Chronology of Events
Thursday, March 31
Things were going so well until late afternoon today, and then the boat started getting uncooperative. Neil knew what it was immediately, and said that we were lucky, as we were only a few miles off Bonnaire.
But I was shocked that we got a fair bit of hassle from the port authorities because we had no visas. Considering our boat was in distress, it was most unreasonable, and the negotiations took so much time that I missed the last flight of the day to Port of Spain.
After our entry permits were finally sorted out, we came to this hotel, and Neil got busy making phone calls to organize a replacement part for the boat.
He said it should be here in a couple days, but I pointed out my need to leave for Trinidad tomorrow morning. All Neil was thinking about was his Rio race, and he barely heard me, then said that he wanted to run some errands, and would meet me for dinner.
Rang Clive in Trinidad, and told him I'd be flying in tomorrow morning instead of arriving with the boat. This is not a moment I like sitting around alone. I remember a year ago today, picking Kate up at the airport. The look on her face.
Note from Neil that he won't be able to make it for dinner. After all the freedom of the sea, it feels unnatural to be walking around this hotel. Went out in the street, but still felt enclosed, and no answer at Kate's.
Suppose it's my mind. Remembering those days a year ago. Why can't I look on the good side of things? That I'm alive and having such a wonderful existence, still feeling healthy.
Took a nap, and dreamed that I'd fallen into a pit that had then gotten smaller around me. And an elephant looking down from above. Think I'll go to the bar, and have a drink. Maybe meet someone, and if not, turn in early.
Sailing to Trinidad with Neil Trotter, the yacht develops a problem, and they dock on Bonnaire to arrange for a replacement part. Neil leaves Paul on his own at the hotel, and Paul immediately begins to feel uncomfortable.
Friday, April 1
That day. That awful day, telling Katie that I was going away. Her searching look that I thought would see into my soul - maybe even find some way of keeping me from leaving.
And today, another grotesque First of April. Neil is dead. This wonderful, solid and genuine human being with whom I'd developed such a marvelous bond - no longer alive.
I'd gotten up early to catch the first flight to Trinidad, and was immediately arrested and taken to the police station to learn that Neil had been murdered last night, and I was the chief suspect.
Though the Inspector didn't really seem to think I was the guilty party, he said it would be necessary for him to detain me on the island until there were developments in the case.
So I had to ring Port of Spain, praying I'd get Clive and not Pete. Luckily I did, and admitted that, due to more extra-curricular activities, I probably wasn't going to make it for qualifying.
Clive was shocked and horrified about Neil. The two had hit it off so well together, and Neil had virtually committed to invest in the road racer as well as the team. I must admit that, at that point, the awfulness of Neil's death, the loss of the man, had still not sunken in.
Clive was SO nice. Said no problem, he'd be glad to take the drive, probably his last chance, and looked forward to it. As if to say I'd done him a favor.
Clive then offered to tell Pete who was out on the track at that moment, and I felt I'd be in his debt the rest …. of my life.
Neil's wife then flew in, and came to my room. I could see that she thought that I'd murdered her husband. What a day for all this to fall on me - when I have so few resources to draw upon.
After talking with her a while, I think Eileen Trotter started to doubt that I'd killed her husband, and then the Inspector interrupted us, and asked me to do him a favor.
Anything to get me off this island, I thought, but all he wanted was for me to meet a local resident who, like Neil and Eileen, came from Hot Springs, Arkansas. When the Inspector and Mrs. Trotter left, it was finally late enough to phone Kate.
Funny that I waited. I usually would think nothing of ringing her in the middle of the night, but hesitated this morning. Maybe the day that was in it. Her first thought when she heard the phone at 5 or 6 am might be One Year, and then she'd think the symptoms had started.
I told her what had happened, and Kate said that I should have rung her in the middle of the night. She was shocked and grave, having also hit it off so well with Neil.
