Diamonds Are Forever Page 28

“Pinkertons seem to have quite a machine,” said Bond with admiration. “But I’ll be glad when we’re both out of here. I used to think your gangsters were just a bunch of Italian grease-balls who filled themselves up with pizza pie and beer all the week and on Saturdays knocked off a garage or a drug store so as to pay their way at the races. But they’ve certainly got plenty of violence on the payroll.”

Tiffany Case laughed derisively. “You ought to get your head examined,” she said flatly. “If we make the Lizzie all in one piece, it’ll be a miracle. That’s how good they are. Thanks to Captain Hook here we’ve got a chance, but it’s not more than that. Greaseballs!”

Felix Leiter chuckled. “Come on, lovebirds,” he said, looking at his watch. “We ought to get going. I’ve got to get back to Vegas tonight and start looking for the skeleton of our old dumb friend Shy Smile. And you’ve got your plane to catch. You can go on fighting at twenty thousand feet. Get a better perspective from there. May even decide to make up and be friends. You know how they say.” He beckoned to the waiter. “Nothing pro-pinks like propinquity.”

Leiter drove them out to the airport and dropped them there. Bond felt a lump in his throat when the lanky figure limped off to his car after being warmly embraced by Tiffany Case.

“You got yourself a good pal there,” said the girl as they watched Leiter slam the door and heard the deep boom of the exhaust as he accelerated away on his long drive back into the desert.

“Yes,” said Bond. “Felix is all right.”

There was the glint of moonlight on the steel hook as Leiter waved a last goodbye and then there was the dust settling on the road and the iron voice of the loudspeakers saying “Trans-World Airlines, Flight 93, now loading at Gate No5 for Chicago and New York. All aboard, please,” and they pushed their way through the glass doors and took the first steps of their long journey half way across the world to London.

The new Super-G Constellation roared over the darkened continent and Bond lay in his comfortable bunk waiting for sleep to carry away his aching body and thinking of Tiffany, asleep in the bunk below, and of where he stood with his assignment.

He thought of the lovely face cradled on the open hand below him, innocent and defenceless in sleep, the scorn gone from the level grey eyes and the ironical droop from the corners of the passionate mouth, and Bond knew that he was very near to being x in love with her. And what about her? How strong was this masculine protest that had been born on that night in San Francisco when the men had broken into her room and taken her? Would the child and the woman ever come out from behind the barricade she had started to build that night against all the men in the world? Would she ever come out of the shell that had hardened with each year of solitude and withdrawal?

Bond remembered moments in the last twenty-four hours when he had known the answer, moments when a warm passionate girl had looked out happily from behind the mask of the toughie from the gangs, the smuggler, the shill, the blackjack dealer, and had said : ‘Take me by the hand. Open the door and we will walk away together into the sunshine. Don’t worry. I will keep step with you. I have always been in step with the thought of you, but you didn’t come, and I have spent my life listening to a different drummer.’

Yes, he thought. It will be all right. That side of it. But was he prepared for the consequences? Once he had taken her by the hand it would be for ever. He would be in the role of the healer, the analyst, to whom the patient had transferred her love and trust on her way out of the illness. There would be no cruelty equal to dropping her hand once he had taken it in his. Was he ready for all that that meant in his life and his career?

Bond stirred in his bunk and put the problem away. It was too early for that. He was going too fast. Wait and see. One thing at a time. And he obstinately shelved the issue and shifted his thoughts to M and to the job which still had to be finished before he could spend time worrying about his private life.

Well, part of the snake had been smashed. Was it the head or the tail? Difficult to say, but Bond was inclined to think that Jack Spang and the mysterious ABC were the real operators of the smuggling racket and that Seraffimo had only handled the receiving end. Seraffimo could be replaced. Tiffany could be discarded. Shady Tree, whom she could implicate in the diamond smuggling, would have to be got under cover until the storm, if Bond was indeed a storm signal, had blown over. But there was nothing to implicate Jack Spang or the House of Diamonds and the only clue to ABC was the London telephone number which Bond reminded himself to extract from the girl as soon as possible. That, and the machinery of contacts connected with it, would be changed directly the full facts of Tiffany’s defection and Bond’s escape had been communicated to London, presumably by Shady Tree. So all this, reflected Bond, made Jack Spang his next target and through him, ABC. Then there only remained the beginning of the pipeline in Africa, and that could only be reached through ABC. Bond’s immediate concern, he concluded before letting sleep take him, was to report the whole situation to M as soon as possible after boarding the Queen Elizabeth, and let London take over. Vallance’s men would get working. There wouldn’t be much for Bond to do even when he got back. A lot of reports to write. The same old routine at the office. And in the evenings there would be Tiffany in the spare room of his flat off the Kings Road. He would have to send a cable to May to get things fixed. Let’s see-flowers, bath essence from Floris, air the sheets…

Just ten hours after leaving Los Angeles they roared over La Guardia and turned out at sea for the long run in.

