1 – “Can I Help You?”
The Secret Service holds much that is kept secret even from very senior officers in the organization. Only M. and his Chief of Staff know absolutely everything there is to know. The latter is responsible for keeping the Top Secret record known as The War Book so that, in the event of the death of both of them, the whole story, apart from what is available to individual Sections and Stations, would be available to their successors.
One thing that James Bond, for instance, didn’t know was the machinery at Headquarters for dealing with the public, whether friendly or otherwise–drunks, lunatics, bona fide applications to join the Service, and enemy agents with plans for penetration or even assassination.
On that cold, clear morning in November he was to see the careful cogwheels in motion.
The girl at the switchboard at the Ministry of Defence flicked the switch to HOLD and said to her neighbour, “It’s another nut who says he’s James Bond. Even knows his code number. Says he wants to speak to M. personally.”
The senior girl shrugged. The switchboard had had quite a few such calls since, a year before, James Bond’s death on a mission to Japan had been announced in the press. There had even been one pestiferous woman who, at every full moon, passed on messages from Bond on Uranus, where it seemed he had got stuck while awaiting entry into heaven. She said, “Put him through to Liaison, Pat.”
The Liaison Section was the first cog in the machine, the first sieve. The operator got back on the line: “Just a moment, sir. I’ll put you on to an officer who may be able to help you.”
James Bond, sitting on the edge of his bed, said, “Thank you.”
He had expected some delay before he could establish his identity. He had been warned to expect it by the charming “Colonel Boris” who had been in charge of him for the past few months after he had finished his treatment in the luxurious Institute on the Nevsky Prospekt in Leningrad . A man’s voice came on the line. “Captain Walker speaking. Can I help you?” ,
James Bond spoke slowly and clearly. “This is Commander James Bond speaking. Number 007. Would you put me through to M., or his secretary, Miss Moneypenny . I want to make an appointment.”
Captain Walker pressed two buttons on the side of his telephone. One of them switched on a tape recorder for the use of his department, the other alerted one of the duty officers in the Action Room of the Special Branch at Scotland Yard that he should listen to the conversation, trace the call, and at once put a tail on the caller. It was now up to Captain Walker, who was in fact an extremely bright ex-prisoner-of-war interrogator from Military Intelligence, to keep the subject talking for as near five minutes as possible. He said, “I’m afraid I don’t know either of these two people. Are you sure you’ve got the right number?”
James Bond patiently repeated the Regent number which was the main outside line for the Secret Service. Together with so much else, he had forgotten it, but Colonel Boris had known it and had made him write it down among the small print on the front page of his forged British passport that said his name was Frank Westmacott, company director.
“Yes,” said Captain Walker sympathetically. “We seem to have got that part of it right. But I’m afraid I can’t place these people you want to talk to. Who exactly are they? This Mr. Em, for instance. I don’t think we’ve got anyone of that name at the Ministry.”
“Do you want me to spell it out? You realize this is an open line?”
Captain Walker was rather impressed by the confidence in the speaker’s voice. He pressed another button, and, so that Bond would hear it, a telephone bell rang. He said, “Hang on a moment, would you? There’s someone on my other line.” Captain Walker got on to the head of his Section. “Sorry, sir. I’ve got a chap on who says he’s James Bond and wants to talk to M. I know it sounds crazy and I’ve gone through the usual motions with the Special Branch and so on, but would you mind listening for a minute? Thank you, sir.”
Two rooms away a harassed man, who was the Chief Security Officer for the Secret Service, said “Blast!” and pressed a switch. A microphone on his desk came to life. The Chief Security Officer sat very still. He badly needed a cigarette, but his room was now live to Captain Walker and to the lunatic who called himself “James Bond.” Captain Walker’s voice came over at full strength. “I’m so sorry. Now then. This man Mr. Em you want to talk to. I’m sure we needn’t worry about security. Could you be more specific?”
James Bond frowned. He didn’t know that he had frowned, and he wouldn’t have been able to explain why he had done so. He said, and lowered his voice, again inexplicably, “Admiral Sir Miles Messervy. He is head of a department in your Ministry. The number of his room used to be twelve on the eighth floor. He used to have a secretary called Miss Moneypenny. Good-looking girl. Brunette. Shall I give you the Chief of Staff’s name? No? Well, let’s see, it’s Wednesday. Shall I tell you what’ll be the main dish on the menu in the canteen? It should be steak-and-kidney pudding.”
The Chief Security Officer picked up the direct telephone to Captain Walker. Captain Walker said to James Bond, “Damn! There’s the other telephone again. Shan’t be a minute.” He picked up the green telephone. “Yes, sir?”
“I don’t like that bit about the steak-and-kidney pudding. Pass him on to the Hard Man. No. Cancel that. Make it the Soft. There was always something odd about 007’s death. No body. No solid evidence. And the people on that Japanese island always seemed to me to be playing it pretty close to the chest. The stone-face act. It’s just possible. Keep me informed, would you?”
Captain Walker got back to James Bond. “Sorry about that. It’s being a busy day. Now then, this inquiry of yours. Afraid I can’t help you myself. Not my part of the Ministry. The man you want is Major Townsend. He should be able to locate this man you want to see. Got a pencil? It’s number forty-four Kensington Cloisters. Got that? Kensington double five double five. Give me ten minutes and I’ll have a word with him and see if he can help. All right?”
James Bond said dully, “That’s very kind of you.” He put down the telephone. He waited exactly ten minutes and picked up the receiver and asked for the number.
James Bond was staying at the Ritz Hotel. Colonel Boris had told him to do so. Bond’s file in the K.G.B. Archive described him as a high-liver, so, on arrival in London , he must stick to the K.G.B. image of the high life. Bond went down in the lift to the Arlington Street entrance. A man at the newsstand got a good profile of him with a buttonhole Minox. When Bond went down the shallow steps to the street and asked the commissionaire for a taxi, a Canonflex with a telescopic lens clicked away busily from a Red Roses laundry van at the neighbouring goods entrance, and in due course the same van followed Bond’s taxi while a man inside the van reported briefly to the Action Room of the Special Branch.
Number forty-four Kensington Cloisters was a dull Victorian mansion in grimy red brick. It had been chosen for its purpose because it had once been the headquarters of the Empire League for Noise Abatement, and its entrance still bore the brass plate of this long-defunct organization, the empty shell of which had been purchased by the Secret Service through the Commonwealth Relations Office. It also had a spacious old-fashioned basement, re-equipped as detention cells, and a rear exit into a quiet mews.
The Red Roses laundry van watched the front door shut behind James Bond and then moved off at a sedate speed to its garage not far from Scotland Yard while the process of developing the Canonflex film went on in its interior.
“Appointment with Major Townsend,” said Bond.
“Yes. He’s expecting you, sir. Shall I take your raincoat?” The powerful-looking doorman put the coat on a coat hanger and hung it up on one of a row of hooks beside the door. As soon as Bond was safely closeted with Major Townsend, the coat would go swiftly to the laboratory on the first floor where its provenance would be established from an examination of the fabric. Pocket dust would be removed for more leisurely research. “Would you follow me, sir?”
It was a narrow corridor of freshly painted clapboard with a tall, single window which concealed the fluoroscope triggered automatically from beneath the ugly patterned carpet. The findings of its X-ray eye would be fed into the laboratory above the passage. The passage ended intwo facing doors marked “A” and “B.” The doorman knocked on Room B and stood aside for Bond to enter.
It was a pleasant, very light room, close-carpeted in dove-grey Wilton. The military prints on the cream walls were expensively framed. A small, bright fire burned under an Adam mantelpiece, which bore a number of silver trophies and two photographs in leather frames–one of a nice-looking woman and the other of three nice-looking children. There was a central table with a bowl of flowers and two comfortable club chairs on either side of the fire. No desk or filing cabinets, nothing official-looking. A tall man, as pleasant as the room, got up from the far chair, dropped The Times on the carpet beside it, and came forward with a welcoming smile. He held out a firm, dry hand.
This was the Soft Man.
“Come in. Come in. Take a pew. Cigarette? Not the ones I seem to remember you favour. Just the good old Senior Service.”
Major Townsend had carefully prepared the loaded remark–a reference to Bond’s liking for the Morland Specials with the three gold rings. He noted Bond’s apparent lack of comprehension. Bond took a cigarette and accepted a light. They sat down facing one another. Major Townsend crossed his legs comfortably. Bond sat up straight. Major Townsend said, “Well now. How can I help you?”
Across the corridor, in Room A–a cold Office of Works cube, equipped only with a hissing gas fire, an ugly desk under a naked neon light, and two wooden chairs– Bond’s reception by the Hard Man, an ex-police superintendent (“ex” because of a brutality case in Glasgow for which he had taken the rap) would have been very different. There, the man who went under the name of Mr. Rob-son would have given him the full intimidation treatment –harsh, bullying interrogation, threats of imprisonment for false representation, and God knows what else, and, perhaps, if he had shown signs of hostility or developing a nuisance value, a little judicious roughing-up in the basement.
Such was the ultimate sieve which sorted out the wheat from the chaff from among those members of the public who desired access to the Secret Service. There were other people in the building who dealt with the letters. Those written in pencil or in multicoloured inks, and those enclosing a photograph, remained unanswered. Those which threatened or were litigious were referred to the Special Branch. The solid, serious ones were passed, with a comment from the best graphologist in the business, to the Liaison Section at Headquarters for “further action.” Parcels went automatically, and fast, to the Bomb Disposal Squad at Knightsbridge Barracks. The eye of the needle was narrow. On the whole, it discriminated appropriately. It was an expensive setup, but it is the first duty of a secret service to remain not only secret but secure.
There was no reason why James Bond, who had always been on the operative side of the business, should know anything about the entrails of the service, any more than he should have understood the mysteries of the plumbing or electricity supply of his flat in Chelsea or the working of his own kidneys. Colonel Boris, however, had known the whole routine. The secret services of all the great powers know the public face of their opponents, and Colonel Boris had very accurately described the treatment that James Bond must expect before he was cleared and was allowed access to the office of his former chief.
So now James Bond paused before he replied to Major Townsend’s question about how he could be of help. He looked at the Soft Man and then into the fire. He added up the accuracy of the description he had been given of Major Townsend’s appearance, and before he said what he had been told to say, he gave Colonel Boris ninety out of a hundred. The big, friendly face, the wide-apart, pale-brown eyes, bracketed by the wrinkles of a million smiles, the military moustache, the rimless monocle dangling from a thin black cord, the brushed-back, thinning sandy hair, the immaculate double-breasted blue suit, stiff white collar and brigade tie–it was all there. But what Colonel Boris hadn’t said was that the friendly eyes were as cold and steady as gunbarrels and that the lips were thin and scholarly.
James Bond said patiently: “It’s really quite simple. I’m who I say I am. I’m doing what I naturally would do, and that’s report back to M.”
“Quite. But you must realize”–a sympathetic smile– “that you’ve been out of contact for nearly a year. You’ve been officially posted as ‘missing believed killed.’ Your obituary has even appeared in The Times, Have you any evidence of identity? I admit that you look very much like your photographs, but you must see that we have to be very sure before we pass you on up the ladder.”
“A Miss Mary Goodnight was my secretary. She’d recognize me all right. So would dozens of other people at H.Q.”
“Miss Goodnight’s been posted abroad. Can you give me a brief description of H.Q., just the main geography?”
Bond did so.
“Right. Now, who was a Miss Maria Freudenstadt?”
“Yes, she’s dead.”
“Thought she wouldn’t last long. She was a double, working for K.G.B. Section One Hundred controlled her. I wouldn’t get any thanks for telling you any more.”
Major Townsend had been pruned with this very secret top question. He had been given the answer, more or less as Bond had put it. This was the clincher. This had to be James Bond. “Well, we’re getting on fine. Now, it only remains to find out where you’ve come from and where you’ve been all these months and I won’t keep you any longer.”
“Sorry. I can only tell that to M. personally.”
“I see.” Major Townsend put on a thoughtful expression. “Well, just let me make a telephone call or two and I’ll see what can be done.” He got to his feet. “Seen today’s Times?” He picked it up and handed it to Bond. It had been specially treated to give good prints. Bond took it. “Shan’t be long.”
Major Townsend shut the door behind him and went across the passage and through the door marked “A,” where he knew that “Mr. Robson” would be alone. “Sorry to bother you, Fred. Can I use your scrambler?” The chunky man behind the desk grunted through the stem of his pipe and remained bent over the midday Evening Standard racing news.
Major Townsend picked up the green receiver and was put through to the laboratory. “Major Townsend speaking. Any comment?” He listened, carefully, said thank you, and got through to the Chief Security Officer at Headquarters. “Well, sir, I think it must be 007. Bit thinner than his photographs. I’ll be giving you his prints as soon as he’s gone. Wearing his usual rig–dark-blue single-breasted suit, white shirt, thin black knitted silk tie, black casuals– but they all look brand-new. Raincoat bought yesterday from Burberry’s. Got the Freudenstadt question right, but says he won’t say anything about himself except to M. personally. But whoever he is, I don’t like it much. He fluffed on his special cigarettes. He’s got an odd sort of glazed, sort of faraway look, and the ‘scope’ shows that he’s carrying a gun inhis right-hand coat pocket–curious sort of contraption, doesn’t seem to have got a butt to it. I’d say he’s a sick man. I wouldn’t personally recommend that M. should see him, but I wouldn’t know how we’re to get him to talk unless he does.” He paused. “Very good, sir. I’ll stay by the telephone. I’m on Mr. Robson’s extension.”
There was silence in the room. The two men didn’t get on well together. Major Townsend gazed into the gas fire, wondering about the man next door. The telephone burred. “Yes, sir? Very good, sir. Would your secretary send along a car from the pool? Thank you, sir.”
Bond was sitting in the same upright posture, The Times still unopened in his hand. Major Townsend said cheerfully, “Well, that’s fixed. Message from M. that he’s tremendously relieved you’re all right and he’ll be free in about half an hour. Car should be here in ten minutes or so. And the Chief of Staff says he hopes you’ll be free for lunch afterwards.”
