While Paul is participating in the Monaco Grand Prix, his friend Ramon de Vega is arrested for stealing a valuable bracelet he'd been given to repair by Charlotte Hyde (Gena Rowlands), a woman Ramon had been “courting.” But Paul believes Charlotte set Ramon up because he is a gigolo.
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Chronology of Events
Paris - Monte Carlo
Tuesday, May 17
If I had a bittersweet sense of accomplishment, having stood up to evil, and exposed the extent organized crime would go to prevent the amendment, the pain left by Dwight's death started to become more real, once my mission was completed.
I thought nothing would bring me out of the depression when I arrived in Paris - the city of light blazing in all its glory, but the crowd that was there for my arrival just surrounded me with love and warmth.
Kate, Pete, and All the Bradleys were on hand with a cheer, and I was shuttled off to the edifice that is their Paris mansion, and we're now flying to Nice in the family jet, and I am, despite myself, trying to take on a festive mood.
Everything - the whole fairy tale that this Formula 1 thing has been up to now - became real and tangible when we met up with Clive and THE CAR. Pete's been testing her in Malaga since he's been well enough to, but the machine is changing on a daily basis, and was already something different than the one he'd driven on Saturday.
He didn't seem happy. Though I'm supposed to be test driver, I was frightened enough just to sit in the car, much less drive, and when Pete took a break, I did, and couldn't handle her at all.
With this little lull while Katie's getting ready for dinner, must not let this incredible day pass without writing something down about the thrill, terror and frustration it was to drive the Mastin RMD.
Spent a good while in our alternate machine, but there is so little road to do anything, know that I will be totally out of my depth this whole week. Am so close to resigning, and insisting that Pete get a proper test driver.
Outside the car, the day was full of people. Mark Shepard wheedled his way into the secure area without as much as a pass, and seeing the petrified look on my face as I got out of the Formula 1 machine, suggested I might prefer our joint-owned red sports car.
Paul arrives in France, and flies to Nice for the Monaco Grand Prix, first outing of Pete Gaffney Racing, the team Paul co-owns, but he is overwhelmed by the Formula 1 car.
Paul sees his gigolo friend, Ramon de Vega with a “sparrow” during the evening.
Wednesday, May 18
The Mastin was vibrating all over the place, and Pete said that he couldn't control it, walking away from the scene, leaving me to drive bits as the mechanics kept trying to settle her down more with each run.
The glory that Monaco was supposed to be is quickly turning into a nightmare, and we are depending on Clive and his team to get us out of this mess. Had just left the car to them when I saw Ramon.
Last night, after Kate had called it a day, and I was left in charge of Mark's girlfriend Gigi while he made a quick trek back to Port d'Or for some mission, I saw Ramon - already courting a lady, and counted how few hours it had been since he'd said goodbye in Mexico.
Over coffee this morning Ramon explained that he had met the woman when changing planes at Mexico City, and they'd quickly struck up a friendship - though he said she was more of a hawk than a sparrow.
The break I took brought a further improvement in the car, and after another hour, it seemed good enough for Pete to try again. Observed his disgruntled countenance as he got in, and I felt genuinely hurt that the massive investment of money, time and heart had resulted in something so negative.
But when Pete drove back in the pit, he had a more neutral look, and told me I'd done a good job. I knew he was wrong, and that a proper driver would have given far more useful feedback to the technical team.
However, as I looked around, it was clear that almost no one from any team - even the big ones - looked happy, and the extreme degree of sensitivity of these prima donna vehicles is what makes Formula 1 what it is.
We kept working all afternoon with the alternate car until I was dizzy, and really needed to lie down. Katie's going to go and watch the filming they're doing for a Hollywood movie, and when I finish these notes, will go back to the car.
Things were definitely better at the garage, but Pete looked very perturbed, in deep discussion with Clive and Rudy. We took the cars out for a few more runs, finally breaking for dinner, and leaving the machines to the mechanics.
I'd thought that getting back into Formula 1 was going to be Pete's dream come true, but instead of expanding into something even brighter, the carefree playboy I'd been accustomed to in our year of driving together has become transformed into a dark, brooding man of exacting sharpness.
Now waiting for Kate to finish dressing for dinner at the Bradley villa outside Monte Carlo, after which the family are throwing a party at the Hotel de Paris. But this week has really turned out to be the opposite of everything I'd been dreaming of for months.
Paul meets Ramon for coffee as he struggles test driving the Formula 1 car, and agrees to meet the gigolo again at midnight.
