I would personally like to thank my editor, Bachgen, for putting forth his time to help make this story a much better read. This was previously posted on another site. It received good reviews at that time, and I hope you enjoy it as well. – Double_entendre.
Here We Go Again...
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 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 off at me. In order to properly tell you my 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 anything. Hand me something that is broken and I will have it in excellent working condition before most people can even 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 the work force 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 along 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 seem to hold my attention for very long. I began 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 sense 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 damage any of the books, no one really seemed to care if I looked at them.
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 learning about the different components of a car and what each device would do, but I was also becoming aware of the various types of tools required to work on these vehicles as well.
My secret was discovered when one day Melvin, one of 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 top 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, decided 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 so far as to take me out into 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 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 use of profanity quite a bit, I was still 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 waiver 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 matter, 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 waiver 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 possibly make her feel worse.
"Excuse me, ma'am, 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, ma'am," 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 and 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 holidays 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 Jennifer," 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.
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.
"I'm sorry, but not without a working linear-induction motor, and we don't have one," the guy said.
Poor Jenny had started to cry when she found out that the coaster she so badly wanted to ride was having technical difficulties, and now this news would crush her. Since I wished to prevent her from shedding any more tears, I did something I rarely ever do when I am not working; I confronted the men with my so called genius abilities.
"Excuse me, Mr. Jolly," I started to say.
"What is it, son, are you lost or something?" the man asked.
"No, sir, but I couldn't help overhearing your discussion and,"
"Eavesdropping isn't a very nice thing to do, son, but I am afraid what you heard was true, The G Force is shut down until further notice," he said.
"Actually, sir, I think I may have a solution to your problem," I told him.
"And just what might that be?" he asked with a chuckle.
"Why don't you switch out the linear-induction motor with the one from the Tackler? It uses the same part number, and is a much less popular ride," I suggested.
"I'm sorry, son, but our coasters do not use interchangeable parts," Mr. Jolly explained.
"Actually, Walt, in this case the kid is right. I don't know why I didn't think of it before. We could close down the Tackler and have the G Force operational again in about," the engineer was about to say.
"45 minutes," I said, finishing his sentence.
"Yes, how did you know that," the guy asked.
"I wrote a report about the mechanics of Roller Coasters for one of my summer college classes," I answered truthfully.
"Sure, kid, what are you like 12 years old?" the engineer asked.
"Ten actually," I replied.
"Oh, there you are, Matt. You really shouldn't wander off like that. I was worried sick," Karen said.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, it won't happen again," I said, apologizing.
"Are you this boy's mother?" Mr. Jolly asked.
"No, Matt and my daughter are friends, and she invited him to come with us today to help her celebrate. You see, today is my daughter's birthday, and she received some tickets to the park from her aunt as a gift," Jenny's mother explained.
"Matt has been telling us that he attends college," Mr. Jolly told her.
"Oh, he does during the summer. Matt is a child prodigy with anything mechanical. The rest of the time he attends normal classes with my daughter," she explained.
"That's amazing!" Mr. Jolly exclaimed.
"Excuse me, sir, but shouldn't somebody get working on the rides?" I reminded them.
"Oh shit, sorry, I mean shoot," the engineer said, holding his hand to his mouth, obviously embarrassed that he had cursed in front of us.
"Don't worry about it, man, I hear much rougher language working in my uncle's garage," I told him.
"You work in your uncle's garage too?" Mr. Jolly asked.
"Yes, I am a certified general mechanic," I told him.
After getting the ok to switch out the linear-induction motor from Mr. Jolly, Tony, the head engineer I was talking to, had his team begin to disassemble both rides so that they could swap out the parts.
"Would you and your friend please come with me son?" Mr. Jolly asked.
"Well, sir, Jenny and I are really anxious to ride the G Force once it is running again, and we don't really want to lose our spot in line. It is rather a long wait," I explained.
"Don't worry about that, son, I will personally see to it that you and your friend get to ride anything you want as much as your heart's desire," Mr. Jolly said.
