Crazy Together

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Babes

(Author’s note: While I was working on a new chapter for “My Master Down the Hall,” I started to wonder what a brother-sister relationship might look like without a strong, loving family. This story is much more somber and, hopefully, realistic than most of what I’ve written before. There is also quite a lot of build-up before any sex, so you’re warned. All characters are over eighteen years of age, etc. –TheWorldSpins)

Tammy wished her brother Max would say something to her, anything, even just to yell at her. Sometimes he just tuned people out, as if they weren’t there, and it had always infuriated her when she was growing up. He could be almost inhuman at times.

Tap tap tap.

Throughout the agonizingly slow car ride, her leg had never stopped tapping, her constant motion in marked contrast to Max’s stolid exterior as he steered the old Accord. Tammy’s left leg, tanned golden and bare to the mid-thigh, bounced up and down, catching Max’s eye as he drove.

God she’s growing up…

“Could you stop that?” he asked laconically, his voice betraying only a little annoyance and absolutely no trace of his awkward, unexpected appreciation for his sister’s feminine form.

Tammy clamped one hand down on her knee, though it only served to transfer her nervous energy to running her fingers through her long, wavy blonde hair. She looked over at Max, whose own hair was, as always, short-cropped and dark. They didn’t really look much alike.

“That, too,” he asked. “It’s distracting.”

As late as it was, there was little traffic on the road. They sped through a series of flashing yellow traffic lights. Tammy always liked it when the lights took the night off. There was something magical late at night, like things were possible then that weren’t in the light of day.

“Are you mad?” she asked, strangely hoping he was.

Max waited so long to respond that Tammy almost thought he didn’t hear her. Then, with the faintest of head turns, just barely enough to signal his recognition of her presence, he spoke.

“Nope.”

“Don’t have a lecture for me?”

“Nope.”

“Did you miss me?”

“Who’s to say?”

That last one pissed Tammy off. Max could be impossibly cryptic when he didn’t want to be honest with her.

“Don’t care your baby sister almost went to jail tonight?” she asked with growing frustration.

They reached an actually functioning red light and stopped. Max turned slightly more towards her.

“I came, didn’t I?” he said, his voice a little warmer.

Tammy felt a little bad. She wanted Max to care about her, even though he never showed it any more. She had to admit, though, that picking her up at 2 AM from Wal-mart after she was caught shoplifting was a pretty decent thing for an older brother to do.

“Yeah, you did. Thanks,” she said sheepishly. “So, not to be an asshole or anything, but I’m starving. Any chance we could get something to eat?”

Tammy was hungry, but most of all, she didn’t want to go back home. Anywhere but there.

“It’s late. I’m sure there’s food back home,” he said, seemingly oblivious to her ulterior motives.

Tammy’s voice took on a hopeful lilt.

“You mean your house?”

If she was lucky, Max might consent to let her crash on his couch. His place was actually pretty nice, if a little spartan. Most of all, Tammy wanted to avoid waking her parents in the middle of the night, even if she could simply lie about where she was. Knowing them, they would assume the worst about her in any event.

“Very funny,” Max replied. “You’re going back to Mom and Dad’s.”

“Please, Max. Just one night. I’ll go back tomorrow, promise.”

Tammy didn’t want to interrupt this time: Max had gone into one of his “zones.” She knew he was thinking things over, turning over every possible objection, every contingency and possibility. Sometimes, she was in awe of the way her brother could think. Other times, she wished he’d get out of his own head and take notice of other people in the world.

“No,” he said, with the finality of a judge pronouncing a sentence. “You belong there.”

“Then let me out here,” she said defiantly.

“So what? You can get killed on the side of the road?” he asked incredulously. “Not happening.”

“Who are you to tell me what to do?”

“The guy you called to keep from getting arrested,” he said.

Tammy’s anger flared. Why couldn’t he talk to her like he used to?

“I called my brother. I don’t know who the fuck you are,” she said with a wounded outrage.

With the car moving as slowly as it was, Tammy figured she could get out easily enough. She opened the door, only to realize that the road can be deceptive: the car was moving faster than she had reckoned. The force of opening the door almost knocked her out of the car, and Max slammed on the brakes, grabbing her across the chest to hold her back in. His mask of indifference had shattered, though she couldn’t tell if he was pissed at her for opening the door or embarrassed for inadvertently feeling up her tits.

“Are casino siteleri you fucking crazy?” he shouted at the top of his lungs.

