Sweet St. Louis: AN Urban Love Story

( 30 )

Overview

When Anthony "Ant" Poole, a young auto mechanic with a creative approach to the mating game, tries out his latest line on Sharron Francis, he has no idea of the impact it will have. For Sharron, an ordinary girl in search of companionship and happiness, Ant's words are filled with mystery and allure. Would she really be getting an actual piece of him, or just a piece period? The more Sharron contemplates Ant's line, the more it confounds her. When she decides the only way for her to discover its meaning is to ...

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Sweet St. Louis: An Urban Love Story

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Overview

When Anthony "Ant" Poole, a young auto mechanic with a creative approach to the mating game, tries out his latest line on Sharron Francis, he has no idea of the impact it will have. For Sharron, an ordinary girl in search of companionship and happiness, Ant's words are filled with mystery and allure. Would she really be getting an actual piece of him, or just a piece period? The more Sharron contemplates Ant's line, the more it confounds her. When she decides the only way for her to discover its meaning is to discover Ant for herself, both her life and his are turned upside down.
A seductive, insightful look at the age-old question: How do people fall in love — and stay in love?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Rapport magazine Prolific writer Omar Tyree has outdone himself again. Sweet St. Louis, like Flyy Girl, will definitely find an audience.

Black Issues Book Review [Tyree's] most impressive novel to date.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Hey, miss?... You wanna make a trade with me?... A piece of me for a piece of you." Anthony "Ant" Poole, a young African-American auto mechanic, believes he has a flair for pick-up lines in this overblown but lively romance by Tyree (Fly Girl). Against the hectic contemporary urban backdrop of St. Louis, Ant competes with his best friend, small-time criminal Anthony "Tone" Wallace, for dates. His days as a carefree Romeo are numbered, however, when he meets old-fashioned girl Sharron Francis, an airline caterer, who is trying to end an affair with a married man. Even Celena, Sharron's man-eating best friend, is jealous of Sharron's budding romance. Though Tyree relies on stereotypes and his prose is studded with distracting italics, his charting of his characters' inner motives is on target when he gets past surface description. The novel works best when the characters are one-on-one, deep in the lengthy conversations that fuel the narrative. Much as Ant bemoans the difficulties of dating a "thinking woman," he soon finds himself turning into a thinking man. Or as he says to Sharron's father: "Your daughter made me express myself." Still, even after Sharron rejects an old flame in favor of her new love, the commitment-phobic Ant can't quite give up his hunt for new conquests. It is finally a chastisement from one of his victims and a sobering night in jail that cause him to see the error of his ways. Tyree's checkered but entertaining street romance is a raucous cautionary tale steeped in the impulsiveness, verve and arrogance of youth. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Handsome Anthony "Ant" Poole is a "player." He's heavy into the life of "love 'em and leave 'em" when he collides with Sharron Francis on a night out with his longtime best friend, Tone. Ant, reaccessing his life as a player, and Sharron, fed up with the single female's position in the African American culture of the 1990s, think of getting serious about love and life but just don't know how to begin. Dropping the first-person narrative, which hindered the plotting of his A Do Right Man, Tyree is back in form with crisp, realistic dialog. Unfortunately, his explicit language is back, too. His characters' conversations seldom venture beyond sex and whether to "do it" or not. Still, Tyree's novel will have broad appeal to twentysomething singles. For large fiction collections.--Shirley Gibson Coleman, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684856117
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 8/15/2000
  • Edition description: 1 SCRIBNER
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 704,592
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Omar Tyree is the winner of the 2001 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work—Fiction, and the 2006 Phillis Wheatley Literary Award for Body of Work in Urban Fiction. He has published more than twenty books on African-American people and culture, including five New York Times bestselling novels. He is a popular national speaker, and a strong advocate of urban literacy. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Learn more at OmarTyree.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

St. Louis, Missouri, placed right smack in the heart of America and left of the Mississippi River that flows from north to south and through the midwestern region like a major artery, was sizzling hot in the month of May 1999. So hot was the city of St. Louis in the springtime that younger women were already wearing suffocating shorts with pockets so tight you could barely stick a dime in them. They wore thigh-high skirts and stomach-length shirts with those look-at-me-right-now colors: bright greens, luscious oranges, cool blues, bleached whites, bumblebee yellows, and whatnot. And these young women were showing far too much skin for the guys in St. Louis to handle, too much, in fact, for young men anywhere! Especially in the springtime when the hormones jumped Double Dutch on the brain. Maybe it was the heat of those outfits that drove the young guys insane. Then again, they were not supposed to notice, I guess. Or maybe not acknowledge that they noticed. At least not with their immature whistling, X-ray-vision stares, verbal expressions of rawness, and plenty of other things they felt so desperate to scream from their slow-moving cars, or from the well-worn corners that they loved to stand on from sunup to sundown.