James Bond smiled for the first time. It was a thin smile which didn’t light up his eyes. He said, “That’s very kind of nun. Would you tell him I’m afraid I shan’t be free.”
2 – Attentat!
The Chief of Staff stood in front of M.’s desk and said firmly, “I really wouldn’t do it, sir. I can see him, or someone else can. I don’t like the smell of it at all. I think 007’s round the bend. There’s no doubt it’s him all right. The prints have just been confirmed by Chief of Security. And the pictures are all right–and the recording of his voice. But there are too many things that don’t add up. This forged passport we found in his room at the Ritz, for instance. All right. So he wanted to come back into the country quietly. But it’s too good a job. Typical K.G.B. sample. And the last entry is West Germany, day before yesterday. Why didn’t he report to Station B or W? Both those Heads of Station are friends of his, particularly 016 in Berlin. And why didn’t he go and have a look at his flat? He’s got some sort of a housekeeper there, Scotswoman called May, who’s always sworn he was still alive and has kept the place going on her savings. The Ritz is sort of stage Bond. And these new clothes. Why did he have to bother? Doesn’t matter what he was wearing when he came in through Dover. Normal thing, if he was in rags, would have been to give me a ring–he had my home number– and get me to fix him up. Have a few drinks and run over his story and then report here. Instead of that we’ve got this typical penetration approach and Security worried as hell.”
The Chief of Staff paused. He knew he wasn’t getting through. As soon as he had begun, M. had swivelled his chair sideways and had remained, occasionally sucking at an unlighted pipe, gazing moodily out through the window at the jagged skyline of London. Obstinately, the Chief of Staff concluded, “Do you think you could leave this one to me, sir? I can get hold of Sir James Molony in no time and have 007 put into The Park for observation and treatment. It’ll all be done very gently. V.I.P. handling and so on. I can say you’ve been called to the Cabinet or something. Security says 007’s looking a bit thin. Build him up. Convalescence and all that. That can be the excuse. If he cuts up rough, we can always give him some dope. He’s a good friend of mine. He won’t hold it against us. He obviously needs to be got back in the groove–if we can do it, that is.”
M. slowly swivelled his chair round. He looked up at the tired, worried face that showed the strain of being the equivalent of Number Two in the Secret Service for ten years and more. M. smiled. “Thank you, Chief of Staff. But I’m afraid it’s not as easy as all that. I sent 007 out on his last job to shake him out of his domestic worries. You remember how it all came about. Well, we had no idea that what seemed a fairly peaceful mission was going to end up in a pitched battle with Blofeld. Or that 007 was going to vanish off the face of the earth for a year. Now we’ve got to know what happened during that year. And 007’s quite right. I sent him out on that mission, and he’s got every right to report back to me personally. I know 007. He’s a stubborn fellow. If he says he won’t tell anyone else, he
won’t. Of course I want to hear what happened to him. You’ll listen in. Have a couple of good men at hand. If he turns rough, come and get him. As for his gun“–M. gestured vaguely at the ceiling–”I can look after that. Have you tested the damned thing?”
“Yes, sir. It works all right. But. . . .”
M. held up a hand. “Sorry, Chief of Staff. It’s an order.” A light winked on the intercom. “That’ll be him. Send him straight in, would you?”
“Very good, sir.” The Chief of Staff went out and closed the door.
James Bond was standing smiling vaguely down at Miss Moneypenny. She looked distraught. When James Bond shifted his gaze and said “Hullo, Bill” he still wore the same distant smile. He didn’t hold out his hand. Bill Tanner said, with a heartiness that rang with a terrible falsity in his ears, “Hullo, James. Long time no see.” At the same time, out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Miss Money-penny give a quick, emphatic shake of the head. He looked her straight in the eyes. “M. would like to see 007 straight away.”
Miss Moneypenny lied desperately: “You know M.’s got a Chiefs of Staff meeting at the Cabinet Office in five minutes?”
“Yes. He says you must somehow get him out of it.” The Chief of Staff turned to James Bond. “Okay, James. Go ahead. Sorry you can’t manage lunch. Come and have a gossip after M.’s finished with you.”
Bond said, “That’ll be fine.” He squared his shoulders and walked through the door over which the red light was already burning.
Miss Moneypenny buried her face in her hands. “Oh, Bill!” she said desperately. “There’s something wrong with him. I’m frightened.”
Bill Tanner said, “Take it easy, Penny. I’m going to do what I can.” He walked quickly into his office and shut the door. He went over to his desk and pressed a switch. M.’s voice came into the room: “Hullo, James. Wonderful to have you back. Take a seat and tell me all about it.”
Bill Tanner picked up the office telephone and asked for Head of Security.
James Bond took his usual place across the desk from M. A storm of memories whirled through his consciousness like badly cut film on a projector that had gone crazy. Bond closed his mind to the storm. He must concentrate on what he had to say, and do, and on nothing else.
“I’m afraid there’s a lot I still can’t remember, sir. I got a bang on the head”–he touched his right temple– “somewhere along the line on that job you sent me to do in Japan . Then there’s a blank until I got picked up by the police on the waterfront at Vladivostok . No idea how I got there. They roughed me up a bit and in the process I must have got another bang on the head because suddenly I remembered who I was and that I wasn’t a Japanese fisherman which was what I thought I was. So then of course the police passed me on to the local branch of the K.G.B.–it’s a big grey building on the Morskaya Ulitsa facing the harbour near the railway station, by the way–and when they belinographed my prints to Moscow there was a lot of excitement and they flew me there from the military airfield just north of the town at Vtoraya Rechka and spent weeks interrogating me–or trying to, rather, because I couldn’t remember anything except when they prompted me with something they knew themselves and then I could give them a few hazy details to add to their knowledge. Very frustrating for them.”
“Very,” commented M. A small frown had gathered between his eyes. “And you told them everything you could? Wasn’t that rather, er, generous of you?”
“They were very nice to me in every way, sir. It seemed the least I could do. There was this Institute place in Leningrad . They gave me V.I.P. treatment. Top brain specialists and everything. They didn’t seem to hold it against me that I’d been working against them for most of my life. And other people came and talked to me very reasonably about the political situation and so forth. The need for East and West to work together for world peace. They made clear a lot of things that hadn’t occurred to me before. They quite convinced me.” Bond looked obstinately across the table into the clear blue sailor’s eyes that now held a red spark of anger. “I don’t suppose you understand what I mean, sir. You’ve been making war against someone or other all your life. You’re doing so at this moment. And for most of my adult life you’ve used me as a tool. Fortunately that’s all over now.”
M. said fiercely, “It certainly is. I suppose among other things you’ve forgotten is reading reports of our P.O.W.s in the Korean war who were brainwashed by the Chinese. If the Russians are so keen on peace, what do they need the K.G.B. for? At the last estimate, that was about one hundred thousand men and women ‘making war’–as you call it–against us and other countries. This is the organization that was so charming to you in Leningrad . Did they happen to mention the murder of Horcher and Stutz in Munich last month?”
“Oh yes, sir.” Bond’s voice was patient, equable. “They have to defend themselves against the secret services of the West. If you would demobilize all this,”–Bond waved a hand–“they would be only too delighted to scrap the K.G.B. They were quite open about it all.”
“And the same thing applies to their two hundred divisions and their U-boat fleet and their I.C.B.M.s, I suppose?” M’s voice rasped. “Of course, sir.”
“Well, if you found these people so reasonable and charming, why didn’t you stay there? Others have. Burgess is dead, but you could have chummed up with Maclean.” “We thought it more important that I should come back and fight for peace here, sir. You and your agents have taught me certain skills for use in the underground war. It was explained to me how these skills could be used in the cause of peace.”
James Bond’s hand moved nonchalantly to his right-hand coat pocket. M., with equal casualness, shifted his chair back from his desk. His left hand felt for the button under the arm of the chair.
“For instance?” said M. quietly, knowing that death had walked into the room and was standing beside him, and that this was an invitation for death to take his place in the chair.
James Bond had become tense. There was a whiteness round his lips. The blue-grey eyes still stared blankly, almost unseeingly at M. The words rang out harshly, as if forced out of him by some inner compulsion. “It would be a start if the warmongers could be eliminated, sir. This is for Number One on the list.”
The hand, snub-nosed with black metal, flashed out of the pocket, but, even as the poison hissed down the barrel of the bulb-butted pistol, the great sheet of armor-plate glass hurtled down from the baffled slit in the ceiling and, with a last sigh of hydraulics, braked to the floor. The jet of viscous brown fluid splashed harmlessly into its centre and trickled slowly down, distorting the reflection of M.’s face and the arm he had automatically thrown up for additional protection.
The Chief of Staff had burst into the room, followed by the Head of Security. They threw themselves on James Bond. Even as they seized his arms, his head fell forward on his chest and he would have slid from his chair to the ground if they hadn’t supported him. They hauled him to his feet. He was in a dead faint. The Head of Security sniffed. “Cyanide,” he said curtly. “We must all get out of here. And bloody quick!” (The emergency had snuffed out Headquarters manners.) The pistol lay on the carpet where it had fallen. He kicked it away. He said to M., who had walked out from behind his glass shield, “Would you mind leaving the room, sir? Quickly. I’ll have this cleaned up during the lunch hour.” It was an order. M. went to the open door. Miss Moneypenny stood with her clenched hand up to her mouth. She watched with horror as James Bond’s supine body was hauled out and, the heels of its shoes leaving tracks on the carpet, taken into the Chief of Staff’s room.
M. said sharply, “Close that door, Miss Moneypenny.
Get the duty M.O. up right away. Come along, girl! Don’t just stand there gawking! And not a word of this to anyone. Understood?”
Miss Moneypenny pulled herself back from the edge of hysterics. She said an automatic “Yes, sir,” pulled the door shut, and reached for the interoffice telephone.
M. walked across and into the Chief of Staff’s office and closed the door. Head of Security was on his knees beside Bond. He had loosened his tie and collar button and was feeling his pulse. Bond’s face was white and bathed in sweat. His breathing was a desperate rattle, as if he had just run a race. M. looked briefly down at him and then, his face hidden from the others, at the wall beyond the body. He turned to the Chief of Staff. He said briskly, “Well, that’s that. My predecessor died in that chair. Then it was a simple bullet, but from much the same sort of a crazed officer. One can’t legislate against the lunatic. But the Office of Works certainly did a good job with that gadget. Now then, Chief of Staff. This is of course to go no further. Get Sir James Molony as soon as you can and have 007 taken down to The Park. Ambulance, surreptitious guard. I’ll explain things to Sir James this afternoon. Briefly, as you heard, the K.G.B. got hold of him. Brainwashed him. He was already a sick man. Amnesia of some kind. I’ll tell you all I know later. Have his things collected from the Ritz and his bill paid. And put something out to the Press Association. Something on these lines: ‘The Ministry of Defense is pleased–‘no, say ‘delighted to announce that Commander James Bond etc., who was posted as missing, believed killed while on a mission to Japan last November, has returned to this country after a hazardous journey across the Soviet Union which is expected to yield much valuable information. Commander Bond’s health has inevitably suffered from his experiences and he is convalescing under medical supervision.’” M. smiled frostily. “That bit about information’ll give no joy to Comrade Semichastny and his troops. And add a D notice-to-editors: ‘It is particularly requested, for security reasons, that the minimum of speculation or comment be added to the above communique and that no attempts be made to trace Commander Bond’s whereabouts.’ All right?”
Bill Tanner had been writing furiously to keep up with M. He looked up from his scratchpad, bewildered. “But aren’t you going to make any charges, sir? After all, treason and attempted murder … I mean, not even a court martial?”
“Certainly not.” M.’s voice was gruff. “007 was a sick man. Not responsible for his actions. If one can brainwash a man, presumably one can un-brainwash him. If anyone can, Sir James can. Put him back on half pay for the time being, in his old Section. And see he gets full back pay and allowances for the past year. If the K.G.B. has the nerve to throw one of my best men at me, I have the nerve to throw him back at them. 007 was a good agent once. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be a good agent again. Within limits, that is. After lunch, give me the file on Scaramanga. If we can get him fit again, that’s the right-sized target for 007.”
The Chief of Staff protested, “But that’s suicide, sir! Even 007 could never take him.”
M. said coldly, “What would 007 get for this morning’s bit of work? Twenty years? As a minimum, I’d say. Better for him to fall on the battlefield. If he brings it off, hell have won his spurs back again and we can all forget the past. Anyway, that’s my decision.”
There was a knock on the door and the duty Medical Officer came into the room. M. bade him good afternoon and turned stiffly on his heel and walked out through the open door.
The Chief of Staff looked at the retreating back. He said, under his breath, “You coldhearted bastard!” Then, with his usual minute thoroughness and sense of duty, he set about the tasks he had been given. His not to reason why!
3 – “Pistols” Scaramanga
At Blades, M. ate his usual meagre luncheon–a grilled Dover sole followed by the ripest spoonful he could gouge from the club Stilton. And as usual he sat by himself in one of the window seats and barricaded himself behind The Times, occasionally turning a page to demonstrate that he was reading it, which, in fact, he wasn’t. But Porterfield commented to the head waitress, Lily, a handsome, much-loved ornament of the club, that “there’s something wrong with the old man today. Or maybe not exactly wrong, but there’s something up with him.” Porterfield prided himself on being something of an amateur psychologist. As head-waiter, and father confessor to many of the members, he knew a lot about all of them and liked to think he knew everything, so that, in the tradition of incomparable servants, he could anticipate their wishes and their moods. Now, standing with Lily in a quiet moment behind the finest cold buffet on display at that date anywhere in the world, he explained himself. “You know that terrible stuff Sir Miles always drinks? That Algerian red wine that the wine committee won’t even allow on the wine list. They only have it in the club to please Sir Miles. Well, he explained to me once that in the navy they used to call it the Infuriator because if you drank too much of it, it seems that it used to put you into a rage. Well now, in the ten years that I’ve had the pleasure of looking after Sir Miles, he’s never ordered more than half a carafe of the stuff.”
