Paul encounters the eccentric artist Julian Hays who makes no bones about wanting to kill his wife - in a most demonstrative manner.
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Chronology of Events
Wednesday, December 8
Before catching this flight to San Diego, I went into HSD to return Marcella's book. As she was putting it in the safe, with her back to me, she asked if it had helped me, and I had this uncanny feeling that she knew.
How could she be aware of so much about my life in these last months, and not know? Surely, if not having direct knowledge, in a low moment, I'd revealed a subtlety that she'd latched on to.
When she turned around, I searched her eyes for that look of despair - and saw it. But her voice was rattling on about the flight arrangements from Mexico to El Salvador, and saying how she'd make a point of driving to Riverside in January to see me race.
When I glanced up from studying the schedule she'd handed me, the look was gone.
Katie has made arrangements for us to visit a Franciscan retreat center in Mexico starting tomorrow. and she'll fly down to meet me after Julie's party / Kate's cheese and wine evening at the gallery. Following the last tumultuous weeks, I am looking forward to both things.
Julie looked sparkling. I couldn't believe it. She seemed so happy, and greeted me with a loving hug. Had worried I might represent a negative vibe at her birthday party, but she practically jumped into my arms.
Her father, on the other hand, is not well at all. He's recovered badly and slowly from a series of surgical treatments, and was all bandaged up, with a rather helpless air about him.
But Mark said that the doctors were finally getting the hang of it, and thanked me for coming - adding that Julie's high spirits were the Real Thing. And she'd gotten him through some very low moments, somehow finding a way of discovering joy in every day.
The party went on to late, but Mark retired early. Though Julie and I didn't really have a chance for any kind of private serious talk, when I said goodbye to her, she whispered in my ear that she was holding on to everything I told her.
I responded it looked like she could teach me a thing or two about living, and she promised to come and see me race as soon as her father was up to it. I'm developing a fan club! It was a night to give me heart.
Paul attends the birthday party of Julie Foster, Dr. Gene Mason's terminally ill patient he met in Kenya during the summer.
Playa Los Gatos
Thursday, December 9
Waiting for Katie here at the airport, and we'll drive down to Santa Margarita to the place that June's sister recommended. Apparently, Violet goes to this monastery of sorts on a regular basis to switch off from her high-stress business life, and “make contact with her spiritual self.”
I have my own ways of doing this, but was glad enough to humor Kate, and for that matter, the place sounds fairly pleasant. Apparently, the religion, counselling and meditation is all optional, so why not.
We never made it to the retreat center, and are staying at a hotel here instead. We'd stopped in the village to ask directions, and all of a sudden, Kate gave out something between a squeal or shriek, and seemed to go weak against me. Not really fainting, but, well …..
“Diana!” she then called, and a platinum blonde woman looked towards us. Kate said that it was Diana Hays, and when I asked who she was, Katie replied that I'd certainly lost touch with California law.
Diana's husband had just arrived on death row for his wife's murder - and there she was, a few feet away from us. Kate ran over to her, and apparently conveyed this information, Diana Hays removing her enormous sunglasses, and looked like she herself had seen a ghost.
Apparently, she'd just upped and left four months ago, and her artist husband has been arrested, tried and sentenced for killing her. Katie knew both of them, and had followed the case closely since returning from the Seychelles.
Diana has agreed to go back to California tomorrow, and I've called a realtor in San Diego to get accommodations for her in Bay City. Katie's trying to make up her mind whether to come with or stay here.
In Mexico Kate spots her friend Diana Hays, whom she'd believed to have been murdered by artist husband Julian (now on death row)
Friday, December 10
After taking Kate to the retreat center - which was very nice indeed - drove back up to San Diego, and got Diana settled in a furnished house.
Then went to see the Bay City DA. He was not amused, but I managed finally to convince him - well almost - that Diana was alive, as he brought in her maid and attorney to identify her.
The DA informed me that she'd thrown a couple five carat diamond rings in the incinerator when she took off for Mexico. They were the principal pieces of evidence leading to Julian Hays' conviction, and George McCullough was extremely suspicious.
Diana thought nothing of jettisoning the rings, but the more time I've spent with this woman, the more color and depth Kate's stories about her artist friends is taking on.
Julian is to be released tomorrow, and I'm going to see him soon as he gets home. From everything Diana says, he's even crazier than she is.
Made dinner for her here at the house, and attempted to follow all she said about her husband. It wasn't easy trying to separate fact from fantasy.
Among other things Diana said was that Julian had murdered his first wife, and though she'd never before taken seriously his constant threats to kill her, when she found that out, she ran and hid in Mexico.
While I made a salad Diana played the guitar and sang. One of the songs was Meditation, with the Portuguese lyric so much like the French one Nicole sang. Something shot through my heart - the first time since Katie and I are back together.
Paul puts Diana in a "safe house," and advises the local District Attorney that she is alive.
Once satisfied, he orders the release of Julian Hays.
