At first I thought it that all so rarefied combination of super human physicality, talent and heart. This was the man that had run the Big C straight outta his body for Chrissakes, practically by sheer force of will alone (along with a cocktail regimen of death defying... drugs)! He stared The Grim Reaper flush in the eye with that steeled hawkeye glare, and emerged intact, talent undiminished. What he set out to do, he did- and neither man nor nature could intervene. It's what we of mortal means dream of in any field of endeavor, in any enterprise or human undertaking large or small.
And then the rumors began. Petty little people with their petty little ways- jealous and envious of his success and determination. Better they tend to their own sorry lives. Lance wanted no part of these leeches and liars, and neither did I.
The malignant rumors persisted however. No matter- Lance kept focused, jealousies and innuendo would have to wait. He would remain steadfast, and so would I. Life had taught me that contrary to logic, where there's smoke, there wasn't always fire. I had witnessed how fickle human beings can turn on those they love, encourage and admire. The most common of human failings.
I don't know when I started to doubt, or if there was any one single occurrence that precipitated it. I suppose having the doctor most renowned for doping on his team didn't help. Or the fact that seemingly loyal friends, team members and coworkers were being tossed aside in a constant procession like so many discarded, roadside cups of water. It was an overwhelming confluence of factors that slowly started to point the way from superhuman... to more than all too human.
Somehow my loyal love and devotion transformed into a perverse curiosity and admiration. This man truly had no peers, neither in talent nor guile. He was perpetrating one of the biggest international con games worth hundreds of millions right in open public. And all but the losers were drinking the kool aid. Exalted in his blatant non chalance, he reveled in his success, all the while looking the public straight in the eye- challenging them like any mountain underfoot his ever advancing front wheel. Arrogant, self assured, ever the winner! To this day, to this very practiced apology, I remain- very much amazed... (and soon @ a theater near you...)