Porterfield’s benign, almost priestly countenance assumed an expression of theatrical solemnity as if he had read something really terrible in the tea leaves. “Then what happens today?” Lily clasped her hands tensely and bent her head fractionally closer to get the full impact of the news. “The old man says, ‘Porterfield. A bottle of Infuriator. You understand? A full bottle!’ So of course I didn’t say anything but went off and brought it to him. But you mark my words, Lily”–he noticed a lifted hand down the long room and moved off–“there’s something hit Sir Miles hard this morning and no mistake.”
M. sent for his bill. As usual he paid, whatever the amount of the bill, with a five-pound note for the pleasure of receiving in change crisp new pound notes, new silver and gleaming copper pennies, for it is the custom at Blades to give its members only freshly minted money. Porterfield pulled back his table and M. walked quickly to the door, acknowledging the occasional greeting with a preoccupied nod and a brief lifting of the hand. It was two o’clock. The old black Phantom Rolls took him quietly and quickly northwards through Berkeley Square, across Oxford Street and via Wigmore Street, into Regent’s Park. M. didn’t look out at the passing scene. He sat stiffly in the back, his bowler hat squarely set on the middle of his head, and gazed unseeing at the back of the chauffeur’s head with hooded, brooding eyes.
For the hundredth time, since he had left his office that morning, he assured himself that his decision was right. If James Bond could be straightened out–and M. was certain that that supreme neurologist, Sir James Molony, could bring it off–it would be ridiculous to re-assign him to normal staff duties in the Double-O Section. The past could be forgiven, but not forgotten–except with the passage of time. It would be most irksome for those in the know to have Bond moving about Headquarters as if nothing had happened. It would be doubly embarrassing for M. to have to face Bond across that desk. And James Bond, if aimed straight at a known target–M. put it in the language of battleships–was a supremely effective firing-piece. Well, the target was there and it desperately demanded destruction. Bond had accused M. of using him as a tool. Naturally. Every officer in, the Service was a tool for one secret purpose or another. The problem on hand could only be solved by a killing. James Bond would not possess the Double-O prefix if he had not high talents, frequently proved, as a gunman. So be it! In exchange for the happenings of that morning, in expiation of them, Bond must prove himself at his old skills. If he succeeded, he would have regained his prevous status. If he failed, well, it would be a death for which he would be honoured. Win or lose, the plan would solve a vast array of problems. M. closed his mind once and for all on his decision. He got out of the car and went up in the lift to the eighth floor and along the corridor, smelling the smell of some unknown disinfectant more and more powerfully as he approached his office.
Instead of using his key to the private entrance at the end of the corridor M. turned right, through Miss Money-penny’s door. She was sitting in her usual place, typing away at the usual routine correspondence. She got to her feet.
“What’s this dreadful stink, Miss Moneypenny?” “I don’t know what it’s called, sir. Head of Security brought along a squad from Chemical Warfare at the War Office. He says your office is all right to use again but to keep the windows open for a while. So I’ve turned on the heating. Chief of Staff isn’t back from lunch yet, but he told me to tell you that everything you wanted done is under way. Sir James is operating until four but will expect your call after that. Here’s the file you wanted, sir.”
M. took the brown folder with the red Top Secret star in its top right-hand corner. “How’s 007? Did he come round all right?”
Miss Moneypenny’s face was expressionless. “I gather so, sir. The M.O. gave him a sedative of some kind, and he was taken off on a stretcher during the lunch hours. He was covered up. They took him down in the service lift to the garage. I haven’t had any inquiries.”
“Good. Well, bring me in the signals, would you. There’s been a lot of tune wasted today on all these domestic excitements.” Carrying the brown folder, M. went through the door into his office. Miss Moneypenny brought in the signals and stood dutifully beside him while he went through them, occasionally dictating a comment or a query. She looked down at the bowed, iron-grey head with the bald patch polished for years by a succession of naval caps and wondered, as she had wondered so often over the past ten years, whether she loved or hated this man. One thing was certain. She respected him more than any man she had known or had read of.
M. handed her the file. “Thank you. Now just give me a quarter of an hour, and then I’ll see whoever wants me. The call to Sir James has priority of course.”
M. opened the brown folder, reached for his pipe and began absent-mindedly filling it as he glanced through the list of subsidiary files to see if there was any other docket he immediately needed. Then he set a match to his pipe and settled back in his chair and read:
FRANCISCO (PACO) “PISTOLS”
And underneath, in lower-case type:
Free-lance assassin mainly under K.G.B. control through D.S.S., Havana, Cuba, but often as an independent operator for other organizations, in the Caribbean and Central American states. Has caused widespread damage, particularly to the S.S., but also to C.I.A. and other friendly services, by murder and scientific maiming since 1959, the year when Castro came to power and which seems also to have been the trigger for Scaramanga’s operations. Is widely feared and admired in said territory throughout which he appears, despite police precautions, to have complete freedom of access. Has thus become something of a local myth and is known in his “territory” as The Man with the Golden Gun–a reference to his main weapon which is a gold-plated, long-barrelled, single-action Colt .45. He uses special bullets with a heavy, soft (24 ct.) gold core jacketed with silver and cross-cut at the tip, on the dum-dum principle, for maximum wounding effect. Himself loads and artifices this ammunition. Is responsible for the death of 267 (British Guiana), 398 (Trinidad), 943 (Jamaica), and 768 and 742 (Havana), and for the maiming and subsequent retirement from the S.S. of 098, Area Inspection Officer, by bullet wounds in both knees. (See above references in Central Records for Scaramanga’s victims in Martinique, Haiti, and Panama.)
DESCRIPTION: Age about 35. Height 6 ft. 3 in. Slim and fit. Eyes, light brown. Hair reddish in a crew cut. Long sideburns. Gaunt, sombre face with thin pencil moustache, brownish. Ears very flat to the head. Ambidextrous. Hands very large and powerful and immaculately manicured. Distinguishing marks: a third nipple about two inches below his left breast. (N.B. In Voodoo and allied local cults this is considered a sign of invulnerability and great sexual prowess.) Is an insatiable but indiscriminate womanizer who invariably has sexual intercourse shortly before a killing in the belief that it improves his “eye.” (N.B. A belief shared by many professional lawn tennis players, golfers, gun and rifle marksmen, and others.)
ORIGINS: A relative of the Catalan family of circus managers of the same name with whom he spent his youth. Self-educated. At the age of 16 (after the incident described below under MOTIVATION) emigrated illegally to the United States where he lived a life of petty crime on the fringes of the gangs until he graduated as a full-time gunman for The Spangled Mob in Nevada with the cover of pitboy in the casino of the Tiara Hotel in Las Vegas where in fact he acted as executioner of cheats and other transgressors within and outside The Mob. In 1958 was forced to flee the States as the result of a famous duel against his opposite number for the Detroit Purple Gang, a certain Ramon “The Rod” Rodriguez, which took place by moonlight on the third green of the Thunderbird golf course at Las Vegas. (Scaramanga got two bullets into the heart of his opponent before the latter had fired a shot. Distance 20 paces.) Believed to have been compensated by The Mob with $100,000. Travelled the whole Caribbean area investing fugitive funds for various Las Vegas interests and later, as his reputation for keen and successful dealing in real estate and plantations became consolidated, for Trujillo of the Dominican Republic and Batista of Cuba. In 1959 settled in Havana and, seeing the way the wind blew, while remaining ostensibly a Batista man, began working undercover for the Castro party, and after the revolution, obtained an influential post as foreign “enforcer” for the D.S.S. In this capacity, on behalf, that is, of the Cuban secret police, he undertook the assassinations mentioned above.
PASSPORT: Various, including Cuban diplomatic.
DISGUISES: None. They are not necessary. The myth surrounding this man, the equivalent, let us say, of that surrounding the most famous film star, and the fact that he has no police record, have hitherto given him complete freedom of movement and indemnity from interference in “his” territory. In most of the islands and mainland republics which constitute this territory, he has groups of admirers (e.g., the Rastafari in Jamaica) and commands powerful pressure groups who give him protection and succour when called upon to do so. Moreover, as the ostensible purchaser, and usually the legal front, for the “hot money” properties mentioned above, he has legitimate access, frequently supported by his diplomatic status, to any part of his territory.
RESOURCES: Considerable but of unknown extent. Travels on various credit cards of the Diners’ Club variety. Has a numbered account with the Union des Banques de Credit, Zurich, and appears to have no difficulty in obtaining foreign currency from the slim resources of Cuba when he needs it.
MOTIVATION: (Comment by C.C.). . . .
M. refilled and relit his pipe, which had died. What had gone before was routine information which added nothing to his basic knowledge of the man. What followed would be of more interest. “C.C.” covered the identity of a former Regius Professor of History at Oxford who lived a– to M.–pampered existence at Headquarters in a small and–in M.’s opinion–overcomfortable office. In between –again in M.’s opinion–overluxurious and overlong meals at the Garrick Club, he wandered, at his ease, into Headquarters, examined such files as the present one, asked questions and had signals of inquiry sent, and then delivered his judgment. But M., for all his prejudices against the man, his haircut, the casualness of his clothes, what he knew of his way of life, and the apparently haphazard processes of his ratiocination, appreciated the sharpness of the mind, the knowledge of the world, that C.C. brought to his task, and, so often, the accuracy of his judgments. In short, M. always enjoyed what C.C. had to say, and he now picked up the file again with relish.
I am interested in this man [wrote C.C.] and I have caused, inquiries to be made on a somewhat wider front than usual, since it is not common to be confronted with a secret agent who it at once so much of a public figure and yet appears to be infinitely successful in the difficult and dangerous field of his choice–that of being, in common parlance, “a gun for hire.” I think I may have found the origin of this partiality for killing his fellow men in cold blood, men against whom he has no personal animosity but merely the reflected animosity of his employers, in the following bizarre anecdote from his youth. In the travelling circus of his father, Enrico Scaramanga, the boy had several roles. He was a most spectacular trick shot, he was a stand-in strong man in the acrobatic troop, often taking the place of the usual artiste as bottom man in the “human pyramid” act, and he was the mahout, in gorgeous turban, Indian robes, etc., who rode the leading elephant in a troupe of three. This elephant, by the name of Max, was a male, and it is a peculiarity of the male elephant, which I have learned with much interest and verified with eminent zoologists, that, at intervals during the year, they go “on heat” sexually. During these pe-. nods, a mucous deposit forms behind the animal’s ears and this needs to be scraped off since otherwise it causes the elephant intense irritation. Max developed this symptom during a visit of the circus to Trieste, but, through an oversight, the condition was not noticed and given the necessary treatment. The big top of the circus had been erected on the outskirts of the town adjacent to the coastal railway line and, on the night which was, in my opinion, to determine the future way of life of the young Scaramanga, Max went berserk, threw the youth, and, screaming horrifically, trampled his way through the auditorium, causing many casualties, and charged off across the fairground and onto the railway line, down which (a frightening spectacle under the full moon which, as newspaper cuttings record, was shining on that night) he galloped at full speed. The local carabinieri were alerted and set off in pursuit by car along the main road that flanks the railway line. In due course they caught up with the unfortunate monster, which, his frenzy expired, stood peacefully facing back the way he had come. Not realizing that the elephant, if approached by his handler, could now be led peacefully back to his stall, the police opened rapid fire and bullets from their carbines and revolvers wounded the animal superficially in many places. Infuriated afresh, the miserable beast, now pursued by the police car from which the hail of fire continued, charged off again along the railway line. On arrival at the fairground, the elephant seemed to recognize his home, the big top, and, turning off the railway line, lumbered back through the fleeing spectators to the centre of the deserted arena, and there, weakened by loss of blood, pathetically continued with his interrupted act. Trumpeting dreadfully in his agony, the mortally wounded Max endeavoured again and again to raise himself and stand upon one leg. Meanwhile the young Scaramanga, now armed with his pistols, tried to throw a lariat over the animal’s head while calling out the “elephant talk” with which he usually controlled him. Max seems to have recognized the youth and–it must have been a truly pitiful sight–lowered his trunk to allow the youth to be hoisted to his usual seat behind the elephant’s head. But at this moment the police burst into the sawdust ring, and their captain, approaching very close, emptied his revolver into the elephant’s right eye at a range of a few feet, upon which Max fell dying to the ground. Upon this, the young Scaramanga who, according to the press, had a deep devotion for his charge, drew one of his pistols and shot the policeman through the heart, and fled off into the crowd of bystanders pursued by the other policemen who could not fire because of the throng of people. He made good his escape, found his way south to Naples, and thence, as noted above, stowed away to America.
Now, I see in this dreadful experience a possible reason for the transformation of Scaramanga into the most vicious gunman of recent years. In him was, I believe, born on that day a cold-blooded desire to avenge himself on all humanity. That the elephant had run amok and trampled many innocent people, that the man truly responsible was his handler, and that the police were only doing their duty, would be, psychopathologically, either forgotten or deliberately suppressed by a youth of hot-blooded stock whose subconscious had been so deeply lacerated. At all events, Scaramanga’s subsequent career requires some explanation, and I trust I am not being fanciful in putting forward my own prognosis from the known facts.
M. rubbed the bowl of his pipe thoughtfully down the side of his nose. Well, fair enough! He turned back to the file.
I have comment, [wrote C.C.] to make on this man’s alleged sexual potency when seen in relation to his profession. It is a Freudian thesis, with which I am inclined to agree, that the pistol, whether in the hands of an amateur or of a professional gunman, has significance for the owner as a symbol of virility–an extension of the male organ–and that excessive interests in guns (e.g., gun collections and gun clubs) is a form of fetishism. The partiality of Scaramanga for a particularly showy variation of weapon and his use of silver and gold bullets clearly point, I think, to his being a slave to this fetish–and, if I am right, I have doubts about his alleged sexual prowess, for the lack of which his gun fetish would be either a substitute or a compensation. I have also noted, from a “profile” of this man in Time magazine, one fact which supports my thesis that Scaramanga may be sexually abnormal. In listing his accomplishments, Time notes, but does not comment upon, the fact that this man cannot whistle. Now it may only be myth, and it is certainly not medical science, but there is a popular theory that a man who cannot whistle has homosexual tendencies. (At this point, the reader may care to experiment and, from his self-knowledge, help to prove or disprove this item of folklore!–C.C.)
