges the LGBTQ community still faces, and what could be lost if we do not remain vigilant in these tumultuous times.


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