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Authors: J.J. Murray

No Ordinary Love (4 page)

BOOK: No Ordinary Love
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Tony faced the door. “Women do not like me.”

“You don’t give them a chance to like you, Tony,” Angelo said.

“I want to give them a chance,” Tony said.

Angelo blinked.
This is new. He normally doesn’t care. I have to take advantage of this moment.
“Turn around and look at me.”

Tony turned but only looked at Angelo’s feet.

“Do you really want to know how to give women a chance?” Angelo asked.


“You’re not just pulling my chain, are you?” Angelo asked.

“You have no chain to pull,” Tony said. He looked up briefly. “I make jokes.”

Angelo smiled.
For a man who’s not supposed to have a sense of humor, Tony is pretty funny sometimes.
“Okay, the first thing you have to do to get women to like you is to stop being so honest around them.”

“Women do not want to hear the truth,” Tony said. “Mama told me that.”

“Well, yes and no,” Angelo said. “They want you to be truthful with
feelings, but they don’t want to hear the whole truth about themselves.”

“I am truthful with my feelings,” Tony said. “A woman should want to know the whole truth about herself.”

“The whole truth is too much to handle sometimes,” Angelo said. “Say I’m a woman.”

“You are a woman.”

Angelo smiled.

“I made another joke,” Tony said.

I’m a woman, Tony.”

“I cannot pretend you are a woman when you are not a woman. You do not have breasts, a voice of a higher timbre, or . . . the other thing.”

I won’t ask, “What’s the other thing?” Once Tony learned that girls didn’t have penises when he was eleven, he had to tell
that girls had vaginas. At Mass. Three weeks in a row. During communion.

a woman asked me how she looked and I thought she
look good, in order not to hurt her feelings, I might say, ‘You look good, baby.’”

“You would lie to her.”

“It’s a little lie.”

“A little lie is still not the truth,” Tony said.

“Well, if I say, ‘Baby, you look torn up and terrible,’ I’ll hurt her feelings.”

“If she looks torn up and terrible, she should be told she looks torn up and terrible.”

“The truth isn’t always appreciated, Tony,” Angelo said.

“The truth should always be appreciated,” Tony said.

I can’t argue with that, but . . .
“Do you remember Jasmine?”

“Jasmine was pretty,” Tony said. “She chewed peppermint gum. You liked her buttocks. She was curvy. She used lots of lotion. She smelled like coconut.”

How he remembers so many tiny details after sixteen years, I’ll never know.
“Remember how angry Jasmine got when you told her the truth?”

“I told her how pretty she was,” Tony said.

“You told her she had child-bearing hips.”

“She did have child-bearing hips.”

“But that’s not something a woman wants to hear.” Angelo sighed and stood as close as he dared to his brother. “Tony, look at me. This is important.”

Tony raised his head slowly until he focused on Angelo’s chin.

“I met someone I really like.”
An editor at Random House when my agent and I were pitching the biography. That was about two years ago, but it’s taken this long to get Aika to accept me in my role as your caretaker.
“Her name is Aika Saito. Her first name means ‘love song.’ She’s Japanese.”

“Japan is an island country in the Pacific Ocean,” Tony said. “It lies along the northeastern coast of Asia.” Tony tensed and stared at Angelo’s nose. “You will move to Japan.”

“No. Aika lives here in Brooklyn.”

Tony relaxed his shoulders. “She is five feet two with dark hair and dark eyes and wears dark blue underwear that do not fit her buttocks. She runs very fast. She has strong calves and thighs.”

That’s Aika!
“Where have you seen her?”

“Here at the Castle. I see her running from the kitchen to your room. Sometimes I see her breasts. They are small but pretty with small brown nipples. She does not wear a bra. She has stayed here forty-three times in the last year. She likes to yell, ‘Oh, Angelo, don’t stop.’”

And he’s been listening to us! The nerve!

“I made many notes,” Tony said. “Naomi will sing these songs.”


“I sat outside your door and made many notes,” Tony said. “There will be many songs.”

“Tony, you can’t put what we’ve been doing in

“The song has a nice rhythm.” He tapped the rhythm on the front door. “Naomi will like it. You need to fix your bed. It makes too much noise. You will break it.”

“We won’t break the bed.”