"Haaay, sweet lady! Whoooweee!" some of the men shouted as the midday sun forced them to routinely check the sweat on the back of their roasting necks.

Ant and Tone fit right in with that overzealous crowd. Both young, shiny brown, and male, they were just as eager to peel off those two layers of clothing and get naked with the young brown women who walked the hot, springtime streets of St. Louis as the much older men admitted to. But at ages twenty-seven and twenty-eight, respectively, a separation of philosophy was apparent. Ant, while letting Tone drive his 1979 cranberry-colored Chevy, was becoming more creative in his approach to the mating game. In his field of work as an auto mechanic, he had enough thinking time on his hands to come up with a few new lines. Lines that would stop a curious woman in her tracks. Or at least he hoped that they would. So he practiced them. Sometimes to his partner Tone, but mainly to himself, to figure out a perfect rhythm of entrapment, like a young lion in training, leaping through the high grasses of Africa, over and over again.

"Man, I love the springtime!" Tone expressed to his partner, watching everything as they cruised the forever busy Kingshighway Boulevard with the windows rolled down. It was lunch hour, and shapely women were everywhere! Tone was in heaven as he drove, decked out in a bright red St. Louis Cardinals baseball jersey.

Ant, still in his work clothes, a short sleeved denim jumpsuit, didn't allow Tone to drive his car every day. He wanted to make certain he wouldn't look back on the experience as a big mistake.

"Yeah, well, just make sure you pay attention to the road," he warned, protective of his car.

Tone said, "Look, man, your car is in good hands. Aw'ight? Damn! You act like this ride is alive or something."

Ant looked at Tone's dark brown hands on his wood-and-chrome steering wheel and smiled. "She is alive. And her name is Bernadette."

Tone chuckled. "Yeah, that sounds like an old-ass name for her, too. She about twenty years old. That might as well be sixty in human years."

"She in good shape though," Ant countered. "That's why everybody be ridin' me to get in."

"You spent about a million dollars on her," Tone said. "She done had a face lift, lippo-suction, and every damn thing."

"That's ly-po-suction."

"Whatever."

Tone grinned and considered his friend crazy, while catching something interesting on the sidewalk to his right.

"Go 'head, Ant. Say that line you been workin' on to this one?"

Tone was smiling for miles. But he just didn't get it. Ant didn't want to waste his choice words and creativity on just any two legs walking by. He had big plans for his new material. The way he looked at it, it was like having one bullet left inside a six-shooter with a murderer in hot pursuit of his warm body.

Ant was shaking his head before he even looked at the woman.

"Naw, man, you just don't say it to anybody."

Then he looked her over, as she walked down the sidewalk to his right. She was just as shiny brown as he was, and tall. Ant never liked tall women. It was something about the way they walked, almost as if they were falling over; uncoordinated. On the other hand, if they walked tall and straight, they seemed like giants to him, like those Russian and German women in the Olympics of the seventies and eighties that he had watched with his older brothers and uncles. Those extra-long superwomen. Yet, this brown sister walking down Kingshighway was nowhere near that tall! Ant just didn't want to use any of his lines on her. She wasn't climactic enough on the Johnson scale. He didn't feel it for her down low. Or not as strong as he wanted to.

"She too tall anyway," he complained to his partner.

Ant was only five ten, and Tone was even shorter at five nine. But Tone loved tall women! It was all in the long brown legs, feeding his freaky visions of tree climbing.

"Man, go 'head and say it, and stop making excuses. She right there. Look at her," he challenged.

Ant took another peek at her. She was right there; he could probably reach out and touch her arm with his right hand, which rested atop his passenger-side door. She was even close to their age, a young working woman. They could see it in her face and in her outfit: a conservative blue knee-high dress with soft leather shoes and flesh-tone stockings. Even her hairstyle was conservative, straightened and curled at the edges with no artificial coloring. She had class and full maturity. However, she was walking as if she had a schedule to hold but was trying her best to ignore it. In fact, her pace was too calculated, almost as if she was expecting someone to stop her. That was the only thing that made Ant want to talk to her. She seemed ripe for practice.

Before he realized it, he opened his mouth in her direction while his Chevy eased alongside her with his friend Tone, full of expectations, at the wheel.

"Hey, miss?" Ant waited to catch her eyes, like a fish to the worm. Only then would he finish his precious line. "You wanna make a trade with me?"

