Willy Hatch (Don Rickles) is a comedian accused of statutory rape, and approaching a nervous breakdown when Paul comes to help him in the small town which has turned against the entertainer.
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Chronology of Events
Thursday, June 9
Despite so much to do, Rhona was nice enough to meet me at the Brussels airport, full of stories about the car's development and pit gossip, and congratulations about my lottery win.
Pete appeared to have forgotten all the tension of Monaco, and in contrast to the weather, was full of sunshine, pleased with his morning qualifying.
The lads said I would find the car greatly changed, and I learned what they meant after climbing into the alternate machine. Of course, it was a different kettle of fish to be driving on a real race track, and Pete says that Spa is the trickiest of courses. It was! And I left it after one circuit.
Clive and Pete were high over the power and trim of the machine, and the afternoon session had him in the middle of the grid. I was pleased for all, but dead tired, and hope to be in better form after a proper night's sleep.
Paul arrives at Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix, and gets his first taste of a Formula 1 track
Friday, June 10
Serious practice today, and with the strain of San Francisco now in the past, I made up my mind to drive with confidence. It was still extremely difficult, but I reminded myself how lucky I was to have this opportunity, and did my best to be helpful.
Not easy, as besides the uncompromising track, we've had to cope with lots of rain, not really the scene for an amateur like Paul Bryan.
And everywhere we turn in the pits, just like Monaco, there's the film crew again, shooting the movie “Grand Prix.”
When all practice slots were over, Clive let me drive the new Mastin Elektra (his pet name for Rhona), the car we'll be using at Le Mans, and what a sweetheart she is! Purred like a kitten compared to the insane tiger on a rampage that the Formula 1 car is.
June breezed in from somewhere - Ankara, I think, after dinner, and told me that I looked awful, and would thus be coming to the Bradley's Palm Beach place after the race.
When I read that, it sounds pushy, but from Junie, it was like a mother offering to read a bedtime story. She and Rhona are our only lady backers here this weekend, and the change from the sociability of Monaco is stark.
There's been a bit of a buzz around me over the lottery win, but understated and congratulatory in a fraternal kind of manner.
Told Nick Cooper I was giving a sizable chunk of the money away, and would like to be generous to the clinic he'd been sponsoring, asking its name again. The gravity with which he replied, The Garms Clinic in Burlingame, seemed to unquestionably mean something.
Paul gets a chance to drive the Mastin he'll be driving at Le Mans.
Saturday, June 11
At qualifying today I tried to stay out of the way or be a flunky to whomsoever needed me. The whole scene was chaotic, and this time, it was Clive whose nerves were on edge, and Pete who was staying cool.
If he'd been my hero when I was a kid, my idol when he became a professional racer, and has kept growing in stature as I've had the chance to drive with him, observing Pete on this big stage is turning him into a god for me.
The more I know about the challenges and ultra-demanding nature of what is at stake, the more impressive he is.
We qualified tenth, and all things considered, against the big boys, it was a super result. But the forecast for tomorrow sounds like we should be piloting an ark rather than Formula 1 car.
Having difficulty on the track, Paul again questions his position as test driver.
Spa - en route to Florida
Sunday, June 12
Cannot believe what I witnessed today. Maybe it was the unusual environment of the street circuit in Monte Carlo and having so many friends around, but somehow, I took all the attrition of the Monaco Grand Prix in my stride.
What happened today is almost more than I can come to terms with. Not wanting to be in the way, I'd asked Clive where he thought I should watch the race, and he suggested Masta Kink, which he called the most dangerous place in motor racing.
Nevertheless, could I have ever expected what happened next? The race had barely started when cars started spinning off in front of me, one hitting a telephone pole, and then careening into a couple buildings.
It was Jackie Stewart, and I ran to the crash scene where fuel was gushing from the overturned vehicle, lodged in the basement of an out house, Jackie pinned underneath.
By the time I got there, it looked like he might drown in gasoline, but it had actually all poured out. No less dangerous, as the fuel could have ignited with the least spark.