Jenny, her mother Karen and I followed Mr. Jolly into a private employee only section of the park. There he had a member of his staff take down our names and information, before presenting us with an electronic line eliminator device that lets us move to the beginning of any line in the park. This was the deluxe model given only to VIP's, allowing us to ride any attraction as many times as we wanted for as long as we wished to do so. Mr. Jolly told us that the only stipulation was that we could only take front row seats twice in a row in any half an hour period, as it would be unfair to the other patrons for someone to hog the front row seats indefinitely. Mr. Jolly also indicated that he had a surprise for us when we were ready to turn in our pass that evening.
Of course Jenny was ecstatic to be getting the royal treatment on her birthday outing. They had the G Force operational again within the hour. Personally, I think I could have done it faster, but I decided not to mention that fact to anyone as I had already bragged enough for one day. Jenny made a beeline to the G Force, and as I expected she wanted to ride in the front row. The young lady sitting next to me was contagiously happy, as the joy she was experiencing emulated off her body and onto mine leaving us both with matching grins. I had pointed out to Jenny earlier where high speed cameras would snap your picture during the ride's climax, and then try and sell you the photos later. Of course, I used a different word other than climax while giving my explanation. Jenny surprised me when we came to this point, instead of waving into the camera, she leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek forever sealing that moment in time where my heart and hers bonded into a perfect union. I fell in love with Jenny that day, and when the ride was over I went over and purchased each of us a copy of that photograph.
Since I didn't get Jenny anything for her birthday, because I wasn't aware of when it was, I made a point of buying her various mementoes of our day together. I wanted my friend to have a day she would never forget, and I think I was achieving that very goal. Jenny's mom could never afford to waste money on things like giant stuffed animals and overpriced amusement park food. I made pretty good money working for my uncle, and I couldn't think of a better use for it than making Jenny happy. At one point Jenny's mom pulled me aside and said I was going overboard with my spending. After explaining to her my reasoning for it, I received a second kiss on the cheek from a beautiful woman that day, this time from her mother.
Mr. Jolly was not lying when he said he had a surprise for us when we turned in the VIP device at the end of our visit. He had upgraded our one day tickets into season passes, allowing us to come back any time during the year for free. We were all tired from our antics at the park, but no one more so than Jenny. It had been an emotional day for her, she fell asleep snuggling up against me on our way home.
From that day on my friendship with Jenny intensified. I took to calling her Jen, which was something she wouldn't let anyone else get away with, but seemed to prefer it from me. More of my free time was spent with either me over at her house or Jen at mine. Although I would never say it out loud, Jen's mom was a much better cook than my own. I ate several meals at her place and thoroughly enjoyed each of them. Since I knew that Jen's mom didn't make much money, I would do odd jobs while I was visiting her, and fix anything mechanical they had broken. I figured I more than made up for whatever I ate, as I must have saved her thousands of dollars in repair costs throughout the years.
When I was fifteen I talked my parents into allowing me to buy a car. I knew I wouldn't be able to drive it for a whole another year, but this way I could work on fixing it up in anticipation of that glorious moment. I had Jen help, or really in all honesty, watch me rebuild the vehicle, while I showered her with dreams of what the two of us could do together once we had our own set of wheels.
As we made the transition into high school, Jen developed from a cute little girl into a stunningly beautiful young woman. It was then that she started attracting the attention of some of the assholes that had previously shunned her. Although she did seem to enjoy this new found attention, Jen never encouraged any of their behavior in my presence, and we often spoke about how she was still troubled by the way these guys used to treat her. There were a few heads that turned my way as well, though I suspect that had more to do with my shiny newly rebuilt Thunderbird than it did with my physical attributes. If truth be known, I did develop some well-defined muscles while dealing with heavy equipment at the shop, but I never thought my body was anything special. I always felt that any extra attention I received was due to the fact that I was one of the few freshmen to have their own car.
As I grew older, life seemed to just get busier, as I was trying to balance my time between high school, working in my uncle's shop, my college classes in the summer, and of course Jen. We somehow managed to maintain our relationship, even though I never seemed to have the amount of free time that most of my peers enjoyed. Jen knew that I was working towards a future that I hoped to someday share with her.