Before they get together, Ramon secures a “loan” from his sparrow, and accepts her request to get her bracelet repaired.
Thursday, May 19
Things started to improve today on all fronts. Rudy and Clive had the car performing better. When I looked out the window this morning, there was Rachel's palatial yacht dominating the harbor.
In the pits she was bubbling all over the place, as if she'd been attached to Formula 1 all her life, but I guess she's been part of the inner circle for many a Monaco Grand Prix.
Still, as one of the partners, she was full of positive energy and encouragement, and we ended the day feeling a lot better.
Someone else who's been in the pits for every moment is June's “cattle baron” brother Eric, who's invited me out to his ranch in Wyoming.
Strangely, no sign of Ramon who promised to stop by the pits. Last night, Kate and I were chatting with some other people who'd just left one of the parties, and Ramon passed by.
Introduced him to everyone, and confirmed our meeting at midnight. Couldn't help noting the way he'd looked at Kate's jewelry, and I could see that he was about to put her on his sparrow list.
When I joined him in the bar, he was in ebullient mood, already confident that he'd accomplished his mission, and saying that pretty brunette in my group seemed like a good target for his next campaign. I decided not to tell him that she was my fiancée.
All things considered, we did OK in preliminary qualifying - that is to say, we didn't crash out before it ended. Pete's best time puts us fourth from the end of the grid.
Ramon gets the bracelet repaired.
Friday, May 20
In the afternoon, before even getting out of the hotel, I saw Armand, parting from his wife at the elevator, just as I walked out of it.
I greeted her respectfully, and then found myself caught in his presence. He said he hadn't missed a Monaco Grand Prix since the end of the War, and was very excited to have the added interest in our car this year.
I felt so small and nothing next to this man of the world who made my own wanderings seem like a vagrant's. He was gracious and warm, and my only other thought was that he had everything, but not the thing he wanted most.
Walking out the front doors with me, he was greeted by Jackie Stewart with an embrace, as Jackie entered against us, not knowing me, though we'd met in Brazil. The two got into a lively conversation, Armand assuming we were acquainted, and I excused myself.
More trauma later when I saw the unmistakable profile of Robert Thurston speaking with Nick Cooper. Not having greeted Nick - and thanked him again - I took the opportunity to join the pair.
Nick was putting out his hand, and about to introduce his companion when I heard Leslie's voice behind me. It touched every nerve in my body. Each and every one.
I turned, and embraced her quickly, then tried to move out of reach, fearful of what might happen. There was longing in her eyes, and I made a brief gesture, embracing the three of them, and moved back to the Mastin, hoping Leslie wouldn't follow.
Kate and Violet approached from another direction, and the eye contact I made with Katie made it clear that she knew something had happened - and not with the car.
After returning it to the woman, Ramon is arrested for having stolen it.
Saturday, May 21
Ran into Armand again last night, and tried to study him in a neutral way, not as Kate's lover, but a man I'd otherwise admire - using his influence for good, devoted and forgiving to his wife, a talented businessman, according to Katie, honest and ethical to a fault without ever hurting anyone's feelings.
The daring heroism he and Odette had displayed as some kind of independent bombing unit in the Resistance was legend.
Those thoughts were still in my mind as we finished breakfast, and I got a call from a lawyer, telling me that Ramon had been arrested for grand larceny, and needed me to come to Court.
My first notion was that I'd always expected this to happen. Not really a gigolo in the proper sense of the word, the way Ramon treats his women lavishly out of his own pocket, he is rather a con artist, and has just been getting away with it.
However, it wasn't about one of his unrepaid “loans,” but rather the theft of a valuable bracelet - 20 fine three-carat diamonds - with which Ramon was charged, jewelry which he had gotten repaired for his sparrow, and said, returned to her.
However, she reported it stolen to the police. One of the first things I asked the Inspector in charge was whether the owner requested documentation for her insurance - and she hadn't.
That was a bit to back up Ramon's denial of the theft, and I offered to meet the woman, and try and find out why she's made the false accusation which could put him on ice for a decade.
When I got back to the car, the look Pete gave me put ME on ice, and I was ready to not just beg forgiveness, but insist that he really deserved a proper test driver.
Everyone from Rhona and Clive through Kate and June to the mechanics seemed to be on edge, and I was grateful that Rachel too wasn't around to witness my tardy arrival.
But Pete was more concerned about the car than me, and one hard look was all he allotted in my direction before going out for a final run before qualifying.
