Sleep came quickly as Dizzy and I finally laid down for the night. It’s strange, so much had happened today, and yet, this is the best I’ve slept in months. Maybe even the best I’ve slept since I lost my Mom. It just felt like my worries were fading, like I could finally be a normal high schooler again. It was like I was finally set free from those old expectations from childhood, from myself.
When my phone alarm sounded at five in the morning, it didn’t even bother me. Dizzy on the other hand rolled around and complained, but finally found the motivation to pull himself out of bed.
When we both showed up at the bottom of the stairs at 5:45 I could tell Adam was impressed.
“How about that?” He asked, more to himself than to us. “We’ve got about ten minutes if you guys want to quickly eat something.” He offered, but Dizzy just blankly stared at him.
“It’s too early to eat for me,” I finally replied before looking over to Dizzy. “and I’m pretty sure he’s still turning on.”
Adam nodded and looked over to Dizzy. “Not even going to make me uncomfortable with a joke about that?” He baited but Dizzy just shrugged his shoulders. “This might go smoother than I thought.” Adam remarked as he reached back on the couch and grabbed two white and black t-shirts. “I know I already gave Dizzy one, but I actually grabbed these the last time you both visited and forgot to give them to you.” He explained, proudly showing off the work shirts with a Price is Rite logo in the front upper left.
“This is basically the whole uniform.” Adam said, handing us each one. “Just wear this with shorts or pants, I don’t care so long as you have socks and shoes on your feet.” I couldn’t help but smile, knowing an old employee had probably given him a reason for mentioning that. “If you guys want the job once summer rolls around, I’ll give you another shirt.”
“Only two?” I couldn’t help but tease as me and Dizzy quickly got changed into them.
“I’ll tell you what, you make it more than three weeks and I’ll give you guys as many shirts as you need.” Adam shrugged before heading towards the door. As I heard those words, I couldn’t help but look over to Dizzy, worried about what I had both gotten us into.
“Let’s do this.” Dizzy finally yawned as Adam pulled the door open.
“There he is.” Adam smirked, as we all started the short journey to Adam’ shop. “What happened to our nice little 5am chats?” Adam teased, perfectly mirroring Dizzy’s phrase from last night.
“They’re easier when I can go back to sleep after.” Dizzy muttered as Adam nodded his head.“Just need some time to wake up is all, then we can talk all you want.” As Dizzy forced his normal smirk, Adam let out a sigh but I swear I could see him holding back a smile. As loud and vibrant as Dizzy usually is, it is kind of fun seeing him so quiet. It’s a reminder that he’s not that different from Adam or me after all.
“Take as long as you need.” Adam encouraged as the bus pulled up to our stop.
The commute from there was quiet. Dizzy and I took seats while Adam stood nearby. It’s funny, I can tell Adam’s kind of nervous but yet his excitement far outweighs it. Does he always look forward to work, or is it just because Dizzy and I are there with him?
As the commute finally came to an end and Dizzy began to fully awaken, Adam grew serious. “Can we talk?” Adam asked as the shop came into view.
“Yeah.” I nodded my head, unsure what to expect.
“So obviously these past few months I’ve been kind of like, like a big brother to you guys.” Adam forced out, embarrassed by his own words. “And I don’t mind that at home or when we go out, but this is Lindsay’s and my shop.”He began as the three of us came to a stop. “I can’t have you guys goofing around, talking back or ignoring me.” He warned in a stern voice. “I invited you both because I think you boys are mature enough and ready for your first jobs.” He explained, looking from Dizzy to me. “But if you screw around, Lindsay and I are going to have to take action. That clear?”
“Got it.” Dizzy quickly nodded, knowing he was the main person Adam was worried about.
“I got it too,” I agreed as I looked over to Adam. “but this isn’t my first job.” I reminded him.
“Farming.” He remembered as he finally opened the door to his shop. “Well, at least you’re used to being busy, I just hope you’re as good with people as you are with animals.” The second the door opened, I could hear nothing but commotion and Lindsay’s voice from the kitchen.
