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At Café Zagreb, The Invisible Guy had partaken of a rather ample quantity of some daskovaca* of dubious pedigree which happened to have been heavily doped by Mr. Bunghole, who intended it for one of his rivals. The Invisible Guy's peculiar condition, though so often an advantage in his line of work, renders him particularly vulnerable to the effects of such libations even when they haven't been tampered with, and he's been alternately out cold or in a delirious stupor for two days. But as he gradually regains his faculties he recalls Jokko informing him that Mr. Bunghole is soon to meet Mojo Stang at a monastery on the coast just south of Varna, which serves as a cover for Stang's Balkan headquarters.

The Invisible Guy has gotten a coded wire to Smith, Just Smith, and is en route to Varna by way of Plovdiv, where he has some old friends he can't resist surprising with an unscheduled visit, however brief. In the interim, he wants Smith to see what he can find out about the monastery, maybe get a peek behind the walls, and generally scope out the scene.

Smith rents a boat and goes parasailing along the coast, hoping to soar high enough to get a look over the monastery walls with his binoculars and check out the beach access for when they might sneak in later. Good plan, except for the fact that Phez spotted Smith at the marina and surreptitiously commandeered the boat, having gotten rid of the driver by holding his head under water with a snorkel in his mouth and using the poor man's own hand to block the tube, the irony being that he doesn't drown but rather suffocates himself under water.

Just as Smith, Just Smith is gaining altitude and approaching the monastery, Phez cuts the tow line, leaving our airborne observer free-flying at the mercy of the wind and gravity. He tries to gain control of the parasail and soar to safety but only succeeds in crashing into some rocks near the shore, surviving, but with very few of his bones intact.

Claude is on the beach a little distance away seated on a portable but comfortable folding wood-and-canvas chair and reading The Nearest Far Away Place – Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys, and the Southern California Experience by Timothy White, having just enjoyed the last swig of a cherry cola which had been kept nicely chilled in his convenient thermal-lined colorful plastic picnic cooler.

* Daskovaca, i.e. "Plank brandy". A piece of wood is immersed in the liquor to impart flavor, a technique I am told is also common practice in California wine making and known as "staving".  A friend whose grandfather was "Minister of Beverages" or something like that, in the former Yugoslavia, tells me it's not so uncommon for folks to use wood that has had paint or varnish on it, with rather unpleasant consequences.

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