During my junior year I ended up selling off my Thunderbird for a nice profit, and replaced it with a used Ferrari that needed some work. Jen wasn't too thrilled about me having to devote so much time into rebuilding its engine, but the envious looks she received when I drove her to school at the start of our senior year made the effort I put into restoring this beautiful hunk of automotive machinery all seem like a worthy undertaking.
Aside from my lack of free time, the only real subject Jen and I constantly disagreed upon was sex. Being a normal horny teenager, I was ready to experience pleasures of the flesh, while Jen had this vision of waiting until prom night. I argued that we had essentially been going together for over eight years, and other kids our age were already doing the deed that weren't half as serious about one another as Jen and I were. She explained that her mother, grandmother, and even her great grandmother had all lost their virginities on the night of their senior prom, and she was determined to continue the tradition. I suggested that we could do other things that would leave her virginity intact, but the most she would agree upon is letting me fondle her breast through her clothes. As you can imagine, I had quite the case of blue balls most of the time.
I had been enrolled in junior college courses from the ripe old age of eight, so I had no problem getting larger universities to transfer in my credits. Since Jen and I wanted to attend the same school, we sat down and applied for scholarships from UCLA, our first choice, and the local State University, here in Florida. Although Jen was an excellent student, she didn't quite fare as well as I did when it came to scholarships. She ended up not getting an offer from UCLA, but got a full ride from Florida State. I had received offers from both schools, and although I'd already decided on attending Florida State to be with Jen, I still hadn't got around to turning down California.
Senior prom was quickly approaching and I was ready to make it the best, most romantic night of our lives. My tux was rented, my car was tuned up to perfection, and our hotel room was booked. I even planned on giving Jen my great grandmother's engagement ring as a symbol of my undying commitment to her. Everything was going perfectly, until Ford Motor Company requested a meeting with me in Atlanta to discuss some patents that I had sent them earlier in the year. While taking one of my summer classes, I had dreamed up the idea for a more efficient pollution control device that would not only leave cleaner fuel emissions, but would nearly double the average horse power that vehicles were able to achieve from the devices currently in use at that time. Since my invention adhered more towards the design Ford was using, I sent them copies of my patents in hopes of striking a deal. It seemed that they were finally ready to talk. They wanted to fly me to Atlanta to meet with their top engineers and the vice president of operations for the entire US branch of the corporation. This was an opportunity that I could not afford to pass up.
The only fly in the ointment was that they scheduled the meeting the day before our senior prom. I knew Jen would be devastated if I were forced to miss one of the most monumental nights of our life, and attending the prom would probably be a fun event as well. It took some wheeling and dealing, but I managed to secure airline transportation which afforded me the time I needed in Atlanta to complete my talks with Ford representatives, and assuring that I would be back in town early enough to go out with Jen.
Since I knew very little about contractual law, my dad suggested that I meet up with an old friend of his from college who practiced in Atlanta and specialized in that very field. Mr. Carson insisted on tagging along with me to protect my interests, and I was sure glad he did. The guys from Ford were noticeably unhappy that I had brought an attorney to our meeting. The first thing they did was try to downplay my work, suggesting that I overestimated my findings. They should have known better than to try and pull that shit on someone with my mechanical background. I knew the facts and figures I sent them were if anything understated, and I proceeded to tear them apart by proving so. Their next course of action was to try to lowball me with a lousy contract. This is where Mr. Carson's expertise came into play. We bartered for hours, each side threatening to leave multiple times. In the end we hashed out an agreement that we could all live with. I left with a $750,000 check in my pocket, Mr. Carson's fees covered, and future royalty payments for every vehicle equipped with my new pollution control device. I also had a guaranteed position in the engineering department of Ford's Florida branch pending completion of my Master's degree. Mr. Carson even worked it out where I could keep a portion of the royalties of anything I helped develop while working there in the future.
