Roy woke up fast, uncertain for a moment what had disturbed him. Then he realized it was Jerry, or more to the point Jerry’s shivering. Quickly he pulled his brother against him, wrapping his arms around him, trying to warm him with his own body heat. Jerry moaned, pressing against Roy, and slowly his shivering abated. By that time Roy realized the sun was up, not that it did much to heat the rooftop shack yet. It did tell him however that it was time for them to get moving before a building janitor or a security person found them.
“Jer,” he said softly, “wake up.”
It took a minute for Jerry to open his eyes. For a second he looked scared until he realized Roy was there. He pulled away and yawned. “Time to go?”
“Yeah, ‘fraid so.” Roy picked up the battered backpack that held what clothes they had and the rest of their few pitiful belongings. “Let’s hit the bus station and clean up.”
Jerry nodded. He inched the shack door open, peered out then pushed it open the rest of the way and crept out with Roy right behind him. “I ache all over,” Jerry said as he stretched and savored the bit of warmth from the morning sun.
Roy followed suit, casting a worried look at his brother. “Maybe we should…”
“No, I’m fine, honest. Once we get moving I’ll be good.”
Knowing it was useless to argue at the moment, Roy led the way to the fire escape. Ten minutes later they were standing outside the bus station.
“That damned guard’s on duty,” Roy muttered as he watched the burly man through the plate-glass window. “Guess we go to the library and wait ‘til they open.”
“And stay for a while and read and warm up?” Jerry asked hopefully.
As they started down the street Roy kept a wary eye open. They were dressed as best as possible, their clothes worn but reasonably clean, but that didn’t stop people they passed from looking scornfully at them. Some of them might even remember having seen him and Jerry spanging on the downtown street corners. He tried to ignore the looks, staring straight ahead as if he was just as good as any of them.
And he was. He knew that deep in his heart.
Unfortunately his family didn’t agree. To them he was less than dirt under their feet, an abomination in the eyes of their church and thus in their eyes as well. The moment they had found out that he was gay they had summarily kicked him out of their house, giving him only enough time to grab a few clothes and necessities and cram them into his backpack. Within hours they had announced to all their like-minded friends that he was no longer their son.
He had walked away from the place he had called home for almost eighteen years with his head held high. It wasn’t until he was many blocks away that he had broken down and cried. As he sat on the park bench, his head buried in his hands, he felt someone tap his shoulder. He looked up to see Jerry standing there, a backpack slung over his shoulder.
“Go home,” Roy had ordered, wiping away his tears with the back of his hand.
“No way in hell,” Jerry had replied. “I’m not staying with…with such hateful bastards.” He sat down beside his brother. “So, where are we headed?”
They had spent the next fifteen minutes arguing about that but in the end Jerry had cinched things by saying, “If you won’t take me with you I’ll just follow you so you might as well give in.”
One look at his brother’s face and Roy knew that he meant it. They had been living on the streets ever since.