Authors: J.J. Murray
“I just met Trina, too,” Tony said. “Trina is wonderful. She is what I said she was. She has clear eyes. She cooks stew. I had beef stew for breakfast.”
Oh, did you have to tell him that?
“Beef stew?” Angelo huffed. “Really? For breakfast?”
“I like it, Angelo,” Tony said. “We are riding the cable cars now.” He held his hand out to Trina.
“No, you’re not,” Angelo said.
Tony withdrew his hand.
“Angelo, now you’re being an absolute asshole,” Aika said.
Tony started pulling and twisting his fingers. “No, Aika. Trina’s ex-husband is an asshole. Angelo is not an asshole. Angelo is my friend. Angelo is my brother. Angelo is not an asshole.”
Aika rubbed Tony’s leg. “I’m sorry, Tony. I meant that your brother is being
unreasonable. I know you care about Angelo.”
“I do,” Tony said. He settled his hands on his knees. “I wish he would care more about me now.”
“If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have come all the way out here in an airplane,” Angelo said.
“To take me back to Brooklyn,” Tony said. “I want to stay, Angelo. Let me stay.”
Aika looked up at Angelo. “What’s the harm, Angelo? He seems fine.”
“The media is out there waiting to turn Tony into a sideshow,” Angelo said.
“They want to put me in a circus,” Tony said.
“Yeah,” Angelo said. “They want to turn you into a clown.”
“I do not wear makeup,” Tony said.
“They want to make a fool out of you,” Angelo said. “There’s a sea of cynical shitheads hoping for the chance to—”
“Their heads are shit,” Tony interrupted, jumping up and going to the window. He pulled back the curtain. “Their heads are not shit. Their heads are heads. There are many heads out there.”
Trina rose and joined him at the window. “Angelo thinks they will be mean to you.”
“They will not be mean,” Tony said. “They are curious. They do not know me. They want to know me.”
Kind of true.
“I like the way you think, Tony.” Trina rubbed his shoulders. “Look at that camera. I think it’s pointing up at us.”
Angelo stomped over to the window and shut the curtains. “Cut that out!”
Tony stopped waving.
“Angelo, you’re overreacting,” Aika said. “Tony did fine in his first interview. You’re just mad you weren’t there when he did it.”
“That’s not true,” Angelo said.
I’ll bet it is,
Angelo wanted to be there to take some of the credit. I don’t blame him a bit. He helped make Tony who he is.
“I need my new clothes,” Tony said.
“They’re in the taxi outside,” Aika said, “along with your laptop case.”
“I want to change my clothes to ride the cable cars,” Tony said.
“You don’t need to change your clothes,” Angelo said. “You’re only getting on an airplane.”
“I do not want to ride on the airplane,” Tony said. “I want to ride on the cable cars with Trina.”
Keep on perseverating, Tony,
I think you’re wearing your brother down.
“You don’t belong here, Tony,” Angelo said. “You belong in Brooklyn.”
“I belong here,” Tony said.
“No, you don’t,” Angelo said.
“I belong in Brooklyn,” Tony said. “I belong in San Francisco. I belong at Johnny Foley’s. I belong with Trina.”
“You don’t know anything about her!” Angelo shouted.
“I know she is an angel,” Tony said. “I know she likes me.”
Trina squeezed Tony’s hand. “And I do. You have an amazing brother, Angelo.”
“Tony, you’ll forget about her the second you’re back in Brooklyn,” Angelo said. “Trust me, Tony. The second you’re back to your coffeehouses and cafés, you’ll—”
“I know I will cry if I leave Trina,” Tony interrupted.
If that isn’t a show of feelings, I don’t know what is,
He’s making me tear up again.
“You’ll what?” Angelo shouted.
“I will cry if I leave Trina.” Tony batted at a tear sliding down his nose. “I am already crying.”
I want to kiss that tear away so badly!
“Angelo, why can’t he stay?” Aika asked.
“For one, because of the bottom-feeders outside,” Angelo said. “And two, because I don’t trust
Okay. I’ve been quiet long enough.
“What? Trust me? Is your brother safe? Has he been fed? Did he get a good night’s sleep? Is he clean? Is he dressed? Did anything bad happen to him?”
