“You Are Finding Love,” by Michael Minassian

May 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Prose

As Mr. James walked into the airport terminal after passing through Colombian customs, he spotted a hastily scrawled cardboard sign with the words: Marrying Wifes.

The sign was being held by a thin man wearing a chauffeur’s uniform and a New York City policeman’s cap.

Mr. James edged crabwise, dragging his suitcase behind, and said in heavily accented English, “Youf are from the agency, da?”

Later, as the black Impala sped through the slums of Bogota, Mr. James lit a cigarette and gazed at the sun setting behind the mountains. Once more he opened the brochure that had lured him to Colombia. “You are finding love with many women. Come and choosing from beautiful ladies. Young. Pretty. American Visa Available.”

On either side of Mr. James was an elderly Baptist preacher looking for his fourth wife and, behind the driver, a car insurance salesman who bore a remarkable resemblance to a neurotic New York filmmaker. “Are you sure there are Jewish women in Bogota?” he asked after the Impala sped past a dozen Roman Catholic churches and a bombed-out mosque.

Senor Lopez, the driver, glanced back at his passengers and nodded. He had written the brochure; this was his car; and his wife’s friends, sisters, cousins were anxiously waiting for their future husbands and green cards.

Two other Chevys and a Ford Fiesta were also speeding towards their romantic rendezvous with passengers picked up from the flight from Miami. Senor Lopez, who had been born in Jersey City, had placed ads in the all the English and Spanish newspapers from Key West to Palm Beach and expected to get rich matching Colombian women with Americans.

Forty minutes later, the three vehicles pulled up in front of a long, single story warehouse painted royal blue. The surrounding buildings also looked like warehouses although all seemed to be abandoned. Most of the windows in the area had been broken by hurled bricks or gunshots, and the glass had been replaced by cardboard or empty flower sacks. Near the entrance a single word of graffiti “Revolucian!” had been crossed out and next to it someone had scrawled a phone number. Mr. James noticed that the number was the same one printed in the brochure next to Mr. Lopez’s name.

Once inside, all the Americans were given a glass of sour red wine and led to one of five tables. Along with a dozen other mostly middle aged men, Mr. James scanned the room which was full of women. Unlike the men, the women appeared to be in their twenties and thirties. Attractive and well dressed, they sat at the tables and waited for the men to join them.

Mr. James made eye contact with a pretty blue-eyed blonde and approached her table. “Youf are looking for husband?” he said.

“Jes. My name es Rosie,” she said. “Por favor to sit down.” Rosie was twenty-three years old and had been arrested seven times for transporting national treasures from Columbia to neighboring countries, including the United States. Rosie thought Mr. James had a strange accent, but she surmised that he was from Texas or Buffalo, New York.

“What is your name, senor mister?”


Que? James? What is your family name?”


Rosie pondered this. She did not want to appear stupid. Obviously his name was James. But did he have another name?

“You are American, jes?”

“Of course,” said Mr. James, flourishing his American passport. “Citizen. USA.”

Rosie touched his hand and the passport found its way into her fingers. She opened it and saw a photo of a man with a thick brown beard. The man sitting across from her was clean shaven but obviously the same person. Under the photo was printed the name: James James.

“Your name is James and your other name is James.”

Da.” Mr. James did not explain that he had been born Ivan Illych Borrsky in Leningrad and had changed his name after immigrating to America. “You like me? I think you pretty. Marry? Yes.”

The next morning Mr. and Mrs. James hurried through Miami customs and into a waiting stretch limo. From the backseat, Mr. James made two phone calls, one to his lawyer who had prepared the pre-nuptial contract and another to the manager of Mr. James’ club in Fort Lauderdale.

“We are going to your home?” asked Rosie.

Nyet. Business first.” said Mr. James. “Vodka.” He pointed to the mini fridge.

Forty-five minutes later the limo pulled off I-95 and made its way to Au Naturel, the strip club owned by Mr. James. As he stepped out, he told the driver to take Mrs. James home. But Rosie Marie Conseula Jimenez James had recognized the driver of the limo as an undercover DEA agent who had interviewed her at the Krome Processing Center during her last visit to the United States. On that trip, Rosie had been carrying a smuggled Indian artifact stuffed with cocaine. Unfortunately for Rosie, the driver recognized Rosie as well, and she was soon on her way back to Federal detention.

At 3 a.m. that night when Mr. James returned home and could find no sign of Rosie, he was confused. Mr. James found American women too aggressive and demanding, and Russian women too dull (although he secretly yearned for a return of the Soviet Union and its sense of order).

The women who danced at his club he considered whores. The Latins, he thought, with their overblown sense of machismo, at least had the right idea about their wives and women in general. That was why he had answered the ad in the Herald.

When a week passed with no sign of his new bride, Mr. James decided to take action. His lawyer had found a satisfaction guaranteed clause in the marriage contract, and Mr. James phoned Senor Lopez direct.

Although Lopez was extremely angry at Rosie, he too had no explanation. Knowing that he was trapped, he reluctantly agreed to provide Mr. James with a new bride after having the first marriage annulled.

“When will you arrive in Bogota?” asked Lopez.

Nyet,” said Mr. James, “you deliver, da?”


Da. Das vidanya.”

Senor Lopez hung up the phone. “I don’t think this Senor James is really American,” he said to his wife.

“So?” she said. “It’s my sister’s turn to marrying. And she loves Miami Dolphins. Tony Sparano. Bill Parcells. Chad Pennington. Viva America.”

Viva America,” sighed Senor Lopez.


Michael Minassian, if he really exists, likes to frolic in the tulips, providing they exist. Which they do.

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