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Friday, September 19, 2014

54. FRAGMENTS OF ILLUSION (PLAYING FOR TIME)





Undercover with the FBI

1999-2000



Within a few weeks of our meeting, Ira Einhorn pressed me for a critique his novel, Cantor Dust

I couldn't very well tell him it was the most incoherent load of crock I'd ever read.  So I e-mailed this quick comment:   

One of a kind.  Astonishing in its depth.  

Einhorn zapped me right back: 

Remember, there are 3 more

Oh, joy. 

My report to the FBI on this manuscript by Sam (codename for Einhorn, though this later changed to Fat Ass) was somewhat different:   

Cantor Dust is a long, rambling essay disguised as a novel.  Its most blatant flaw (and there are many) is this:  A novelist is supposed to show, not tell.  This manuscript tells, doesn't show.  It is an amalgamation of great philosopher meets new age spiritualism, regurgitated in Sam's incoherent psycho-babble.

The protagonist (obviously Sam, himself) holds himself out to be the world's greatest genius and is a proponent of incest and sado-masochism.  

When I telephoned Einhorn, he focused, again, on money.  All money talk should be communicated by fax, not e-mail, he decreed. 

"We have a secret bank account in Luxembourg," said Einhorn.  "My book's gonna be big because I'm famous.  And I've got some more writing I'm sending you.  It's called Fragments, modeled after Nietzsche's style of writing." 

Einhorn and I now e-mailed each other daily, talking by phone weekly; he, giving me updates on his legal situation in France. 

When I met with John H, Mike and Ed on March 16th (Sheraton Wardman Tower, room 3035), the Philly boys were beside themselves over how my relationship with Einhorn had flourished.  And Headquarters was so pleased with our progress, they pledged twenty grand for Albuquerque to support the mission.   

For his birthday on May 15th, I sent Einhorn a birthday card featuring an artsy montage of pens, bound journals, and handwriting.  I telephoned him, too, and suggested he open a fine bottle of wine, blow out some candles. 

"You know what to wish for." 

"I sure do," Einhorn replied.  "Thank you for calling.  I really appreciate it." 

Two-and-a-half months later, a jury awarded the Maddux family a judgment against Ira Einhorn:  $907,000,000.  

In his communications with me, Einhorn sounded overjoyed, for two reasons: 

1) He thought the judgment made him worth that much ("With interest, I'm the one-billion dollar man!"), and... 

2)  "It elevates my case" toward getting a good advance for his novel. 

 In mid-August, I huddled with John H, Ed and Mike at the Sheraton Wardman Tower.  It would be my last meeting with John H before his retirement from the FBI.

We agreed two main issues: 

One, we would create a dummy book contract for Einhorn as we played for time. 

Two, we would push for Einhorn to leave France so we could rendition him on the lam. 

In September, Einhorn bubbled with excitement over a story Esquire planned on him. 

He expected a photographer to visit his home any day and, said Einhorn over the phone, excitedly, "He's going to do a day in my life." 

A month later the photographer had come and gone.

"They took photos of me coming naked out of the water," Einhorn told me.  "I hope they use them for the cover." 

In mid-November, Esquire hit the stands, a story by Russ Baker, whom Einhorn professed to have liked. 

I e-mailed Einhorn:   

I have Dec. Esquire.  No cover.  Opens with full page of frontal nudity.  They appear to have cropped your dick to one inch.  Will read presently. 

Einhorn zapped back: 

I was in 45 degree very cold water for a half hour, so shriveled rather than cropped, perhaps. 

I e-mailed him again two hours later:   

I've read it.  I don't think you're going to like Russ Baker any more.           

 Einhorn's return e-mail:  

We never liked him.  Use it my friend and laugh last. 

Precisely.   

Come January 2000, Einhorn started to grow impatient.  His roof was still leaking and I hadn't gotten closer to getting him any brazhort.   

I swore about shortsighted publishers no longer willing to take chances on experimental fiction and I offered to buy his novel myself. 

(For the sake of verisimilitude, I had sent a number of queries to likely publishers, like Barricade Books.  But an Einhorn book was considered of such poor taste, nobody would even respond.  When I bounced it off a New York literary agent, he responded with disapproval: I knew a girl in Philadelphia who was raped by Einhorn.  She rang his doorbell to deliver something, he answered his door naked, yanked her inside and raped her.)

Enter my operative Rick K, who would evaluate Cantor Dust for another editorial opinion. 

Rick out-did himself.  The opening paragraph of his evaluation: 

CANTOR DUST is a powerful and provocative novel that provides a history lesson of twentieth century culture and politics and stretches the intellectual boundaries of anyone who reads this book. 

Rick recommended (in cahoots with me) that a) the novel's ending be revised "to enhance the book's literary impact," and b) the dialog between characters be re-written because, basically, all his characters sounded the same.   

Responded Einhorn:  

Rick obviously got it, and his criticism is correct, especially as to the dialog.

Einhorn immediately went to work on revisions of Cantor Dust, and I put Rick and Einhorn into contact with one another.  

That's when the FBI's Washington Field Office suffered a financial crunch and opted to scrap the operation.  Mike and Ed drove down from Philadelphia.  They wanted things to continue, were pleased I had not frozen my contact with Einhorn like WFO had frozen my funding.  They promised to get their superiors back home to put pressure on WFO. 

In July 2000, after several hearings on Einhorn's case, France approved extradition. 

Einhorn's lawyers appealed to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, but they felt serious heat.  If Einhorn had thought about fleeing, this was a good time. 

The French, for their part, erected a 24-hour observation post outside his house.  

In April, Einhorn told me he had Bryant Gumbel, U.S. News & World Report, Fox TV, and "that demon lady" (Theresa Conroy) from the Philadelphia News banging on his door.  But it was me he wanted to see.  By this time, Cantor Dust was in Rick K’s hands for a total re-write. 

Come May 15th, another birthday card from me to Ira.  He turned 60. 

Come July, Rick was "about ten hours away from completion." 

Einhorn must have been pulling his hair out of his head with frustration as we bought time, pending new developments in his appeal to the French prime minister.  And not a development went by without Einhorn reporting in detail what was happening, how he felt, and what he and his legal team were going to do about it. 

So we knew what he was thinking, doing, and thinking of doing.  

Einhorn, in an e-mail September 29th, 2000:  

Any idea when the present phase of the book will be done AND when you will be here? 

My reply: 

I'm working on the galleys, would like to bring them with me. 

Two months later I had galleys (typeset page-proofs). 

I sent Einhorn this e-mail: 

The galleys look great!  I will dispatch them to you.

 Einhorn's reply:  

Happy to hear that.  You will feel my smile when I get them... now all we need is you

On December 6th, this from Einhorn:  

Arrived.  What a good feeling!  A lift!  Thanks!  Let us set a date [for your visit] as soon as possible, as we are in the middle of complicated legal actions. 

Einhorn set to correcting the galleys.  

It was amazing we’d been able to spin him for so long.

Now the time was right for me to face the devil again.



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