Escopeta

Three weeks after Cody White moved to Utah from New York, he got a call from a friend that he had known for years, having met him during his first stint in the state. Bear's deep voice was apologetic as he explained the situation to his friend, asking if he would mind watching his house for the weekend while he took a drive several counties over, so he could stay with his family during a somewhat impromptu reunion.

Cody agreed without hesitation, glad to be getting away from his new house for a few days. Since he and his mother had just moved in, the place was currently in shambles, with half-empty boxes filled with clothes and various odds and ends littering the floor. There was hardly enough space in which to breathe, let alone walk. Even his bed was nothing more than a sleeping bag on the floor, since he hadn't had the chance to put the frame together, and as such, had nowhere to put his mattress.

When he arrived at Bear's house, an hour before the man was planning to leave, his friend gave him a quick tour of the place, showing him the bathroom, the bedroom, the kitchen, the laundry room, and finally, the safe where he kept his guns.

The safe stood in a corner of Bear's bedroom, (the one farthest away from the door), tall, black, and made of utterly solid metal. It housed a handgun, a rifle, and a double-barreled shotgun - all unloaded (though Bear didn't think to mention this little fact to his old friend).

He gave Cody the combination to the safe, in case of an emergency, then headed out. After he left, Cody wandered the empty house alone, interested in discovering how Bear lived. Being alone in someone's home was like suddenly gaining the ability to see inside their minds, or so Cody had always believed.

The place was immaculate, which held no surprise - Bear had been neat for as long as Cody had known him, and he hadn't expected this to change anytime soon. The place was dusted and vacuumed, the bed was made, the dishes were done and put away in their respective cupboards and drawers, and the trashcan beside the counter in the kitchen was empty, save for the black bag stretched over the rim. Even the water in the bathroom's toilet bowl was a deep blue, and the air smelled of Lysol and Irish Spring soap.

The paint on the walls in the living room was an eggshell white, just a shade dark enough that dirt wouldn't show up easily. A small television stood against a wall, with a black leather couch in front of it, a fan suspended on the ceiling between the two, used for cooling the air during warm days.

The bedroom contained more personality. In addition to the gun safe, there was a plush, white rug at the foot of the double bed, with a cedar chest resting on top of it, and a bookshelf filled with writing of all types - from thick tomes on math and science, to books containing short stories, to classic literature, and even a well-worn copy of the Holy Bible. The walls were covered in photographs, (some framed, others not. Some professionally done, while others were just pictures that Bear had taken randomly, the shots out of focus and overexposed.), a couple of his family, several of his friends, with the majority consisting of shots of Daniel Rodgers, his best friend and long-time boyfriend.

Cody had met Dan only once since moving back to Utah, and although the man seemed nice enough, he didn't know much about him yet. (With the exception of the fact that he spoke with a hint of a lisp, a speech impediment that had been with him since he had first learned to talk.) The photos gave Cody an idea of what he was like, though, and he found himself wandering the room, looking over each one in turn.

Dan was relatively tall (though not as tall as Bear) and skinny, with chin-length black hair, the ends dyed a bright green, to match his eyes. His face was almost heart-shaped, though the flesh of his cheeks was pulled tight along the bones, and he had piercings on either side of his lower lip, the hoops made of a silver that seemed to shine, even in photographs. Dark stubble covered the area around his mouth and chin, and his smile in the photos was always large, but subdued in a way, as though he were shy about having his picture taken.

He wore black consistently, no matter the setting of the photograph, or what was going on in it. In one photo, he was kicking a soccer ball into the air, his ankle angled upwards and turned to the side, the ball hovering just inches above it. He was wearing black jeans, a short-sleeved black shirt with a logo on it that Cody couldn't quite make out, and a black beanie on his head. His expression was serious, green eyes focused, as though he had no idea the camera was there.

The photo beside this one showed him sitting at a piano, playing away at a song that couldn't be heard. Bear sat next to him on the bench, looking down at his hands as they moved and listening intently, mindlessly worrying his lower lip between his teeth, lost in the music Dan was creating.

The picture that quickly became Cody's favorite was encased in a brown wooden frame and hung in an empty space between the wall and the window. It looked like it had been taken in this room, though it was hard to tell, because the image was dark. In it, Dan was lying in a bed, shirtless, the blanket pulled up to his chest. His eyes were closed, as though he were half asleep, and his middle finger was raised high in the air, a gesture that clearly meant "fuck you". In contrast to the vulgarity, however, he was smiling his bright, shy smile. Cody guessed that the flash from Bear's camera had woken him up, thus explaining the upraised finger.

