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Monday, November 17, 2014

14. HARRIED HARRY REDUX





Autumn 1992


Harry Schultz was staying temporarily in Lausanne and wanted us to come see him.  So we trained 65 miles to the other end of the lake.

Arriving an hour early, like good spooks, we appointed ourselves at an open-air café outside Hotel Central, read newspapers and sipped hot chocolate.

Mega-millionaire Harry looked like one of the mole people that live beneath New York’s subway system as he crossed the boulevard toward us.  He wore several layers of ragged, mismatched clothing, and carried a plastic bag on either arm.  

“I got a new hearing aid,” said Harry.  “Sit anywhere you want.”

When he opened his mouth, I noted that he’d had a lot of gold put in—probably to replace mercury fillings, or maybe because he thought it was the safest place to keep it.

Harry was happy because, a few days earlier, his psychic had told him his most important work was yet to come.  The psychic convinced Harry that it was his destiny to create the final economic formula that will save mankind.

No more inflation.  No more deflation.  No more recession or depression.  

Harry was now waiting for the formula to occur to him.  

Harry then revealed to us that the world as we knew it would cease to exist in 1997.  California and Great Britain would be gone—swallowed by the ocean after several earthquakes.  Many other parts of the world would suffer the same fate, he added.

Clair leaned in, cupping a hand around his mouth conspiratorially, as only Clair could.  “What about Washington?”

“Unfortunately,” said Harry, “Washington will be okay.”

“Are you still interested in UFOs?” I asked.  The last time we talked, Harry wanted us to track down aliens from outer space.

“Uh, yeah,” said Harry.  “You know, they’re among us.  That’s what the psychic told me.  You’re supposed to say to new people you meet: ‘Are you a walk-in?’  That’s what they’re called, walk-ins.  But I suppose they would deny it.”  Harry thrust two copies of his current newsletter at us  “Look at the centerspread,” he commanded.  

A smattering of black and white photographs:  Harry standing next to British Prime Minister John Major; Harry standing next to French President Francois Mitterrand and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.  Harry appears animated, earnestly conversing with his new friends.

“What do you think?” snapped Harry.

“I think it’s great,” I said.  “How did you manage that?”

Harry sat back in his chair, beaming. 

“Congratulations,” said Clair.

We moved to another table for lunch, overlooking Lausanne’s train station.

“I still think you’re wrong,” Harry admonished, “for not doing anything about Loony.”

“What did you want us to do, break his legs?” I asked.

Harry did not answer.  That’s exactly what he wanted.

“Our objective was to get him off your back,” I reminded, “not incite him further.”

Harry was growing lonelier—and wackier—in self-imposed exile.

Clair and I bid him farewell (we’d never see him again) and found a train going our way.  As we glided rails toward Serene City, I scrutinized Harry’s photo-spread.  The caption said they were snapped at a G-8 meeting in Brussels.

“Look at this.”  I held it out to Clair.  “Tell me if I’m wrong, but I think the only real person in these photos is Harry.”

Clair rubbed his eyes, straightened his glasses and looked hard at the photos.

“Major, Mitterrand, Kohl…,”  I said.  “They’re wax figures!”

Clair shook his head, astonished.  “I’ll be damned—you’re right.”


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