His words hit Tammy like a hammer blow. She had her answer: Max, the person she cared about more than anyone in the whole world, was using the “c” word. She started to cry, tears of sadness and anger.

“Fuck. You.” She said, punctuating each word with a middle finger. “You’re just like them.”

With the car now stopped in the middle of the road, she dashed out and made a run for it, heading towards the now deserted strip mall she could see up ahead. Max followed after her, heedless of his car now parked in the middle of the street. Tammy had always been more athletic than he was, and Max found it difficult to catch up to her. Though he had every reason to be angry, after giving chase for a minute her found himself in awe of her graceful, muscular body as she ran from him.

She had never been a skinny girl, but exercise and sports had turned her body into a lithe, beautifully-proportioned form, which suited her rounded, soft features well. He stopped to admire her, letting her run herself exhausted while he broke into a slower jog. If he couldn’t catch her, he might as well just wait for her to come back to him, assuming she would.

After Max gave chase for as long as he could, he collapsed in a heap outside a darkened nail salon. He could see Tammy round the corner at the Discount Shoe Warehouse and dart behind the building before disappearing.

Sitting on the cold concrete curb, Max felt a strange feeling, one he hadn’t felt in a while. Despite his better than average vocabulary, he couldn’t put a finger on exactly what the right word for it was. It wasn’t fear, or concern, or anger, or anything like what he assumed he should be feeling. He remembered feeling it when Tammy broke her arm in second grade and he rode with her to the hospital from school. A strange smile broke across his face, and he shook his head just a little.

He was exhausted enough to easily slip into one of his zones again. He was thinking without thinking; Tammy knew that state better than probably anyone else in the world. After about ten minutes, she returned and wasn’t surprised to see him sitting there, patiently waiting for her.

“I didn’t think you’d chase after me,” Tammy said from behind him.

Max startled a little bit. She looked at him more closely.

“Are you smiling, weirdo?” she said, her voice less harsh than before.

Max stroked his chin a little, laughing inside that her breath was still heaving while his had long since calmed.

“Christ, you’re in good shape,” he said. “I feel like I’m a hundred years old now.”

Tammy smiled too. It felt good for him to actually talk to her at all. It had been so long.

“Max, I’m serious,” she said, though the stupid grins they shared belied that notion. “I’m fucking starving. Take me to Denny’s or I’ll make you find me in the woods.”

Sitting on the curb, Max had already decided that he’d let Tammy crash at his place, so there was little harm acceding to her request now.

“Fine, as long as you promise not to steal the tips off the other tables,” he said sarcastically.

“Very funny,” she said. “I’ll just steal your wallet instead.”

They trekked back to the road, both thankful nothing gruesome had befallen the Accord. Once they reached Denny’s, a place they both agreed was the worst restaurant at which they would ever voluntarily eat, little remained of the argument before. Tammy felt much more at ease, now that Max had dropped his rigid exterior. He was almost treating her like an equal and not a child.

They settled in and ordered, making snarky little comments to each other about the place along the way. It was like they were young again, only to Tammy’s joy, their five year age difference didn’t mean as much anymore. She had only been thirteen when Max left for college, and seeing him since then was a rare experience. She hadn’t even expected him to pick up when she called, desperate and in the hands of the night security guard.

“So I’m sure Emily’s pissed, right?” she said to Max apologetically. “Tell her I’m sorry.”

Max dropped his smile. Tammy saw that tense look he got whenever he didn’t want to say something: it hadn’t changed since he was a boy.

“So, Emily doesn’t care. Because she’s, you know, gone. For good,” he stammered.

“What!?!” Tammy said, her shock played up just a little bit in light of her own longstanding dislike of Max’s girlfriend. “You guys have been together for like three years.”

“We were together two,” he corrected. “We broke up over a year ago.”

All the playfulness in Tammy’s voice evaporated.

“Are you kidding me? You fucking bastard.”

Max was confused.

“Wait, I didn’t think you liked Emily,” he said, trying to recapture the joking mood.

“I didn’t—don’t. But I also don’t like you not telling me, like, huge shit in your life. What the fuck is wrong with you, Max? I’m your sister,” she said, genuinely hurt.

It had canlı casino been hard being cut out of Max’s life, but deep down, Tammy had always believed they shared a special bond. More and more, though, she wondered if she was deluding herself.

“It…it never came up,” he said, his apology half-hearted even in his own ears.

