PAUL BRYAN'S JOURNAL
From the diary about this episode:
Continuation of the diary entry which began covering the dream episode "The Mustafa Embrace
" during Paul's flight from Florida to San Francisco:
en route to San Francisco
Friday, December 24
I turned to question my neighbor on the window about what he saw outside, and he said we were having engine trouble - typical of this particular plane. When my head cleared, I could hear exactly what he meant, and before long the Captain was announcing an emergency landing.
We arrived in a place called Bolton, and I immediately rang Kate to let her know about the problem, and that I wouldn't make it for dinner. Explained how the opportunity to meet Cuderos brought about my unexpected delay in travelling, but Katie insisted that there was no problem, as she hadn't started dinner yet.
Not a word or a tone that I was a real idiot to have ruined a night we'd put so much heart into. Just her promise of a special Christmas meal and reminder to let me know when I had a new San Francisco ETO.
I couldn't hang up, and could have spent the rest of the evening talking to her - that old habit of falling
in love with Kate anew at the drop of a hat.
Unfortunately, when I got back to the main hall of the small terminal, all the other passengers had disappeared, one of them having organized onward transport, and taken some of the others with him.
The stewardess kindly ordered a taxi to take me to a local hotel for the night, and promised that, despite it being Christmas Day tomorrow, the airline would arrange connections early in the morning.
The cab driver turned out to be my Christmas Eve entertainment - about as opposite from a night at Katie's apartment as the earth could find.
He took me to a bar, out nightclubbing, and then got the idea to visit his estranged wife and son who lived in a nearby town. But first, we had to stop and buy presents, and I willingly bought a carload of gifts from an incredibly obliging retailer who opened his shop especially for us to make the cabby's Christmas.
However, when we got to the house, the driver went to the door, and returned to say that his family didn't live there any more. He was ready to drive back to Bolton, but having shelled out a couple hundred, I thought we should make an effort to find his wife and son, so went to the door to ask where they'd gone.
It turned out that they hadn't moved at all, but that the woman had remarried - information my cabby obviously had, but chose to withhold.
The poignancy of the situation got to me, but was tinged with a certain amount of chagrin - no doubt from ongoing fatigue and gross disappointment at missing the cherished Christmas Eve Kate and I had planned.
In the end we went back to the bar to close the evening. The driver gave away the child's bicycle we'd bought to the bartender, and I started to head for the hotel.
Suddenly remembering that I'd never paid him, went back, and the sad look on the cabby's face made me decide to do my sleeping on the plane, and we drove around some more until the flight was due, but I'm here at the terminal, still waiting.
Saturday - Sunday, December 25 - 26
Kate met my flight, and we went straight to Old St. Mary's before going to her apartment. When we walked in I was completely overcome. Unlike the conventional place she'd been living since April, this haven of so many memories felt like a home of my heart.
She'd made a special space for us to celebrate Christmas - the 12-place table gone from the dining room which now held a huge and brightly lit tree, sofa by the fireplace, and a supper table set for the season.
I couldn't help being moved by the significance of being alive, and here together …. the special effort Kate had made for me, having lost her father less than two months ago.
To change a potentially weepy mood to something a little more frolicsome, I took a now-somewhat-battered envelope out of my pocket, and apologized to Katie for not getting it gift-wrapped. My original idea, I told her, was to offer it in a giant box full of stuffing.
“In lieu of gift wrap,” I announced, and with a grand flourish, took out a pen and drew a Christmas tree on the outside, adding, “we'll do it right this time,” and handed her the envelope.
Inside were two tickets to Spain, and it was Kate's turn to get misty. She quickly disappeared into the kitchen to prepare lunch while I made a few phone calls, first of all to Marcella, to arrange pick up of Kate's present that Marcie had to get when I didn't make it to Gumps before Christmas Eve closing.
After phoning Ben du Pres with seasons greetings and a promise I'd see him in the New Year, drove over to Marcella's with an extra present for her bought at the Miami airport, and was back in time for lunch.
Following dessert Kate presented me with her own envelope - the opposite of mine. Grand and sumptuous, it looked to be made of vellum. On the outside was the symbol she'd designed for us.
The contents were a shock. A check from The Kathryn Pierce Gallery for $387,000 - the total receipts from sale of my Genvieve Royales. “And only auctioneer's commissions,” Kate said, indicating that the gallery's usual percentage was her contribution to the team.
Considering the work she must have expended to achieve this kind of price, she more than deserved the 15%. In August she'd told me the paintings were worth a little over $200,000, but the girl with a mirror had realized $130,000 on its own.
As a final bit of triumphalism Kate added that the price of Royale's work had started falling in the last month. Courtesy of Katie's poker nerve, we'd sold at the top of the market. So many things are going right just now. I have to believe in these omens.