Diana tells Paul that she ran away when she learned that Julian admitted to murdering his first wife, causing Diana to suddenly take seriously her husband's constant threats to kill her.
Bay City - Santa Margarita
Saturday , December 11
Suppose, having spent the last years of my career in corporate law, I'd forgotten how many eccentric folk dwell amongst us. Maybe in the situations I've encountered Kate's artist friends, they didn't have the scope for extreme behavior.
Meeting Julian Hays was an opportunity to redress all these lacks in my life. A Class A Madman. For instance, when he wanted to get rid of the mob of reporters who'd followed him from St. Quentin, he just went after them with a pair of sculptor's blow torches.
Tried to find out whether he killed his first wife, but Julian's ravings were too excessive to reach any viable conclusion. While at his studio, got a call from the man who'd served as attorney to the couple, summoning me to come and see him.
The lawyer is a slippery type, and when I suggested that it was he who told Diana that Julian murdered his first wife, Stoner eventually admitted it.
As I returned to the safe house, the “verbal mayhem” Julian had described the marriage to be had turned into the physical kind, Diana having just knocked him out with a poker.
Told her to call a doctor, but she raced from the house, and drove away in my car. Coming to, Julian seemed a little more human - though still as insane - and appeared shocked that Diana was really so afraid of him.
He'd obviously assumed - or had been used to - the fact that she considered all his rantings and threats to be some kind of performance art. The two of us then proceeded in his car (and never in my track experience have I seen anyone drive so wildly) to Stoner's.
Diana had taken refuge there, and I had to explain that Julian had found the safe house address in my pocket, and I hadn't given it to him.
Had the distinct feeling Stoner only made up the story about Julian admitting to the murder of his first wife, and accused him. When I turned out to be right, it looked like Julian would finally make one of his threats to kill people a reality, but then, after a moment of fuming, he just walked away - genuinely angry with Diana this time - for believing Stoner.
I dropped her at the house, and went out to pick up a couple things for the trip back to Mexico, leaving Diana to pack. When I returned, she and Julian were hugging, and he then threw her over his shoulder, and took her home. It all happened in a flash, and I'm now wondering if I dreamed it. Did I really meet these people?
Rang the retreat center to advise that I'd be there in a couple hours, and am now writing this by candle light - the only source of illumination in our little beach hut.
Julian Hays is a VERY eccentric artist, and his constant threats towards Diana in a conversation with Paul leaves him rather confused, but probably liking the artist.
A man he doesn't like is the couple's lawyer whom Paul suspects to be at the center of the murder charge, as it was he who lied to Diana, and told her that Julian admitted to killing his first wife.
Paul exposes the lie in the presence of husband and wife, and Julian is ready to kill the lawyer when he learns this, but despite his enormous temper, he just walks out.
In the end, the couple reunite
Sunday, December 12
Whatever prejudices I may have had about this place have certainly gone out the window. I probably should have known that anyone as solid as Violet Rigby wouldn't go in for anything hokey.
The morning started with fresh fruits that Kate had picked from the monastery trees yesterday - and hand-squeezed orange juice, rolled on the little juicer by yours truly.
Then Kate introduced me to Father Bartholomew, who is “at our service” while we're here. At the introduction, he waved his hand and said, “just Bart,” and told me he was a big racing fan - and even knew about the Jim Clark incident in Rio.
Then Kate mentioned that he had been a lawyer before becoming a priest. (All the friars here were survivors of Nazi concentration camps, and decided to come to Mexico to restore their own spirits, then started sharing what they learned with others.)
The three of us sat on the beach, and Father Bartholomew said that he and Kate hadn't talked about me or my situation yet, only personal matters outside our relationship.
But he did know about the diagnosis, and was amazed to learn that I'd never spoken about it to a counselor, psychiatrist or priest. Without offering a comment, he made me realize how hodge podge my attempt to deal with this death sentence has been.
The three of us spoke about the possibilities for the monastery being some help to us as individuals and a couple, and decided to play it by ear for the rest of the day, and will talk again tomorrow morning.
Then we went into the vegetable garden, and picked a variety of items for a luncheon salad and dinner, as well as some fruit from the small grove.
Father Bartholomew said that they'd tried many different kinds of “gimmicks” (his word), and kept the ones that seemed good, dropped those that didn't.
The idea of gathering all one's food had proven very therapeutic in a lot of different ways, and was something that the friars had started doing themselves when they first arrived at Santa Margarita - as had been the development of a small flock of pet sheep and alpaca who were there only for their fleeces.
There was also a proviso about no stimulants - though one could go into the village if a caffeine fit came on.
Bart said they would find it counter-productive to ban tobacco, but indicated that bit by bit, all the priests themselves had given up cigarettes, and felt better for it.
I considered the point, and wondered whether I might be able to cut back on my own addiction.
Outside our beach hut Katie and I ate the salad I made on my own, and teased out what we thought might come from these days. We'd agreed on meditation after lunch.
Kate hadn't done this before, but with the other two of us acting as guides, and the lapping waves of the sea being an enormous help, we had several useful sessions, then talked about life in general, and I found this quiet chat - that went on past sundown - as good as anything we'd done yet.