Tammy picked at her food quietly. She had lost much of her appetite. Max tried eating, acting normal, but couldn’t ignore the icy silence and disappointment of his baby sister, crossing her arms right below her chest and staring at the plate of food.

She looked better when she smiled, and would have given anything to see it light up her face at that moment. Tammy’s chubby cheeks, the thing about herself that she most hated, were Max’s favorite feature on her, but only when she smiled. Then she practically glowed.

Twenty minutes passed.

“So…shoplifting, huh?” he asked.

Tammy returned only silence.

“Take me back to Mom and Dad’s,” was her only reply.

“OK,” he said, not contesting her wishes.

Max paid the check. They climbed silently into the car, and he started off. He kept watching her out of the corner of his eye, hoping to see some sign she was relaxing and letting go of her anger. He was disappointed, but there was something else: she was…different. She had really grown up while he was gone. He had seen her from time to time, of course, but somehow, he’d missed how she’d flowered into a beautiful, if a little wild, woman.

Almost without thinking, he turned left when he should have turned right.

“Where are you going?” Tammy asked, in equal parts anger and curiosity.

Max was silent for a moment. He felt out of his element, and more than a little scared now. Yet it wasn’t all bad; it was strangely exhilarating to throw caution to the wind, to move without thinking, not to plan what he was going to say.

“We’re going to my house. It’s too late to take you to Mom and Dad’s—you’ll get in big trouble. I don’t care if you’re nineteen, they’re going to treat you like a baby until you get out of there.”

Tammy was prepared to protest his disregard of her wishes, but secretly, he was doing just what she wanted. She was hurt that he hadn’t shared something so big with her, but the solution wasn’t for him to abandon and ignore her once again.

“Is that OK with you?” he asked. “I mean, it’s late anyway. We’re just going to go straight to sleep.”

Tammy decided to put him through the wringer a bit.

“Yeah, I guess,” she said. “I still think you should apologize, though.”

She expected some push-back, maybe a reminder that he’d come all the way out to pick her up in the middle of the night. She hadn’t even really meant it. Max, though, didn’t hesitate.

“You’re right. I’m sorry. How about this—I’ll try to stay in touch with you more. I’ll call you…say, twice a week. OK?”

Tammy held her happiness in check, not wanting to look pathetic in front of her older brother. A nineteen-year-old girl—no, woman, she told herself—shouldn’t get so excited about phone calls from her older brother.

“Yeah, I guess that would be cool,” she said. “Are you ever going to come over?”

Once more, Max paused.

“No…It’s not you. I just…no.”

Jeff, Tammy told herself. He’ll never get over that.

Max pulled into his complex and showed Tammy up to his condo. It was nice: no frills, but clean, comfy, and most importantly, free of parents. That made it perfect.

“Am I allowed to smoke?” she asked, expecting an indignant rejection.

Tammy didn’t actually smoke, at least not cigarettes, and she didn’t have any weed on her at the time. Mostly, she just liked to make her brother squirm with questions like that.

“If you wouldn’t mind, go outside on the balcony. It’d probably be fine, smoking inside I mean, but I’m not in love with the smell, to be honest,” he said.

Tammy was shocked. He was being really cool. Or did he just not care?

“Wow,” she said. “No lecture?”

“You’re a grown-up, now,” he said. “You don’t need your brother telling you what to do.”

“You never told me what to do,” she replied. “That’s why I always liked you. You were a good brother.”

Max smiled.

“Past tense? Ouch. Get some sleep—hell, take the bed. I’m good out here. We’ll figure it out in the morning.”

Tammy wanted to object to Max taking the couch—not to sleep there herself, but to tell him they could share the bed. She realized how strange that would sound, though. She really wasn’t a little girl anymore, and Max was a grown man, with his own home.

“Max?” she called out.

“Yeah?”

“I’m sorry about the car thing,” she said sincerely. “Just, please don’t call me ‘crazy.’ I don’t want to explain it, but I hate that more than anything in the world.”

“Totally—I can see how’d they’d drive anyone crazy. Then blame you for it,” he said with sympathy.

Still thinking about Max, Tammy snuggled up against the extra pillow. Before long she was drifting off to sleep.

***

Tammy kaçak casino wished she hadn’t actually tried. Tried to meet somebody. Tried to look good for him. Tried to ignore all the warning signals. Now she was standing outside a Taco Bell, looking way too dressed up and feeling painfully embarrassed. After an interminable wait, she saw the familiar contours of her brother’s car crest the hill and pull into the parking lot.

