Diamonds Are Forever Page 24

“Funny guy,” said suet-face. He opened the door, keeping his gun trained on Bond’s face.

“Sorry, friend,” said Ernie Cureo in a tired voice. “I guess…” but then there was a sharp thud as the gun hit him behind the ear and he slumped forward and was silent.

Bond gritted his teethi and his muscles lumped under his coat. He wondered if he could reach the Beretta. He glanced from one gun to the other, measuring, adding up odds. The four eyes above the two guns were greedy, longing for an excuse to kill him. The two mouths were smiling, wanting him to try something. He felt his blood cooling. He gave it another minute and then, with his hands in sight, he stepped slowly out of the car with murder tucked away in the back of his mind.

“Go ahead to the gate,” said suet-face softly. “Look natural. I got you covered.” His gun had disappeared, but his hand was in his pocket. The other man joined them and his right hand was at the waist-band of his trousers. He ranged himself on Bond’s other side.

The three men walked swiftly towards the entrance and the moon rising over the mountains straddled their long shadows in front of them across the white sandy floor.



THE red Jaguar was outside the entrance, up against the wall of the enclosure. Bond let them take his gun and climbed in beside the driver. f-

“No funny tricks if you want to keep your head on straight,” said suet-face, climbing into the rumble seat beside the golf clubs. “There’s a gun on you.”

“Nice little car you once had,” said Bond. The shattered windshield had been lowered flat and a piece of chrome from the radiator stuck up like a pennant between the two wingless front tyres. “Where are we going in the remains?”

“You’ll see,” said the driver, a bony man with a cruel mouth and sideburns. He swung the car out on to the road and accelerated back towards the town, and they were soon in amongst the jungle of neon and then through it and going fast down a two-lane highway that ribboned away across the moonlit desert towards the mountains.

There was a big sign which said ‘95′ and Bond remembered what Ernie Cureo had told him and knew that he was on his way to Spectreville. He hunched down in his seat to protect his eyes from the dust and flies and thought about the immediate future and how to revenge his friend.

So these men and the other two in the Chevrolet had been sent to bring him to Mr Spang. Why had four men been necessary? Surely they were a rather heavyweight answer to Bond’s defiance of his orders in the Casino?

The car lapped up the dead-straight road with the needle of the speedometer wavering around eighty. The telegraph poles shifted by with the click of a metronome.

Bond suddenly felt that he didn’t know quite enough of the answers.

Was he completely exposed as an enemy of the Spangled Mob? He could argue himself out of the game of roulette on the grounds that he hadn’t understood his orders, and if he had been a bit troublesome when the four men came for him, he could at least pretend that he had thought it was a tail from, a rival mob. “If you wanted me, why didn’t you just call me in my room?” Bond could hear himself saying in an injured tone of voice.

At least he had shown that he was tough enough for any job Mr Spang might offer him. And in any case, Bond reassured himself, he was just about to achieve his main objective-to get to the end of the pipeline and somehow link Seraffimo Spang with his brother in London.

Bond crouched, his eyes on the luminous dials in front of him, and concentrated on the interview ahead and on wondering how much useful evidence about the pipeline he could possibly extract from it. Later, he thought about Ernie Cureo and the revenge he owed him.

It was not in his make-up to worry about how he himself was going to get away once he had achieved these two objectives. His own safety gave him no concern. He still had no respect for these people. Only contempt and dislike.

Bond was still rehearsing imaginary conversations with Mr Spang when, after two hours’ driving, he felt the speed of the car coming down. He lifted his head above the dashboard. They were coasting up to a section of high wire fence with a gate in it and a big notice lit up by their single spotlight. It said : SPECTREVILLE. CITY LIMITS. DO NOT ENTER. DANGEROUS DOGS. The Car drew up below the notice and beside an iron post embedded in concrete. On the post there was a bellpush and a small iron grill and, written in red : RING AND STATE YOUR BUSINESS.

Without leaving the wheel, sideburns reached out and pressed the button. There was a pause and then a metallic voice said “Yes?”

“Frasso and McGonigle,” said the driver, loudly.

“Okay,” said the voice. There was a sharp click. The high wire gate slowly opened. They drove through and over an iron strip in the narrow dirt road beyond. Bond looked back over his shoulder and saw the gate close behind them. He also noticed with pleasure that the face of, presumably, McGonigle, was plastered with dust and the blood of dead flies.

The dirt road continued for about a mile across the brutal, stony surface of the desert in which an occasional clump of gesticulating cactus was the only vegetation. Then there was a glow ahead and they rounded a spur of mountain and went down a hill and into a brightly lit straggling assembly of about twenty buildings. Beyond, the moon glinted on a single railway track which lanced off, straight as a die, towards the distant horizon.

They drew up among the grey clapboard houses and shops marked DRUGS, BARBER, FARMERS BANK and WELLS FARGO, under a hissing gaslight outside a two-storey building which said in faded gold, PINK. GARTER SALOON, and underneath, Beers and Wines.

