words that had-or had not-been exchanged, a friendship that I valued beyond what any words could describe had been irretrievably damaged.

When Veil did not reply, I turned and headed for the freight elevator that would take me down to the street.

Chapter Three

I emerged out of Customs into the main terminal at the Zurich airport and was startled to see a figure in a fabulously ill-fitting chauffeur's uniform holding up a sign with what might have been my name had it not been misspelled, with two k's. He was a very tall man, well over six feet, whose physical grandeur was marred by a crippled left leg and what appeared to be a permanent stoop. His blue serge uniform looked like it had been put together from spare parts; although the cap precariously perched on top of his head was at least one size too small for him, the rest of the outfit had the appearance of being hastily cut and sewn together from some enormous blanket with no other purpose in mind than to simply drape his large frame. There was an anxious, almost furtive air about him as he peered over the heads of the people around him in search of his fare. Pushing my luggage cart ahead of me, I veered off to my right, heading for a side exit where an array of gleaming silver and blue buses were parked at the curb.

'Dr. Frederickson! Dr. Frederickson, please wait!'

It seemed the man with the sign had been waiting for me after all. I stopped and turned as the big man lurched toward me, leaning heavily on his stout cane and half dragging his crippled leg after him. He was decidedly short of breath by the time he reached me, and it took him a good thirty seconds to get his wind back. This accomplished, he pulled himself as erect as his damaged body would allow, then tugged at the tails of his coat and brushed some imaginary lint from his lapels. Despite his comic-opera outfit, there was a distinct, touching air of dignity in the way he presented himself.

'I am Carlo at your service, Dr. Frederickson,' he said in English laced with a heavy Italian accent. 'I am to be your driver during your stay in Switzerland.'

I smiled up at the man with the craggy face with permanently weathered flesh, coal-black eyes, and unkempt, silver-streaked black hair flaring out from beneath his cap. 'It's nice to meet you, Carlo, but I told Mr. Neuberger I didn't want a chauffeur. It's nothing personal; I just believe in public transportation. Have a nice day, and tell your boss I said thanks anyway.'

I proceeded toward the exit, stopped again, and heaved a little sigh when I heard Carlo's cane thumping behind me on the tile floor. 'Dr. Frederickson, please wait!'

Once again I waited for him to catch his breath, hoping he wasn't going to have a heart attack.

'I don't know this Mr. Neuberger, sir,' he finally managed to say. 'I was sent by my superior at Cornucopia here in Zurich. I have been ordered to make sure you are made as comfortable as possible.'

'I understand, Carlo, but I really do not want a chauffeur. Being waited on makes me nervous.'

He repeated his curiously dignified gesture of pulling himself up and tugging at the tails of his coat. He turned his head to one side and swallowed hard. When he looked back at me, I was startled to see that his ebony eyes were moist. The air of anxiety about him I had first noticed was now even more pronounced. 'What's the matter, Carlo?' I continued. 'I told you it was nothing personal. I just don't want to have to wait around for a chauffeur to come when I want to go someplace, and I don't want one hanging around when I don't. Like I said, it makes me nervous.'

He planted his cane on the floor in front of him, leaned down as far as he could, whispered, 'You don't understand, signor.'

'Please stop leaning over like that, will you, Carlo? You're going to throw out your back. What is it I don't understand?'

His response was to lean down even closer to me and whisper, 'I'm Italian.'

'Really?' I said, suppressing a smile.

He shook his head. 'It's so embarrassing.'

'Being Italian?' I asked incredulously.

'No. It is my situation. I am Italian-Italian, not Swiss-Italian.'

'So what?'

Now he straightened up, but continued to gaze down at me with his soulful black eyes. 'The Swiss allow me to work for good wages, which I can use to support my family back in Italy, so I do not mean to sound ungrateful. But I must speak the truth if I am to make you understand why it is so. . important that you use me. The Swiss are a very rich people. There are jobs for all Swiss who want them, and it is not necessary for any Swiss to do menial jobs like collecting garbage or cleaning streets. For those kinds of jobs they hire foreign workers like myself who cannot find jobs in our own countries. But they are very strict about certain things. For example, they do not allow foreign workers to bring their families with them. More important, they issue only temporary work permits that are good for staying in this country only as long as you are working. If you lose your job or quit, you must leave the country immediately.'

'Carlo,' I said, starting to feel more than a bit impatient, 'are you telling me that you'll lose your job, you'll be forced to leave the country, and your family will starve just because I don't want to use you? Cornucopia must have somebody else for you to drive around. Listen, I'll be happy to call your boss and explain the situation.'

'No, signor,' he replied quickly, opening his eyes wide. 'That would only make matters worse. You see, there isn't anyone else to drive around; there hasn't been for weeks. Cornucopia has been very, very good to me. They originally hired me as a janitor ten years ago. Then I hurt myself, and they saw that it was difficult for me to do the heavy physical labor sometimes required of me. Rather than dismiss me, they gave me this job of chauffeur. This is work I can do, signor; it is the best job I have ever had. But I know they are thinking there really isn't that much need for a chauffeur. I am afraid of being let go. Please, signor, you look like a kind man. If you would let me serve you, and then-if you are satisfied with my service-perhaps say a kind word about me to my boss, I would appreciate it very, very much. I promise not to get in your way, and I will always be close by when you need me.'

Carlo might be old and crippled, but he was no slouch when it came to presenting a case. Cornucopia should have hired him as a lawyer. I grunted, pointed to his crooked left leg. 'You can, uh, drive all right with that leg?'

'Oh, si, signor. The car has automatic transmission. You will find I am a very good driver.'

He was right. Despite my protestations, he had insisted on using his free hand to push my luggage cart out of the terminal to a special-permit parking lot where a gleaming black Mercedes-Benz was parked off to one side, and from the ease with which he tossed my luggage into the cavernous trunk, I knew he was not a man I would have wanted to annoy when he was younger. Behind the wheel of the Mercedes, he drove along the highway into Zurich, and then through the city's streets, with confidence and skill, and-despite his Keystone Kops uniform-an air of professionalism that made him appear as if he'd been a chauffeur all his life. As if fearing to invade my privacy, he'd rolled up the window separating the front seat from the rear salon, which seemed to me only slightly smaller than a handball court. There was a bar, television, and a selection of about a dozen newspapers and magazines. There was also a thermos of hot coffee. I opted for the coffee, pouring myself a cup of the nutty, chocolate-laced liquid, leaning back in the soft, rich-smelling leather that surrounded me, and enjoying the view out the windows as we made our way to the Hilton.

I told Carlo to wait for me while I checked into the hotel. I was amused to find that Neuberger had booked me into one of three 'honeymoon suites,' since the Presidential Suite had already been booked when he'd called. If the car's salon had been big enough for a game of handball, the hotel suite was more suitable for jai alai. After an initial twinge of guilt at being the proximate cause of so much wasted money, I reminded myself that my expenses were coming out of Neuberger's very spacious pockets, and not funds meant to feed starving children; if he wanted to spend his money this way while I looked into what might have happened to the funds that had been meant to feed starving children, I wasn't about to complain. I'd already done that.

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