He grabbed his brother's arm and ran into the kitchen of their grandmother's house on Franklin Street near Pike.
Then Nathan walked a stiff Alberto back into the living room, the quarter conspicuously lodged in Alberto's ear.
"Nothing in my hands," said Nathan, waiving them. "And now . . . "
But Alberto foiled the trick by turning his ear toward the audience.
"Berto! You're not supposed to show anybody!" Nathan yelled as he watched his little brother break into a sheepish grin.
Their grandmother, Adelaide Rios, sighed.
"They do this all the time. Now I have to keep them inside. They're going to rip my house apart."
The boys were separated for two days, while Alberto was recovering from a bullet fragment wound of the back. They missed each other.
The brothers and their sister, Terese Colon, 18 months, were playing on their grandmother's porch at dusk Tuesday when drug dealers' gunfire erupted and sent several stray bullets onto the porch. Alberto and Terese were hit.
Yesterday at his grandmother's house, Alberto, wearing a red sleeper and socks, was restless and playful. Recovering well, he was enjoying fame.
"They said I was brave," Alberto said, smiling to reveal red crayon on his two front teeth.
He smiled wide when asked about the care he got at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. He said the doctors and nurses were nice, the food was delicious and he was famous.
Carmen Perez, a family friend, said she hadn't been able to coax Alberto into taking a nap.
"I know how to do it," Rios said. "Warm milk at 8:30. He'll pass out."
The two boys were counting coins and putting them into empty film canisters on a coffee table.
Nathan issued a warning to the alleged drug dealers who shot his brother and sister.
"If I catch them, I'll shoot them myself," he said on the porch. The notion made the neighborhood children laugh.
Alberto would have started kindergarten on Wednesday at the Taylor School, Randolph Street and Erie Avenue. Nathan is in the first grade at the same school.
Nathan said he wanted to be a police officer someday "to protect my family."
"No - a sheriff," he corrected. "I want to work in the wild west."
Alberto wants to do what Nathan does.
Mugging for a camera, the two boys locked themselves in an embrace.
Nathan swore his loyalty and planted a kiss on his brother's neck.
"He's not going out of my sight," Nathan said.