I couldn’t help but shoot Dizzy a nervous smile as Adam led us through the shop and towards the back. “Lindsay.” He called out as we entered a kitchen already too small for the four people working in it.
“Hey,” She glanced over from a tray of raw donuts. “Heard you two would be helping out today.” She forced a smile before getting right back to her work. “We could use the help up front, Colleen might even be able to take inventory today.”
“Well actually, I was hoping to have someone else do that.” Adam explained, looking over to the two of us.
“Artie will be great at it.” She agreed, but Adam simply shook his head. As I looked around the kitchen, I got my first real look at just what was happening around me. At first, it looked like chaos as a few men and women pushed past one another in an effort to get dough ready or decorate the donuts. Yet, the more I looked, the more I noticed just how focused everyone was. They were like a well-oiled machine, completing their task before passing it onto the next person in line.
“Let’s get to it.” Adam instructed us, putting on a pair of plastic gloves before passing some to Dizzy and me.
“We’re going to be joining that?” Dizzy asked, looking over to the bakers working in perfect unity.
“Not for another year.” Adam laughed to himself. “You guys will be putting the finished trays into the display shelves for now.” He explained, sending relief through both Dizzy and me.
“Do you ever help the bakers?” I couldn’t help but ask as Adam brought us to a large stand.
“When Lindsay’s not.” He quickly nodded his head. “She’s an actual pastry chef.” He admitted in a sigh. “I just know what I learned from her.”
“That’s not true.” She corrected without looking up. “His baking skills took time, but he knows how to make damn good donuts.” She encouraged with a smile. “Besides, if it weren’t for him, the most adventurous donut we’d have is maple bacon.”
Adam tried to hide it, but I could tell he was proud of what she had said. “Anyway,” He began, redirecting our attention to the stand full of donuts next to us. “this is the sheet pan rack,” He explained. “finished pans go on here and then we roll it into the front.” He instructed, slowly guiding it back through the door we’d just entered. “You just take the tray of donuts off the rack and put it in the display case.” He looked over to me as he began to show us what he meant. “You just have to make sure it lines up with the sign in the case.”
“And what am I doing?” Dizzy asked, looking from the donuts to him.
“This for now.” Adam answered as he slid the tray into the case area. “We’ve got thirty minutes to opening, and then I’ll explain what’s next.”
“Got it.” Dizzy quickly nodded as his eyes went right back to the donuts in front of him.
Adam let out a sigh before grabbing a box off the counter. “After you put all of the donuts in the case, you can grab the six you like the most and put them in here.” Dizzy went to grab the box from Adam, but he pulled it back. “But you’re not having any until you get home.”
“What about lunch?” Dizzy complained, looking for any excuse he could find.
“There’s a deli next door, and I’ll happily buy you both a real lunch.” Adam shut down finally handing Dizzy the box. “And if you’re hungry now, we keep some of the left-over fruit and snacks for the employees in the back room.”
“Alright.” Dizzy grumbled as I grabbed a tray and starting following Adam’s instructions.
“We’ve got thirty minutes, let’s see how much you two can get done.” Adam tried to encourage us, before slipping back into the kitchen.
“This is cruel.” Dizzy complained as he finally started to help me unload the trays.
“He is paying you in both donuts and money.” I reminded Dizzy as we quickly started to find our own rhythm.
“Doesn’t make it any easier to pass these up.” He groaned as he slid a tray of Oreo donuts into their slot. “Lindsay kinda embarrassed him though, huh?” Dizzy asked in an attempt to distract himself.
“She did.” I couldn’t help but laugh. “I didn’t think she was even listening.” I remarked as I grabbed onto another tray.
“He must actually be pretty good at this.” Dizzy couldn’t help but smile.
As I placed my tray in, I took a step back and thought about it. “Makes sense though.” I concluded as I watched Dizzy continue to work. “He was mixing avocado and chocolate a couple weeks ago as a test, and it was actually pretty good.”
