This is as good
a time as any to jump to a few years later when Hugo and the two girls
came to visit my wife Leticia and me at our castle in France.
The first night of their visit we experienced thunder and lightning
of an awesome sort. Our Louis XIV castle was never spookier than when
the lightning silhouetted it against the sky and against the giant
trees growing around it.
It turned out that Brian Blair and his wife were visiting the castle
that same week from Los Angeles. Brian at that time was just debuting
as a professional magician. After his most successful seance-like
performance that night at the castle, he has been referred to ever
since as the Castle Magician. In fact, ten years later
when he had become a serious practicing magician, his card read:
For this magic night at our château, Brian chose
the Western Bar Room, which was on the third floor (the top floor)
all the way at one end of the wing. Its great windows blended beautifully
the outside atmosphere with his magic. As if by some hand of fate,
the lightning bolts would flash just at the right time, amplifying
his magic tricks.
Yolanda was the focus of the audience and the magician that night.
The other half dozen of us were watching her as much as we were watching
Brian. She puzzled at the tricks, she laughed, she pouted. She insisted
on more. We all fell in love with her, even our wives didsuch
childish enthusiasm and innocence.
The next night our group had dinner at the Château-de-Fer-en-Tardenois,
a neighboring château-restaurant. The three-star rating given
it by Michelin was richly deserved especially for the monumental pyramid
selection of dessertsno one could resist fewer than three desserts.
During our fabulous dinner, Leticia spotted Ilyana, Yolanda's inseparable
sister, filching dessert spoons. She found seven silver spoons in
her handbag, made her put them back on the table, and saved our reputation
with our neighbor owners of the château.
Hugo put up with Ilyana because she kept Yolanda amused when he was
busy with other things. He couldnt be attentive to Yolanda very
much of the time.
After Hugos divorce from his wife, he asked Yolanda to marry
him. Hugo, generous to a fault, gave his lovely home on the side of
the volcano to Yolanda so that she would not be marrying him just
for his money. She took the house and refused his offer of marriage,
perhaps objecting to a marriage contract. Everybody thought she was
crazy. Hugo went on to marry another Latin lady, fortunately a very
Two or three years after Hugo died, we received a plaintive little
phone call from Yolanda from Costa Rica. She was wondering how to
reach Hugo. When she learned that he had died she was very sad and
contemplative. She said, You know, everything nice in my life
always came from Hugo. Im really sad I didnt realize this
sooner. We could have even gotten married.