45 Days

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Chapter 13- Transitions

Later that day, Aiden has a guest waiting in his driveway, pulled up alongside Dakota’s Mazda, Aiden notices his best friend is in a pretty foul mood.

“What’s up, bub?” Aiden calls out, climbing out of the car.

“The Hell is this here? I found this in Heather’s apartment. Be glad she didn’t see this, so what the hell, dude?”

Aiden shrugs his shoulders gives him a vague explanation, “Well, she lied about getting fired. I heard from a reliable source that she was only with me for the money. I didn’t care for her.”

Dakota turns red in the face.

“You can be a real asshole! If you ruin this for Heather and me, I will beat your ass, son.”

Dakota is shoved back a few feet before Aiden lays into him verbally.

“Listen here; you dick with ears. I don’t tell you to shave that fucking dome. Also, who I date and sleep with is NONE of your business. You want to come at me, then go ahead. Other than that, shut up, or else I will pummel your ass.”

They stare at each other, waiting for the other to make a move. Aiden’s anxious for Dakota to make any sudden movements.

“Just don’t do that again, alright. See you around, jackass!” Dakota takes out his car keys getting into his car, and backs away.

“Yeah, exactly run away,” Aiden says.

Thanks to the stand-off in the driveway, Aiden’s short-term memory has forgotten about the upcoming influx of college students for the summer session internships in a few weeks.

“Come to my house and disrespect me like that. Lucky I don’t run him down and beat his ass. Got me all flustered; the hell was I thinking about before I got home?” Aiden states while he stares at the road.

Inside he goes over to the refrigerator to get an ice-cold beer. Aiden returns to the music room to listen to the stereo rather than work on any new music.

Stretched out on the floor, staring at the ceiling, Aiden let go of his rage and shuts his eyes to picture the competition day. The details run back through the brief images of Ally. His mood improves over her appearance. It creates the first genuine smile on his face in what feels like a lifetime.

Aiden recalls the scent of her Vanilla Fields perfume all over again. Her skin’s softness when she touches him as they embraced in a prolonged hug with his revision of that moment. Aiden breathes deeply and replays those instances repeatedly until he feels like himself again for just a moment. His phone begins to vibrate in his pocket.

“Son of a bitch…” Aiden takes out his phone to look at the tiny screen at a text written in all caps.

YOU’RE MY LAB PARTNER FOR MY SUMMER INTERNSHIP PROGRAM! HIYA SUMMER TEACH!

Aiden sighs one heavy time. He doesn’t look forward to team up with Addie.

“Kiss my ass,” Aiden says to himself.

He bangs the back of his head off the floor, wishing it’s just a bad daydream.

To be polite, since Addie is the inside source to Ally. Aiden sends a simple, fantastic, can’t wait reply, then tosses his phone across the carpet so he can return to his thoughts to ease the misery.

Time passes by, as Aiden begins to feel that sensation of being annoyed with interns all over again. This year he’s certainly not looking forward to tolerating Addie daily. As time gets closer, he begins to come up with a list of things to keep the topic on work and away from clubs, music, and most importantly, Allyssa.

The weekend before the interns begin in the lab, Aiden disappears out to Dakota’s for practice. He leaves early that morning and makes it there to talk before Eddie and Rey arrive.

“Hey, Cuz we need to have a chat,” Aiden says, walking into the garage where Dakota is busy with his guitar.

“Yeah, what about?”

While scratching his head, Aiden begins.

“I just wanna apologize first off. I know that practice hasn’t been the same. We’ve been boys for a while now, and females shouldn’t come between that. So again, I am sorry, bub. Look, I wouldn’t want to come between you and someone who makes you happy. We cool?”

There’s a huff before he looks up. Dakota sits there in silence for a moment.

“Yeah, we’re good, just don’t play a girl like that, alright. Besides that, I’ve been thinking about maybe one day making an honest woman out of Heather. She’s been a good one, and I love her.”

“I can respect that. I’m happy for you, Cuz. So what do you say we work on some stuff before the other dick weeds arrive, and we have some fun.” Aiden says.

“Oh yeah, man, get your ass to the keyboard and break it down.”

Able to get that off his back, Aiden can feel a bit better as they Freeplay around on their instruments. Once the other two finally arrive, the day goes on like it usually does until they talk about getting ready for the Ohio Rock Festival next year.