Life couldn't have been any sweeter. I had just deposited three quarters of a million dollars into my bank account, there was a five figure salaried position waiting for me upon completion of my Master's degree, I had a full ride scholarship from a very prestigious university, and best of all I would be losing my virginity in a few short hours to the girl who sometime in the very near future I intended to make my wife. I was on top of the world, and quite frankly that should have been my first clue that disaster was about to strike.
I was at the airport anxiously awaiting the arrival of the plane that would be taking me back to Florida and into the arms of my soon to be lover. The only problem was the damn thing never showed up. Seems it experienced some technical difficulties at its previous location, and was grounded indefinitely until the problems could be resolved. Trying to book another flight was useless, as due to the late arrival of the cancellation announcement all seats were previously filled. With a heavy heart I dialed Jen's number to relay the bad news. To say she was upset would be the understatement of the century. She had reservations about me flying out this close to prom to begin with. I had assured her that everything would work out fine, and now I was going back on my word and ruining her chances of continuing her family tradition. I tried to explain that this was an unforeseeable circumstance, and it wasn't really my fault, yet she started crying and hung up on me before I got a chance to tell her of my plan to rent a car and drive back home myself. I tried calling her back, but she turned off her ringer on her cell phone and all I got was her voicemail.
Dealing with the car rental company was another fun filled experience I would have preferred to have avoided. Even though I had a perfect driving record and a major credit card, the assholes questioned me at every turn due to my age, and the fact that I had planned to travel so far with their precious vehicle. Hell, you would think I was trying to rent a Rolls Royce instead of a Toyota Camry, for all the crap they put me through. I was finally on the road by 10:30 A.M., and by my calculations I should arrive back home just barely in time to get changed and go pickup Gen for the prom. That was when my tire had to blowout. I was able to steer the car safely away from traffic, but when I looked in the trunk for a spare all I found was a donut. I knew it would not be safe to travel as far as I was planning to go on a sub quality tire, so after changing it I reluctantly turned the car around and headed back to the rental facility for an exchange.
After arguing with the son of a bitch behind the counter, and then his immediate supervisor, I was finally given a replacement vehicle and 45 minutes later I was once again headed towards home. The delay in my departure time caused me to be stuck in Atlanta's noon rush hour traffic, which pushed back my ETA by over two hours. An accident tie up involving a jackknifed semi and truck taking cows to the slaughter house delayed me even further. By the time I finally made it back into town, the prom had already let out, and most of the people were in the process of leaving. By sheer luck I spotted Jen's mother's car in the school lot and figured she had borrowed it to attend the dance by herself. Finding an empty spot with a clear view of her vehicle, I decided to park and wait for her to come out, in hopes of at least being able to salvage some aspect of our special evening. When the lot was all but cleared out, I came to the conclusion that Jen must have hitched a ride to an after prom party with one of her friends. Although I didn't like the fact of her partying without me, I knew that trying to track her down would be pointless. Since I was tired from driving all day, I decided to recline the seat back and take a short nap while I waited for Jen to return. I figured the noise of the vehicle dropping her off would wake me up, and I knew her mom would need her car back by tomorrow, so I didn't suspect that she'd be out too late.
The sound of a car door slamming woke me up sometime in the wee hours of the morning, and I looked up to see Jen stepping out of the passenger side of a vehicle owned by Kyle Wilson. Kyle was known as the school hound. The guy actually kept a queen size air mattress and a battery operated pump in the bed of his pickup truck. He told his parents it was for camping, but he told us guys that it was cheaper than having to rent a motel room. I believed the latter.
Jen's clothes looked like they had been slept in, but I quickly discovered that wasn't the case when Kyle climbed in the bed of his truck and came back with what looked like a very sheer pair of black panties, which he reluctantly handed back to Jen. I saw her bend down and step into them before they briefly kissed and went their separate ways. The word crushed didn't even begin to describe what I was feeling, as I was now almost certain that Jen had given her virginity to some other guy. The fact that she chose the school sex hound to fornicate with made her betrayal hurt all the more. I was always taught that a man had to be tough and to suck it up, but in all honesty I cried that night, knowing that things between Jennifer and I would never again be the same.