That's when his heart rate increased. He had done his part, and now she had to do hers, while Tone prepared to burst in half from all of the tension involved.

First she looked at the car, which had a brand-new paint job and shiny chrome rims. She just knew he wasn't referring to trading that car for something. It looked as if they had put a lot of work into it. Yet, she was curious. Game bait.

"A trade? Trade for what?" she asked him.

"A piece of me for a piece of you."

The world just stopped and stood still for a second, like a dancer on freeze. Then she smiled, shook her head, and decided that it was time to cross the street.

Tone looked into Ant's dejected face and burst into laughter.

"I told you that shit wasn't gon' work!"

"Aw, man, first you said it was genius."

"Genius? I don't even use that word. So you know I didn't say that. You told yourself that shit."

Ant was disappointed. It was the wrong woman for his line. But at least he got her attention long enough to say it. And she smiled. What did that mean? Was she at least impressed, or simply amused? Nevertheless, she had walked away, and his originality was wasted.

"Take me back to work," he pouted. "I'll drop you off on Grand."

Tone continued to laugh and went on to tease him. "Awww, the little girl mad now 'cause his line didn't work."

Ant shook his head, denying it. "Whatever, man. I gotta get back to work. Make a left on Delmar." Then he added with a smile, "I got way more girls than you anyway," just for ego purposes.

Tone studied his friend's smooth brown face and low-cut hair for a second. He always wished that his own face could be so smooth, or that his own hair could look so neat. Even Ant's trimmed mustache was right on the money. Tone realized there was nothing he could say about his friend's comment, because it was true. Ant had more numerous and, more importantly, willing companions.

Ever since they first met in Jennings, Missouri, just outside of northern St. Louis, they had competed for the opposite sex, athletic bragging rights, and even for the use of their name. With the same birth name of Anthony, Anthony Wallace, a year older, quickly secured the more desirable title of "Tone," while for a short period of time, the younger, Anthony Poole, was known as "Little Tone." The younger Anthony was never able to swallow that humble piece of pie, so he informed everyone to call him "Ant" instead. And ever since the girls began to notice and to pass out home phone numbers on small pieces of paper, they almost unanimously preferred to give them to "Ant" rather than to "Tone." Then the younger Anthony went on to outgrow his older friend anyway, physically as well as mentally.

Tone contemplated it all, and came up with the only weak response that he could offer. "Yeah, well, you didn't get that girl." Then he began to smile, realizing full well that Ant's ego had always gotten the best of him. He just had to have everything his way.

Ant said, "Man, that girl wasn't all that. I got plenty of girls who look better than her."

"You don't have her though."

"I don't need that girl! I only talked to her 'cause you kept ridin' me about it."

"Yeah, 'cause you thought your line was all that. I told you it wasn't gon' work."

Tone was loving it! Egging Ant on was how he managed to keep their friendship in equilibrium. And if his partner was such a greater man, Tone figured he would have moved on to higher ground a long time ago.

"Look, man, I don't need no line to get that girl!"

"You wanna ride back there and talk to her again?"

If Ant were ever a violent guy like Tone could be, it was times like these where he would have punched Tone in his sometimes-gold-tooth-wearing mouth.

He shook his head instead, planning on ignoring it all. "Look, man, just pull over on Grand Boulevard so I can get back to work."

Tone nodded, knowing his fun had come to an end. Ant was still a good partner to him, and one of the few trusted friends that he still had from the old neighborhood who hadn't moved on, moved away, gotten married, been locked up for a number of years, or been killed in the street life.

Ant had always managed to keep his nose clean with a lifelong passion for cars that he had acquired from his well-schooled family of uncles and older brothers. They had all loved, repaired, and remodeled cars. His second brother even did time in jail for proving that he could steal them. Ant thought that was rather ridiculous. Sure, he loved cars like the rest of the men in his family, but he damn sure wasn't willing to go to jail for one!

Tone, on the other hand, had a long record of petty everything: theft, assault, drug selling, and even a few sex charges that he was fortunate to escape doing any hard time for. He seemed to know just when to stop to avoid a real prison bid. He had never dedicated himself one way or the other, negative or positive. He couldn't keep a job or a hustle long enough to make progress. In a word, he was a slacker, one who lacked the desire and dedication to become all that he could be.

But the two of them were partners, through thick and thin, long and short, high and low, and rough and smooth.

"So, what's up for later on, man?" Tone asked, holding on to the wheel as if he owned it. "You wanna head down to the casinos and see who down there?" As usual, Tone didn't have much of anything on his schedule, so driving around during Ant's lunch hour only served as a tease.

