blame aiden by phoenix.writing

5 Sep

When Adam moved in, Emma was on vacation.  Adam knew this beyond a shadow of a doubt because he would have noticed if Dess had been there.

Dess had become the bane of Adam’s existence.

But he hadn’t known it at the time.  At the time, he had just seen the row of modest townhomes and the quiet neighbourhood, and he had thought that it was the prudent way to go.  Sketchier would have allowed him to save more, but it would have been something better suited to his twenties than to his thirties.

He could have gone fancier, but he liked saving, believed it would pay off in the end, and the house, when he had seen it, had seemed to suit him.  Nice enough he needn’t be embarrassed, but not a money-sucker.

A good compromise, he had thought.

There had been two weeks of something that approximated household bliss.  Two weeks of not needing to anticipate rowdy parties and loud people in hallways.

Two weeks to start recognising neighbours by their faces and smiling vaguely at them even if he wasn’t quite ready to learn all their names and bring casseroles or cookies or cups of sugar or whatever it was that a good neighbour was supposed to do.

But it had begun to feel like home.  Begun to feel like he had made the right choice.

And then Emma had returned from holiday, and with her had come Dess.  Adam didn’t know very much about dogs, nor did he care to.  What he did know was that Dess had to be at least two hundred pounds and a good three feet tall.

He was massive, and he barked at the most inopportune times.  While Adam could concede that the sharp yippy barks of tiny dogs would have been quite grating, the loud, stentorian bark of Dess seemed to practically vibrate through the whole house.  Through Adam‘s house, and he only lived next to Emma.  It wasn’t supposed to affect him like this.

But Dess barked just as Adam was putting the final touches on what was—repeatedly—supposed to be the best hair day he’d ever had.  He barked and broke Adam’s concentration when he was making his most complex calculations in his client’s ledgers.  He barked right as Adam had almost fallen asleep.  He worked better than an alarm clock—apart from the fact that he never woke Adam at the desired time—and he was, Adam was sure, singlehandedly responsible for most of Adam’s mail being delivered late.

Adam was not impressed, and when he had finally broached the subject with Emma—she had come with a casserole to introduce herself—she had laughed, shaken her head, and said, “Blame Aiden.”

Blame Aiden.  He was the one who wanted her to have a dog.  For protection, naturally.  He was the one who had picked the breed.  He was the one who had picked this particular dog, and he was the one who had convinced her to take him.

So every time Dess barked, that little refrain grew in Adam’s head, a staccato rhythm.  Blame Aiden. Blame Aiden.  Blame Aiden.

It got to the point that Adam was blaming Aiden when he spilled his coffee or forgot his calculator—and there was no possible way that he could explain to his colleagues why “Blame Aiden” was the first phrase out of his mouth when an account wouldn’t balance.

Really, though, it was the only thing that was keeping Adam even a little bit sane.  He had no issues with his other neighbours, no issue with Emma apart from this one rather glaring one, and his house had really grown on him, but the barking was driving him out of his mind.

Blame Aiden, blame Aiden, blame Aiden.

Apparently, with hers the house on the end, his house seemed to muffle the sound enough that none of the other neighbours had nearly the same issue that he did. Maybe they were all a bit deaf.

When Adam met Aiden, he was going to present the man with a stack of bills—probably including therapy, if this went on much longer.

Adam answered a rather frantic-sounding knock on Friday evening to see a harried-looking Emma standing there, face pinched with worry and the lines more obvious around her eyes and mouth.

“You’re free for a little while, aren’t you, Adam?”

He’d barely even had a moment to contemplate a response before he realised that she was pressing her keys into his hand and practically hauling him bodily out of his house and shoving him towards her door.

“It’s not for more than an hour, it’s just that he’s sick, and the vet said not to leave him alone, and Susan—from the office, you know—is having a dreadful crisis and I promised her that I’d be there ten minutes ago, and I really must leave, only now we’re both late.  You don’t mind, do you?”

Adam liked numbers.  Numbers made sense.  He tried to process what she’d just ranted at him.

“Hold on.  You want me to look after that dog?”

The look she threw him was beseeching.

“Like I said, not for more than an hour, and I’m really in a bind.  Susan is halfway across town.”

