Big Daddy

Alberto shivered from the cold. Pulling the bulky plaid covers over his head, he wasn’t supposed to be sleeping in a stranger’s bed.

He’d broken into the abandoned house and hoped to stay until he got on his feet.

Anything was better than being kicked out of his parents’ home for being gay or roaming the streets in the cold, looking for shelter.

Having no one to remove the shards of shattered glass lodged in his hand, Alberto had to get used to being alone. Not even his best friend was around to help.

It was times like these that the young man wished he had someone special in his life.

Fat chance. His last attempt at a relationship was a nightmare.

He’d bandaged his cut hand the best he could, hoping it wouldn’t get infected.

The teenage boy’s bedroom he’d broken into for the night was full of sports memorabilia, action figurines, and even a picture frame of him and his family.

Must have been great having loving parents.

Whatever. He didn’t need them. Alberto had made it this long without their help. Just him and his best friend.

Yet still, barely out of his teens himself, Alberto wished for better times.

He never should have came out of the closet, then he’d be celebrating the holidays with them instead.

The black eye his father had given him was evidence of that. He couldn’t believe his mother had done nothing but clutch the cross around her neck.

Hypocrites. Nothing said Christianity like beating up then abandoning your first born son for being gay.

Just get through the night. If there was a God, He’d work things out.

Wind howled through the hole in the window, flicking wet snow in Alberto’s face. He didn’t have much money, but he’d leave enough to cover repairs.

Must have been three o’clock in the morning before Alberto finally fell asleep. The troubles that weighed on his mind would have to wait until dawn.

A bright light from under the bedroom door woke him.  Rays stretched across the scuffed wood floor and shaggy green carpet.

Someone was home.

Alberto gasped. He had to escape. But how? The only way out was the window; sure to creak loud enough to alert whoever was out there.

Heavy footsteps paced up and down the hallway, inching closer. Close enough to make Alberto’s heart stop.

Water rushed out from the bathroom faucet. Then the door slammed shut.  

Now was his chance.

Where the hell were his shoes? Alberto had slept in his denims and jacket, but there was no time to look.

 

Alberto shivered from the cold. It was so cold, he’d slept in his shirt and denims. He couldn’t turn the heat on or it might alert someone he was there. What was worse, the paper he’d taped to block out where he’d punched a hole through the window was soaked and flapped in the freezing wind.  

He’d fix the window before he left.  It would only be a couple of days that he’d stay in this home anyway, at least he hoped, until he got on his feet.  There was no other place to go after all.

He needed to catch some Z’s and he would think of what else to do. His best friend told him this would be a safe place for him to hide until he figured things out, but what he really need now more than anything was a true friend. Someone to tell him everything would be all right. Someone to hold him and let him pour his heart out to. Someone who would love him unconditionally.

Alberto’s eyes were heavy and he’d just closed them, when something made them shoot open. What was that noise?

Alberto shot straight up out of bed. He held his breath as he looked for an exit. Nothing.  No way he could go out the door. If he went out the window, it’d only creak and alert whoever was out there that he was hiding inside. There was no place to go under the bed either and the closet was too small.

He was fucked.

Something or someone stomped closer. Heavy footsteps echoed outside the bedroom door.

The shadow of a man’s boots loomed under the door crack. Alberto exhaled quietly so he wouldn’t be hurt, turning his body so he could put on his shoes, but there was no time. He’d have to get out the window and run around without them.

Alberto crawled on the bed, over to the window and tried to unlock it. Shit, it was stuck. He pushed it up with his thumbs, as the pacing in front of the door increased. Then, the footsteps stopped.

Now was his chance.

Cracking the bedroom window open, the rush of wailing wind filled the room. Loose papers spiraled, knick knacks shifted around.

The alarm clock fell down with an indisputable clang.

Footsteps came closer, pounding harder, faster toward him.  Alberto lifted himself up, diving head-first into the snow as the door opened.

There wasn’t time to close the window, whoever it was would look out and Alberto pressed his body against the side of the building, tucking his legs and fit close to his body so as not to be seen.

He held his breath. His teeth chattered in the colder and he warmed his arms by rubbing them briskly. He could feel the large man’s presence above him, looking out the window.

“Shit,” the man said, his hot breath floating in the air. There were no tracks and even if there were, the wind was so wild, he wouldn’t be able to see them.

God, Alberto’s bare feet were painfully cold.

The window shut with a loud boom, making Alberto’s heart leap out of his throat. He caught his breath, ducking down below the window sill and crawling in the snow along the side of the building, the ice cold melted snow soaked through his denims.  He rounded the corner as his heart raced.

If he could get around to the front, he could make a dash for it, but as Alberto rose looking each way for a clear path, a rifle clutched in his face.

“Now, I’m only going to say this once,” the gritty baritone voice said. “Move and you’re dead.” An oversized pitbull and boxer mutt growled at him; his deadly barks shaking Alberto to his core.

 

2

 

Big Daddy

 

Punk kids always caused problems around here. He’d worked too hard for this house to lose it from some delinquent. Even covered in the snow like it was now, the ranch-style home positioned on top of the hill had caught the eye of burglars before.

Jake, Sr. lowered his rifle. It was fucking cold out here, what the hell was he doing with barely any clothes on? He was young, in his early 20s, about his son’s age, in fact. He was scrawny and couldn’t hurt a fly.

No shoes, walking around in the snow with barely anything on.  The younger man was harmless but not very bright. What was he thinking? The evergreen trees that surrounded the home vibrated and swayed in the heavy wind.

“What do you want?”  Jake, Sr. asked, keeping the rifle pointed at his face and speaking over the howling wind. His rifle only had bullet blanks in it. Usually, the sight of a rifle alone was enough to scare off any riff-raff. His dog, Gringo barked in agreement lunging toward the kid but Jake, Sr. pulled him back by the chain. “Enough, Gringo.” Had to admire the dog’s loyalty, something so rare today.

The young man’s eyes widened with fear.  His hands rose straight up as if he were being robbed. His teeth chattered as he said, “Please, don’t shoot me. I swear to God. I didn’t mean anything by it.”  His voice quivered in the cold.

He had dark hair and light skin, pink full lips and light brown eyes. Good-looking kid that was for sure. Probably had never done anything like this before.

Jake, Sr. almost felt sorry for him, but he wasn’t about to let his soft heart stop him from getting to the bottom of this.

“You like breaking into people’s homes?”  he said, narrowing his eyes. The young man could barely speak. He didn’t have anything to defend himself even if he was a robber. Probably some runaway, or some stupid kid who wanted to play a prank. Jake, Sr. would get to the bottom of it if he scared him enough. “Well?”

The dog growled again. “Gringo, go home.” The dog growled in protest, but rushed past the boy, brushing against his leg hard enough that he almost knocked him off balance as he ran through the doggy door inside.

The poor kid shivered in the cold, his clothes soaked to the bone. The young man stammered as he said,”No, sir, I don’t I just -“

The older man took the rifle in one hand and grabbed the kid by the collar with the other hand.They stomped through the ankle-high snow past what was left of the front yard garden.

The young man almost stumbled as Jake senior practically dragged In toward the front of the door. “What are you going to do?”  he asked,  as Jake senior kneed the front door open and pulled him inside.  