“Aika said, ‘I am coming.’”

Angelo blinked.

“She was already here,” Tony said. “She would not have to come anywhere.”

“I have told you about sex,” Angelo said. “She said ‘I’m coming’ because she had an orgasm.”

“An orgasm is ‘the physical and emotional sensation experienced at the peak of sexual excitation, usually resulting from stimulation of the sexual organ and usually accompanied in the male by ejaculation,’” Tony said, reciting a dictionary definition from memory. “You had . . .” He took out a notepad and flipped through a few pages. “You had three orgasms two nights ago. Aika had one orgasm and you had three orgasms. It does not seem fair.”

Oh my God!
“How long were you outside my door?”

“Four hours, seven minutes, and twenty-four seconds,” Tony said. “The average man can have four orgasms in an hour. You are below average. Aika has great stamina. She is very athletic. She has a pretty face when she is not having an orgasm.”

her?” Angelo asked.

“The door was open a crack.”

“Tony, you really shouldn’t do that,” Angelo said.

“You should shut the door all the way,” Tony said. “There was a draft, and she was cold. Her nipples were very hard.”

don’t mention any of this to Aika,” Angelo said.

“If she asks me, I will tell her the truth,” Tony said.

“Just don’t bring it up,” Angelo said. “She’s kind of shy.”

“I am shy.”

I can’t say Aika is as shy as Tony is.
“She’s not that shy.”

“I did not think Aika had Asperger’s,” Tony said. “She smiles too much. She also likes to laugh. She likes to be held tightly. You like holding her tightly.”

“I do,” Angelo said. “Very much. Look at me.”

Tony wouldn’t raise his eyes.

“Tony, please look at me.”

Tony turned his head but kept his eyes on his hands.

“Aika and I are getting serious, Tony,” Angelo said. “I think I love her. We may even get married.”

“Forty-one percent of all first marriages in the United States end in divorce,” Tony said. “A divorce occurs every thirteen seconds in the United States. Only eleven percent of all divorces occur after the age of forty. You are forty-two.” He blinked. “You have a good chance to stay married.”

“Thanks for, um, your confidence in me,” Angelo said. “Anyway, I want Aika to move in with us. Would that be okay with you?”

Tony stared blankly at the tile floor.

He’s going inert. He’s going to count the floor tiles again.
“Tony? Is it okay if Aika moves in with us?”

Tony unzipped his jacket and hung it in the closet. “Her name means ‘love song.’”


“It is a pretty name.” Tony took off his hat and put his gloves inside. He shoved the hat into the sleeve of the jacket. “I am going to play now.” He walked to the elevator, took it to the second floor, got out, and went into the music studio, shutting the door behind him.

A few moments later, Angelo smiled. He could hear “their” lovemaking rhythm from the night before.
It sounds good. No, it sounds great. Naomi is going to sing the hell out of this one. Should I ever tell Aika about any of this?

No. Never.

An hour later, Tony flew out of the studio holding a notebook instead of a notepad, bounded down the stairs instead of taking the elevator, and opened the closet door in the foyer.

“Where are you going?” Angelo asked.

“To practice.” He took his Brooklyn Dodgers jacket off its hanger, pulling the hat from the sleeve. He put on his Jets hat.

“Practice what?”

“Talking to a woman.”

This is incredible!
“Do you want me to go with you?”

“No.” He zipped up his jacket, straightened his Jets hat, and put on his gloves. “You have to help Aika move in. Tell her she does not have to run so fast anymore.”

This is even more incredible.
“So it’s okay if Aika lives here with us?”

“She cannot drink my Hires Root Beer.”

Angelo smiled. “She won’t.”

“She has,” Tony said. “I counted. She has had fourteen of my root beers.”

“I’ll, uh, I’ll tell her that they’re off-limits from now on, okay?”

“She will have to buy her own.”

Angelo nodded. “So she can move in with us.”

“It is going to be in the upper thirties with a twenty percent chance of rain later today.” Tony opened the front door. “You will have enough time to move her in. Tell her . . .”

“What do you want me to tell her?”

Tony stared around Angelo’s face. “Tell her she is very pretty.”

“I will.”

“And tell her . . .” Tony blinked. “She has a pretty voice. It is a small voice like a bird. I like listening to it.”