Just sharing personal life experiences that related to each other. Our contribution to the dinner vegetables was cooked in the monastery kitchen along with some fantastic fish, and given the choice of eating with the other guests or alone, we took the food back to our hut.
Afterwards we went into the chapel for Mass, followed by Gregorian Chant, which went on for what must have been hours. I lost track of time, hypnotized by the calls and responses, the incense and the flickering candle light, even becoming oblivious to the presence of Katie by my side. It was an even deeper sensation than the meditation.
At first a little dubious about going to the Franciscan retreat center with Kate, on arrival Paul finds himself immediately in harmony with the set up.
He not only appreciates the conversation of the friar assigned to himself and Kate, but actively takes part in meditation and the evening religious service.
Monday, December 13
Bart asked us about our concepts of spirituality, and I was fascinated to listen to the depths of Kate's exposition. As much as she and I have talked about extremely serious and philosophical concepts, I'd never heard her express any of these thoughts before. (Bart too was intrigued, as their thoughts had many points of contact.)
Kate said that if the universe did really originate from one infinitesimal point, and expanded into all known matter, then absolutely everything contained that original material, which she believed to be God.
Were that so, Bart said it meant we had His power to deal with what life threw at us, and I asked if he had any thoughts on how to unleash this inner strength.
“We're all groping,” he replied, but said that the starting point was probably a search through our minds, souls, anyplace we could look inside ourselves to locate the power, pointing out that most people never try, and just look for God's help elsewhere.
The discussion went on way beyond fruit picking time, and we thus ate a late lunch, skipping an afternoon meeting with Bart, and trying to think through all we'd talked about.
It had become obvious how our intelligence and caring had been over run by a self-certain - even self-righteous - resolve in our nature that had caused each of us to do things which entirely went against our character.
Like my belief that I needed to leave without telling Kate, and her insistence in breaking off our relationship though her support was so important to me. In one way or another this core strength - which had proven a weakness - had been observed in me by Dr. Werner in Switzerland, and in Kate by her psychiatrist when attempting to make her aware of the full scope of her psyche.
And yet, until we talked to Bart, we'd made no move towards addressing the problem by stopping and thinking more, and not putting so much faith in our instincts.
After a swim we went back to the hut, and spoke until dinner about ways we might make some concrete use of all the ideas before us. My head was still so full, I felt sure that the chant would never put me into a trance tonight …. but it did.
Paul, Kate and their adviser discuss spiritual philosophy, and at the end of the day, he tells Kate about his affair with Nicole Longet (though not that he asked the novelist to marry him).
Tuesday, December 14
Got up early this morning, and came into the little library to write. Last night, I finally told Kate about Nicole. Katie said she felt she knew - or guessed - and could tell since the day after the funeral that I had something I was desperate to say.
I felt so old, as if completely separated from my life - the previous and new one - and off on some island alone with this woman with whom I believed myself to share a soul.
Kate listened thoughtfully to what I told her. How I had understood myself to be separated from her for good, felt sympathy for a girl I believed to be dying, and in this position, opened my heart to a passion that I finally understood to be what she had known with Armand.
Kate said little in response. It was a difficult moment, so I suggested that we go for a walk on the beach. We moved along in silence, and as we got to a point for turning back, Kate said, “and I know that, if the chance happens to bring you together again, you must be with her.”
Quite honestly I replied that I didn't want that to happen, and held her close before walking back.
On the first morning here, Kate had shown me all the little grottos dotted around the grounds, each enclosed in an arbor for privacy, and I've gone every day to the one devoted to St. Jude.
Today I vowed, that if another decade of life were granted to me, I would devote every day of it to the service of my fellow man. Never had I prayed so fervently - or with so much inspiration.
This last day at the retreat center had a strange and rather emotional effect on me. Though it has been very restorative, I felt it was only beginning to make a difference, and we hadn't talked at all about the prognosis.
It's something I don't even like to think about, much less discuss, but all of a sudden, I was desperate to do so. Katie wondered if I wanted to speak to Bart alone, and I asked her if she preferred not to be there.
She felt uncertain, so he and I talked for a while, and she joined us at the end. It was just about right, and after the fruit and vegetable gathering, the three of us had lunch - talking about our situation, and then Bart and I spent the rest of the afternoon speaking while Kate was at the spinning wheel.
Of course, there is no answer. We analysed what I had already done, the irrational and foolish behavior I'd exhibited, the running away - and my feelings for Nicole.
If nothing else, Bart helped me to put a lot of jigsaw pieces into a recognizable picture, and enabled me to see a path ahead that leads to more than a grave.
I know now that I should have sought something like this out at the beginning, but have to hope there's enough time to make use of what I've learned. I will miss this grove of tranquillity, and know that Katie will benefit from the week ahead she'll have here on her own.
15 - 18 December 1965 ("The Savage Machines")
Paul openly discusses his diagnosis with Father Bart