“Doesn’t sound good.” Dizzy shook his head and took a step back so I could take my turn loading a tray.
“It made it creamier.” I shrugged my shoulders and returned to work. “Maybe he’s a secret genius or something.”
“Remember when he put Doritos in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?” Dizzy couldn’t help but laugh. “He’s either a genius or needs a nutritionist.”
“Are you two working or flirting?” I heard a familiar voice ask from across the counter. As I looked up and saw Colleen standing in front of us, I noticed Dizzy’s smile instantly widen.
“You’re late.” He couldn’t help but tease from behind the counter.
“I don’t bake, so I’m right on time.” She corrected him. “Besides, you just put the coffee cake tray where the peanut butter ones should go.”
“Shit.” Dizzy groaned as he quickly squatted back down to fix it. “Wait, no I didn’t.” He realized, as he popped back up.
“Guess you’re not the only one with jokes.” She shrugged, walking past the two of us and going into the kitchen.
“You got pranked.” I teased as I pushed him aside and got back to work.
“What about that was a prank?” He asked in a confused voice. “What about that was even a joke?” He let out as he looked over at me.
“The part where you bent over for nothing.” I smiled as he rolled his eyes.
He smirked and looked back at me. “Bet you were playing lose attention.”
“Course I was.” I matched his smile before quickly leaning forward and stealing a kiss.
“Alright,” Adam began in a loud voice as he pushed open the door from the kitchen. “no one wants a side of PDA with their donuts.”
“Sorry.” I quickly apologized as my face turned red.
“It’s fine because you two are about to get separated anyway.”He explained, holding the door open so Colleen could wheel in another rack of donuts. “Colleen why don’t you take this over for a moment while I show the boys inventory.”
“I’m going to have to work with my Mom?” Dizzy groaned as Adam led us through the kitchen and to a long back pantry.
“Better than taking inventory or whatever.” I pointed out, dreading the appearance of the high shelves and refrigerators.
“Well that’s good because Artie will be up front and Dizzy will be back here.” Adam dismissed as he grabbed a binder off a desk which barely fit into the room. “You’re going to take this binder, and make sure these numbers are accurate.” Adam instructed as he handed it to him. “If they’re wrong, you cross them out and write the correct number.” He explained. “Then when you’re done, you can open up the shared doc on this computer and correct it.”
“A shared doc?” Dizzy asked as he began to flip through the binder. “You don’t even use a spreadsheet?”
“You’re going to lecture me about spreadsheets?” Adam couldn’t help but laugh, but stopped as he realized Dizzy was being serious.
“It’d be a lot easier to follow than whatever this is.” Dizzy pointed out as he showed Adam a printed document with writing all over it.
“A lot harder to set up though.” Adam replied, but I could tell he wasn’t certain on that. “We find just standard word docs a lot easier to use.”
“You’ve never sounded older to me.” Dizzy remarked drawing a surprised look from Adam. “I’ll get this done and transfer it to a spreadsheet and you’ll even be able to organize it by type of food, brand or price.” Dizzy said, this time lecturing Adam. “And then you can even track how much you order over time.”
“And you know how to do all that?” Adam asked in a skeptical voice.
“I’ve been taking computer classes since kindergarten, we learned excel in like fourth grade.” Dizzy dismissed, acting as though the task would be second nature to him. “It’s a lot easier than you think.”
“He is really good with computers.” I pointed out, trying to help quell Adam’s disbelief.
Adam nodded his head as he thought it over. “This is one of the most important jobs in the shop.” Adam began to warn. “If we screw this up, we won’t have the proper amount of ingredients to last us the next few days.” I could see Dizzy start to grow nervous as he heard Adam’s words. “So I wanted to have you do it, because I know I can trust you with it.” Dizzy’s eyes quickly began to beam with pride as he heard that. “And if you think you can make the process more foolproof, then I trust you but please, back up anything you do first.”
Out of all the time I’ve spent with Dizzy, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him more determined than he looked right now. “Got it.” He nodded as Adam began to guide me out of the pantry.
