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"Iím in the middle of dozens of t-shirt wearing, sweaty communists running from the police. As a herd we make a left down another street but see the blue lights of police cars so we turn back and now Iím further ahead in the pack and weíre trampling down an alley. We make another left and the men become eerily silent; just feet scraping and shuffling; that silence the most frightening aspect of the ordeal. In an instant Iím at the head of the pack and I start to think that isnít a good idea after all."

By Jim Marquez


Milan sucks. No offence to my Italian friends, but that's the truth. Fashion Capital of the world, my ass. You go there. See for yourself. Crack whores at the train station. The homeless starving out on the streets. Garbage and graffiti everywhere. And the metro? Rusty piss-pots pushed around on sweat-lubricated rails. Jesus! The place is dank. Like an abandoned steel mill.

Now don't get me wrong, I do like Italy; the countryside you see on the train over from Paris is the most incredible in Europe. And, sure, The Duomo in Milan is magnificent, and yes, gazing upon The Last Supper by Leonardo De Vinci is a soul-chilling moment, but then what? Back in Ď98, my buddy and I were kicking around Europe for the World Cup: that nightís game was England v Argentina. Our Penziones were on the third floor of a commercial building. For 30,000 liras I got a rat hole with an alley view, while Joey on the other hand gets this balcony overlooking the boulevard and a room twice as big as mine. For the same price.

Since the city blows, and it was too goddamn hot to look for a night spot, we end up buying litre sized beers for $.80 a pop and retire to Joey's balcony to watch the game in the blistering God-awful heat. Suffocating! Doors open, shirts open, beer guts hanging out. We pound warm beers and try to make the best of it. Behind me, down the street, others are also out. During the game I saw on balconies and through windows the following: 1) naked fat guy masturbating 2) a couple fucking and they caught me looking and closed the blinds 3) a young teenage girl reading a book in a tight dress, she smiled, waved, parted her legs to show no panties and her mother dragged her back in.

Like us, everybody was supporting Argentina. Each time we scored a roar erupted throughout the neighbourhood, punctuated by blasts of parade horns on distant streets, plus our own slurred cheering. We were drunk, cursing, and keeping the people above us awake, but so what? It was the first time Joey and I had a chance to relax and enjoy each otherís company. Without running around like lunatics from one place to another, that is. It was an honest and rollicking time that I will never forget.

At one point though I had to use the can down the hall. The hotel clerk, having a beer and watching the match at the front desk, nodded as I sauntered by: "My friend, England going to lose tonight!"

"Bet your ass," I barked, took a swig of my beer and about-faced into a good-looking couple in their early 20s.

"Bet-your-ass," the guy repeated and chuckled.

"Um, hello," the girl said as her dude stood behind her. "We're from Canada. What time are the television sets suppose to go off here?" I thought she was asking the clerk but was looking at me.

I stared at her and took a long drag of the cigarette I had in my left hand and an equally long sip of the beer I had in my right.

"Is that your television we hear?" she asked.

"No," I said flatly. And that was the truth, it was Joey's TV.

"Excuse me? Is that your room?" she asked, annoyed.

"No," I said and scratched my tummy with the bottle. My shirt open, gut out, eyes red, sweat pouring. Any moron could see I was smashed and therefore under no circumstances should be fucked with -- especially over something as shit-picky as the volume of a TV.

"We want to get to sleep. It's late," she said.

I looked at my watch: it was creeping up on eleven. "Lady?" I paused. "It's the World Cup..." Thinking that sufficient I stepped around her.

"Is that all? Over a stupid game?"


"Are you going back to your room?" she asked, too loud.

"NoĒ, I said and took a step closer to her. Again, I was not lying. I was going back to Joey's room. I think she finally smelled the booze coming off me for she took a step back and addressed the clerk this time: "Um, sir? Excuse meÖ"

The guy at the counter reached over to the B&W he had and raised the volume. He looked at me, I nodded back, and I staggered off. Enough of that bullshit, he seemed to indicate and I agreed and went to piss mightily.

"What's the score?" I shouted as I got back to the room because, in all honesty, the damn thing really was loud.

"Theyíre gonna have a fuckiní shoot-out, man!"

A shootout? Pussy way to end a match. The guys bust their balls all over the field and now it has to end on the leg of a lucky kick? Jesus Christ, is there anybody who likes this besides the cocksuckers from FIFA?

We cracked the last of the beers, munched on left over pasta from the pizza joint down the block, watched some more, then finally celebrated: England defeated. Shouts, horns, whistles, gunfire ricocheting through the night air. ARGENTINA! ARGENTINA! ARGENTINA! belting out from the passers-by below. The boys across the way toasted Joey and I with their beers and gave us the thumbs up -- presumably because we were the only Americans in the area cheering on this decidedly European occasion. Anyway, I was wired by then, ready to finally hit the streets, but Joey was doing a fast crawl to his bed.