Cody spent a good chunk of time that first day just walking around, getting acquainted with the house. Day two - Saturday - was spent watering the lawn at eight AM, taking a long, hot shower, then sitting on the couch, watching television and eating Doritos straight out of the bag. He did his laundry just as it was starting to get dark, since he hadn't brought much in the way of clothing, then fell asleep in Bear's bed, resting on top of the sheets, for fear of what he and Dan may have done in between them.

He slept in on Sunday morning, then made himself some eggs on the stove in the kitchen. After he had washed and dried his breakfast dishes, he went into the laundry room to fold the clothes he had left in Bear's basket before bed the night before. He smiled as he worked, pleased with how relaxing this weekend had been.

Jordan Fisher had been playing music with his older brother, Jaime, (with Jordan singing lyrics in both English and Spanish and strumming out a tune on his acoustic guitar, while Jaime kept a steady beat on his drum set), when his friend Bear called his cellphone, asking a favor from him.

"I'm out of town," Bear explained, "and my old friend Cody just moved here from New York. He's watching my place for the weekend, but I'm feeling kind of bad about leaving him alone for so long when he doesn't really know anybody. Do you think maybe you could check in on him for me? See if things are going alright?"

Jordan held the phone to his shoulder using his chin and took his guitar from around his neck, leaning it up against the wall.

"No problem," he replied, shifting the phone to his hand again. "When should I head down there?"

"Whenever you can," was Bear's response. "I just want to make sure he's okay."

"There's not much going on around here. I'll head out in a few minutes."

"Thank you." The man sounded genuinely pleased.

"De nada," said Jordan, "adios." Then he hung up.

He pocketed his cellphone and headed to his room to get ready, saying goodbye to his brother on the way.

There was no answer when Jordan arrived at Bear's and knocked on the front door. Ringing the bell produced no results, either, so after standing on the doorstep for a few moments, he decided to try another tactic.

Moving to the window that he knew faced the living room, he stood before it and looked inside, standing on the tips of his toes, in an effort to catch a glimpse of this "Cody". He was only able to see the top of his head, his hair brown and shoulder-length.

Unable to think of how to catch the young man's attention, Jordan rapped his knuckles against the windowpane, slightly surprised when Cody turned around rapidly, light green eyes wide and shocked.

He tried to mouth the words "let me in" to the guy, but Cody just looked even more nervous. He stood up from the couch and took off, out of Jordan's line of sight.

Jordan sighed and walked back to the front door, deciding to try knocking again. Before his fist even made contact with it, though, the door was thrown open, and he found himself with the barrel of a shotgun pressed to his chest, Cody on the other side, the weapon held tightly in his hands.

"Oh, mi dios!" Jordan cried out without thinking, only remembering something his mother had told him since he was just a small child - that he was supposed to call out to the Lord in times of trouble.

"Who are you?" Cody demanded.

"Mi llama es-" Jordan began, but Cody cut him off, pressing the barrel even harder into him.

"English, pretty boy!"

Jordan took a shallow breath before speaking quickly,

"My name's Jordan Fisher. I'm a friend of Bear's. He called and asked me to come check on you."

Slowly, a look of comprehension crossed Cody's features. He dropped the gun from Jordan's chest, his cheeks turning red with embarrassment.

"Um, right. . ." he said quietly, moving out of the doorway so Jordan could enter. "Come on in."

As the boy walked inside, closing the door behind himself, Cody leaned the gun up against the wall, still blushing at his overreaction.

Jordan bypassed Cody and walked cautiously over to the gun, checking the chamber and busting into loud laughter when he discovered it was empty.

"What?" Cody asked, finding the laughter somewhat disturbing.

When his chuckling died down, Jordan wiped the tears from his eyes and responded,

"You tried to kill me with a shotgun, and it wasn't even loaded!"

Cody glared at Jordan as he laughed, though the look didn't hold much heat. The sound of the boy's laughter was just too damn attractive for Cody to really be angry.

It was dark outside when Bear returned from his trip. He fumbled for his keys in his pocket before finally putting them into the lock and going inside.

He placed his bag on the kitchen table, then walked into the living room, the glow of the television lighting the way, and let out a quiet gasp of surprise at the sight he was met with.

Cody and Jordan were asleep on the couch, Cody's head resting on the other boy's shoulder.

Bear didn't know what had happened while he was gone, but, he thought with a smile as he wandered quietly into his bedroom, not wanting to wake his friends up, he could probably wait until tomorrow to find out.