We had a devil of a time getting him out. It took a half hour, and he was badly injured and in pain. Bob Bondurant and Graham Hill had both crashed at Masta too, and were more help than all the stewards at finally getting him loose.
Again and again I am reminded of the value and importance of exacting knowledge and experience when it comes to every aspect of this sport.
Helped lift Jackie onto the stretcher, gently as I could manage, and he looked up at me and said, “you're Armand's friend,” then passed out.
Pete hadn't made it to the second lap, but neither had half the field, and once Jackie was off to the hospital, I made my way back to the Mastin crew as they were putting away their gear, neither Clive nor Pete in sight.
While helping with the donkey work, I kept an eye on the five remaining cars that ran a procession to the checkered flag under a green one, and also got a chance to become better acquainted with our technical team.
They're mostly British or Italian, but one, Jack Wynter, is from Louisiana, and we had a great time talking about the fishing he did on a lake near his home.
Pete was already packed and ready to leave for France when I got back to the hotel. No one had parties in mind after the disaster Spa had been.
We talked about our getting a proper test driver, and Pete repeated that, with Clive around, the position was really honorary, with a streak of opportunity for my enjoyment, and suggested that I should at least stay in the job for the next race.
So, now I am making my way to Florida for a couple days of sunshine and relaxation before Le Mans.
Paul is involved in rescuing Jackie Stewart from a dangerous crash situation, and Pete again fails to finish a race.
Monday, June 13
June had taken me over to the bungalow the Bradleys set aside for me, saying that she hoped that everything was there to make my stay comfortable.
I was thinking she referred to bowls of fruit and fluffy towels, but what she really meant was what was propped up in the chaise longue in the living room - one Dr. Kathryn Pierce.
It was all so unexpected that it was June I ended up hugging in glee, but she quickly slipped away. After the hell of San Francisco and the drowning sensation of Spa, I am just going to give myself up to whatever's going here.
Invited to spend a couple days relaxing at her family's Palm Beach home, June Bradley surprises Paul with the fact that Kate Pierce is also a guest.
Tuesday, June 14
Kate had been immersed in astronomy books from the Bradley library, and I'd almost forgotten that this subject and physics had been her major when she started at Smith.
After a talk, I'm now asking myself why I got so caught up in San Francisco. In actual fact, aside from upsetting Joe, nothing of consequence happened, save for my burgeoning interest in the work of the clinic.
Kate suggested a couple basic science textbooks, and we drove into Palm Beach to buy them. She also thinks it wise to send Joe a carefully worded letter to explain why I couldn't buy the policy from him.
How she's soothed my nerves over the entire incident, but it's disappointing Kate doesn't feel up to going to Le Mans. Hobbling around without much stress now, she's certain to be at Reims.
Kate and Paul discuss the unfortunate days in San Francisco following his lottery win.
Wednesday, June 15
Never realized that it would be possible to spring back mentally and physically after only three days in the sun, but am actually feeling terrific, enjoying my new books and the incredible library.
There's also a room here which is a virtual international news stand, with periodicals from all over the world arriving throughout the day, Florida papers included, and in one of them was a very disturbing news item
The brief report stated that comedian Willy Hatch had been arrested on a morals charge, and my recent experience with Lisa, some of the things I've seen written about Pete, and the way the sports press has even twisted some of my own words got me in a lively discussion with Kate.
Venturing the possibility that Willy had been set up. Kate said that being in the public eye always made one a target. She seemed to be speaking personally, but then quickly changed the subject back to Willy.
How many memories came rolling back when I told her about him and the great nights spent at the hungry i. The Gateway Singers, The Kingston Trio, Mort Saul, Willy and Bill Cosby. Kate had missed all that, but told me that Cosby is acting now, and in a great TV series called I Spy.
When I thought about the dozens of other great artists I was privileged to see at the i, it also brought to mind the girls I went there with, women who touched my life so intimately, and yet ….. they seem like shadows next to the vividness of Katie who agreed that, as Willy's former lawyer, I should go see him tomorrow.
