Jake stood in front of his mirror, grimacing at the reflection that stared back at him. His hair was slicked back into a greasy “mature” style. He instantly missed the scruffy way his brown hair fell against his forehead; just barely touching the lids of his eyes. No… the way it was styled now made him look like his father. The thought made Jake grit his teeth together as he balled up his fists in anger. He was anything but his father. He cared about so much more than his old man did.
With a sigh, Jake turned away from the mirror and straightened out his suit. His family had to attend a charity event, which meant that Jake had to endure hours of tasteless food, and mingling with about 70 snobby, rich people and their evil spawns. Even if Jake hated all of them, the boys his age were pleasant to look at, all dressed up and flirting helplessly with the prude girls. It was a joke, but it meant getting out of the house which was something foreign to him.
“Jacob?” A soft knock followed the intruder’s voice. Jake turned his head and saw one of the new maids enter in his bedroom. “Your father and mother are awaiting for you downstairs. The car is here.” He debated about correcting her with his name, but he knew she would be gone and replaced within a week.
With a final glance at the mirror, Jake nodded, and turned away. He followed the maid out of his bedroom and down the grand staircase to face his parents. “Good evening, father,” Jake said softly, while his mother wrapping her thin arms around him in a pathetic excuse for a hug. He hugged her back, not surprised to find his father paying absolutely no attention to him.
“Jacob! Look at you, darling. You look just like your father. All of the girls are just going to faint over you, my precious boy.” Her compliments were completely lost on him. He didn’t want to look like this father, and he didn’t want girls falling at his feet. He wanted to be happy, but happiness rarely came to him since his father won the title of governor.
“Governor Ethos? Your limousine has arrived,” One of the help said, a slight tremble in his voice as Jake’s father looked up from his BlackBerry. Jake rolled his eyes, his patience running thin already and they hadn’t even left the house yet.
The fifteen minute ride was the usual. The only sound coming out of the family was his father tip-tapping away on his phone. Jake just stared out the window, looking at the world around him, a world he barely knew.
Jake had always been sheltered growing up, and now. He was homeschooled by six different professors, everyday, year long. His only friends were the random assortment of maids, but after realizing they were always fired within a week, Jake stopped bonding with them, he didn’t even bother to ask their names anymore. The only times he was allowed out of the house were at functions, benefits, and parties. Not the fun “get drunk off your ass” parties, more like “sit around and listen to 120 year olds talk about the economy”. But it was something, and at this point, Jake took whatever he could get his hands on.
The function was held in a big, fancy building. Cars were lined up as women and men stepped out, all dressed up. News reporters were lined up along a fence, begging people to answer a couple questions. An older man, with blonde, fuzzy hair, reached across the fence and grabbed Jake’s arm, pulling him to the side.
“Jacob Ethos! My name is Dan and I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions?” The reporter didn’t bother to wait for Jake’s approval; he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and starting writing while talking. “How do you feel about your father’s recent speech regarding his protest against gay marriage?” The reporter, squinted his eyes in an attempt to look threatening.
“Funny story actually…” Jake’s words were cut off as he felt a hand clasp around his forearm, squeezing painfully. He didn’t have to look up to see whose grip it was; he knew that feeling all too well.
“My son will not be answering questions tonight, but I can assure you, my family supports my political views, and that we are all on the same page.” Jake’s father’s voice was eerie cold; he didn’t even have the guts to roll his eyes. He heard that line every time they were at one of these shindigs.
Sometimes, Jake believed his father knew he was gay. For awhile he thought that was why he was never allowed to go to school or even outside. It soon came to him that it wasn’t that. His parents solely cared about their image, and to them, Jake was a child that was prone to make mistakes. So they smothered him with guidelines and rules 24/7.
Jake was guided into the building; the bright lights blinding him while the rise of chattering voices and soft music filled his teenaged ears. The party room was decorated with dull colors; the only colorful items in the room were the dresses of the women. Some were dancing with their husbands, but most were floating around the room gossiping about the recent divorces or new political issues.
