The Boy Who Came in From the Cold (2 page)

BOOK: The Boy Who Came in From the Cold
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Know? Know what? Did I miss something?
“—can I at least get that name?”
“Uh, Todd.”
“Todd what?”
What the hell?
“Why do you need to know?”

Gabe shook his head. “Okay, Mr. Uh Todd Whydoyouneedtoknow, I’ll leave you alone.”

The man started to turn away, and suddenly, Todd didn’t want Gabe to leave. “I was kicked out of my apartment,” he cried out in a rush.

Gabe stopped, turned back.

 

“Surprised the shit out of me too. Got home this morning from a New Year’s party, and the lock had been changed.”

Gabe’s eyes widenedjust a bit. “Damn.”
“What kind of asshole kicks someone out on the streets in this kind of weather?” Todd asked. He began to wring his hands. “I thought there were laws that protected you from that.”
“I believe there are, but that’s not going to do you any good right now,” Gabe said.
“No shit.” Todd sighed. He looked at the man again. God what he’d do to look like that. He’d worked out all through high school and bought weights for home, but no, he just couldn’t do it. There was a level of baby fat that didn’t want to go away for anything.
(
“Ha! Look at you, working out! You trying to get a body like the guys in your magazines? Give it up. Ain’t gonna happen. You Burtons have the bodies you have. Skinny as shit.”
)
At least he didn’t look like his stepfather, with his big beer gut

and his flat ass. Todd was in decent enough shape, but he’d come to realize he’d never have a body like Gabe’s. “You really queer?” he asked without thinking. His lack of a filter from thought to spoken word had bounced him against the walls of authority all his life.

“You don’t think before you speak,” his freshman teacher—Mr. Grombeck—would say over and over.

 

“The word is ‘gay’,” Gabe said, “and yes I am.”

 

(
“I remember when gay was a good word. Homos have ruined that word!”
)

 

“It still is,” Gabe returned.

 

Shit, I said that out loud? He heard me. He must have six million dollar ears.

 

“Gay is a joyful and happy word.”

Gay and proud of it,
Todd thought with wonder. “Sorry,” he said and meant it. After all, the guy had helped him when no one else would. So what if he chose to fuck a dude instead of a girl? It was his choice.

“Any idea what you’re going to do in the meantime?” Gabe crossed his arms over that expanse of chest. “You got a place to stay? A friend?”

Todd felt the last of his strength leave him and his shoulders slumped in defeat. “No.” The people he’d met since moving to Kansas City had been total jerks. Or drug addicts. Thieves. Users. Girls as well as dudes just trying to get him into bed. All he’d wanted to do was get out of his small town and into a big city. Fat lot of good that had done him.

“What about the friends you partied with last night?”

Todd jerked. A few people he’d met at Gilham Park a month or so before—a far different park than the one that catered to male prostitution—had asked him if he wanted to party, and, desperate to get away from his tiny studio apartment, he’d agreed. He’d no sooner gotten to the party than a couple of boys younger than him tried to give him some crack. No way was he going there. He might be small town, but he knew that stuff was no joke. A couple of beers later and he was buzzed and sitting alone in a corner watching the freakiest things. Two, then three, guys making out on a couch. Another guy with his head under the skirt of a girl who couldn’t have been legal. Lots of drugs, but mostly marijuana. He’d even taken a few hits of something that made the pot he’d occasionally smoked with his friend Austin seem like grass clippings.

Then, right after midnight, two girls who had been watching him, giggling (when they weren’t kissing each other), had pulled him into a dark bedroom, yanked off their tops, and tried to get him to have sex. One girl with no bra and huge breasts had grabbed his hand, pressed it against one tit, and squeezed his fingers over it. He couldn’t yank away fast enough, and he didn’t know why. “No,” he said, then got the hell out.

“No,” he said again to Gabe. “No way.” The people at that party hadn’t been his friends.
There was a pause, and Gabe looked him up and down once more. Not rudely, but it made Todd feel weird anyway. He couldn’t quite describe the feeling. The guy wasn’t drooling or any fucking thing like that, but still….
(
“Perverts. They like little boys. They kidnap them and they cut them….”
)

Gabe was a guy. And despite parades and gay marriage, the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and gay and lesbian support groups in high schools, men with men wasn’t—

(
“… normal! Theyain’t normal!”
)
—anything he was used to. The guy seemed nice. Had given him food. Gabe had shown him more kindness than anyone else in this fucking city, so—

“Look,” said the big man, “I’ve never paid for it, but you’re awfully cute, and it would give you a place to stay for the night, and….”

Todd started. “What?”

“I mean it’s not going to be like
Pretty Woman
, where I have to pay extra to get you to stay the night, right? I mean, I’m getting you out of the snow and—”

“I’m not a whore,” Todd snarled. “And I’m not a fucking
queer
.”

Gabe’s face froze, his warmth vanishing as if it had never been there. He reached out and took Todd’s now empty mug. “Good luck,” he said, voice icy. “And like I said, don’t let the building manager catch

you, or you’ll be back out on the street, blizzard or not.” Gabe turned and strode back to the elevator without looking back.

Great. Shit. Why did I do that?
“I gotta stop losing it,” he said aloud.
I could have just told him I’m not gay, not a hustler. The guy— Gabe—was nice. He would have taken no for an answer
. Todd turned back to look out the lobby windows. Gasped. The snow, which had been coming down hard, was now a writhing wall of white.

“Look at that,” said someone to his right. Todd turned and saw a couple of people had wandered into the lobby from who knew where? Upstairs? An office?

“My mom just called and told me the governor declared a state of emergency,” said another onlooker. “I sure would hate to be out in that.”

No shit,
Todd thought. He looked back to the elevator. But Gabe was gone, of course.
Why did I act like an asshole? Maybe all he wanted to do was suck my dick. Not like I haven’t ever had my dick sucked. Just because Joan didn’t like giving them…. And of course there was the one that….

“Just look at that!”

Todd jumped at the voice and looked outside again. What had been bad had become downright scary. It was like some kind of special effect from a horror movie.

Wouldn’t it have been worth a blowjob to get out of that?

“It’s easy money,” a hustler from the park across from his apartment building—his
ex
-apartment building—had told him a couple of weeks ago. A day that had been pleasant, a few orange and red leaves still hanging bravely from the trees; a day when his lousy coat had kept him warm enough. “
Easy
money. I make fifty a blowjob.
Getting
a blowjob! I can shoot two, three times a day for sure. The third time not as much, but if he’s an ugly old troll, he’s lucky to get what he gets.”

The guy—a redhead named Doug—and a friend had been smoking a joint and regaling Todd with the gainful job opportunities in the world of male prostitution. “I just lay back,” he continued, “close

BOOK: The Boy Who Came in From the Cold
4.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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