He did it for his own good. It was freezing outside and he wasn’t about to let him go not before you found out what was going on. He practically tossed the young man into the dining room chair as he took his jacket off and tossed it on the floor. The dog barked.

“What’d I say, Gringo? Go to your room.” The dog obeyed running down the hall and out of his hair. Such a hard headed dog with a mind of his own. The young man’s eyes widened with fear. Maybe he wasn’t a dog person. The older man couldn’t blame him, Gringo did look deadlier than he was, but in truth, he was all bark and no bite.

Jake Sr., sighed, catching his breath as he kicked the door shut with a boom. “What am I going to do? Call the cops, of course,”  he said, and he should have done it right then and there, but something stopped him.  

Jake, Sr. shut the door closed, as the young man’s searched for an exit. He locked the door just in case. His heavy boots pounded toward him, stopping in front of the young man, crossing his arms. He nodded at him as if wanting some type of response.

He swallowed hard, his pale-colored cheeks blushing in a rosey red.  Jake, Sr. wanted to light a cigarette, but had been trying to quit. “What’s your name?”

” Alberto, but please, sir I swear. I won’t do it again, just please don’t -” Alberto said, leaning forward. His eyes locked with Jake, Sr.’s, in desperation.

Jake senior chuckled and shook his head taking off his flannel jacket and draping it over one of the chairs. “Fuck yeah, you won’t do it again.”

The young man looked at him as if anxious to see what he would do next. He swallowed hard his little Adam’s apple jumping up and down as he did. something about him made the older man want to protect him. Alberto shivered in the cold and Jake senior was reminded of the soaked clothes he wore.

Alberto coughed. Shit. That was the last thing he needed, someone sick he’d be responsible for. “You trying to catch pneumonia?”

Alberto cleared his throat. “No, sir, I-“

Jake, Sr. ran his fingers through his soaked head, shaking off some of the remaining snow. He shook his head at Alberto and said, “Punk kids think you can just break into any-“

But Alberto interrupted him. “No, sir. I’ve never …”  

The older man narrowed his eyes. He didn’t like being interrupted. Young kids today didn’t have any respect and they needed to learn it. if he taught his son anything it was to respect those that were older than him. Truth was, he had his children at an early age and was more like an older brother then a father to them but they still took him seriously.

He pulled the chair back and sat in it, unlacing his boots but keeping an eye on Alberto at the same time. “You’re lucky I don’t have a hot finger. Most people around here shoot first and ask questions later.”

Alberto bowed his head as if he were ashamed at what he did. It was almost endearing. “Yes, sir. I … I just … saw your house was was empty and … I just need a place to stay just for a couple of days.”

Jake, Sr. paused before answering, studying him and as if to see whether he was telling the truth. Everything in his gut told him he was just a young man, a good kid the found himself in a little bit of trouble.  He arched his eyebrow. “Couple of days?”

The young man’s nostrils flared not in anger, but almost as if he were trying to hold back his tears. “If you don’t call the cops, I’ll do whatever you want. Promise.”

Whatever you want? Jake Sr. imagination stirred at the words. He shouldn’t let his imagination go there. He was about the same age as his son. God, he had to get laid and soon and get his mind out of the gutter. And yet still …

The young man shivered again, looking incredibly vulnerable and Jake, Sr. couldn’t deny that his cock swelled at the thought of it.

He leaned back, locking his eyes on Alberto. “Take off your clothes.”

Alberto’s voice went up an octave. “What?”

Jake, Sr. leaned forward resting his arms on his thick muscular thighs. He lowered his voice. “I said, ‘off.’ Take your clothes off.”

 TO PURCHASE THE FULL LENGTH NOVEL, CLICK HERE

Case of the Strawberry Stabbing

As she paced back and forth in the entrance hall of her modest home, cracking her fingers every couple of minutes as the nerves grew, Beatrice was slowly coming to terms with the unarguable fact that she had been stood up. Hung out to dry. Kicked to the curb like last night’s trash. What was meant to be a romantic dinner for two had very quickly become a sobering meal for one.

Beatrice still couldn’t believe it. Sure, she should have believed it. And as she glanced at the large grandfather clock for what must have been the fiftieth time, she should have told herself that it was time to face reality And if her past was any indication of how tonight was going to go down, then this latest event couldn’t have been more par for the course. But, despite the mounting evidence, Beatrice was still having a hard time coming to grips with the situation.

What annoyed her the most was the time wasted. She had spent the entire day preparing for her date tonight. And of all that needless preparation, there was one aspect in particular that held her attention the most. She licked the end of her thumb as she lamented on this fact; still able to taste the chocolate coconut frosting that had been on it earlier. As she did so, she tallied in her head all the work and personal preparation that went into what was supposed to be a magical evening.

The triple layered dessert that she had made for tonight wasn’t just an ordinary cake, but a thing of beauty. It had taken her hours to prepare too. Beatrice was so excited about this date, that she even used her secret family recipe; a form of pulling out all the stops that was sure to have her date impressed and most likely guarantee a return.  

The cake had a meticulously created fluffy and light texture; so much so that it was like eating a cloud. And this was perfectly balanced with a thick and creamy center that ensured the cake melted in both your mouth and your heart. Beatrice considered herself a semi-professional baker, and through this objective lens, even she had to say that this cake was her best yet.

Well, it was her non-date’s loss. Really, wasn’t it? She tried to use this reasoning to explain away the sinking feeling in her stomach at being stood up. Although she told herself that it was a waste of time and a perfectly good dessert that had her so upset, the truth was that she was also a little heartbroken.

The sophisticated woman checked the grandfather clock again, and as she did, she caught her reflection in the glass. At sixty-years-of-age, Beatrice was what you would call a refined beauty. With short cut hair that was beginning to border on silver, and a few more wrinkles than she liked to admit, Beatrice hadn’t quite hit her twilight years yet; she could feel them coming.

She nervously pushed at her outfit, a flowery white Sunday dress with a yellow knitted sweater. As she did, she made the mental note that from now on she was going to start dressing a little younger. She may be getting a bit older, but that didn’t mean she had to put it on display.

The clock hand suddenly ticked over, chiming the coming of a new hour. It was now official; her date was exactly two hours late.

Giving up entirely now, Beatrice shook her head at herself as she slowly made her way over to the dining room, where the table had been pre-set. It was quite the setting too if Beatrice was modest. Sparkly bright silverware flanked both sides of the good china she had decided to use for the evening. And these little pieces were topped off by the crystal vases that she had placed in the center of the table. Was it a little over the top for a first date? Maybe. But Beatrice didn’t care. She was old fashioned that way and was doing everything she could to impress. It had been that long since her last romantic encounter that she wasn’t going to leave anything to chance.

And it wasn’t that she was unattractive. As stated, she may have been in her sixties, but she was a refined beauty from an era where beauty was a natural commodity, not something that was injected or paid for like the ladies of today. In her hay-day, Beatrice could have gone toe to toe with any of the young harlots that today’s men considered ‘beautiful.’