Ant shook his head. He was getting rather tired of doing the same things day in, day out for what seemed like twenty years. "Naw, man, it ain't nothin' new going on down there. I get tired of them places."

"What do you want to do then, go to East Boogie tonight, and see what's going on over there?"

Ant frowned. "East St. Louis looks plain depressing, man. Last time I was over there, I almost got in a shoot-out. That city needs a real makeover."

Tone looked surprised as he pulled over on Grand Boulevard to return the wheel to its owner.

"You was almost in a shoot-out? When?"

"Two weeks ago."

Tone still looked surprised. "You got a gun now?"

"Naw, man, I was with my cousin. He had his gun."

"Rico?"

"Yeah."

Tone started to laugh again as he climbed out of the car. "Yeah, I ain't think ya' ass had no gun."

Ant slid over into the driver's seat. "I don't need no gun. The only gun I need is right here," he bragged, grabbing his crotch under the wheel.

"Yeah, well, you better stay away from all these microwaves while you out here chasing miniskirts. Or that gun'll be burnin' ya' ass up."

"Naw, boy, that's your style, not mine. I deal with only clean toasters. And you need to stay your behind out of them rusty parks."

Tone grinned and said, "Yeah, whatever, dawg. Just get wit' me later on."

"Aw'ight, I'll see what I can do."

Tone stopped and looked back at the car, knowing better. "You not gon' front on me tonight, are you?"

Ant didn't want to promise him anything. "I told you, I'll see what I can do, man."

Tone stood frozen and began to doubt. "Look, man, if you wanna go solo tonight and drive around, wandering the streets like a damn cat, then let me know, and I won't bother you. 'Cause you be actin' like a damn girl when you get in them moods."

"Or, I might just have plans to get with one tonight," Ant responded, grinning.

"Not with that line you used earlier," his friend started up again. "'Hey, girl, you wanna make a trade wit' me?'"

Ant turned his head, disgusted, and drove off. Tone continued to laugh from the sidewalk, heading straight for the open parks of St. Louis, and to his favorite benches under the shade of tall trees. And once he got there, he planned to shoot the breeze and possibly share some good weed with whoever was out and willing.

While driving south on Grand Boulevard, Ant headed back to Paul's Fix It Shop on Gravois Avenue, the far south side of St. Louis, where he worked from Monday through Saturday. As he drove, he thought deeply about all of the seemingly wasted moments of his life. What was it all for? What was he heading toward? And where did he really want to be? It damn sure wasn't hanging out on the streets every night with Tone. There had to be more to life than that!

Then he thought about the tall brown sister on Kingshighway, and exactly what her smile meant. Maybe she was interested. Then again, maybe not. After all, she did shake her head and cross the street. How interested could she be?

"If I offered her a million dollars, she wouldn't have crossed the street," he fretted to himself. "Then again, I ain't got a million dollars to offer her."

Then he wondered if she would tell all of her girlfriends, cousins, and her mother about his line. Women would always run their mouths about a good line. He had been with enough of them to know. They almost seemed to brag about the lines that different guys used. That's how he knew, for sure, that creativity, delivery, and timing were all-important necessities in picking up a woman. A well-executed line and a truckload of money seemed to go a long way.

"Yeah, she gon' tell people," he convinced himself. "And once she tells about five people, and they run their mouths to about five more, my damn line'll be ruined forever."

The more he thought about it, the more annoyed he became.

"Shit! I knew I shouldn't have listened to Tone. He don't know the first thing about women. He just made me waste a damn good line for nothing. That girl wasn't even all that good lookin'."

So Ant headed on back to work with plenty on his mind, in search of some kind of fulfillment and the real meaning of life, something that Tone didn't seem to give two shits about. In the meantime, they were both just counting the days as they slipped on by. However, for Tone, those days seemed filled with any and every thing. But for Ant, they were more like a glass jar of emptiness.

Copyright © 1999 by Omar Tyree

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First Chapter

Chapter One St. Louis, Missouri, placed right smack in the heart of America and left of the Mississippi River that flows from north to south and through the midwestern region like a major artery, was sizzling hot in the month of May 1999. So hot was the city of St. Louis in the springtime that younger women were already wearing suffocating shorts with pockets so tight you could barely stick a dime in them. They wore thigh-high skirts and stomach-length shirts with those look-at-me-right-now colors: bright greens, luscious oranges, cool blues, bleached whites, bumblebee yellows, and whatnot. And these young women were showing far too much skin for the guys in St. Louis to handle, too much, in fact, for young men anywhere! Especially in the springtime when the hormones jumped Double Dutch on the brain. Maybe it was the heat of those outfits that drove the young guys insane. Then again, they were not supposed to notice, I guess. Or maybe not acknowledge that they noticed. At least not with their immature whistling, X-ray-vision stares, verbal expressions of rawness, and plenty of other things they felt so desperate to scream from their slow-moving cars, or from the well-worn corners that they loved to stand on from sunup to sundown.

