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Mark Caldwell met Jessica Bradley in high school, where she was a year behind him. After graduating, they both went to the same college. During her sophomore year, his junior year, they were married and a little over a year later, Joshua was born in March.
Bill Taylor met Carol Reese in college. They were married during his senior year, her sophomore year and just over six months later, Shawna was born.
As it turned out, Shawna was born just two months after Joshua, and the two families ended up moving to the same neighborhood in the Montgomery, AL. area In fact, their houses were right next door to each other, and that is where the two families first met each other. Joshua and Shawna were both six years old and just ready to start in the first grade at the local school. They became each other’s best friends and grew up taking care of each other, and getting in to and out of trouble together. Where one was, the other could usually be found.
Joshua started really taking notice of girls when he was fifteen, but would not be allowed to date until he was sixteen and six months. It was the same for Shawna, except she started thinking of such romantic things as weddings when she turned fourteen.
Than came the year when they turned sixteen and everything changed. The company that Mark worked for went out of business and he was left without a job. The house had to be sold to be able to make ends meet, and the Caldwells moved to an apartment complex on the other side of the city. It seemed that the two friends would never see each other again.
Mark did find a new job after a few months looking and they again were able to take care of their responsibilities, but the banks would not finance him for the money needed to move back into a house. They had to stay in the small apartment, and make do as best they could.
Joshua was in a different school, but never forgot about Shawna. Although he knew that it was very unlikely that they would ever see each other again, and even if they did, that she would probably have moved on, dating other guys, he just couldn’t bring himself to go out with anyone. He had known that he was in love with her before he left and always would be, even if he would never see her again.
At his new school, he stayed to himself for the most part. He never bothered to ask any girl on a date even after he was allowed to. The only ones to celebrate his seventeenth birthday, if you could call the subdued atmosphere in the apartment that day a celebration, were his parents and himself. None of them were really in to it, least of all Joshua. Jessica was worried about her boy. She could see the loneliness and sadness in his eyes, and at one point nearly asked him if he wanted to stop the party. After the cake and ice cream was served and the presents opened, things just sort of fizzled to an end anyway. Jessica excused herself and went to her room alone so that the two men in her life wouldn’t see the tears she would shed for her son. That night, as Joshua lay in his bed, he buried his face in his pillow to quiet the sobs he unleashed as the tears flowed from his own eyes.
The next fall after his birthday when school started, Joshua was approached by a classmate. His name was Dean Beaumont. Although he knew Joshua only fleetingly through classes, the senior was the type that cared about everyone within his sphere of influence, so as they stood next to some lockers after the last period, Dean asked Joshua if he would consider going on a double date with him and his girlfriend. Joshua thanked him for the offer, but refused the date.
“Josh, you need to get out, dude,” Dean said as they began to move down the hall and out of the school “This loner thing you got going is not doing you any good.”
“It isn’t happening, Dean,” Joshua answered.
“Man, I’m beginning to worry about you. It seems like you don’t want anything to do with anything or anybody. What’s with that?”
“It’s just not my scene, alright?” Joshua was starting to get angry. “This is not my place, man. I don’t have a place anymore, and I’m not sure I ever will have again or even if I want to.” He paused. “Shit!”
“Sit down, Josh,” Dean said as they reached a set of benches just outside the school
“I said sit down!” Joshua sat. “There’s something more going on isn’t there? Look. I know that it can be hard moving to a new school and all that, but you’ve been here a year. No one takes that long to get acclimated. Talk to me Josh. Tell me why you are blocking everyone out. I’m sure we can figure this out.”
Joshua calmed himself before finally speaking. “I know you mean well, Dean, but this isn’t a problem that can be gotten rid of with a few nice words. You can’t help.”
“Just talk to me, man. Even talking can at least get things straight in your head. What the hell happened to make you so anti-social?”
“It’s not that I’m anti-social. I just don’t want to bring others down with my bad mood and all.”
“Then why the bad mood?”
Joshua thought bahis firmaları for a bit then decided to open up. Maybe talking about it would at least ease his mind. Besides, if Dean knew, then maybe he would stop pestering him “Her name is Shawna Taylor,” he started.