"Dude, itís barely after midnight."

"Go without meÖ" he mumbled and flopped onto his laundry pile. "Iím too tiredÖ"

"You sure, man?"

"Be carefulÖ" and he was down for the count.

I left him giggling, beached like a whale, and headed back to my room to empty my waist belt. I had one fastened under my shorts, the only true anti-theft method. I stuffed my cash, credit cards, Euro Pass and plane ticket home under the mattress and took only my passport and some lira. Drunk, yes, stupid, no.

Back in the lobby the clerk was sharing cigarettes with an American girl, trying to hit on her. She looked 19, sundress, white sandals. She sat by a window overlooking our neighborhood, legs crossed; she bounced her foot up and down, letting the insole of her cheap cardboard sandal slap the bottom of her heel.

"You American?" she asked as I approached and asked the clerk for an overpriced beer sold from under the counter.

"Are you American?" the girl asked again as I stood over her and motioned for one of her smokes.

"Yeah. California. You?"

"Me and my girlfriends are from Colorado."

"Girlfriends?" I asked as the clerk handed me my beer.

"Put on bill, yes?" he said.

"Yes, my friend. Thank you."

"You going out?" he added.

I smiled. I knew he wanted me to disappear. "Yeah, in a bit."

"Here then. Use key to back stairs when you come. Do not use elevator. Too much noise. Iím thinking you not come back until much later, yes?"

I took his key. "Something like that."

"Weíre going to Greece tomorrow," the girl said.

"Oh yeah?" I took the chair across from her. "Wow."

"Weíve been in Milan a week," and her sandal slapped harder.

"Really? I can barely stand one day here. No offence, man."

"No, I understand."

"Weíre going to lay out on the beaches on this little island."

"A beach, huh? Sounds exciting." I deadpanned.

"Well, yeah; what have you been doing?"

I didnít know where to start. The three-whores-a-day-pace I set in Amsterdam ? The Hash? The booze? The bar fights? Getting locked out of my room and sleeping on the sidewalk? Rooming with English hooligans? The scampering across Scottish Highlands? Street parties with thousands in Paris? A home cooked breakfast with a French family? Setting off alarms at The Louvre? "Weíre shoving off to Germany tomorrow night." I pulled my chair closer to hers. The clerk had already done the same.

"Where are your friends?" I asked and gulped hot beer. "Can I buy you one?"

"Iím all right," and she put strands of hair behind an ear. "Hey, have you been out to The Duomo Square at night?"

"No." I peered at her over the rim of my can.

"They have the streets lit up with orange lights. Itís a little dangerous, but itís only a twenty block walk from here."


"You should go see the lights."

"You want to get a cup of coffee or something. Find a cafť?"

"Where you going?" and the sandal slapped at a furious pace.

"I donít know."

"Going far?"

"I donít know," and I sprouted a huge woody. She was a hefty girl. Tall. Large breasts. Strong legs. I imagined taking her to my room, putting on the public porn channel, and fucking her until she got bored.

"WellÖno. Thanks, but noÖ"

"Can I buy you a beer?" I looked into her eyes and tried to make the necessary contact.

"Iím waiting for my friends to come backÖhere" she quick-smiled and I realized she wasnít going to take part in anything serious, not willingly anyway.

I finished my beer, bummed another smoke, and stood up too fast. My vision blurred, I swayed, but balanced myself on a chair.

"You still going out like that?" the girl sounded concerned.

"He will be good," the clerk was chipper, happy I was leaving. "It is fine for him at night. He is not white tourist. He looks like one of us, eh?"

"Grazie," I mumbled and kissed the girlís hand to give her something to regret missing.

Thank you," she whispered, and I exited stage right.

I wish I could saythe night air was cool and refreshing but it wasnít. Still hot. Still muggy, but at least I was out of the hotel. Donít know how long I was in there. Usually I hit a town, shower, nap, then itís off to the races. The McDonaldís down the street was already closed. I make it a point to hit a McDonaldís in every country I travel. "Tomorrow for lunch," I said to the door then moved on.

I needed another drink. But the streets were dark. No liquor stores open. No markets. No women. Street after street like that. The place was deserted. Getting hungry too and not even a shack selling frites like they have every two feet in Amsterdam. I walked about a mile from camp when I spotted some light. People milling about. Laughing. Ok, I thought, found my bar.

I jogged across the road, and as I got closer I noticed that it was groups of young men leaving a meeting hall. A banner above the door read ESTUDIANTES COMMUNISTAS. Or "Communist Students" in English. Fine, Iím in the midst of a communist meeting breaking up for the night. Interesting. Been in worse places.