M. hadn’t whistled since he was a boy. Unconsciously his mouth pursed and a clear note was emitted. He uttered an impatient “tchah!” and continued with his reading.
So I would not be surprised to learn that Scaramanga is not the Casanova of popular fancy. Passing to the wider implications of gunmanship, we enter the realms of the Adlerian power urge as compensation for the inferiority complex, and here I will quote some well-turned phrases of a certain Mr. Harold L. Peterson in his preface to his finely illustrated The Book of the Gun (published by Paul Hamlyn). Mr. Peterson writes:
“In the vast array of things man has invented to better his condition, few have fascinated him more than the gun. Its function is simple; as Oliver Winchester said, with nineteenth-century complacency, ‘A gun is a machine for throwing balls.’ But its ever-increasing efficiency in performing this task, and its awesome ability to strike home from long range, have given it tremendous psychological appeal.
“For possession of a gun and the skill to use it enormously augments the gunner’s personal power, and extends the radius of his influence and effect a thousand times beyond his arm’s length. And since strength resides in the gun, the man who wields it may be less than strong without being disadvantaged. The flashing sword, the couched lance, the bent longbow performed to the limit of the man who held it. The gun’s power is inherent and needs only to be released. A steady eye and an accurate aim are enough. Wherever the muzzle points, the bullet goes, bearing the gunner’s wish or intention swiftly to the target. . . . Perhaps more than any other implement, the gun has shaped the course of nations and the destiny of men.”
In the Freudian thesis, “his arm’s length” would become the length of the masculine organ. But we need not linger over these esoterica. The support for my premise is well expressed in Mr. Peterson’s sinewy prose and–though I would substitute the printing press for the gun in his concluding paragraph– his points are well taken. The subject, Scaramanga, is, in my opinion, a paranoiac in subconscious revolt against the father figure (i.e., the figure of authority) and a sexual fetishist with possible homosexual tendencies. He has other qualities which are self-evident from the earlier testimony. In conclusion, and having regard to the damage he has already wrought upon the personnel of the S.S., I conclude that his career should be terminated with the utmost dispatch–if necessary by the inhuman means he himself employs –in the unlikely event an agent of equal courage and dexterity can be made available. [Signed “C.C.”]
Beneath, at the end of the docket, the Head of the Caribbean and Central American Section had minuted “I concur,” signed “C.A.” To this Chief of Staff had added, in red ink, “Noted. C.O.S.”
M. gazed into space for perhaps five minutes. Then he reached for his pen and, in green ink, scrawled the word Action? followed by the italic, authoritative M.
Then he sat very still for another five minutes and wondered if he had signed James Bond’s death warrant.
4The Stars Foretell
There are few less prepossessing places to spend a hot afternoon than Kingston International Airport in Jamaica. All the money has been spent on lengthening the runway out into the harbour to take the big jets, and little was left over for the comfort of transit passengers. James Bond had come in an hour before on a B.W.I.A. flight from Trinidad, and there were two hours to go before he could continue the roundabout journey to Havana. He had taken off his coat and tie and now sat on a hard bench gloomily surveying the contents of the In-Bound shop with its expensive scents, liquor, and piles of overdecorated native ware He had had luncheon on the plane, it was the wrong time for a drink, and it was too hot and too far to take a taxi into Kingston even had he wanted to. He wiped his already soaking handkerchief over his face and neck and cursed softly and fluently.
A cleaner ambled in and, with the exquisite languor of such people throughout the Caribbean, proceeded to sweep very small bits of rubbish hither and thither, occasionally dipping a boneless hand into a bucket to sprinkle water over the dusty cement floor. Through the slatted jalousies a small breeze, reeking of the mangrove swamps, briefly stirred the dead air and then was gone. There were only two other passengers in the “lounge,” Cubans perhaps, with jippa-jappa luggage. A man and a woman. They sat close together against the opposite wall and stared fixedly at James Bond, adding minutely to the oppression of the atmosphere. Bond got up and went over to the shop. He bought a Daily Gleaner and returned to his place. Because of its inconsequence and occasionally bizarre choice of news the Gleaner was a favourite paper of Bond’s. Almost the whole of that day’s front page was taken up with new ganja laws to prevent the consumption, sale, and cultivation of this local version of marijuana. The fact that de Gaulle had just sensationally announced his recognition of Red China was boxed well down the page. Bond read the whole paper–“Country Newsbits” and all–with the minute care bred of desperation.
His horoscope said: “CHEER UP! Today will bring a pleasant surprise and the fulfilment of a dear wish. But you must earn your good fortune by watching closely for the golden opportunity when it presents itself and then seizing it with both hands.” Bond smiled grimly. He would be unlikely to get on the scent of Scaramanga on his first evening in Havana . It was not even certain that Scaramanga was there. This was a last resort. For six weeks, Bond had been chasing his man round the Caribbean and Central America. He had missed him by a day in Trinidad and by only a matter of hours in Caracas . Now he had rather reluctantly taken the decision of try and ferret him out on his home ground, a particularly inimical home ground, with which Bond was barely familiar. At least he had fortified himself in British Guiana with a diplomatic passport, and he was now “Courier” Bond with splendidly engraved instructions from Her Majesty to pick up the Jamaican diplomatic bag in Havana and return with it. He had even borrowed the famous Silver Greyhound, the British Courier’s emblem for three hundred years. If he could do his job and then get a few hundred yards’ start, this would at least give him sanctuary in the British Embassy. Then it would be up to the P.O. to bargain him out. If he could find his man. If he could carry out his instructions. If he could get away from the scene of the shooting. If, if, if. …. Bond turned to the advertisements on the back page. At once an item caught his eye. It was so typically “old” Jamaica . This is what he read:
FOR SALE BY AUCTION
AT 77 HARBOUR STREET, KINGSTON,
At 10:30 a.m. on WEDNESDAY,
under Powers of Sale contained in a
mortgage from Cornelius Brown et ux
No. 3-1/2 LOVE LANE ,
SAVANNAH LA MAR.
Containing the substantial residence and all that parcel of land by measurement oh the Northern Boundary three chains and fivee perches, on the Southern Boundary five chains and one perch, on the Eastern Boundary two chains exactly, and on the Western Boundary four chains and two perches be the same in each case and more or less and butting Northerly on No. 4 Love Lane.
THE C. D. ALEXANDER
77 HARBOUR STREET, KINGSTON
James Bond was delighted. He had had many assignments in Jamaica and many adventures on the island. The splendid address and all the stuff about chains and perches and the old-fashioned abracadabra at the end of the advertisement brought back all the authentic smell of one of the oldest and most romantic of former British possessions. For all her new-found “independence” he would bet his bottom dollar that the statue of Queen Victoria in the centre of Kingston had not been destroyed or removed to a museum, as similar relics of an historic infancy had been in the resurgent African states. He looked at his watch. The Gleaner had consumed a whole hour for him. He picked up his coat and briefcase. Not much longer to go! In the last analysis, life wasn’t all that dismal. One must forget the bad and remember the good. What were a couple of hours of heat and boredom in this island compared with memories of Beau Desert and Honeychile Wilder and his survival against the mad Dr. No? James Bond smiled to himself as the dusty pictures clicked across his brain. How long ago it all was! What had happened to her? She never wrote. The last he had heard, she had had two children by the Philadelphia doctor she had married. He wandered off into the grandly named “Concourse,” where the booths of many airlines stood empty and promotion folders and little company flags on their counters gathered the dust blown in with the mangrove breeze.
There was the customary central display stand holding messages for incoming and outgoing passengers. As usual, Bond wondered whether there would be something for him. In all his life there never had been. Automatically he ran his eye over the scattered envelopes, held, under tape, beneath each parent letter. Nothing under “B.” And nothing under his alias “H” for “Hazard, Mark” of the “Trans-world Consortium,” successor to the old “Universal Export,” that had recently been discarded as cover for the Secret Service. Nothing. He ran a bored eye over the other envelopes. He suddenly froze. He looked around him, languidly, casually. The Cuban couple was out of sight. Nobody else was looking. He reached out a quick hand, wrapped in his handkerchief, and pocketed the buff envelope that said, “Scaramanga. BOAC passenger from Luna.” He stayed where he was for a few minutes and then wandered slowly off to the door marked MEN.
He locked the door and sat down. The envelope was not sealed. It contained a B.W.I.A. message form. The neat B.W.I.A. writing said:
MESSAGE RECEIVED FROM KINGSTON AT 12:15:
“THE SAMPLES WILL BE AVAILABLE AT 3-1/2 S.L.M.
AS FROM MIDDAY TOMORROW.”
There was no signature. Bond uttered a short bark of laughter and triumph. S.L.M.–Savannah La Mar. Could it be? It must be! At last the three red stars of a jackpot had clicked into line. What was it his Gleaner horoscope had said? Well he would go nap on this clue from outer space–“seize it with both hands” as the Gleaner had instructed. He read the message again and carefully put it back in the envelope. His damp handkerchief had left marks on the buff envelope. In this heat they would dry out in a matter of minutes. He went out and sauntered over to the stand. There was no one in sight. He slipped the message back into its place under “S” and walked over to the Aeronaves de Mexico booth and cancelled his reservation. He then went to the BOAC counter and looked through the timetable. Yes, the Luna flight for Kingston, New York and London was due in at 13:15 the next day. He was going to need help. He remembered the name of Head of Station J. He went over to the telephone booth and got through to the High Commissioner’s Office. He asked for Commander Ross. After a moment a girl’s voice came on the line. “Commander Ross’s assistant. Can I help you?”
There was something vaguely familiar in the lilt of the voice. Bond said, “Could I speak to Commander Ross? This is a friend from London .”
The girl’s voice became suddenly alert. “I’m afraid Commander Ross is away from Jamaica . Is there anything I can do?” There was a pause. “What name did you say?”
“I didn’t say any name. But in fact it’s. . . .”
The voice broke in excitedly. “Don’t tell me. It’s James!”
Bond laughed. “Well I’m damned! It’s Goodnight! What the hell are you doing here?”
“More or less what I used to do for you. I heard you were back, but I thought you were ill or something. How absolutely marvellous! But where are you talking from?”
“ Kingston Airport . Now listen, darling. I need help. We can talk later. Can you get cracking?”
“Of course. Wait till I get a pencil. Right.”
“First I need a car. Anything that’ll go. Then I want the name of the top man at Frome, you know, the WISCO estate beyond Savannah La Mar. Large-scale survey map of that area, a hundred pounds in Jamaican money. Then be an angel and ring up Alexander’s the auctioneers and find out anything you can about a property that’s advertised in today’s Gleaner. Say you’re a prospective buyer. Three-and-a-half Love Lane . You’ll see the details. Then I want you to come out to Morgan’s Harbour where I’m going in a minute, be staying the night there, and we’ll have dinner and swop secrets until the dawn steals over the Blue Mountains. Can do?”
“Of course. But that’s a hell of a lot of secrets. What shall I wear?”
“Something that’s tight in the right places. Not too many buttons.”
She laughed. “You’ve established your identity. Now I’ll get on with all this. See you about seven. ‘Bye.”
Gasping for air, James Bond pushed his way out of the little sweatbox. He ran his handkerchief over his face and neck. He’d be damned! Mary Goodnight, his darling secretary from the old days in the Double-O Section! At Headquarters they had said she was abroad. He hadn’t asked any questions. Perhaps she had opted for a change when he had gone missing. Anyway, what a break! Now he’d got an ally, someone he knew. Good old Gleaner! He got his bag from the Aeronaves de Mexico booth and went out and hailed a taxi and said “Morgan’s Harbour” and sat back and let the air from the open windows begin to dry him.
The romantic little hotel is on the site of Port Royal at the tip of the Palisadoes. The proprietor, an Englishman who had once been in Intelligence himself and who guessed what Bond’s job was, was glad to see him. He showed Bond to a comfortable air-conditioned room with a view of the pool and the wide mirror of Kingston Harbour . He said, “What is it this time? Cubans or smuggling? They’re the popular targets these days.”
“Just on my way through. Got any lobsters?”
“Be a good chap and save two for dinner. Broiled with melted butter. And a pot of that ridiculously expensive foie gras of yours. All right?”
“Wilco. Celebration? Champagne on the ice?”
“Good idea. Now I must get a shower and some sleep. That Kingston Airports murder.”
James Bond awoke at six. At first he didn’t know where he was. He lay and remembered. Sir James Molony had said that his memory would be sluggish for a while. The E.C.T. treatment at The Park, a discreet so-called “convalescent home” in a vast mansion in Kent, had been fierce. Twenty-four bashes at his brain from the black box in thirty days. After it was over, Sir James had confessed that, if he had been practising in America, he wouldn’t have been allowed to administer more than eighteen. At first, Bond had been terrified at the sight of the box and of the two cathodes that would be cupped to each temple. He had heard that people undergoing shock treatment had to be strapped down, that their jerking, twitching bodies, impelled by the volts, often hurtled off the operating table. But that, it seemed, was old hat. Now there was the longed-for needle with the pentathol, and Sir James said there was no movement of the body when the current flashed through except a slight twitching of the eyelids. And the results had been miraculous. After the pleasant, quiet-spoken analyst had explained to him what had been done to him in Russia, and after he had passed through the mental agony of knowing what he had nearly done to M., the old fierce hatred of the K.G.B. and all its works had been reborn in him, and, six weeks after he had entered The Park, all he wanted was to get back at the people who had invaded his brain for their own murderous purposes. And then had come his physical rehabilitation and the inexplicable amount of gun practice he had had to do at the Maidstone police range. And then the day arrived when the Chief of Staff had come down and spent the day briefing Bond on his new assignment. The reason for the gun practice became clear. And the scribble of green ink wishing him luck –signed “M.”–boosted his spirits. Two days later he was ready to enjoy the excitement of the ride to London airport on his way across the world.
