Here We Go Again!bydouble_entendre©
Disclaimer: The following is copyrighted material and not allowed to be duplicated in all or part by anyone without the expressed consent of the author. As always please adhere to the rules of this site regarding minors and age restrictions. Please excuse any and all typographical, spelling, grammar punctuation, and any other errors you find in this story. My editor D and I work very hard to bring you quality work, but I must confess that neither one of us are English majors.
Decision making can be defined as an act of choosing one scenario or set of actions over another. Most decisions are relatively simple, such as what to have for supper, or which shirt to put on in the morning. Some however, are life changing alterations that can have a monumental impact in shaping the course of our future. It is this type of decision for which I face, and I can honestly say that I am truly afraid of making the wrong choice. You see my dilemma stems from the fact that my ex-girlfriend, Jennifer, wants to get back together with me. We broke up in high school, and I haven't lived a truly happy day since. It was her fault that we separated. She literally broke my heart, and even though I honestly believe that she would never hurt me again, I'm terrified of being wrong.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mathew Alexander Denton, my friends call me Matt, and so do my parents when they aren't pissed with me. In order to properly tell you this story, I have to take you back a few decades. When I was young, I was labeled a child prodigy. I have a gift for being mechanically inclined as I am able to understand the inner workings of damn near nearly anything. Hand me something that is broken and I will have it in excellent working condition before most people can identify the problem.
My father was a top level administrator who worked his way up the corporate ladder to earn a cozy corner office, his own designated parking space, and a key to the executive washroom. Although my dad made more than enough money to support the three of us, Mom decided to return to work when my uncle, her brother, started having problems with one of his employees who he eventually had to let go which left him shorthanded and in desperate need of a front desk receptionist to manage his mechanics shop. My uncle Jake needed someone he could trust, and instead of putting me in daycare, I was 4 years old at the time, my mom agreed to work for him, only if she could bring me with her.
My entire family was worried about me becoming bored and getting into trouble at the shop, but they decided to try it out anyway, at least for a little while, and brought a small collection of "quiet" toys from home for me to play with. As you can probably imagine, this did not hold my attention very long, so it wasn't very long before I was scouting around the shop trying to find something else to do, when I came across my uncle's collection of automotive repair manuals. Mom had taught me to read at an early age, and looking back I must admit that I did have a knack for it. I started flipping through these full colored illustrations, and to everyone's surprise, including my own; they began to make since to me. I am sure that mom originally thought I was just looking at the pictures, but as long as I kept quiet, and didn't deface the books any, no one really seemed to care if I looked at them, so I did.
I would spend literally hours a day going through the series of books my uncle collected throughout the years learning everything I could about the mechanics of auto repair. Some of his manuals were very detailed and I found that I was not only was learning about the different components of a car, and what each device's function was for, but I was also becoming aware of the various types of tools required to work on various types of vehicles.
My secret was discovered when one day Melvin, one the mechanics who worked for my uncle, walked into the office and said he had to look up the ignition timing on the vehicle he was working on and I immediately blurted out that it was one degree over to dead center. He seemed totally shocked that I even comprehended the question, but you should have seen the look on his face when he looked it up in the book, only to find that I was right. Melvin spent the next ten minutes grilling me on the various aspects of car repair, and getting more and more excited as I rattled off the correct answers. My uncle, wondering what was taking Melvin so long in the office, came to investigate. When mom came back from the restroom she found both men taking turns trying to stump me on my knowledge of car repair, and so far neither of them could. At the time, I didn't know what all the hoopla was about, but it was nice to suddenly have these two grown men fawning all over me. To me it was a game and I couldn't understand why everyone was getting so excited.
