Read No Ordinary Love Online

Authors: J.J. Murray

No Ordinary Love (5 page)

BOOK: No Ordinary Love
4.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

He looked up in Angela’s general direction.

“So, can I get you anything?” Angela asked.

Tony pulled a credit card out of his wallet. “Do you have root beer?”

“I have some Doc’s Root Beer.”

“I like Hires Root Beer.”

“Doc’s is better than Hires, in my opinion,” Angela said. “And it’s made in the Bronx, so you know it’s fresh.”

Tony nodded. “I will try it.”

“How about some cookies?” Angela asked.

“I like oatmeal and raisin but only if the raisins are fresh.”

“I just got the raisins in yesterday,” Angela said.

“They flew in all the way from California, and their little arms are so tired.”

“Raisins cannot fly,” Tony said.

“Are you sure about that?” Angela asked.

Tony looked at his hands. “I will have the cookies.”

“Coming right up.”

Tony recorded the entire conversation he had with Angela in his notebook and made a note to research the flying ability of California raisins. He also wrote down lyrics that were forming in his head about Angela and her family. As he ate his cookies and drank his root beer, he tried to make eye contact with the people sitting at the tables near the big front window facing Driggs Avenue. Some noticed him and smiled at him while others did not. Tony wrote: “I made eye contact with two strangers today. The other strangers stayed strange.”

A tall tan woman in a snowsuit burst through the door and skipped up to the main counter.

Tony wrote furiously: “She is not white. She is beige. Tall but not as tall as me. Long fingernails.” He listened to the woman talking to Angela. “She speaks Spanish. Angela speaks Spanish and English. Their voices sound like the man in Spanish Harlem playing his guitar, like the saxophonist on the G train, like Mrs. Jimenez while she cleans the Castle. Bright yellow jacket. If there is ever an avalanche in Williamsburg, someone will find her. Orange headband holding her black hair in place. Shiny black, glowing black, glistening black hair. White snow boots. In deep snow she would look as if she were floating above the snow. Orange snow pants. White then orange then yellow then orange like an Easter egg you dip in vinegar dye.”

He watched the woman carry a tall steaming cup of coffee to the table nearest to his booth. He wrote: “She is pretty. I will speak to her in English. I will say, ‘the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. ’ If she does not respond, I will say, ‘
Feliz Navidad.
’ ”

“The weather outside is frightful,” Tony said, “but the fire is so delightful.”

The woman did not respond or look his way.

Feliz Navidad

The woman sipped her coffee.

Tony wrote: “She does not speak English or she does not like Christmas carols. The headband is blocking her ears. Maybe it is a large orange rubber band choking her brain. I must talk louder.”

“Fourteen point six inches of snow have fallen on the New York metropolitan area since November first,” Tony said.

The woman sighed heavily.

Tony wrote: “She sighed like Angelo does when he is frustrated with me. This means she is frustrated with me. I will try to make her smile.”

“The snow has been caused by global warming,” Tony said. “The world is warming up, but we are getting more snow. This is one of the ironies of global warming.”

The woman turned toward him, stared at him briefly, rolled her eyes, raised her eyebrows, and turned away.

Tony wrote: “Frustration flies across her sky-blue eyes.... Hispanics genetically do not have sky-blue eyes.”

“You wear contacts,” Tony said.

“So?” the woman said.

“They are very pretty,” Tony said.

“What is your deal?” the woman said.

“I am not a salesman,” Tony said. “I do not have a deal.”

“Whatever,” the woman said.

Tony dutifully wrote down the woman’s words. He named her “Angelique” because he liked the sound of the name. “You are angry with me,” he said. “When someone says ‘whatever,’ it is a sign of derision and dismissal when it is clear that rational discussion would be a waste of time and energy according to”

“Why are you talking to me?” the woman asked.

“My brother Angelo wants me to talk to women,” Tony said. “You are a woman so I am talking to you.”

The woman waved her free hand. “Poof, be gone.”

“I am still here,” Tony said. “You are not a magician.”

The woman shook her head. “Are you for real?”

“I have mass and take up space,” Tony said. “Therefore, I am real.”

The woman laughed. “You’re a

“Thank you.” He stood, gathered his remaining cookies, the bottle of root beer, and his notebook, and he stepped over to her table. “I want to sit with you.”

“Are you kidding?”

“I am not kidding,” Tony said. “I do not know how to kid. There are three empty seats. There is plenty of room. It will make our conversation easier.”

“Get the
outta here.

