Crazy People: The Crazy for You Stories

Crazy People: The Crazy for You Stories by Jennifer Crusie Read Free Book Online

Book: Crazy People: The Crazy for You Stories by Jennifer Crusie Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jennifer Crusie
Tags: FICTION / Short Stories
Barbara knew it was over. Matthew was not taking care of her. He wasn’t even taking care of himself. If she wasn’t careful, she’d end up taking care of both of them.
    “Never use it,” Matthew said, and laughed again, his eyes twitching from the cable man to Barbara and back.
    “Sell you the one in the truck,” Randy said and went and got the tire and put it on while Matthew worried aloud that it wouldn’t fit, that it would be bad for the car, that it would come off if it wasn’t made for Volkswagons.
    Barbara tuned him out, like elevator music, and began to wonder if Randy would give her a lift to the next town. They must have a bus stop there. She could go home to Tibbett, lay low for a while, try again. Find somebody who wasn’t married this time, although most of the men who weren’t married, weren’t married for a reason.
    Randy pulled the old wheel off and threw it in Matthew’s trunk, every move he made absolutely sure.
    Maybe she could stay in the next town for a while, if that’s where Randy was from. Maybe there was a First National Bank there that needed a teller. Maybe she and Randy would start to talk in the cable van while he was taking her to the bus station. Maybe he was lonely, maybe his wife had died, but not because he hadn’t taken care of her, maybe she’d inherited some disease from her mother, and maybe she’d find out that he could do plumbing and electricity, too, that everyone knew him, that when their cable went out, they called and said, “Send Randy, he always knows how to fix it right.”
    “It’s old,” Randy said to Matthew when the tire was on. “Don’t trust it too far.”
    Matthew pulled his wallet out. Plumbers made good money, and Matthew liked pulling his wallet out. Barbara had liked it, too, had liked the confidence with which Matthew had handled his cash, but now it was obvious that money was meaningless without basic skills. “How much?” Matthew asked.
    Randy shrugged. “Twelve bucks maybe. It was old.”
    Matthew thrust a fifty at him. “Smallest thing I got. You got change?”
    Matthew had smaller bills than a fifty; he’d gotten change at the last restaurant to tip the waitress. He’d only tipped fifteen percent, too, not the twenty per cent Barbara liked to see. Waitresses had hard lives, but Matthew had only given a fifteen per cent tip. Really, she’d been blind.
    Randy had stepped back a little when Matthew shoved the fifty at him. He squinted into the sun as if he were figuring something out, and then he got out his wallet, much thinner than Matthew’s, and sorted through the bills slowly, counting out three ones, then a five, then two tens, then two more fives, his lips moving as he smoothed the bills on the truck of the Plymouth to count them again.
    He was having a hard time, Barbara realized. He wasn’t good at math.
    Maybe he was dyslexic. She felt so bad for him. How awful to be a man and not be good at math.
    She looked down the road to the next exit. Maybe it was a pretty town, but maybe it was just dust and gray boards and no breeze. Maybe there was a bank, but probably not a First National, and she probably couldn’t be head teller there, not at twenty-eight. That was the thing, really. It was all very well and good to daydream about new places, but the fact was, she’d worked hard to get where she was in Tibbett.
    “You going to just stand there?” Matthew asked her when the bills had changed hands.
    Barbara took a last look at Randy. He looked nice, but he was bad at math.
    “No,” she said, and got in the car, hoping the tire would get them all the way back to Ohio.

    Yes, the amount of info-dump (characters thinking about their pasts) is not good here. I think Barbara really would be thinking a lot of these things as the events in the now of the story unfolded, but not the big chunks that mainly explain things. But even so, I like this piece. I think it’s because I didn’t understand Barbara until I wrote it, and then

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