“You can take your lunch break whenever, but Artie’s will be at eleven.” Adam instructed as Dizzy flipped back to the first page of the binder. “If you need any help we’ll just be in the front.”
“Mhm.” Dizzy hummed, but I could tell he was already thinking of different ways to approach the work in front of him.
“You really trust him with that?” I couldn’t help but ask as we walked through the kitchen.
“Honestly?” Adam asked as he turned to me. “I do.” He confidently nodded. “Whenever we play survival games together, he’s always the one talking about organization and making sure we have supplies.” Adam recalled as we entered the front.“I know it’s just video games, but he can be really meticulous when he wants to be, why do you think his art is so well thought out?”
I stayed quiet for a moment, stunned by how much thought Adam had put into it. Just like Lindsay, I thought for sure I’d be taking inventory, but I think Adam’s right. When Dizzy’s focused, he can be a work horse, especially when he feels he has something to prove.
“But what about me?” I finally asked. “I don’t really have his, well, personality.” I sheepishly admitted, drawing a laugh from Colleen.
“He’s got personality.” Adam laughed along with Colleen. “But he’s also, well,” Adam hesitated, remembering his mom was right there.
“You let my kid stay at your house almost every day.” Colleen shook her head. “You say whatever you want about him.”
“His personality is an acquired taste.” Adam finally spoke, trying to put it as nicely as possible. “He’s great to be around, but he can be a bit, polarizing at times.”
“He’s not the kind of person you want to run into if you’re in a rush at 8 AM.” Colleen clarified, putting Adam’s words into a more blunt terminology.
“And I am?” I asked, as I got back to work helping Colleen place trays into the display case.
“You’re easy going and a friendly face.” Colleen answered, backing up Adam’s decision.
“Plus, a little southern hospitality wouldn’t hurt around here.” Adam teased as he gave me a strong pat on the back. “We good to open?” Adam shouted towards the back as his mind quickly changed gears.
“Ready to roll!” Lindsay shouted back as Adam walked back around the counter.
“It’s just us three up front?” I asked as I noticed a few people already waiting outside the door.
“For now,” Colleen answered my question. “Lindsay will join us once the kitchen finishes one more stand.”
“Morning” Adam welcomed as he opened the door and began to let customers in. “Just watch Colleen.” He instructed me as the first customer approached the counter.
“Welcome to Price is Rite, what can I get for you?” Colleen asked as Adam returned to the counter and took the customer next in line.
“Six donuts,” The customer began as Colleen nodded. “Can I have two Oreo, three peanut butter and one devil dog?” The customer asked as Colleen quickly scribbled it down
“That’ll come out to be fourteen dollars.” Colleen instructed before grabbing a box and guiding me to the case we had just loaded. Besides the customer talking fast, it honestly didn’t seem too bad. You’re just taking orders, filling boxes and making change!
As we returned to the register, Colleen swapped the box with the money. “Have a good day.” She forced a smile before looking down at the register. “For any donut that’s not jelly or glazed, you just hit the artisan button,” She explained, pointing them out to me. “They ordered six artisan donuts, so I just hit it six times.”
“Your turn.” She instructed as she took a step back from the register and handed me the small notepad and pen. I noticed Adam give me a nod of encouragement as he tried to focus on his own customer.
“Good mornin,” I nervously forced out as a new customer appeared at the register. “what can I get for you?” I asked, feeling my accent grow stronger the more nervous I got.
“I’ll take a dozen donuts,” the customer began. “two blueberry, two maple bacon, three fudge brownie, three devil dog and two jelly.” The customer rattled off as I struggled to keep up.
“That’d be…” I hesitated as I looked at the register in front of me.
“Around twenty five dollars.” Colleen answered for me, as I quickly pulled it together and found the right buttons on the register. Ten specialty and two regular? The second I hit the buttons, I looked over to Colleen for approval but instead she handed me a box.