Paul learns that his friend Willy Hatch has been arrested on a morals charge in Florida, and decides to go and help the comedian before leaving for France.
en route to Paris
Thursday, June 16
Driving to see Willy I remembered what a kick it had been, turning from fan to lawyer when he had his own late-night show on local TV. But when it was cancelled, he somehow disappeared, only sending me a postcard once in a while.
After a couple years, I heard nothing, and tried to reach Willy if I'd see a notice of him appearing somewhere, but never got any answer.
That things might not have been going too well for him seemed more than evident, but a morals charge was a different kind of problem than no longer being a headliner on the main nightclub circuit.
When I saw him in the jail house, Willy insisted that he didn't even know the underage girl he was supposed to have had consensual relations with, and that the charge was simply based on some jokes about the town that a few of the burgers resented.
I got him out on bail, along with a room for us at the local hotel. There was certainly a lot of animosity towards Willy, and a young kid on a bike harassed us all the way to the hotel.
Less than two hours from Palm Beach, and I'd stepped into a totally different world. As Willy seemed very fatigued, I got him to lie down and rest while I checked out the girl.
She'd been sent away, and for my pains, her father threatened me with an axe, but this place was definitely not one to file an assault complaint against a fireman.
With no medical examination to accompany the allegation, the charge was definitely looking as fishy as Willy indicated, the deputy as much as saying the arrest was the town's way of “taking care of” trouble-makers.
When I got back to the hotel Willy was still clowning around the way he did in jail, but already there was just something I couldn't pin down, something in his eyes that worried me.
He claimed his wife was getting someone to look after their kids, and would be arriving shortly. I told him that would help his case, as would going back to work at the bar to show his innocence, but he seemed afraid.
To put on a show like Willy's, you have to be fearless, and his attitude seemed difficult to fathom - so unlike him. But I still wasn't seeing the obvious - despite the tears and clinging behavior Willy was displaying.
Managed to build up his confidence enough to go to the bar and ask to be taken on again. While reasonable, the owner also expressed FEAR that his customers would react against his re-hiring Willy.
When I tried the “it would be Communist not to fly the All-American flag that a person is innocent until proven guilty,” we won him over, and Willy was hired to be back on his stage at seven - at the same salary (but half what Willy had told me he was making).
Yet he wasn't happy. Willy's look, when I told him to take the car back to the hotel, reminded me a little of Dena Fuller when she came down from the slopes after Johnny's crash, but I was certain this fear thing had nothing to do with my friend, rather was endemic in this place, and he'd just picked it up.
The bar owner's take on the town's attitude was that it had been thriving before the Second World War, but after, the population had more than halved. People were sensitive about their town being knocked the way Willy poked fun at anywhere he played.
The bar owner drove me back to the hotel, and I found Willy packing - planning to jump the bail I'd posted. When I reminded him that his wife would be here shortly, he said they were divorced for three years, and hadn't even spoken in the meantime.
I was starting to wonder if he was telling me the truth about the girl, but he swore he'd been honest with me, and then her father and the sheriff burst in, looking for her.
The father threatened to kill Willy IF there was anything going on with his daughter, putting the ribbons on my theory that the whole charge was trumped up, and I figured we were home and dry to get a petition for dismissal accepted the next day.
Rang the Bradleys to organize a Florida lawyer who could take over the case in the morning, but when I informed Willy, he seemed to think that was a good reason not to do the planned show.
All the while my near certainty that the charge was false had been countered by a suspicion that Willy somehow wasn't being fully honest with me.
It all came out when I was approached in the bar parking lot by the girl herself, declaring that she knew Willy to be in love with her, and was hoping to run off with him. Not just a fantasy, she gave me proof that she'd been in our hotel room while I was out.
She explained that when she first approached Willy, he'd let her watch the show from back stage, and she then started visiting him regularly in his dressing room, only to be discovered by her father - the establishment's relief bartender.
