Making money as an inventor isn’t hard, but what is hard is keeping up with supply and demand. Adam and I had hit on two inventions people wanted, but with just me making them, I wasn’t able to keep up. So I started a subtle campaign to get my brother to move to Twinbrook with me.
First, I invited my dad to visit me. Dad wasn’t doing so well now that Mom was gone, so I knew that one of my brothers would have to drive him out to see me. I counted on it being Adam and not Carter. While Carter and I were being more civil, we were by no means reconciled.
On the pretext of showing Dad the shop (like he cared), I confronted Adam.
“Look, see how well we’re doing?” I said. “Pablo says he can’t keep our products on the shelf!”
“It’s pretty crazy that people are willing to buy what we make.”
“Yeah! Can you imagine if we were able to make even more stuff?”
Later that same visit, some idiot tried to rob me. He didn’t even make it to the door. Somehow my brother knew he was coming and managed to get the jump on him before he could break and enter. It was pretty amusing.
“Most people avoid this place because they think it’s haunted,” I laughed at the incompetent burglar while we waited for the cops to show. “But now you know that it isn’t ghosts you should be prepared to face! My brother and I can kick the ass of anyone who tries to get in.”
“You didn’t even get involved,” the burglar shot back at me.
“Didn’t have to. You weren’t worth both of us bringing you down.”
Later Adam teased me about the incident. “Why didn’t you get involved, Ferris? This is your house, right?”
“Yeah. I’m a total wuss,” I said. “Now you see why you should come stay with me. You can protect me from all of the bad guys.”
“Shut up Fer! I’m not moving in with you!”
What changed my brother’s mind was the death of our dad. I attended the funeral with my cousins who all made me promise not to antagonize my brother Carter.
I swore that I’d be good. In fact, I wasn’t feeling quite as pissed at Carter, so I made an effort to do more than just be civil. I knew Adam was watching me any time Carter and I talked, but he didn’t have to. For once neither of us was being an idiot and we managed to actually have a real conversation about the chances of our Llamas going to one of the college bowl games.
By the end of the week, Carter and I were almost friends again. We tossed the horseshoes around a bit and joked about how our parents were always working on one experiment or another.
“It’s crazy that a scientist and a magician were together. And mom believed in real magic!”
“Dad did, too! The funny part was how much he was into science considering that he was a creature of magic being a Fae Toy and all.”
“I’m going to miss them,” Carter added.
“I know. Will you be ok staying here or are you planning on selling this place?”
“I’m going to keep it. I like it here.”
“That’s cool, bro.”
I guess Adam wasn’t as comfortable staying in our family home without our parents. For him everything was a reminder of what was missing. He let me know that he was taking me up on my offer to stay with me in Twinbrook.
“Let me tell Carter myself,” he told me. “He might get upset. Hearing it from you might piss him off.”
“Whatever,” I said, throwing my hands up defensively. I didn’t care that Carter might get mad. I was thrilled that Adam was coming to Twinbrook. I imagined all that we could accomplish together both on the house and in the business.
Although there was still a lot that needed work, I had managed to re-do my entire front room and kitchen. Adam was shocked when he came into the house and saw what I’d done.
“Wow!” he exclaimed. “It’s so modern.”
“I wanted it to really contrast with the outside,” I said.
I led him to the bathrooms. “This one is yours,” I showed him the black and white tiled room with a stand up shower. “It might need some upgrades, but I put in all new fixtures and stuff.”
Then I showed Adam the room I knew he would be impressed with. “Tada!” I said as I opened the door to his bedroom. Gone were the wood panel walls and dingy windows. I had the room carpeted and furnished with a really comfy sleigh bed.
“Let me know if you don’t like anything,” I said. “I ordered what I thought you’d like. Mine is a lot more modern, but I thought you’d prefer a more warm and cozy space.”
“Wow,” Adam said again. He sat down on the bed and smiled. “This sure does beat sleeping on the floor!”
“Yeah. And it’s not a bunk bed, either. You get your own room and a bed big enough for two if you decide to bring a girl over sometime.” I wiggled my eyebrows. “No need for quiet, either,” I added. “I fully insulated the walls and floors. No sounds will leak through in this old house!”
“Jesus Ferris! Like I know any girls here.”
“What about Max?” I asked after our friend from home. I had always thought she and Adam were an item.
“Na. Max went off to University. She’s in a sorority and likes to party. You know how I feel about parties.”
“Yeah. Sorry bro.” Adam just shrugged, so I figured he didn’t really care all that much.
Adam and I got right to work once he settled in. We collected scrap and spare parts from the junk yard and used it to create our masterpieces.
