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The Moon’s Permission
By Max
copyright 2017
All rights reserved

Note: The story is also on Tapas and maybe easier to read there and subscribers help me a lot! :)

“Hello,” Gael greeted him with a cocky smile and sparkling blue eyes. He held out his hand to shake, still grinning brilliantly, “I’m Gael McNeil.”

The other man, looking a little like a tiny boat tossed in stormy seas, stood there with a suitcase in either hand,  his hat sitting crookedly over curly red hair, green eyes wide and just staring. “This is a train station.”

Gael pinched his hat between his fingers, lifted it off his head just a little and nodded. “Why yes it is. Is this your first time here?”

“What do you want?” He shifted his hold on his suitcases and looked Gael in the eyes, kind of like you look at a stray dog so it understands to leave you alone..

“I just want to welcome you to New York. What’s your name?” Gael pushed his hat back “New York is the friendliest city in the world!”

“That’s not what I heard,” the redhead said.

A police officer stepped up and gave Gael’s shoulder a shove with his nice black nightstick. “Is this fella bothering you, Sir?” He asked while looking at the redhead.

“He’s new in the city,” Gael said, one hand gracefully deflecting the nightstick from his shoulder. “Also, there’s this thing called the Bill of Rights. Let’s me walk around and talk to people. You might have heard of it.”

“I ain’t talking to you, McNeil.” The officer said, giving him you’re-a-bad-dog look.

“No, no, he’s fine,” the redhead said softly, “Thank you so much, officer.”

“Well, just you be on the lookout. There’s a pickpocket out today. Got two reports already and I’d not be surprised if it was McNeil.”

“That’s slander,” Gael said, his Irish accent rising. His attention was on the officer, but his body was already moving to keep up with the redhead.

The redhead put some pep in his step and was making for the exit.

“Wait! You haven’t told me your name,” Gael said, having to run a couple of steps to keep up.

The redhead spun on one polished shoe, clean shaven chin lifted, green eyes narrowed with glare. “Are you a criminal?”

While there could be multiple answers on many levels to that question, as he watched that confident face, those green eyes, and everything in his being woke up like it never had before, he found a new answer and meant it with all his being. “No.” He took his hat off, holding it over his heart, for fear that someone else might hear it beating. “But I am Irish. That don’t sit well with some.”

“Well, fine then,” the redhead said, ending the sentence with a deep sigh. “My name is Jack Walker. I’m from Kansas City, Kansas. I’m here to finish medical school. I don’t know anything at all about New York.”

Gael put his hat back on his head, grinning again, his heart full of all the poetry he’d ever understood before. “I got a car.”  Now it wasn’t his car, technically, but he still had it, nonetheless. “I can take you places.”

“I have no money to pay you,” Jack admitted. “I just thought, well, that I’d walk.”

“You got an address of this place you’re going?” Gael said, shoving his hands into his pockets.

“I do.” He set his suitcases down and pulled a small notepad from his inside pocket. He flipped through the pages quickly and found the address. “Do you know this place?”

Gael took the notepad, scowled at it. “Well, that’s a long walk with those heavy cases, but I could drive you there in about half an hour. No charge, of course. I never met a medical student before.”

“Are you a student,” Jack asked, still looking suspicious as he let Gael take the heavier of the two bags.

“Oh no! I don’t think the Irish can do that, but,” he said, holding his hat on his head, walking backwards, “I suppose I’d be a lawyer, if I could be something fancy like that.”

A sudden uptick in the breeze grabbed at Jack’s hat and he clamped it hard to his head. “This is America! You can do anything you want!”

“Well, this Kansas must be a splendid place indeed!”  Gael pointed across the street to a blue car with great white wheels and a brass horn on the side.

They dodged carriages and a few other cars as they crossed. Gael banged on the hood as he approached and a redheaded girl sat up in the front seat, yawning crookedly. “Hey, Gaely,” she said,

“This here’s my sister, Kate-Marie,” Gael said, hand holding his hat on his head as he put Jack’s suitcase in the back.

Kate-Marie got up on her knees, elbows on the windshield.  “Ah, Gaely, tá grá!”

He grunted, glaring at her, still holding out his hand for Jack’s other suitcase, which was promptly stowed in the back seat.

She just gave him back his stupid grin. “Tell me I’m wrong?”

“Here now Jack, now pay her no mind. She does nothing other than reading novels and evading the farm dogs,” he said as he pulled a quarter from his pocket.

“There are farm dogs,” Jack asked, looking around, “Are they feral somehow?”

“Oh yes,” she said, slipping the new quarter into her bodice before going over the folded down windshield and crossing her legs, elbow on her knee, chin in her palm, bright gold curls around her face. “You best stay with Gaely or you might get somewheres as they’ll bite you something ferocious. Are you Irish, Mr. Jack?”

He looked at her bare feet, then up into her playful and complicated eyes. “No, Miss Kate-Marie. I’m an American and I expect you are too.”

She laughed, her head tipping back, face turned to the weak spring sun.

“Get off the car, you damn sprite,” Gael yelled.