Tony blinked. “You have cursed. Your curse does not make sense. Hell is not in here. I do not have hell inside me. There is a place in New York City called Hell’s Kitchen, but that is not hell either. There is a place called Hell, Michigan. They say Hell does freeze over there. There is a town called Hell, California, too.”

“What the . . .” The woman looked around the café. “Can you believe this guy?”

“You can believe me,” Tony said. “I always tell the truth.”

The woman stared Tony down. “Quit harassing me, man.”

“I am not harassing you,” Tony said. “Harassment is aggressive pressure or intimidation. I am not aggressive. I am not intimidating. I am talking to you.”

“Leave me alone,” the woman said.

“If I leave you, you will be alone,” Tony said. “I do not want you to be alone. I want to talk to you. You are very pretty. Angela is prettier, but she has a husband, a daughter named Angel, and a son in her stomach.”

The woman almost smiled. “Are you crazy or something?”

“No, I have Asperger’s,” Tony said. “And I am shy.”

“Angela,” the woman said. “Do you know this guy?”

Angela nodded. “Monique Freitas, meet Tony Santangelo.”

“I mean, do you
this guy?” Monique asked. “Have you been listening to him?”

“Tony is not dangerous,” Angela said.

“I am not dangerous,” Tony said. “I do not have any weapons.” He held up his pencil. “Just this pencil and it is not very sharp. I press too hard when I write.”

“Well, can you get him away from me?” Monique asked. “Please?”

Angela left the counter and moved next to Tony. “Come sit down, Tony. I’ll talk to you.”

Tony didn’t move. “I did not mean to interrupt your day, Angelique.”

“Well, you did.” Monique turned away from him. “And my name is Monique.”

“I hear an angel in you,” Tony said. “I do not hear a moan.”

Monique moaned.

“I heard a moan that time,” Tony said. “You are named correctly.”

Monique gathered a green purse and pushed back her chair.

“Your purse does not match your outfit,” Tony said. “It should be white, orange, or yellow.”

Monique stood. “Get lost, freak!”

“I do not get lost because I have a very good sense of direction,” Tony said. “I study maps. I have memorized all the streets in Chinatown in San Francisco. I know Brooklyn very well. If you tell me where you live, I can tell you the best way to get there by walking, bus, car, or train. I am not a freak. I am not horny and I have not had sex yet.”

“Holy shit!” Monique cried. “You’re out of your

“Shit is not holy,” Tony said. “I do not have a fucking mind. The mind does not fuck.”

“Wow,” Monique said. “You’re insane.”

“I am not out of my mind,” Tony said. “I am inside my mind. And you are very pretty. That snowsuit hides your body. I like your smile.”

Monique grabbed her coffee and swept past Tony, slamming her coffee cup into a trash can before banging out the door.

“Her pants made a swishy sound,” Tony said. “I do not like her snow pants. They did not let me see her legs. I am sure they are smooth and tan. She is not an Easter egg. She is a frozen striped Popsicle.”

Angela gently touched Tony’s elbow. “And you have described Monique Freitas perfectly. Would you like to sit with me?”

Tony stared at her finger on his elbow. “You are very brown, Angela. I like dark brown. Dark brown is warm.”

“Come on.” Angela slid into the booth.

Tony sat opposite her and sipped his root beer. “You are the color of root beer.”

“Thank you, Tony,” Angela said. “But I’m closer in color to the house blend.”

“You have pretty eyes,” Tony said. “They are not angry eyes.” He looked toward the door. “Monique had angry eyes.”

“You kind of surprised her,” Angela said.

“I did not mean to,” Tony said. “I must write down our conversation.”

“Why?” Angela asked.

“My brother wants me to write down conversations I have with women so I can be better at talking to women so I can find a wife and he and Aika can be married. Aika’s name means ‘love song,’ and she has very nice legs. She runs very fast but not as fast as Angel. I have not seen Aika smile yet because the only time I saw her face was when she and Angelo were trying to break the bed. Her face was a frown. Monique’s face was a frown, too. I thought her name was Angelique because she was in a snowsuit and she could make snow angels. I am sure Aika’s smile is pretty. Her voice is like soft cotton. I saw Aika running from our kitchen to Angelo’s bedroom. She wore blue underwear. It was not sky blue like Monique’s eyes. I like sky blue. It reminds me of Mama. We buried Mama under a sky-blue sky when I was fourteen.” Tony took a deep breath. “I am sorry.”

“Why are you sorry?” Angela asked.

“I am talking too much,” Tony said.

“It’s okay,” Angela said. “I’m not busy now.” She put her hand on the back of his.