To celebrate the sale Katie brought out a bottle of champagne, and as I was opening it, Pete rang, saying that he'd made a deal with Clive and Rhona, and would bring over some papers the next day.
With that bit of extra good news, we finished the bottle rapidly before dinner - everything on the menu a special favorite. Afterwards we opened our presents in front of the fire.
When I affixed the clasp of the gold chain holding the One Hand One Heart pendant Gumps had constructed after her design, I made a vow to keep Katie close for as long as we might have.
Watching the diamonds glitter below her throat in the firelight, I tried on Kate's gift of hand-made shoes that, well, felt as if they had been made for me.
Inside one was a beautiful poem she'd written about where my steps might lead. It had been uncanny. We'd both given one another something hand-made to wear of a symbolic nature with poems attached. Not to mention the envelopes!
An exquisite night in every way. Kate's familiar perfume, the scent of the tree and the logs, candlelight everywhere - it all added to a sense of well-being that will be a constant resource in difficult times.
On Sunday, June and Pete came over, he bearing a Letter of Intent for the Gaffney-Bryan Mastin partnership along with an expanded schedule of races we'd now be able to enter through April.
And even before completion, two brand new Mastins were presently on their way to Morocco, a gesture of good faith on the part of Rhona and Clive who had already deposited their promised financing in the bank.
Pete was a little dubious about using the Mastin company's preferred test track at Malaga rather than our having first choice, but we left that as an open negotiating point.
It then slipped that June was going with him to Marrakech. The first time to my knowledge that he was actually taking her to a race, rather than June's just showing up.
As I went skimming through the documents Pete was handing me, she and Kate began talking about the race partnership, and June brought up Pete's idea about involving Rachel Pike, the concept I'd seen as a non-starter.
Kate chimed in that with the re-launch of the Mastin road car, there just might be a hook to lure Rachel with now. (Hadn't even thought she'd picked up on that when I mentioned Pete's idea at Christmas dinner!)
It made me start to wonder what two middle class lads like ourselves were in for once these privileged business women started getting involved in our racing fun.
Mentioning that Rhona and Clive bringing preliminary documents specific for our partnership to Malaga, Pete gave me the Mastin Standard Operating Contract that could be the basis of the new team.
But I knew I'd never be able to concentrate on anything with this interesting chat taking place three feet away. When asking one another about plans for New Year's Eve, we discovered that both couples were headed for Spain.
Pete and June are off tomorrow, and she immediately suggested we come and stay at her father's place. He'd bought miles and miles of Costa del Sol real estate after the War, and had built a complex at the most beautiful spot for himself.
Journal continued in next column
The hostess tells Paul he's the only one left
Harry asks Jeannie to dance for them all
Paul says Harry should visit his family for Christmas
Mr. Perkins leaves his home to open the toy store
Paul receives a warm reception from the Hendrix family
Stevie admires the toys in the back seat
Harry cycles around the bar
Harry puts Jeannie up on the handlebars and rides around
Harry is surprised Jeannie has a boyfriend
Sam locks up, talking about the bike
Kate and I didn't even venture a conferring glance, but said we'd love to in unison. More relaxed than Christmas, the day after was extra sublime to the night before, and I realized that I'm only just learning the meaning of the word.
San Francisco - en route to Spain
Monday - Wednesday, December 27 - 29
Unhappy about bringing reality into Christmastime, rang Gene Mason about an appointment after the Morocco race, and he gave me the address of a patient here with my disease whom he'd like me to talk to. but I told him it couldn't be during the holidays.
As we're keeping a low profile with our relationship, Katie and I stayed in most of the time, and had little contact with outside, courtesy of her telling everyone that she'd be away.
It has been pure magic - with a little time to study the Mastin pro forma contracts. Handling Pete's legal work for ages as a sideline, I've gotten used to the language and terms of motor racing, and have found most of the clauses of the Mastin non-specific contracts OK.
Reading through them again now on the plane, and believe that we'll be dealing with fair people.
Paul is flying to San Francisco to spend Christmas with his former fiancée Kate Pierce when the plane has engine trouble, and is forced to land at a small airport in the town of Bolton. The passengers are rattled, but they manage to make arrangements for themselves for the night or onward transport.
Only the hostess remains in the terminal when Paul gets back from phoning Kate, but a taxi arrives to take him to the hotel, and he uses the opportunity to have an alternate Christmas Eve celebration.
Harry, the cab driver, takes Paul to a bar where he is known, and gets the waitress, Jeannie to do a go-go dance to entertain Paul. She throws herself into the dance, and ends up barefoot on the bar. Paul orders champagne as a treat for her performance, and before long Harry, and the bartender, Sam, start pushing and hitting one another. It all seems done in neutrality, but gets pretty rough before Paul finally separates them, and makes them shake hands.