The women took leave for the VIP stand, and Clive gave me an understanding glance. I hung around the pits, feeling useless, and was approached by the jail keeper's daughter with a message from Ramon that the accuser - Charlotte Hyde - was milling around the race area.
Spotted her when final qualifying had just started, and after a chat, invited her to dinner. It was at that point that Pete spun out, putting us 18th on the grid ahead of two other non-qualifiers who had worse times.
Didn't know whether it was better to disappear or be seen as diligently standing by when Pete returned; opted for the latter, but he didn't show.
Don't know where he went, but felt grateful not to cross his path. Clive, surprisingly, didn't seem too unhappy with the result, and sounded philosophical.
When Kate got back to the suite, I explained what happened with Ramon, and she said that she wasn't surprised, having taken one look at him the other night, and classified him as a typical oily Riviera fortune hunter.
I could see the look hovering behind her eyes, wanting to ask me how I could possibly hang around with someone like that, and told her that the man had saved my life when I'd accidentally blown up his boat.
Then I had to explain it would be necessary to take this Charlotte woman out to dinner to find out what she was up to, and Katie just came over, hugged me and started to laugh, and I promised to join her before the evening had progressed too far.
My little date with Charlotte Hyde was totally unproductive. She saw through me pretty quickly, but it's definite that she's set Ramon up because of his “profession,” though she wouldn't admit it.Now down to my patient Katie, and if I'm lucky, not my racing partner.
Before final qualifying, Paul responds to Ramon's request to attend a court hearing where bail is denied.
Later, the jailer's daughter informs Paul that the owner of the bracelet is in the area, and Paul becomes acquainted with the woman, and invites her to dinner.
In the evening, he probes the woman to see why she's made the charge against Ramon, but she quickly devises that Paul is speaking to her on Ramon's behalf, and throws him out.
Sunday, May 22
Morning practice was exhilarating. The car was the best it had been the whole weekend, and Pete was in a slightly better mood, though all nerves. He was also much friendlier than he'd been since we arrived here, hugging me, and saying how much this day meant to him.
By the end of the morning session, the Mastin was singing, and excitement around the pit lane was at a fever pitch, all the more so with the movie crew seemingly everywhere.
Before our four lady benefactors took off for the stand, all the partners embraced, and it got very emotional. The noise was deafening compared to any other race I'd been at!
The Monaco Grand Prix was thrilling to follow. A lump raised in my throat each time Pete passed. All in all, we didn't do too badly, Pete having gotten up to tenth when he had to retire with engine trouble, and only four cars finishing.
He disappeared before the race was over, so when it was, I went for a walk with Katie to bring myself down. Was surprised to see that many stores were open, and thought it would be nice to buy her something as a memento of this special day.
We went into the shop where Ramon got Charlotte's bracelet repaired, and I bought Kate a pair of sapphire earrings. When I asked the jeweller about the missing bracelet, he recalled two things he'd found unusual.
It didn't look like the clasp had failed accidentally, but that it had been forced back and forth until the bracelet came apart. He said it was also odd that the safety chain had broken too.
When we came back out in the street, the atmosphere was tremendous. Being away from it for a few minutes made it like entering the Monte Carlo world anew. We slowly made our way back to the hotel, loving every minute.
Discussing the Charlotte situation, Kate told me about a number of individuals like Ramon who'd tried to get money out of Molly, a constant prey of such men for nearly a decade now, Alex Ryder being only the latest in a long line.
Kate declared that she'd like dunking the lot in the sea, and gave me an idea. Before dressing for dinner, made a quick visit to Ramon in jail where he was eating a sumptuous meal.
It was a kick! Told him that I was certain that Charlotte planned the whole thing, and asked him who he'd sluiced before he met me in Mexico. An answer I was able to make use of.
Asked Katie if she knew anyone in Baltimore who might give us some low down on Charlotte, and while I was showering, she made a couple calls. Her news set all the tumblers of the safe clicking. Ramon's last sparrow in Majorca was Charlotte's sister.
Instead of changing for dinner I phoned his lawyer, then confronted Charlotte. She refused to admit anything, even though I warned her she could be arrested for false testimony, but that was all I could do.
After visiting the gigolo in jail, Paul puts a number clues together, and threatens Ramon's accuser with false testimony in that it appears that the bracelet clasp was purposely broken; she didn't report the theft to her insurers, and the last woman Ramon romanced and got money from was HER SISTER.
