Quinn sat cross-legged on the floor lazily, his unkempt hair dangled down below his eyes and with his unwashed fingers he lazily thumbed through a Playboy magazine. A breeze was blowing cold air through slight openings between the boards and finding its way through the holes in his jeans. To ease the frigid wind he adjusted his windbreaker his mom bought him three years earlier, it was blue and thin. He and his friends, Billy, Todd and Beans built the tree house on the property of Quinn’s grandparent’s house where Quinn stayed now. The boys’ did best they could constructing it over the summer using dilapidated wood they found behind a barn on the property. The air was welcomed then, but now the wind required Quinn to huddle in a corner.
Quinn had made the tree house his own domain over the past few months. He gathered pictures from his home and nailed them on every wall. Pictures of rock bands mingled with Playboy centerfolds, pictures of his mom, an old picture of Marilyn Monroe he stole from his father hung center wall in a frame. He declared it Sacred and eventually he made a small shrine underneath it and lit scented candles as homage. The other boys held a meeting earlier in the day to discuss Quinn's takeover of the tree house.
Billy commented that Quinn spent too much time in the tree house and that he didn't leave the rest enough space on the wall for their pictures. Sitting alone was just plain weird Beans added. Todd, who was older, took notes on the meeting. After, they walked to the tree house.
Quinn heard them climbing up the boards nailed to the trunk of the old oak.
"Hey Quinn, I knew you'd be here," Todd said kicking away discarded brown bags.
"He's always here," Beans declared. “Can’t you clean up your own trash?"
"What's it to ya, I can be here when ever I want. You guys don't rule me," Quinn shot back. Before long the conversation turned towards holiday anticipation. Beans was happy about his grandfather coming in for Thanksgiving. Todd went on all about how his father promised him a BB gun for Christmas, "I know he will get it for me," his face glowed as he said it. The cold air was blowing harder and Billy tightened up his Packers hooded Starter sweatshirt, it covered his face up to his eyes and when he talked it came out muffled. Quinn still huddled in the corner seemed not to notice anything. He looked about the tree house and shifted from side to side on the wooded floor.
"Are you going to visit your uncle this year," Billy asked Quinn. He only nodded no and continued to look down at the magazine.
"What the hell is wrong with you Quinn?" Billy shouted from across the cluttered floor.
"Leave him alone, he's a spaz," Beans said while buttoning up his down jacket.
"Ever since his dad got locked up he's been a veg." Billy said.
"Why in the hell did your dad do it anyway, Quinn?" Todd asked. Quinn just sat there. Billy rolled his eyes at Beans and hugged himself tighter and scooting himself closer to Quinn in the corner he put his face an inch away from Quinn’s and shouted, "Hey spaz boy, is anyone in there?"
"He didn't do anything, nothing at all," Quinn said firmly while adjusting his thin blue windbreaker.
"That’s stupid, they just don't put people away for doing nothing," Todd snapped back.
"Beans, what did you say earlier, that his dad was full of bad whiskey when he done it?" Todd laughed.
"I'm telling you he didn't do anything" Quinn shouted back.
"Your dad's a drunk, that is all he ever will be, a damn drunk, your mom too," Beans exclaimed “maybe she had it coming, I heard she was messing around” They all laughed at Quinn, Beans even threw a crumpled centerfold picture at his head.
“My mom told me all they need is the evidence, the missing gun and he’ll be fried” Billy said without any remorse.
"You can have this stupid old tree house, you ain't got nothing else," Todd said adjust his Pea coat around his thin frame. “We had a meeting and voted you out, but seeing how you ain't got nothing else, you can have the stupid old tree house, spaz boy"
"Aw come on Todd, I like it here too," Beans said adjusting his leather gloves that fit tightly around creamy white hands. Todd motioned for an exit as Beans’ opened hand whacked Quinn against the back of his head saying, "see ya round, spaz!"
The cold wind stabbed through the planks. Quinn looked through a slit between the boards and made out three figures jumping over a frozen creek, and then hopping up onto the road before splitting up. Leaves fell around the base of the Oak. The moon light peered in through the gaps of the boards and spread out onto the cluttered floor. A burst of wind doused the candle and Quinn backed further into the corner.
He sat there shivering, huddled in the corner and caressed the metal barrel as if it was a pet. Tracing the outline of the trigger he stared off into the night. Nestled against his thigh the coldness of blue steel reached through his jeans and burned dark against his skin and Quinn, only then, realized he was willing to use it.