By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
She might have stayed there, too, but just after Christmas, as she told her lawyer, a BMW stopped before her home on Calle Agua Fria. In the front yard, an 11-year-old cousin was watching young Angela, and two men jumped out of the car, knocked the cousin down and took Angela away. Gisela said she received a call from Bruce after that, and he told her he'd beat her up if she didn't surrender Angela's passport.
Eventually, Gisela followed her daughter back to the United States, lived with her sister and endured a long and bitter divorce. With a generous helping of her lawyer's English, she concluded finally that Bruce T. White "makes his living from the belief that women are inferior to and exist for the sole purpose of serving men and their needs, and have no independent reason for existence."
Because of this, he should not be granted custody of their daughter, Gisela argued. Bruce, in turn, contended that deficiencies he had overlooked in a mate could not be ignored in a mother: limited English, a poor education and extremely limited job skills.
Gisela was cleaning hotel rooms at the time. In the end, she agreed that he would be the better parent. Bruce was granted custody of Angela, and Gisela received a settlement of cash.
I still say your story's down there in divorce court," Bruce had said, early on. "I even got the title: 'Pimps, Whores and Payoffs.' "
But he was talking about the court itself, and when he discovered his divorce was becoming a subject for this story, the angry man became angrier. He seemed to believe that since it was his life, he owned the details of it. When he realized he had lost control, he tried frantically to get it back.
Behind the bars of his office one sunny day, he looked more pinched than usual as he pointed to a chair in the center of the room and told the reporter to sit down. There were two video cameras aimed at the chair, and "this is a way of protecting ourselves," he said. So was the piece of paper Bruce pushed across the desk. "Affidavit," it read at the top, and it was clear that if the reporter wanted an interview, he would have to solemnly swear to report the truth.
Bruce snapped a photo as the document was signed.
Afterward, he offered a reminder that the phones were ringing off the hook, and "it's hard to say how much business we're missing." Alas, it truly was an unprofitable time. The only discovery that day was that Bruce was hungry again for a woman and thinking of raiding the stock. But he remained civil until later, on the phone, when he was asked about the relationships of a relationship dealer. He wouldn't talk about his divorce, and hung up before hearing his competitors' accusations.
"Goddammit, it's no one's business, stupid!" he said. "What part of that can't you understand? This interview is over!"
Last New Year's Eve, during a party at Chris Sherman's condominium, Gisela Bucardo found another man. There were maybe half a dozen cops sitting around, waiting for their Latinas to serve them beers, but Gisela wasn't under contract, and neither was a 37-year-old construction foreman, and the two of them found a need for each other.
Gisela and Brad Voskuhl were married February 17 in Las Vegas. They live now in a small Seabrook apartment with a television, a couch, a table and a bed. On a hot Saturday in July, Gisela's father, the coffee farmer, was there, too, a small, weathered man gazing mutely at the game of golf. He's traveling now on a one-year visa from daughter to daughter, and Brad gets a kick out of threatening to throw away leftovers and watching him devour everything.
Quietly like a statue, Gisela was sitting beside her father. The question was, why do American men go south for their brides? She said nothing.
"Tell him what you tell me, baby," answered her man. " 'Because the women are better looking.' "
Brad seemed very pleased with his wife, and he began praising her pedigree. "They're very loyal," he said. They let you make the decisions. Also, they're fun. Gisela likes to wrestle and tease, and every now and then, she'll come up with "funny ha-has, which kind of surprises you." And when it comes to going out, since she's done so little of that, Brad said, "I can train her to what I like," like maybe watching golf.
Gisela smiled and got up. She was done with Bruce and now had Brad. She put her hands around his bicep; he kissed her on the forehead. "I love a lot Brad," she said, and she was happy, too, not to be cleaning rooms at Holiday Inn anymore. She'd made a deal she could live with.