Monday, May 23
The evening ranged from super casual parties built around team bands to the ultra swank gatherings of the “steamship” set whose yachts sparkled in the harbor.
Pete and June cut out fairly early in the evening. We had a bit of a Moment, talking about his future, but with the tension off, he was closer to his usual self.
Kate and I went to as many of the parties as possible, and it was getting light when we returned to the suite where there was a message from Ramon's lawyer saying that he was being released at 10 am.
After a quick nap I went to his hotel, packed all his things, then drove his car to the jail house to bid him farewell, and made sure he got out of Monaco before Charlotte put some Plan B into action. Knowing he was safe on his way to Spain, I went back to bed.
Little did I know that the most exciting moment of the weekend was yet to come. With Spa three weeks away, Rhona and Clive were allowing themselves a short vacation, and invited us to their yacht before they sailed.
Afternoon tea as only the British can do, and as we were getting up to leave, Clive dropped his bombshell. He's decided to enter Mastin in the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race, and has asked me to drive.
Here I was all weekend, feeling so superfluous and inept, and then this! Katie and I are certainly going to celebrate tonight.
Ramon is released from jail, and Paul sees to it that he leaves town. But the accuser is on Ramon's trail, and tries to run his car off the road. Instead, she goes off the road herself, and is saved from an inferno when Ramon extracts her from the vehicle. Then he spends day and night by her bedside in the hospital talking with her.
Tuesday, May 24
When we got back from a glorious evening in a more subdued Monte Carlo (if that isn't a contradiction in terms), there was a message from RAMON, asking me to meet him in our hotel bar the next day.
He wasn't at his hotel - though he'd checked back in - and left me in a state of puzzlement - and not a little disturbed. When we met, I got the whole story.
Apparently, Charlotte pursued him out of town, and tried to run Ramon off the road - down into a gully. But instead, she caused her own vehicle to go over the embankment, and then became trapped inside.
According to Ramon, he pulled her out just before the car burst into flames, then spent the afternoon and all night by her bedside.
Considering what could have become of him, he was enormously forgiving and understanding, but promised me that he was definitely heading straight to Spain.
Katie and I spent the day at the Bradleys, having the whole place to ourselves, the clan dispersed to various parts of the world. Feeling too lazy to do more than talk about the trip to Tahiti, we've ended up staying the night here. So quiet, with just the sound of the sea below us.
Ramon reports what happened to Paul, then leaves for Spain.
Monte Carlo - Paris - San Francisco
Wednesday, May 25
Most of our stuff already packed, we were able to make a quick exit for the airport in the morning - except for one little hitch. Charlotte again.
As Ramon had said, the vindictive and malicious monster was altered into a woman in love. I keep wondering if I did the right thing to tell her where Ramon had gone.
After a quick visit to the Paris apartment, we caught this near-empty flight home. Having so much to talk about. The week in Monaco, Pete and June, the team, the car, Rachel, Ramon.
Also reminiscing about Korea, wondering if we'd connect with Hardy and Elizabeth in Tahiti, and a thousand other things. Again and again, Dwight. Then, Armand.
Though I'd met him twice in San Francisco, and very gradually learned (from Molly) that he and Kate never ceased to be in constant contact by phone and letter, just like the diagnosis, Armand was a subject that we simply never talked about - until today.
After a long while, we fell asleep, and I had a nightmare surely born out of my insecurity at the weekend and the shortness of my shadow alongside Armand's - which seems to go on into infinity.
In the dream I was driving to Almeria when my rental car broke down. The local garage men (both figures I remember from childhood) said they couldn't fix it, and I sold it to them for $50.
Not only was their no bus or train station, it appeared that the place didn't even have a phone, and I became convinced it was impossible to get back to any road that led out of town (even though I recognized the location to be within hiking distance from my great aunt's house outside Pacific Grove).
In the dream, the only option I saw was to hop a freight with a bunch of hobos. That thing about feeling like a tramp obviously came from actual thoughts and doubts I'd had all week about the way I've been living.
Giving away the car must have had something to do with the conviction I should walk away from the Mastin, instead of taking my owner's privilege to be test driver.
When I jumped a box car, the four men in it froze me out. I recognized them all as top Formula 1 drivers, though they didn't really look anything like the actual men.
Only one finally spoke to me. His name was Brett, Pete's middle name, and the others grabbed his bottle of whisky, then threw us off the train. Akin to spinning off in the car?.
