Pete Gaffney tells Paul that he's giving up the world land speed record that could have crowned his racing career.
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Chronology of Events
Tuesday - Friday, November 8 - 11
It has all been truly unforgettable, and I'm so glad Kate made the suggestion to come here. The Pyramids should have been my first stop when I started my journey, and Armand's people saw to it that I got VIP treatment everywhere I went.
Have seen so many highlights of this magnificent country, a personal expert guide on hand at each location, and interesting company invited to dine with us in the evenings.
When I indicated a desire to see Alexandria, my wish was instantly fulfilled. Knowing my involvement in racing, the escort invited Katerina Ghiatis to have dinner with us over her involvement with Alex Staphos and his land speed record with the fantastic Olympus. It was the challenge Pete had hinted at in Mexico City.
When I dropped his name to her, she suggested we fly to the salt flats and surprise him. If I'm not mistaken, this has a lot to do with her interest in Staphos.
On a VIP tour of Egypt, Paul meets a woman who invites him to a lad speed record attempt by the car of her former lover.
Saturday, November 12
Our plane arrived at the test site while Pete was out with the machine, which he got to 400 mph before having problems with the engine.
I had a great moment surprising him. He made some noises about trying to find me in various places, knowing Kate could have told him where I was or given me a message. Overlooked it in the way he would, but wondered what was up with him.
In the evening I found out. There was a nasty scene between himself and Staphos, who believes Pete isn't driving the Olympus up to its capabilities, and the Greek was clearly getting on Pete's nerves in every sort of way. In the end my partner got up and walked out.
We had a chat in his room, and Pete declared he was leaving. Amazing he could walk away like that after coming within 3 mph of the record - surely it would crown off his driving career.
He as much as said I was capable of going for it, but believed the Olympus best suited to someone who was tired of living.
The remark made it so tempting to finally tell him about my fate, but the mood wasn't right. Yet with Pete going off shortly with June for their annual month in the Pacific, I might never see him again. It should be tonight.
Went back to the others, and told Staphos that Pete had quit, and I'd like to take his place. My racing credentials might not be up to scratch, but driving a jet fighter down a runway had a lot in common with what I was applying for.
Staphos was skeptical, but I may just have convinced him. Spent some time with Katerina then, and was shocked when she said she was falling in love with me.
Had assumed she was just using my presence in her suit for Staphos, a man she was with all her adult life up to a year ago. What is a gentleman to do but assist a lady?
Just finishing up the journal when Staphos' assistant came in with a contract to drive the car and add a warning to stay away from Katerina. If only that were easy. Exciting as all that is, what's in the forefront of my mind is Pete.
Tapped on Pete's door, saying I wanted to have another talk. He said he was glad I came back, and that helped. But his expression. I thought then, and know now that I saw what Nicole called the look of despair.
He turned away to get the Scotch, and I pulled a chair before the remnants of a fire in the hearth, starting with, “it's been that kind of night.”
Pete agreed as he poured, not looking at me, and I added that there was something I should have told him in Bangkok, and it got more difficult as the months rolled by.
He finally looked up from his glass and said, “it's OK. I understand.”
Asking if he knew what I meant, he nodded, All this while? Surely he was thinking of something else. “It's a medical thing,” I ventured.
Pete nodded and said with great feeling, “you know how sorry I am.” When I asked how long he knew, he replied something like, “probably since Bangkok.”
I was confused, and asked how he could have known.
“Elementary,” he said with a wry smile, breaking the awful tension with a reference to the foundation years of our friendship when we'd listen to Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in the forties, and then recreate our own versions of the radio show when we got together, I playing Watson.
Pete quickly veered away from the lighter note, explaining that no matter how much he tried to attribute my expression and demeanor to Doug's death and being captured in the jungle, the Paul he'd known since childhood simply wasn't there in Bangkok.
There had been the obvious hints like giving up my work and political career, traveling the world when I'd never gone beyond Mexico in the last 15 years, but forsaking the love of a good woman?
When June asked Violet about Kate, and learned she'd had a breakdown, my situation indeed had to be something diabolical.
That I wanted to get into racing was Paul Bryan turned upside down, and as a test, Pete had given me a budget that would wipe out virtually all my assets. When I accepted without a blink, that had …. he quickly found some other phrase to substitute “put the nail in the coffin.”
Pete said he tried to live as if he suspected nothing, since that's the way I appeared to want it, but when Armand started throwing millions into the clinic, the look I'd given Pete when he handed me his check made him feel he had to know for certain, and he'd gently extracted a confirmation from Kate.
Pete had made it easy, as he always did when away from a Formula 1 car, but I learned tonight that all the scowls of the season directed at me had only been a smokescreen to hide his knowledge of my secret.
When we parted - probably forever - he thanked me for giving him so much of the time I had left, and presenting him with nearly all I possessed towards his own team.
Driver of the car is Pete Gaffney. but he and the owner have a contre temps, and Pete walks out - with Paul asking to driver the car.
Later that evening, Paul goes to tell Pete about the diagnosis, but Pete tells him he's suspected all along.
Sunday, November 13
Took the Olympus out this morning for the official record that should have been Pete's, and it was going perfectly until I had to let out the chute at the same place he did yesterday - and one mph faster.