Adam was feeling unusually stupid and more than a little alarmed.  “If she’s halfway across town, how can you possibly be back in an hour?”

Adam had no intention of getting roped into this duty, and definitely not for hours on end.  He coped with Dess by ignoring him as often as possible.

“Not me,” she chided, as though he’d missed a simple solution to an equation.  “Aiden.  He’s late, or I wouldn’t have needed to ask you at all.”

“Aiden’s coming here?”

“That’s what I just said.  Are you sure you’re feeling all right, dear?”

“I’m fine,” Adam hastily assured her before her mothering instincts could sink their teeth into him again.  “I suppose I could keep my eye out for a few minutes….”

She positively beamed at him, blathering out instructions as she ushered him into the house and grabbed up her purse.

“Not more than an hour, I promise,” were her parting words.

Blame Aiden.

Clearly, it was all Aiden’s fault.  Two hours and forty-three minutes later and Adam had risked ducking back to his house in order to lock it up properly and retrieve his laptop.  Dess had commented on this as Adam had expected, by barking.

He didn’t look the least bit sick to Adam, although Adam knew very little about animal illnesses.

Three hours and twelve minutes.  While Adam hadn’t exactly had plans, there were plenty of things that he could have been doing that would have been more enjoyable than what he was doing right now.  Skydiving was starting to sound like a good option, actually, and Adam had always scoffed at skydivers.

He reminded himself that this was all with the noble goal of meeting the mysterious Aiden and getting the opportunity to chew him out.  There was no way that Emma needed the protection that the dog provided.  Dess was like the heavy artillery that was needed for a famous actor or something, not a quiet, middle-aged woman.

It was looking less and less as though Adam was going to get the opportunity to point any of this out in the near future.  Emma was going to arrive back, and Adam was going to be annoyed.

Adam was already annoyed, and while reciting “Blame Aiden” was keeping his blood pressure from edging into the red zone, it was a near thing.

Dess’s ears perked up before Adam heard the key in the lock of the front door, but there was really no way to miss the man’s arrival given Dess’s enthusiastic response and the other man’s winding up on the floor with the dog—which didn’t look as though it had been sick a day in its life and was now practically acrobatic in its doggy glee.

Adam had never seen Dess behave in quite this manner, coming close to tail-wagging, tongue-lolling, roll-on-his-belly-for-cuddles excess.  Of course, Adam wasn’t sure that he had ever seen anyone behave with quite as little fear as this man was currently displaying, down on the floor with Dess and scratching his fur with no regard for life or limb.

“Who’s the best boy in the whole doggy world? I think you’ve grown since I last saw you, and not all chub, either.  Mom must be exercising you right—or maybe it’s you exercising her. What a clever dog you are, Decibel.”

Decibel?  Dess was short for Decibel?

The length of Adam’s rant grew exponentially.

And then the other man finally seemed to become aware that he was not alone in the house.  He caught sight of Adam and scrambled to his feet, casually brushing himself off even as Dess was rising to his four paws and shaking himself off in much the same manner.

“You must be Adam.  I’m Aiden; Mom’s told me so much about you, and it’s great to finally meet you.”

Aiden held out his hand and grinned at Adam.  Seeing him straight on for the first time, Adam was pretty sure that the other man had hair that was at least as nice as Adam’s was.

It was hard to find that level of perfection, and as far as Adam could see, the rest of the package went along with the hair.

Adam tried to hold onto his anger, he did, but “Blame Aiden” seemed suddenly to be smothered beneath layers and layers of not so angry at all and really kind of … interested.

Quite contrary to what Adam had intended, he found himself opening his mouth to say, “It’s nice to meet you too.”

As they shook, Aiden’s grip firm and warm and sending a sizzle right up Adam’s arm, Adam realised that he was speaking the absolute truth.

He really hoped that this didn’t mean that his refrain had changed from “Blame Aiden” to “Thank Dess”.

Perhaps it was just a trick of the light, but it looked to Adam as though the non-barking dog was looking rather smug.

When Adam moved in, Emma was on vacation.  Adam knew this beyond a shadow of a doubt because he would have noticed if Dess had been there.

Dess had become the bane of Adam’s existence.