Tony stared at her dark brown hand. He felt the warmth of Angela’s fingers seeping into his skin. He also felt tears forming in his eyes. “When Mama died, I did not cry. When Poppa died, I did not cry. When Tonto died, I did not cry. When Silver dies, I will not cry.” He stared at her hand. “You touch me and I want to cry.”

Angela squeezed his hand. “Are you sad, Tony?”

“No,” Tony said. A tear fell. He stared at where it plopped on the table. “Your hand is warm and brown and soft and strong. I can feel your pulse.” He looked at his watch. “You are calm. I am not calm.” A flood of tears spilled out of his eyes. “I do not have a warm and brown and soft and strong hand to hold. Delores is brown but she is not warm. She cooks for me and Angelo. She is very old. She laughs all the time. She tries to hug me, but I will not let her.”

“Why not?” Angela asked.

“I do not know,” Tony said. “Mama used to hug me. Poppa used to hug me. Tonto used to jump up on me. They are all gone.”

“Are you afraid if someone hugs you that they’ll go away?” Angela asked.

“I do not know.”

Angela slid out of the booth, pulling Tony’s hand. “Please stand, Tony.”

Tony stood.

Angela pulled him close and hugged him.

Tony kept his arms and hands rigid at his sides. Angela stepped back. “I’m still here, Tony.”

“I did not hug you back,” Tony said.

“It’s okay,” Angela said.

“I did not want to hurt your baby and you have a husband,” Tony said. “I would not want him angry with me. He has big hands.”

“It’s okay.” She led him back to the booth and slid in next to him.

“I am sorry I did not shake Matthew’s hand,” Tony said. “His hand was very big. Poppa had big hands. He could not play the piano because his fingers were too wide. I can play the piano because I have Mama’s fingers.”


“And I write songs.” He opened his notebook. “I will use my conversation with Monique to compose another song for Naomi Stringer.”

“Naomi . . . Stringer.”

“I have written lots of songs for Naomi,” Tony said. “I want to call Monique’s song ‘One Hundred Twenty Pounds of Sexy, Sexy Hate.’ ”

Angela laughed. “That’s an accurate title, though that skinny thing probably doesn’t weigh more than one-ten.”

“Monique had hate for me in her eyes, but she is still sexy,” Tony said. “But Naomi will be singing it. She has just had a baby with DC or DQ or QT. I can never keep his names straight. He keeps changing them.”

“I think it’s CQ now,” Angela said.

“So maybe I should title it ‘One Hundred Thirty-Five Pounds of Sexy, Sexy Hate.’” He counted the syllables. “Thirteen syllables. Naomi was very big. Maybe I should call it ‘One Hundred Fifty Pounds of Sexy, Sexy Hate.’”

“I wouldn’t want you to hurt Naomi Stringer’s feelings,” Angela said. “I’d stick to one-twenty.”

Tony made the corrections. “Okay. This is kind of rough.” He cleared his throat. “ ‘You interrupt my day, you sure are a sight, you want me to stay, but boy, you ain’t bright; you must be crazy to ask me for a date ’cuz I’m one hundred and twenty pounds of sexy, sexy hate.’”

Angela blinked. “That sounds . . .
like something Naomi Stringer might sing.”

“She is a good dancer, too,” Tony said. “Sometimes she does not wear underwear.”

“Um, okay,” Angela said.

“I am also writing a song about you and Matthew and Angel,” Tony said. “I only have a few phrases so far.”

“I’d love to hear them,” Angela said.

“‘Love is playing hide-and-seek and always being found, a wink and a smile chasing a laughing child, a hug for no reason because love needs no reason, a hand on my hand so warm, soft, and brown.’” He looked briefly into Angela’s eyes. “That was the first verse. I think. It might be the bridge. I am sure of this chorus: ‘Angel’s laughter is the love that I’m after because love is the laughter of angels.’”

Angela touched his hand. “That’s . . . that’s beautiful, Tony.”

“It needs work.” He underlined the word “brown.”

“And you did all that right here in this booth?” Angela asked.

Tony nodded. “Walter Little could sing it, but he is dead. He sang ‘She’s Not Here.’”

BOOK: No Ordinary Love
4.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Innocents Lost by Michael McBride
Kindred and Wings by Philippa Ballantine
Expensive People by Joyce Carol Oates
Rider's Kiss by Anne Rainey
Conquering William by Sarah Hegger
Silent Night by Rowena Sudbury
Allah is Not Obliged by Ahmadou Kourouma
Cheryl Reavis by Harrigans Bride
Simon Says Die by Lena Diaz
Heat by Francine Pascal