Bond took another shower and dressed in shirt, slacks, and sandals and wandered over to the little bar on the waterfront and ordered a double Walker’s deluxe bourbon on the rocks and watched the pelicans diving for their dinner. Then he had another drink with a water chaser to break it down and wondered about Three-and-a-half Love Lane and what the “samples” would consist of and how he would take Scaramanga. This had been worrying him since he had been given his orders. It was all very fine to be told to “eliminate” the man, but James Bond had never liked killing in cold blood and to provoke a draw against a man who was possibly the fastest gun in the world was suicide. Well, he would just have to see which way the cards fell. The first thing to do was to clean up his cover. The diplomatic passport he would leave with Goodnight. He would now be “Mark Hazard” of the “Transworld Consortium,” the splendidly vague title which could cover almost any kind of human activity. His business would have to be with the West Indian Sugar Company because that was the only business, apart from Kaiser Bauxite, that existed in the comparatively deserted western districts of Jamaica. And, at Negril, there was also the project for developing one of the most spectacular beaches in the world, beginning with the building of the Thunderbird Hotel. He could be a rich man looking around for a building site. If his hunch and the childish predictions of his horoscope were right, and he came up with Scaramanga at the romantic Love Lane address, it would be a question of playing it by ear.
The prairie fire of the sunset raged briefly in the west and the molten sea cooled off into moonlit gunmetal.
A naked arm smelling of Chanel Number 5 snaked round his neck and warm lips kissed the corner of his mouth. As he reached up to hold the arm where it was, a breathless voice said, “Oh, James! I’m sorry. I just had to! It’s so wonderful to have you back.”
Bond put his hand under the soft chin and lifted up her mouth and kissed her full on the half-open lips. He said, “Why didn’t we ever think of doing that before, Goodnight? Three years with only that door between us! What must we have been thinking of?”
She stood away from him. The golden bell of hair fell back to embrace her neck. She hadn’t changed. Still only the faintest trace of makeup, but now the face was golden with sunburn from which the wide-apart blue eyes, now ablaze with the moon, shone out with that challenging directness that had disconcerted him when they had argued over some office problem. Still the same glint of health over the good bones and the broad uninhibited smile from the full lips that, in repose, were so exciting. But now the clothes were different. Instead of the severe shirt and skirt of the days at Headquarters, she was wearing a single string of pearls and a one-piece short-skirted frock in the colour of a pink gin with a lot of bitters in it–the orangey-pink of the inside of a conch shell. It was all tight against the bosom and the hips. She smiled at his scrutiny. “The buttons are down the back. This is standard uniform for a tropical Station.”
“I can just see Q Branch dreaming it up. I suppose one of the pearls has a death pill in it.”
“Of course. But I can’t remember which. I’ll just have to swallow the whole string. Can I have a daiquiri please instead?”
Bond gave the order. “Sorry, Goodnight. My manners are slipping. I was dazzled. It’s so tremendous finding you here. And I’ve never seen you in your working clothes before. Now then, tell me the news. Where’s Ross? How long have you been here? Have you managed to cope with all that junk I gave you?”
Her drink came. She sipped it carefully. Bond remembered that she rarely drank and didn’t smoke. He ordered another for himself and felt vaguely guilty that this was his third double and that she wouldn’t know it and when it came wouldn’t recognize it as a double. He lit a cigarette. Nowadays he was trying to keep to twenty and failing by about five. He stabbed the cigarette out. He was getting near to his target, and the rigid training rules that had been drilled into him at The Park must from now on be observed meticulously. The champagne wouldn’t count. He was amused by the conscience this girl had awakened in him. He was also surprised and impressed.
Mary Goodnight knew that the last question was the one he would want answered first. She reached into a plain straw handbag on a gold metal chain and handed him a thick envelope. She said, “Mostly in used singles. A few fivers. Shall I debit you direct or put it in as expenses?” “Direct please.”
“The top man at Frome is Tony Hugill. Nice man. Nice wife. Nice children. We’ve had a lot to do with him, so he’ll be friendly. He was in Naval Intelligence during the war, sort of commando job, so he knows the score. Does a good job–Frome produces about a quarter of Jamaica’s sugar output–but Hurricane Flora and the tremendous rains we’ve been having here have delayed the crop. Besides that, he’s having a lot of trouble with cane burning and other small sabotage–mostly with thermite bombs brought in from Cuba. Jamaica’s sugar is competition for Castro, you see. And with Flora and all the rains, the Cuban crop is going to be only about three million tons this year, compared with a Batista level of about seven–and very late because the rains have played havoc with the sucrose content.”
She smiled her wide smile. “No secrets. Just reading the Gleaner. I don’t understand it all, but apparently, because there’s a tremendous chess game going on all over the world in sugar–in what they call sugar futures, that’s sort of buying the stuff forward for delivery dates later in the year. Washington’s trying to keep the price down, to upset Cuba’s economy, and Castro’s out to keep the world price up so that he can bargain with Russia. So it’s worth Castro’s trouble to do as much damage as possible to rival sugar crops. He’s only got his sugar to sell and he wants food badly. This wheat the Americans are selling to Russia. A lot of that will find its way back to Cuba, in exchange for sugar, to feed the Cuban sugar croppers.” She smiled again.
“Pretty daft business, isn’t it? I don’t think Castro can hold out much longer. The missile business in Cuba must have cost Russia about a billion pounds. And now they’re having to pour money into Cuba, money and goods, to keep the place on its feet. I can’t help thinking they’ll pull out soon and leave Castro to go the way Batista went. It’s a fiercely Catholic country, and Hurricane Flora was considered as the final judgment from heaven. It sat over the island and simply whipped it, day after day, for five days. No hurricane in history has ever behaved like that. The churchgoers don’t miss an omen like that. It was a straight indictment of the regime.”
Bond said with admiration, “Goodnight, you’re a treasure. You’ve certainly been doing your homework.”
The direct blue eyes looked straight into his, dodging the compliment. “This is the stuff I live with here. It’s built into the Station. But I thought you might like some background to Frome, and what I’ve said explains why WISCO are getting these cane fires. At least we think it is. She took a sip of her drink. ”Well, that’s all about sugar. The car’s outside. You remember Strangways? Well, it’s his old Sunbeam Alpine. The Station bought it, and now I use it. It’s a bit aged, but it’s still pretty fast and it won’t let you down. It’s rather bashed about, so it won’t be conspicuous. The tank’s full, and I’ve put the survey map in the glove compartment.”
“That’s fine. Now, last question and then we’ll go and have dinner and tell each other our life stories. But, by the way, what’s happened to your chief, Ross?”
Mary Goodnight looked worried. “To tell you the truth, I don’t exactly know. He went off last week on some job to Trinidad. It was to try and locate a man called Scara-manga. He’s a local gunman of some sort. I don’t know much about him. Apparently Headquarters wants him traced for some reason.” She smiled ruefully. “Nobody ever tells me anything that’s interesting. I just do the donkey work. Well, Commander Ross was due back two days ago and he hasn’t turned up. I’ve had to send off a Red Warning, but I’ve been told to give him another week.”
“Well, I’m glad he’s out of the way. I’d rather have his Number Two. Last question. What about this three-and-one-half Love Lane? Did you get anywhere?”
Mary Goodnight blushed. “Did I not! That was a fine question to get me mixed up with. Alexander’s was noncommittal, and I finally had to go to the Special Branch. I shan’t be able to show my face there for weeks. Heaven knows what they must think of you. That place is a, is a, er”–she wrinkled her nose–“it’s a famous disorderly house in Sav’ La Mar.”
Bond laughed out loud at her discomfiture. He teased her with malicious but gentle sadism. “You mean it’s a whorehouse?”
“James! For heaven’s sake! Must you be so crude?”
5 – No. 3 -1/2 Love Lane
The south coast of Jamaica is not as beautiful as the north and it is a long hundred-and-twenty-mile hack over very mixed road surfaces from Kingston to Savannah La Mar Mary Goodnight had insisted on coming along, “to navigate and help with the punctures.” Bond had not demurred.
Spanish Town, May Pen, Alligator Pond, Black River, Whitehouse Inn, where they had luncheon–the miles unrolled under the fierce sun until, late the afternoon, a stretch of good straight road brought them among the spruce little villas, each with its patch of brownish lawn, its bougainvillaea and its single bed of canna lilies and crotons, which make up the “smart” suburbs of the modes little coastal township that is, in the vernacular, Sav’ La Mar.
Except for the old quarter on the waterfront, it is not a typically Jamaican town, or a very attractive one. The villas, built for the senior staff of the Frome sugar estates, are drably respectable, and the small straight streets smack of a most un-Jamaican bout of town planning around the 1920s. Bond stopped at the first garage, took in petrol, and put Mary Goodnight into a hired car for the return trip. He had told her nothing of his assignment, and she had asked no questions when Bond told her vaguely that it was “something to do with Cuba.” Bond said he would keep in touch when he could, and get back to her when his job was done, and then, businesslike, she was off back down the dusty road and Bond drove slowly down to the waterfront. He identified Love Lane, a narrow street of broken-down shops and houses that meandered back into the town from the jetty. He circled the area to get the neighbouring geography clear in his mind and parked the car in a deserted area near the spit of sand on which fishing canoes were drawn up on raised stilts. He locked the car and sauntered back and into Love Lane. There were a few people about, poor people of the fisherman class. Bond bought a packet of Royal Blend at a small general store that smelled of spices. He asked where Number three-and-a-half was and got a look of polite curiosity. “Further up de street. Mebbe a chain. Big house on de right.” Bond moved over to the shady side and strolled on. He slit open the packet with his thumbnail and lit a cigarette to help the picture of an idle tourist examining a corner of old Jamaica . There was only one big house on the right. He took some time lighting the cigarette while he examined it.
It must once have had importance, perhaps as the private house of a merchant. It was of two storeys with balconies running all the way round and it was wooden built with silvering shingles, but the gingerbread tracery beneath the eaves was broken in many places and there was hardly a scrap of paint left on the jalousies that closed off all the upstairs windows and most of those below. The patch of “yard” bordering the street was inhabited by a clutch of vulturine-necked chickens that pecked at nothing and three skeletal Jamaican black-and-tan mongrels. They gazed lazily across the street at Bond and scratched and bit at invisible flies. But, in the background, there was one very beautiful lignum vitae tree in full blue blossom. Bond guessed that it was as old as the house–perhaps fifty years. It certainly owned the property by right of strength and adornment. In its delicious black shade a girl in a rocking chair sat reading a magazine. At the range of about thirty yards she looked tidy and pretty. Bond strolled up the opposite side of the street until a corner of the house hid the girl. Then he stopped and examined the house more closely.
Wooden steps ran up to an open front door, over whose lintel, whereas few of the other buildings in the street bore numbers, a big enamelled metal sign announced “3-1/2” in white on dark blue. Of the two broad windows that bracketed the door, the left-hand one was shuttered, but the right-hand one was a single broad sheet of rather dusty glass through which tables and chairs and a serving counter could be seen. Over the door a swinging sign said DREAMLAND CAFE in sun-bleached letters, and round this window were advertisements for Red Stripe beer, Royal Blend, Four Aces cigarettes, and Coca-Cola. A hand-painted sign said SNAX and, underneath, HOT COCK SOUP FRESH DAILY.
Bond walked across the street and up the steps and parted the bead curtain that hung over the entrance. He walked over to the counter and was inspecting its contents –a plate of dry-looking ginger cakes, a pile of packeted banana crisps, and some jars–when he heard quick steps outside. The girl from the garden came in. The beads clashed softly behind her. She was an octoroon, pretty, as in Bond’s imagination the word octoroon suggested. She had bold, brown eyes, slightly uptilted at the corners, beneath a fringe of silken black hair. (Bond reflected that there would be Chinese blood somewhere in her heredity.) She was dressed in a short frock of shocking pink which went well with the coffee and cream of her skin. Her wrists and ankles were tiny. She smiled politely. The eyes flirted. “Evenin’.”
“Good evening. Could I have a Red Stripe?”
“Sure.” She went behind the counter. She gave him a quick glimpse of fine bosoms as she bent to the door of the icebox–a glimpse not dictated by the geography of the place. She nudged the door shut with a knee, deftly uncapped the bottle, and put it on the counter beside an almost clean glass. “That’ll be one and six.”
Bond paid. She rang the money into the cash register. Bond drew up a stool to the counter and sat down. She rested her arms on the wooden top and looked across at him. “Passing through?”
“More or less. I saw this place was for sale in yesterday’s Gleaner. I thought I’d take a look at it. Nice big house. Does it belong to you?”
She laughed. It was a pity, because she was a pretty girl, but the teeth had been sharpened by munching raw sugar cane. “What a hope! I’m sort of, well sort of manager. There’s the cafe”–she pronounced it caif–“and mebbe you heard we got other attractions.”
Bond looked puzzled. “What sort?”
“Girls. Six bedrooms upstairs. Very clean. It only cost a pound. There’s Sarah up there now. Care to meet up with her?”
“Not today, thanks. It’s too hot. But do you only have one at a time?”
“There’s Lindy, but she’s engaged. She’s a big girl. If you like them big, she’ll be free in half an hour.” She glanced at a kitchen clock on the wall behind her. “Around six o’clock. It’ll be cooler then.”
“I prefer girls like you. What’s your name?”
She giggled. “I only do it for love. I told you I just manage the place. They call me Tiffy.”
“That’s an unusual name. How did you come by it?”