One of our newest inventions was a one-man miner. It’s only flaw was in how loud it was, but it was very useful for digging out gems, rocks, and minerals out of the ground. Oddly, we occasionally hit on an underground tunnel system running under Twinbrook. When we had time, Adam and I both explored the caverns. It was amazing what we could find, but it wasn’t always safe.
We didn’t always work. Neither of us are what anyone would call work-a-holics. When we were tired to putzing around at our work benches, we’d launch into a game of raucous juice pong or, if we weren’t feeling so boisterous, a rousing but quiet game of chess.
One thing both of us hated to do was household chores. Since we were both bachelors, we were pigs. Dishes and clothes piled up everywhere. We’d rock-scissors-paper who’d have to clean.
“We should hire a maid,” Adam complained when he lost yet again.
“Or a butler,” I added.
“Oh man! Can you imagine us with a butler!”
We put off the decision for quite some time, but we were both so busy that eventually we had no choice but to hire someone to do the every-day chores we really didn’t have time to do.
“We need someone who can take care of some data entry and assist us on the business also,” I told Adam. He let me handle all of that stuff, and I was getting overwhelmed. It was hard to both create and number-crunch at the same time. We’d out-grown my meager abilities.
Not knowing how to go about hiring someone to do the tasks we needed done, we asked Pablo who gave us the name of one of his cousins. “Her name is Elyssa Vargas,” he said. “She was a business student, but recently decided that she’d rather go into the family business of gardening. She can do all that you want her to do and keep your plants alive, too!” Pablo laughed as if it was a joke.
I called her, though, since I didn’t have anywhere else to turn. Luckily she was willing to try working with us to see how it fit.
“If you decide you want the job, Miss Vargas,” I said, “You will stay in a small apartment on the premises. It is totally private, so that you don’t have to spend every waking moment with us.”
“Very good, Mr. Fields,” she answered primly.
At first I didn’t think that Miss Vargas would want a job that meant cleaning and picking up after two single men. I figured she’d rather do more of the business work. But she surprised me.
“I can clean and tidy during the day and work on the business in the evenings,” she said. “You are too noisy when you work on your gadgets. This will be more efficient.”
I winced when she called our work “gadgets” but I appreciated her efficiency.
Both Adam and I were glad when Miss Vargas decided she’d take the job and moved into the small apartment we built on the property.
She kept her distance from us when she wasn’t working. She felt that it was inappropriate to socialize or share a meal with her employers. That was ok with us. We were just glad that someone else was doing all of the cooking and cleaning up afterward!
Eventually Miss Vargas relaxed around us, and we discovered that she was pretty fun to be around. She was still sometimes prim and proper, but she had a subtle sense of humor that could be quite playful or bitingly sarcastic.
For example, one day I caught her messing around in a pile of leaves she’d just spent the better part of two hours raking up.
“Elyssa! What are you doing?” I asked, shocked to see her laughing and playing like a kid.
“What?” she demanded, all sassy. “Not everyone works all the time like you do Ferris. You and your brother never go out and have any fun.”
“We have fun!” I countered.
“Yeah? When was the last time you went out on a date or just drove into town for a beer or some live music?”
Another time Elyssa made us all salads for dinner. Adam and I were used to much hardier meals from her.
“What’s with all the greens?” Adam asked her, digging into his mixed veggies.
“We grow lots of fresh vegetables here,” she answered, “and yet you and your brother prefer peanut butter or grilled cheese sandwiches!”
“What’s wrong with grilled cheese?” I asked around a noisy bite of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and carrots.
“Nothing,” she said. “But you shouldn’t eat them every meal, every day. Look at what it does to your gut!”
“Hey! I’m not fat,” Adam said.
“No, but your brother is looking a little squishy.” Both of them turned to look at me. I sucked in my gut and concentrated on my healthy meal. So what if I didn’t sport a six pack?
The next night Adam got a grilled cheese sandwich, and I was presented with another plate of salad.
“Hey, that’s not fair!” I argued, but she just gave me a look and poked me in the gut.
“No apron is going to hide that belly,” she said. “Now eat your salad.” Adam, the asshole took a bite of his sandwich and pulled it from his mouth trailing succulent strings of cheese. He grilled around his bite, not bothering to wipe the cheese that landed on his mustache. I glared at him, but I ate my damned salad.
Later that same week, I told my brother we should start working out.
“What caused this sudden interest in fitness,” Adam asked me. “Did Elyssa hurt your feelings calling you squishy?”
“No!” I scoffed, but I couldn’t meet Adam’s eyes. “I just think we need to do more than work all the time. We’re neglecting our health.”
“Whatever you say, brother,” Adam laughed, but he did join me in my exercise routine even though he didn’t need it as badly as I did.