No, the reason for Beatrice’s obsessive singleness was purely circumstance. It’s just with trying to run her home catering business while also trying not to lose her bakery at the same time, her mind and time had been elsewhere. Dating was more often than not, the last thing on her mind.

And this was a shame too because if her best friends were to be believed, she had had more than one opportunity to capitalize on not being single of which she had missed due to her lack of interest. While working with her at the cafe, her friends often commented about how younger men still looked her up and down as she walked by. And if one of them was to be believed, they even tried flirting with her a few times too.  But she wasn’t interested; she was holding out for someone special; like tonight’s discarded date.

His name was David, and she had met him at the local neighborhood market of all places. He was about her age, early sixties, but held himself like he was twenty years younger. It was his height that caught her eye at first. At over six feet tall, he stood out from the majority of men in the area like a sore thumb.  

Then, when she was finally able to get closer, Beatrice remembered how she had to stop herself from gasping. It was his eyes that did that to her. A piercing shade of blue that constantly sparkled; giving him a dazzling, movie star effect that he was very aware of. Pair this with the charm he possessed in spades and the elegant way that he dressed, and David was a man to be desired by most and had by only a few. To use an old expression, David was the cat’s meow.

It was funny that at the exact moment this expression crossed her mind, she heard a soft scratching at the kitchen window. Sighing to herself, and with her hands still full of unused silverware, Beatrice hurried from the dining room into the kitchen where the other male in her life waited for her. Sure enough, as she entered the tiny kitchen, he was sitting there, staring at her like she was late to her party. Sylvester, the cat.

Sylvester sat on the other side of the closed kitchen window, pawing at the glass as he demanded to be let inside. Unable to stop herself from smiling, Beatrice hurried over and let him in. At least there was one reliable male who would always turn up when food was on offer. As soon as the window was open, Sylvester darted inside, offering an appreciative purr as he did.

Sylvester was a stray. He had made himself known to Beatrice a little over a year ago, and since then he had officially adopted her house as his own. This was most likely because Beatrice had gotten into the habit of feeding him every day – even buying cat food now when she went down to the shops. Her best friend, Stella, had warned her the first time he turned up not to feed him, that this would only make him come back. But Beatrice just couldn’t help it. She always had a soft spot for the needy, and this cat fell into that category like no other.

Sylvester was half Siamese and half goodness-knows-what-else. The reason for the confusion was that the poor thing looked like someone had run him through the blender for a significant portion of his life. With an ear missing, scars on his body and large missing patches of fur, it’s a wonder that he had survived on his own for so long. He looked considerably better now of course, but some scars can be healed, even with time.

And besides, Beatrice couldn’t be happier that she had started to feed him. Since then Sylvester had become the extra bit of company that she didn’t even realize she needed. When she was home alone cooking, or reading, it was nice to have someone else to talk to. Even if he didn’t always talk back.

“Guess it’s just us tonight,” said Beatrice, picking up the blue-brown eyed cat. When he first started coming around, Sylvester wouldn’t come within ten feet of Beatrice. He was more than happy to eat her food and drink her water, but physical contact was a big no-no. But over time, like a choreographed dance, he slowly but steadily came closer and closer. Until finally, she could pick him up without fear of reprisal.

With him in hand, she fetched David’s portion of the lasagne. The lasagne was almost as good as the cake, truth be told. Four layers of cheese, meat sauce, and white cream made this a lasagne that was probably a little too good for a cat to appreciate fully. But then again, as she served the cold dish up to Sylvester, she decided that it was too good for David too. He didn’t deserve her cooking anyway. In fact, she knew that he didn’t. The pasta sauce that she used for the lasagne was so good that she’d thought about adding it to the menu at her bakery as a side-dish.

As Sylvester dug into the meal, Beatrice leaned back on the kitchen bench, perfectly content to watch her little friend feast. But as she did, she suddenly became aware of how very empty the house was. The silence was so great; it was deafening. It was only broken by the light slurping from the cat and the ticking of the grandfather clock in the adjoining room. Beatrice had lived alone for a while now, but tonight above all, served to remind her of just how lonely she had become.

She’d be lying to herself if she hadn’t admitted she was looking forward to tonight. She’d even gone to the salon yesterday, just to make sure that she looked her very best, which was something that Beatrice never did. It was just that she was so looking forward to the change in company from her two friends. Someone her age that she could talk to, laugh with and maybe, just maybe, share some chemistry with.

And she was so sure that this was going to be David.

She met him by the fresh vegetable section at the local market where he’d whipped up their conversation in the first place. He started by making some clever observations about what she was buying; indicating that he was both well read and a good cook. He then launched into a conversation about his travels all around the world, the famous people he’d met and the adventures that he had been on. He wowed her with his stories and seduced her with his charm.

This kind of bravado and self-congratulations didn’t usually work on Beatrice, and a few of the stories were so over-the-top that she wasn’t sure she believed them all. But she didn’t care. He was so dashing that he could have spoken about darn near anything and she was sure it would have captured her imagination. And on top of all that, the fact that it was her that he was speaking to…well that was the icing on the proverbial three layer cake.

It was probably because of that, and before she knew it, Beatrice had invited David over to her home for dinner and a drink. She almost cursed herself out loud the moment the words had left her mouth. It was something she’d never really done, and she was sure that he would say no. I mean, why wouldn’t he? He was David after all. But to her surprise and delight, he flashed her that charming smile touched her on the arm and agreed. He couldn’t have looked more genuine.

She had planned to cook the debonair gentleman her very best that evening. And she even told him so, making sure to emphasize that her cooking was something worth coming over for on its own. He wasn’t exactly modest, so why should she be? Anyway, he winked at her and said he couldn’t wait. It made her heart flutter, and her knees shake. A feeling that she hadn’t experienced in years.

And now, sitting alone, she was beginning to remember why she hadn’t experienced it in so long. Or better yet, why she had guarded herself against it. It had been so long that she had forgotten that with love and romance, comes heartache and pain.

Sylvester, finished with his meal, gave off another long purr as he made his way to Beatrice, stretching out under her hand as he readied himself to be petted. It was nice being needed like that…and it was sad that it was only a cat that needed it.  

In her heart of hearts, Beatrice knew that to be so guarded was ridiculous and foolish. She couldn’t wish to be with someone while at the same time being against putting herself out there. Because at the end of the day she did want to meet someone. No one would ever replace her husband, but that wasn’t the point. She had a hole that needed to be filled. It would be nice to have someone she could have good conversation with, eat and share food with, and someone who could make her laugh. Why was that so hard?

She closed her eyes, inhaling the sweet and tangy scent of the lasagne, the aroma still wafting through the air even hours after it was cooked. That was how she knew it was good when the smell hung around long after the body had passed. At least that was what her husband used to say. She took another long whiff, relishing the smell of Italian herbs blending with tomato and cheese. It was a dish that always reminded her of her husband, as it was his favorite.

She felt a stab of pain, as she realized that she had made the dish for another man. A man that didn’t even show. A betrayal of the worst kind.

“Well, Arthur,” she said, speaking to her deceased husband. This was a pretty common occurrence by now and something that she always did whenever she was alone and found herself thinking of him. “You said to move on, to find someone who would love me. Not sure that’s going to happen. Not like you loved me,” she said with a chuckle. She laughed mostly to keep herself from tearing up. She was much too strong for that. Tears were used by the weak to get sympathy, was something that she used to say. Well, that was before she lost her love. Now she was starting to see their usefulness.