“Oh,” Dean replied. “A girl.”
“From the time I was six years old, she was my best friend. We played all kinds of games together, explored the woods at the park near our home together, got into trouble together, and out of trouble. She is everything in the world to me. If I had stayed where I was, I’m sure that we would be dating each other and getting into a lot more trouble together. I miss her terribly, and there can be no other. I love her more than anything, and I can’t and won’t give that up. If I end up without anyone the rest of my life, I’m okay with that. But for me, she is my one and only, and I can’t date anyone else.”
“Wow,” said Dean. “Okay, I understand. I won’t try to get you to date anyone anymore. But can I ask you for a favor?”Dean related how his girlfriend had had her heart set on going to a prestigious concert at the nearby college, but he had to be out of town that day with his family for a reunion. He asked if Joshua would consider escorting her to it, no date, just seeing to it that she was escorted safely to and from the concert with dinner beforehand. Money was offered, but Joshua said that he couldn’t take it as it wouldn’t be proper, although he would let him pay any and all expenses.
He took the girl to the concert, and while the girl enjoyed the classical music, he hid his feelings, putting them as deep inside of him as he could. At the end of the “date,” he held her hand and gave it a light kiss, and wished her a good night. That was all the contact that was made between the two.
That night, he lay on his bed again letting the tears quietly flow from his eyes. Music, he thought, had a way of intensifying ones feelings. He wished that the girl sitting next to him had been Shawna and would have felt more comfortable being at home alone with his grief. His loneliness came out in the tears he shed into his pillow. It seemed to him that love was a coin. He only knew the one side: the side of pain, and he was sure that he would never experience the other side: the side of ecstasy. That side, he had reserved only to be felt with one girl. A girl that he couldn’t see.
From that point on, he became known throughout the school as the “safe date,” willing to escort the lady to whatever function, no ties and no sex. The single kiss of the girls hand became a bit of a trademark, and before long, the question was asked often if his lips had touched a girl’s fingers. Often, the affirmative reply was said rather dreamily. It never occurred to him that his signature wish good night was having an effect on the recipient. Girls began to seek him out just for the opportunity to have that kiss and he often found himself taking many of them to one function or another, so it seemed to his parents that he had moved on as he seldom did not have someone whom he was escorting somewhere. Jessica stopped worrying about his mood, and started worrying about whether he might get one of the many girls he took out pregnant. Though he was not happy, he had learned how to hide it very well, unless one looked closely at his eyes. The sad loneliness was still there, though buried deep. Only when he was alone in his room and his parents were fast asleep, did he allow the tears to come and drench his pillow.
Without any real friendships to take up his time, he became quite studious. He enjoyed electronics most, and within a few months, was able to repair even the most complex equipment. The school even brought their stuff to him when it broke down. He charged for the work, but kept his prices reasonable, and soon had a good start on saving for the car he wanted to buy.
The summer after Joshua turned eighteen, he tried get a job to help raise more money for the car he wanted, and went around the city to put in applications. After weeks of looking, he started to get discouraged, but kept trying. It was on one of these trips that one of the biggest events of his life happened. He had been getting nowhere and decided to see if his father was free for lunch. After entering the offices of Bailey and Carter MFG and making his way to Mark Caldwell’s desk, he could see that one of the repair people was working on his dad’s computer while he looked on.
“Hey, dad,” he said. “What’s up?”
“Computer broke down right in the middle of a rather important job. I’m hoping that they can get it running without losing all the work I’ve already done.
“Oh,” Joshua replied. “I guess you wouldn’t be able to go to lunch, huh.”
“Sorry, Josh. I need to stay here in case they get it fixed so that I can finish. We could lose the account otherwise.”
“That’s okay. Mind if I stick around? I’d like to get a ride home after you’re done for the day if you don’t mind.”
“Sure. No problem.”
With that, Joshua sat kaçak iddaa in the extra chair and started to watch the job the repairman was doing. He could tell that the man was unsure of himself as he studied the different circuit boards and the myriad of wires that filled the interior of the computer case. Still, he seemed to be doing alright, so Joshua didn’t say anything.
