Read No Ordinary Love Online

Authors: J.J. Murray

No Ordinary Love (30 page)

BOOK: No Ordinary Love
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“I am so happy for you,” Naini said. “Are you with him now?”

“Yes,” Trina said.

“I am sorry I did not believe you, Trina,” Naini said. “And I would have called sooner, but I have been so busy covering for you and working overtime.”

covering for me?”

“Yes,” Naini said. “I volunteered. I have to warn you. ES is very cross. She cannot stand it when we cheer for you in the break room whenever we see you on television.”

“You’re cheering for little old me,” Trina said.

“All the time,” Naini said. “Look at Trina. One of the dark masses is doing great things. Ha! ES cannot stand to see you so happy.”

“She can’t stand to see any of us happy,” Trina said.

“However, because you are not really sick,” Naini said, “we think she will do something drastic soon.”

“I’m not worried,” Trina said.

“And you should not worry,” Naini said. “You are an integral part of this hospital. Where will I see you on the television next? I have already seen you riding a carousel on Pier 39 today.”

That was quick!
“We’ll be at Johnny Foley’s again tonight.”

“I will come down after my shift in the ER,” Naini said. “I want to meet your knight in shining armor.”

“We’ll see you then,” Trina said. “Bye.”

After dropping off Tony’s new clothes and laptop case at Trina’s, they walked down to Johnny Foley’s to eat more fish and chips and mushy peas while paparazzi lit up their meal with flashes from the sidewalk outside.

“That is so rude,” Angelo said. “I have spots in my eyes.”

chose a table near the window,” Aika said. “We
be sitting near the bar.”

“It is okay,” Tony said. “They will have more pictures of themselves than they will of us. The light is wrong. They are taking pictures of themselves.”

As they finished their meal, an older silver-haired man stopped by their table.

“Hi, I’m the manager, Patrick Kelly,” he said. “How is everything?”

“Good,” Angelo said. “You got a nice place here. You could put one of these in Brooklyn.”

“Tony, are you planning to play again tonight?” Mr. Kelly asked.

“I want to,” Tony said. “Aika and Angelo need to hear me play.”

Mr. Kelly leaned over. “We’d like you to duel with tonight’s pianist.”

Tony blinked. “We will both play together.”

“Right,” Mr. Kelly said. “Tim Conroy’s one of our very best, and he’s looking forward to a showdown.”

Tony picked up his root beer. “I will go play with Tim now.”

The SRO crowds in the Cellar parted to let Tony and Trina through to the pianos amid cheers and applause. Tony walked up to Tim and shook his hand.

“May the best player win,” Tim said.

Tony shook his head. “We will not duel. We will play together. You will see.”

“All right,” Tim said. “Let’s do this.”

Tony sat on the bench at the other piano. “You go first.”

Tim played a jazzy tune with flourishes up and down the keyboard.

Tony nodded in time until adding to Tim’s tune with flourishes of his own.

“This is incredible,” Angelo said. “It’s like Tony knows what Tim is going to play next.”

At one point, the two pianists played the exact same notes until Tim had to stop because he was laughing too hard. While Tim stared at his fingers, Tony continued.

“Amazing,” Tim said into a microphone. “That was my own composition, Tony. How could you know what I was going to play next?”

Trina slid a pencil-thin microphone in front of Tony. “I recognized your pattern,” Tony said. “It is a good song.” He stopped playing. “I will go first now.”

“And I’ll try to keep up,” Tim said.

“Do not try to keep up,” Tony said. “Add to the music. That is what music is for.” He stood and pushed back the bench. “I will go slowly at first.”

“Bring it on, man,” Tim said.

Tony motioned Trina to his right and placed three of her fingers on a chord far to the right. “Play two times.”

Trina played the chord.
Hey, it’s the clang of the cable car.

“Tim,” Tony said, “we are going to ride the cable car now. This is called ‘Cable Car Rock.’” He turned to Trina. “You decide when to ring the bell.”

“Let’s rock,” Tim said.

And they did.

Tony tapped out a beat on the top of the piano with his left hand while doing a five-finger run in the middle.

Tim caught on and played the run.

Tony added a rumbling, thunderous bass.

Trina rang the bell.

“We are going downhill now,” Tony said, and the song picked up tempo.