As Sylvester started to paw her at her hand, demanding more of her attention, she decided that it was time to kick the little freeloader out and maybe call it a night. She had nothing else to do and may as well. At least that was a way to stop herself from becoming depressed. But, as she tried to shoo him out the window, he became uncharacteristically clingy. It was as if he too were having a bad day and just needed someone to be around; to remind themselves that they weren’t alone.  

In the end, Beatrice’s heart gave way, and she decided to let him stay inside for the evening. “Just tonight,” she said to him. But heck, the rate that the two were going, she wouldn’t be surprised if she was never able to get him out. And she also wasn’t sure if she wanted to.

Sighing, she picked Sylvester up and carried him into the living room. As she did, she thought on where she had gone wrong. Heck, where the two of them had gone wrong. She was at a loss to decide who had it worse, her or the cat?

What it came down to was how busy she always was. Nowadays, when she wasn’t running her catering business or trying to keep her bakery afloat with her girlfriends, Beatrice kept herself busy volunteering at the local animal shelter. There were also the rare occasions her daughter decided to drop by, the very rare occasions.

Still sitting on the couch, Sylvester calmly sleeping on her lap, Beatrice decided that she’d guzzle the glass of red wine in front of her. And maybe another after that. It was an expensive wine after all, and she couldn’t let it go to waste. If David weren’t going to enjoy with her then maybe she would just drink away her problems for the evening. She deserved that much, at the very least.

She sat in silence for several moments, slowly drinking the oaky red, enjoying the way it made her taste buds dance and her head swirl. It wasn’t a big glass, but Beatrice had never been a heavy drinker. And as she came closer to finishing it, she found her eyelids getting heavier. Her thoughts became hazy as she slowly drifted off to sleep…

A loud whistle startled her awake, followed by a “Hey beautiful.”

Beatrice sat straight up rubbing her eyes as Sylvester flew off her lap from the sudden movement. At first, and in her groggy state, she thought it was her dead husband talking to her. She often dreamt of him, but this wasn’t a dream. This was real. It was only after several seconds, all of which comprised of Beatrice trying to snap herself back to reality, that she remembered it was Buzz, her parrot.

That darn green parrot did such a good impersonation of her dead husband that it was uncanny. When her husband had first passed, too often, she would come home to Buzz, mimicking his voice. And before she knew it she would be on the ground, swimming in a pool of her tears. It wasn’t that bad now of course, more a gentle reminder of the man she once loved so dearly.

“You just want more food,” she said with a smirk, eyeing the parrot as it sat on its perch in the corner of the room, locked away in its big metal cage. Sylvester was eyeing him too of course. Beatrice liked to imagine that they were good friends, which was the main reason she called him Sylvester in the first place.

She gradually pushed herself up from the couch and made her way toward the large bird cage where a bowl of bird seed was sitting just out of reach. Placing the bowl in the cage, Buzz eagerly pounced on the meal with gusto, guzzling the seed like he hadn’t eaten in days.

She often wondered if she should get him a partner. At least then he could have someone to chirp with and maybe even start a little parrot family. “At least someone thinks I look nice tonight.” She joked as she continued to watch him eat. “I’ll tell you one thing, Buzz, if I were twenty years younger…”

She laughed to herself as she made her way back to the dining room. The table was only half packed up, and now that she was up again she figured that she might as well finish clearing it up.

But again it wasn’t meant to be, as no sooner had she picked up one of the crystal vases that she heard her phone vibrating from the living room. Sighing to herself, she hustled back to the living room to look at the caller-ID. She wasn’t really in the mood for talking and probably wasn’t going to answer, regardless of who it was.

But the moment she saw who it was, she rolled her eyes, reaching for the phone. It was Stella of course, her best friend. She wondered whether or not she should answer it but then realized how pointless that would be. If she knew Stella, which she did, she would continue to call and call until she picked up. It was as endearing as it was annoying.

“What is it?” Beatrice spoke into the phone. She knew that some form of self-contrived drama was about to hit her from the other end. She could only imagine what it was going to be.

“Is that any way to answer the phone when your best friend calls?” said Stella, sounding a little huffy. Her voice had a way of always being high pitched and dramatic as if she were the star of a midday soap opera.

Beatrice pursed her lips, taking a seat at the dining table as she traced the lace tablecloth with her manicured fingernails— specifically done for tonight of course. “Aren’t you supposed to be wrapped around some stripper pole or something tonight?”

Her promiscuous friend groaned at Beatrice’s joke that was just a little too real to be funny. Stella wasn’t a stripper of course, but the way she lived her life she could give them a run for their money. “Funny and no. I prefer belly dancing. Anyway, you’ll never guess what I heard.”

The one good thing about Stella was that she always had the latest gossip from around the retirement community they lived in. She claimed that it came to her organically and she never sought it out. But Beatrice knew her best friend better than that. She’d even caught her one or two times spying from the bushes as she attempted to eavesdrop.

Stella only lived across the street from her so Beatrice wondered what was so important that she couldn’t just come on over. “What now? You know I don’t like gossip.” It was a lie of course. Who didn’t like a little gossip? And considering how dull Beatrice’s life had become, a little gossip lately went a long way towards entertaining her.

Her best friend gasped, taking in a huge breath as if she had the tale of the century to tell. But for Stella, every tale was a story of the century; a weekly occurrence by now that relied more on her dramatic flair than the actual event. “Well, you’ll want to hear this one.”

Beatrice sighed as she caught her reflection in the crystal vase sitting in front of her. Another day, another wrinkle. Those once blond hairs were slowly being replaced by gray ones. And that once curvaceous figure that her husband loved so much was now sagging into a sack of potatoes. Well, maybe that was a small exaggeration.  

She still did look amazing for her age, having been a model before she became a schoolteacher, but she failed to see it. It was no wonder David hadn’t shown up. Maybe he was just friendly, and she misinterpreted it as something more? Was she so desperate that she would mistake an act of friendship as a romantic engagement…

“Earth to Beatrice,” said her best friend, raising her voice to an even higher pitch. It of course worked, quickly snapping Beatrice from her trance.

Beatrice groaned as she looked away from her reflection. “Make it good and make it brief,” she said, knowing that this story was going to be anything but. She secretly wished for all the juicy details and knew that her friend wouldn’t spare any.

Stella gasped again as if she were performing for an audience. Beatrice could almost see the woman in her typical tight-fitting outfit, grasping at her pearls in mock dramatic fashion. “So … You know that new man in the neighborhood that everyone’s been talking about, David?”

Beatrice cleared her throat, suddenly very glad that this was a phone conversation and not face to face. The way that her face dropped at the mention of his name would have screamed her current downtrodden mood. She didn’t want to hear the man’s name again, let alone have him brought up in conversation. “Who? Oh, him …” She said in her most casual of tones.

She hadn’t told anyone, including her best friends, about the date. This wasn’t because she was a secretive person by nature or anything sinister like that. It was more because she didn’t want any gossip around her retirement community ruining what she had hoped would be a magical evening. And on top of that, she didn’t know if it was going to work out or not and didn’t want to jinx the night. Not that it mattered much anyway.