“Alright, so we’ll need to save up and get some real studio time for that demo. I mean, we barely got it with a tape recorder.” Rey explains, taking a seat on the workbench.

Dakota has the solution already, “I have the answer to that. Hill Crest Recording went out of business, and I bought some of their recording equipment just for us to use. They showed me how to work it. So, I figure we get some blank CDs to adapt it all to a laptop or something. We have everything that we need.”

Placing his guitar down, Dakota runs inside and returns minutes later with the equipment and places the pieces on the workbench.

“Oh wow, all digit soundboards and synthesizers, pretty impressive stuff,” Aiden comments, checking it all out.

“See, I told you, just gotta get a source to put it all down, and we’re good, right,” Dakota mentions feeling hopeful.

“Well, we’ll need to improve the acoustics in here, but yeah, it should, in theory, do the trick,” Rey tells him looking around at the garage.

The rest of the day, all four of them rearrange everything. One task includes boarding up the windows on that side to help reduce noise pollution.

“That should do the trick. I’ll check into the laptop part and even custom order one if I need to from somewhere like HP, Gateway, or Dell.” Aiden mentions as he thinks about the programs necessary to be compatible with the recording equipment.

“Good deal, I say we call it a day and do it all again next week,” Eddie suggests looking at his watch.

“Yeah, see you guys; mom needs some extra errands done today. I’ll be around,” Rey mentions taking off with Eddie.

“Guess I’ll scat too to give you time with Heather or something,” Aiden says to Dakota.

“Cool man, see ya, and hey, ease up on the drinking, heard it’s been kind of heavy.”

Aiden rolls his eyes as he walks away and waves to acknowledge the comment. Aiden takes a detour downtown, knowing his car is acting up with the thought of heading back to an empty house doesn’t please him. It kills his boredom hopping from car lot to car lot to check out the latest sports cars.

At first, he checks out the imports, but when the latest Eclipses, Civics, and Accords don’t tweak his interest, he begins checking out the new Pontiac GTO and Ford Mustangs to get an idea for something a bit different. Aiden drives around until the sun begins to set behind the hills.

Aiden heads home but isn’t sure what to do. When he gets home, he sits there in his car halfway up the driveway, looking at his house.

“Damn, got it all, and I’m still miserable. At least when Mitzi was here, I had someone to come home to.”

After one more long and hard exhale, he pulls up to the garage door and heads inside.

The rest of the weekend is spent washing the CRX, watching TV, and listening to music or reading. It kills time until Monday morning where Aiden gets up and showers.

It’s the first day of introductions with the interns. Aiden slips on a blue dress shirt with a gray tie along with his slacks.

“Ugh, I hate summer interns!” He groans in the mirror to adjust his tie one more time.

Getting to work, he heads into the office connected to the lab and goes over paperwork. By the time nine o’clock rolls around, security calls the lab.

“Mr. Hart, security here, all of your interns have arrived, and they’ve been issued their temporary badges. If you wouldn’t mind coming to escort them to their assigned area, please, sir.”

“Yeah, Hank, I’ll be right over, thanks.”

Out of his chair, Aiden heads down the hallway and across the street to the security office.

“Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the summer program. I trust everyone is alert and ready to learn about what we do here. There is no test at the end of the program. You just need to learn about how EPA guidelines are in place for not only your safety but also for the safety of the general public with what we do by creating a product in the medical field for doctors.”

Addie stands in the back of the small group of students. She gives him a cheesy smile with two thumbs up.

“Now follow me, and we will begin our day by suiting up and go through the cleanroom where you will spend part of your time ensuring the quality of equipment and safety for the technicians that work with these products.”

Aiden props the door open as the interns wait for him to guide them across the road. Once inside the lab, they drop off their briefcases and overcoats. They walk down and into the disposable lab coats heading into the cleanroom environment to tour the facility. Once the entire building tour is complete, they return to the lab as Aiden goes through the chemicals and testing equipment.

“Now, does anyone have any questions?”

When no one raises their hand, he goes back to the office, getting the other lab techs under his direction to team them up with each student.

“Hey, Lucy, Luke, Chris, and Ron, your interns are here. Come say hello and show them around, please.”

They walk out to introduce themselves to their intern. The team breaks apart and head to a different part of the lab as Addie stands there waiting for Aiden’s instructions.

“Well, I guess we’re paired together still… So… What do we do?” She asks, rocking back and forth.