From that moment on, my uncle took a more active role in my development, even going as far as to take me out to the shop when it wasn't busy to teach me firsthand about the things I'd been studying in his books. It became clear early on that I not only had some type of gift when it came to anything mechanical, but I was actually learning from what I was reading, and not just memorizing script out of a magazine. My uncle Jake started out having me describe how to do different repair jobs and then gradually moved up to having me attempt them on my own. He, of course, was always right by my side to supervise; and although not being anywhere near as strong as my uncle was a hindrance, I seemed to perform remarkable well given my small size and, of course, my age.
As time went on my uncle would allow me to do some things which did not require certification on my own. If I needed any help, all I would have to do is ask one of his employees for assistance. Usually this was only done when I wasn't strong enough to twist something loose, or tighten it back up again properly. At first my uncle's workers seemed annoyed by my presence, but it wasn't too long before they became amazed by my abilities, and welcomed me into their fold. Although they did have to tone down their profanity quite a bit, I was occasionally privy to my share of adult content.
Uncle Jake started me on my first set of tools that Christmas, and from then on they became my toys of preference. I'd go with mom, and help Uncle Jake out in the shop until it was finally time for me to start school. I hated not being able to work in the shop all day, but some of my classes were fun, and it seemed nice to be able to interact with my peers, at least it did at first anyway.
It quickly became apparent that although I excelled in reading comprehension, and anything mechanical, being surrounded by grownups all day long had affected my ability to socialize with kids my own age. I did great in some classes, and well enough in others, but I quickly earned the reputation of being a loner, having next to nothing in common with any of my classmates beside the book work.
During the next few years my interest expanded beyond mere automotive repair to anything mechanical. I could now fix just about anything electrical, from VCR's and DVD players, to toasters and garage door openers. I was even good at building computers, though I didn't know how to run them very well after they were put together.
When I turned eight I was once again looking forward to working in the shop over the summer, but my uncle had other ideas, and convinced my parents to let him enter me in an automotive certification class hosted by a local junior college. Of course he had to get special permission from the instructor due to my young age. At first the guy assumed that my uncle was joking, but upon discovering that he was serious about getting me enrolled into the program, Professor Miller told him that he wasn't going to waste a class seat on a kid who was probably barely able to change motor oil. Uncle Jake challenged the professor to test me on my knowledge of automotive repair, and when he refused saying it was a waste of his time, my uncle decided to get a bit creative.
"I'll tell you what Doc, I have a hundred dollars here that says Mathew can pass any entrance examination you come up with," My uncle challenged.
"I am not going to bet on this child's inability to pass my prerequisite test," Professor Miller responded.
"What's wrong Doc, afraid you'll lose? I'll even make it easy on you. If Mathew fails your test, you can keep the money and never have to hear from us again, but if he passes I get my $100 back and you sign the waver to accept him into this program. Either way you stand to lose nothing," My uncle said.
"Alright Mr. McDonald, it's your money," The professor said with an arrogant chuckle.
"And I intend to keep it that way," My uncle replied with a grin on his face.
As you can probably imagine I was not overly thrilled by this turn of events, as the instructor for this course clearly did not want me in his class. My uncle calmed me down by telling me to just do my best, and not to be concerned about the outcome.
The entrance exam actually went really well. The professor started off easy, thinking he could stump me early on. When that didn't work, he moved to the more advanced subject matters, and by the time we had finished with the test, he was throwing things at me that were beyond what his class was meant to teach. I knew this because I had already read the course book. When it was all said and done, I had to attend a class on both Tuesday's and Thursdays, while my uncle got his $100 back. Something didn't seem quite fair, if you asked me.
For the next couple of years, summers seemed to take on the same pattern, with my uncle using his little $100 bill trick until people started recognizing my name when I would enroll for a class. After that the professors would usually just sign the waver without provocation.
It was about a week before Christmas, and my Mom and I were coming back from the mall, when we noticed a car stalled on the side of the road with what appeared to be a woman and a little girl, who looked to be about my age, still sitting inside of it. Mom pulled over, and before she could stop me I jumped out of the car and went over to ask the lady if she needed any help. That is when I recognized the girl sitting beside her to be my classmate Jenny Stapleton.