"Haaay, sweet lady! Whoooweee!" some of the men shouted as the midday sun forced them to routinely check the sweat on the back of their roasting necks.

Ant and Tone fit right in with that overzealous crowd. Both young, shiny brown, and male, they were just as eager to peel off those two layers of clothing and get naked with the young brown women who walked the hot, springtime streets of St. Louisas the much older men admitted to. But at ages twenty-seven and twenty-eight, respectively, a separation of philosophy was apparent. Ant, while letting Tone drive his 1979 cranberry-colored Chevy, was becoming more creative in his approach to the mating game. In his field of work as an auto mechanic, he had enough thinking time on his hands to come up with a few new lines. Lines that would stop a curious woman in her tracks. Or at least he hoped that they would. So he practiced them. Sometimes to his partner Tone, but mainly to himself, to figure out a perfect rhythm of entrapment, like a young lion in training, leaping through the high grasses of Africa, over and over again.

"Man, I love the springtime!" Tone expressed to his partner, watching everything as they cruised the forever busy Kingshighway Boulevard with the windows rolled down. It was lunch hour, and shapely women were everywhere! Tone was in heaven as he drove, decked out in a bright red St. Louis Cardinals baseball jersey.

Ant, still in his work clothes, a short sleeved denim jumpsuit, didn't allow Tone to drive his car every day. He wanted to make certain he wouldn't look back on the experience as a big mistake.

"Yeah, well, just make sure you pay attention to the road," he warned, protective of his car.

Tone said, "Look, man, your car is in good hands. Aw'ight? Damn! You act like this ride is alive or something."

Ant looked at Tone's dark brown hands on his wood-and-chrome steering wheel and smiled. "She is alive. And her name is Bernadette."

Tone chuckled. "Yeah, that sounds like an old-ass name for her, too. She about twenty years old. That might as well be sixty in human years."

"She in good shape though," Ant countered. "That's why everybody be ridin' me to get in."

"You spent about a million dollars on her," Tone said. "She done had a face lift, lippo-suction, and every damn thing."

"That's ly-po-suction."

"Whatever."

Tone grinned and considered his friend crazy, while catching something interesting on the sidewalk to his right.

"Go 'head, Ant. Say that line you been workin' on to this one?"

Tone was smiling for miles. But he just didn't get it. Ant didn't want to waste his choice words and creativity on just any two legs walking by. He had big plans for his new material. The way he looked at it, it was like having one bullet left inside a six-shooter with a murderer in hot pursuit of his warm body.

Ant was shaking his head before he even looked at the woman.

"Naw, man, you just don't say it to anybody."

Then he looked her over, as she walked down the sidewalk to his right. She was just as shiny brown as he was, and tall. Ant never liked tall women. It was something about the way they walked, almost as if they were falling over; uncoordinated. On the other hand, if they walked tall and straight, they seemed like giants to him, like those Russian and German women in the Olympics of the seventies and eighties that he had watched with his older brothers and uncles. Those extra-long superwomen. Yet, this brown sister walking down Kingshighway was nowhere near that tall! Ant just didn't want to use any of his lines on her. She wasn't climactic enough on the Johnson scale. He didn't feel it for her down low. Or not as strong as he wanted to.

"She too tall anyway," he complained to his partner.

Ant was only five ten, and Tone was even shorter at five nine. But Tone loved tall women! It was all in the long brown legs, feeding his freaky visions of tree climbing.

"Man, go 'head and say it, and stop making excuses. She right there. Look at her," he challenged.

Ant took another peek at her. She was right there; he could probably reach out and touch her arm with his right hand, which rested atop his passenger-side door. She was even close to their age, a young working woman. They could see it in her face and in her outfit: a conservative blue knee-high dress with soft leather shoes and flesh-tone stockings. Even her hairstyle was conservative, straightened and curled at the edges with no artificial coloring. She had class and full maturity. However, she was walking as if she had a schedule to hold but was trying her best to ignore it. In fact, her pace was too calculated, almost as if she was expecting someone to stop her. That was the only thing that made Ant want to talk to her. She seemed ripe for practice.

Before he realized it, he opened his mouth in her direction while his Chevy eased alongside her with his friend Tone, full of expectations, at the wheel.

"Hey, miss?" Ant waited to catch her eyes, like a fish to the worm. Only then would he finish his precious line. "You wanna make a trade with me?"