“Well, he’s at the church bake-off right this moment,” said Stella. Their community church had a weekly bake-off to raise money for the building fund. It seemed to Beatrice that the church was always trying to raise money for the building fund, regardless of how much they made each week. That was one of the reasons that Beatrice rarely participated anymore. She was pretty confident that the never-ending projects and the money they made lined the pockets of the pastor and his brand new porch, rather than that of the needy.

“The church bake-off, eh?” Beatrice’s blood boiled as she tried to keep her voice calm and steady. So, that’s where he was tonight? Had David completely forgotten about their date or had he purposely stood her up? If it was baked goods that he was desperate for, she could have made them for him. She was the best baker in the neighborhood after all. Although right now she would have been more inclined to shove a hot pie in his face rather than serve it up for him to eat.

“Yes, the church bake-off, working as the bake-off auctioneer and get this, he’s been flirting all night with a young blonde girl, sources tell me,” Stella confirmed, scoffing at the end as if she wouldn’t be doing the same thing, were the roles reversed.

The church always had a volunteer auctioneer to auction off the tastiest of dishes. As much as she hated to admit it, the role was suited to David. A man like that, with his level of charm and class, could make even the stingiest of women empty their pockets for him and ‘the cause.’

By now Beatrice had heard enough. Her mama had raised a lady, one who didn’t get tangled up in drama and the like. But she also hadn’t raised a fool, and right now that was exactly how she felt. She had one thing on her mind and one thing only. “Stella, call Sophie. I suddenly have a craving for something,” said Beatrice.  CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE ENTIRE NOVEL

I Got You

Forty-five minutes ago, he flashed his fake ID and chugged his last beer at the bar with his best friend.

Now, Jake lay face down on the dirt and gravel road with his face pummeled. The taste of his own blood seeped from his nose into his mouth.  He’d never been in more pain in his life.

They’d never find his body out here in Forest Hills, not in the middle of nowhere. Only a half an hour from Portland, Oregon, but off the beaten path where no one ever came to. Everyone thought the state was liberal, they had no idea about its dirty underbelly.

Thick with evergreen trees, too hoarded by tree huggers to be cut down, too wild to tame.  Ferns and bushes smothered the forest floor; the perfect place to hide a dead body. Even the wildlife seemed to be shocked into silence.

He rolled over to see the infinite stars glittered in the cloudless sky. Would have been breathtaking any other night. Any other night that he wasn’t bleeding from the inside.

Focus, dammit, focus.

Cold chills from the midnight air ran through Jake’s body. He couldn’t hold a thought; his mind spiraled like a never-ending twister, passing in and out of time.

Disassociated thoughts.  Something, anything. Scrambling, trying to keep his mind focused.

He should have worn a jacket and for once, he wished he’d gotten the chance to say goodbye to his dad and sister. He hadn’t seen them in years.  Maybe then there would be a chance at finding his body.

Now, Jake would never get to see his dad’s face. Never get to watch him stifle his tears of joy as he one day graduated from college, the first in the family, nor fulfill his dreams of becoming somebody. His dad would know then how much he missed out on Jake’s life by abandoning them.

That would never happen, neither would there be a family for Jake one day, not even a chance. He didn’t even get a chance at a career. Other than a few massage therapy courses, Jake had no idea what he wanted to do with his life and he’d never get a chance to figure that out.

He’d die tonight, just another growing statistic of gay bashing.

Grunts from the homophobic mob of rednecks muffled his best friend Alberto’s cries for help.  Bones cracking, bats pummeling his almost lifeless body.  He deserved so much better in his life.

Guilt burned through Jake.  He wasn’t tough enough to defend Alberto though he’d tried. Wiry and pale, Jake didn’t have a prayer of a chance against that many guys.

“You’re going to make it through this. We’re both going to live a long life,” he mumbled to himself, though that was a lie.

There was a bone-cracking sound. Had they murdered Alberto? Jake wanted to kill them, if only he had the strength.

“Alberto,” Jake tried to scream out, but his throat was too dry, too strained, too coated with the dust he sucked in, his strength nearly depleted.

“Faggot,” he heard the men say.  Faggot, that word stung and clung to him like a bad stench, an ugly reminder of why they’d kept being gay a secret for so long.

Now, the world would know; if they ever found his remains, spray-painted with the word Fag on it.

His stomach turned thinking about the shock and embarrassment his dad would endure, the stain to their family name.

What a fucked up night.  Jake only wanted Alberto to have a good time for his birthday.

Not anymore.

The crunching sound of the gravel gave him a sense of relief. The men piled into the back of the pickup truck, whooping and cheering like they’d just won a football game as it began to back up, leaving them for dead. Maybe there was a way out of this, a way to still help Alberto.

He twisted his neck and grimaced in pain. That’s when he saw him — the attacker was returning. The leader of the mob.

Tall and over-sized, the monster of a young man came toward him, ready to finish him off.

Something about him seemed familiar.  That voice; he’d heard it before and he remembered those emerald green eyes that glowed like a predator. The scent of Old Spice, cigarettes and beer.

Jake froze, what little blood remained in his body, drained from his pale face. The hair lifted on his arms, and the tendons of his neck strained.

He knew who the guy was.

He could see his silhouette backlit by the headlights of the rumbling, battered and mud-stained truck. The exhaust coughed and sputtered, filling his stinging nostrils with heavy pungent smog, the taste bitter.

The attacker gripped the baseball bat in his hand, ready to take another shot at Jake’s head.

Jake’s heart pounded so hard, it was deafening, ready to explode.  Petrified, his eyes bulged, but his blood boiled with anger.

This motherfucker had just taken away the only somebody he ever loved, the only somebody who cared about him unconditionally.  And there was nothing he could do about it.

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

Emptiness.

Like a chunk of his heart had gone missing.  It far outweighed the physical pain he’d woken up to.

Everything that happened the other night was a nightmare.  As the tubes ran in and out of Jake’s body like an electrical grid; the rasping sound of the breathing machine next to him cranked in and out.  His heart monitor’s rhythmic never-ending beep ticked on, Jake had just one thought on his mind.

Alberto.

“Son,” his dad said, sitting by the hospital bed. “Who did this to you?”  He was Jake’s step-dad officially, but the only father Jake had ever known. He had bags under his eyes, his weathered face worn and etched in worry no matter how good he thought he was at hiding it.  It’d been so long since Jake had seen his dad, it was sad to see him age so badly. Years of stress, guilt and alcohol abuse hadn’t helped.

“I … don’t know,” Jake lied. He didn’t want to get into it.  He knew how bad his dad’s temper was and the last thing he needed was more drama.

His father sighed. He must have resented the fact that Jake wouldn’t open up to him and but his father had only himself to blame.

Part of Jake wanted to hug him after so long not having seen him, but the other part of him remained so angry with him, he just couldn’t let go.

Besides, no amount of fatherly lectures, nor meds could numb Jake from the pain he felt right now.

Water, water, why am I so thirsty? Ice cubes were not going to cut it.