“James! How wonderful to see you!” Jake and his father turned around to greet Mrs. Gardner. Her heavy perfume made Jake’s eyes water up. The lady practically shoved her breasts in his father’s face. He wouldn’t be slightly surprised if they were sleeping together. “And little Jacob! I can’t believe how handsome you have gotten! Just like your dear father.” She kissed both of Jake’s cheeks, smearing her whore red lipstick over his pale skin. “Anyways I have to go get some more champagne. Find me later, James…I have a…ahem…parking ticket I need help with.” Jake couldn’t help but giving his father a sneering glance before ditching him, and searching for the nearest bathroom that would be his refuge for the rest of the night.
He made himself invisible for a good part of the night. Hiding in the bathroom until he felt he was being regarded suspiciously. The other half of the evening, Jake hid behind groups of kids his age, listening as they ranted about current events. It amazed Jake how controlled they were. They weren’t regular kids at all.
When dinner came, Jake was forced to sit in-between Mrs. Gardner and her husband. His parents got the privilege to stick up in the front with all of the other stuck up assholes. How thrilling.
Mrs. Gardner fawned over Jake. She petted his hair, while asking him about his studies. He was surprised she didn’t try and feed him from her fork. Jake tried desperately to ignore the flirting glances she shot up at his father. It was a tacky scandal waiting to happen. He lost track of how many affairs were currently going on with all of these people, but they were there, and they always go public.
“Jake, dear, do you still play piano? I remember you used to play beautifully,” Mrs. Gardner asked, cutting her salmon into itty-bitty pieces.
“Occasionally,” Jake replied, moving the leafy salad around his plate. The chicken was too dry, and the salad had pieces of apple in it, Jake found himself unable to digest the sorry excuse for a meal.
“I would love it if you could come over and teach my daughter, Greta, sometime?” Mrs. Gardner had her breasts pushed out and into Jake’s face as she asked. Her hand was sliding down his back, and around to his thigh. He couldn’t fucking believe this. Once her hand started to slide up towards his groin, he jumped aside, knocking her glass of red wine right into her lap. She shrieked and jumped up, her husband right next to her. Jake fumbled for an apology, but he could hardly contain his laughter as the red wine sapped into her golden dress. Serves that tramp right.
“Jacob!” He instantly cringed at his father’s powerful voice. It was one of those voices that just automatically shut you down. “Oh Clara, I am so sorry for my son…” Jake tuned out his father’s words. He knew he was in trouble when he saw the various photographers snapping picture after picture. It was definitely going to end up front page tomorrow. Great.
“Oh my clumsy baby!” Jake heard his mother’s voice, but he knew she wasn’t there to comfort him. She was there to distract. To defuse the situation like there was any chance of it not being on the ten o’clock news. “I guess it is past your bedtime…”
“Mom, its 7…” Jake tried to defend himself, the laughter of everyone at the party made him want to crawl into a hole and never come out. “And I’m fifteen…”
“Oh hush; let’s go get my coat, sweetie pumpkin.” Jake huffed, rolling his eyes as he stormed out of the party room, and outside. He instantly took in a deep breath of fresh air, rolling his head to relieve the stress of the night.
The ride home, Jake had to endure fifteen minutes of his father staring daggers at him. It was a silent car ride, but that wasn’t unusual for the so called family. Once the car pulled up to the front of their house, Jake was sent up to his father’s study. He sat down in a brown leather chair, waiting patiently for his father.
He waited a short ten minutes for his father to enter the study. He was supposed to use the ten minutes to reflect on the actions that gotten him sent to this awful room.
“I’ve told you, Jacob, how important my image is…” His father’s words were in a soft whisper that sent shivers down Jake’s spine.
“Yes, father,” Jake replied softly, chewing on the inside of his lip. “I’m sorry for the mishap at dinner. I-I was just excited.” He always tried to remain unaffected during his punishments, but it was becoming hard and harder to do so especially since Jake was truly innocent this time.
“Sit up straight.” Jake did instantly, his father walking around in front of him, belt in hand. “You will not embarrass me anymore, you little shit. If I have to I will send you away permanently.” Did his father realize that was more of a blessing than a curse? “You know the drill, son.”
Jake did. This had become a weekly routine for the two of them, father and son bonding perhaps? He lifted himself out of the chair, avoiding any eye contact. He was positive that made his father whip him harder. He unbuttoned his dress shirt, folding it neatly and placing it on the cushion of the chair. Jake pushed aside the desk lamp, and his father’s clock to make room for his upper body. He bent over the desk, goose bumps erupting from his arms as the cool wood hit his warm flesh.