Behind me was a small grassy area, and a food cart. The students were ordering food from an old lady while others were already enjoying their grub which I happily discovered included bottles of Heineken. I forget the price, couldíve been $2.50 U.S.. I gave the lady what amounted to a five-spot but she didnít give me change. I wanted to complain, to say, Hey, what the fuck?! Where do you get off cheating your customers like that? You think Iím a fuckiní asshole? You think you deserve a tip? Get your daughter out here, make her suck my cock and maybe Iíll think about it you fucking muttÖ

But then I thought different. Some of the dudes were already staring at me. I was the only non-Italian there, but I couldnít be pegged for ďAmericanĒ straight out, so maybe thatís why they didnít thump me for giving a look to the lady. On the road I get pegged for Mexican, Columbian, Brazilian, Costa Rican, Indian, ItalianÖwhich is great by me. Iím treated well everywhere I go. Yes, even Paris. Being Latino does have its advantages outside of Los Angeles. They didnít say anything so I stumbled over to a nearby bench.

I listened to them argue politics. Heard the wild, good-natured screaming of heart-felt laughter. Saw the pseudo-intellectuals gesticulating as they tried hard to drive their points home, their audience crossing their arms and shaking their heads in defiance. Heard, then, the unmistakable banter of two men arguing drunkenly far behind me. And it got louder. And louder.

And in any language you know that shitís gonna happen. Only a matter of time.

Soon those two feuding voices became half a dozen, then twenty, then BOOM! It explodes. I hear running footsteps trample across the grass, and to my left a man hops over the bench Iím sitting on just as a bottle connects with the back of his neck. The damn thing hits him so hard it shatters and shards of glass fly everywhere. The man cries out but I donít make a move to help him. Iím still sitting on the bench, shirt open, legs crossed, drinking my beer. I donít panic. Should I? The guy falls to the ground in front of me, sobbing, grabbing for his back. His shirt is shredded and thereís blood.

I hear another man cursing at the top of his lungs and suddenly appears with a knife, long fucker too, and lunges for the young man in front of me, but the guy darts off just as his attacker jabs him. The man is cut again but heís off and running, and the assailant, in front of me now, fires the knife at him. Others from behind me promptly pounce on the man who threw the knife. Legs and fists flail and his persecutors move as a whole while the man screams and tries to get away. Then, I hear the sirens.

"POLIZA!" somebody hollers. "POLIZA!"

And they run.

This group of virile, pontificating Italian men turn into a gaggle of hysterical women. But Iím thinking, what the fuck, Iím an American, you know? I take another sip. Why Iím not in the least bit perturbed by the events in front of me I know not, and then somebody slaps me hard on the shoulder. One of the students yells in my face: "POLIZA! RUN! RUN! POLIZA!" and Christ the guy looks frightened. Itís then I decide that maybe I should leaveÖ

The guy leaps over my bench and I find myself scampering after him. I notice as I leave the food cart has already slammed their shutters shut. I hop a curb and Iím on a street leading out of this makeshift square. I hear hundreds of pounding feet, panicked breathing, whimpering. Guys are pushing, elbowing, trying to get around the man in front of them. Behind me the sirens are overwhelming, high-pitched, and I hear cars screeching on their breaks as they come to a stop.

Iím in the middle of dozens of t-shirt wearing, sweaty communists running from the police. As a herd we make a left down another street but see the blue lights of police cars so we turn back and now Iím further ahead in the pack and weíre trampling down an alley. We make another left and the men become eerily silent; just feet scraping and shuffling; that silence the most frightening aspect of the ordeal. In an instant Iím at the head of the pack and I start to think that isnít a good idea after all.

"Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck" Iím uttering under my breath. I feel bodies slamming against me and I bat them off, and more sirens join the fray. "Fuck this shit!" I cry and cut left while all the others keep going. My manoeuvre is too sudden, wholly unexpected, and I book it down another filthy street as the manic, hard breathing, stammering footfalls of the mob fade away.

I come out onto a deserted boulevard, the same one I staggered down about a half hour earlier but now Iím stone cold sober. I hate it when that happens. But fear for oneís life, the survival instinct, does that to a man. "Ok, that was interesting," I said to nobody, and made my way up the street in search of a cafť. You can be damn sure my heart was pounding though, my legs cemented with pain, head throbbing from the morning hangover.

Odd, this city at night. It felt like the place shut down just as I got there. Gated storefronts, broken streetlights, more garbage-strewn streets. An occasional car but nobody else in sight. Every once in a while I saw doorways to underground clubs pop open to let in a well dressed man and his whore for the night, then close again to the city behind them. The doormen would stare me down as I stopped to watch; looking at me in my Reebox, khaki shorts, cotton shirt with the sleeves rolled up and the front unbuttoned to my belly. Their looks seem to say No-Fucking-Way-Pal and that was fine, fuck it. I didnít travel 10,000 miles to go clubbing, and thatís something, strangely enough, that a lot of Americans do once they landÖ but with other Americans! Iím sorry, whatís the fucking point?

