MIAMI BEACH — They were refugees from the North. Susan and Bruno. They lived in a high-rise apartment building across the street from the beach, a littered beach where all the sagging flesh of the world congregated.
The apartment had two bedrooms, one serving as his writing room, two bathrooms and a long balcony with a view of tropical landscaping nine floors below, and beyond that, Collins Avenue and a string of motels and restaurants; and behind that, the Atlantic Ocean.
Susan and Bruno, she earning big money as a risk analyst for multinationals doing business in politically unstable countries, and Bruno scraping together a few bucks selling short stories to magazines and occasional op-ed pieces to newspapers.
Bruno had a son, Rocco, nineteen years old. He lived in Toronto, although he wouldn’t have called it living. He went from job to job. He wrote poetry. He would phone his father collect and they’d talk for an hour or more. In a routine call he said he had walked off his latest job as a security guard and was broke. Bruno said he’d wire him some money. Susan’s money. In those days it was always Susan’s money. She had a big heart, and Bruno was inside it living the life.
In one phone call Rocco said he hated Toronto and wanted to move to New York. He said he’d have $1,500 in the next few days. His father asked him where he got it but Rocco wouldn’t explain, made a big mystery of it, and Bruno wondered if he was planning something illegal.
Rocco said he wanted the two of them to get together in New York. They talked for two hours. The same old merry-go-round they’d been on since he left school and Bruno divorced his mother and became a vagabond. The conversation left Bruno exhausted.
But their adult relationship had never been better. When they weren’t talking on the phone they were writing letters to each other.
Bruno told Rocco to leave New York for another time, when he could also live there, and meanwhile to get on a plane to Miami. A prepaid ticket would be waiting for him at the Air Canada counter, just like when he was a little boy and his father had him flying all over the country to visit him wherever he happened to be.
Bruno arranged for a one-way ticket to be left for him, because he wanted him to stay with him in Miami Beach, with Susan and him at first and then in his own place.
It was all set, and then on the night of his departure Rocco phoned collect from the Toronto airport and said U.S. immigration officials wouldn’t let him board the flight without a round-trip ticket in case he was trying to pull a fast one and enter the States illegally to work.
“You’d think the two countries were at war,” he said to his father.
[To be cont’d]