“You did it right.” She finally reassured as I walked over to the case. “Training some new faces for the summer.” Colleen explained to the customer as she took the money.
“Little faster.” Adam teased from next to me as I carefully placed each donut into the box. By the time I had put in all twelve, Adam had already come and left with his box.
“Ya'll come back now.” I said as I finally returned to the counter and handed the customer their box.
Adam struggled to keep from laughing as he heard those words. “Maybe a little less southern hospitality.” He teased as he got to work on filling another box.
“It’s charming.” Colleen shushed him as she turned to me. “You did good, and don’t worry, pretty soon you’ll know the prices well enough to give them off the top of your head.”
“Sure.” I nervously nodded along, but was relieved when she took the next customer.
“I miss anything?” Lindsay asked as she pushed through the kitchen door.
“Artie went full Texas on us, but that’s about it.” Adam teased with a smile.
“You’ll get more comfortable with it.” Lindsay comforted as I watched Colleen quickly serve another customer. “You just gotta keep at it.”
I nodded and before I knew it, I was helping another customer. Lindsay’s advice seemed to ring true and after an hour I was comfortable enough to take my own register. Every now and again I would get stuck, but between Lindsay, Colleen and Adam, there was always someone to help me.
Every now and again, I couldn’t help but look over and observe the teamwork between Adam and Lindsay. They had to share a register and yet, they were more efficient than Colleen or me. It was like they just knew exactly where the other was and what they were going to do next.
As the morning rush hit and I watched Adam and Lindsay work, I couldn’t help but feel stupid for letting Ezra get in my head about Adam’s shop. Maybe this isn’t the most sustainable business ever. Maybe it won’t last Adam the rest of his life. But I know Adam and Lindsay will figure it out together. Besides, from the look of it, these two haven’t even hit their potential with this business!It’s like an endless horde of people and yet neither of them seemed phased!
Colleen tried to offer me a break a few times, but I knew I couldn’t leave them like this. I may not be perfect at this job, but I can’t leave them during the busiest time of the day!
When eleven finally rolled around, the rush dwindled into a steady stream of customers. I went to check on Dizzy but could tell I wasn’t taking him away from his work.
“I’m not hungry,” Dizzy insisted, barely even looking over to me. “I mean it.”
“I know, but it’s almost lunch time.” I reminded him “You should eat something.”
“I grabbed a snack from the back an hour ago.” He dismissed as he scribbled something into the binder. “Trust me, I’ll eat when I’m hungry.”
“Alright.” I sighed as I slowly walked towards the door. “Then I guess I’ll go take my lunch break, on my own, eating lunch.” I let out in a last ditch effort.
As he heard my words Dizzy finally looked up with a small smile. “I really want to get this right.”
“Alright, alright,” I exhaled saving him the explanation. “but you’d better make this up to me tonight.”
Dizzy’s smile grew wider as he heard that. “Even if we can’t top last night?”
“I don’t think we’re topping last night for a while.” I laughed. I couldn’t help but freeze as our eyes connected and we shared a smile. “You’re my favorite person Dizzy Armstrong.” I confessed before slipping out the door and heading back towards the front.
“Dizzy’s going to stay and work, so I’ll just go grab lunch.” I explained as I was able to grab Adam’s attention for one of the first times since we opened.
“Is he sure?” Adam asked, as a look of concern entered his face. “I’ll go talk to him if,
“It’s fine.” I interrupted, knowing Dizzy was mature enough to decide for himself.
“Trust me, that boy won’t let himself miss a meal.” Colleen interjected as she overheard our conversation.
“Alright, well you pick something up for him too.” Adam instructed as he reached into his pocket and grabbed a twenty.
“I’ll grab him something.” Colleen corrected as she wrapped up with a customer and turned back towards us. “If you don’t mind me taking a lunch break with Artie.”
“I don’t mind, Lindsay and I can handle it.” Adam shrugged his shoulders. “But I dragged Dizzy out here, I could at least buy him lunch.”