Jenny was in a few of my classes at school, and although we weren't exactly friends, seeing that I really didn't have any my own age, she was always nice to me. Jenny didn't have any real friends either, but it was for a totally different reason. Her dad skipped out on her mother when she got pregnant, leaving Jenny's mom to be the sole provider for the family. She worked hard in her secretarial job, but it didn't really pay all that much. I knew all of this because I accidentally overheard Jenny explaining it to one of the teachers one day, when she didn't have enough money to buy school pictures, like the rest of us did. I always felt bad for Jenny after that, but I didn't want to tell her what I had heard, and possible make her feel worse.
"Excuse me mam, but what seems to be the problem," I asked while knocking on the window?
"Oh the car just started sputtering and then it died. I am hoping that if I just give it a few minutes, it will start back up again," Jenny's mom replied.
"Why don't you pop the hood, and let me take a look at the engine," I asked?
"I'm sorry son, but I don't really think there is much you can do," She said slightly amused at my request.
"I am a certified general mechanic," I told her proudly.
"You really shouldn't tell fibs little boy," She said to me in a slightly annoyed tone of voice.
"He is telling you the truth mam," My mother said as she walked towards their car. "Matt is a genius when it comes to anything mechanical," She added.
"I believe the term they used at the university was child prodigy mom," I said hating to be referred to as a genius.
"That is unbelievable," Jenny's mom stated.
"He is not lying, mom Matt is in some of my classes in school, and I overheard a few of the teachers saying the same thing." Jenny told her having finally recognized who I was.
With my identity now verified, at least by her own daughter, Jenny's mom reluctantly popped the hood, as I began to diagnose her problem. After once again failing to get it started I recognized that the old model of Ford she was driving had a corroded vacuum hose. After sealing it with electrical tape, I took a rag and held it tightly over the tail pipe. This created enough suction that it freed the hose of excess air, allowing the engine to start, even though it was clearly not in the best of shape.
"I can't believe you got it started. How much do I owe you," She asked nervously?
"Oh there is no charge for this, but it is only a temporary fix at best. You really should drop by the shop tomorrow, and let me work on it some more," I suggested handing her one of my business cards that my uncle made up for me.
"I'd like to, but with the holiday's coming up I really just don't have the money right now," She confessed.
"Look, because of the child labor laws I am not really supposed to work tomorrow anyway. Stop by the shop in the morning around 10:00 A.M. and I will only charge you for whatever parts you need," I told her.
"I couldn't let you do that," She started to protest.
"Sure you could," I replied. "Just think of it as an early Christmas gift to Jenny. I wouldn't want her or her mother to get stranded someplace, because of something I could easily fix," I said.
"Wouldn't your uncle get upset that you were working on cars for free," Jenny's mom asked?
"No. As long as we are not busy, and the mechanic is working off the clock, my uncle lets his employees bring in cars to work on all the time for various reasons. I know he wouldn't have a problem with me doing this," I told her.
"I still don't think I should let you do this for us for free," Jenny's mother said.
"Ok, how about you bake me some of your oatmeal chocolate chip cookies," I suggested.
Jenny had brought some into class for Halloween one year, and they were some of the best I'd ever tasted.
"I suppose I could do that," She agreed reluctantly.
"Great, then I will see the two of you tomorrow. Bye Jenny, I said waving my hand at her.
"Goodbye Matt, and thank you," She said meekly.
"You're welcome, I replied as they started to drive away.
"Why did you do that," my Mom asked me after we were back in our car?
"Mom, Jenny's mother doesn't have much money. I overheard her telling one of the teachers at school that she couldn't afford to have her picture taken because her father left them before Jenny was born, and her mother's job just didn't pay very well. Uncle Jake has a big heart, and I know that he won't have a problem with me doing this for them," I replied.
That's very nice of you, but if I didn't know any better, I would say that you have a little crush on Jenny," Mom teased.
