Chapter 1: Part One
“Bella, the guys at the precinct just aren’t taking me seriously,” Sonny whines to his sister on Saturday night. “And neither are the gals.”
“Women,” she corrects.
“Come on,” he replies. “Does it really make that much of a difference what I call them?”
Bella throws up her hands. “Come on, Sonny. What century are we living in?”
“The present one,” he jokes.
She just shakes her head. “Yeah, so women aren’t called ‘gals’ anymore. That might be one of the reasons they don’t like you.”
“Yeah.” Bella reaches out and strokes his upper arm. “Now, look, I know you’re a great guy – that you have a good heart – but no one here in Manhattan is going to get that if you bring too much of Staten Island with you.”
“You still talk like you’re from Staten Island,” he points out.
“Yes, I may still sound the same but there’s a difference in what I choose to say. I don’t say things the same the way that I used to, just casually and all – abrasive things that our friends from home get. Some of the things we are used to saying just don’t mean anything to us but may seem rude, obnoxious, or insensitive here. You get me?”
“Well I don’t want people to think I’m insensitive ‘cause I’m not.”
“I know, Sonny, I know. But people out here . . . they take things a certain way, you know? You can’t just say stuff that might sound sexist even if you mean nothing by it. And heck, you’re working SVU now, right?”
“Yeah I’ve been doing that for a while.”
“I really think you need to work on using that filter Mom keeps nagging you about. Especially now – especially there.”
“Look, I’ve talked this way my whole life. It’s not that easy, Bella.”
She puts her hands on her hips and cocks her head to the side. “Sonny, you went to college right?”
“So you’re able to learn. I’m just saying you might want to work on that.” She waves a hand up and down at him from his head to his toes. “And that.”
“That,” she says. “Your whole look. It’s 2014 now you know.”
“What’s wrong with this?” he says, spreading his arms.
“You look like a parody of a cop from the seventies. You know, like in Sabotage.”
“That was my favorite Beastie Boys video!”
“Yeah, but you shouldn’t be using it as a guide for your personal style.”
“I’m not – “
“When did you grow that mustache?”
“Right after I joined The Force.”
“Oh,” he says and ponders that. “Well, I thought it would make me look more like a cop. And Mom always says . . .”
“. . . Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” Bella finishes for him. “So . . . aren’t you a cop now? Isn’t that the job you’ve already got?”
“Yeah.” He sighs and looks down. “Guess I need a new look, huh?”
“Yeah,” she says, “How about a more professional one? Since you’ll be a lawyer soon.”
“That sounds good.”
She heads back to his bathroom, grabs his razor, and hands it to him. “Here, start with this.”
The following evening Bella is once again over at her brother’s place just hanging out. Her boyfriend Tommy is working the early shift this week and she gets lonely and bored when he goes to bed at such an unreasonable hour and leaves her all alone to amuse herself.
After dinner she looks Sonny over, deep in thought.
“What?” he says a little defensively.
“Your new look.” She walks around him saying “Hmmm . . .”
“What is it?”
“It’s not quite right.”
“Is it the hair?” he asks, self-consciously touching it.
“Yes that’s it!” she exclaims. “The duck hair.”
“Yeah, like totally. You look like you’re from the 80’s, dude.” She chuckles.
“Huh?” he says and goes back to his bathroom to check it out in the mirror.
“You’ve practically got a mullet there, Sonny,” Bella says following him in, turning him so that he can see his profile, and pulling at the ‘tail’ at the base of his neck so he can see what she is talking about. “You never even wore those growing up. They were out of style by the time Mom stopped doing your hair for you.”
“Yeah, that looks kinda weird now that you point it out. But it’s subtle. Does anyone really notice?”
“Here, let me try something.” Bella heads back into the other room to get something out of her purse.
“You’re going to beauty school now? Forgot everything you learned in college?” Sonny jokes when he sees the hair clippers she has in her hand.
“You, know sometimes I need these – for split ends. So I carry them with me.”
“In case you need an emergency hair cut?”
He just raises his eyebrows.
“Face the mirror.”
Sonny hears a few snips behind his neck. “Not too much now.”
“Don’t worry,” she reassures him.
He sighs. His sister would make him into her own personal Barbie doll if he let her.
“There!” she says proudly and turns him around so he can see.
“It’s short back there,” he complains touching the hair at the nape of his neck.
“You’ll get used to it.”
“We’ll get you looking spiffy in no time.” She winks. “Trust me.”
She reaches into his medicine cabinet and grabs a bottle. “And now – gel.”
“Ugh, Bella come on. I know how to do my own hair here. I’m not seven anymore – and you’re not Mom.”
“Look Sonny, you don’t do it right. What is that clumpy mess?” she says pointing at the top of his head.
He pats it. “What are you talking about?”
“This,” she says grabbing a strand of his hair that’s all stuck to itself. And then another piece hanging in another direction and that’s also all clumped together. “And this. It looks like you woke up and just put some gel in your hair.”
“Did you comb it?”
“No, I just ran my fingers through it.”
“You see, that’s the problem, Sonny. You need to take the time to actually STYLE it. Otherwise you’re just randomly cementing your hair in place. It looks like a mess even though you attempted to do something with it. Let’s see . . .”
Bella digs around in his things in an effort to find his comb – she can’t use hers – the teeth are too wide for the precision styling a man’s haircut demands. Finding it takes quite a while, although eventually she finds it buried under his sink behind a ton of stuff.
“Are you in the habit of hiding this or something?”
“I use it,” he says defensively.
“Sure, I believe you.” Pause. “NOT.”