“Son, please tell me. What  were you doing out there?” he asked and Jake bit his lip. “And why the hell did they spray paint that that word on you?”

“I …” Jake started to say, cringing in discomfort. He wanted to tell his father everything he’d been hiding his whole life, but he couldn’t bear what it would do to him in a small town like the one he grew up in to know his son was a homo.  He wondered sometimes if his father regretted naming him after him. Technically speaking, Jake was a junior, when he was adopted legally by him as a toddler, they changed his name, but that title brought with it a lot of burden.

“You can tell me,” his father said. “That word. Why that of all things?”

His chest tightened as he said, “I told you. I don’t know. I don’t remember. Can I just sleep?”

“Of course.” His dad forced a smile, hiding his smile as usual. His dad used to be a really handsome man.  There was a time when all the ladies used to look at him twice but now, the years of stress had worn him down. He took a giant breath of relief in. The scent of his exhale told Jake, he’d gone back to cigarettes when he swore he’d quit. “My son’s all man. I bet you got one or two of those chicks at that college of yours too. Don’t you?”

“You know me,” Jake said, conjuring up a smile.

“Son, the cops said when you’re feeling better, they have a few questions for you,” his dad said approaching closer.

Jake swallowed, they were the last people he wanted to talk to.

“Son, I promise you, when I find these guys,” his dad continued, gripping to the side of the bed like he was wringing someone’s neck. “I’m going to make them wish

“Dad Dad. Don’t worry. I’ll never see them again. It’s over,” Jake told him, hoping it was true. With his father’s heart condition, the last thing he needed was to lose him too.

“Okay, yeah … you’re right,” his dad said, tough as nails. Jake had never seen him cry before, but he could tell by the puffiness of his eyes that that’s what he’d been doing.

Jake sighed.  He really wasn’t in the mood to talk.

“You got a place to stay?” his dad asked.

“I’m fine,” Jake told him, though he had no clue where. With Alberto in the hospital, there’s no way he could sneak into his dorm room every night.

“I want you to stay with me for awhile with me and your sister Genie, ‘till you get better,” his dad told him.

“I’m cool,” Jake said.

“That wasn’t a request,” his dad said firmly.  “Genie will be by later on. She cleared out your old bedroom.”

There was no sense in arguing with his dad.  What would a few days hurt?  He took a deep breath as if to gather strength for what he really wanted to ask.

“Dad, please, tell me. Is he dead? My friend Alberto?” Jake asked, wheezing between breaths.  Even the words choked in his mouth.

His father let out a breath as if releasing the stress of the world. “Son—”

“Mr. Richards. Jake, Sr.?” the doctor interrupted as he poked his head in. “Can I see you for a moment?”

“Sure,” his dad told him. “Rest up.”

“Dad, wait!”

His dad was gone.  Jake wanted to scream out for him to return, but he didn’t have the strength. A quick glance at the warped reflection in the chrome rails that held him in and he didn’t even recognize his own face. If he didn’t have a chance for love before, this took it to a whole other level. Only one man held his heart, and now he didn’t know if Alberto was alive or dead.

“God help me!” Someone was talking in their sleep from behind the curtain next to him. Cramped and filthy, this is where the hospital stuck poor people they didn’t want to deal with.  The outburst made Jake jump until he realized what it was.

The room stank of shit and Clorox so strong the fumes made it difficult to breathe.  God only knows how long it was before the orderlies visited this room, bedpans neglected, crusty dried remains of the other patients’ meals.

If the constant paging over the hospital speakers didn’t get to him, the groans and moans from the person in the next bed would. Even the crusty remains of the flowers and half-filled helium balloons, saying ‘Get Well’ no doubt brought by his father’s church, could lift his spirits.

It’d been years since he’d seen any of the congregation. He couldn’t believe how active he used to be in the church. He still had many of their emails and had been tempted to reach out to them. But why? If they got word that he was gay, it’d only ruin his family’s reputation.

A bone-chilling draft raced through the paper-thin blankets and up the backside of his hospital gown as if to bring his mind back to where he was.

He could barely make out the muffled tones of his father and doctor speaking. His dad sounded irritated about something, but what? He couldn’t make out.

“Jake,” his dad said, racing inside catching his breath. “Alberto, he

Jake bit his lip to keep his eyes from watering. This was it: the finality of what he knew was coming. His heart monitor beeped like a hummingbird.

“Did he suffer?” Jake asked.

“Son, Alberto’s alive.”

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

“Anybody home?” Jake turned around to see his sister Genie standing at the hospital room door.  He raced over to her as quickly as his body would allow him and squeezed the life out of her.  Five years.  Had it been that long since he’d seen or heard from her?  She was just who he needed right now standing in Alberto’s room, seeing him like that.

“Look at you, still skin and bones,” she told him.

“And you, still slutty-looking as ever,” he teased.

“Right off the catwalk,” she told him, turning around to show him all her curves squeezed into a striped dress and tossed her long red mane out of her face. “Hey, you gotta use what you got.”

“Use what you got? Don’t you mean, on the street corner?” he said.

“Don’t think just cause you’re bigger I can’t still beat you up,” she said, trying to hide her smile.

He chuckled. It felt good to smile for once.  She angled so she could take a better look at Alberto and sighed.

“Shit,” she said.

“Yeah,” he said, seeing him like this was horrible to say the least. “He always asked about you.”

“So sad.  You get a hold of his mom yet?”

“Tried. No answer.” He didn’t want to get into the fact that she cut him off ever since finding out he was gay. “Dad wants me to go back with you guys for awhile,” Jake said, rolling his eyes.

He turned to Alberto as he lay unconscious in the bed. It’d taken him days to be well enough to visit and even then, he had to fight the medical staff to let him see him.

“I know … Does he know?” she asked.

“Know what?”

“About you … being gay.”

“What?” he said. He’d never told her or anyone in the family before. But he didn’t want to lie anymore either. He was tired of it. It was draining.

“What are you talking about? Who said that?” Jake said, swallowing hard as he leaned against Alberto’s bed frame to keep from falling. His sister Genie, pulled out her bottle of perfume and sprayed the hospital room.  Seeing her after all these years put a smile on his face, but he did not want to talk about this right now.

She fanned her hand in front of her face as if to change the subject.

“Jeez, Jake. God, what died in here?” she said.

“I never said anything about me being … you know?” Jake said, lowering his voice so the other patients in the room wouldn’t hear.

“I’m not going to tell nobody,” she said, tidying up the room and grimacing at the IV bags filled with blood and other fluids. “Besides, I think it’s kind of cool to have a gay brother.”

“Quiet. Do you want people to?” Jake told her, scolding her with a look. He didn’t know who was on the other side of the curtain next to Alberto, but he couldn’t afford the risk.

“To what? Jake there’s a whole world out there besides Portland and definitely besides Forest Hills. Trust me, I know. Anyway, I always knew you and Alberto were getting it on.”

“We’re not … we never …” Jake said, shifting his position. “We’re just friends.”

“But you wanted to. I could see it in your eyes. I think it’s cute actually, but if you ask me, there’s somebody else out there in the world. Besides, Mexicans can’t keep their dicks in their pants.”