Kate immediately offered to get the first flight out, and be with me tonight, if that would help. Felt like sinking onto my knees in gratitude, but said that the police wanted me to attend something this evening, and we could talk in the morning about her coming out.
She wondered if I needed a local lawyer, and we then spoke of other things - the racing, Pete, then this Bonnaire mess again, and then, this day last year.
It was awful, but we clung to the fact we could communicate our feelings, and ended up doing so for hours, having to have the call reconnected twice, and then a third time just to say goodbye when it was time to leave for the party.
The Inspector had arranged for me to go to a dinner at the Governor's home where I met the woman from Hot Springs, Katherine Cumiford. However, I came away with nothing useful, and couldn't understand why he didn't talk to her himself.
The dinner party went on several hours, and I feel stuffed with food, not able to sleep. The events of a year ago are glued to my conscious, and I can't seem to shake them off, no matter how I try to concentrate on sustaining thoughts.
In the morning Paul is arrested, and learns that Neil has been murdered, and he is prime suspect, Neil having known no one else on the island. Though released, Paul may not leave Bonnaire. He is visited by Neil's wife who thinks Paul guilty.
The Inspector asks Paul to meet a woman who also comes from the same city as Neil, and rather than question her officially, see if Paul can gain any useful information.
Saturday, April 2
Qualifying day, and I'm not there. No call from Pete. Not a word, even though he knows I'm being kept here as a murder suspect.
Was in the Inspector's office, making my negative report on the party last night when Eileen Trotter was brought in, and the Inspector announced that the gun that killed Neil had also been used in the murder of Mafia banker Tony Polo.
Kronig implied that Neil therefore had underworld connections, but his wife was aghast, and denied the possibility adamantly. Inspector Kronig then started to try and pin the killing on me again - and Tony Polo's as well, saying that he was thinking of arresting me.
This was turning into more than missing the race, and I was on my way to ring Kate - now very sorry I had told her not to get the flight yesterday - when I met a woman named Kay Mills.
Thought she might be some company while I waited for Kate to arrive, but after a drink in the bar, Kay said that she had an important appointment, and slipped away.
Katie said she couldn't get connections to Bonnaire today, but would fly out from San Francisco Sunday morning. Unfortunately, that was the best game in town, and I started counting the hours.
Got a call from Rhona then to say that Clive was on pole, and she was delivering a kiss on the phone for making the drive possible. I'd come to know Rhona as a much nicer person than when we first met, but on this call, suddenly felt her a close friend.
Rhona said she missed my being there, and that she could never, never thank me enough for bringing her back together with Clive. Finally dared to ask about Pete, who was second on the grid, and Rhona said that he was in better form, June having arrived for the race.
Rhona showed so much concern for my plight, and stayed on the line for ages longer than necessary. Knew I'd feel a bond with her forever over this kindness.
Eventually, she was called away from the phone, so I've decided to go down to the bar and have a drink. I feel strangled with claustrophobia on this island.
Ballistic tests show that Neil was murdered with the same gun that killed a top Mafia banker.
Paul feels increasingly claustrophobic, and starts drinking heavily.
A small help is Kay Mills who has arrived on the island on a secret mission - to blackmail the woman Paul had met the night before for stealing Kay's identity when she took flight after killing the self-same Mafia banker.
When Kay comes back from the woman's home, she spends time with Paul, and then helps him back to his room, staying by his bedside as he talks in his sleep. Kay feels guilty, realizing that Paul is dying,and being held on Bonnaire in connection with a murder that Kay knows who perpetrated.
Port of Spain
Sunday, April 3
Don't know how many drinks I'd had when Kay Mills came into the bar. My memory is nil, but at some point she got me up to my room, and stayed with me for quite a while, then left after leaving a note.
I woke up around six, and went to see her. She wanted my advice, feeling in a tough position, as I'd apparently revealed the diagnosis during whatever rantings she'd heard in the night.