A clamped oil line had damaged the engine, but I have to admit I might not have completed the run in any case, having felt so dizzy and faint.
It will take a week to get the machine right again, and meanwhile Staphos has invited me on his yacht bound for Athens.
After arriving at the port, called Katie about my record drive, asking if I should come to Zermatt while we waited for the engine repair.
She indicated that Staphos was a most interesting man, and it might be useful to her if I got to know him better, so we decided I would travel as far as Malta on the yacht, and have a day or so in Zermatt before meeting him in Athens.
At Sea - Zermatt
Monday - Wednesday. November 14 - 16
Got to know Staphos and Katerina a lot better. He has the drive, ambition and capability of an Erich Krieger without the family background, more in the Verbeck mold - a self-made man of great determination, but unlike the other two, a very emotional individual.
With the two of them coming on to me, each in their own way, I was glad to get off the yacht and feel the refreshing Alpine air in my lungs again, having strangely suffered reoccurring episodes of sea sickness on the boat.
I know this one of the early end symptoms, and experienced it first on the flight to Israel - but told myself the airsickness was only due to the rocky flight.
Paul goes for the land speed record and achieves a good time, but has to deploy the parachute, and the car is damaged.
Paul joins Katerina and Staphos on his yacht as far as Malta while they travel on to Athens
Thursday, November 17
Heartening to be back with Katie whose been trying to get through a crash course in international business and become acquainted with the major holdings of Armand's worldwide empire.
She was incredibly calm, and I wondered what she was taking, but her response was snow. Outdoors much of the time and three hours a day for work.
Pointless going out of my way to see Mason for a monthly check, but rang the doctor in Athens that Barry mentioned, and was able to get an appointment tomorrow.
I'm in a room on the other side of the house, but we spent most of the time I've been here together. I wanted to, but couldn't bring up Kate's acknowledging the prognosis to Pete, but really, it doesn't matter any more.
Andrew Bradley is spending a few days here. As he and Armand went back over 25 years, there is no better adviser, and he suggested I sit in on all the meetings.
Friday, November 18
Was glad to touch down in Athens after a bumpy flight that made me feel a little ill again.
Got a bit of a shock when I met Staphos today, and it took all the lure of the world speed record to keep me from doing a quick turnaround for Switzerland.
He'd had me investigated, but his information was out of date and his conclusions not to my liking. Moreover, I obviously was too cooperative in aiding and abeting Katerina.
Maybe it's a bluff, but she told him she expects me to propose marriage, something he wants to prevent at all costs - so much so he offered me $100,000 to tell her goodbye.
That was my plan anyway; I can't lead her on, but when Staphos told me she was blackmailing him, it really threw me.
Was able to let her down easily, as it was clear how much she loves Staphos, and I used that truth as the wedge that kept me from being able to commit to her.
It worked out the way he wanted, and though Staphos asked me to sail back with him to Libya, after agreeing, changed my mind to have a couple days with Kate.
The session at Dr. Papagapoulos' clinic turned out to be as awful as any with Mason, but the man was wonderful to talk to, and very kind-hearted.
I've never had such a helpful experiece talking to any doctor about my condition, and promised to come back on December 9.
Dr. P said he would have a lot of data to look at in between, but was encouraging about the dizziness, saying the attacks are a natural consequence of driving the Olympus at speeds beyond human endurance.
He gave me tablets, and I haven't had another spell yet.
Paul returns briefly to Zermatt
In Athens Paul sees a specialist who is very kindly, and checks back with Staphos who offers Paul money to leave Katerina alone.
Saturday - Monday, November 19 - 21
Katie is moving to the Paris house on Wednesday, so much more like a fortress than this simple if huge chalet, and I asked her if she still wanted to go through a marriage ceremony when I started feeling really ill.
She asked how I could think anything else, so when this speed thing is over, I'll go to Rome and see about the arrangements.
Tuesday - Wednesday, November 22 - 23
Felt sure to break the record, then the car started fishtailing ferociously, and I thought she'd go into a spin, so had to deploy the parachute.
This time, I didn't have the awful dizzy sensation, and was as much relieved by that as the incredible speed the Olympus got to.
Then Staphos drove up with the news. I'd broken the world record by five mph - but unofficially.
Afterwards, he admitted his industrial empire was based on funds gained when he was leading Greek partisans at the end of the war, and freed a batallion of Nazis for 50,000 Sterling, knowing there was no real escape for them.
This was the information Katerina had obtained a year earlier at her father's deathbed, why she'd split from him and became Staphos' blackmailer instead of his lover.
He told me the story because he wanted me to join him as his right hand and successor in the long-term plan he has for development of Greece and many other parts of the world.
He couldn't understand why I wouldn't accept such an exciting challenge, so I told him about the prognosis. He just doesn't know how few days are left.
Katerina had come back with Staphos on the yacht, and as the plane took me away I saw her drive up. I hope she will again be the support he needs in his dream of a new tomorrow.
24 November - 14 December 1966 ("Trip to the Far Side)
Paul returns to Zermatt for some time with Kate.
Back at the test site in Libya Paul breaks the land speed record but unofficially. Staphos asks him to become his right-hand man, but Paul explains why he can't, and Staphos tells his dark secret.