Friday Preview-Tono



Today I'd like to share a snippet of my novel, Tono. In book two of the Basque Trilogy, you see another side of Tono Garat, the Basque athlete who helped Mick Henley recover after his break up with long-time lover, Paul Alcott. Tono was a jai alai player at the height of his career when he met Mick. He was also deep in the closet. Mick's love and support gave him the courage he needed to come out and be the partner Mick deserved. Tono was also a poet, a romantic, who enjoyed writing sonnets for Mick. The Spanish poem beside the image of the book cover is one Tono wrote and read at Mick's funeral. I chose to leave it in Spanish rather than have nuances lost in translation. After Mick passes, Paul and Tono are trying to keep their relationship alive, but there are serious issues that need to be addressed. The conversation below is a start. At the end of the except I'm posting some photos of jai alai in honor of Tono and all the Basques who love this sport as much as we love baseball.

Excerpt

“When I was eight years old, my father said that I‟d have to run up and down that hill each day to strengthen my legs. No matter how tired I was, or what the weather was like, I ran. If my shoes were too tight, I ran barefoot. I helped unload fishing boats, partly because they needed another hand, but mainly because we couldnt afford to buy weights for my training. I didn't own a pair of Nike shoes until I was seventeen years old. Id play in espadrilles, something you consider "summer wear‟, but here, we wear them because they're cheap and they're comfortable.”
“Tono, I didn't know.”
“You didn't know because you never cared enough to ask.”
Paul was silent as Tono continued with his outburst. “My father accomplished small miracles getting me to the polideportivo each week. He'd take turns with other dads so that we could have our hour at the fronton, but because it was so crowded and the demand for the space so high, we'd have to play at five in the morning, which meant we left here at four. Do you know what that's like, particularly in the winter?”
“I can only imagine. It must have been difficult.”
Tono snorted in disgust. “Difficult doesn't even begin to describe it.”
“When did you move to San Sebastian?”
“When I was around thirteen or fourteen. I can't remember exactly, but it was at that time I started to win and move up in the rankings. My family began to realize that I was far better than many of the other players, and if I was going to make it, they'd have to go the extra mile. They uprooted themselves to another city for me. By the time I was eighteen, I was already under contract and playing professionally. I left for Florida when I was in my early twenties, ignorant of English and the American way of life, but I learned it quickly. And let's not forget the internal war I had with my sexuality through all of this. Hiding the fact that I was gay was extremely isolating, and I was lonely for years.”
“Tono, please calm down. You're spiraling.”
“This conversation was overdue.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean you and I are worlds apart, Pol. For all your education and your fancy lifestyle, you're insular and narrow-minded in thinking that the universe revolves around your country and your way. Well, guess what? There are entire nations in this part of the world that want nothing to do with America. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe I don't want to live in New York? That I hate everything about it except for you?”
“It hadn‟t crossed my mind. I just assumed you'd want to be with me, but obviously I was mistaken.”
Tono silently stood his ground until Paul held his hand and said earnestly, “We could try and make it work.”
“Who would do the trying? Me? By giving in and going back with you? Or would you actually consider living part of your life here, in another country, because you loved me enough?”
“I have a business to run,” Paul said, staring at his feet.
Tono raised Paul's face with a gentle hand so he could look into the troubled eyes. “You know I love you, rubio, but we have nothing in common, and love isn't always enough.”
“How can you say that after being in a relationship that relied on love for sustenance in the face of a deadly disease? Your love sustained Mick, our love brought him peace and gave him strength through some terrible times, so saying that love is not enough is ludicrous.”
“I can't argue with that, Pol, but neither you nor I are facing imminent death. We have to make a life together, and I don't think we can. What do we have in common, really? You hate sports, for one thing. You've never shown any kind of interest in learning more about my Basque heritage or Spanish culture in general. You're constantly berating our customs, especially the timetable, which goes against your well-regulated life. Can you even say two words in Spanish other than please and thank you? You've never made the effort to be a part of my world, yet you expect me to walk away from everything I know and love to move to a city that only holds bad memories for me.”
“You'll be able to commute as often as you want. The jet will be at your disposal.”
“Pol, have you heard anything I've said?”
Paul squeezed Tono's hand and remained mute. He was afraid to open his mouth because he knew he'd start begging, and Paul Alcott didn't beg. Or maybe he did that one time, and ironically, to this same individual. “Are you just giving up, Tono? Don't you think our relationship is worth fighting for?”
“Maybe I need proof.”
“Excuse me?”
“I need to know that it's not always going to be about you and your way. If we're going to have any kind of life, it needs to be a partnership, and a sharing of cultures. I'll never be an American. You'll never be a Spaniard, but we need to find some middle ground, or this is doomed.”

You can purchase The Basque Trilogy bundle for $9.99 at Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/basque-trilogy-by-mickie-b-ashling-8638-b

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