That was the cause of the arrest warrant, even though the father knew that nothing had happened between the pair. He'd even stashed her away at his sister's to make sure that the truth wouldn't come out.
The girl was now convinced that Willy was going to run off with her, and would propose marriage on the bus, after which she'd send a letter to the sheriff, declaring the falseness of the statutory rape charge.
I could understand where these notions of Willy's devotion came from. He'd told her she was the nicest thing to happen to him in three years, and it was clear that he was feeling desperate for someone to care about him.
He'd even showed signs of that with me, and the girl said that Willy had attempted suicide twice. When he came on to do the 7 pm show, Willy bombed horribly.
Though there was a big crowd there to see what was going to happen, no one laughed at anything, and eventually, Willy cracked, and actually grabbed one of the female patrons by the throat.
He was then physically attacked, and a virtual melee ensued, but the sheriff cleared the hall, and an ambulance was called for Willy who'd gone catatonic, and was unreachable.
I had ignored all the symptoms of a breakdown, but Willy's was obviously serious, and I'd been dealing with his symptoms the way I thought best, without any real understanding.
But I've learned a big lesson for life, and if I only start using it next week, that will be a good thing. Convinced that the girl's father had lied to him after a talk with her, the sheriff dropped all charges against Willy, but I told him to put the lawyer coming tomorrow in the picture, and have him make sure Willy gets all necessary care.
He drove me from the hospital to the nearby airport where I was able to get a shuttle well in time for the Miami flight to Paris.
Should anything ever come from this, I want to make sure I've set all the details down, and will send this to Marcella to type up. That pill I took is starting to work, and now all I want is sleep.
On arrival in the small town, Paul finds Willy Hatch in jail for having had sexual relations with an under-age girl. He denies this, and Paul secures bail, getting them a room at a local hotel, after which he attempts to interview the girl.
Thwarted from doing so by her father, Paul then learns from the sheriff that no medical examination has been conducted, and becomes convinced that the charge is a fake.
As a form of defence Paul gets Willy his job back, entertaining at a local bar, but keeps noticing disturbing qualities in Willy's behavior.
He's been telling Paul that he never met the girl, but the two are friends, and he invites her into the hotel room. She's gone when Paul returns, but her father and the sheriff arrive immediately thereafter, catching Willy packing to jump bail. They search for the girl around the room.
When they're gone, Paul feels sure that a lawyer will be able to get the charges dismissed in the morning, but is disturbed to learn that, contrary to what Willy had told him earlier, not only is Mrs. Hatch not about to arrive, but the couple have been divorced for three years.
That evening Paul goes to the bar to watch Willy's show, having heard from the bartender that people in the town were sensitive about its decline, and didn't like the comedian poking fun at it.
Before going in he meets the girl, who is convinced that Willy is in love with her and about to propose marriage. He had started to depend on her as a friend after a long sequence of rejections and disappointments, and she'd misinterpreted his desperation.
The show is a failure, and Willy attacks one of the patrons, then is set upon himself before the sheriff clears the room.
An ambulance is called as Willy, after issuing a shriek, has gone completely catatonic.
The sheriff interviews the girl, and drops charges against Willy, but the real damage to the comedian has been done long before, and he will require considerable psychiatric care.
Having made arrangements for someone to look after him, Paul takes off for France.
Friday, June 17
In only two races I've tasted Formula 1 at its roughest and most glamorous, and before that, rallying from the desolate to the purely social, with enough in between to think I had experienced a panorama of racing, but there is nothing like Le Mans.
The 12-hour race at Molinos didn't begin to give me an idea. On arrival I went directly to the driver parade, and was taken through town to massive cheers from the crowds.
The Elektra is so souped up that we've qualified eighth of 56 cars, but at the same time she's apparently totally dependable and smooth enough for a learner to drive.
