Paul tries to convince an Eastern European dissident that he should help spring a man Paul is responsible for landing in a prison where the dissident had once been incarcerated.
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Chronology of Events
Tuesday, September 14
Got in to Paris early, and slept at June's until Pete knocked on the door at two to pick me up for the flight to the Kölön Tessra. Was dying to tell him about the Cuba fiasco, but the FBI said I can't mention anything about it.
The race scene made the experience seem like just a dream, and there were a number of guys I knew at the welcome reception, but most were Eastern European drivers, some of whom Pete was acquainted with, but I'd never seen before.
One, a fellow named Miklos was a real irritant. Whereas everyone else was talking about the race - plus a little gossip - all he spoke of was communism and the decadent west. Despite the fact that I knew better than to pay attention to a nuisance like that, couldn't help winding him up.
Pete made a point of introducing me to someone he called a Good Buddy, Janos Takaks, a pal on the Eastern European circuit for many years, though this was the first time Pete was racing in Janos' home town.
Except for the propagandist, the whole thing seems like a great scene, and I think the days ahead will do me good.
Wednesday, September 15
Woke from another elephant dream. Two wearing coats - one with the Stars and Stripes, the other a hammer and sickle, pointing their tusks in hostility until shots cause them both to fall dead.
After the drivers' meeting we gave an interview to Bob Resner, a UPI reporter who was doing a piece on the Americans racing here, but spent most of the day road testing, and the evening enjoying the girls who seemed to have been streaming in by the busload.
Found out that it was nearly impossible to make a call to Kate, so wrote her a carefully worded letter about the siege at the lake. It was probably in all the papers, but hearing of it second hand, it seemed better to reassure her that I'm all right. At least, I'm not allowed to talk about Cuba.
Paul flies to Eastern Europe to act as navigator for Pete Gaffney in the Kölön Tessra, a week-long series of races
Paul gets in a constant verbal sparing match with one of the local drivers, Miklos, who constantly criticizes the United States.
Thursday, September 16
We were first in afternoon qualifying for one of the courses in this week-long test race, but crashed out in the morning, inhabitants no more than shaken up.
If I ever doubted Pete's skills, it was clear that those and his reflexes were as fine as in his Formula One days - or else it would have been the end of both of us.
While I've seen many beautiful and charming ladies here, the highlight turned out to be Janos' sister whom we met tonight. Marika is a model, and her English is excellent, so we were able to get well acquainted, and it was a great evening.
Only flaw was that damned Miklos who took every opportunity to goad us about America. He followed us from bar to table, but think I got rid of him by getting everyone to join me in a toast to western governments. He left then, and we were joined by Bob Resner who's going back to America Saturday.
Friday, September 17
A day that could only be described as Kafkaesque. Early this morning, while we were all working on our cars, Janos was arrested.
Pete and I tried to find out what it was about, and who showed but Miklos, saying it was for advocating subversive activity in a public place last night. I told him that no such thing had happened, pointing out we were with Janos until he and his sister left to go home.
Miklos simply replied, “you forgot the toast?” My bit of fooling around to goad him had caused Janos to go to jail - maybe even miss the race, I'd thought, so called the American Consul, and asked him to look into the matter.
Pete got one of the Eastern drivers without a ride to navigate for him in the afternoon session, and my visit to the Consul provided more information.
The story was diabolical. Janos was likely to serve a long prison sentence for SO INNOCENTLY joining in my frivolous jibe - something he'd only done out of courtesy.
The Consul even said that I should abandon the race and leave the country, so I got my things at the hotel, left a message for Pete, and got on a train.
But after passing only one station it was obvious that I was doing the wrong thing, and I had a responsibility to try and help Janos, even if my government wouldn't.
Back at the hotel, my ever-efficient racing partner had already managed a navigator exchange, with Carlos Rey taking my place for the rest of the tests. The Assistant Consul just happened to be in the bar, and came over to read me my rights - which he pointed out were now nil.
My mind was too unclear to come up with any plan, so I spent an hour or so reading through the package of mail that came from Marcella this morning, and then made an early night of it.
After a successful qualifying session, in response to the Miklos' propagandistic toast, Paul makes one of his own, “to free governments everywhere, freely chosen by free people.” Miklos refuses to join in, and Janos Takacs, whose sister is also present, tells him to reciprocate Paul's joining in Miklos' toast, and Janos raises his glass, repeating Paul's words.
As the drivers are working on their cars, Janos is arrested. Paul's protests to the American Consul that Janos was only acting out of courtesy are useless, and the Consul suggests that Paul leave the matter and leave the country for his own good.
