(From Paul's nightmare - see below) racing driver Nick Cooper plays an American tourist to help a scientist escape from Czechoslovakia, but the man, who is posing as chauffeur, is a spy with plans unknown to Nick.
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Chronology of Events
Tuesday, April 5
Got a morning flight for Czechoslovakia, determined to be on the scene as early as possible for this special race.
When Clive finally reached Nick, it turned out that he wasn't testing in Germany as Pete had believed, but vacationing in Hawaii. Apparently though, his only answer was “no problem,” and he'll be arriving tomorrow.
I wonder if this is one of the symptoms, or if it could mean something …. Nothing that Gene Mason ever warned me about, but like Bonnaire, as soon as I arrived here, started to feel uncomfortable, even noticed a sense of menace around me, some kind of foreboding. And the more I try to shake it off, the worse it gets.
Probably just spooking myself, but this thing seems to be hovering over me. Maybe it's just a carryover from the Bonnaire claustrophobia.
A few other race people already here, and I felt a little better after connecting with them. Also met a girl in the place where they gathered, but like the rest of the city, she seemed very somber.
Nothing I said could get her to smile. She's a lab assistant, and I suggested that we might meet again tomorrow, but she was non-committal.
Had a chat with Kate before going to bed, but the line was scratchy, and we didn't talk long. One thing she said disturbed me a lot. Nick Pendleton told her that as part of plugging his new book, Judge Wilson was planning to go on the Jerry Haynes talk show.
Proposed that perhaps I should fly out after the race and try to dissuade him, and Kate agreed, lamenting our missing a couple days together due to her trip to Seattle. I told her that we'd make up for it in Rio Santos.
Paul flies to Czechoslovakia for a post-season race, but finds himself spooked by an uncomfortable feeling. He meets a girl in the bar frequented by the racing fraternity, but the unpleasant feeling doesn't go away.
Wednesday, April 6
Picked Nick up at the airport, and he was definitely all Pete described. So easy going and warm, I felt immediately like we'd been friends for years - instead of fan and idol.
His stories about racing at the highest level were spell-binding, but he treated the lot with incredible casualness, using phrases like “did OK” and “got by” to describe his most spectacular wins.
Got a chance to see a friendlier face of Prague through Nick's eyes as we walked through the Old Town, and checked out a few of his haunts in the city. The lab assistant was there when we went to the “race bar,” and she took a great interest in Nick, then got up suddenly and left.
Thursday, April 7
Clive arrived in Prague, and then flew with us to Brno where Nick got a look at the car, spending a long session with Rudy.
Clive teased Nick about their being rivals next month when the Formula 1 season starts, but Nick replied the only team he belonged to at the moment was Gaffney-Bryan Mastin, and I was impressed with the camaraderie of these two men.
The Masaryk Circuit was a real challenge, but Nick drove it like the pro he is, as if he'd been in the Mastin all season. Brno didn't seem any happier than Prague, and the people appeared as uncomfortable as I did.
At one point, I saw a girl who appeared to be watching us with a kind of sceptical curiosity. She looked amazingly like the lab technician, but when I pointed this out to Nick, she was gone when he turned to see.
Had a very pleasant dinner with Nick, Clive and Rudy, and despite all the rubber burned in the last months, still had to pinch myself to realize I was socializing in this amazing company, and that it wasn't a dream.
Paul meets Pete's friend, the celebrated Formula 1 driver Nick Cooper, who will be driving for the Gaffney-Bryan Mastin team at the weekend.
Friday, April 8
Dream? I had one that was so horrible, my real-life screams woke Nick up in the room on the other side of the suite.
In it, we were in Prague for a race when I was approached by the lab assistant. She wanted me to help in the escape of a famous scientist, and true to form, I went along, and involved Nick too, even though we were interrogated by the local security chief.
The conspirators got him to pose as an American tourist, with the scientist disguised as their driver, and once they crossed the border, they shot Nick in the back.
Then the face of Mike Allen appeared with an evil grin, saying smugly that everything had worked to his plan. The worst thing was that I was the one who was supposed to have been in Nick's place as the American tourist.
In despair I went to Nick's grave. On the tombstone my name had been crossed out and replaced by his, and I woke up screaming and shouting, “it should have been me.”
The nightmare was so real and so painful, especially since I've probably never met a nicer human being than Nick Cooper, and there I was in the dream, completely responsible for his death, the murder of one of Pete's best friends.
Nick came running in to see what was wrong, then made me a drink, and sat around for an hour, talking about pleasant things to get my mind off the dream.
In some ways, that made the effect of the nightmare even worse - to be treated to this man's kindness still more.
After breakfast in the living room of our suite, I asked him if there was anything I could do as thanks for helping me through the dream ordeal, and to my surprise, this guy, who constantly used the phrase, “don't mention it,” said there was.
Nick told me that he was soliciting funds for a charity, and as I was the prime investor in the new Formula 1 team, perhaps I might be solvent enough to contribute.
