Bruce robs banks for a living, not with pistol and mask, but by ingenious manipulation of the banking system. A sophisticated and highly educated maverick, he scrapes a thin layer of cream from the surface, keeping just enough to support a frugal lifestyle. Like a modern day Robin Hood, he gives much of the rest away.
Bruce has lived a free life, mostly by his own rules. But occasionally he slips up. He is a repeat visitor to the USA's Federal penitentiary system. Bruce has been jailed four times, and no matter how hard they try, they fail to reprogram him. He goes to the same jail each time; a comfy set-up amidst rolling hills and pretty forests. He reads, studies languages, plays tennis and devises future scams with fellow white-collar inmates.
Bruce is a natural wanderer and adventure seeker. When I was a child, he was at the height of his scamming period. We travelled together a lot, taking one road trip after another from coast to coast through the USA and Mexico in his old Chevy. Often he would carry up to fifteen different aliases at a time. During these trips I had to memorize each name, address and date-of-birth in the event we were stopped and questioned separately by police. Incidents with law enforcement during those trips still traumatize me to this day.
Bruce has a vehement disdain for the American government and most of its domestic and foreign policies. The War on Drugs is one he most strongly rejects. Many of Bruce's ideals were formed during his twenties when he was part of a generation which believed that through protest and rejection of parental and societal expectations, they could change the world. But while Bruce's peers went on to forget their radical past and become successful and respected members of their communities, Bruce remained loyal to the decree of his generation: "Turn on, tune in, and drop out".
Bruce has a penchant for young, beautiful women. A fit 64 year old, he refuses the reality of the passing years. He also rejects society's negative attitudes towards older men and younger women. Romantic and sexual pursuits continue to be one of his main interests in life. For the past eight years he has had a sexy young girlfriend; a streetwise 28 year old named Fatima. She lives in Cuba where he visits her regularly. Fatima says Bruce is interesting and she loves the presents he brings her from the States. Despite their tumultuous relationship, Bruce plans to marry her and bring her to the States to live with him.
When Bruce isn't visiting Fatima in Cuba, criss-crossing the USA in his rusted jalopy, travelling the world looking up friends, he stays at his secret hiding place; a dilapidated shack hidden amidst thick forest and tobacco fields in the heart of hillbilly country.
Daughter - Oren
My childhood was a tapestry of contrasts and required the ability to constantly adapt, readjust and blend in. I also learned the importance of self-reliance. Consequently - or perhaps in spite of - my childhood experiences caused me to become an incredibly sensible teenager: serious, conscientious, hard working and studious. I rejected the unconventional life style I felt unwittingly subjected to by my parents. While my hippie parents would dance around the house naked and stoned, I became a straight " A " student, practiced my violin every day, was voted Captain of the School in my senior year, and won awards for diligence and leadership. Drugs, truancy, promiscuity or reckless behaviour did not interest me; like any teenager, I rebelled against what I felt were my parents belief systems. Now as an adult I am attempting to find the balance between my alternative, unconventional upbringing and my self-imposed conservatism.
Bruce's Girlfriend - Fatima
Fatima is a sexy, beautiful, street-wise 28 year old Cuban woman who grew up without a father. She is witty and smart, yet uneducated. Her life has been filled with hardship and disappointments, and consequently she has built up a hard, protective shell around her. She is mistrustful of people, and of men in particular, but she has learned to trust Bruce. She thinks he is mysterious and claims that she doesn't really understand him.
Brucešs mother, Ruth, was widowed over forty years ago and never remarried. She raised the two boys on her own from their early teenage years. Now at the age of 97 and standing a mere four foot four, she is still sharp as a whip with an acerbic sense of humour. She is a middle class, conservative, close-minded, fearful, church-going woman who is emotionally cool and has little interest in the world outside her immediate neighbourhood. According to Ruth, Bruce could have done anything with his brilliant mind. Instead, she feels her son has disappointed her all her life. He never became the upstanding, successful pillar of his community whom she could boast about to her neighbours.
Oren's Mother - Naomi
My mother, Naomi, ran away from her orthodox Jewish family at age 19 to be with Bruce. He represented all that her parents most feared; an unemployed, anti-establishment, motor-cycle-riding, black-leather-wearing, Timothy-Leary-lovin' Gentile. Once my mother married Bruce, my Jewish grandmother promptly disowned my mother, and has not spoken to her since.
Naomi did not adapt well to Bruce's criminal lifestyle. Four years after I was born, my mother took off to South America with a Buddhist bohemian artist named Ajanta who would become my step father for the next 14 years. Naomi, Ajanta and I travelled around the world for a year and ended up in Australia to set up a Buddhist retreat centre and to start a new life ... and to get away from Bruce.
Naomi, a talented artist who has lost none of her zany, powerful personality, has lived and worked with tribal Aboriginal people on a remote Aboriginal community in the Australian outback for the past fifteen years.
Oren's Grandfather - Gabe
My family, although scattered all over the globe, is separated and divided by more than mere geography. My Orthodox Jewish grandfather in Jerusalem shakes his head with sadness for me when he thinks of what I missed out on by being whisked away from the Jewish clan by a rebellious mother and a Gentile con man father ("Poor child, brought up like a shiksa!"). In contrast to my WASP side of the family, he is warm and affectionate, zany, and shows me great love and acceptance. Yet his world is so foreign to me; I visit him in his Orthodox Jewish community on Shabbat in the Holy City and I think to myself: "My God, this could have been my life!"
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