Paul gets on a train for the border, but after traveling only a short distance, returns to his hotel, and tells Pete about his change of heart.
Saturday, September 18
Was able to rent a car at the hotel desk, and went out to see Marika. She offered the horrific news that Janos had already been tried, sentenced and sent to Gervag Prison. The other drivers had said this notorious place was a possibility, but I could never have dreamt that things could go this fast.
Thoughts jumbling around in my head, drove back to the hotel trying to come up with something useful from the totally negative picture Marika had painted. She'd given me only one “hope,” the name of a man who'd once escaped from Gervag.
A bunch of friends were toasting - toasting again! - Bob Resner at a farewell lunch at the hotel, and I got him aside to ask about the man Marika had mentioned. An hour later Bob gave me the address of Istvan Zabor.
Entering his apartment was like walking through a hall of mirrors. On one hand, Zabor welcomed me like an old friend. On the other, he seemed to believe that I was from the secret police, checking up on him, and testing him for subversive activity.
He'd read about the famous racing driver publicly advocating overthrow of the state, but was no go as far as offering any help, even when I told him about the diagnosis. However, as I left he gave me a ticket to a soccer game - and I'm just hoping this means something.
Have decided to spend the night at another hotel, and have asked Pete to watch my room here for signs of surveillance. When I met him, he handed me a letter from Kate which had been left with him after I had checked out yesterday. Something to warm the long night!
[ At this place in the Journal, a sheet of monogrammed note paper has been slipped between the other pages. ]
“Flying back to San Francisco,
September 8, 1965
Your wonderful and very sweet proposal to take me with you on your travels has been at the center of my mind.
It hasn't been easy to come up with an answer, because my heart is in conflict before my head even joins the discussion. But each and every time, one thought always prevails in the end, that for us to do this would surely be obliterating the panorama of spontaneous experiences that have made your new life so complete.
You've been sustained in that kaleidoscope, and having that turned off goes against everything that's worked for you.
Of all we shared in the long and very difficult talk that first night in the Bahamas, hearing how you rose from the depths of despair to soar even higher than ever, inspired my shaken faith that a spirit and will as powerful as yours had literally made a desert bloom by just seeking out new worlds to discover. That's what I want for you.
If it is so that in our time together, we really have become One Hand, One Heart, I hope that you will finish reading this letter with the same thoughts as mine.
Loving you more than ever, would giving my own life to save yours be possible, it would be done in the span of a heartbeat. But I know that saving your life is about more than banishing an illness.
As long as we are both alive, my living presence remains yours to possess, but rather than being what we once were, I think that we need to disentangle ourselves from the emotional bonds so intense on the odyssey from Paradise Island to the paradise of the Seychelles, and ensure that you will be independent to make the most of the months ahead - to explore without restraint, to love without second thoughts, and to give yourself in every manner to whatever you may find on your travels.
I know too that I must, step by small step, begin rebuilding my own life, no longer one half of the once Paul and Kate, but a single woman again. That will not be easy, Dearest One. My standards regarding a lover's qualities are completely unrealistic after you.
I couldn't bear the idea of being responsible for the least thing that might hold you back, and know that taking the romance out of our relationship is the best way to guarantee that.
Whether my resolve will remain when I see you is another matter, but this is something I need to try.
Day After Day,
Paul drives out to see Janos' sister Marika, and learns that her brother has already been sent to prison for ten years. When Paul says that he feels responsible for this, and wants to help, she tells him that the situation is hopeless, but relates how one man, a wartime hero once escaped from Gervag Prison, and though later caught, has meantime been given compassionate release.
Returning to the hotel, Paul is able to get the address of the man, Istvan Zabor, from an American journalist.
Paul goes to see Zabor who is very welcoming, but completely mistrustful, believing that Paul is part of a complex plot by the secret police. Trying to prove his genuineness, Paul shows Zabor a letter that refers to the terminal illness, but Zabor still won't offer help.
However, when Paul leaves, Zabor hands him a ticket to a soccer game the next day.
To determine if there is surveillance of his activities, Paul decides to spend the night at another hotel, but first goes to inform Marika of the visit with Zabor, and she tells him that he can stay in her apartment.
Sunday, September 19
Went to the soccer game, and Zabor handed me a note in a book of matches to meet him after midnight tonight. I got up and walked away then …. in a fog? Half dead? Completely dead is closer to how it feels.
