1970 Odysseus visits cousin Patsy in New York City she introduces him to her best friend Lauren’s older less attractive more reclusive sister Tanya Mulhaney extremely wealthy family father founded corporation manufactures pinball machines which years later develop to video games then casino empire he favors and spoils Tanya but dies suddenly her envious sisters and mother gang up on Tanya is pale skinny flat-chested copious brown bush Odysseus sits in bathtub with Tanya and he probes in a way they hits it off maybe no boy has ever touched her in that way her complexion is so fragile slightest fluster prompts pink blotches on her cheeks neck chest back he admires her book smarts he’s attracted to her refined strangeness he thinks her bush and flat-chest are sexy she laughs shyly offers to take him around the world he accepts Odysseus tells his parents Mom goes crazy yells into telephone what are you a gigolo? you father and i work like fools to send you to the best schools so you can make something of yourself you’re going to throw everything away to be a bum? i tell you we’ll disown you you won’t have a home to come back to do you hear me? we’ll disown you! she sobs how can you just walk out after all we have done for you? you goddamn kid! Odysseus takes leave of absence from art school he and Tanya take Iberia jet 12 hour flight with stopover in Iceland to Belgium Tanya sinks into one of her moods swallows several pills to help her rest sitting on other side of Odysseus is curly haired skinny talkative musician claims he has jammed with Miles Davis and other jazz greats Odysseus says yeah right and i’ve shown with Johns and Twombly where exactly are you heading in Europe? musician answers he is a scientologist on his way to visit L. Ron Hubbard in England Odysseus does not know what Dianetics are and wants explanation he asks many questions and musician talks for hours they enjoy each other’s rapport as jet descends in Brussels they exchange home addresses in the States 9 months later when Odysseus returns to America a friend notices scribbled address while skimming through his travel journals Odys! how did you get Chick Corea’s address? do you know him? do you realize how brilliant he is? he’s a keyboard virtuoso! Odysseus questions Chick Corea? who’s Chick Corea? he looks at journal page then says oh that guy i sat next to him on the jet to Europe so he really is a famous musician huh? wow!
in October 1970 Brussels is damp chilly Tanya wears hip-hugger jeans black turtle-neck top North Face shell she huddles her arms around her chest smokes cigarettes looks through hotel room window out into gray overcast sky speaks in defeatist voice i didn’t bring clothes for this weather she picks at her plate in hotel restaurant glumly vacillates later in bed after refusing sex decides they leave tomorrow fly to Canary Islands for several weeks to get tan before traveling through Morocco during winter months Canary Islands are laden with Swedish tourists including bikini clad young girls many not wearing tops Odysseus is thinking about how to swing some of that Swedish free love once Tanya gets drunk succumbs to Odysseus’s sexual overtures it is good one day while returning to hotel from beach 2 Spanish police stop and question Tanya and Odysseus police order to see their passports then command them into squad car police bark in Spanish rifle through their daypacks point a finger Odysseus can smell alcohol on their breaths Tanya and Odysseus are terrified police drive off main road to remote location abandoned ruins no one is around police order them to step out police drive off laughing Tanya’s complexion is crimson she sobs they could have murdered us no one would know who we are or where to find us we’re lost where are we? Odysseus looks around replies don’t worry we’ll be all right i watched where the driver was going we’ll retrace their trail
they fly to Tangier travel south by train Tanya is irritable insisting Odysseus carry her backpack Casablanca is dirty 3 men peer from sunglasses act suspicious wear tattered trench coats Tanya and Odysseus snack at cafe which provides hookahs for smoking hashish Odysseus scores several grams Tanya laughs suggests they rent car drive south travel to sandy beaches of Diabet for 6 weeks in the morning she paces around French hotel room with cigarette in one hand ashtray in other like she is sultry 1940’s Hollywood actress she stays in room and devours Penguin Classics Tolstoy Stendhal Proust Huysmans Zola turns out Tanya is sexually frigid she buys Odysseus anything he wants but does not put out they take train Marrakech it is sun drenched with blue skies mountains in distance Odysseus wants to go out explore get dirty with the natives he visits Medina daily witnessing many bizarre scenes he does not understand a woman squatting over an egg a man with no legs dragging himself through marketplace holding up cigarette butts in his hand he meets a professor who is out of work because king of Morocco has closed the universities due to teachers’ strike professor explains woman squatting over egg is fortuneteller and man dragging himself has been offered crutches many times yet makes more money playing off pity of tourists cigarette butts are for sale the professor invites Odysseus to visit Berbers in mountains Odysseus persuades Tanya she reluctantly agrees the 3 travel by bus in first-class front row seats vehicle filled with lively families chickens pig bus driver has assistant who lugs people onto bus or shoves them out door at a midpoint bus stops in little town everyone exits bus then men women children urinate in street local venders sell trinkets