“We take a break for a few minutes, and then we will get started on bacterial growth and ionized water treatment.”

“Oh, okay, cool, it is cool we’re paired, right?”

Shaking his head, he replies, “yeah, at least I have an intern I like this year and not some babbling idiotic teenager.”

Addie giggles, and Aiden notices that she’s never giggled that way before.

After their break, the two get down to business as Addie takes notes, following Aiden around like a puppy.

“Having fun yet?” He asks, holding a beaker and waits for the results of the ionization levels.

“Actually, yeah, I am. I need to be honest when I first met you; I thought you were a low-life piece of trash. You know, after almost a year now, you’re a great guy.”

Aiden chuckles as he sets the beaker down and doesn’t say anything.

Near the end of the day, the interns take off around two o’clock. After a knock on the office door, Addie sticks her head inside.

“About to head home, need anything else from me?”

Curling his lower lip, Addie looks up at her, “Nah, I do believe we are good. Turn in your badge and pick it up tomorrow and be here at nine on the dot.”

She gawks around to make sure the coast is clear—Addie steps into the office.

“Hey, really, if you’re uncomfortable with this, I can ask to get assigned to a new lab person you know.”

“Nah, we’re good; I like having you here but tell you what, leave Ally’s name outside of this place, and we’ll call it even. I like making you laugh, and you’re bright. Stop selling yourself short just because you’re not a size four.”

Now a little confident, Addie blushes at that instant, “Thank you,” she says, heading out the door to head home.

Aiden turns his attention back to the computer screen and rushes to finish up his reports before heading out for the evening.

“See ya, boss man!” Chris calls out, ready to clock out.

“Bye Chris, see you in the morning, big man, have a good one.”

Leaned back in the chair, Aiden takes a moment before getting up to head out to the car. Aiden tries to turn the engine over, but it refuses to start at first.

“C’mon damn it, start!” He screams, turning the key in the ignition a couple of times.

When it finally comes to life, the engine sounds like a lawnmower.

“Really!” He screams, slowly pulling out, taking his time to get home.

The CRX can barely stay running while he opens the garage door and idles low and begins to make a chomping noise when he rushes to pull it in.

“SON OF A BITCH!” He yells as steam rises from under the hood.

“Fuck, there goes the head gasket, I bet.”

Out of the car, Aiden slams the door shut before he calls Rey.

“Hey man, I need a solid. I need to hit a car dealer today. My car died, literally, died.”

Without thinking twice, Rey replies, “Hell yeah, man. It sucks the old ricer is gone, but yeah, we’ll find you something. Be there in less than fifteen minutes.”

Forced to rush inside, Aiden swaps his business attire for a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. While watching from the front door, he steps out when Rey rolls up the driveway.

They know they need to rush. Aiden and Rey take off for downtown.

“So, have anything in mind that you’re looking for?” Rey begins after he shifts gears.

“Not another import. I did some checking the other evening, and they’re all shit. My best guess hit up Tri-State Riverside Ford or Bell Court Pontiac.”

Rey knows that Aiden wouldn’t be satisfied with a Pontiac or any other GM product. He pulls onto the Ford lot, where they scope out some Mustangs near the edge of the lot.

“Hey, check this one out, V6, standard shift, black, it looks nice,” Rey suggests pointing to his pick.

“Fuck a V6 Mustang!”

Rey gets a good laugh knowing Aiden would say no. With a glance over at Rey, Aiden does see something a few spots down.

“Hey, check that out, brand new, orange and black, ah no way!” Aiden stutters, nearly drooling at the sight of the Mach 1 Mustang.

“Damn, that one looks sweet, and it does seem to scream your name. Aiden… Aiden… Pick me, Aiden…” Rey mocks, cupping his hands around his mouth

“Dude, let’s go find a salesman. I wanna test drive it!”

Once they’re inside, the fellas are greeted immediately.

“Good evening, gentlemen. Is there anything I can help you with?”

“Yeah, the orange Mach 1 out there any way we can test drive it?”

The salesman goes over to the desk and pulls the key for the Mustang.

“Just need a driver’s license, and let me get a dealer tag.”

It takes a few minutes to get it all together as they wait patiently in the middle of the sales floor. When the salesman returns from the back office, he hands Aiden his license and the key.

“Just let me place this on the back, and the car is all yours, sir.”