But he hadn’t known it at the time.  At the time, he had just seen the row of modest townhomes and the quiet neighbourhood, and he had thought that it was the prudent way to go.  Sketchier would have allowed him to save more, but it would have been something better suited to his twenties than to his thirties.

He could have gone fancier, but he liked saving, believed it would pay off in the end, and the house, when he had seen it, had seemed to suit him.  Nice enough he needn’t be embarrassed, but not a moneysucker.

A good compromise, he had thought.

There had been two weeks of something that approximated household bliss.  Two weeks of not needing to anticipate rowdy parties and loud people in hallways.

Two weeks to start recognising neighbours by their faces and smiling vaguely at them even if he wasn’t quite ready to learn all their names and bring casseroles or cookies or cups of sugar or whatever it was that a good neighbour was supposed to do.

But it had begun to feel like home.  Begun to feel like he had made the right choice.

And then Emma had returned from holiday, and with her had come Dess.  Dess, Adam was given to understand, was an English Mastiff.  Adam didn’t know very much about dogs, nor did he care to.  What he _did_ know was that Dess had to be at least two hundred pounds and a good three feet tall.

He was _massive_, and he barked at the most inopportune times.  While Adam could concede that the sharp yippy barks of tiny dogs would have been quite grating, the loud, stentorian bark of Dess seemed to practically vibrate through the whole house.  Through _Adam_’s house, and he only lived next to Emma.  It wasn’t supposed to affect him like this.

But Dess barked just as Adam was putting the final touches on what was–repeatedly–supposed to be the best hair day he’d ever had.  He barked and broke Adam’s concentration when he was making his most complex calculations in his client’s ledgers.  He barked right as Adam had almost fallen asleep.  He worked better than an alarm clock–apart from the fact that he never woke Adam at the desired time–and he was, Adam was sure, singlehandedly responsible for most of Adam’s mail being delivered late.

Adam was not impressed, and when he had finally broached the subject with Emma–she had come with a casserole to introduce herself–she had laughed, shaken her head, and said, “Blame Aiden.”

Blame Aiden.  He was the one who wanted her to have a dog.  For protection, naturally.  He was the one who had picked the breed.  He was the one who had picked this _particular_ dog, and he was the one who had convinced her to take him.

So every time Dess barked, that little refrain grew in his head, a stacatto rhythm.  Blame Aiden. Blame Aiden.  Blame Aiden.

It got to the point that Adam was blaming Aiden when he spilled his coffee or forgot his calculator–and there was no possible way that he could explain to his colleagues why “Blame Aiden” was the first phrase out of his mouth when an account wouldn’t balance.

Really, though, it was the only thing that was keeping Adam even a little bit sane.  He had no issues with his other neighbours, no issue with Emma apart from this one rather glaring one, and his house had really grown on him, but the barking was driving him out of his mind.

Blame Aiden, blame Aiden, blame Aiden.

Apparently, with hers the house on the end, his house seemed to muffle the sound enough that none of the other neighbours had nearly the same issue that he did. Maybe they were all a bit deaf.

When Adam met Aiden, he was going to present the man with a stack of bills–probably including therapy, if this went on much longer.

Adam answered a rather frantic-sounding knock on Friday evening to see a harried-looking Emma standing there, face pinched with worry and the lines more obvious around her eyes and mouth.

“You’re free for a little while, aren’t you, Adam?”

He’d barely even had a moment to contemplate a response before he realised that she was pressing her keys into his hand and practically hauling him bodily out of his house and shoving him towards her door.

“It’s not for more than an hour, it’s just that he’s sick, and the vet said not to leave him alone, and Susan–from the office, you know–is having a dreadful crisis and I promised her that I’d be there ten minutes ago, and I really must leave, only now we’re both late.  You don’t mind, do you?”

Adam liked numbers.  Numbers made sense.

He tried to process what she’d just ranted at him.

“Hold on.  You want _me_ to look after _that dog_?”

The look she threw him was beseeching.

“Like I said, not for more than an hour, and I’m really in a bind.  Susan is halfway across town.”

Adam was feeling unusually stupid and more than a little alarmed.  “If she’s halfway across town, how can you possibly be back in an hour?”