When the first slap hit his back, it took all of Jake’s energy and focus to not cry out in protest. While the first one hurt, the second was the worse. By the tenth one, tears were welling up in his green eyes. The skin on his back was raw and the leather felt hot every time it connected with him. He tried to close his eyes and dream of being somewhere far away with a family that loved each other, but each slap from the belt brought him back to present day.
After the 15thwhip, Jake had made the decision to get out.
It took him two days to plan it, a week to get the maid eating out of the palm of his hand, and three days to grow the balls to carry it out.
It was mid-evening. The sun was setting and it was sticky hot outside. Jake was working on some History with one of his tutors. Jake kept tapping his pen against his book, and twirling a strand of his brown hair around his finger. His bottom lip was chewed raw because of the stress of tonight’s plan. Tonight was the night he planned to run away. Jake had a small bag packed with clothes, money, and his prized possession; his grandfather’s watch.
“Mr. Alderson?” Jake called for his tutor innocently, “I’m done for the day.”
“Alright, Jacob. Remember to read chapter 10 tonight and we will continue on tomorrow.” Jake nodded as he exited the home library with his tutor. While his tutor went left, Jake took a right turn to his room. If everything had gone as planned, Rosa, one of the household maids, was going to help him sneak out of the worker’s exits in the kitchen. The hard part was getting past his mother.
“Hola! Senor Ethos,” Rosa said excitedly. She had grown attached to Jake since he started paying attention to her and giving her his ‘sweet boy’ act.
“Rosa!” Jake flashed her a smile full of his white teeth as he rushed to hug her tightly. He hesitated only slightly before dropping a pair of his mother’s diamond, anniversary earrings into her back pocket. “Can we go now? I promise my parents said it was ok, they just don’t want me to walk out the front incase someone recognizes me,” Jake explained to her as he grabbed his bag and they walked out his room together.
“Yes, yes! Go right through the kitchen and take a left. The key with should be on the left side of the rack,” She explained to Jake, as he slipped by past her, waving her farewell. He could taste the freedom on the tip of his tongue and it was making him anxious.
Jake ran down the steps, carefully setting his bag behind a big flower pot. He then slowly walked into the dining room, seeing his mother writing out invitations to once against another function.
“Mother?” Jake called for her attention, slipping into one of the silk covered chairs besides her.
“Jacob, mommy has a headache, darling. I cannot entertain you right now.” Jake rolled his eyes. She barely said anything to him all week. He didn’t expect her to entertain him.
“I said…Rosa taking your earrings,” Jake said just above a whisper, clasping his hands in his lap as he waited for the explosion to occur.
His mother just looked at him blankly, as if he made it up entirely. “Ahem” was the only noise that came from his mother before she stood up, looking down at Jake. “Please excuse me, Jacob.” He could tell by the way her skin seemed to tighten on her face that she was angry.
Jake moved quickly back towards the flower pot, grabbing his bag and hoisting it over his shoulder. He was making his way towards the kitchen when he heard his mother’s shrill voice screaming at Rosa. Jake paused for a moment to feel bad for the maid, but he was running on limited time.
He ran through the kitchen, not caring who tried to stop him. He was so close to a new life that he nearly face planted into wall as he abruptly stopped to grab the key. In the distance, he heard someone shouting his name. Jake grabbed the key with shaky hands and unlocking the door. He flung it open so hard that he thought it would break off the hinges. Jake ran. He ran down the empty street, panting heavily. He had nowhere to go, but he knew he had to get as much distance as he could between him and his house.
He ran past 10 blocks before he settled down. He was near downtown San Antonio when he finally stopped. His legs were jelly, and he was dying for bottled water. Jake was bent over; hands on his knees as he tried to caught his breath. It was then that he felt a hand on the small of his back. He snapped up quickly, his eyes narrowing as he faced some strange, older man.
“Who’re you’re running from, kid?” The man’s voice was deep, and the way his body moved made Jake more than nervous.