He gives her a lopsided grin.
Bella begins showing her older brother how to actually style his hair. With a comb.
Chapter 2: Part Two
Bella helps her brother Sonny find a new look.
He shows up the next day at work looking spiffy – like his sister promised he would. Or so he thinks.
Rollins doesn’t seem to care for his new look and tells him that she likes him better with the ‘stache. He rubs his upper lip as she walks away. She seems a little grumpy – he’s going to chalk that remark up to her bad mood. Besides, he likes his hairless face – he’s decided to keep it that way.
Everyone at the precinct notices that his mustache is gone, but no one notices the change in his hairstyle at all. He calls Bella to give her an update on how it all went.
“Well, I’m not sure I impressed everyone with my new look, but everyone noticed my ‘stache was gone.”
“You still making insensitive comments?”
“I’m getting better.”
“Yeah, I’d work on that.”
“Yeah, yeah, okay. But hey, no one noticed that you cut my ‘duck tail’ off as you called it. I told you it was subtle. And no one noticed all of the work I put into combing my hair this morning. Not sure it’s worth doing every day.”
“Oh, believe me Sonny. It’s worth it.” Bella pauses. “When I come over next time you can show me how you’re doing it, okay? So I can make sure you’re styling your hair to look it’s very best.”
“You always take care of me, Bella. You know that?”
“That’s cause I love you, Big Bro.”
“I love you, too Lil’ Sis. Bye.” He hangs up the phone.
Chapter 3: Part Three
Bella helps her brother Sonny find a new look.
Bella is standing in her brother’s bathroom watching him style his hair.
“I’m hungry!” Tommy yells from the living room. “I wanna go get something to eat.”
“Can’t you just wait?” Bella yells back to Tommy without leaving the bathroom. “We’re doing something in here.”
Sonny can hear Tommy’s groaning all the way back in the bathroom – he is that loud in the vocalization of his displeasure.
“Tommy, huh?” Sonny smirks back at Bella through the mirror and says loudly, “I thought you were going to dump that loser.”
“I heard that!” Tommy yells back from the living room.
Bella and Sonny share a secret smile.
“Well, it looks like you’ve got combing your hair mastered.”
“See, I told you. Like you said, I’m a quick learner.”
“Yeah, it looks really nice.” She turns him around in a circle. “But something’s still wrong.”
She looks at his hair really closely and then . . .
“I got it,” she says excitedly and yells at Tommy to get her purse.
Tommy’s grumbling as he gets off the couch is so loud both Bella and Sonny can hear it and Bella rolls her eyes. Once Tommy makes it to the bathroom and hands Bella her purse he says, “Can we go now?”
“Can’t you wait?” Bella says, frustrated.
“Yeah, hold your horses Tommy. Go sit down.” Sonny waves him back to the other room. “Sheesh. What a production. Does he really not like me that much? That he can’t even bear to be over here for a few minutes?”
“It’s not that, Sonny.”
“Then what is it?”
Bella lowers her voice. “He thinks you still don’t like him.”
“Well Bella, you gotta admit, he’s screwed up so many times. I only want what’s good for you.”
“He IS what’s good for me, Sonny. He’s changed.”
“No, I’m serious. He’s older now, more mature. He’s really trying to make it happen this time.”
“If you say so.”
“He makes me happy, Sonny. Isn’t that enough?”
“I guess,” Sonny says begrudgingly, but then he raises a finger. “But if he hurts you, if he disappoints you again . . .”
“I know, I get it.” She smiles. “Big Bro’s wrath.”
“You’d better believe it.”
“Okay, back to this.” She turns him around so she can access the nape of his neck. “We’re working on changing YOU now – giving you an update.”
“I thought you already pulled me into this century.”
“Not quite, there’s a little bit of that mullet still hanging around.”
“Okay, do your worst.”
She gives him a wry smile. A Carisi trademark.
“Okay, your best then,” Sonny corrects himself.
She uses the shears to trim the hair at the back of his head so that it will lay flat and close to his neck. He looks a hundred times better when she’s finished and she smiles at her handiwork.
“Done!” she exclaims.
Tommy is at the door within seconds. “Good. Can we go now?”
Bella gives him a withering look and points to the back of Sonny’s head with the shears to indicate he should take a look at the nice job she’s done.
“Looking good man, looking good.” Tommy pats him on the back. And he’s not just being nice – Sonny looks completely different from the way he has for years. And that’s a good thing. “Ready to become a lawyer?”
Sonny nods. “Soon. Almost there.”
“Yeah, that’s taken forever.”
“Thanks man,” Sonny says with a bit of sarcasm.
“And speaking of that,” Bella says, “You gotta update your clothes from ‘cop’ to ‘lawyer,’ too. You know what Mom says . . .“
“I know I know – dress for the job you want.” He starts to lead Bella and Tommy out. “I already work with someone who dresses so fancy his clothes just scream his profession.”
“That Barba guy?”
“Yeah. And I’m going to work on that – dressing more like him.” He tips his head down and says, “But you know, I make nowhere near what he makes and he spends a fortune on his suits. I’ll have to wear knock-offs for now. And I’ll never catch up to him.”
“No one will be able to tell.”
“He will, believe me. Whatever I wear will not impress him.”
He shakes his head and all three of them chuckle.
“Well, goodnight you guys,” Sonny says as he walks them out.
Bella gives him a peck on the cheek and reminds him, “Filter. Got it?”
She pats him on his chest. “Don’t let your obnoxious mouth hide your good heart from other people, you hear me?”
He’s going to work on that. He smiles as he closes the door behind them.