Excited to be handed the key, Aiden and Rey are escorted to the car, “There ya are, sirs, have fun and see you when you get back.”

Aiden doesn’t waste time getting into the car. He fires it up and pulls out to begin the test drive.

“Hammer it down, son!” Rey lets out, holding onto the door.

“Ain’t gotta tell me twice, Cuz,” Aiden says excitedly.

The power of the supercharged V8 takes Aiden in as they drive along Third Avenue.

“I found my car, bub. I must get this one. The best thing is, I have the cash, and the bank is still open.”

“Get it done. Get a cashier’s check, hurry the heck up.”

“What’s the sticker on this?” Aiden asks, focused on the road.

“Oh hell, I don’t know. I’ll look when we park.” Rey replies, enjoying the ride.

Parked in the bank lot, Aiden places the car in neutral and pulls up the e-brake as Rey gets out to check the sticker price.

“It’s $29,000, even. I say get the check for $25,000, and they’ll take it.”

“Good idea, be right back.”

Aiden rushes inside before the bank closes to talk to his account manager.

“Hey, Aiden, it’s been a while. How you been?”

Aiden takes a seat at the desk and gets straight to the point.

“Good, but hey Connie, listen, I have a brand-new car outside, and I need a deal made on it like now. Mine blew up a little while ago.”

“How much is it, and who you buying from?” Connie asks, prepared to strike a deal with the dealer.

“It’s priced at $29,000, but I think if I give them a cashier’s check, they’ll take maybe $25,000. It’s a Mustang from Riverside Ford, salesman name is I think is Steve.”

Connie works her magic and pulls up the dealer’s number, and makes the call asking for the salesman. They talk back and forth before coming to a deal.

“Hey, thank you, Steve. He’ll be back with a check, so have it wrapped up. Thanks again, Steve, say hi to the wife and kids for me, bye.”

Aiden begins tapping his fingers on his legs, feeling anxious, “So…”

She gets out of her seat to head back to the accounting department to retrieve the check.

A few minutes later, Connie returns to Aiden, rattling his fingers on his legs.

“Here you go, Aiden, negotiated the price and since it’s paid in full talked him down a good bit. Just get this back to Steve, and he’ll have your temp tags waiting on you. Don’t wait too long before coming back in to see me next time.”

Hugging Connie’s neck, Aiden takes the check thanking her.

“You’re a lifesaver. Thank you for working after you’re supposed to close.”

“This is what I do for a living, and your parents were good friends too. It’s been a pleasure helping you out. You’ve been responsible with your money. They’d be so proud but go enjoy your car.”

“Oh yeah, thanks, Connie, bye!”

Aiden glides with pride from the bank with the money in a sealed envelope with a smile ear to ear. He slides back into the charcoal gray seat, where Aiden hands over the envelope to Rey.

“Done deal, the car is mine as soon as we get back there, bub. It’s mine!” Aiden says before he fires up the Mustang pulling out to return to the dealership.

“Fucking A right man, hey, this is a nice ride. Maybe I should consider upgrading my ride too. After all, we are getting older and not kids anymore.”

Aiden smiles, nodding his head, “True that, time for new and shiny things!”

They pull back onto the lot, and Steve waits by the oversized double doors.

“Dude, there he is, and judging by the smile on his face, I made his day,” Aiden explains, pulling up to the doors.

“Hell yeah, temp tag already in his hands, get that bad boy put on here, and I’ll follow you home. First beer is on you at your place.” Rey says in the details of the plan after they make the deal official.

“Hello again gentlemen, I trust we have a deal, and might I say your account manager is a swift and lovely lady. That being said, Mr. Hart, I shall put this on your brand-new car and take that envelope in your hand.”

Aiden can’t bring himself to stop smiling.

“Sounds good. I love the car already. It’s fast and loud. I love it, and I love it!” He continues going on as Steve places the tag on the car then takes the check opening it to make sure everything is what they agreed to.

“We are good; I just need your signature here to complete the dealership end of things. Then the DMV will send your official registration and tag for the car. Other than that, have a good evening, gentlemen, and thank you for choosing Riverside Ford for your automotive needs.”

They follow him inside to finish up the last couple of signatures required. Soon Aiden and Rey head back to the house. They celebrate with beer and TV dinners out on the front porch, where they sit and admire the first bit of change they’ve experienced in a while.

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