“You’re already paying him for the day.” Colleen reminded him. “And you feed him almost daily,”
“Alright,” Adam conceded, trying to save her the words. “but for the record he’s never imposing on us.”
“I’m sure.” She replied in a voice of disbelief. As she led us around the counter and out the door, she couldn’t help but look back at Adam. “Be honest, how often does Dizzy get under his skin?”
“Not too often anymore,” I said as I led us to the small deli next door. “Adam just ignores him or threatens to send him home.”
“Well if Adam needs to start sending him home, I understand.” She offered, but I could tell she didn’t really understand their relationship. I mean sure, she’s seen how close they’ve grown, but I don’t think she understands that Dizzy’s turned into family.
“I don’t think you’ll ever see Adam do that.” I couldn’t help but laugh as I started to look over the menu.
“What makes you say that?” She asked, more interested in our conversation than picking out lunch. As I took a moment to think over her question, I could see her starting to worry. “You don’t have to worry about offending me.” She said, scared of what my answer would be.
“It’s nothing like that.” I quickly tried to comfort. “Why don’t we sit down and then I’ll explain.” I offered, still trying to work out how much Adam would be okay with me sharing.
“Oh, yeah, that’d be smart.” She agreed, growing quiet as we both worked out what we wanted to eat.
When we finally ordered and took the food to our seats, I couldn’t help but see her getting lost in her thoughts. “My Uncle can be a hard guy to get to know.” I suddenly began as she looked up at me. “He’s been through a lot, so he’s kinda got a wall built up around him.”
As she heard those words, she nodded her head, no doubt having experienced how quickly Adam can shut down. “But I don’t think he was always that way.” I confessed as I began to pick at my food. “I think that when he was my age he was loud and in people’s faces.” I couldn’t help but smile at the idea. “He was a pretty big hell raiser back in my hometown.”
“He used to be like Dizzy.” She nodded her head, understanding what I was trying to say.
“Mhm.” I hummed as I put more thought into it. “And trust me, we both know how much Dizzy cares about you,” I tried to clarify. “there’s never a day he doesn’t mention you.” Her smile grew as she heard my words. “but no matter how annoying Dizzy gets, Adam will never actually throw him out.” I confidently nodded my head.
“But at the end of the day,” Colleen began but hesitated. “is Adam okay with that?” She asked as the concern in her voice began to grow again. “I don’t want Dizzy taking advantage.”
“Trust me, Adam’s happy to have him over.” Once more I found myself smiling. “To Adam, it’s just something he needs to do.” I shook my head. “I think Adam benefits from everything just as much as Dizzy.”
She nodded her head, but I saw another question beginning to form. “You both really care about Dizzy that much?”
“Well I,” I paused I felt my heart begin to race in my chest. “I love Dizzy.” I confessed, as she froze at my words. “I think we make each other better and he, he’s gotten me through a really tough time.”
“I think you’ve done the same for him.”She nodded along with my words. “And I know he loves you too.” She paused as she thought my words over once more. “Have you told him you love him?”
“Not yet.” I exhaled as my heart continued to race. “I just want it to be somewhere special and,” I hesitated once more. “and even though we’ve been dating for months, I’m still kind of nervous to tell him.”
“Well you have nothing to be nervous about.” She began to smile as her body relaxed. “Do you have any place in mind?”
“Maybe the bridge.” I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s the first place we went together, but he took me there when he asked me to be his boyfriend, and I,”
“Marin Headlands.” She interrupted in a confident voice. “That’s where you want to go.” She nodded her head. “You walk through the park and come to this beautiful opening with a view of the bridge.” She smiled at the idea of it. “Go where you feel is right, but I have a feeling you’d both find it special.”
“Marin Headlands.” I repeated with a smile. “I’ll make sure to keep that in mind.”
As we shared a smile a new kind of feeling took over. A few months ago I felt like I’d lost everything, and yet, now my life is coming together. It took a lot of help, but now that I’ve made it through, I’ll make them all proud.And for once in my relationship, I’ll be the one taking Dizzy on an adventure!