“My momma had six girls. Called them all after flowers. Violet, Rose, Cherry, Pansy, and Lily. Then when I came, she couldn’t think of any more flower names so she called me Artificial.” Tiffy waited for him to laugh. When he didn’t, she went on. “When I went to school they all said it was a wrong name and laughed at me and shortened it to Tiffy and that’s how I’ve stayed.”
“Well, I think it’s a very pretty name. My name’s Mark.”
She flirted. “You a saint too?”
“No one’s ever accused me of it. I’ve been up at Frome doing a job. I like this part of the island and it crossed my mind to find some place to rent. But I want to be closer to the sea than this. I’ll have to look around a bit more. Do you rent rooms by the night?”
She reflected. “Sure. Why not. But you may find it a bit noisy. There’s sometime a customer who’s taken some drinks too many. And there’s not too much plumbing.” She leaned closer and lowered her voice. “But I wouldn’t have advised you to rent the place. The shingles are in bad shape. Cost you mebbe five hunnerd, mebbe a thousand, to get the roof done.”
“It’s nice of you to tell me that. But why’s the place being sold? Trouble with the police?”
“Not so much. We operate a respectable place. But in the Gleaner, after Mr Brown, that’s my boss, you read that et ux?” “Yes.”
“Well, seems that means ‘and his wife.’ And Mistress Brown, Mistress Agatha Brown, she was Church of England, but she just done gone to the Catholics. And it seems they don’t hold with places like three and one-half, not even when they’re decently run. And their church here, just up the street, seems that needs a new roof like here. So Mistress Brown figures to kill two birds with the same stone and she goes on at Mr. Brown to close the place down and sell it and with her portion she goin’ fix the roof for the Catholics.”
“That’s a shame. It seems a nice quiet place. What’s going to happen to you?”
“Guess I’ll move to Kingston. Live with one of my sisters and mebbe work in one of the big stores–Issa’s mebbe, or Nathan’s. Sav’ La Mar is sort of quiet.” The brown eyes became introspective. “But I’ll sure miss the place. Folks have fun here and Love Lane’s a pretty street. We’re all friends up and down the Lane. It’s got sort of, sort of. . . .” “Atmosphere.”
“Right. That’s what it’s got. Like sort of old Jamaica. Like it must have been in the old days. Everyone’s friends with each other. Help each other when they have trouble. You’d be surprised how often the girls do it for free if the man’s a good feller, regular customer sort of, and he’s short.” The brown eyes gazed inquiringly at Bond to see if he understood the strength of the evidence.
“That’s nice of them. But it can’t be good for business.” She laughed. “This ain’t no business, Mister Mark. Not while I’m running it. This is a public service, like water and electricity and health and education and. . . .” She broke off and glanced over her shoulder at the clock which said 5:45. “Hell! You got me talking so much I’ve forgot Joe and May. It’s their supper.” She went to the cafe window and wound it down. At once, from the direction of the lignum vitae tree, two large black birds, slightly smaller than ravens, whirled in, circled the interior of the cafe amidst a metallic clangour of song unlike the song of any other bird in the world, and untidily landed on the counter within reach of Bond’s hand. They strutted up and down imperiously, eyeing Bond without fear from bold, golden eyes and went through a piercing repertoire of tinny whistles and trills, some of which required them to ruffle themselves up to almost twice their normal size.
Tiffy went back behind the bar, took two pennies out of her purse, rang them up on the register, and took two ginger cakes out of the flyblown display case. She broke off bits and fed the two birds, always the smaller of the two, the female, first, and they greedily seized the pieces from her fingers and, holding the scraps of the wooden counter with a claw, tore them into smaller fragments and devoured them. When it was all over, and Tiffy had chided them both for pecking her fingers, they made small, neat white messes on the counter and looked pleased with themselves. Tiffy took a cloth and cleaned up the messes. She said, “We call them kling-klings but learned folk call them Jamaican grackles. They’re very friendly folk. The doctor-bird, the humming bird with the streamer tail, is the Jamaican national bird, but I like these best. They’re not so beautiful, but they’re the friendliest birds and they’re funny besides. They seem to know it. They’re like naughty black thieves.”
The kling-klings eyed the cake stand and complained stridently that their supper was over. James Bond produced twopence and handed it over. “They’re wonderful. Like mechanical toys. Give them a second course from me.”
Tiffy rang up the money and took out two more cakes. “Now listen, Joe and May. This nice gemmun’s been nice to Tiffy and he’s now being nice to you. So don’t you peck my fingers and make messes or mebbe he won’t visit us again. ”She was halfway through feeding the birds when she cocked an ear. There was the noise of creaking boards somewhere overhead and then the sound of quiet footsteps treading stairs. All of a sudden Tiffy’s animated face became quiet and tense. She whispered to Bond: “That’s Lindy’s man. Important man. He’s a good customer here. But he don’t like me because I won’t go with him. So he can talk rough sometimes. And he don’t like Joe and May because he reckons they make two much noise.” She shooed the birds in the direction of the open window, but they saw there was half their cake to come and they just fluttered into the air and then down to the counter again. Tiffy appealed to Bond, “Be a good friend and just sit quiet whatever he says. He likes to get people mad. And then. . . .” She stopped. “Will you have another Red Stripe, mister?”
Bead curtains swished in the shadowy back of the room.
Bond had been sitting with his chin propped on his right hand. He now dropped the hand to the counter and sat back. The Walther PPK inside the waistband of his trousers to the left of his flat stomach signalled its presence to his skin. The fingers of his right hand curled slightly, ready to receive its butt. He moved his left foot off the rail of the stool onto the floor. He said, “That’d be fine.” He unbuttoned his coat with his left hand and then, with the same hand, took out his handkerchief and wiped his face with it. “It always gets extra hot around six before the Undertaker’s Wind has started to blow.”
“Mister, the undertaker’s right here. You care to feel his wind?”
James Bond turned his head slowly. Dusk had crept into the big room and all he could see was a pale, tall outline. The man was carrying a suitcase. He put it down on the floor and came forward. He must have been wearing rubber-soled shoes for his feet made no sound. Tiffy moved nervously behind the counter and a switch clicked. Half a dozen low-voltage bulbs came to life in rusty brackets around the walls.
Bond said easily, “You made me jump.”
Scaramanga came up and leant against the counter. The description in Records was exact, but it had not caught the catlike menace of the big man, the extreme breadth of the shoulders, and the narrow waist, or the cold immobility of the eyes that now examined Bond with an expression of aloof disinterest. He was wearing a well-cut, single-breasted tan suit and co-respondent shoes in brown and white. Instead of a tie, he wore a high stock in white silk secured by a gold pin the shape of a miniature pistol. There should have been something theatrical about the getup but, perhaps because of the man’s fine figure, there wasn’t.
He said, “I sometimes make ’em dance. Then I shoot their feet off.” There was no trace of a foreign accent underneath the American.
Bond said, “That sounds rather drastic. What do you do it for?”
“The last time it was five thousand dollars. Seems like you don’t know who I am. Didn’t the cool cat tell you?” Bond glanced at Tiffy. She was standing very still, her hands by her sides. The knuckles were white.
Bond said, “Why should she? Why would I want to know?”
There was a quick flash of gold. The small black hole looked directly at Bond’s navel. “Because of this. What are you doing here, stranger? Kind of a coincidence finding a city slicker at three and one-half. Or at Sav’ La Mar for the matter of that. Not by any chance from the police? Or any of then- friends?”
“Kamerad!” Bond raised his hands in mock surrender. He lowered them and turned to Tiffy. “Who is this man? A one-man takeover bid for Jamaica ? Or a refugee from a circus? Ask him what he’d like to drink. Whoever he is, it was a good act.” James Bond knew that he had very nearly pulled the trigger of the gun. Hit a gunman in his vanity. … He had a quick vision of himself writhing on the floor, his right hand without the power to reach for his own weapon. Tiffy’s pretty face was no longer pretty. It was a taut skull. She stared at James Bond. Her mouth opened but no sound came from the gaping lips. She liked him and she knew he was dead. The kling-klings, Joe and May, smelled the same electricity. With a tremendous din of metallic squawks, they fled for the open window, like black thieves escaping into the night.
The explosions from the Colt .45 were deafening. The two birds disintegrated against the violet backdrop of the dusk, the scraps of feathers and pink flesh blasting out of the yellow light of the cafe into the limbo of the deserted street like shrapnel.
There was a moment of deafening silence. James Bond didn’t move. He sat where he was, waiting for the tension of the deed to relax. It didn’t. With an inarticulate scream, that was half a filthy word, Tiffy took James Bond’s bottle of Red Stripe off the counter and clumsily flung it. There came a distant crash of glass from the back of the room. Then, having made her puny gesture, Tiffy fell to her knees behind the counter and went into sobbing hysterics.
James Bond drank down the rest of his beer and got slowly to his feet. He walked towards Scaramanga and was about to pass him when the man reached out a languid left arm and caught him at the biceps. He held the snout of his gun to his nose, sniffing delicately. The expression in the dead brown eyes was faraway. He said, “Mister, there’s something quite extra about the smell of death. Care to try it?” He held out the glittering gun as if he was offering James Bond a rose.
Bond stood quite still. He said, “Mind your manners. Take your hand off me.”
Scaramanga raised his eyebrows. The flat, leaden gaze seemed to take in Bond for the first time.
He released his grip.
James Bond went on round the edge of the counter. When he came opposite the other man, he found the eyes were now looking at him with faint, scornful curiosity. Bond stopped. The sobbing of the girl was the crying of a small dog. Somewhere down the street a sound system–a loudspeaker record player–began braying calypso.
Bond looked the man in the eye. He said, “Thanks. I’ve tried it. I recommend the Berlin vintage Nineteen forty-five.” He smiled a friendly, only slightly ironical smile. “But I expect you were too young to be at that tasting.”
6 – The Easy Grand
Bond knelt down beside Tiffy and gave her a couple of sharp slaps on the right cheek. Then on the left. The wet eyes came back into focus. She put her hand up to her face and looked at Bond with surprise. Bond got to his feet. He took a cloth and wetted it at the tap, then leant down and put his arm round her and wiped the cloth gently over her face. Then he lifted her up and handed her her bag that was on a shelf behind the counter. He said, “Come on, Tiffy. Make up that pretty face again. Business’ll be warming up soon. The leading lady’s got to look her best.”
Tiffy took the bag and opened it. She looked past Bond and saw Scaramanga for the first time since the shooting. The pretty lips drew back in a snarl. She whispered fiercely so that only Bond could hear, “I’m goin’ fix that man, but good. There’s Mother Edna up Orange Hill way. She’s an obeah top woman. I’ll go up there tomorrow. Come a few days, he won’t know what hit him.” She took out a mirror and began doing up her face. Bond reached into his hip pocket and counted out five one-pound notes. He stuffed them into her open bag.
“You forget all about it. This’ll buy you a nice canary in a cage to keep you company. Anyway another pair of klings’ll come along if you put some food out.” He patted her shoulder and moved away. When he came up with Scaramanga he stopped and said, “That may have been a good circus act”–he used the word again on purpose– “but it was rough on the girl. Give her some money.”
Scaramanga said “Shove it” out of the corner of his mouth. He said suspiciously, “And what’s all this yack about circuses?” He turned to face Bond. “Just stop where you are, mister, and answer a few questions. Like I said, are you from the police? You’ve sure got the smell of cops around you. If not, what are you doing hereabouts?”
Bond said, “People don’t tell me what to do. I tell them.” He walked on into the middle of the room and sat down at a table. He said. “Come and sit down and stop trying to lean on me. I’m unleanable-on.”
Scaramanga shrugged. He took two long strides, picked up one of the metal chairs, twirled it round and thrust it between his legs, and sat ass-backwards, his left arm lying along the back of the chair. His right arm rested on his thigh, inches from the pistol butt that showed above the waistband of his trousers. Bond recognized that it was a good working position for a gunman, the metal back of the chair acting as a shield for most of the body. This was certainly a most careful and professional man.
Bond, both hands in full view of the tabletop, said cheerfully, “No. I’m not from the police. My name’s Mark Hazard. I’m from a company called Transworld Consortium. I’ve been doing a job up at Frome, the WISCO sugar place. Know it?”
“Sure I know it. What you been doing there?”
“Not so fast, my friend. First of all, who are you and what’s your business?”
“Scaramanga. Francisco Scaramanga. Labour relations. Ever heard of me?”
Bond frowned. “Can’t say I have. Should I have?”
“Some people who hadn’t are dead.”
“A lot of people who haven’t heard of me are dead.” Bond leaned back. He crossed one leg over the other, above the knee, and grasped the ankle in a clubman pose. “I do wish you’d stop talking in heroics. For instance, seven hundred million Chinese have certainly heard of neither of us. You must be a frog in a very small pool.”
Scaramanga did not rise to the jibe. He said reflectively, “Yeah. I guess you could call the Caribbean a pretty small pool. But there’s good pickin’s to be had from it. The Man with the Golden Gun. That’s what they call me in these parts.”
“It’s a handy tool for solving labour problems. We could do with you up at Frome.”
“Been having trouble up there?” Scaramanga looked bored.
“Too many cane fires.”
“Was that your business?”
“Sort of. One of the jobs of my company is insurance investigation.”
“Security work. I’ve come across guys like you before. Thought I could smell the cop-smell.” Scaramanga looked satisfied that his guess had been right. “Did you get anywhere?”
“Picked up a few Rastafari. I’d have liked to get rid of the lot of them. But they went crying to their union that they were being discriminated against because of their religion, so we had to call a halt. So the fires’ll begin again soon. That’s why I say we could do with a good enforcer up there.” Bond added blandly, “I take it that’s another name for your profession?”
Again Scaramanga dodged the sneer. He said, “You carry a gun?”
“Of course. You don’t go after the Rastas without one.”
“What kind of a gun?”
“Walther PPK. Seven sixty-five millimetre.”
