Novelist Nicole Longet has left Paul on what would have been their wedding day, but on her way to Madrid, rings to say goodbye.
Click the arrow at right to start the video clip.
Chronology of Events
Tuesday - Thursday, October 5 - 14
I have just lived through a Greek Tragedy.
Last night I saw a woman killed by her fiancé, a man who then perished when his own brother tried to wrest the gun from his hand that was trying to shoot me.
That I'm feeling great pain over this calamity is all too ironic, as the three individuals kidnapped me, held me in a dark cave for ten days, and probably would have killed me, had it not been for the very personal incident which prompted the death of Marta.
After renting a car at the Palermo airport to drive to Vabocelli. I was stopped on the road in the same manner Istvan Zabor used in the Kölön Tessra to free Janos.
Enzo's plan was to get a million lire from me to make up a dowry so that Marta could marry him. His idea was that a friend of mine would send the notes to a general delivery address, but I explained that it was more practical to order a cashiers check from my Rome bank, and have it sent to a post office box in the local town.
They went for my plan, and after writing the letter, we all waited ….. and waited …. And waited. All the while I was thinking about Nicole, imagining her in my arms, and mourning the loss of her presence in my life.
During the time I almost successfully escaped, but ended up with a concussion at Marta's hand which left me unconscious for over a day. And I'm still having headaches.
She also shot at me when I mistakenly assumed that they needed the marriage money urgently because she was expecting, but that resulted only in a couple bruises which have meantime started to heal.
And despite all that, I came to love her - a girl so unique, spontaneous, so witty and fresh that she was simply an irresistible person. I wasn't the only one. It was clear that Enzo's brother Yanio was in love with her too, but he was a man who suffered in silence.
I could never get Marta to believe that Enzo would kill me as soon as he got the money. It was obvious. I knew their names and faces.
Enzo was a tricky character - volatile to a fault, one moment laughing, and the other, capable of committing murder. Extremely difficult to fathom. The brother, Yanio, on the other hand, was a lad of intellect and compassion, but afraid to show it.
The bank obviously disregarded my letter, and after days of waiting, Enzo decided to sell my rental car if the money had not arrived on the day Marta took her turn to check the post office box.
(He disappeared after she left, and didn't come back until late - quite drunk, apparently having crashed the car.)
Marta herself didn't return on time either. Eventually, she arrived at the cave in an obviously frantic state. One could only imagine what had happened to her in the nearby town she'd never seen before.
Yanio was clearly concerned about her, and worried about his brother too, so went out to look for them. But Enzo finally got back on his own.
Marta was desperate to talk to him outside, but he merely passed out. It was at this point that she suddenly untied me, and explained how to find the nearby village of my mother's family.
As I started out in that direction, Yanio appeared in my path, and a moment later we heard a shot. We raced back to the cave where Marta was staggering out. I caught her, and she died in my arms.
Heartbroken, Yanio challenged his brother who merely said that Marta had betrayed him. What he meant, I could only guess at, but a moment later, as Yanio struggled for the gun Enzo was about to shoot me with, it went off, and Enzo fell dead, leaving each of us holding a corpse.
That night in the cave we held a kind of wake by the two bodies, talking until we fell asleep - now brothers.
I thought all the while about Nicole, and how I'd come within seconds of death, what our time together had meant to me, and most of all, how I couldn't live another day without her.
In the morning we took the hay cart with the bodies along the road to Vabocelli, where Yanio said there was a police station. On the way we met a young man from there who immediately recognized the American accent with which I speak Sicilian Italian, and he drove ahead to let the village know we were coming.
What a scene greeted us. Banners, posters and cheering crowds throwing flowers - as if I were a descendant of the place who had achieved my goal to become Governor of California.
And there we were with the hay cart and its tragic cargo, heading for the police station at the end of the street, our souls drenched in sorrow.
I told the police that Enzo had kidnapped me, and shot Marta when she objected, Yanio accidentally taking his life when he tried to stop his brother from killing me too.
It was all more or less true. But the statement letting Yanio off was of little consolation to him. His honored brother was dead, and the woman he loved and hoped to remain near to, if only as a sister-in-law, gone as well.
I tried to reciprocate the well wishes of the village folk who made such a fuss of me, and even held a Mass in honor of my arrival.
It was wonderful to see my grandfather's house - to touch the walls that had known him as a young man, and see the room where my mother was born. I will carry all this with me to my dying day.
Parting from Nicole …. the cave and imminent death which awaited me there …. then this visit that took me to the foundations of my being - all far too much in the best of circumstances, which these times are not.
But I knew how much my presence meant to these warm and caring villagers, and genuinely wanted to come back again and again. The feast they put on tonight had all their hearts in it, and I embraced each and every one individually, and felt showered with love.
Certainly I needed it, and kept thinking about Marta. When she freed me, I asked her to come with me, but she said that her place was with Enzo. As it now is, lying side by side in a makeshift morgue.
I could have gotten her together with Barbara, to help with Verbeck at first, and then …. She might have had a wonderful future - with so many doors open to her. Such a terrible, terrible tragedy.
Paul is kidnapped for ransom on a lonely road in Sicily, and held by brothers Enzo and Yanio and Enzo's fiancee Marta.
As they wait for the money to arrive, tensions develop among the group, but Marta, remains sure that her fiancé Enzo will not harm Paul, even though he has told his brother that they will kill him when the money comes in.
Each take turns going into the nearby town to check the post office box for an envelope from Paul's bank.
When Marta does, her overconfidence causes her to be drawn in by a rogue who then seduces her.
