But Carmen couldn’t wait, not with that sign in the window. Her mother was an English teacher, damn it. She told Samuel that she’d pay and stormed into the gas station. She saw the clerk and was fixing him with her stare before she was even at the counter.
“I want to speak to the owner,” she said.
“I’m one of them,” he said, taking off his hat. “What can I do for you?”
“You’re Bob, then?” she said, glancing at the “BOBS’ MOTORS” sign in the window.
He nodded and shrugged at the same time.
“Like I said, I’m one of them.”
“One of them?” She gawked. “How illiterate are you?”
Another man came in from the back, this one taller, his overalls stained with oil.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
Bob answered. “I think the lady wants to speak to us about literacy.”
The other man rubbed his hands on his overalls and looked at Carmen.
“There’s a rack of paperbacks by the door if that’s what you’re after.”
Carmen said, almost stamping her foot. “The sign on your store is
incorrectly punctuated. If the store belongs to Bob,” she pointed at the
man behind the counter, “then the apostrophe goes before the ‘s,’ not
“Well, yeah,” said the guy in overalls. “But it doesn’t. It belongs to all of us Bobs.”
Carmen took a moment on this.
Bob McClane.” He gestured to the Bob behind the counter. “That’s Bobby
Green. His dad’s Bobby Green Sr. I’ve got a cousin, Bob Jaffey. All four
of us have a stake in the place.”
“In Bobs’ Motors?” she asked, regretting having not let her husband come in to pay.
“Yeah,” said both Bobs.
She looked down into her purse.
“Twenty dollars of unleaded, please.”