Inadvertently getting in and out of the shit is so much more gratifying. Being lost, not able to comprehend the language, having to get it done on your own, the only American for milesÖnow thatís travelling. I know, I bitched before, but with no map, guidebook or tourist bus, I was able to come across Amsterdamís largest outdoor market. The Montparnasse Building in Paris that offers sunset views of the city a thousand times greater than the Eiffel Tower. Or, just by asking a local in Scotland, I got info on some of the prime coastal spots off of Edinburgh. Places tourists donít go to because itís sooooo out of the way.

Kinda like how I found my cafť. Older couples sat at tiny tables on the sidewalk. No flag-waving, fleeing proletariats here. One table though had six men in suits while one woman sat amongst them looking bored. I sat down, expecting the waiter to shoo me away but instead he let me check the menu. I ordered a cappuccino. Cheapest thing on the menu and the fucking thing still cost six bucks. I finally had my cafť. That was another important goal of mine: to hit the local coffeehouses of Europe. I didn't have time in Paris, wasn't in London long enough, don't even think Scotland knows what a cafť is. But here in Milan was my First Real European Cafť.

The waiter brought my drink and I almost laughed in his face. The size of the cup was barely big enough for a child. And then the fucker has the nerve to fill it half way. He knew I was Latino and quietly asked, "Quieres mas?"

My limited Spanish allowed me, "Nada, gracias.Ē

I drank slowly, unbothered, settled into my seat for a comfortable 30 minutes. Stragglers of Milan nightlife floated by irregularlyÖ

Finally at peace.

But it didn't last long. After 3am now and I still had to drag my exhausted ass back to the room. Looking down at your feet as you quick-walk is a great way to fool yourself into thinking that youíre moving at a rapid pace and covering good ground. In actuality though youíre nothing but a staggering mass of jelly. I used the key to the back stairs -- a narrow, freaky, winding ascent. The hallway lights were off save for a lamp at the front desk casting a silent shade on the floor. Thought about banging on Joey's door and yelling "POLIZA! POLIZA!" Thought different.

In my room I stripped, hopped under a cool sheet, and flicked on the TV. It was bolted into the far corner of the room, hospital-style, and I quickly found the porn channels. It's most comforting to find a thing like that on late night TV (nothing like it in The States, for free that is), especially when you're lonely, tired, and wished to Christ you could have your ex-girlfriend in bed besides you. True, they donít show money-shots but damn well anything else. Mostly fantasy-porn: chiselled studs slamming hot blondes doggy style; lesbo action.

I want to whack off but I'm getting the chills, like the flu's coming on. I cough phlegm but still I try to fondle my cock to an erection. I switch channels with the remote in my left hand and my limp dick in my right. It's Italy, I'm watching women fur bash, I'm on the adventure of a lifetime, and I can't get hard. GreatÖ

I have to think of Joann then. Pretend she's on top. Imagine her tits on my chest as I thrust into her. I feel tears spill from my eyes, through my sweat, over my face. I think of the Italian beauty that first checked us in but disappeared soon after. I imagine her coming into my room, whispering in broken English "You want make love?" as she places me in her mouth. I keep switching the channels. Faster. Faster. I picture being on top of Joann now, kissing her, biting her tongue, and her legs pull me deeper and deeper, and her hands play through my hair. Where are you, you fucking bitch!?

It takes me an hour to masturbate. Flipping the channels only moderately assists me. But I come hard. It erupts sloppily and splatters my pubic hair, stomach, even my chest. I lay still, shivering, want to get up to close the window but too sleepy. Eyelids heavy. I wipe my juice on the sheets, wipe more of it on the wall to my left, and turn over, lay in my own filth. Terrible nightmares.

The next day we tour the city again but thereís still nothing! We end up getting a sleeper-car to Munich that night. Cramped bunks, too noisy, too hot. Barrelling over the Alps at an ungodly speed. In total darkness. My God, whoís driving? Keep thinking we're going to fall off a mountainside. Into the deepest of ravines. Never to be found. Can't sleep with these thoughts. Canít seem to scrape out of my mind the foul afterbirth they call MilanÖ


Jim Marquez, 32, and single, is an L.A.-based freelance writer who has backpacked across continental Europe, Great Britain, and Ireland extensively and looks forward to the day when he can achieve that writer's clichť dream of actually living in Paris by the River Seine and writing as a way of life. He has been published in local L.A. rags and nationally in Fear, Soma, Gallery, Gadfly, and online at, SinglesFAQ Magazine, and now here at 3am.

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