“He’s not Mexican. He’s Puerto Rican remember and—” Jake said, narrowing his eyes at her.

“Same thing,” she told him rolling her eyes. “Anyway little brother, I’ve got a few friends I think you’d absolutely love.”

“I don’t want to meet anyone. I’m not looking … And, will you keep it down?  If you haven’t noticed people don’t exactly deal well with guys like me.”

“Reminds me…  Here,” she said, pulling out a piece of paper and pen as she scribbled something on it and handed it to him.

He took it. BENJAMIN RICHARDS 555-6688

“What’s this?” he said, tilting the scrap of paper from side to side. Richards. Why did he have the same last name as him? Wait a minute.

“No. I’m not calling him.” Jake said, his jaw clenching.

“Jake, he’s our step-brother. And he runs his own self-defense mixed martial arts gym boxing, jiu jitsu, kickboxing, you name it.  I tracked him down a couple of years ago.”

“Have you met him?” Jake asked.

“Well, no. Not yet, but—”

“Then, why do you expect me to? He probably hates us. His dad ran off with our mother, remember? Ruined his whole family. What would he want with me? And why would he want to help me?” Jake asked.  

“Just think about it. Besides, if you’re going to be the way you are, you gotta learn how to defend yourself,” she told him, lowering her voice.

“I appreciate it, I do but I decided … I’m not that way anymore,” he said, biting his lower lip.

She laughed in his face. “So, you just upped and decided, did you?”

“It’s not worth it. I can be into girls. I used to date girls,” he replied defensively, crossing his arms.

“Back in the third grade and from what I remember, you were more interested in their Barbies than them. That is before Dad beat that shit out of you.”

He pushed the memories out of his head. He didn’t want to think about the way things used to be. “So, I read about these camps where they ” he started to say, changing the subject, “these churches that pray the gay away.”

Even saying those words made him sick to his stomach. It was humiliating and exhausting to constantly be someone he wasn’t. He’d tried everything to change. But maybe he wasn’t trying hard enough.

“Are you out of your mind? The only thing those camps do is take your money in the name of Jesus. Half those preachers are sucking hot dogs on the side as it is.”

“Genie!” Jake chuckled. She always had a way of making him laugh.

“Just keep it quiet. If you’re going to live with us, we can’t have anyone in town knowing. With the law firm I work at … I want to be more than just an assistant and then there’s dad. He’d be—”

“No, I get it,” Jake said.

“Listen sweetie, I gotta go. You keep that card now. Call him. Our step-brother only lives a few towns away,” she told him, kissing him on the cheek and draping the purse over her shoulder as she left.

“I hate you,” he said.

“Hate you too!” she said with a smile. “Queen.”

“Slut,” he fired back.

“Hey, at least I own it. I’ll come visit tomorrow. Smooches,” she told him.

He shook his head, turning to his unconscious friend, Alberto.  Seeing that tube down his throat, his corner in the hospital room looking like a lab experiment was hard.  He lifted a comb from the nightstand next to the hospital bed and fleeced it through Alberto’s hair. He’d die if anyone saw him like this.

“What do you think, Alberto? Think I can go straight for awhile?” he asked him, squeezing his hand. His face still swollen, he barely resembled himself.

“I’m sorry I … failed you. But when you wake up and we get out of here, we’re going to move. I don’t care what it takes. You and me, we’re going to move away as far as we can and start over together. We’ll find wives, have families, we can do it. That way nobody will bother us anymore.”

Jake sighed. The hypnotic rasp of the breathing machine echoed in the silence. “Please, wake up Alberto. Forgive me.”

“Knock-knock,” a gruff man’s voice said, startling Jake as he rapped on the door frame. At first, he thought Genie had come back.

But then, that smell Old Spice, beer and cigarettes. Jake didn’t need to turn around before he knew whom it was. The hairs rising from the back of his neck confirmed his worst fears.

 

CHAPTER 4

 

“You touch him and I’ll —”  Jake said, his eyes locked on the man with emerald green eyes.

“And you’ll what? Tell me faggot, cause I’d like to hear this one,” he answered with a smirk on his face.

There was no midnight dark to shroud him anymore, nor a hood. He recognized that face clear as day.

Steve Channing.

Jake recognized Alberto’s frat brother in the clear of day. The scratches his best friend gave Steve across his face were still fresh, giving Jake some satisfaction.

Alberto had always done whatever he could to avoid Steve and his constant taunts at the frat house. He told Jake about it often, but Jake never thought Steve would take it as far as he did that night.  Though he’d done well at hiding the fact he was gay from anyone, Steve would make fun of his voice and the rags he wore to school.

His hand gripped Alberto’s bed as if to protect him. Although he knew he was helpless to do anything defend him, he’d be damned if Steve was going to hurt his best friend again.

“I’m going to call the cops,” Jake warned.

“The cops?” he said, arching his eyebrow and letting out a chuckle, and mimicking Jake’s soft voice while adding a lisp. “That doesn’t sound like the type of loyalty from Alberto or his boyfriend that we expect from our fraternity. You do know who my father is, don’t you?”

“Why? Who?” Jake asked, his voice cracking.

“Bubba Channing Sheriff Bubba Channing?” he said.

Jake swallowed hard.  Steve grabbed him.

“No, I don’t think you’ll be making that phone call.” He cackled.

Jake gasped for breath, but the man’s grip on his already fragile wrist paralyzed him.

“What do you want?” Jake said, lifting his chin in faux defiance.

“I just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page. That’s all. Your little boyfriend did a doozy on my face. But that’s nothing compared to what he did to my life. They pulled that full scholarship from me, you know? Almost kicked me off campus for good cause of that snitch,” Steve said as he stepped forward.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have harassed us on campus. Maybe you shouldn’t have—”

Jake didn’t even finish his thought. He couldn’t hide how uncomfortable he was and a smile spread across Steve’s face.

“I always thought you were soft Jakey, didn’t know you were a homo until that night. Does your dad know about your little activities? Does your church? Do the rest of the student body at St. Mary’s Christian University? I betcha they don’t. No, something tells me you’re going to keep your mouth shut. I can make your life a living hell, I promise you that. And your little boyfriend’s too. It’d be a shame to see him suffer more.”

“What’s this?” his dad said, coming out of nowhere as he entered Alberto’s hospital room carrying flowers for Alberto.

“Mr.  Richards,” Steve said, turning on the charm. “Steve Channing — Just a friend of your son’s.”

“Oh? Well, the pleasures mine. Never met any of his friends,” his dad said, hiding his smile as he set the flowers down.

“When I heard what happened I was just mortified,” Steve told him, as charming as ever.

“That’s what he needs. Friends, real friends. You’re a good man, Steve,” his dad said, shaking his hand.

“Thanks, Mr. Richards.  Whatever it takes to keep his spirits up, we’re here for him,” Steve said, looking back at Jake who was at his wits end by now.  “Well, I better head out. School tomorrow.”

“Sure thing. Thanks for coming,” his dad waved him off.

“Bye, Jakey!” Steve said as he exited.

“Good guy, that Steve,” his dad said, placing his hand on Jake’s shoulder.  “We should have him over for dinner sometime.”

But Jake was lost in his thoughts.