“I’m…err…training for a track meet,” He said, biting on the inside of his cheek. “I have to go though. I’m meeting a friend of mine. Bye mister!” Jake said quickly before turning around. Before he could start walking away, the stranger grabbed his arm, his grip pinching Jake’s skin in the same tight grip as his father’s. “What the fu-“
“Do you not recognize me?” The man asked after cutting off Jake’s curse. The stranger forced Jake to look at him, and his stomach collapsed inside his body.
“Dan. Yes, I asked you a simple question and your father broke my camera, and insisted my boss fire me! I have three children and a wife to support, you fuck! What is he hiding? Why doesn’t he want anyone to know anything about you?” The man’s grip tightened after every question, Jake squirmed uncomfortably in his grasp.
“I don’t know! I’m not my father, let me go!” He shouted, stomping on Dan’s foot and pulling away at the same time. The former reporter’s grip broke and Jake was flung back onto the ground. He scrambled to get up, but the older man was on him in a flash.
“Your father is going to pay for ruining my life,” He hissed as he picked the fifteen year old up like a ragdoll and flung him over his shoulder, carrying him into a darkened, empty alley.
The man tossed Jake on the ground roughly, his head connecting with a building with a sickening crack. As Jake stumbled to stand up, his legs were wobbly and his head was spinning. The older man laughed at his pathetic attempts.
“No wonder your dad tried to hide you away, sissy boy,” He taunted Jake, pushing the fifteen year old back with one of his hands. Jake went down easy, his ass hitting the pavement.
“You asshole,” He said softly, before Dan’s fist connected with his jaw. Left and right, right and left, until Jake felt his lip split open. Blood poured down his chin and stained his shirt. It hurt to think, it hurt to talk, so he stayed there. Questioning why he felt the need to leave home. If only he had stayed. A fist to his chest sent Jake on his back. His eyesight clouded and his hearing wavered as he struggled to stay conscious. He spit out a mouthful of blood at his attacker, using all of his energy to reach up and scratch down Dan’s cheek. The older man jumped back with a yelp, instantly kicking Jake’s stomach, the crack of one of his ribs had him moaning out in pain.
In the flash of an eye, someone…something had Dan pinned up against the building. “Well, well, well, you’ve had quite the rough week…” The boy’s voice floated in and out of Jake’s head as he tried to stay focused. “And now you’re left with nothing, so you prey on an innocent boy.” Jake took slow breaths, his chest aching with pain.
“H-Help me,” He barely was able to whisper to his new hero. Jake spit out another mouthful of blood, his fingertips starting to turn cold. Was this what death felt like? The thought made Jake panic. He felt tears leaking out of his swollen eyes, they left icy trails down his blood stained cheeks. “God help me, please,” He begged, using what was left of his energy to throw himself on his side so he could throw up some more blood. By now his entire forearm was cold, and Jake could feel his body shaking violently as he got colder and colder.
The stranger ran over to him, dropping Dan’s…dead…body to the side. He picked up Jake’s upper body, placing him on his lap. Jake felt fingers through his hair, and the gesture was sweet.
“I’m sorry…” The boy said. Jake was puzzled by how young he looked. “It’s too late…nobody can help you now.” Jake let out a whimper as more harsh tears leaked out of his eyes. “I can offer you another option though, you’d be completely isolated from everyone you ever knew, but you’d still be able to experience the world. The choice is yours…”
He heard his words, but didn’t fully understand them. Jake’s head was spinning, and he feared he might throw up on the boy. “D-do anything…just make the pain go away.” He weakly raised his hand, gripping the boy’s wrist in a soft grip. “Just don’t leave me.” Jake peeked open one of his eyes, a couple tears leaking out and mixing with the rain. “I-I trust you…thank you for saving me. I thought I was a total goner,” Jake said, his voice breaking. He attempted to laugh, but the sound came out more as a rough yelp. He heard his savior’s question, the thought of dying breaking down his soul inside, but he couldn’t bear to feel this pain anymore. “I-I’m….ready.”
“Close your eyes…” The boy said. Jake did just that. He felt a soft kiss land on his shoulder, and thunder boomed above them. He felt at peace, but the unexpected pain in his neck caused Jake’s eyes to pop open in a silent scream. He gripped onto his hero’s arm tightly, fresh tears falling down his face before his world went completely dark.