Chronology of Events
Thursday, September 9
After broken sleep filled with bound and gagged elephants, flew from Paris to Nice, and Pete was there to meet me. We had a long session sharing our lives since Rio. He was horrified about the kidnapping, asking again and again if I were all right.
Finally, I tried to compare the experience with a crash, but failed to admit that I was still munching the tranquillizers the doctor had given me.
Pete filled me in on track gossip, and described his Burgundy win in detail along with the credible - and lucrative second at Amalfi.
When I told the story about Johnny and Rosintha, Pete looked troubled, but said nothing. I'm starting to read indictments of Johnny everywhere, but though they were acquainted since our teens, Pete never knew Johnny like I did.
On our way out for the evening, we ran into none other than Rachel Pike, who apparently owns two floors of Pete's building. (had recognized her yacht …. steamship …. in the harbor on arrival in Monte Carlo.) She said I must fly out to “the island” for Sunday, as “Ken” Galbraith would be over for dinner.
Turning on the most feminine charm, Rachel took my hand, and said how much she wanted me to be there. With those eyes looking deep into mine, what else could I say, but that I'd be honoured.
Wasn't even thinking about the race I'd come for, mesmerized by this powerful financier, and she was gone in a flash, but not before giving Pete a peck on the cheek. I decided not to ask him about that. Pete Gaffney is a man one could find anywhere.
We ate devilled lobster in the open air, and talked about Saturday's race. Over brandy Jeff Daulton came by, lamenting how his navigator had gotten injured in a sailing accident this afternoon. “Paul could fill in for you,” Pete said, as if on cue, and I found myself agreeing to take the seat.
The three of us talked for another hour until I had to excuse myself rather than fall asleep at the table, making a date in the morning to meet Jeff for testing. At the hotel was a note from Rachel giving details for the trip to St. Andrews.
Paul arrives in Monte Carlo to watch Pete Gaffney race for their team, and receives two interesting invitations - one to act as navigator for another driver, and one from Rachel Pike to visit her island after the race.
Friday, September 10
Driving with Jeff is nothing like navigating for Pete. A totally different style that made me wonder if I'd made the right decision. Maybe it's some aftershock from the terror at the lake, but I'm just edgier in his car and at his turns.
A lovely surprise when I met Pete for lunch. June had arrived for the race, and was in top form, just back from her father's sugar plantation in Hawaii.
Pete was urging her to stay on for the race celebrations on Sunday night (very interesting that!), but she said that she had to be in the Tampa office on Monday, and was bringing a crowd of executives with her on a chartered jet.
Popping up with another suggestion to manage my life, Pete said she should take me along to make connections to Rachels's, and the always loose and easy June just replied, “of course.”
She was casual, but I found myself suddenly becoming emotional. Yes, it was nothing with plenty of room in the plane, but I started to think about what a haven her Paris apartment has been to me.
That and the knife-edge stress I'd been through only three days ago caused me to leave the table for a few minutes to pull myself together. I went to the men's room and splashed water on my face, let some held-back tears flow away as well, and returned to Pete and June.
They were kissing as I approached, and we all quietly addressed our desserts then, probably a little closer as a trio. Know that I can never tell Pete about the diagnosis, but the sometimes desperation to do so almost gets the best of me.
Things seemed to go a little smoother in the afternoon with Jeff, and we qualified in the middle of the field. Put in a couple hours with the charts and maps to make sure I'd do my job credibly before sampling a little of the Monaco high life with Jeff and what seemed like thousands of beautiful women whose prime object appeared to be becoming acquainted with us.
Nevertheless, I cut out at midnight alone, determined to regroup and get my mind straight, but find myself thinking again of Leslie. The race course includes the spot where we crashed - and a few other places we were together.
It's strange that she's never written. So often I see her face in a crowd, and then it turns out to be someone else. Thought her father might be here, but no sign of him. I was hoping to find out how she is.
Monte Carlo - en route to Florida
Saturday, September 11
A race day on the Riviera is probably something I could never take in my stride, were I …. to live to be a hundred. Like hopping to a different planet populated by people who look so much like humans. Dazzling, delightful and totally eccentric!
A surprise highlight was looking up from a map to see Mark Shepard standing before me along side Pete, saying how well The Farm was represented in the pit today. I gave him a hug, and asked if he still had OUR car, and he said she was running well enough to join the race.
Which was about to start, so I headed over to Jeff's car with Pete's words, “good luck with the mad man,” ringing in my ears. It wasn't that bad, but I decided to confine my navigating to GB in future. Stay with the winners!
Pete came in first for the second time in three races, and I didn't mind at all being in the car which finished 15th. Difficult to know which was the highlight of the day - the race or the parties afterwards.
At the second, GB's principal and driver invited me to navigate for him at the Kölön Test For, and being the junior partner of the team, I accepted humbly, agreeing to meet Pete in Paris on Tuesday, and went on to party number three.
