Tow Head

Junkie, jailbird, cat burglar, widow, bride, entrepreneur Laurie Lichtman keeps on truckin'.

Then Gus came back. Gustavo Marino was a truck driver she'd fired a few years before because of conflicts with other employees. Marino says it's because the then-manager was afraid he'd tell Laurie about all the theft going on. Marino, age 48, is a ruggedly attractive Ecuadorian with a broad, distinctly Mezo-American face and an easy laugh. He comes across as a little bit of a hustler, in the sense that he's a hard worker and streetwise, possibly not unaccustomed to the shadier aspects of Miami.

He saw Laurie in a North Miami club sometime after Howie died and they struck up a friendship. "I said, öI'm pissed at you,'" he recounts. "öYou fired me for no reason.'" He thought they'd just be friends, but a stray kiss at an Aretha Franklin concert in downtown Miami became an on-again, off-again relationship that spanned several years. In August, the two married, somewhat to the trepidation of Laurie's mother, who worried that Marino might be in it for the Midtown money.

Then again, Tufano gives her daughter a lot of credit for being savvy.

"She's my miracle," Tufano says. "I used to walk around holding my pocketbook because she'd steal money and forge my checks. One day, I remember she said, öMommy, I'm so sorry for what I done to you.'" Her eyes water a little at the memory.

Laurie remembers Howie and his talk about looking for the rainbow. "I know he would want me to be happy," she says. <

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