The house Rune saw as he exited the forest had the familiar shape of the homes in his subdivision (“a terrible place to come home to when your drunk,” his uncle had wisecracked on his first visit), but he quickly realized he’d retained enough memory of playing in these backyards to know where he was. This was the back of the Florentino house, with its distinctive deck. Only five houses up from his home — he was surprised to have come this far after leaving his tracks, but at least he knew where he was now.
The snow was still knee deep as Rune plodded between the Florentinos and Morgans. (No, not the Morgans, they moved. New family, oldest child in third grade — that was all he remembered.) The sidewalks were equally as deep, and the teen had to almost leap over the snowbank to reach the street. Plows had cleared the street, leaving a thin stripe of snow on the black pavement, reminding Rune of the inside of an Oreo cookie with its frosting scraped off.
For the first time since walking off the front stoop of his home earlier that evening, Rune’s boots touched solid ground, and he realized his feet were numb. More irritated than concerned, Rune jogged to his family’s home. The garage door was still open, his mother’s car absent. He walked up to the front door, tested the knob — unlocked, he walked in. Heard the television in the living room.
He tugged off his boots, felt warmth and feeling return noisily to his toes. Tossed his wool cap and jacket to the floor. Walked into the living room, saw his father sitting his his recliner, legs parallel to the floor and head rolled to the right. Eyes closed, chest rising and falling in slumbering waves. Glass half-empty on the side table, a solitary ice cube half-melted.
Laughter came from the television. Rune looked at the screen, saw a stand-up comic grimacing sardonically. Glanced at the mangle clock above the screen. 9:21. Brother’s hockey game was in the city, they probably wouldn’t be back until 10.
Waving his greasy hair off his brow, Rune dismissed the idea of going up to his room. He thought the comic on TV was more obnoxious than funny, but the thought of searching for something more palatable did not appeal to him. He sat on the sofa to the right of the television and watched, as his father snored softly in the recliner to his left.
End of Chapter 6