Stranded on Christmas Eve in the town of Bolten when his plane makes an emergency landing, Paul becomes acquainted with the taxi driver Harry Martin (Ernest Borgnine) who's ferrying him around - a man pretending to be happy, but quite the opposite, though he claims to be delighted, being free of a marriage that was strangling him.
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Chronology of Events
en route to San Francisco
Friday, December 24
Still in hopes of making it to Kate's well before dinner, I found myself in Miami at noon, confidently boarding a flight for home. Weighed down by fatigue, thought the journey would be dreamless, but it was the opposite
In the dream I was in Morocco, house guest of some potentate about to dump his latest wife - an American girl named Lucia, who was the image of Abby Powers - only with short black hair.
Hoping to keep a priceless necklace that went with the marriage, like Abby, she saw old Sir Galahad coming, and inveigled my assistance in smuggling the fantastic family heirloom out of the premises when I left the Arabian Nights palace to fly to Zurich.
Think that, at this point, I was caught by the evil brother-in-law on the way to the airport, but there'd been some slight of hand, and though the husband thought he'd gotten it back, I found the necklace in an electric razor or something when shaving the next morning.
Lucia then joined me in Zurich, and wore the striking jewelry when we went out to dinner. It actually looked a lot like a piece of Kate's I'd only seen her wear once.
There must have been a lot of turbulence, as at this point, I was badly beaten and knocked out. The dream seemed to end, and then Lucia comes to visit me in the hospital, contrite about what her selfishness caused me.
But the twisted, freaky streak was in me, even in the dream. Like the way I went up the mountain where I could easily have been killed when I should have been making my way towards San Francisco.
In the dream I cooked up a crazy caper …. even involved the dread Mike Allen …. I hope this isn't a premonition …. and he turned the brunette Lucia into a blonde Abby, though with the name Elizabeth or something.
Even Hank Rodgers came into the dream then, driving the very car in which he'd won the Molinos race.
The three of us hit Morocco to lift the necklace, and I did a lot of walking up and down rope ladders. More turbulence? After springing the necklace from a high-security vault, Hank drives us at high speed from the palace and we escape via a chopper, and its swaying - or real swaying - woke me up for good.
I turned to question my neighbor on the window about what he saw outside, and he said we were having engine trouble - typical of this particular plane. When my head cleared, I could hear exactly what he meant, and before long the Captain was announcing an emergency landing.
We arrived in a place called Bolton, and I immediately rang Kate to let her know about the problem, and that I wouldn't make it for dinner. Explained how the opportunity to meet Cuderos brought about my unexpected delay in travelling, but Katie insisted that there was no problem, as she hadn't started dinner yet.
Not a word or a tone that I was a real idiot to have ruined a night we'd put so much heart into. Just her promise of a special Christmas meal and reminder to let me know when I had a new San Francisco ETO.
I couldn't hang up, and could have spent the rest of the evening talking to her - that old habit of falling in love with Kate anew at the drop of a hat.
Unfortunately, when I got back to the main hall of the small terminal, all the other passengers had disappeared, one of them having organized onward transport, and taken some of the others with him.
The stewardess kindly ordered a taxi to take me to a local hotel for the night, and promised that, despite it being Christmas Day tomorrow, the airline would arrange connections early in the morning.
The cab driver turned out to be my Christmas Eve entertainment - about as opposite from a night at Katie's apartment as the earth could find.
He took me to a bar, out nightclubbing, and then got the idea to visit his estranged wife and son who lived in a nearby town. But first, we had to stop and buy presents, and I willingly bought a carload of gifts from an incredibly obliging retailer who opened his shop especially for us to make the cabby's Christmas.
However, when we got to the house, the driver went to the door, and returned to say that his family didn't live there any more. He was ready to drive back to Bolton, but having shelled out a couple hundred, I thought we should make an effort to find his wife and son, so went to the door to ask where they'd gone.
It turned out that they hadn't moved at all, but that the woman had remarried - information my cabby obviously had, but chose to withhold.
The poignancy of the situation got to me, but was tinged with a certain amount of chagrin - no doubt from ongoing fatigue and gross disappointment at missing the cherished Christmas Eve Kate and I had planned.
In the end we went back to the bar to close the evening. The driver gave away the child's bicycle we'd bought to the bartender, and I started to head for the hotel.
Suddenly remembering that I'd never paid him, went back, and the sad look on the cabby's face made me decide to do my sleeping on the plane, and we drove around some more until the flight was due, but I'm here at the terminal, still waiting.
Note about “The Mustafa Embrace” as a dream
This episode has been made a dream sequence to make up for the following anomalies:
The idea that a CIA field agent would be at liberty to issue a false US passport, not just on a whim, but for nefarious purposes, is not possible.
The idea that Paul would involve an innocent third party, his driver friend Hank Rodgers, in a crime which would inevitably result in pursuit by Interpol goes against everything we know about his ethics.
The fact that Paul, himself, made no attempt to disguise his identity when he stole the necklace would have resulted in his being a wanted man, not just in Morocco, but worldwide. However much he may have given up the straight and narrow life, it is beyond possibility that he would have resorted to crime, and certainly not for the woman in question whom he barely knew.
(Holidays with Kate Pierce / "The Exchange")
On a flight to San Francisco, Paul has a dream, mirroring the episode
in which the “bought bride” of a Moroccan prince, about to be divorced, enlists Paul's aide to smuggle out a priceless necklace that her husband gave her at their wedding, but has now taken back.
Though they manage to carry off the deed, when the woman joins Paul in Zurich to retrieve her jewelry, and wears it when they go out to dinner, her brother-in-law gets Paul beaten, and retrieves the necklace.
From his hospital bed Paul plots a way of getting back at the family by stealing the necklace from their palace. After getting the woman made over into a blonde, and getting a driver friend to pose as her fiancé, an invitation is wangled to a party in the former husband's home, and with Paul acting as cat burglar, they spirit the necklace away, and escape in a race car and helicopter.
When Paul awakes on the plane, the turbulence is extreme, and an emergency landing becomes necessary.
The other passengers leave the terminal while Paul is ringing his fiancée to say that he won't be with her for Christmas Eve dinner, and he employs a taxi to take him to a local hotel.
Instead, however, they drive around the town, visit a neighborhood bar as well as some nightclubs. The driver then gets the idea of visiting his son and ex-wife in a nearby town. Paul buys presents for them, but the cabbie has failed to say that the woman has remarried, and after both make a brief visit to the front door, they leave with all the presents.
Stopping at the bar again before it closes, the cabbie makes a gift of the bicycle Paul bought for the bartender's children.
The driver obviously has nowhere to spend Christmas, so Paul stays with him until his flight departure.