HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 103

“Now, what seems to be the problem here?” Gertrude asked.

Tommy popped the hood and climbed out of the car.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “It just started making all these weird noises suddenly. I’m worried it’s going to, like, explode if I drive it around like this.”

Gertrude chuckled.

“It probably won’t come to that,” she said. “But I’ll take a look.”

“Thanks,” Tommy said. “I really appreciate you squeezing me in on such short notice.”

“Oh, it’s no trouble,” Gertrude said, leaning over the engine. “It’s kind of a slow morning anyway.”

“That’s good,” Frederica said, “because Dad’s going to kill him if we bring the car back home like this.”

She got out and made a show of stretching her legs.

“Whatever,” Tommy said. “This probably happened while you were out cruising around last night. You always leave me to take the blame for this kind of shit.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Frederica said. “You’re just jealous that Dad likes me more.”

Tommy sighed and glanced sheepishly at Gertrude.

“I’m sorry about my sister,” he said. “She’s… an acquired taste.”

“Don’t sweat it,” Gertrude said. “I know all about pain-in-the-ass sisters.”

“Oh yeah?” Tommy said. “What’s yours like?”

“I wouldn’t even know where to start,” Gertrude said. “I actually haven’t spoken to her in years. For all I know, she could be in jail again.”

Again?” Frederica said.

“Yeah, she went away for a couple years on a botched robbery,” Gertrude said. “That was the last I heard of her. Probably for the best. She’s nothing but trouble.”

Frederica glanced at Tommy and said, “Well, at least I’m not that bad.”

“Yet,” he replied.