Story Excerpt
The Cat's Meow

flame div

"Drive!" the dark haired man growled as he jumped into Noah's car. Noah stared. He didn't know this man. He'd like to know this man. He smelled wonderful. But Noah didn't know this man.

"Excuse me?"

"Are you fucking deaf?" the man shouted as he pounded on the dashboard. He kept looking over his shoulder to the rear window as if he were searching for something. "I said drive."

Noah blinked in confusion, still staring. "Do I know you?" He had to ask. It wasn't like his memory of people was that good. He forgot he met people all the time. Maybe he did know this guy and he just forgot. It wouldn't be the first time.

"Drive, damn it."

"Where to?" Noah asked curiously, still feeling a little bewildered as to why some stranger was sitting in his car. Things like this just didn't happen to him. They happened to other people. They happened on TV. They happened in the books Noah read. They didn't happen to him.

"I don't care, just drive."

Noah blinked again before turning to put the car into drive. He started to leave the parking spot he was in when he noticed the man wasn't wearing his seatbelt. Noah pressed on the brake and turned back to the man.

"Could you put your seatbelt on please?"


The man looked shocked by Noah's words, his dark eyebrows shooting up nearly to his hairline, and Noah didn't understand that. It seemed like a perfectly reasonable request to him. It was illegal to ride in car without a seatbelt. Everyone knew that. Besides, it was dangerous.

"Please put on your seatbelt."

"You're not serious."

"I wouldn't have said it if I wasn't serious," Noah explained carefully in case the man didn't understand his words. Maybe he didn't understand English? "It's illegal to ride in a vehicle without a seatbelt on. Its state law and I do not want a ticket."

The man gave Noah a peculiar look then reached back and grabbed his seatbelt, pulling it around his body and clicking it into place. "Happy?" he asked, one eyebrow cocked.

"Yes, thank you." Noah started driving again, checking the speedometer to insure he was driving the proper speed limit, then looked both ways to see if there was any oncoming traffic. "Where can I drive you, Mr… uh…"

"Tynan, Gage Tynan."

Noah nodded. "It's very nice to meet you, Mr. Tynan. My name is Noah Andrews."

"Uh, yeah, it's nice to meet you too but call me Gage."

Noah glanced over at the man, curious as to why he seemed so puzzled by being introduced. It was polite to introduce yourself when you met someone for the first time. Noah's mother taught him that.

"Where can I take you, Gage?"

"Can you drive any faster?"

"Of course not," Noah said, shaking his head. He wanted to laugh at the silly man but even he knew that wouldn't have been polite. "The speed limit is only 35 here. It is a business district, after all."

"Are you daft?"

"Daft?" Noah glanced over just in time to see Gage roll his eyes. Noah's eyebrows drew together as he frowned, looking back out the front window. He got the distinct feeling that Gage was making fun of him. He got that feeling a lot.

Maybe that was one of the reasons he didn't like being around a lot of people. They always seemed to think he was odd or weird, or whatever else they wanted to call him. Noah didn't fit in.

"I am not daft, Mr. Tynan," Noah said after taking a deep controlled breath. It wouldn't do to let Gage know how much his words rankled."I would be happy to take you wherever you want to go but you need to give me a destination."

Gage sighed deeply. "Just drop me off a few blocks from here."

There was a small part of Noah that was disappointed but he understood. Most people didn't want to stick around him after spending any amount of time in his company. Noah was used to it.

Still, there was something compelling about the strange man that drew Noah to him. Maybe that alone was reason enough for Noah to drop Gage off at the first opportunity. He didn't need to get involved with anyone.

Noah hummed softly to himself as he drove a few blocks then pulled over into a small minimart marking lot and put the car into park. He rested his hands on the steering wheel as he turned to look at Gage.

"Will this do, Mr. Tynan?"

Gage looked around then nodded as he reached for the door handle. "Yeah, this will do fine. Thanks for the lift."

"You're very welcome." Noah barely got the words out before Gage was out of the car, slamming the door behind him. Noah watched Gage walk away. He felt a well of disappointment again as Gage disappeared into the night.

It took all of his well honed control not to call Gage back and offer to take the man wherever he wanted to go, and maybe offer to go with him. Noah was lonely and Gage was the first person in a long time that he felt drawn to.

Noah just knew the futility of wanting something he couldn't have. It was better if he just went home and forgot all about Gage Tynan. Nothing good could come of their association. Experience taught Noah that.