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1989:   A modeling agency wanted me to go to Milan. It was a free ticket out of the States. I jumped at it.

I arrived in Milan on New Years Eve 1989. It didn't take long before I ran out of money. The girl models could do dancing-for-dollars. Promoters would come by with a van and take the girls to various discos on the outskirts of town. They'd dance and flirt with Italian businessmen and get paid a hundred bucks. Guys could do it too but the clubs were beyond the outskirts, the pay wasn't but half what the girls made and you were expected to do a lot more than just flirt.

I scammed money for a train ticket to Barcelona where I met this beautiful & angry Hungarian Swedish girl named Marishka. We started hanging out. The Happy Drink was a dive bar on Calle San Pao. The customers were all Algerian pickpockets and thieves. They loved us. They were especially impressed at an American boy born in Libya. It was like a joke on America. It made me an instant subversive.

The Algerians showed us all their pickpocketing tricks and urged us to hit the luxury tourist hotels on the other side of Las Ramblas. "We can't get anywhere near those places," they said, "But you two...you could march right in there and rob 'em blind."

Amongst the crowd I partied with was a girl from Long Island. We took an instant dislike to each other. We started dating.

We moved to Madrid and then to Milan and then to Athens and then back to Madrid and then back to Milan, where I "proposed" to her, and then to London, where we got married, and then back to Milan and then to Barcelona and in between all those moves we travelled. Not always together. We lived out of suitcases for 8 years. We spent a lot of time on trains.

We ran into Marishka in Milan. She was making a lot of money dancing-for-dollars.

Eventually all of this (and more) became too much for my wife. In the last year we were together I was surprised every time she returned from wherever it was she'd been.

We got an apartment in the gothic quarter of Barcelona. She left for another trip to Milan in the spring of 1994. She called a week later & said she wasn't coming back.

She's still there.


stories: Wife #2 | The Abortion