“I’m going to grab some coffee. Need anything?” his dad asked, waking him from his thoughts.

“Uh, no,” Jake said.

“Don’t worry, he’s going to pull through this,” his dad comforted. “I know this isn’t the best place in the world for Alberto, but I’m going to pull some extra hours on the road, pick up some cash, take care of him.”

“Thanks,” Jake said, though his thoughts were elsewhere.

“I’ll even check on him from time to time. I’ve got to run, son.” His dad exited, but Jake was in another world. He turned to Alberto, his jaw tense.

“Don’t worry Alberto, I’m going to figure this out,” he told him with conviction.

He had to do something, but what?  CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST

I Got You – Meeting Genie for the First Time

The next scene in the web series is when we get to meet Genie for the first time. We really needed an actress who had comedic timing and at the same time was able to slip from being into comedy and able to do dramatic moments and that really fit Samantha well.

 

Samantha is a well-versed actor and that was nice to see someone who can do both of those things dramatic and comedic. We needed someone who looked like she really could be a sibling of Jake and by luck we were able to get both Zachary and Samantha that kind of look like they could be siblings.

 

In real life, Samantha is kind of petite and but she’s a powerhouse in both real life and on screen. The way I wrote the scene was we were going to intercut between seeing that Jake’s father was secretly in love with Alberto and at the same time, seeing Jake and Genie talking about how homophobic they thought that their father was.

 

I thought that was a great moment for the audience who hadn’t read the book to be introduced to the fact that there was a whole other story going on besides the main story. What I would like to do in Season 2 is delve more into more of that story so that people can see the whole love story between Alberto and Jake’s father.

 

It was interesting because we had to use the same location to shoot Alberto’s hospital scene, Jake’s hospital scene, as well as Benjamin’s bedroom and we also used the same location to shoot Benjamin’s office.  The good thing about that was that we didn’t have to move a lot of places and maybe it was a little bit easier for the production designer, but also it was challenging to try to make the room look different enough so that people wouldn’t recognize it as being the same room.

I Got You – The Hospital Scene with Jake’s Father

The scene where Jake wakes up in the hospital and his father is there waiting for him we shot that on the second day of shooting.  This was the same day that we shot most of our scenes actually. It was the same day that we shot the scene where Alberto and Jake get beat up by Steve. It was really nice to see each of the actors and how they prepare for the scenes. John who plays B.D, the father has sort of a method way of getting to character and he’s a really easy going guy in real life and it was interesting to see his process. I think that Jake has his own process but he kind of just goes for it which was really kind of cool. To watch Samantha who plays Genie, was interesting. She had most of her lines written on 3 by 5 cards and she learns her lines mostly before we shoot and that so was very cool to see how everyone prepares for their role. And as a director, it was kind of interesting to maneuver within everyone’s method of getting where needed to go emotionally. Fortunately, everyone that we worked with was absolutely easy to work with and I’m so grateful for that because we had to start shooting that at 2 o’clock in the morning. And no one was cranky, no one was miserable, no one was tense everyone was pretty easy-going. Maybe it was because they were half asleep. But nevertheless, we were able to shoot the majority of the scenes that second day of shooting which was really our first day of an entire day of shooting. We shot a few things the day before, but that day that was the day that we did the bulk of our shooting.

I Got You – The Club Scene

The club scene we actually shot on the very last day of shooting. In fact it was the very last thing that we shot. The scary thing about it was that we didn’t even have a location for the shoot until the very last minute.  I was scared that we weren’t going to be able to finish what we had started. We are hoping to have a very packed house full of people dancing or that sort of thing but it didn’t work out that way. So what we did as we asked the crew to pretend that they were extras and to walk back and forth. That if you watch carefully you can see me walking back and forth as well as the bartender. So what we did as we added some of that packed house through visual effects to make it more believable. It turned out great because it was so quiet there we were able to shoot without a lot of interference. And we shot it right after we had lunch for the day. It was actually kind of nice because it was the first time I remember really getting the chance to sit down with the crew and cast and eat a meal together so that was pretty enjoyable. The bar was absolutely beautifully designed and so the production designer didn’t have a lot that she needed to do, but it turned out really great. We didn’t have a location to shoot the opening dialogue that supposed to be Jake’s voice over so we had the actor who plays Jake go close to the bathroom and recorded his audio there. Like I said, it was the very last thing that we shot and so we had plenty of time to try different takes. We had explain why Alberto didn’t have Happy Birthday written on his forehead while he was in the truck (which is something we shot the day before) so I came up with idea of just having him say align a dialogue about how has to wipe the happy birthday off of his forehead with a napkin and so we had him do that before he stepped out the door so that it would match the shot.

I Got You – More About the First Episode

We shot the opening scene on the second to last day of shooting. And it was freezing cold outside. I actually had to run and get a rental car so I had my first assistant director and my cinematographer go ahead and start the scenes before I got there. They were able to shoot the scenes where Jake and Alberto are being beat up by Steve.


 

I kind of felt bad that I had to go and run this important errand before I got to see it, but it turned out to be a great seeing that they put together. And I was able to join them on the interior shots of the three guys inside the truck.

 

It was difficult because we were on a road that was pretty noisy, although it was supposed to be an abandoned road. It was freezing cold and I couldn’t hear what the dialogue was at all. The doors were closed and so I could only guess that the actors were delivering the lines correctly and give them a little bit of direction before we shut the doors and windows and let them do what they needed to do. We mounted a camera on the outside of the truck and we set up the microphones inside so that the actors would be mic’d up and ready to go. It was amazing to see how great the actors did. If you think about it there’s supposed to be on an abandoned road and they’re not moving at all. They were parked on the side of a road and the actors in real life got along really well but they were supposed to pretend that Michael Ring who plays the character Seth is a bad guy that they’re scared of.  I think they did a really great job with that and I was really impressed with their performance. When we started editing the scene, I was amazed at how well it came together and how believable the actors performances were.

 

I Got You – The First Episode

Alberto

Alberto

We’re only days away from having the launch of our web series. It’s been a long time coming. It started when I wrote the novel series about two years ago. I had no idea that it would lead me to this moment. All I wanted to do was create what I like to call the Gay Karate Kid. And it turned into so much more than that.

 

Now, we have shot over 10 episodes and although it cost me a small fortune to put together, it was worth every penny. I was able to make my dream come true, and not only create a story that I was passionate about, but also hopefully open up doors for the actors and crew that decided to join me on this journey. The first step in the process was to create a series of scripts. Now the scripts were not just like any other screenplay that I had written. They had to be a story that would be concise. And this meant that they had to be what look like about 5-minute episodes. In that short period of time I had to grab the audience and keep them engaged emotionally and at the end provide a cliffhanger that would make them want to watch the next episode.

 

The funny thing about it was that I was able to write these episodes very quickly. Maybe partly because I already knew the story, but maybe partly because I didn’t overthink it. I just wrote what naturally came to me. I knew I wanted to begin the story the same way that the novel began and that was seeing the character Jake stranded on an abandoned road. We don’t know whether not he’s alive or dead, but we know that something terrible is about to happen. Leaving the story on that hook I knew was a way to really grab the audience and make them want to know what was going to happen next.