Oh, and we’re really moving now!
Trina thought.
We’re on the Soul Train and a house party’s breaking out!

Tony stopped tapping the beat and added a light melody full of sunlight, while Tim improvised and played what music critics the next day would call “power chords reminiscent of early seventies rock and roll.”

Tony slowed the melody.

Trina rang the bell twice.

Tony lifted his left hand from the bass while reducing the melody to a crawl.

Tim played one more bass chord.

Trina rang the bell.

Tim lifted his hands.

Tony lifted his hands.

Tony turned his head and smiled at Trina as the applause swelled around them.

He’s smiling,
she thought.
He’s really smiling.

“Angelo,” Tony said into the microphone. “Angelo, root beer for everyone.”

Johnny Foley’s ran out of root beer in less than half an hour.

While the crowd toasted each other with frothy root beer, reporters surrounded Tony’s piano.

“What do you think of our city?” a reporter asked.

“It is not Brooklyn,” Tony said.

“So you don’t like San Francisco,” the reporter said.

“He only said it wasn’t Brooklyn,” Trina said. “He didn’t say anything about not liking it.”

“Let him answer,” the reporter said. “I’m not talking to you.”

Angelo towered over the reporter. “Hey, buddy. Lighten up, all right? Sometimes you have to rephrase your question and make it more direct. Tony, do you like San Francisco?”

“Yes,” Tony said. “I like it very much.”

“What do you like about San Francisco?” Angelo asked.

“It is different,” Tony said. “It is the same. It is new. It is old. It is up. It is down. It is up again. It is a carousel with white horses. It is sea lions lying in the sun. It smells like the ocean. It smells like laughter. It smells like love.”

The reporter shook his head. “What does love smell like, Tony?”

“Love smells like the old wood in the cable cars,” Tony said. “Love smells like the water in the bay. Love smells like fish and chips at Codmother. Love smells like Trina’s perfume. Love smells like Aika’s hair. Love smells like Angelo’s sweat.”

“Hey!” Angelo shouted.

“All of that is love,” Tony said.

“Are you saying that you love San Francisco?” the reporter asked.

“Yes,” Tony said.

Trina looked into the crowd and saw Naini standing along the back wall. “Naini Mitra,” Trina said in the microphone. “Naini Mitra, please come meet Tony.”

Naini threaded her way to the piano and stood next to Tony.

Tony stared at Naini’s shoes. “You have the same shoes I bought for Trina.”

a pair of the shoes you bought for Trina,” Naini said. “Thank you.”

“Tony, I’d like you to meet my good friend, Naini Mitra,” Trina said.

Tony shot out a hand, and Naini shook it once.

“You have small hands,” Tony said. “You are short. You have brown skin and brown eyes and brown and orange lips. I like your hair. It is long and squiggly and shiny.”

“Thank you,” Naini said.

Trina covered up the microphone.
If he starts talking about Naini’s breasts and buttocks, I will be so embarrassed.

“You are very pretty,” Tony said. “You are from . . .” He sighed. “I am always wrong. Please tell me.”

“I am from Bengali, a province in India,” Naini said.

Tony nodded. “You have a pretty voice. It sounds like music. What does your name mean?”

“Literally, ‘pupil of the eye,’” Naini said.

“You have pretty dark brown eyes.” He pulled the piano bench forward. “I would like to play with you and Trina now.”

Good thing I’m covering this microphone.
“Excuse me?” Trina said.

Tony blinked.

“You mean you want to play the piano with us now, right?” Trina said.

“That is what I said,” Tony said.

Naini sat to Tony’s left. “What do I do?”

He put Naini’s right thumb and pinkie on two different bass keys. “Play loud and fast.” He put Trina’s left thumb and pinkie on two different treble keys. “Play louder and faster. While you play, I will make your hands disappear.”

A cameraman moved around the platform to capture the moment.

“Houdini’s Magic Shop gave you this idea,” Trina said.

“Yes,” Tony said. He flexed his fingers. “Nothing up my sleeves . . .”

“You’re not wearing sleeves, Tony,” Trina said.

“They have already disappeared,” Tony said. “Play . . . now.”

Tony watched Naini playing her low notes. He watched Trina playing her high notes. He raised his hands in the air and clapped until the crowd caught on. He took a breath . . .

. . . and Tony’s fingers became a blur.