Kay confessed that she'd come to Bonnaire to extract cash from her high school friend for using Kay's name and birth certificate. Revealing that she was the real Katherine Cumiford, Kay explained that the woman who called herself by that name had stolen her identity.
She surmised that Neil, who'd known her briefly in Hot Springs, had sought her out when he heard she was living on the island, and her friend Sylvia Marsh - the woman I'd met at the Governor's party - had killed him in fear of exposure.
Sylvia had been Tony Polo's girlfriend, and when the two women had met the previous night, admitted murdering him. I contacted the Inspector immediately, and the three of us went out to the fake Katherine Cumiford's house, only to learn that she'd just left with Eileen Trotter.
We encountered them on the road, the fake Katherine attempting to kill Mrs. Trotter, but our arrival on the scene enabled Eileen to get away. The murderer looked like she was about to jump off the cliff, and probably would have without the Inspector's quick and compassionate thinking.
Knew that, were it not for Kay Mills, I might have spent the rest of my life on Bonnaire, and before leaving the island, wrote her a check for $15,000, and wished her luck.
I promised to get in touch following the Trinidad race, and after ringing Kate that all was OK, caught this flight, and at least will be in Trinidad to witness it.
From so much hope and expectation, our worst fears have been realized. Pete was crashed into and seriously injured in the race start.
Clive's win offers little joy as I sit here in the hospital with June, waiting for Pete to come out of surgery. I have never seen June - easily the calmest woman I've ever met - so completely shook.
Kay reveals the truth about her activities to Paul when he reads the note she left in his room, and goes to hers at 6 am.
The police are brought in, and a second murder, that of Neil's wife is prevented.
Paul leaves the island, too late to participate in the Trinidad motor race, but there to witness his driving partner, Pete Gaffney, nearly killed in a track incident.
New York City
Monday, April 4
Thank goodness, the operation was successful, but Pete is going to be out of racing for up to a month. Suppose that should be considered good news, but with his big chance to return to Formula 1 imminent, it's still difficult to take.
Clive and I waited in the hospital until June informed us that he was conscious, and said that Pete wanted to see us.
Though the season is over, and we've accomplished our objectives, he's entered the team in two more prestigious one-off races, and these were dominating his thoughts so much that June believed it best to calm him by providing the opportunity to tell us what he wanted.
Still groggy, he said that he knew Clive had to concentrate on development of the Formula 1 car, so he wanted me to ask Nick Cooper to take the principal drive in Prague.
Me call Nick Cooper? One of the top men in Formula 1? It would be like asking Graham Hill or Jim Clark to be my co-driver.
Pete silenced my protests with a weak wave of his hand, and said they were best friends, but more, he was certain that Nick would be enthusiastic about helping us.
Then he added that Nick was like June, a person who did things without a lot of fuss, and could say yes to something complicated without ado or falderal.
Clive promised to make the call, adding that Pete needed to rest, and we were going to leave. But Pete went on that we should get Tony Bell for the two weeks of racing in South America, since that kind of test is his specialty.
Clive started edging towards the door, knowing it was the only way of getting Pete to stop talking, and my friend's last words to me were, “I'm depending on you, good buddy.”
I suddenly was near breaking down, to realize that another of my dearest friends almost preceded me in death.
Rang Kate to let her know that Pete was conscious, then got a flight to New York to keep the appointment Mason set up with Dr. Grossman.
He was very kindly, radically different than each and every other doctor - all who've been so matter-of-fact, even indifferent about my condition. Just a general warmth about Dr. Grossman that I found genuinely “comforting,” as if I weren't alone.
I wonder, if the specialists I first saw in San Francisco had been more like him, perhaps I wouldn't have run off so precipitously, lost so much valuable time with Kate, and saved myself from getting into a lot of scrapes and near-misses caused by mindless behavior.
I still really haven't gotten on to a sound footing, as evidenced by my late arrival at the last two races.
When Paul knows that Pete will be all right, he tleaves for a medical appointment in New York.