She returns to the cave a broken woman, and shortly after, Enzo also arrives drunk. She tries to tell him about what happened to her, but he falls asleep, so she frees Paul, and tells him to run away.
He doesn't get far when he encounters the brother Yanio, and the two of them hear a shot, and run back to find Marta dead. Enzo blames Paul, and when he tries to shoot him too, his brother tries to grab the gun, but instead, Enzo is also shot dead.
Vabocelli - Rome - Barcelona - San Patrazio
Friday, October 15
After word had quickly spread about my ordeal in the cave, the local priest held a Mass in celebration of my safe delivery, followed by a communal breakfast that I will surely never again be treated to.
It could not be topped! If I knew that I was leaving the other half of me behind when I said goodbye to Nicole, there was a similar feeling parting with the good people of Vabocelli. I did leave something of myself behind, and in exchange, took their goodwill as sustenance to be put away in a compartment of my mind for the time ahead when I'll surely need it.
The Mayor took me in his fine car in convoy to the airport. Such kind understanding from everyone that I wasn't able to stay longer due to the time I was held prisoner.
As I left the town, they unfurled a banner “we see you in the Spring, Paolo,” and pretty misty-eyed, I only hoped that could be true, but remembered how President Kennedy told the Irish people that he'd return to them in the Spring - a Spring that never came.
Having made connections in Rome, I'm now on my flight to Barcelona. Will I find anything in San Patrazio? Only memories? Or will she be there? In my heart I feel sure of it.
She is here, and I've asked her to marry me. That feeling of living forever that I had the first night I held her in my arms is again with me.
But before we marry, I must tell her about the diagnosis. I've torn up countless sheets, trying to tell her this news, but it's never right.
Unable to live without Nicole Longet, the novelist he met in Spain before going to Sicily, Paul returns to the seaside town where they met, and where he hopes to find her, despite the fact that he walked out on her without giving a reason.
However, in the meantime, Nicole sought out Mike Allen in Berlin, and demanded to know if Paul left her because he was an agent doing his work, or it had something to do with her personally.
Mike Allen challenges her as being vain, wanting to know why Paul left, then tells her that Paul is dying, and cannot become close to people - as he had with Nicole. Mike Allen also tells her that Paul cannot bear to be around people who know about his fate.
Saturday, October 16
We visited the priest, and asked him to marry us tomorrow. It will be just the two of us and two witnesses. We've asked our landlady and Dr. Lamas.
The day has been as if all the badness of the unhappy times has dissolved away, and both of us tingled with excitement over the big event in our lives. Just gazing at one another, and unable to hold anything but a smile on our faces.
I bought Nicole an elegant white silk dress for the wedding, and though I saw it on the hanger, she refused to let me see her trying it on. Only a few hours to wait ….
Rang Pete, intending to inform him about the wedding tomorrow, then, for some reason …. well, a lot of reasons …. held back. I felt like a rat, not to tell one of my best friends since childhood, but had this feeling that we needed to keep our marriage a secret until after tomorrow.
But Pete didn't spare his news, a “disappointing” fourth at the Nürburgring, he said, and third in the Catalan Rally while I was in Sicily.
Taking aside the wonderful occasion, this champagne feeling was fabulous! There was a happy engagement party at the cantina, and that only magnified the good feelings.
It is already our wedding day, but now, I must compose the words to tell Nicole that I am dying. It will be a long night.
Having asked Nicole to marry him as soon as he finds her just where they had been staying, they arrange to be married the next day. Believing that she must know before they marry, with great difficulty, Paul composes a letter, telling Nicole that he hasn't long to live.
Sunday, October 17
And a long dark night is what the rest of my life will be.
When I met Nicole in the morning, instead of dressing for the wedding, she was packing. I thought we'd decided to stay here for the honeymoon, but didn't even get the chance to ask her about this when she said that she was already aware of what I'd written in the letter …. that Mike Allen had told her about the diagnosis - and she could not marry me.
Did she realize that she shot me dead with these words? Her reasons - so out of date from the way I feel now, the way I've learned to deal with what's ahead of me - were preposterous, surely something Mike Allen put in her head. Scoundrel!
Nothing I could say would stop her. She left without a kiss, without even an embrace. I felt so crushed that I couldn't move - not even lift a hand for hours. And her words, so directly resonating what Kate had said, but speaking of a time when my running was in panic, unable to face anything familiar.
I am beyond that now, alone - as alone as these women seem to want me to be. After sitting immovable till nearly dusk, the phone rang. It was Nicole, twisting the knife in my heart to say the goodbye and declaration of love that her abrupt flight hadn't allowed.
Nicole …. Nicole .... How I wanted to hear that she was coming back, but no, she was on her way to Madrid. I am going there now. Fate will decide everything for me. I feel sure that there will be a sign waiting for me there. A road sign telling this lost traveler which way to go.
18 - 23 October 1965 ("The Shock of Recognition" /
"A Girl Named Sorrow" part 2 )
On the morning of their wedding, Paul finds Nicole packing. She tells him that she already knew about his fate, and would never be able to hide the despair in her eyes, and is therefore leaving immediately, so that he can be free to live among people who don't know about him. He tells her that he doesn't have to live that way, but she won't listen, and walks out of the room.
Heartbroken, Paul is paralysed with grief, and is sitting alone in the dark when Nicole rings from along her route to Madrid. She tells him what she was unable to say in his presence, that she loves him, and bids him farewell. Overcome, Paul decides to go to Madrid.