Jack held up his hands to help her down and she slipped down into his arms, one hand sliding up to touch his russet, mostly red hair. Her other arm went around his neck as she pulled close to his ear, “Be good to Gaely. He’s a better man than he thinks he is.”

“Of course, Miss,” he said,setting her firmly on the ground. “Hadn’t you better be in school?”

She ran towards the sidewalk. “You be good boys now!”

“Come on,” Gael said stepping up into the car. “Get in!”

Jack licked his lips nervously, eye the large metal machine. “Does it go fast?”

“Do you like fast?” He smirked as he reached over to open the passenger side door. “Come on. I’ll show you.”

“I’ve never been in a car before,” Jack admitted, cheeks flush.

Gael pushed his hat on tight, blue eyes sparkling with the birth of mischief. “I guess Kansas does have some shortcomings then.”

Gael pulled the ignition on and the engine roared to life, his attention though was on Jack’s face.

The boy from Kansas lit up, eyes wide, mouth open until he covered it with both hands.

From Gael’s position he had lovely slender fingers, a doctor’s fingers, that would be good at reaching in and finding stuff, moving stuff, pushing, and then it was Gael’s cheeks on fire.  Both hands on the wheel, he took them into the chaotic mixed traffic, slow and tumultuous avalanche of sound.

In under an hour, Gael had gotten them to a country road and opened her up. Dirt turned to mist behind them and the engine roared carrying them at ungodly speeds down the open road. Jack lifted his hands into the air and Gael watched him, watched the road, watched the redheaded boy from Kansas. He pressed on the gas pedal, hunkered down behind the wheel, holding it steady over the bumps, around the curves, and Jack opened up like a flower in the sun.

His hat blew away, but as he turned to catch it, he broke into laughter. Up on his knees, watching the hat roll away in the dust storm behind them, his hair straining in every direction, he motioned for Gael not to slow down. So he ran her down the road until they couldn’t see New York on the horizon.

At last the car sputtered and slowed and Gael pulled her to the side of the road. This allowed the black Amish carriage to catch up and come to a stop next to them, casting a shadow over them.. With dirty faces they both looked up at the stern bearded man looking down at them.

“You boys a causin a storm,” he said.

Now Gael’s first impulses would be to shower the apostate with some good Catholic oaths, but his mind went completely and utterly full of flowers and sunlight when Jack set his hand on his shoulder. “I’m very sorry, Sir! It’s entirely my fault. I’ve never been in a horseless carriage before, and I encouraged him dreadfully. I’m from Kansas!”

“Well, you’ve had yer fun then. NO more.”

“Oh yes, Sir,” Jack said, his flush, dirt covered face beaming. “We’ll go much slower.”

“See dat you do.” He turned his buggy around and disappeared into the settling cloud.

“Wait!” Jack yelled, waving.

The man came to an easy stop and looked back around the edge of his buggy. “What?”

“Do you have any water?”

“I have some milk,” he grumbled, “Though I’ll have less now dat the cows’er upset.”

“Yes, I’m terribly sorry about that,” Jack said, running to the buggy, “May I please buy some of your milk? Today’s my first day in New York!”

“Yer not in New York now,” the man said, reaching back to pull a glass bottle of milk, the yellow cream all at the top. “They do have cows in Kansas, don’t they?”

“Yes, Sir, they do. I’m very sorry about your cows. I hope they feel better soon.” Jack handed up twice the money he thought was right for a quart of milk. The man took three quarters of it and gave the rest back. “See dat you slow down.”

“Oh yes, Sir,” he promised, “We will!”

When he got back to the car, Gael was pouring gasoline into the tank, his face spit washed clean enough.

“I have milk,” Jack said, holding it up, the bottom on his palm, a wide smile on his face.

“Oh,” Gael said, as if giving him second prize, as he put the now empty gas can onto the backseat floor and pulled out a dark black bottle. “I have rum.”

Jack held his upper lip between his teeth for a moment. “What’s it taste like?”

Gael pulled the cork, worked it out even though it tried to stick. Eyes on Jack, he put the smooth glass to his lips and took a mouthful. Dark, thick back room rum clung to his lip like splotchy gloss, locking Jack’s lips on them. “It tastes like everything wicked.”

“I wanna,” Jack said, eyes wide, breathing only when he remembered to breathe, lips dry, “I want to kiss you.”

“That’s the best way to get your first taste of rum,” Gael said, voice low, eyes watching every tiny bit of Jack, inviting him with all his being, the closest Gael had come to a prayer.

The distance between them seemed like miles and each step Jack too closer, Gael was afraid it would be the last. His own eyes were so wide he could feel the tears trying to pull them back. They stared at each other, and there are things that go beyond how long you’ve known someone, but when you find it, it’s like you’re not alone, like for the first time you’re not alone, you’re not damned anymore, and there is nothing the same ever after.

Jack’s tongue touched the rum, just the tip, then a shy lick. Gael held his breath, held perfectly still. Then there was a brush of lips, like a kiss, but like tasting, like some new thing that had never been done before. Gael just stood there, lips still parted, Jack no more than an inch from him, looking into his eyes like he needed forgiveness.

“It’s okay,” Gael said, “New York has some of us.”


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