The most recent of these women was named Maria and they were to marry on a beautiful June day. But she dropped a note on his dining room table with the story of her double life, of how she would run off with a syphilitic slam poet from Sao Palo.
The next morning, Tortelli sat in a doctor’s office waiting for a Wasserman test and swore off women, except, of course, for the steady diet of slatterns and ten dollar a pop hand job queens.
But then, as he had always done, he fell for someone a few weeks later.
But she was different from others he knew. By anyone’s measure she was kind, considerate and attractive in a self-respecting way without the wildness of crazy dames in fish net stockings.
He had never fallen for this type of woman so his love was really an infatuation based on a couple of brief conversations and a promise to go on a date.
Tortelli wanted to present himself as best he could, but since he was fired from his deep fryer job at the Salvation Army Kitchen, he was short on dough, even though he was expecting to be hired as a trade mark examiner.
So he went to the Thrift Store and picked up a European cape and homburg hat and a pair of English shoes that he squeezed his feet into with a steady shoe horn. But what of the flowers?
He had this idea born of a who would know deviousness.
There was a cemetery near where he lived, so why not hop the stone fence and purloin a single flower from a number of grave sights so nobody would notice and the desecrating crime would be minor at worst.
That night that's what Tortelli did. He hopped the stone fence and stealthily went from tombstone to tombstone picking up single flowers till he had a dozen roses.
The next evening he was finely attired from a Thrift Store standard and went to meet the girl with only a slight nervousness.
He knocked on the door and it opened. The young girl broke into wailing tears which Tortelli mistook for joyful surprise at his gentlemanly appearance and dozen roses. But she cried: "That pink rose looks just like the one I planted at Grandma McGillicutty's grave site."
She made her hands into fists and turned them sideways and beat his chest and angrily said: "No, No, you can't be mine."
She slammed the door. Tortelli walked away with a dejected heart, his hand dropping the bouquet of flowers on the sidewalk.
He sat on a curb under a baleful moon and said mournfully: "Of all the graveyards in all of the city I had to steal a single rose from the tombstone of Grandma McGillicutty."