"Oh come on Mom, I feel bad for her, that's all. Some of the kids at school found out that Jenny's mother buys her clothing from the Salvation Army. Now a lot of them make fun of her for wearing used clothes, I told her.
"That's terrible," She remarked.
"Kids can be cruel mom, especially if you're different," I said reflecting on some of my own personal experiences.
"Are we still talking about Jenny, or is that how they treat you as well," Mom asked insightfully.
"I don't want to talk about it," I replied honestly.
"Ok, but if you ever do feel like talking, I am always ready to listen," She said lovingly.
"Thanks mom, I said ending our conversation.
As I had predicted, after I explained some of the hardships they had been through, my uncle didn't have a problem with me helping out Jenny and her mother, so around about ten o'clock an old rickety car pulls into the shop with Ms. Stapleton behind the wheel, and Jenny riding shotgun. As she had promised Jenny's mother, who I found out was named Karen, had baked a fresh batch of her famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which I made sure to share with Jenny, essentially earning me a bright smile for my troubles.
Jenny sat out in the shop and talked with me while I worked on her mother's car. I had been a loner for so long that it was actually nice to carry on a conversation with someone my own age, even if it wasn't about anything mechanical. My uncle had a policy of only selling new, or factory rebuilt parts, yet he had a collection of used materials in his warehouse for any of us to use in case someone couldn't afford to pay. Uncle Jake saw this act of charity as a way to give back to the community which had afforded him a good living all these years. I ended up using several of those parts on Jenny's mother's vehicle, and when I was finished the grand total for the new materials came to $11.35.
Jenny's mother was ecstatic, which is something that I got the feeling Jenny didn't see a lot of at her home. My diligent hard labor earned me another of those fabulous smiles that I for some reason suddenly seemed to enjoy getting. After Jenny and her mother left, in a car that was considerably more reliable than the one they came in, my uncle started to tease me about having a girlfriend. Of course I strictly denied the accusation, but in the back of my mind I started to wonder if just maybe he was right, and if so would that really be such a bad thing?
Because of my little Christmas present, Jenny and I started talking to each other more at school, and suddenly it didn't seem quite as depressing as it had once been. Jenny's birthday, which coincidentally coincided with Valentine's Day, fell on a Saturday that year. For a present she had received three tickets to Jolly Amusement Park from her Aunt, who sent them by mail, because she and her husband had plans to celebrate that night, and was not able to visit her in person. Since we lived in a relatively warm climate the park was already open for business. I was shocked to get the invitation to accompany them to the park, and initially asked if it was Jenny's mother's idea to take me as payment for the work I had done on her car. Jenny assured me that it was her idea to invite me, but her mother did feel it was a nice gesture after she made the suggestion. After receiving permission from my parents I did something I rarely ever do and took a day off from work at my uncle's garage to go with Jenny and her mother to the park.
All Jenny could talk about, all the way there was a new coaster she had heard about called the G Force. It was supposed to be one of the most thrilling rides ever designed, and I was looking forward to going on it myself. I loved roller coasters, and being mechanically minded was fascinated by the design of them. I actually knew quite a bit about this particular ride, having researched it for a report I wrote on the mechanics of roller coasters in one of my summer college classes. I couldn't wait to see it in action.
As we were anxiously waiting in line for our turn to challenge this mighty hunk of steel, when suddenly there was a loud noise and the train stopped moving. About 5 minutes later I saw a man who I recognized as Walter Jolly talking to a guy in a hard hat. Neither of the men seemed particularly happy at that moment. I asked Jenny to hold my place in line, while I went up to greet them. I overheard the man in the hardhat, who I assumed was one of the engineers of the ride; say that the linear-induction motor they had recently installed was defective, and that they wouldn't be able to get a replacement for it until at least Monday afternoon. Mr. Jolly was livid.
"Do you realize that a representative from travel magazine is coming here today to do a feature story on this ride? Isn't there anything you can do to get it up and running again," Mr. Jolly asked?