That's when his heart rate increased. He had done his part, and now she had to do hers, while Tone prepared to burst in half from all of the tension involved.

First she looked at the car, which had a brand-new paint job and shiny chrome rims. She just knew he wasn't referring to trading that car for something. It looked as if they had put a lot of work into it. Yet, she was curious. Game bait.

"A trade? Trade for what?" she asked him.

"A piece of me for a piece of you."

The world just stopped and stood still for a second, like a dancer on freeze. Then she smiled, shook her head, and decided that it was time to cross the street.

Tone looked into Ant's dejected face and burst into laughter.

"I told you that shit wasn't gon' work!"

"Aw, man, first you said it was genius."

"Genius? I don't even use that word. So you know I didn't say that. You told yourself that shit."

Ant was disappointed. It was the wrong woman for his line. But at least he got her attention long enough to say it. And she smiled. What did that mean? Was she at least impressed, or simply amused? Nevertheless, she had walked away, and his originality was wasted.

"Take me back to work," he pouted. "I'll drop you off on Grand."

Tone continued to laugh and went on to tease him. "Awww, the little girl mad now 'cause his line didn't work."

Ant shook his head, denying it. "Whatever, man. I gotta get back to work. Make a left on Delmar." Then he added with a smile, "I got way more girls than you anyway," just for ego purposes.

Tone studied his friend's smooth brown face and low-cut hair for a second. He always wished that his own face could be so smooth, or that his own hair could look so neat. Even Ant's trimmed mustache was right on the money. Tone realized there was nothing he could say about his friend's comment, because it was true. Ant had more numerous and, more importantly, willing companions.

Ever since they first met in Jennings, Missouri, just outside of northern St. Louis, they had competed for the opposite sex, athletic bragging rights, and even for the use of their name. With the same birth name of Anthony, Anthony Wallace, a year older, quickly secured the more desirable title of "Tone," while for a short period of time, the younger, Anthony Poole, was known as "Little Tone." The younger Anthony was never able to swallow that humble piece of pie, so he informed everyone to call him "Ant" instead. And ever since the girls began to notice and to pass out home phone numbers on small pieces of paper, they almost unanimously preferred to give them to "Ant" rather than to "Tone." Then the younger Anthony went on to outgrow his older friend anyway, physically as well as mentally.

Tone contemplated it all, and came up with the only weak response that he could offer. "Yeah, well, you didn't get that girl." Then he began to smile, realizing full well that Ant's ego had always gotten the best of him. He just had to have everything his way.

Ant said, "Man, that girl wasn't all that. I got plenty of girls who look better than her."

"You don't have her though."

"I don't need that girl! I only talked to her 'cause you kept ridin' me about it."

"Yeah, 'cause you thought your line was all that. I told you it wasn't gon' work."

Tone was loving it! Egging Ant on was how he managed to keep their friendship in equilibrium. And if his partner was such a greater man, Tone figured he would have moved on to higher ground a long time ago.

"Look, man, I don't need no line to get that girl!"

"You wanna ride back there and talk to her again?"

If Ant were ever a violent guy like Tone could be, it was times like these where he would have punched Tone in his sometimes-gold-tooth-wearing mouth.

He shook his head instead, planning on ignoring it all. "Look, man, just pull over on Grand Boulevard so I can get back to work."

Tone nodded, knowing his fun had come to an end. Ant was still a good partner to him, and one of the few trusted friends that he still had from the old neighborhood who hadn't moved on, moved away, gotten married, been locked up for a number of years, or been killed in the street life.

Ant had always managed to keep his nose clean with a lifelong passion for cars that he had acquired from his well-schooled family of uncles and older brothers. They had all loved, repaired, and remodeled cars. His second brother even did time in jail for proving that he could steal them. Ant thought that was rather ridiculous. Sure, he loved cars like the rest of the men in his family, but he damn sure wasn't willing to go to jail for one!

Tone, on the other hand, had a long record of petty everything: theft, assault, drug selling, and even a few sex charges that he was fortunate to escape doing any hard time for. He seemed to know just when to stop to avoid a real prison bid. He had never dedicated himself one way or the other, negative or positive. He couldn't keep a job or a hustle long enough to make progress. In a word, he was a slacker, one who lacked the desire and dedication to become all that he could be.

But the two of them were partners, through thick and thin, long and short, high and low, and rough and smooth.

"So, what's up for later on, man?" Tone asked, holding on to the wheel as if he owned it. "You wanna head down to the casinos and see who down there?" As usual, Tone didn't have much of anything on his schedule, so driving around during Ant's lunch hour only served as a tease.