“Yes, that’s a stopper all right.” Scaramanga turned towards the counter. “Hey, cool cat. Couple of Red Stripes, if you’re in business again.” He turned back and the blank eyes looked hard at Bond. “What’s your next job?”
“Don’t know. I’ll have to contact London and find out if they’ve got any other problems in the area. But I’m in no hurry. I work for them more or less on a free-lance basis. Why? Any suggestions?”
The other man sat quiet while Tiffy came out from behind the counter. She came over to the table and placed the tin tray with the bottles and glasses in front of Bond. She didn’t look at Scaramanga. Scaramanga uttered a harsh bark of laughter. He reached inside his coat and took out all alligator-skin billfold. He extracted a hundred-dollar bill and threw it on the table. “No hard feelings, cool cat. You’d be okay if you didn’t always keep your legs together. Go buy yourself some more birds with that. I like to have smiling people around me.”
Tiffy picked up the bill. She said, “Thanks, mister. You’d be surprised what I’m going to spend your money on.” She gave him a long, hard look and turned on her heel.
Scaramanga shrugged. He reached for a bottle of beer and a glass, and both men poured and drank. Scaramanga took out an expensive cigar case, selected a pencil-thin cheroot and lit it with a match. He let the smoke dribble out between his lips and inhaled the thin stream up his nostrils. He did this several times with the same mouthful of smoke until the smoke was dissipated. All the while he stared across the table at Bond, seeming to weigh up something in his mind. He said, “Care to earn yourself a grand –a thousand bucks?”
Bond said, “Possibly.” He paused and added, “Probably.” What he meant was, “Of course! If it means staying close to you, my friend.”
Scaramanga smoked awhile in silence. A car stopped outside and two laughing men came quickly up the steps. When they came through the bead curtains, working-class Jamaicans, they stopped laughing and went quietly over to the counter and began whispering to Tiffy. Then they both slapped a pound note on the counter and, making a wide detour away from the white men, disappeared through the curtains at the back of the room. Their laughter began again as Bond heard their footsteps on the Stairs.
Scaramanga hadn’t taken his eyes from Bond’s face. Now he said, keeping his voice low, “I got myself a problem. Some partners of mine, they’ve taken an interest in this Negril development. Far end of the property. Place called Bloody Bay. Know it?”
“I’ve seen it on the map. Just short of Green Island Harbour.”
“Right. So I’ve got some shares in the business. So we start building the Thunderbird Hotel and get the first storey finished and the main living rooms and restaurant and so on. So then the tourist boom slackens off–Americans get frightened of being so close to Cuba or some such crap. And the banks get difficult and money begins to run short. Follow me?”
“So you’re a stale bull of the place?” “Right. So I’m opening the hotel for a few days because I got a half-dozen of the main stockholders to fly in for a meeting on the spot. Sort of look the place over and get our heads together and figure what to do next. Now, I want to give these guys a good time, so I’m getting a smart combo over from Kingston, calypso singers, limbo dancers, plenty of girls–all the jazz. And there’s swimming, and one of the features of the place is a small-scale railway that used to handle the sugar cane. Runs to Green Island Harbour where I’ve got a forty-foot Chris-Craft Roamer. Deep-sea fishing. That’ll be another outing. Get me? Give the guys a real good tune.”
“So that they’ll get all enthusiastic and buy out your share of the stock?”
Scaramanga frowned angrily. “I’m not paying you a grand to get the wrong ideas. Or any ideas for that matter.”
“What for then?”
For a moment or two Scaramanga went through his smoking routine, the little pillars of smoke vanishing again and again into the black nostrils. It seemed to calm him. His forehead cleared. He said, “Some of these men are kind of rough. We’re all stockholders, of course, but that don’t necessarily mean we’re friends. Understand? I’ll be wanting to hold some meetings, private meetings, with maybe only two or three guys at a time, sort of sounding out the different interests. Could be that some of the other guys, the ones not invited to a particular meeting, might get it into their heads to bug a meeting or try and get wise to what goes on in one way or another. So it just occurs to me that you being live to security and such, that you could act as a kind of guard at these meetings, clean the room for mikes, stay outside the door and see that no one comes nosing around, see that when I want to be private I git private. D’you get the picture?”
Bond had to laugh. He said, “So you want to hire me as a kind of personal bodyguard. Is that it?”
The frown was back. “And what’s so funny about that, mister? It’s good money, ain’t it? Three maybe four days in a luxury joint like the Thunderbird. A thousand bucks at the end of it? What’s so screwy about that proposition, eh?” Scaramanga mashed out the butt of his cigar against the underside of the table. A shower of sparks fell. He let them lie.
Bond scratched the back of his head as if reflecting. Which he was–furiously. He knew that he hadn’t heard the full story. He also knew that it was odd, to say the least of it, for this man to hire a complete stranger to do this job for him. The job itself stood up, but only just. It made sense that Scaramanga would not want to hire a local man, an ex-policeman for instance, even if one could be found. Such a man might have friends in the hotel business who would be interested in the speculative side of the Negril development. And, of course, on the plus side, Bond would be achieving what he had never thought possible– he would have got right inside Scaramanga’s guard. Or would he? There was the strong smell of a trap. But, assuming that Bond had not, by some obscure bit of ill luck,
been blown, he couldn’t for the life of him see what the trap could be. Well, clearly, he must make the gamble. In so many respects it was a chance in a million.
Bond lit a cigarette. He said, “I was only laughing at the idea of a man of your particular skills wanting protection. But it all sounds great fun. Of course I’ll come along. When do we start? I’ve got a car at the bottom of the road.”
Scaramanga thrust out an inside wrist and looked at a thin gold watch on a two-coloured gold bracelet. He said, “Six thirty-two. My car’ll be outside.” He got up. “Let’s go. But don’t forget one thing, mister whoosis. I rile mighty easy. Get me?”
Bond said easily, “I saw how annoyed you got with those inoffensive birds.” He stood up. “I don’t see any reason why either of us should get riled.”
Scaramanga said indifferently, “Okay, then.” He walked to the back of the room and picked up his suitcase, new-looking but cheap, strode to the exit, and clashed through the bead curtains and down the steps.
Bond went quickly over to the counter. “Goodbye, Tiffy. Hope I’ll be coming by again one day. If anyone should ask after me, say I’m at the Thunderbird Hotel at Bloody Bay .”
Tiffy reached out a hand and timidly touched his sleeve. “Go careful over there, Mister Mark. There’s gangster money in that place. And watch out for yourself.” She jerked her head towards the exit: “That’s the worstest man I ever heard tell of.”
Then she leaned forward and whispered, “That’s a thousand pounds’ worth of ganja he’s got in the bag. A Rasta left it for him this morning. So I smelled the bag.” She drew quickly back.
Bond said, “Thanks, Tiffy. See Mother Edna puts a good hex on him. I’ll tell you why someday. I hope. ‘Bye!” He went quickly out and down into the street, where a red Thunderbird convertible was waiting, its exhaust making a noise like an expensive motorboat. The chauffeur was a Jamaican, smartly dressed, with a peaked cap. A red pennant on the wireless aerial said THUNDERBIRD HOTEL in gold. Scaramanga was sitting beside the chauffeur. He said impatiently, “Get in the back and we’ll give you a lift down to your car. Then follow along. It gets a good road after a while.”
James Bond got into the car behind Scaramanga and wondered whether to shoot the man now, in the back of the head–the old Gestapo-K.G.B. point of puncture. A mixture of reasons prevented him–the itch of curiosity, an inbuilt dislike of cold murder, the feeling that this was not the predestined moment, the likelihood that he would have to murder the chauffeur also–these, combined with the softness of the night and the fact that the sound system was now playing a good recording of one of his favourites, “After You’ve Gone,” and that cicadas were singing from the lignum vitae tree, said no. But at that moment, as the car coasted down Love Lane towards the bright mercury of the sea, James Bond knew that he was not only disobeying orders, or at best dodging them, but also being a bloody fool.
7 – Un-real Estate
When he arrives at a place on a dark night, particularly in an alien land which he has never seen before–a strange house, perhaps, or an hotel–even the most alert man is assailed by the confused sensations of the meanest tourist. James Bond more or less knew the map of Jamaica. He knew that the sea had always been close to him on his left and, as he followed the twin red glares of the leading car through an impressive entrance gate of wrought iron and up an avenue of young royal palms, he heard the waves scrolling into a beach very close to his car. The fields of sugar cane would, he guessed from the approach, come close up against the new high wall that surrounded the Thunderbird property, and there was a slight smell of mangrove swamp coming down from below the high hills whose silhouette he had occasionally glimpsed under a scudding three-quarter moon on his right. But otherwise he had no clue to exactly where he was or what sort of a place he was now approaching and, particularly for him, the sensation was an uncomfortable one.
The first law for a secret agent is to get his geography right, his means of access and exit, and assure his communications with the outside world. James Bond was uncomfortably aware that for the past hour he had been driving into limbo, and that his nearest contact was a girl in a brothel thirty miles away. The situation was not reassuring.
Half a mile ahead, someone must have seen the approaching lights of the leading car and pressed switches, for there was a sudden blaze of brilliant yellow illumination through the trees and a final sweep of the drive revealed the hotel. With the theatrical lighting and the surrounding blackness to conceal any evidence of halted construction work, the place made a brave show. A vast pale-pink-and-white pillared portico gave the hotel an aristocratic frontage, and when Bond drew up behind the other car at the entrance, he could see through the tall Regency windows a vista of black-and-white marble flooring beneath blazing chandeliers. A bell captain and his Jamaican staff in red jackets and black trousers hurried down the steps, and after showing great deference to Scaramanga, took his suitcase and Bond’s. Then the small cavalcade moved into the entrance hall, where Bond wrote Mark Hazard and the Kensington address of Transworld Consortium in the register.
Scaramanga had been talking to a man who appeared to be the manager, a young American with a neat face and a neat suit. He turned to Bond. “You’re in Number twenty-four in the west wing. I’m close by in Number twenty. Order what you want from room service. See you about ten in the morning. The guys’ll be coming in from Kingston around midday. Okay?” The cold eyes in the gaunt face didn’t mind whether it was or not. Bond said it was. He followed one of the bellboys with his suitcase across the slippery marble floor and was led into a long white corridor with a close-fitted carpet in royal-blue Wilton . There was a smell of new paint and Jamaican cedar. The numbered doors and the light fittings were in good taste. Bond’s room was almost at the end on the left. Number 20 was opposite. The bellhop unlocked Number 24 and held the door for Bond. Air-conditioned air gushed out. It was a pleasant modern double bedroom and bath in grey and white. When he was alone, Bond went to the air-conditioning control and turned it to zero. Then he drew back the curtains and wound down the two broad windows to let in real air. Outside, the sea whispered softly on an invisible beach and the moonlight splashed the black shadows of palms across trim lawns. To his left, where the yellow light of the entrance showed a corner of the gravel sweep, Bond heard his car being started up and driven away, presumably to a parking lot, which would, he guessed, be at the rear so as not to spoil the impact of the facade. He turned back into his room and inspected it minutely. The only objects of suspicion were a large picture on the wall above the two beds and the telephone. The picture was a Jamaican market scene painted locally. Bond lifted it off its nail, but the wall behind was innocent. He then took out a pocketknife, laid the telephone carefully, so as not to shift the receiver, upside down on a bed, and very quietly and carefully unscrewed the bottom plate. He smiled his satisfaction. Behind the plate was a small microphone joined by leads to the main cable inside the cradle. He screwed back the plate with the same care and put the telephone quietly back on the night table. He knew the gadget. It would be transistorized and of sufficient power to pick up a conversation in normal tones anywhere in the room. It crossed his mind to say very devout prayers out loud before he went to bed. That would be a fitting prologue for the central recording device!
James Bond unpacked his few belongings and called room service. A Jamaican voice answered. Bond ordered a bottle of Walker’s deluxe bourbon, three glasses, ice, and, for nine o’clock, eggs Benedict. The voice said, “Sure, sir.” Bond then took off his clothes, put his gun and holster under a pillow, rang for the valet, and had his suit taken away to be pressed. By the time he had taken a hot shower followed by an ice-cold one and pulled on a fresh pair of sea island cotton underpants, the bourbon had arrived.
The best drink in the day is just before the first one (the Red Stripe didn’t count). James Bond put ice in the glass and three fingers of the bourbon and swilled it round the glass to cool it and break it down with the ice. He pulled a chair up to the window, put a low table beside it, took Profiles in Courage by Jack Kennedy out of his suitcase, happened to open it at Edmund G. Ross (“I looked down into my open grave”), then went and sat down, letting the scented air, a compound of sea and trees, breathe over his body, naked save for the underpants. He drank the bourbon down in two long draughts and felt its friendly bite at the back of his throat and in his stomach. He filled up his glass again, this time with more ice to make it a weaker drink, and sat back and thought about Scaramanga.
What was the man doing now? Talking long distance with Havana or the States? Organizing things for tomorrow? It would be interesting to see these fat, frightened stockholders! If Bond knew anything, they would be a choice bunch of hoods, the type that had owned the Havana hotels and casinos in the old Batista days, the men that held the stock in Las Vegas, that looked after the action in Miami. And whose money was Scaramanga representing? There was so much hot money drifting around the Caribbean that it might be any of the syndicates, any of the banana dictators from the islands or the mainland. And the man himself? It had been damned fine shooting that had killed the two birds swerving through the window of 3-1/2. How in hell was Bond going to take him? On an impulse, Bond went over to his bed and took the Walther from under the pillow. He slipped out the magazine and pumped the single round onto the counterpane. He tested the spring of the magazine and of the breech and drew a quick bead on various objects round the room. He found he was aiming an inch or so high. But that would be be-cause the gun was lighter without its loaded magazine. He snapped the magazine back and tried again. Yes, that was better. He pumped a round into the breech, put up the safety, and replaced the gun under the pillow. Then he went back to his drink and picked up the book and forgot his worries in the high endeavours of great men.
