Except from “On the run”, by Mario Salazar

In a Maryland suburb of Washington, DC

Miguel’s home in Maryland was in a planned community about 30 miles from the DC line and had been built in the late 1960s. He chose it for its anonymity and privacy. It was a small one floor detached house with a zero-lot line on one side. It had an eight-foot wall that surrounded the building and yard and it was almost impossible to be viewed from outside. A mail slot on the door hid the fact that mail could be accumulating inside and Miguel’s frequent visits kept the house clean and anonymous.

This development was favored by transient people that rented or retired people that were away for months during the year. The fact that he was seldom there was not unusual.

He also paid a young man to keep the outside trim and anonymous. In the three years that he had owned the house, everything had gone well and there wasn’t anything to make the house unusual.

When Miguel arrived unexpectedly at around 2:00 AM, he set in motion a series of events that threatened his secret existence.

Miguel used his remote garage opener and rode his vehicle in. He entered the house proper through a common door. As he deactivated his security system and turned around, he was confronted by a young man holding a baseball bat in a defensive posture. Apparently, the young man that he had paid to keep the outside of the house in good shape had figured out that Miguel was seldom in it and had moved in, expecting to time his exit to sync with Miguel’s next regular trip.

As Miguel calmly assessed the situation he recognized Dionisio Serga, the young man that had been maintaining the outside of his house and made a guess of why he was there.  Dionisio had also recognized him and was probably also thinking how to explain his trespasses, as he lowered the bat.

Miguel waited until both he and Dionisio had taken a deep breath and then he asked: “How would you like a cup of coffee?”

“Uh…, no thanks”

Miguel proceeded to the kitchen and remarked:

“Well, I definitely could use one”

Dionisio followed Miguel into the kitchen and sat at the breakfast table and quietly observed coffee been made.

While waiting for the brew, Miguel joined Dionisio at the dinette and asked him: – “How do you think we should resolve this situation?”

Surprised, Dionisio took a few minutes to formulate an answer – “First let me tell you why I was crashing in your house. My mom remarried about one year ago and I don’t like my stepfather and he doesn’t like me either. He finally gave my mom and ultimatum that it was either him or me.”

“I didn’t give my mom a chance to choose and told her that I would leave. She seemed relieved by my decision. I went to live with a friend, but his girlfriend just moved in also and the place is very small. I had figured out that you only come about every six weeks and decided to move in instead of living on the street or a shelter. The money I earn is not enough for me to get a half way decent room. As you can see, I have kept the place extremely clean and no one knows I am staying here. I come in late at night and leave through the back gate after most people have left for work.”

Miguel had hoped for this type of answer from the boy. He liked the fact that he hadn’t tried to deny fault and that he appeared sincere. He also noticed that the home was impeccable, as if no one lived in it.

He got up and asked Dionisio to go back to sleep and promised that they would come up with a solution the next morning. The boy appeared grateful that he wasn’t going to spend the night outside. Miguel was also thankful that Dionisio had used the extra bedroom and not his. It kind of told him that he was not intent of just taking advantage of him.

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