At the fourth, I felt a kiss on my cheek coming from behind my back. Anticipating a warm embrace with another jet set glamour girl, I found it to be a jet set business woman - June - telling me it was time to go to the airport. The plane couldn't be more luxurious. This is really the way to fly!
Driving along the Riviera route recalls memories of Leslie Thurston.
Pete wins the race, and asks Paul to join him for an event the following week behind the Iron CurtainPete wins the race, and asks Paul to join him for an event the following week behind the Iron Curtain
Tampa - Cuba - Tampa
Sunday - Monday, September 12 - 13
When she took that tumble into the ground, Alice couldn't have had a comparable experience to mine after June dropped me off to pick up the sea plane for Rachel's island.
Instead of a short hop, I was flown to Cuba as part of a plot to kill Fidel Castro. The hijackers claimed it was only an accident they didn't get the seaplane away before I boarded, but as the plot thickened, it became clear that I was a key ingredient in the plan - the American fall guy who'd be blamed for the assassination.
And what is so incredible, it was I who kept volunteering to go with them when they told me to stay back. I followed their breadcrumbs everywhere.
I wasn't the only pawn in the game. So was the wife of Ramon Diaz, one of Castro's early comrades, whom the President later jailed.
The group explained the seaplane was to spirit Anita Diaz and her escapee husband away from the island, but in actual fact, Diaz had died in prison, and these guys who passed themselves as his friends were no more than mercenaries ….. acting for whom, that's anybody's guess.
Anita was waiting on shore when the sea plane landed near the town of Las Crusos, and said that her husband hadn't met her as she'd been told he would.
I freely went to her house, and when he still wasn't there, also accompanied the hijacker into town, though both times he told me to stay behind.
He counted on a certainty that I would go against him, and then started giving instructions - go into a bar where I drew public attention when drawn into an altercation …. Go into the church tower and watch him walking down the street.
But when the shots were fired at Castro from the roof above me as he alighted from his limousine, everything clicked in my mind - even before the guns were thrown down from the trap door above me - or I heard myself being locked in.
It was only some residue of all I put in trying to outdo Tony Oliviera at high school gymnastics that got me out of that church tower before the militia broke down the door I had so freely entered.
But the exhilaration of escape was turned around by something awful that happened when Anita and I got back to the beach. We'd taken along the leader of the gang at gunpoint, and his comrades followed us.
They wounded him and kept on shooting at us. Firing back, I killed both of them. A terrible feeling, no matter what they had planned for me or that it was in self defense.
It will take me a long time to sort through everything that happened, but the whole thing is in the hands of the FBI in Tampa now. Anita Diaz and I spent hours being debriefed by them, and they sent men over to Rachel as well.
Unfortunately, the leader who led me down so many false paths, died on the return flight, and there can be no information forthcoming from him.
Between the limited amount they told me and what I got from Rachel on the phone, it appears that some Cubans on her staff at the island had the plan ready to go, but mixed me up with someone else named Peter Byron, whose plans to visit Rachel were cancelled as suddenly as mine were made.
He had a lot of interests in Cuba before the revolution, and would have made a plausible assassin, having also been in the OSS during the War. Rachel said she'll be replacing her entire Blossom Island staff, and is also planning to make contact with Anita Diaz, to see if she can do anything for her.
If I was trying to squeeze 30 years of living into one or two, think I've already accomplished the job. It's difficult to believe that the whole incident took less than 24 hours. Sitting here on the flight to Paris, I look down at my hand and know that it has taken two lives since I last wrote in these pages.
Dozed off twice, and both times had a version of the elephant dream. In this one, a room in my house was made into a nursery. The baby elephant was standing in a large play pen, and stroking a picture of the creature I had shot.
14 - 21 September 1965 ("How to Sell Your Soul for Fun and Profit" )
June leaves Paul at the seaplane dock, but he's not long on board when it becomes clear that they are not headed in the direction of Rachel's island. The plane has been hijacked by individuals who are flying to Cuba to kill Fidel Castro, and it turns out to be no accident that they took Paul's plane, as the conspirators' intention was to frame him for the assassination.
Told that his sea plane was hijacked to spirit away an escaped political prisoner and his wife, Paul goes along with the conspirators. After they land, the wife of the supposed escapee, who is unaware of their real purpose, drives Paul and the leading plotter into the nearby town. There, one of the gang unknown to him attacks Paul verbally in the bar he was told to enter.
He is then led into the tower of a church where he's told to watch and wait. After he is locked in, shots are fired from the roof at visiting Fidel Castro, then the guns are thrown down into the tower room. They miss, and Paul only escapes the militia by climbing through the trap door the guns came through.
Taking the leader with them, Paul and the wife drive back to the sea to fly out, and the wife learns that her husband has really been dead for three months.
At the beach two of the other conspirators fire at them, and are killed by Paul, who takes the leader of the gang with them. He has been wounded by his comrades, and dies on the flight back to Tampa