snacks Odysseus buys nibbles shish-kabob that later professor informs is roasted cat and dog they reenter bus wait suddenly butchered lamb flank is flung onto Odysseus’s lap a man climbs aboard bus stairs then grabs large carcass and heedlessly walks to back seat Odysseus wipes blood and slime off his jeans Tanya demurely giggles bus climbs mountains arrives at small Berber village professor leads them along narrow winding street of shanty huts sheltering merchants open kitchens professor tastes from various steaming iron kettles finally decides on one they are directed to rickety roof where they sit wait a boy comes up with plastic bowl filled with water and small box of Tide following professor they wash their hands then minutes later proprietor brings up simmering pot of couscous serves it with scratched raw plastic bowls no eating utensils they eat with their fingers Tanya seems bothered declines to partake she withdraws into silence after meal she becomes irritable complains of headache says she needs to return to Marrakech she remains standoffish on bus all the way to French hotel
after Marrakech they take boat trip to Italy while onboard Odysseus meets Italian Count who has an eye for him Odysseus wears Jim Morrison beat-up leather jeans Bruce Lee t-shirt scraggly whiskers Count wears thin manicured beard tiny red Speedo swim trunks Tanya grins amused Count offers Odysseus and Tanya to be guests at his villa in Milan city flourishes with stylish clothes loud lively restaurants classical sculptures covered in car pollution following several weeks of aristocratic wining and dining amazing 11 course elegant soiree Odysseus botches compliance with Count’s desires they are asked to leave Tanya laughs hysterically they board train to Germany based on Tanya’s tour book they find historic hotel with wind rattling windows coin operated hot water bath in Munich Tanya stays in room Odysseus goes to dance club meets brown-hared pale skinned German girl neither speak the other’s language he pays for hourly rated room they play German girl in animated gesturing warns him as he is going down on her but he does not understand until several days later scratching beard finds crabs seeks A-200 lice treatment German version leather pants disposed Tanya knows but says nothing she buys Volkswagen they drive through Black Forest Tanya wants to visit King Ludwig’s castles Odysseus does the driving mostly they listen to the Who’s “Who’s Next” and Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” he follows Tanya’s instructions not knowing who King Ludwig was eventually he learns Ludwig was colorful character built extravagant Disney like castles and friends Richard Wagner Bavaria is cold gray brown deep forest green scenic Swiss Alps visible in southern view they drive from Neuschwanstein to Linderhof to Herrenchiemsee then Freiburg lodge in bed and breakfasts Tanya grows restless by all the driving decides to ditch car along road in northern France as Odysseus unscrews car license by road side several cars stop French people concerned they need help Tanya is anxious hoping for clean get away from abandoning vehicle they board train to Paris Tanya speaks a little French in spring of 1971 they are backpacking in search of hotel on Left Bank it rains all morning sky is overcast Tanya reads “Pride and Prejudice” Odysseus draws in sketchbook at sidewalk café sitting next to them are older Parisian couple man detects they are Americans he turns to them expresses in English his contempt why can’t you Americans learn from France’s lessons in Vietnam? Tanya and Odysseus don’t look up they feel like dumb ugly Americans within days they leave Paris
cross English Channel by boat they find temporary apartment in Earl’s Court in London it is overcast almost every day within a month they move to larger place in Chelsea with backyard with run down English garden Odysseus weeds garden plants tomatoes lettuce carrots radishes flowers Tanya stays in her room smokes reads at night they go out to ethnic restaurants one night they visit Indian restaurant a very proper English woman sitting at next table orders exotic fruit for dessert Odysseus asks waiter what kind of fruit waiter answers mango Odysseus has never seen or tasted mango English woman delicately eats the fruit with fork and knife Odysseus orders mango for dessert he attempts to imitate how English lady proceeded fruit slips around on plate finally out of frustration he picks it up in his hands bites into it he is aroused by how luscious mango is sniffing with nose scraping fruit’s skin with front teeth then sucking the seed Tanya makes a face suddenly the seed slides from his grasp shoots across table Tanya’s cheeks neck turn scarlet voice raises stop it Odys! you’re disgusting! are you intentionally trying to embarrass me? why are you doing this? he replies i’m not doing anything to you i’m enjoying the most delicious fruit i’ve ever tasted who cares what it looks like? later she laughs about incident offers to buy more mangos promises to take him shopping at Harrods tomorrow he goes along with their arrangement until it all seems like pretty background scenery to an empty intimacy missing all his friends back at art school he writes about his loneliness he feels trapped in Tanya’s web several times he sneaks English girls into his room when Tanya jealously confronts him he admits he has had enough and wants to go back to Hartford she suggests at the least they fly to Bermuda for several weeks to get tan before returning he declines on June 30 1971 Odysseus returns to Hartford and Tanya moves to San Francisco on July 3 Jim Morrison overdoses in Paris