Sam reveals, to Harry's surprise, that he has a large family, when Harry didn't even realize he was married.
After leaving the bar, to continue creating a Christmas party for Paul, Harry takes him to a number of night spots, and when they've gone through what the town has to offer, Paul asks Harry about a remark Jeannie made about taking a trip up north for Christmas. Harry reveals that he was married for three years, and his child and former wife, a school teacher live in a town 50 miles north of Bolton.
Paul persuades him to drive up to make an impromptu visit with his family whom he hasn't seen in seven years.
Harry points out that it would be necessary to bring presents, but has no money. Paul offers to pay, but then they can't find any stores open. But they follow up on an after-hours sign, and a merchant leaves the decorating of his tree at home to open his store for them, and they fill the back seat with toys for Harry's son Steve.
When they reach the pleasant location where Harry's son and former wife live, there is a party going on. Harry approaches the door, then hurries back to the cab, telling Paul that his family no longer live there, and the name on the house is now Hendrix.
Paul thinks it would be sensible to knock at the door, and find out if the new people might know the new address of Harry's wife, but Harry doesn't want to disturb their party. Believing it's only a matter of cold feet, Paul takes it upon himself to inquire.
Mr Hendrix answers the door, and asks his wife about the address of the people from whom they bought the house. She says that she'll be glad to check, and Paul recognizes her immediately from the photo Harry showed him of his wife. Quite obviously she is now Mrs. Hendrix.
Not knowing that her ex-husband is outside, she invites Paul in for a hot toddy, but he says he has a cab outside, and she suggests bringing him in too. Stevie runs out to invite the taxi driver. The boy is friendly, and admires all the toys in the back seat, and asks if they are all for the people who used to live in his house. Harry says they're for his son.
Probably knowing already that Stevie is his own son, he asks the boy's name, and discovers he's called Steve Hendrix now. His mother calls him to come in from the cold, and he wishes Harry a merry Christmas.
Harry is rather embarrassed when Paul returns to the car, it appearing that Harry knew all along about his wife's remarriage, but he makes light of it, and asks what they should do next. Paul suggest driving 50 miles south.
Then Harry wonders what to do with the toys, but Paul - with a touch of chagrin - says that a man with Harry's imagination will figure something out. Harry laughs uproariously, and drives away singing Jingle Bells. He heads directly for Sam's bar, riding in on the bike Paul bought for Stevie at the toy shop.
Eventually he falls down, and Paul enters laughing. Harry then puts barmaid Jeannie up on the handlebars, and begins cycling around the room again.
He then orders drinks, but Sam says they'll have to be on the house as he's closed the cash register, it nearly being midnight closing.
They finish their drinks, and Paul says he has to go to his hotel, having an early plane to catch. Harry calls after him, “it was a great night!” After he's gone, Harry invites Jeannie out to a nightclub.
but she says Sam's going to drive her home to make a late-night supper for her boyfriend who is a musician. As he was surprised that Sam has children, Harry is shocked to learn that Jeannie has a boyfriend.
Harry is still leaning disappointedly on the bar when Sam turns out the lights, and asks him about taking out the bike. Harry offers it to Sam for one of his children, and Sam receives the gift with elation, and says his kids will go nuts about it.As Sam and Jeannie depart, Sam invites her to bring her boyfriend to his home for Christmas dinner.
Harry watches them go with sadness, and gets into his cab.
He picks up some of the toys in the back seat, and handles the spy kit that his son Stevie had admired especially. He touches all the items in a very reflective mood.
Then, all of a sudden, Paul breaks the sombre atmosphere, calling out and saying that he never paid Harry the fare for the evening, then adds that the night is too short to sleep, and the two of them should go back on the town and celebrate Christmas Eve some more.
Notes & Comments:
An offbeat Christmas story with no happy ending about a man perpetually deluding himself, and covering up his loneliness with laughter has a bit of a parallel with Paul's situation, and reference to this is even made in an oblique exchange between himself and Harry.
The second theme is about people who are acquainted, and see each other often, but no nothing about one another - expanding on the theme of isolation - a state into which Paul seems to be sinking deeper and deeper himself.
The one little note against this tide is his plan to spend Christmas with Kate. A light in the darkness - or better, a place of quiet amongst the noise with which he surrounds himself as a perpetual defense against staring at reality.
Director of Photography
John L. Russell A.S.C.
Howard E. Johnson
Hilton A. Green
John McCartey &
James M. Walters
Earl Crain Sr.
Color by Technicolor
Editorial Dept. Head
Costumes by Grady Hunt
Assistant to Executive Producer