“Where have you heard her talk?”

“After the bed stops shaking, she talks to you,” Tony said. “Her voice is softer than cotton balls.” He blinked. “Cotton-ball whispers.” He took out a pencil and wrote in his notebook. “She is a good person.”

“She’s an amazing woman, yes,” Angelo said.

“She will make you happy.” Tony stuffed his notebook inside his jacket. “I am going.”

“Where are you going?” Angelo asked.

“Angela’s Sweet Treats and Coffee on Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg,” Tony said.

Somehow, that makes perfect sense.
“You remember the way?”

“I never forget the way.” Tony stepped outside.

“You have your phone?”


“Is it turned on?”

Tony took his smartphone from his front pocket and pressed and held a button. “It is on.”

“Don’t be too late, okay?”

“Okay.” Tony’s eyes flitted up briefly. “Thank you, Angelo.”

“For what?”

But Tony had already run off toward the subway.


ony took the G train to the Bedford Avenue station and hurried to Angela’s Sweet Treats and Coffee. He sat in the same booth where he, Angelo, and Jasmine had sat sixteen years before, the brown vinyl still as shiny, the table just as spotless.

A woman wearing black jeans and a tight white apron over a black sweater approached him. “Can I get you anything?”

Tony opened his notebook and wrote: “She is dark brown. She was here the last time. She is very pretty. I like her.”

“Can I get you anything?” she asked again.

Tony looked around her face and then focused on her shoes.

“I’m Angela McConnell,” she said. “What’s your name?”

Tony scratched out “She” and wrote “Angela M.” above it. “My name is Tony Santangelo from Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, New York, USA.”

Angela smiled. “Nice to meet you, Tony Santangelo from Cobble Hill. What brings you all the way from Cobble Hill?”

“Angela’s Sweet Treats and Coffee on Driggs Avenue,” Tony said. “Best coffee in Brooklyn. Put La Estrella out of business. David beat Goliath. Headline in the
Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Angela nodded. “That was a couple years ago. You have a good memory.”

“I have a very good memory.” Tony tried to look into her eyes and failed. “I was here sixteen years ago. I drank the house blend. It was good. I did not eat the cookies. The raisins were old. I remember you.”

“Because I am always here,” Angela said.

“You are very pretty,” Tony said.

“Thank you.”

Tony stared at her stomach. “You have a big stomach. You are pregnant.”

Angela nodded. “I just started showing. You have good eyesight, too. Can I get you some more house blend? Maybe an apple pastry? They just came out of the oven.”

A little girl ran into the café, out of breath and giggling, zipping behind the counter and disappearing into the back.

“She is very fast,” Tony said.

“That’s my daughter, Angel,” Angela said.

A tall man burst through the doors soon after.

“And that’s my husband, Matthew.”

Tony noticed that Matthew winked at Angela, and Angela winked back.

Tony adjusted his notebook and wrote: “Angela brown, Angel tan, Matthew white. A wink must mean you love someone.” He looked up at Angela. “I like your family. It is colorful.”

“I like it, too,” Angela said. “And it will soon be larger when our son is born.”

Matthew kissed Angela on the cheek. “Where’d my little Angel go?”

“Upstairs, I’m sure,” Angela said.

Tony watched Matthew’s hand slide from Angela’s hip to her belly. He wrote: “Matthew is patting his son on the head. I am sure his son is smiling.”

Matthew smiled at Tony. “How are you?”

“I am fine,” Tony said.

“This is Tony Santangelo all the way from Cobble Hill,” Angela said.

Matthew extended his hand. “Good to meet you, Tony.”

Tony stared at Matthew’s hand. “You have been outside.”

“Oh, right,” Matthew said. “My hands are dirty.” He withdrew his hand and turned to Angela. “I must go find my Angel now.”

“Listen for Angel’s laughter,” Tony said.

Matthew smiled. “That’s how I find her
time. How’d you know?” Matthew kissed Angela on the lips, winked again, and walked around the counter and into the kitchen.

“I like how Angel laughs,” Tony said. He blinked and wrote: “Angel runs fast, but her laughter runs faster. Angels in heaven are always laughing, but we do not always hear them.”


BOOK: No Ordinary Love
12.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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