Angelo stepped within inches of Trina’s toes. “You tried to go on television to find a man. And then on television last night, you told the world my brother is Art E. What kind of a woman does that? I’ll tell you. A narcissistic, egotistical, self-serving, vain, gold-digging—”
“Did I get voted onto that show?” Trina interrupted.
Angelo blinked. “That’s not the—”
“Did I get voted on that show?” Trina interrupted again. “I didn’t, so I must
be that kind of woman. You don’t know a thing about me.”
“And neither does Tony,” Angelo said.
“Trina is an angel,” Tony said.
“Who wants to take advantage of you, Tony,” Angelo said.
“She did not take advantage of me,” Tony said. “We did not have sex.”
Aika laughed and slapped the couch cushion. “Sorry! Ignore me, Tony.”
“I cannot ignore you, Aika,” Tony said.
Tony sure likes Aika. I can see why. She’s sweet and she’s gorgeous.
“How am I taking advantage of him?” Trina asked. “You see where I live. You see
I live. In less than two minutes you can see everything I own.”
“And it wouldn’t hurt to have a sugar daddy in your life to change all that, would it?” Angelo asked.
“Angelo!” Aika shouted.
“What is a sugar daddy?” Tony asked.
“Your brother thinks that
are a sugar daddy,” Trina said. “A sugar daddy is a rich man who gives his money away to women in exchange for something that
not happen here last night.”
“I saw you living it up with him last night,” Angelo said.
“Living it up?” Trina shook her head and sighed. “We went to Johnny Foley’s. It’s not exactly the world’s most expensive restaurant. The whole meal cost me forty dollars with tip and five root beers included.”
“Trina paid,” Tony said. “I will pay for dinner tonight, Trina.”
“Thank you, Tony,” Trina said.
Because I’m nearly broke, and I can’t even afford an appetizer at Cielo Azul
“What about the shoes he gave you?” Angelo asked. “What about them?”
“I accepted Tony’s gift,” Trina said.
“Those are some expensive shoes,” Angelo said.
“That will last me for years.”
What a jerk!
“But I’ll pay you back, Tony. I get paid Friday, and I’ll pay you back.”
“No,” Tony said. “I gave the shoes to you, Trina. They are yours.”
“No, it’s okay,” Trina said. “I wouldn’t want your brother to think I was using you for your money.” She opened the closet and took out her purse. “If I have the money now, I’ll give it to you.”
I don’t know why I’m looking in my purse. I only have some loose change and some expired coupons in here.
“No,” Tony said. He closed Trina’s purse. “Trina, I gave you the shoes. It is wrong to take money for a gift.”
“And I agree,” Aika said.
“Aika,” Angelo said, “whose side are you on?”
“Tony’s and Trina’s,” Aika said.
“You’re not seeing what’s going on here,” Angelo said.
“Sure I am,” Aika said. “I know it’s wrong to take money for a gift. And I know why you
have been doing that for years.”
“Hey now, that’s not fair,” Angelo said.
“You’ve been taking money for Tony’s gifts since he was sixteen,” Aika said.
Oh, I love Aika,
She’s a feisty little thing. She is officially my friend for life.
“I did what I had to do to give Tony a better life,” Angelo said. “If it weren’t for me, where would he be?” He sat next to Aika. “I could have . . . put him away somewhere, right? But I didn’t. I gave him a home.”
“The world of music is so much richer because of your sacrifice, Angelo,” Aika said. “I am in awe that you gave up much of your life for him. You love him so much. That’s one of the reasons I’m attracted to you. You put your family first—where it belongs. But now Tony wants to have his own life. Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted for him?”
“Well, yeah, of course, but not this way,” Angelo said. “Never
“Then what way?” Aika asked. “He has to start somewhere, and he’s made a huge first step. And from what I see, he’s stepping just fine. And he did it all on his own.” Aika smiled at Trina. “I’m sorry we brought all this drama into your home.”
“It’s okay,” Trina said. “Drama is much better than silence.” She returned her purse to the closet and rubbed Tony’s arm. “Thank you for standing up for me. You know I love those shoes.”
“I am sorry I yelled,” Tony said.
I didn’t know he did!
“Well,” Aika said, standing and stretching, “now that that’s settled, we can—”
“What’s settled?” Angelo interrupted.
“Trina is obviously not out to use Tony,” Aika said.
“Yet,” Angelo said.