From behind the traditional sawn-off swing-doors, yellow light streamed out on to the street and on to the sleek black and silver of a 1920 Stutz Bearcat roadster at the kerb. There was the sweet nasal twang of a honkey-tonk piano playing I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now, slightly flat. The music reminded Bond of sawdust floors, nursed drinks and girls’ legs in the widest mesh stockings. The whole scene was like something out of an exceptionally well-mounted ‘Western’.

“Out, Limey,” said the driver. The three men climbed stiffly out of the car and on to the raised wooden sidewalk. Bond bent to massage a leg that had gone to sleep, watching the feet of the two men.

“Come on, sissy,” said McGonigle, giving him a nudge with his loosely held gun. Bond slowly straightened himself, measuring inches. He limped heavily as he followed the man to the door of the saloon. He paused as the swing doors flapped back into his face. He felt the prod of Frasso’s gun from behind.

Now! Bond straightened himself and leapt through the still-swinging door. McGonigle’s back was just in front of him and, beyond, there was a brightly lit empty bar-room in which an automatic piano was playing to itself.

Bond’s hands shot out and caught the man above the elbows. He lifted him off his feet and swung him round and into the swing doors and into Frasso, who was half-way through them.

The whole clapboard house trembled as the two bodies met and Frasso fell back through the doors and crashed on to the sidewalk.

McGonigle catapulted back and twisted to face Bond. There was a rising gun in his hand. Bond’s left caught him on the shoulder. At the same time his open right hand slapped down hard on the gun. McGonigle went back on his heels against the door jamb. The gun clattered to the floor.

. The snout or Frassp’s revolver appeared through the swing doors. It weaved quickly round towards Bond, like an aiming snake. As its blue-and-yellow tongue licked out, Bond, his blood singing with the battle, dived for the ground and for the gun at McGonigle’s feet. He got his hand on it and fired two quick shots upwards from the floor before McGonigle stamped on his firing hand and landed on top of him. As Bond went down, he caught a glimpse of Frasso’s gun arced up between the swing doors, pumping bullets into the ceiling. And this time the crash of the body on the planking outside sounded final.

Then McGonigle’s hands were at him and Bond was kneeling on the ground with his head down, trying to protect his eyes. The gun was still on the floor within reach of the first free hand.

For seconds they fought silently, like animals, and then Bond got to one knee and gave a great heave of his shoulders and lashed upwards at the glimpse of a face and the weight came off him and he rose to a crouch. As he did so, McGonigle’s knee came up like a piston under Bond’s chin and knocked him to his feet with a snap of the teeth that shook his skull.

Bond had no time to clear his head before the gangster gave a thick grunt and came for him head downwards with both arms flailing.

Bond twisted to protect his stomach and the gangster’s head hit him in the ribs and the two fists crashed into his body.

Bond’s breath whistled through his teeth with the pain, but he kept focus on McGonigle’s head below him and, with a twist of the body that put all his shoulder behind his hand, he whipped in a hard left, and, as the gangster’s head came up, he lashed out with his right to the chin.

The impact of the two blows straightened McGonigle and rocked him back on his feet. Bond was on him like a panther, crowding him and raining in blows to the body until the gangster began to sag. Bond grabbed at one weaving wrist and dived for an ankle and yanked it away from the floor. Then he put out all his strength, made almost a full turn to gather momentum, and slung the body sideways into the room.

There was a first twanging cra&h as the flying figure hit the upright pianola and then, with an explosion of metallic discords and breaking wood, the dying instrument toppled over and, with McGonigle spreadeagled across it, thundered to the floor.

Amidst the diminishing crescendo of echoes, Bond stood in the centre of the room, his legs braced with the last effort and the breath rasping in his throat. Slowly he lifted one bruised hand and ran it through his dripping hair.


It was a girl’s voice and it came from the direction of the bar.

Bond shook himself and turned slowly round.

Four people had come into the saloon. They were standing in line with their backs to the mahogany-and-brass bar behind which ranks of gleaming bottles rose to the ceiling. Bond had no idea how long they had been there.

A step in front of the other three stood the leading citizen of Spectreville, resplendent, motionless, dominant.

Mr Spang was dressed in full Western costume down to the long, silver spurs on his polished back boots. The costume, and the broad, leather chaps that covered his legs, were in black, picked out and embellished with silver. The big, quiet hands rested on the ivory butts of two long-barrelled revolvers which protruded from a holster down each thigh, and the broad, black belt from which they hung was ribbed with ammunition.

Mr Spang should have looked ridiculous, but he didn’t. His big head was thrust slightly forward and his eyes were cold, fierce slits.

On Mr Spang’s right, with her hands on her hips, was Tiffany Case. In a Western dress of white and gold, she looked like something out of Annie Get Your Gun. She stood and watched Bond. Her eyes were shining. Her full red lips were slightly parted and she was panting as if she had been kissed.

The other half of the quartette was the two men in black hoods from Saratoga. Each of them held a -38 Police Positive trained on Bond’s heaving stomach.

Source: www_Novel22_Net

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