“Speed piano,”
Rolling Stone
would later call it, and at times, Naini’s and Trina’s hands
vanish as Tony played in between, above, and below their hands on the keyboard. Trina couldn’t believe the ease with which he played between her fingers, and his fingers lightly brushed her hands like moths’ wings.

Midway through the song, Trina distinctly heard the barking of sea lions.

When he finished the song, Tony grabbed both of their hands and raised them into the air.

The picture made the front page of
the best-selling Bengali language newspaper in Calcutta, India.

Tony stood and put his arms around both women.

picture appeared on with the caption: “Art E. has two brown gal pals now?”

“It was an honor to meet you, Tony,” Naini said, hugging him tightly. She hugged Trina. “He is so wonderful,” she whispered. “You are so lucky.”

“I am,” Trina whispered.

“May I hug him again?” Naini asked. “Please?”

“No,” Trina said. “Tony’s all mine.”

Naini looked up at Tony. “If you are ever in Oakland, make sure to visit me.”

“I will visit,” Tony said.

Trina pulled Tony away from Naini. “No, you won’t.”

“I want to visit Naini in Oakland,” Tony said.

“No,” Trina said. “Bye, Naini.”

Naini sighed. “Good-bye, Tony.”

“Good-bye, Naini,” Tony said.

After Naini left, Tony looked into Trina’s eyes. “Naini is your good friend.”

“Yes,” Trina said. “So?”

“We should visit her in Oakland,” Tony said.

“Naini only wanted
to visit,” Trina said.

“Oh.” Tony wrinkled up his eyebrows. “I do not understand.”

“I’ll explain later,” Trina said.

Tony again looked into Trina’s eyes. “You are tired.”

“I am,” Trina said. “Aren’t you?”

“Yes,” Tony said. “We have had a busy day.”

“Let’s go home,” Trina said.

While Angelo and Aika did their best to forge a path ahead of them, Tony and Trina walked hand in hand out of Johnny Foley’s and to her apartment, camera lights and flashes illuminating the night.

“You could stay with us at the Mark Hopkins, Tony,” Angelo said. “We can see all of San Francisco Bay from our window.”

“I am staying with Trina,” Tony said.

That’s right,
Trina thought.

“That couch can’t be good for your back,” Angelo said.

“My back is okay,” Tony said.

“Come on, Angelo,” Aika said. “Tony’s in great hands.”

Angelo looked at Trina. “Does that couch fold out or anything?”

“No,” Trina said. “If it did, it would swallow up the entire room.”

“Are you sure you want to stay here, Tony?” Angelo asked.

“I am sure,” Tony said.

“You’d have a big bed all to yourself at the hotel,” Angelo said. “And the TV has the
weather channel.”

Trina thought.

“I am sure,” Tony said.

“Let’s go, Angelo,” Aika said. “Good-night, Trina. Good-night, Tony.” Aika hugged Tony, and then she hugged Trina.

“Good-night, Aika,” Tony said.

Angelo stood in front of Tony. “Look at me, Tony.”

Tony looked up.

“Get some sleep,” Angelo said. “No messing around.”

“I will try,” Tony said.

“Did you hear me?” Angelo asked.

“Yes,” Tony said. “Sleep. No messing around.”

Jerk! Jerk! Jerk!
Trina thought.
I know he “raised” Tony, but Angelo is seriously messing around with my love life.

If this is love.

If this can ever be love.


n the apartment, instead of heading straight to the couch, Tony stood in the doorway to Trina’s room.

No weather watching tonight?
“Do you want to go to sleep now?”
With me. In my bed. Please?

“I am wired,” Tony said.

“I don’t see any,” Trina said.

Tony smiled. “Ha ha.”

She hugged him from behind. “I’m wired, too.”
Want to mess around? No, I can’t say that!
“You’ve smiled at me twice tonight.”

“I am practicing,” Tony said.


“Your face glows when I smile at you,” Tony said.

“Why don’t you smile all the time then?” Trina asked.

“It hurts my face.”

Trina smiled. “Smiling sometimes hurts mine, too.”
Especially when ES is being particularly ugly and I have to smile and take it.
“Want to watch the weather together?”

“No,” Tony said. “I want to watch you.” He turned to face her.

Trina stepped in, resting her head on his chest. “Haven’t you been watching me all day?”

BOOK: No Ordinary Love
13.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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