“Looking good guys,” Elyssa said when she saw us sweating to the not so oldies. “Make sure you throw your sweaty clothes in the hamper when you’re done. I’m doing laundry today.”
Our conviction to working out didn’t last very long, unfortunately. I came downstairs for our workout a few weeks into the routine to find Adam sitting on the couch with a console controller in his hands.
“Dude, it’s time to sweat, not sit,” I said.
“Hang on,” he motioned to me with one hand. “Carter challenged me to a shootout and I’m about to wipe the floor with him.”
“Carter’s online right now?” I asked. “I thought he had that steady gig at the theatre?” Carter had joined a band as a guitarist.
“He has the night off. Damn it!” I heard some loud explosions through Adam’s headset and knew that Carter had gotten the drop on him.
“Want me to help? Carter doesn’t stand a chance against both of us.”
“Grab a headset,” Adam said. “Sucker’s going to die!”
When Elyssa saw us, she just sighed. “Enjoy your workout boys,” she said, dripping sarcasm. “I’m going out with some girlfriends. There is a Simfest going on at the coffee house.”
“See you,” I said, not even looking away from the screen where I was sneaking up on Carter and readying a pixilated grenade to blow him to smithereens.
Adam did look up. “Whoa!” he said, whistling in appreciation.
That caught my attention. I looked over at Elyssa to find her dressed to go out. I was so shocked, I missed my opportunity and I heard and explosion signaling that Carter had taken advantage of both mine and Adam’s distraction.
“Damn it!” I said, turning back to the screen.
“Who’s playing at the Simfest?” Adam asked.
“Why don’t you come with me and find out,” Elyssa taunted. “Or is engaging in computerized mayhem more exciting?”
“Na, I’ll come,” Adam said. He tossed his headset and controller on the coffee table.
“You take over Ferris.”
From that night on, I noticed that things were different between Adam and Elyssa. They talked more and about completely random things. She even went so far as to find out and make his favorite food, Goopy Carbonara.
I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Did my loner brother actually like our assistant? And did miss prim and proper actually want to fraternize with one of her employers?
The answer to both questions was yes. It was like I was living in an alternate universe. I caught Adam and Elyssa playing ping pong together. Both were supposed to be working. Adam and I were working on a new invention…a harvester, sort of like a reverse leaf blower, that would revolutionize the farming industry. And Elyssa, she was working on our quarterly sales figures, or at least she should have been. Recently Pablo’s shop had come under new management, and I wasn’t happy with the new owners. I was considering buying the place myself, but I needed Elyssa to figure out if it was financially viable.
“Don’t you both have a job to do?” I asked, annoyed.
“Lighten up, Ferris,” Adam said. “We’re taking a break.”
“Well, break time is over. I brought in some new scrap from the junkyard. We need to get to work.”
“Sorry, Ferris,” Elyssa said. She reverted to her normal prim and proper self. “It has been longer than 15 minutes. You guys go do your thing. I was going to finish the bathrooms and then work up that proposal you had asked for.”
“Very good, Elyssa. Thank you,” I nodded.
“What the hell was that?!” Adam demanded when we got to our workroom.
“You know what. It’s like you are jealous that Elyssa and I are spending time together.”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” I scoffed. “I don’t care if you and Elyssa are hanging out, but don’t forget we have a business here. She is our employee!”
“Well, I like her,” Adam said. “And if we want to spend time together outside of work, we can. And you know I don’t give a fuck about the business. That’s all you, Fer. I just like building shit.”
“Well, someone has to sell that shit! And right now that someone is Elyssa. But if you two are canoodling all the time and making googly eyes at each other, then nothing gets made and nothing gets sold!”
“Fuck off, Ferris!”
Adam and I both fumed, but we did it in silence and kept working.
Adam was still pissed at me the next day. It was Saturday. Normally we only worked a little bit on Saturdays. We’d both gotten up early that morning and come down to work. I’d grabbed a bite to eat first, and Adam ignored me, still mad.
When I finally came into the shop, he was doing something with his torch. I don’t know exactly what happened. Adam isn’t the type to be careless, but suddenly he was screaming and on fire! For a moment, we both panicked, but then I grabbed our extinguisher and opened it up on him.
“Stay still Adam!” I shouted. “I’ve got it. You’ll be ok!”
And he was. He thanked me for being so quick with the extinguisher. We both knew that our anger had distracted both of us and in our line of work, distraction can be dangerous.
After that incident, I accepted that my little brother (by about a half an hour) was going to date our assistant. Whether I liked it or not, they were going to go out. I just hoped, for the sake of our business and Adam’s feelings, that it would work out between them.
I’d just have to get used to coming home and finding the two of them lip-locked on the couch. As long as I didn’t interrupt them doing something else, I guess I could deal with it.