The eggs came and were good. The mousseline sauce might have been mixed at Maxim’s. Bond had the tray removed, poured himself a last drink and prepared for bed. Scaramanga would certainly have a master key. Tomorrow, Bond would whittle himself a wedge to jam the door. For tonight, he upended his suitcase, just inside the door and balanced the three glasses on top of it. It was a simple booby trap, but it would give him all the warning he needed. Then he took off his shorts and got into bed and slept.
A nightmare woke him, sweating, around two in the morning. He had been defending a fort. There were other defenders with him, but they seemed to be wandering around aimlessly, ineffectively, and when Bond shouted to rally them, they seemed not to hear him. Out of the plain, Scaramanga sat ass-backwards on the cafe chair beside a huge golden cannon. Every now and then, he put his long cigar to the touchhole, and there came a tremendous flash of soundless flame. A black cannonball, as big as a football, lobbed up high in the air and crashed down into the fort with a shattering noise of breaking timber. Bond was armed with nothing but a longbow, but even this he could not fire because every time he tried to fit the notch of the arrow into the gut the arrow slipped out of his fingers to the ground. He cursed his clumsiness. Any moment now and a huge cannonball would land on the small open space where he was standing! Out on the plain, Scaramanga reached his cigar to the touchole. The black ball soared up. It was coming straight for Bond! It landed just in front of him and came rolling very slowly towards him, getting bigger and bigger, smoke and sparks coming from its shortening fuse. Bond threw up an arm to protect himself. Painfully, the arm crashed into the side of the night table, and Bond woke up.
Bond got out of bed, gave himself a cold shower, and drank a glass of water. By the time he was back in bed, he had forgotten the nightmare and he went quickly to sleep and slept dreamlessly until 7:30 in the morning. He put on swimming trunks, removed the barricade from in front of the door, and went out into the passage. To his left, a door into the garden was open and sun streamed in. He went out and was walking over the dewy grass towards the beach when he heard a curious thumping noise from among the palms to his right. He walked over. It was Scaramanga, in trunks, attended by a good-looking young Negro holding a flame-coloured terrycloth robe, doing exercises on a trampoline. Scaramanga’s body gleamed with sweat in the sunshine as he hurled himself high in the air from the stretched canvas and bounded back, sometimes from his knees or his buttocks and sometimes even from his head. It was an impressive exercise in gymnastics. The prominent third nipple over the heart made an obvious target! Bond walked thoughtfully down to the beautiful crescent of white sand fringed with gently clashing palm trees. He dived in, and because of the other man’s example, swam twice as far as he had intended.
James Bond had a quick and small breakfast in his room, dressed, reluctantly because of the heat, in his dark blue suit, armed himself, and went for a walk round the property. He quickly got the picture. The night, and the lighted facade, had covered up a half-project. The east wing on the other side of the lobby was still lath and plaster. The body of the hotel–the restaurant, nightclub, and living rooms that were the tail of the T-shaped structure– were mockups, stages for a dress rehearsal, hastily assembled with the essential props, carpets, light fixtures, and a scattering of furniture, but stinking of fresh paint and wood shavings. Perhaps fifty men and women were at work, tacking up curtains, vacuuming carpets, fixing the electricity, but no one was employed on the essentials–the big cement mixers, the drills, the ironwork that lay about behind the hotel like the abandoned toys of a giant. At a guess, the place would need another year and another few million pounds to become what the plans had said it was to be. Bond saw Scaramanga’s problem. Someone was going to complain about this. Others would want to get out. But then again, others would want to buy in, but cheaply, and use it as a tax loss to set against more profitable enterprises elsewhere. Better to have a capital asset, with the big tax concessions that Jamaica gave, than pay the money to Uncle Sam, Uncle Fidel, Uncle Leoni of Venezuela. So Scaramanga’s job would be to blind his guests with pleasure, send them back half drunk to their syndicates. Would it work? Bond knew such people and he doubted it. They might go to bed drunk with a pretty coloured girl but they would awake sober. Or else they wouldn’t have their jobs, they wouldn’t be coming here with their discreet briefcases.
He walked farther back on the property. He wanted to locate his car. He found it on a deserted lot behind the west wing. The sun would get at it where it was, so he drove it forward and into the shade of a giant ficus tree. He checked the petrol and pocketed the ignition key. There were not too many small precautions he could take.
On the parking lot the smell of the swamps was very strong. While it was still comparatively cool, he decided to walk farther. He soon came to the end of the young shrubs and guinea grass the landscaper had laid on. Behind these was desolation–a great area of sluggish streams and swampland from which the hotel land had been recovered. Egrets, shrikes, and Louisiana herons rose and settled lazily, and there were strange insect noises and the call of frogs and gekkos. On what would probably be the border of the property, a biggish stream meandered towards the sea, its muddy banks pitted with the holes of land crabs and water rats. As Bond approacned, there was a heavy splash and a man-sized alligator left the bank and showed its snout before submerging. Bond smiled to himself. No doubt, if the hotel got off the ground, all this area would be turned into an asset. There would be native boatmen, suitably attired as Arawak Indians, a landing stage, and comfortable boats with fringed shades from which the guests could view the “tropical jungle” for an extra ten dollars on the bill.
Bond glanced at his watch. He strolled back. To the left, not yet screened by the young oleanders and crotons that had been planted for this eventual purpose, were the kitchens and laundry and staff quarters, the usual back quarters of a luxury hotel; and music, the heartbeat thump of Jamaican calypso, came from their direction–presumably the Kingston combo rehearsing. Bond walked round and under the portico into the main lobby. Scaramanga was at the desk talking to the manager. When he heard Bond’s footsteps on the marble, he turned and looked, and gave Bond a curt nod. He was dressed as on the previous day, and the high white cravat suited the elegance of the hall. He said “Okay, then” to the manager and, to Bond, “Let’s go take a look at the conference room.”
Bond followed him through the restaurant door and then through another door to the right that opened into a lobby, one of whose walls was taken up with the glasses and plates of a buffet. Beyond this was another door. Scaramanga led the way through into what would one day perhaps be a card room or writing room. Now there was nothing but a round table in the centre of a wine-red carpet and seven white leatherette armchairs with scratchpads and pencils in front of them. The chair facing the door, presumably Scaramanga’s , had a white telephone in front of it.
Bond went round the room and examined the windows and the curtains and glanced at the wall brackets of the lighting. He said, “The brackets could be bugged. And of course there’s the telephone. Like me to go over it?”
Scaramanga looked at Bond stonily. He said, “No need to. It’s bugged all right. By me. Got to have a record of what’s said.”
Bond said, “All right, then. Where do you want me to be?”
“Outside the door. Sitting reading a magazine or something. There’ll be the general meeting this afternoon around four. Tomorrow there’ll maybe be one or two smaller meetings, maybe just me and one of the guys. I don’t want any of these meetings to be disturbed. Got it?” “Seems simple enough. Now, isn’t it about time you told me the names of these men and more or less who they represent and which ones, if any, you’re expecting trouble from?”
Scaramanga said, “Take a chair and a paper and pencil.” He strolled up and down the room. “First there’s Mr. Hendriks. Dutchman. Represents the European money, mostly Swiss. You needn’t bother with him. He’s not the arguing type. Then there’s Sam Binion from Detroit.” “The Purple Gang?”
Scaramanga stopped in his stride and looked hard at Bond. “These are all respectable guys, mister whoosis.” “Hazard is the name.”
“All right. Hazard, then. But respectable, you understand. Don’t go getting the notion that this is another Ap-palachia. These are all solid businessmen. Get me? This Sam Binion, for instance. He’s in real estate. He and his friends are worth maybe twenty million bucks. See what I mean? Then there’s Leroy Gengerella. Miami. Owns Gengerella Enterprises. Big shots in the entertainment world. He may cut up rough. Guys in that line of business like quick profits and a quick turnover. And Ruby Rotkopf, the hotel man from Vegas. He’ll ask the difficult questions because he’ll already know most of the answers from experience. Hal Garfinkel from Chicago. He’s in labour relations, like me. Represents a lot of Teamster Union funds. He shouldn’t be any trouble. Those unions have got so much money they don’t know where to put it. That makes five. Last comes Louis Paradise from Phoenix, Arizona. Owns Paradise Slots, the biggest people in the one-armed bandit business. Got casino interests too. I can’t figure which way he’ll bet. That’s the lot.”
“And who do you represent, Mr. Scaramanga?”
“I said Caribbean. Cuba’s in the Caribbean, isn’t it?”
“Castro or Batista?”
The frown was back. Scaramanga’s right hand balled into a fist. “I told you not to rile me, mister. So don’t go prying into my affairs or you’ll get hurt. And that’s for sure.” As if he could hardly control himself longer, the big man turned on his heel and strode brusquely out of the room.
James Bond smiled. He turned back to the list in front of him. A strong reek of high gangsterdom rose from the paper. But the name he was most interested in was Mr. Hendriks who represented “European money.” If that was his real name, and he was a Dutchman, so, James Bond reflected, was he.
He tore off three sheets of paper to efface the impression of his pencil and walked out and along into the lobby. A bulky man was approaching the desk from the entrance. He was sweating mightily in his unseasonable wooden-looking suit. He might have been anybody–an Antwerp diamond merchant, a German dentist, a Swiss bank manager. The pale, square-jowled face was totally anonymous. He put a heavy briefcase on the desk and said in a thick Central European accent, “I am Mr. Hendriks. I think it is that you have a room for me, isn’t it?”
8 – Pass the Canapes!
The cars began rolling up. Scaramanga was in evidence. He switched a careful smile of welcome on and off. No hands were shaken. The host was greeted either as “Pistol” or “Mr. S.” except by Mr. Hendriks, who called him nothing.
Bond stood within earshot of the desk and fitted the names to the men. In general appearance they were all much of a muchness. Dark-faced, clean-shaven, around five feet six, hard-eyed above thinly smiling mouths, curt of speech to the manager. They all held firmly on to their briefcases when the bellboys tried to add them to the luggage on the rubber-tired barrows. They dispersed to their rooms along the west wing. Bond took out his list and added hatcheck notations to each one except Hendriks, who was clearly etched in Bond’s memory. Gengerella became “Italian origin, mean, pursed mouth”; Rotkopf, “Thick neck, totally bald, Jew”; Binion, “bat ears, scar down left cheek, limp”; Garfinkel, “the toughest, bad teeth, gun under right armpit”; and finally, Paradise, “Showman type, cocky, false smile, diamond ring.”
Scaramanga came up. “What’s that you’re writing?”
“Just notes to remember them by.”
“Let’s see it.” Scaramanga held out a demanding hand.
Bond gave him the list.
Scaramanga ran his eyes down it. He handed it back. “Fair enough. But you needn’t have mentioned the only gun you noticed. They’ll all be protected. Except Hendriks I guess. These kinda guys are nervous when they move abroad.”
Scaramanga shrugged. “Maybe the natives.”
“The last people who worried about the natives were the redcoats, perhaps a hundred and fifty years ago.”
“Who cares? See you in the bar around twelve. I’ll be introducing you as my personal assistant.”
“That’ll be fine.”
Scaramanga’s brows came together. Bond strolled off in the direction of his bedroom. He proposed to needle this man, and go on needling until it came to a fight. For the time being, the other man would probably take it because it seemed he needed Bond. But there would come a moment, probably on an occasion when there were witnesses, when his vanity would be so sharply pricked that he would draw. Then Bond would have a small edge, for it would be he who had thrown down the glove. The tactic was a crude one, but Bond could think of no other.
Bond verified that his room had been searched at some time during the morning–and by an expert. He always used a Hoffritz safety razor patterned on the old-fashioned heavy-toothed Gillette type. His American friend Felix Leiter had once bought him one in New York to prove that they were the best, and Bond had stayed with them. The handle of a safety razor is a reasonably sophisticated hideout for the minor tools of espionage–codes, microdot developers, cyanide, and other pills. That morning Bond had set a minute nick on the screw base of the handle in line with the “Z” of the maker’s name engraved on the shaft. The nick was now a millimetre to the right of the “Z.” None of his other little traps–handkerchiefs with indelible dots in particular places arranged in a certain order, the angle of his suitcase with the wall of the wardrobe, the semi-extracted lining of the breast pocket of his spare suit, the particular symmetry of certain dents in his tube of Macleans toothpaste–had been bungled or disturbed. They all might have been by a meticulous servant, a trained valet. But Jamaican servants, for all their charm and willingness, are not of this calibre. No. Between nine and ten, when Bond was doing his rounds and was well away from the hotel, his room had received a thorough going-over by someone who knew his business.
Bond was pleased. It was good to know that the fight was well and truly joined. If he found a chance of making a foray into Number 20, he hoped that he would do better. He took a shower. Afterwards, as he brushed his hair, he looked at himself in the mirror with inquiry. He was feeling a hundred percent fit, but he remembered the dull, lacklustre eyes that had looked back at him when he shaved after first entering The Park–the tense, preoccupied expression on his face. Now the grey-blue eyes looked back at him from the tanned face with the brilliant glint of suppressed excitement and accurate focus of the old days. He smiled ironically back at the introspective scrutiny that so many people make of themselves before a race, a contest of wits, a trial of some sort. He had no excuses. He was ready to go.
The bar was through a brass-studded leather door opposite the lobby to the conference room. It was–in the fashion–a mock-English public-house saloon bar with luxury accessories. The scrubbed wooden chairs and benches had foam-rubber squabs in red leather. Behind the bar, the tankards were of silver, or simulated silver, instead of pewter. The hunting prints, copper and brass hunting horns, muskets and powder horns, on the walls could have come from the Parker Galleries in London . Instead of tankards of beer, bottles of champagne in antique coolers stood on the tables and, instead of yokels, the hoods stood around in what looked like Brooks Brothers “tropical” attire and carefully sipped their drinks while “Mine Host” leant against the polished mahogany bar and twirled his golden gun round and round on the first finger of his right hand like the snide poker cheat out of an old Western.