Saturday, March 26
In addition to Neil joining us for qualifying, the most wonderful surprise was the arrival of Dr. Kathryn Pierce who said she'd come “to keep an eye on her investment.”
Pete burned up the course to earn another pole, with my fourth place - despite some engine trouble - a source of pride to us all. I hadn't expected to see my little art dealer for ages, and was lit up.
In a much better mood, Pete said that, now that we were certain of being in Formula 1, we should decide which law firm we wanted - the top firm in Paris which filled every requirement to a tee, the British one we'd already been working with, or the New York lawyers who'd represent an American connection.
As Pete is the principal, I told him it should be his decision, and he didn't wait a second to name CC&B. I think he is right.
Sunday, March 27
Thoroughly turned on, despite the troubling week, or perhaps because of a “successful” end to the April drama, and with Kate watching from the pit, I took the corners with dramatic speed, and finished on the podium, one spot behind Pete's second.
Maybe it was the excitement and challenge of the street circuit, but it was one of the most satisfying races I've driven. Always thought my forte behind the wheel to be fast in the straights, but there was nothing but curves in this race, and it was my best performance yet.
To my surprise, Rhona confided that, thus far, the team side of things had been self-supporting with all the prize money we'd won.
It was a good feeling, and with so much to look forward to, the round of parties tonight should be great, and Neil will also be joining us. While I'll surely be flaunting my prize finish at every one of them, it's still Kate's unexpected presence that is the icing on the cake.
Paul is entranced by the boat
The Gaffney-Bryan Mastin team doeds well in qualifying for the Bayou Grand Prix.
at sea aboard the Sea Trotter III
Monday, March 28
Neil and I made an early morning start with a sleepy eyed Katie waving goodbye from the dock. The wonderful sensation of being at sea is one of the best I know, and this great vessel provides the most incomparable feeling.
Had expected to go down to my LUXURIOUS cabin, and spend hours in soul-searching conversation with this journal, but it's just too fabulous up on deck.
Neil and I talked about Formula 1 at length, and he's seems ready to commit to joining as an investor. What an asset he will be!
Paul joins Neil on a trip to Trinidad
at sea aboard the Sea Trotter III
Tuesday, March 29
Another wonderful day at sea sparked by Neil's interesting company. Originally educated as a lawyer, but never having practiced, we have many things in common, and the conversation never lags.
But there has also been plenty of time for the expected introspection - analyzing where I've fallen down in following Father Bart's valuable advice.
Also had a sense of bereavement, knowing that there are only three race meetings left, and then, I won't be driving any more. Maybe, if I hadn't done so well, it might not matter as much.
Originally, I'd only wanted to be involved, but the thrill driving has given me has certainly been a lifetime's worth. As the days start to wind down, I must think more about savoring these occasions with satisfaction, rather than long for more.
If the strange circumstances hadn't come upon me, I'd never have had the opportunity to taste these incredible experiences, and must keep that in mind. Everything in life is a trade off.
at sea aboard the Sea Trotter III
Wednesday, March 30
These two days at sea have felt like a well-lived month. Not a watching-the-clock kind of time passing, but a wonderful sense of fullness.
A whole year gone, and I never engaged in one of my most fulfilling pastimes. There I was, looking for a way to expand time, and seemed to have forgotten the richness a day sailing in the bay always brought.
If I were looking for a heightened sensation of being alive, what I've felt on this boat couldn't be matched by any of my travels. Even the motor racing is one dimensional in comparison.
It has been interesting. My sense of time on board seems so expanded. In the past year, I'd tried to make life fuller by increasing the volume of places, people and events in my life.
But here I am, as such, doing nothing at all, seeing much the same view around me from one “static structure,” with only one person around for company, and it feels like I've lived so completely - even without Kate around.
5 - 10 April 1966 ("The Calculus of Chaos")
The sea trip gives Paul time for reflection.
The voyage on the grand yacht proves beneficial to Paul.