Adam had _no_ intention of getting roped into this duty, and _definitely_ not for hours on end.  He coped with Dess by ignoring him as often as possible.

“Not me,” she chided, as though he’d missed a simple solution to an equation.  “Aiden.  He’s late, or I wouldn’t have needed to ask you at all.”

“Aiden’s coming here?”

“That’s what I just said.  Are you sure you’re feeling all right, dear?”

“I’m fine,” Adam hastily assured her before her mothering instincts could sink their teeth into him again.  “I suppose I could keep my eye out for a few minutes….”

She positively beamed at him, blathering out instructions as she ushered him into the house and grabbed up her purse.

“Not more than an hour, I promise,” were her parting words.

Blame Aiden.

Clearly, it was _all_ Aiden’s fault.  Two hours and forty-three minutes later and Adam had risked ducking back to his house in order to lock it up properly and retrieve his laptop.  Dess had commented on this as Adam had expected, by barking.

He didn’t look the least bit sick to Adam, although Adam knew very little about animal illnesses.

Three hours and twelve minutes.  While Adam hadn’t exactly had plans, there were plenty of things that he could have been doing that would have been more enjoyable than what he was doing right now.  Skydiving was starting to sound like a good option, actually, and Adam had always scoffed at skydivers.

He reminded himself that this was all with the noble goal of meeting the mysterious Aiden and getting the opportunity to chew him out.  There was no _way_ that Emma needed the protection that the dog provided.  Dess was like the heavy artillery that was needed for a famous actor or something, not a quiet, middle-aged woman.

It was looking less and less as though Adam was going to get the opportunity to point any of this out in the near future.  Emma was going to arrive back, and Adam was going to be annoyed.

Adam was already annoyed, and while reciting “Blame Aiden” was keeping his blood pressure from edging into the red zone, it was a near thing.

Dess’s ears perked up before Adam heard the key in the lock of the front door, but there was really no way to miss the man’s arrival given Dess’s enthusiastic response and the other man’s winding up on the floor with the dog–which didn’t look as though it had been sick a day in its life and was now practically acrobatic in its doggy glee.

Adam had never seen Dess behave in quite this manner, coming close to tail-wagging, tongue-lolling, roll-on-his-belly-for-cuddles excess.  Of course, Adam wasn’t sure that he had ever seen anyone behave with quite as little fear as this man was currently displaying, down on the floor with Dess and scratching his fur with no regard for life or limb.

“Who’s the best boy in the whole doggy world? I think you’ve grown since I last saw you, and not all chub, either.  Mom must be exercising you right–or maybe it’s you exercising her. What a clever dog you are, Decibel.”

_Decibel_?  Dess was short for _Decibel_?

The length of Adam’s rant grew exponentially.

And then the other man finally seemed to become aware that he was not alone in the house.  He caught sight of Adam and scrambled to his feet, casually brushing himself off even as Dess was rising to his four paws and shaking himself off in much the same manner.

“You must be Adam.  I’m Aiden; Mom’s told me so much about you, and it’s great to finally meet you.”

Aiden held out his hand and grinned at Adam.  Seeing him straight on for the first time, Adam was pretty sure that the other man had hair that was at least as nice as Adam’s was.

It was _hard_ to find that level of perfection, and as far as Adam could see, the rest of the package went along with the hair.

Adam tried to hold onto his anger, he did, but _blame Aiden_ seemed suddenly to be smothered beneath layers and layers of not so angry at all and really kind of … interested.

Quite contrary to what Adam had intended, he found himself opening his mouth to say, “It’s nice to meet you too.”

As they shook, Aiden’s grip firm and warm and sending a sizzle right up Adam’s arm, Adam realised that he was speaking the absolute truth.

He really hoped that this didn’t mean that his refrain had changed from _blame Aiden_ to _thank Dess_.

Perhaps it was just a trick of the light, but it looked to Adam as though the non-barking dog was looking rather smug.

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3 Responses to “blame aiden by phoenix.writing”

  1. ingridfnl September 5, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    I love it! Great story. 🙂 Welcome back.

    • phoenix.writing September 19, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

      Thank you. It’s good to be back. 🙂

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  1. away from it all by phoenix.writing | the character project - September 12, 2010

    […] blame aiden by phoenix.writing […]

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