The rain never bothered Lannor in the past. More than often he’d curled himself under the blankets in the bed upstairs and slept away the dreary days. As he sat on the front door step watching grey clouds slowly move across the sky, he contemplated returning indoors, Instead he sat pushed back against the front door, keeping clear the water trickling across the porch while watching the drive and listening for vehicles beyond the trees.
Technology had transformed over the years leaving Lannor weary. Human’s found it easy to assimilate with new technology, Lannor preferred to ignore it. Vehicles were one such technology he despised. The loud sound it made, the unnatural vibrations, closed confine, and the accelerated speeds in which it travelled frightened Lannor. Vehicles also meant people left with ease, without consideration to what they were leaving behind. It disturbed him the most. The sense of anticipation at their likely return and the disappointment that followed when the vehicles drove past the house left a bitterness Lannor preferred not to experience.
If his mother thought he would learn anything, it was that life was cruel and merciless. Love that once filled Lannor’s heart was now jaded.
At the deceleration of gears and the vehicle entering the drive, tension drained from Lannor’s body. Was his mother paying attention? Did she know he was now pining the company of a man because that was all that was available? The company of a man who could not give him what he needed. When the deep blue vehicle came into view he became anxious once more, an emotion he could do without.
Tyler climbed out the vehicle and ran towards the porch.
“What’s up with all this rain?” Tyler asked. “Never thought to buy an umbrella.”
Tyler crouched in front of the door and rubbed Lannor around his ears.
“Did you miss me? Is that why you’re still stuck out here? I bet you could have snuck back in.”
Lannor nuzzled his head against Tyler’s hand, ignoring the fact it was Tyler as his anxiety faded. Human contact missed for so long was the one need Lannor longed over anything else.
“So you did miss me. Good because it was my birthday three days ago and tonight we will celebrate.”
Given Lannor did not know what the date was, nor the day, he was surprised by Tyler’s revelation. A celebration meant people and people meant the possibility of finding a woman. Tyler stopped stroking him and standing, opened the door before running back to the car to unload the shopping. Lannor walked inside the house, making his way towards the kitchen.
A celebration. The prospect of there being more people arriving put Lannor in a good mood.
Dark ominous clouds gathered on the horizon, and with more rain predicted that evening, Tyler deposited the shopping onto the front porch. The wine and his mobile phone were the last two items Tyler grabbed from the car before locking it.
From there, Tyler removed his muddy shoes leaving them on the porch as he transferred the shopping to the kitchen. Not surprised to find the black cat sitting where he had been that morning, Tyler asked, “I suspect that is your spot?”
Tyler placed the wine beside the cat and untangling his mobile phone charger plugged it into the wall socket. Once power was restored Tyler would recharge his phone and perhaps have received messages he longed for. With his phone flat for over three days there was the possibility either his parents or Damien had tried to contact him.
To distract him from his thoughts, Tyler opened cupboards and investigated. Pots and pans were all in good condition and only in need of a clean. Cutlery and crockery also there with an assortment of glasses and mugs. Now all Tyler needed was the power connected and the house would be functional. With cold water available, Tyler pried the old black plug from the side of the sink. Unused and cracked from age, Tyler rammed it into position and filled the small metal sink with water.
The pipes hammered and water trickled out. Discoloured, Tyler removed the plug and allowed the water to run clear before replacing it. With the sink half full of water, Tyler used a new cloth to clean down the years of dust from the tops of the cupboards. Tyler had not realised how bad the dust was until he cleaned.
“This is very deceiving.” Tyler mentioned when her reached the bench around the cat. “Look at this?” He held up the cloth to show the cat how black it was.
“Who knew dust could be so… dirty.”
The cat remained motionless.
“I’d ask you to move but I suspect I will have too….”
His voice faded as the cat jumped from the bench top to the table and once more perched himself down.
“… move you.” Tyler finished, staring from the vacated bench top to the table.
“You’re a strange one.” He murmured.
When done cleaning, Tyler threw away the dirt stained cloth and took another to clean out the cabinets. These weren’t as dusty and Tyler cleaned the shelves in preparation for the food purchased. The shopping bags, still sitting on the floor in the entrance of the kitchen were emptied one by one into the clean cabinets. When the rattle of the fridge and a slow hum as it cycled filled the room, Tyler stared for several seconds.
“Looks like we have power!”
To confirm, Tyler opened the fridge door. The interior light shone and a musty odour lingered around the perimeter of the fridge.
“Nothing disinfectant can’t fix.” Tyler said to himself.
He emptied the sink, filled it again and with a new clean dishcloth wiped out the interior of the fridge. A little disinfectant on the cloth removed the stale odour and when done, Tyler loaded up his groceries and cold produce into the fridge.
Please with his endeavour, Tyler patted the cat still sitting on the table. The cat rubbed his head against Tyler’s hand and Tyler wondered when the last time the cat had any human contact.
“Must be lonely here?” Tyler asked. The cat lifted a paw and placed it on Tyler’s arm. “I’m not going anywhere soon. If I do, I will take you with me.”
Tyler had no way of knowing the cat would at that moment stick its claws into his skin.
“Hey.” Tyler yanked back his arm, rubbing the red scratches left behind.
“No need for that. I was being nice.”
The cat fled the room and Tyler frowned.
