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.
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.”