“Oh, Angelo, please stop it,” Aika said.
“She’s an opportunist,” Angelo said.
“You’re right, Angelo,” Trina said, moving in front of him. “I am. I met a wonderful man, and I took the
to get to know him. I liked him as Tony long before I was sure he was Art E.”
“Oh, right,” Angelo said. “Tell me anything.”
“I did like him,” Trina said. “I do like him. I have been waiting two years for someone like Tony to come along.”
Angelo frowned. “You’ve been waiting for a man who has Asperger’s syndrome to come along.”
Trina turned to Aika. “Is he always like this?”
“No, and it pisses me off,” Aika said. “He needs to take some lessons in manners from Tony.”
“Who do you think taught him those manners?” Angelo asked.
what you taught him and behave,” Aika said.
“I have been waiting for a man who is kind, honest, and caring,” Trina said, “and here he is.”
“Tony is all of that, all the time,” Aika said. “You know this, Angelo. You raised him to be that way, didn’t you?”
“And he’s like no man I’ve ever known,” Trina said. “He doesn’t play mind games, and don’t you make some smart remark, Angelo.”
Angelo shrugged. “I wasn’t going to.”
“Tony has an
mind,” Trina said. “I know he spends a lot of time inside his mind sometimes, but that’s not wrong. He’s thinking life through. He’s making connections I can only dream of making.”
“And now you’re an
on Tony’s condition,” Angelo said.
“I’ll never know all you know about Asperger’s, Angelo,” Trina said, “but what I know about Tony I like very much. Tony doesn’t disrespect me. He treats me like a lady is supposed to be treated. He doesn’t lie to me. He tells me the truth. He doesn’t force me to do things I don’t want to do. He doesn’t try to make me think like him. I spent ten years with a man who did that. Tony doesn’t ignore me, either. Even if he doesn’t look me in the eye, I know he’s listening to my every word. On top of that, he has a great sense of humor. I have never laughed and smiled so much in my life.”
“But Tony has
laughed, a day in his life,” Angelo said.
“I can laugh,” Tony said. “Ha.”
Trina and Aika laughed.
“See?” Aika said.
“I like to make Trina laugh,” Tony said. “Her laughter makes me feel warm.”
“That’s your hormones talking, Tony,” Angelo said.
“Hormones do not talk,” Tony said. “They do not have mouths or vocal cords.”
“Your brother’s do,” Aika said, laughing. “Trust me.”
Angelo scratched his head with both hands. “This is crazy.”
“It is crazy and it is normal,” Tony said.
“There’s nothing normal about any of this, Tony,” Angelo said.
“It is crazy and it is normal,” Tony said. “It is crazy normal. It is romance.” He held his hand out to Trina. “We are going to ride the cable cars now.”
Trina grasped his hand. “Yes, we are.”
Angelo looked wide-eyed at Tony. “Since when do you . . . hold hands?”
“I like holding Trina’s hand,” Tony said. “It is soft and warm and strong.”
This must be some breakthrough,
Angelo looks amazed. And to think Tony is making this breakthrough with me. I’m not letting this man’s hand go for the rest of the day.
“Are there any more objections?”
“None from me,” Aika said. She took Angelo’s hand and swung it back and forth. “This is so sweet! Are you going to take me on the cable cars, too?”
“This is nuts,” Angelo said.
Trina reached into the closet with her free hand and grabbed her purse and jacket. “You really should go with us, Angelo. You know, to keep an eye on me, to make sure I don’t take advantage of Tony. How are book sales, anyway?”
“Hey, twenty-five percent of the sales of that book go to Asperger’s research,” Angelo said.
“I was just
you know,” Trina said, smiling.
I can be Brooklyn, too.
Angelo shook his head. “You’re really holding her hand, huh, Tony?”
“Yes,” Tony said. “It is dark brown. It is warm. I like how it looks holding my hand.”
“And you didn’t sleep in her bed?” Angelo asked.
“I wanted to,” Tony said. “I fell asleep on the couch. I did not get to say good-night to Trina.”
Angelo squinted at Tony. “Okay. I believe you.” He turned to Trina. “But I still don’t trust you.”
“Yet,” Trina said.
Angelo rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Let’s get out of here.”
“We are riding the cable cars,” Tony said.
“Yes, Tony,” Angelo said. “We’re riding the cable cars now.”