Rachel threw a huge cocktail party, and Armand - on his own - sought me out to find out how Kate's ankle really was. I told him that he'd see for himself at Reims, but it was clear that he'd spoken to her since I had.
At first I felt annoyed, but once again was won over by the sincerity of the man. He wanted to know if Kate was falsely reassuring him, and was deeply concerned. Though she was with me, not him, I knew that I was the interloper.
Clive and Rhona seemed to be especially sparkling, and she called me aside to announce that they were expecting, then hugged me, and said that it could never have been without me.
Having read a letter on the plane from Kay Mills that she'd completed her secretarial course, I suggested to Rhona that she might find a spot for the woman who rescued me on Bonnaire, feeling a change was just the thing Kay needed, and Rhona's response was, “just give me her address.”
Was starting to feel like everyone's uncle, but had to be truly happy for them. Had a drink with Jack Wynter, and he invited me to stay at the cottage on his parents land, so I've told him that we'll take that up after Duke's fight. Now, it's early to bed with a long sleep-in tomorrow morning.
At Le Mans Paul takes part in a driver parade, tests his car, and attends a party at which he learns that the Darrells are expecting a baby. He also meets Kate's lover, Armand, who wants to know if her ankle is really as good now as she's reassured him.
Le Mans - en route to San Francisco
Saturday - Monday, June 18 - 20
To watch Pete running to the car gave me a surge of pride and a thrill to be part of this event. Though a lot older than other drivers (nearly twice the age of a couple), his fitness level is amazing, and he was second behind the wheel, putting the Mastin fifth at the first bend after a blinding start.
After that, everything got cool and careful. Sitting in on the strategy sessions that had produced this coup had been as fascinating as any off-track event I'd been part of.
Clive kept warning that speed was not the thing, and though we were one of the fastest cars, this wasn't really a race but an endurance test.
When my first chance came to drive, the electricity between the three of us was amazing, and I knew how important it was to live up to the faith Clive had put in me, not just be pinching myself that I was actually driving in an event that had captivated me since the first Le Mans after the War.
Driving through daylight, dusk and then darkness at 200 mph was a real mind game, definitely surreal at times. But I kept my concentration, and was able to hand the car back to Pete in the same position he gave it to me, then conked out as if I'd been awake for 24 hours already.
Would have loved to watch the night driving, and felt bad to miss it, but slept through most of Pete's next stint. The Mastin was the real star, and though Pete wasn't able to gain anything, he held on to his place, despite the dominance of the Fords which seem to be in a race of their own.
Even when I started my second drive at 7 am, the stands and pits were teeming with people. Maintaining concentration this time wasn't as easy as the first, and I was glad of the days in Florida which had restored mind and body.
Otherwise, I could have lost the Elektra at any bend. Pete looked a wreck when he took over at noon, and I practically had to hold my eyelids open despite gallons of coffee.
But unfortunately, not for very long, as Pete spun out shortly after resuming. The devil braking had been our undoing, and there was nothing he could do after the Ferrari stopped dead in front of him. As we'd all expected, it was Ford's day, but they had to wake me up to advise of the fact.
Still not feeling completely awake when writing the above on the flight to Rome this morning, I duly met the priest who is going to handle all the arrangements for the wedding.
A big wig in the Vatican, he is the brother of Father Anselmo at Santa Margarita, and was very helpful, taking our documents and assuring that, under the uncertain circumstances, he would do everything to facilitate a marriage ceremony at short notice, as long as he had all the papers in advance.
I'm now trying to put all of that out of my mind, and think about the exciting prospect of being at a championship fight Friday, and the thrill of spending time at Duke's training camp.
21 - 26 June 1966 ("A Game of Violence")
Pete makes a sensational start in the race, and Paul takes over from 9 pm to 2 am without losing their good position.
Though both of them maintain it through noon, Pete crashes out when a car suddenly stops in front of him.
On Monday, before leaving for California, Paul flies to Rome to arrange for the wedding he and Kate have agreed upon when pronounced symptoms of the disease begin appearing.