“Thank god,” she said. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

Unlike the last time he had gotten one of these late night calls, Max was glad to see his sister this time. He had missed her. What was more, she looked amazing: sexy but classy in a leopard print dress with black color block on the side. She’d worn it hoping the black panels would make her look thinner. Like a lot of women her age, she was convinced she was too fat, though Max couldn’t imagine someone with a more perfect figure than his sister, a fact that caused him some mental distress.

“OK, Tammy, you’ve got to tell me what happened this time.”

He was surprised by the chilly reception he received from his sister.

“Look,” she said, “just take me home.”

Max was confused and more than a little hurt.

“Ummm…mine or yours?” he asked.

“Mom and Dad’s.”

Once more, brother and sister sat silently in the car, as Max drove the familiar path back to his childhood home. He made it all the way to their street, before he stopped and pulled over.

“What the hell, do I have to walk?” Tammy asked.

She was startled to see how sad Max looked, almost wounded. She was still pissed at him: he’d broken his promise to call her regularly, but she still felt a little bad about her treatment of him. It didn’t help that he looked so good that night, his green eyes sparkling in the streetlight’s glow. She thought for a moment he might have been on a date of his own: he had crisp black slacks and a blue, white, and red plaid button up. She felt a weird pang of jealousy—she’d hated Emily, and she’d hate whoever this new girl was, provided she existed.

“Hey, I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s just that… I mean, you were supposed to call me. After, like, two weeks you forgot all about me again.”

Max’s voice was low, too low and quiet for her to understand. She asked him to repeat himself.

“Why do you even want to talk to me?” he asked.

She was genuinely surprised at his demeanor.

“Because you’re my brother, and we used to be close. Shit, we ought to be closer now, since I can actually understand what you’re talking about now. I’m not a stupid little kid anymore—I mean, you probably think I’m stupid, but I promise it’s just because you’re like a genius or something.”

Max was used to people finding him a bit intimidating. He had a way of projecting this Olympian indifference that immediately betrayed his keen intelligence. Sometimes, being smart was its own kind of handicap, at least socially.

“I don’t think you’re stupid,” he said quietly.

“Don’t lie to me,” Tammy said. “I mean, everybody else does. If not stupid, then crazy.”

“You don’t mean that,” Max said.

“Max—you should see the books Mom and Dad read: ‘Coping with Problem Children,’ ‘Parenting a Bi-polar Child,’ ‘The Tough Love Approach to Juvenile Rebellion.’ They think I’m crazy. Everybody else just thinks I’m stupid because I didn’t go to college, or I’m some cheap slut.”

Tammy hadn’t meant to let that last part slip out. She and Max had of course never talked about sex, and he had never been around as she developed, first physically and only later emotionally. She looked at Max, who had an unusually intense expression in his eyes.

“Tammy, you’re not stupid. You’re not crazy. You’re not a slut. Just because I’m a shitty brother doesn’t mean you did something wrong,” he said. “I just…there’s just shit you don’t know about me. It’s really not you—it’s me.”

“That’s just it,” she said, as if excited to get a chance to prove her point. “I don’t know about you because you won’t tell me. But I’m your sister. I’m not Mom and Dad—really you should know that. I’m not gonna tell people or laugh at you or anything. You can tell me anything—I want to be a part of your life.”

They sat there for a moment, Tammy waiting for Max to speak.

“I want to go home,” he said. “Will you come with me?”

She nodded, almost too excited to actually speak. Once they got back to his place, Max absent-mindedly offered her a drink. Tammy giggled.

“Getting me drunk, huh?” she asked. “This must be bad.”

Max shook his head, as if he was waking from a dream.

“Sorry—dumb. You can’t drink yet.”

“Who’s to say?” she asked coyly.

Max thought for a moment.

“Good point.”

He poured her a rum and coke. Tammy had drank before, but usually cheap beer or something awful like Smirnoff Ice.

“Damn, Max, this is strong,” she said, her face puckering a little.

“Sorry, I figured a bad-ass like you would be used to it,” he said, not smiling but not frowning either.

Tammy furrowed her brow.

“What do you mean?”

“About the ‘bad-ass’ thing? You just seem, you know, like a teenage rebel,” he said, comically emphasizing that last part. “In a cool way, though—really. At least, that’s how it seems on Facebook.”

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