Ant shook his head. He was getting rather tired of doing the same things day in, day out for what seemed like twenty years. "Naw, man, it ain't nothin' new going on down there. I get tired of them places."

"What do you want to do then, go to East Boogie tonight, and see what's going on over there?"

Ant frowned. "East St. Louis looks plain depressing, man. Last time I was over there, I almost got in a shoot-out. That city needs a real makeover."

Tone looked surprised as he pulled over on Grand Boulevard to return the wheel to its owner.

"You was almost in a shoot-out? When?"

"Two weeks ago."

Tone still looked surprised. "You got a gun now?"

"Naw, man, I was with my cousin. He had his gun."

"Rico?"

"Yeah."

Tone started to laugh again as he climbed out of the car. "Yeah, I ain't think ya' ass had no gun."

Ant slid over into the driver's seat. "I don't need no gun. The only gun I need is right here," he bragged, grabbing his crotch under the wheel.

"Yeah, well, you better stay away from all these microwaves while you out here chasing miniskirts. Or that gun'll be burnin' ya' ass up."

"Naw, boy, that's your style, not mine. I deal with only clean toasters. And you need to stay your behind out of them rusty parks."

Tone grinned and said, "Yeah, whatever, dawg. Just get wit' me later on."

"Aw'ight, I'll see what I can do."

Tone stopped and looked back at the car, knowing better. "You not gon' front on me tonight, are you?"

Ant didn't want to promise him anything. "I told you, I'll see what I can do, man."

Tone stood frozen and began to doubt. "Look, man, if you wanna go solo tonight and drive around, wandering the streets like a damn cat, then let me know, and I won't bother you. 'Cause you be actin' like a damn girl when you get in them moods."

"Or, I might just have plans to get with one tonight," Ant responded, grinning.

"Not with that line you used earlier," his friend started up again. "'Hey, girl, you wanna make a trade wit' me?'"

Ant turned his head, disgusted, and drove off. Tone continued to laugh from the sidewalk, heading straight for the open parks of St. Louis, and to his favorite benches under the shade of tall trees. And once he got there, he planned to shoot the breeze and possibly share some good weed with whoever was out and willing.

While driving south on Grand Boulevard, Ant headed back to Paul's Fix It Shop on Gravois Avenue, the far south side of St. Louis, where he worked from Monday through Saturday. As he drove, he thought deeply about all of the seemingly wasted moments of his life. What was it all for? What was he heading toward? And where did he really want to be? It damn sure wasn't hanging out on the streets every night with Tone. There had to be more to life than that!

Then he thought about the tall brown sister on Kingshighway, and exactly what her smile meant. Maybe she was interested. Then again, maybe not. After all, she did shake her head and cross the street. How interested could she be?

"If I offered her a million dollars, she wouldn't have crossed the street," he fretted to himself. "Then again, I ain't got a million dollars to offer her."

Then he wondered if she would tell all of her girlfriends, cousins, and her mother about his line. Women would always run their mouths about a good line. He had been with enough of them to know. They almost seemed to brag about the lines that different guys used. That's how he knew, for sure, that creativity, delivery, and timing were all-important necessities in picking up a woman. A well-executed line and a truckload of money seemed to go a long way.

"Yeah, she gon' tell people," he convinced himself. "And once she tells about five people, and they run their mouths to about five more, my damn line'll be ruined forever."

The more he thought about it, the more annoyed he became.

"Shit! I knew I shouldn't have listened to Tone. He don't know the first thing about women. He just made me waste a damn good line for nothing. That girl wasn't even all that good lookin'."

So Ant headed on back to work with plenty on his mind, in search of some kind of fulfillment and the real meaning of life, something that Tone didn't seem to give two shits about. In the meantime, they were both just counting the days as they slipped on by. However, for Tone, those days seemed filled with any and every thing. But for Ant, they were more like a glass jar of emptiness.

Copyright © 1999 by Omar Tyree

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 30 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2008

    so sweet

    i loved this book it was my favorite book by omar tyree. to me it was better then flyy girl, a do right man, and leslie ((books i've read by omar)) its a good read and it shows that black america still has a shot at love.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2013

    Nice read. A little tiring, but worth pushing through.

    Nice read. A little tiring, but worth pushing through.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2006

    Great way to see how love unfolds!!!!!

    This was the first book i reas by Tyree, and I very much enjoyed. It was great to read a novel that was about the sex and how great teh sex was. I like how he wrote about te connection with each other. I also liked how he showed through that connection that the sex is always going tobe great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2005

    Good Book

    I can't say that this book was the best book I have ever read. But, I can say that this book was good. This is the type of book you would read if you're off somewhere and would like to keep yourself busy. I believe that almost anyone would like to read this. It was simple and quite entertaining.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2004

    A good read!