“Stupid cat.” He murmured rubbing the angry marks.
Tyler made his way toward the utilities room and turning on all the fuses, checked the interior light under the stairs. With light within the small space, Tyler examined the fuse box and finding one lower labelled hot water, he turned it on.
Tyler let out a grateful sigh. “Hot water tonight.”
But he made a mental note to check that there was hot water before too long should it not be working.
As he returned to the kitchen, the thought of the large bath became enticing and taking the cleaning products, he made his way upstairs. With lighting now available, Tyler studied the bathroom in clearer detail. Much like the kitchen, dust covered every surface. The sink where Tyler cleaned up the night before showed watermarks slashed through the dust. Dark rings on the floor were also visible. With a sigh, Tyler cleaned the surfaces first.
By late afternoon, Tyler completed the bathroom, tempted to have a bath early after discovering there was hot water but thought to wait until after he’d eaten. Back in the kitchen the cat had returned to the bench top and Tyler found it delightful.
“So what do you do around here for fun?” Tyler asked as he retrieved a plate from the cupboard and rinsed it under the water.
“We’re having a small celebration for my birthday. Do you think you’ll be up for it?”
Tyler removed vegetables from the fridge and made a salad. A quick glance at the cat showed Tyler he was watching. From the cupboard he removed wholemeal wraps and cut several in half, finished with several think slices of cheese.
“A meal fit for a king. Hope you don’t mind sharing with me.”
Tyler place the plate on the table, retrieved a small thin glass from the cabinet and taking the wine to the table, sat down. The first glass of wine Tyler poured he drank straight down. The second glass he held high.
The pain Tyler had been attempting to ignore clawed its way back into his heart. Another quick gulp of from his glass and Tyler filled it again.
“Should eat something or this wine will go straight to my head.”
Light-headedness tingled Tyler’s senses as he took the salad and cheese and folded it in the wraps. The process was slow and Tyler found he drank more than he ate. At some point the cat joined him at the table.
“You hungry too.”
Tyler pushed the remainder of the food towards the cat, offering him the last of the meal.
“You can have it. I’m not that hungry now.”
Tyler poured another glass of wine and sat arms folded as he nestled the glass against his chest, watching the cat eat. Delicate; a word Tyler would use to describe the way the cat ate. Another glass of wine left the bottle almost empty and Tyler remained mesmerised by the sight. The fridge hummed behind him, rain fell outside and the sun low on the horizon shone through the kitchen window before vanishing. The room darkened and weariness grew as Tyler found his thoughts drifting back to what that night meant.
“It was supposed to be my birthday party tonight. Did I tell you?” Tyler stared at the cat. There was no one else to tell.
“I turned twenty one three days ago. My parents planned an enormous party for this evening; it was going to be amazing. A live band. Dancing. It was going to be great.”
Warm tears fell down Tyler’s face. Another glass of wine, the last as the now empty bottle hit the table with a hollow thud. Tyler reached out and gently ran his fingers over the cat's tail, curled to one side of its body, the soft fur between Tyler’s fingers.
“Did I tell you it was going to be great?”
The rustling of trees outside grew louder as the wind picked up.
“Sounds like a storm tonight. A storm outside and inside.”
Tyler fought against melancholy threading around his heart. It didn’t pay to dwell on the past, yet the memories still fresh burned deep.
“I want to go home.” Tyler whisper as his eyes closed and the sound of the approaching storm reflected the chaos within his mind.
Lannor sat on the table staring at Tyler, now asleep as the room grew darker. For a long time Lannor stared, reluctant to make a move should Tyler wake? When the glass in his hand tilted, Lannor jumped from the table, transformed behind Tyler and removed the glass. Careful not to alert Tyler of his presence, Lannor remained behind him, standing at the back of his head taking in the detail of his exposed neck.
Tyler’s situation appeared clearer now to Lannor. There would be no gathering at the house that evening. The reason Tyler was there was in much the same as those who live in the house. The house became somewhat of a place to hide in. Lannor had seen it with Elizabeth and those before her. It hurt Lannor to realise Tyler was no different.
Tyler whimpered as he slept and his arms dropped to his side. In hindsight, Lannor should leave Tyler there. Yet, he found he could not walk away. Not until the sunset did he come to terms with his struggle. Lannor traced Tyler’s exposed neck with the tips of his fingers attempting to make a connection. When nothing happened, he dropped his hand to his side. There was nothing he could do but help Tyler the old fashion way.
Lannor placed one of Tyler’s arms around his shoulder, wrapped one of his arms around Tyler’s waist and the other under his legs, and lifted him. There was no effort on Lannor’s part; however carrying a man to bed did not go amiss. Years of practice meant he got Tyler up the stairs without incident, Lannor’s only concern he might wake before they reached the bedroom.
Tyler did not flinch as Lannor placed him on the bed, manoeuvred the covers until he was under them and then stood back. The desire for human contact burned deep within Lannor and once more he cursed the fact a man came to the house and not a woman. As the room grew dark, Lannor started the fire to take away the chill in the air. When the fire crackled and the storm outside hit the house, he transformed into his feline form and made his way onto the bed beside Tyler.
Snuggled up near Tyler’s neck, he nuzzle in close to the only part of bare skin exposed. The contact gave Lannor some comfort but the loneliness of his situation remained.