While he watched, Joshua tried to mentally tell the technician what he should do next. He would usually make the right connections and Joshua kept quiet until one connection was made that was a crippling mistake.
“You realize that will blow the circuit board, don’t you?” he asked.
“Sit there and mind your own business, kid. I’m the one who’s trained on this stuff.”
Joshua continued to watch until the man finally put the case back on and attached the screws. The man then plugged it in and Joshua moved his foot so that it was beneath the plug. The repairman then pushed the button to turn the computer on and as the power was restored, it began to spark.
As Joshua quickly pulled the plug with his foot, the power faded, and the sparks slowly died. He looked at the repairman, but kept his mouth shut. Instead of saying “I told you so,” he simply shrugged his shoulders.
“Shit!” exclaimed the technician. He bent to unplug it again then saw that the plug had been pulled. He again pulled the screws and started pulling off the case. “Oh, fuck,” he said when he saw the inside. “Mr. Caldwell, this thing is fried, now. If your son hadn’t distracted me, I might have gotten it working, but it’s completely gone now.”
“Could I give it a shot?” asked Joshua.
“Don’t you think you’ve done enough already, kid?”
“If it’s as bad as you say it is, I don’t see how he could make it worse,” said Mark. “Besides, I did hear him tell you that you were making a mistake, and that was the only thing that he said to you. Why don’t you let him borrow your tools and see what he can do?”
The repairman relented. What he didn’t know that both Mark and Joshua did was that Joshua had been repairing all kinds of electronic equipment for nearly a year. As he began to work, Mark excused himself and went and talked with other employees.
Joshua could feel the eyes of the repairman watching him as he worked. He ignored it as best he could and before he knew it, half an hour had passed. A gentle cough in the otherwise silent office space caught his attention. He looked up to notice that many of the people that were working at their desks were watching him. Now nervous that he might be thrown out for working on his father’s computer without authorization, he started working as fast as he dared to correct the problems that had been present before the technician had been called and also those that he had caused.
Finally, Joshua put down the tools and pushed the case back in place. He reached down and plugged the machine in without attaching the screws, then gently pushed the power button. The computer came to life and whirred with the renewed power. He ran through a few programs and testing diagnoses before he was satisfied and replaced all the screws. His father was once again talking to people around the room, but this time as he came up to each person, Joshua noticed that they were pulling out their wallets and handing him bills. It dawned on him that his father had made a number of bets that he could fix the machine and he felt a sense of pride that he had thought enough of his ability to not only trust him to fix it but even bet that he could do so.
The repairman gathered his tools and left with a huff. But it wasn’t long before he was back and this time there was another man with him. The repairman didn’t look happy as the two entered the office of the manager. After a few minutes the man left, and he was obviously not happy about something. The one he had come back up with was still in the office.
Joshua waited for his dad to finish the work on the account that had been interrupted by the computer failure. Before he finished, the manager, Mr. Brown, came out and asked him to come into his office. Joshua sat in the chair by his father’s desk with his heart pumping. He knew that this had to be about what he had done, and he hoped that his dad wasn’t in trouble because of it.
The door was closed to the office of the manager. Joshua sat in his chair, one leg bouncing nervously. Finally, the door opened and his dad motioned him to come in. “Oh, shit,” he thought. “How much fucking trouble am I in now?”
Joshua nervously entered the manager’s office, feeling the sweat in the palms of his hands. “Joshua, this is Mr. Brown. He’s the office manager, and he wants to have a word with you. This is Carl Bender, the immediate supervisor of the I.T. department, and the supervisor of the repairman that almost fucked up, Uh, sorry, messed up my computer.”
“How do you do, sir?” Joshua asked politely.
“Fine, Joshua,” Mr. Brown replied. “You caused quite a stir here today.”
“I didn’t mean to cause trouble, kaçak bahis sir.”
“No worries, lad. It seems it was quite entertaining to a lot of the staff.”