    I'am a big fan of Omar tyree and this book was no exception a truly good read

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2003

    that girl is crazy for rating it so low

    That girl is crazy. You ryte sasha b. Loved it, had alot of romantic moments where you would just wish you were in the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2003

    St. Louis Flavor

    I've read all of Omar Tyree books and this book is different from the others. I love how he showed both Sharon and Ant's point of view. I read this book when I was in the 11th grade and now im sophmore in college and i still read it. If you looking for a romance novel, read this, St. Louis all the way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2003

    Perfect Love story

    The absolute perfect love story included the interesting facts about love, romance and life. the perfect ending to a great book and like the cover says an urban love story a perfect one at that.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2003

    great book

    i read this book for the first time in the 8th grade, (i'm only in the 12th!) but it just became the most captinating book i had ever read, because it was my first adult centered book i had ever read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2003

    bump you

    some girl ryte thurr gave it one star. girl check yourself cause it was a great book. Maybe this level of reading is one your not up to.I think that's why it took you so long to read it! I respect Omar tyree alot. U should too!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2003

    Hated it

    This is the worst book I have ever read. It was so slow that it took me months to finish it. The only reason why I finshed the book is because I had paid $25.00 for it when it was first released and I just knew something good was going to happen. I just knew the book could not end as boring as it started. Well I was wrong and I had more fun reading books I was FORCED to read in high school. Please take my advice and pass this book up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2002

    never read it!!!!

    I've never read it but I have read Fly Girl and Just Say No. Those were some great books. I would love to straigten out Tracy's huge ego. Daron from Just Say No was cool with the ladies and its terrible how his friend got messed up but things happen.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2002

    Amazing

    It's amazing how a man can write such a book, that touches a womans heart. It captured the relationship that many women wish they could have. I really liked the book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2002

    surpised

    I didn't think he had it. But obviously he does. Tyree has come back full cirle. Because after reading 'for the love of money' I thought he lost his touch. the book is great. I love the way he goes in depth about what the characters are saying instead of what they look like or dressed like.. like so may other books. keep up the good work

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2002

    Couldnt put it down!

    This book is the second one that I have read of Omar Tyrees', and now i'm hooked. It had the best love story, showing how the development of love is important to mantain a healthly relationship. Also giving good young black woman a hope for a good black man. Mr. Tyree also gave black men a positive boost. Anthony wasn't a drug dealer, thug are any other sterotypical type black man. He was a hard working, challanged black man, with goals. My only complant is that the first love making sceen between Ant and Sharron was not as juicy as the one Ant had with Sahntee'. I was hoping Omar would give readers a bang, like in his book ' A do right man', when Faye and Bobby made love for the first time, it was magical. Over all he left readers with a good scense of fufillment for love and happiness.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2002

    A good book!!! :-D

    I love this book it is so good I can't stop reading it, it's filled wih surprises and it's kinda funny I luv this book any one who doesn't have this book your missing out on a good book!!! :-D

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2001

    Great book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    i love the book .i couldn't take my head out of the book.it was so interesting,i can't wait to read so more book by Omar Tyree

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2001

    GOOD INTERESTING BOOK

    I COULDN'T PUT THIS BOOK DOWN.I THOUGHT IT WAS GREAT BECAUSE MOST GUYS THINK THEY CAN GET US FEMALES WHEN THEY SEE US OR WHATEVER. THEY THINK THAT WE WILL FOLLOW IN ON THEIR SO CALL LINES THEY SAY WHEN THEY APPROACH US. OVERALL IT WAS GREAT JUST A CONFUSION AT THE END. SHOULD MAKE CONTINUATION

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2001

    kinda sour

    This book couldn't keep my interest. He had way to much detail where he didn't need it, and none where needed. Also the language choice was kind of corny and the sectences didn't flow. I am a big fan of tyree, so this was an awful disappointment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2001

    Is the (love) doctor in?

    Overall, this book kind of got on my nerves! I'm sure that every single adult that picked up the book to read is more than aware of the complexities involved in establishing, as well as maintaining a meaningful relationship. It seems like the author was stuck on some type of analytical trip and intent on breaking down every line of dialogue between a man and a woman in terms of what affect it may or may not have on their relationship. Or maybe this was supposed to be some sort of psychological thesis? Lighten up!! Why not let Ant and Sharron's story flow and leave all of the psycho-babble alone? I think I would have enjoyed that a lot more!

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