Thursday, December 4, 2014


Lara soon discovered that her mother was the invisible paymaster behind the spymaster and me.  So she laid plans to run away from home.

The countess phoned me in a state of shock.

Lara had mailed two letters from Geneva airport departure lounge.  One, addressed to her ex-husband, announced she was moving to the United States and hence their son would not visit in the summer.  The other was addressed to her mother:  I’m leaving forever, don’t try to find me.

“Don’t worry,” I told the countess, “we’ll find out where she is.”

Within an hour, our dataveillant nailed it:  Lara had bought a house in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Gray Fiduciary feigned surprise.  But his participation must have been necessary to transfer two million dollars to purchase the house for cash.  And it was probably he who had confessed our client’s secret sponsorship of the ongoing mission.

Baron von Biggleswurm was as shocked as his ex-mother-in-law.  At first he went ballistic, spluttering to me about tracking his ex-wife, whatever the cost, and putting her behind bars “for this outrageous kidnap.”  

A day later he resolved to do the opposite.  “I give up.  If my son wants to see me, he will come.  If he does not, well, I cannot keep spending money on lawyers.”

Biggleswurm telephoned his ex-mother-in-law to protest his predicament—and learned, to his surprise, that they were swimming in the same soup.

“I talked to the hedgehog,” Biggleswurm told me.


“The hedgehog.  She’s also in the soup.”  

Incredibly, they forged an alliance.  The countess pressed her former archenemy to take legal action.

Clair and I cautioned her against such tactics.  Not only was Biggleswurm unpredictable and insane, Lara would never forgive such collaboration.

Our warning fell on deaf ears.  A master web-weaver, such shenanigans came natural to the countess.

A few weeks after Lara’s bombshell, Biggleswurm received a letter from a Santa Fe lawyer stating that if he wished to visit his son, he must do so in New Mexico, on his ex-wife’s terms, which included not being allowed to take the boy out-of-state.

The countess actually paid for Biggleswurm to fly to New Mexico so that he could retain a lawyer, also at her expense.  

The baron took the opportunity to visit his son’s private school where he raised a ruckus over the boy’s enrollment under his mother’s name.  Santa Fe’s sophisticated community, which had seen just about everything, never saw anything quite like the baron.  He left a trail of incredulity ten miles wide.

Biggleswurm wailed at me upon his return to Germany.  

“Can you believe, my son needs a bodyguard to spend time with me?”

Motions were filed, parties deposed.  As usual, the lawyers cleaned up.

Ultimately, Biggleswurm reestablished visitation rights, but only after his lawyer instructed him to “shut up” after he attempted a bout of bottom-snorting before the judge.  

The baron cut his mother-in-law a slice of visitation—her reward for paying legal costs.

This resulted in Biggleswurm bringing the boy to visit his grandmother on the French Riviera for five days.

Lara must have known her mother and ex-husband were in cahoots.  But whatever she felt about this odd alliance was tempered by her brain trust (including the Gray Fiduciary), which counseled her to sweet-talk her mother—or risk disinheritance.

And so Lara commenced a campaign of weekly telephone calls to her mother to exchange pleasantries, neither mentioning their prior estrangement nor the issues that had prompted her runaway from Europe.

Clair and I did not deign it our place to tell the countess she was being conned. We reasoned that if Lara’s turnaround, however deceitful, made the countess happy during her autumn years, so be it. 

When Clair and I met the baron during a visit to New York City, he blamed me for his never producing a single manuscript page, because, he complained, I had not applied enough pressure on him.  

He pressed the spymaster and me to visit his room at the Carlyle Hotel to watch a one-hour video of himself conducting a Russian orchestra.  The performance was out of sync, like an old Japanese Godzilla movie, as if the musicians had decided in advance to perform at their own speed and ignore the baton-waving mental case.

Clair phoned the countess and conveyed our daffy evening with the baron.

“I see,” she replied, tired and bored.

Then she pulled the plug.

And that is where we stood… until we received a call from the countess, many months later, to get out butts out to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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