This is what it must be like to be hit by one of Duke Smith's knock out punches. I remember the quizzical, confused reaction I had when first given the prognosis. Then numbness followed by a thought I should end everything then and there …. but how it really only sank in when Gene Mason spelled everything out.
This feels worse - like being shipwrecked in the middle of an ocean - and then watching the lifeboat sink. My mind is overwhelmed with images, thoughts and feelings. …. I'm remembering a business trip to New York in 1958, and a moment from it shining out as if it were yesterday.
The priceless tickets for West Side Story, and the feeling it was the best entertainment I would ever witness …. After wearing out four or five copies of the original cast album I can hear the singing just by thinking of it
But really, it was all about Maria. The brightness, the voice, the charm. How could I help but fall in love with her. I was certainly beyond schoolboy crushes, and even in the middle of a serious relationship at the time. But Maria - she was something that transcended reality for me.
Then that day five years on …. Going into the new gallery everyone had been talking about …. and seeing ….. Maria!
A staff member had left something important behind, and as I entered, running out to catch him, her hair flowing behind her, the dignified Dr. Kathryn Pierce in a moment of sheer abandon brought on by a minor panic.
Maria come to life, close enough to touch. How the image that caught my eye and heart before this woman became the companion of my mind and a part of my soul is the one which relentlessly appears before me now.
Last night, before going to a hotel, it seemed right to report back to Marika whom I found in much worse shape than in the morning when still in a state of shock. She had been able to see her brother in the afternoon, and reality had sunk in.
Marika was still trying to be brave and resigned, but when I held her, and tried to comfort her, she fell apart completely. We were two lost souls, desperately reaching out for impossible consolation.
At the soccer game, Zabor slips Paul a note, requesting him to come by after midnight.
Kölön - Rome
Monday - Tuesday, September 20 - 21
As instructed, after midnight, went to Zabor's apartment, hopeful of his help, but after a night of Marika's sombre thinking, doubting that anything could be done for Janos.
Though he took a long time getting around to saying it, Zabor had a plan, and everything ready to execute it. He also had a way of getting Marika out of the country, if she wanted that. Handing me a small box of tablets to give her brother, Zabor said he'd meet us at her apartment at 10 am.
I went back to Marika's, and presented the plan. She agreed to help Janos in any way she could, but said that she needed to sleep on leaving everything she had established for herself in this country.
When I looked around her rather comfortable home, it was clear, that was no small thing. I stayed with her, and when we awoke in the morning, she'd made her decision to leave.
Giving her the train tickets for the first part of her journey, I then handed her the box of pills that would make Janos seriously ill. After going carefully over every step, we then waited for Zabor and bid our farewells.
Marika slipped the tablets to Janos when visiting him, and he was so ill by nightfall, an ambulance was ordered to take him to the city hospital. Zabor and I then hijacked it, gave him the antidote to the pills he took in prison, and spirited him away.
The morning brought the final test before the big race, and Pete hung to the back, signalling to us as we waited in the bushes, when the last cars were about to pass behind him.
We blocked the road with a hay cart, and hijacked the car, Janos and I taking the inhabitants' overalls. His face blackened in disguise, Zabor held the drivers at gunpoint and covered them with a cloth so they couldn't see whether he'd made his getaway.
In the last 36 hours there had been Marika and the constant knife edge of the escape to hold me solid, but now, turning to say farewell to this man, who had trusted and helped me, made me feel the weight of every last goodbye I've ever said.
He declared confidently that I would live to read his expose of the Communist system, and could never know how much of a lifeline that felt.
To me, navigating had always been no more than reading maps and watching the clock, but this time, it was all done with mirrors - literally, and we slid under a checkpoint, Janos probably doing the most impressive drive in his life. A few bends later, and we were met by people who got us out of the country as if it were something they did every day.
Confident that Janos was well looked after, I boarded the first leg of my journey to San Francisco for the appointment with Dr. Mason.
22 September - 5 October 1965 ("A Girl Named Sorrow" part 1 /
"The Sadness of a Happy Time" part 1)
Zabor has developed an escape plan for Janos. He gives Paul pills that will make Janos ill enough to have him removed to the city hospital. Marika is to deliver them on a visit.
Paul and Zabor hijack the ambulance, and give Janos the antidote to kill the symptoms, and they hide in the bushes as the race drivers pass, then put a hay cart in the path of one, make the drivers get out at gunpoint and surrender their overalls and car.
Janos drives them to freedom with Paul using a mirror to navigate the way as they go under a check point barrier with their heads lowered.