“Chad, uh, he’s the guy that was working on your father’s machine,” started Carl, “isn’t well liked around here. He’s just not very good at his job and he’s got attitude problems. But due to his relationship with higher ups, we couldn’t fire him unless we had something that really screamed incompetence.”
“It seems you provided that, son,” Mark said.
“Definitely,” Carl continued. “I mean, if he couldn’t fix a machine that was proven to be fixable by a high school aged boy, that’s gross incompetence. So, he’s out. That also means that we have problem. We have a shortage of I.T. people as it is, but with Chad gone, we will have all sorts of difficulty getting things done.”
“That’s where you come in, Joshua,” Mr. Brown said. “We need people who know what they’re doing with electronic equipment, and you’ve proven that you have that knowledge. I understand that you still have a year left of high school.”
“Well, until school starts, we would like you to work here full time. Once you are back in class, Carl has volunteered to come in on Saturdays to work with you. It will be only half a day, but it will keep you in the know about what’s going on here, and we will also be sending equipment to you for you to take care of at home. So what do you say? Would you like to work here?”
“Yes, sir,” Joshua nearly jumped at the offer.
“Good,” said Mr. Brown. “You will report next Monday to Carl. Why don’t you show Joshua where he will be meeting you, Carl, and make sure all his paperwork is done?”
With that the meeting ended and Carl told Joshua to follow him while his dad went back to complete his work.
Joshua couldn’t believe his luck. He had gone in only to have lunch with his dad and get a ride home, and now he had a job that he thought he just might really enjoy. Carl had given him the tour of the place and assigned him a locker in the I.T. room. He was required to buy his own tools, but Carl said that he would help him by providing some extras he had until he could get his own. He was one step closer to having the car he wanted.
“Josh,” Mark said as they were in the car on the way home. “I want to ask you for a favor.”
“Son, I need to tell you a bit of a secret first, and I don’t want you telling your mom, okay.”
Joshua began to worry. He had noticed the women that worked in the offices at Bailey and Carter, and the way that many of them looked at Mark and flirted with him. Certainly his dad wasn’t going to tell him about some torrid affair, was he? He had heard his parents through the thin walls of the apartment and new that they had sex nearly every night. How could his dad keep that up if he were having an affair? Still, he couldn’t get the picture out of his mind of the way some of the very attractive, hot, even, female workers had acted around his dad. “What is it, dad?” he asked nervously.
“I’ve been working on a little project, Josh. The house we used to live in is up for sale again. I don’t have enough yet to get it, but I’ve saved quite a bit towards it. See, I was holding back a little of my paycheck every week, having them place it in a savings account, so that when you go off to college, your mom could have a shopping spree to comfort herself over missing her only son. It’s been building for close to ten years. Your mom doesn’t know about it yet, and I don’t want her to know. I’m close to having enough to get the house back, but it’s not enough yet. I know you are saving for a car, but do you think you could put some of your money into that account to help speed things up? I don’t want to take too long or the house might go before I can get to it.”
“Sure, dad. That would be way more important than a car. I’ll help out as much as possible and get my car later.”
“I appreciate that, son. But you don’t have to make it a sacrifice.”
“Hell, dad. I’d much rather be able to move back to the house than have a car. After we get the house back, I’ll save up enough to buy something that will get me around, then I’ll start working on getting the one I really want when I can. No big deal, you know? I want to move back there a lot more then I want a car.”
“Okay, Josh. Thanks for the help. I’ll give you the account number when we get home.”
The Caldwell family had a small celebration that night in honor of Joshua’s getting a job. They went out for dinner and splurged on the meal, then went home to watch a DVD of one of Joshua’s favorite movies. It finally began to get late and Joshua retired to his room, for once, not feeling like he needed to release his emotions in the form of tears. Maybe, he thought, he might get to see Shawna again.
Josh lay there listening to his parents talking in the next room. He couldn’t make out what they were saying, but could tell which one was talking. His thoughts went to the possibility of going back home, to seeing Shawna, to holding her in his arms, kissing her, something he had never done. As he lay there, he felt his body start to respond to his thoughts. Then the sounds from the next room changed.
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