It was probably all the salty stuff I was munching along with the airline's champagne, but the dream then went into a long thirst segment. Stealing a watermelon, finding a farmyard pump, and then even breaking into the pipes of a water tower, and being doused.
We walked the railroad track, on and on, like this long flight. The watermelon farmer pointed a gun on us, and threatened to shoot, but I just walked away. How much I could read into that - as well as my remark to the man that I couldn't afford to spend time in jail.
Though we walked for hours to reach the place from which we started - as dreams are - we came to a farm, and found an old lady on the porch. She was a Negro woman, but I recognized her as my Aunt Alma by the rocking chair in which she dozed.
Just the way Alma had found her first romantic happiness decades after Nonno brought her over from Sicily following my grandmother's death, this woman was holding a letter proposing marriage, the same way Michael Gerber had asked her to marry him when they were both in their sixties.
But the ramshackle place was nothing like the attractive house I'd bought for my mother and aunt after the family home got too big to look after.
Maybe it was that remark my mother made when she moved to Marin, that Alma and Michael would let the house fall into ruin. But just as my aunt was never the same after Michael's passing, this woman was also in a deep state of grief.
In the next part of the dream was a long talk at a campfire - about love and the lack of it in Brett's life. I'd be now - and always was - the last to criticize the way Pete lives - his reluctance, even at 38 to settle down with a woman he's been mad for nearly a decade and a half, but all those unexpressed thoughts somehow stumbled into this dream.
In the end, Brett hit me, and I felt all week that Pete wanted to do something like that to get all the frustration out of his system.
There was even a sister and brother with a cow who offered us assistance in the dream. Surely meant to be June and her brother Eric, the cattle rancher.
Though I'm sure that June herself will never give up a nomadic life, trouble-shooting for her father's businesses around the world, that suggestion that Brett get a job in a local factory is easily a reflection of Junie's own longing for Pete to give up his roaming.
Lots of double-meaning conversation around another campfire, talk of love, giving up a wandering life, not being able to do anything outside picking …. What was that Pete had said after the Monaco race? That he knew nothing but racing?
I'd had too much champagne, and when Pete had said there was probably one year of racing left in him, I replied that he could become a top racing attorney overnight if he only went back and finished his law degree.
There was this Moment between us. I thought he was going to throw his champagne at me, and Clive intervened, saying that the track would have its claim on Pete for a long while to come.
At that point in the dream I was stabbed, but although it was Katie's hat pin that actually pierced my skin, I didn't wake up, but called on Brett to get help. He told me there wasn't any.
At that point I felt more sick by the thought than in pain, and Brett suddenly changed his tune, and told me that I'd be all right. Suddenly, Katie was waking me, asking what was wrong. She then fell asleep again, but I think I'm now awake for good.
26 May - 3 June 1966 ("Time of the Sharks")
Charlotte has fallen in love with Ramon, and Paul says the object of her affection has gone to Spain. Then he and Kate fly to Paris for a connection to San Francisco.
Somewhere near his home town in California, when a garage man tells Paul that his car can't be repaired, he sells it to the mechanic for $50, and is advised that the only way to get out of the place is to hop a freight.
Paul does this, and is then thrown out of the boxcar with another hobo - a young man who, in no way seems the part.
They walk the track for hours, and then, thirsty, they steal watermelons, but a farmer shoots at them, and though they get away, he catches up with them at the place where they made camp for the night.
Pointing a gun at them, he says that he's taking them to the sheriff, and that they'll serve a year for the theft of the 50-cent melons. Paul says that the farmer won't kill a man over that amount, and walks away, the young hobo following him.
After another long session of walking the track, they come on a water pump. At the house is an old woman in a rocking chair, recently bereaved and not right in her mind.
Someone drives up, and takes the woman away. The young hobo takes some corn, and they eat this over a campfire, talking about life and the lack of love in his life. At this point, he becomes so irritated that he hits Paul.
Following another long trek up the track, they come to a farm yard and meet a boy and his older sister. She makes sandwiches for them, and offers them hospitality, but the young hobo wants to move on immediately.
She's told him about jobs available in a nearby factory, and appears to like him. Eventually they come to a water tower, and manage to cut into the pipes and drink and bathe to their heart's content.
At a campfire that evening, the young hobo talks about the girl and the job she mentioned, but says that he's always been on his own, and intends to stay that way.
Another tramp approaches them, and Paul welcomes him, though his companion does not. When they fall asleep, the tramp tries to take the young hobo's bottle of whisky, and when Paul intervenes, he is stabbed by the tramp.