Took out my checkbook, and asked if a thousand would be OK, and he said that was most generous. “Make it out to the Garms Clinic,” he said then, and I instantly lowered my eyes to the check, so that he wouldn't see my face.
“Some kind of medical thing?” I heard myself croaking, and Nick replied that it was a research institution in my part of the world, then said nothing more.
I looked at the shaky writing on my check, and wondered if I should make out another, then got up and told Nick that I'd like to contribute more in that case, and put the book down.
Nick had stood up, and was heading for his room. Even that little “kindness.” It made him seem a still nicer guy to have spared me an uncomfortable moment.
Went into my room, and wrote a check for $2,000, wanting to make it a fortune, but realizing it should be something realistic.
We spent much of the day testing, but my mind kept going back to Nick and the Clinic. He had a wife and two children. Maybe it was one of them. Perhaps he was just asked by the Clinic to be a celebrity sponsor.
But the thought that this wonderful human being might also be facing imminent death made the day after that nightmare a continuing downer.
Even the sparkling race conversation over dinner and in the bar afterwards couldn't bring me out of it, though everyone was quizzing me up about our stepping up to the top level of motor racing.
I gave Nick the new check when we came in, and seemed to see a look of sadness briefly cross his eyes as he took it. I was wrong about Nicole. It's probably the same with Nick. But he obviously has some interest in the obscure work of this research facility.
In the night Paul had a nightmare that the girl he met in the racing bar approaches him to help get a scientist out of the country, by having him pose as chauffeur for an American couple, with Paul playing the husband.
Then over a casual matter, an exchange is made, and Nick replaces Paul in the car, but is shot by the conspirators after crossing the border.
They are actually spies, and murder him to make their flight look more authentic - that the border troops had shot at the car.
When Paul, in the chase car, catches up with them in Germany, and discovers Nick dead, he is devastated, knowing that it should have been he in the main car.
He then encounters his CIA acquaintance, Mike Allen, who seems very satisfied with the whole operation.
When Paul wakes screaming from the dream, Nick rushes from across the suite to see what is wrong, and talks to Paul until he feels better.
After breakfast Paul offers a wish to express his thanks for Nick's consideration, and the driver asks Paul to make a contribution to The Garms Clinic, the institution researching a cure for Paul's malady.
Saturday, April 9
With his speed and ease at the wheel, it was no surprise that Nick landed pole position, but my tenth was way outside the standard at which I'd been performing.
Clive's only comment was that the engineering team had moved over to the F1 car, as if to say that was the reason, but I knew that my concentration was the cause.
Tried to snap myself out of it, and enjoy this prestigious event among such a wide assortment of drivers. With will power, it worked, and when I allowed it to be, had a good night.
en route to San Francisco
Sunday April 10
So strange to experience Easter Sunday in a Communist country, but I was able to find a church, and prayed for inspiration.
With a freshened mentality, managed to get my car up to a fifth-place finish, and will cherish all the rest of my days this opportunity to partner one of racing's greats. Nick's victory was brilliant, and long may he live.
With Rudy and Clive eager to return to the Formula 1 car and Nick heading back to Hawaii, we all left immediately after the race. Checking out of the hotel, I was suddenly approached by the girl I'd met the first night.
She said that she needed help, and wanted me to meet her in the park just down the road. My first thought was to get a later flight. After all, it had only been a dream.
Then I thought of the wonderful opportunity to spend the long flight in Nick's company against what would probably be more trouble. And this time I said no.
In Copenhagen, was able to reach Nick Pendleton. He thought I was in San Francisco, ringing about Kate's estate, but I told him I was worried about Judge Wilson, and he jumped on the prospect that I might fly in to talk the judge out of appearing on Jerry Haynes' show.
Notes on Anomalies
While the anomalies in this episode are not extreme, we have relied on them to turn the broadcast episode into a dream within a time when Paul is racing in Czechoslovakia.
For one, there is no track in Prague, nor had any international race been held in the city up to the time of the broadcast.
The event which ultimately brings about Nick Cooper's death in the episode happens when the scientist requests Paul's passport as part of impersonation of American tourists who will be his passengers.
There can be no reason for this, as false passports have already been made, and to extract the photograph from Paul's (or Nick's) passport would only deface it and make it unusable in the future. For that matter, no seasoned traveler would ever leave their passport in the glove compartment of a car, less so in a convertible, and even less so in a Communist country where its importance is even greater. As a lawyer, Paul would have been still less likely to have done this.
That an agent from the United States knocks Paul out instead of just clapping a hand over his mouth is not credible, and further degrades the credibility of the episode, so we've taken advantage of these failings to create a new continuing character in Nick Cooper.
11 - 13 April 1966 ("Tell It Like It Is")
Still upset over many things, Paul only qualifies tenth, but Nick is on pole.
Nick wins the race, and Paul goes up to fifth place. Before leaving the city, Paul is approached for help by the lab technician he'd met in Prague - and the girl in his nightmare, but he declines.