It was eight o’clock on Sunday morning and there were few people about at the airport, but an official stopped them as they were walking in off the tarmac and led them to a side entrance where there were two young men waiting, one from Pinkertons and one from the State Department. While they chatted about the flights, their luggage was brought round and they were taken to a side door and out to where a smart maroon Pontiac was waiting, its engine purring and the blinds in the rear pulled down.

And then there were some empty hours in the apartment belonging to the Pinkerton man until, at around four in the afternoon, but with a quarter of an hour between them, they were climbing up the covered gangway into the great safe, black British belly of the Queen Elizabeth and were at last in their cabins on M deck with their doors locked against the world.

But, as first Tiffany Case and then James Bond went into the mouth of the gangway, a dockhand from Anastasia’s Longshoreman’s Union had walked swiftly to a phone booth in the customs shed.

And three hours later two American businessmen were dropped at the dockside by a black sedan and were just in time to get through Immigration and customs and up the gangway before the loudspeakers began calling for all visitors to leave the ship please.

And one of the businessmen was youngish, with a pretty face and a glimpse of prematurely white hair under the Stetson with the waterproof cover, and the name on the brief-case he was carrying was B. Kitteridge.

And the other was a big, fattish man with a nervous glare in the small eyes behind the bifocals, and he was sweating profusely and constantly wiping his face round with a big handkerchief.

And the name on the label of his grip was W. Winter, and below the name, in red ink, was written: MY BLOOD GROUP is F.



PUNCTUALLY at eight, the great reverberating efflatus of the Queen Elizabeth’s siren made the glass tremble in the skyscrapers and the tugs fussed the big ship out into midstream and nosed her round and, at a cautious five knots, she moved slowly down-river on the slack tide.

There would be a pause to drop the pilot at the Ambrose Light and then the quadruple screws would whip the sea into cream and the Elizabeth would give a shudder of release and lance off on the long flat arc up from the 4jth to the 5oth parallel and the dot on it that was Southampton.

Sitting in his cabin, listening to the quiet creak of the woodwork and watching his pencil on the dressing-table roll slowly between his hair brush and the edge of his passport, Bond remembered the days when her course had been different, when she had zig-zagged deep into the South Atlantic as she played her game of hide-and-seek with the U-boat wolfpacks, en route for the flames of Europe. It was still an adventure, but now the Queen, in her cocoon of protective radio impulses-her radar; her Loran, her echo-sounder-moved with the precautions of an oriental potentate among his bodyguards and outriders, and, so far as Bond was concerned, boredom and indigestion would be the only hazards of the voyage.

He picked up the telephone and asked for Miss Case. When she heard his voice she gave a theatrical groan. “The sailor hates the sea,” she said. “I’m feeling sick already and we’re still in the river.”

“Just as well,” said Bond. “Stay in your cabin and live on dramamine and champagne. I’ll be no good for two or three days. I’m going to get the doctor and the masseur from the Turkish bath and try and stick the bits together again. And anyway it won’t do any harm to stay out of sight for most of the voyage. It’s just conceivable they picked us up in New York.”

“Well, if you promise to call me up every day,” said Tiffany, “and promise to take me to this Veranda Grill place as soon as I feel I can swallow a little caviar. Okay?”

Bond laughed. “If you absolutely insist,” he said. “And now listen, in exchange, I want you to try and remember anything you can about ABC and the London end of this business. That telephone number. And anything else. I’ll tell you what it’s all about and why I’m interested as soon as I can, but in the meantime you’ve just got to trust me. Is it a deal?”

“Oh, sure,” said the girl indifferently, as if all that side of her life had lost its importance; and for ten minutes Bond questioned her minutely, but except for small details, fruitlessly, about the ABC routine.

Then he put down the receiver and rang for the steward and ordered some dinner and sat down to write the long report which he would have to transpose into code and send off that night.

The ‘Metal Mike’ took the ship quietly on into the darkness and the small township of three thousand five hundred souls settled down to the five days of its life in which there would be all the happenings natural to any other sizeable community-burglaries, fights, seductions, drunkenness, cheating; perhaps a birth or two, the chance of a suicide and, in a hundred crossings, perhaps even a murder.

As the iron town loped easily along the broad Atlantic swell and the soft night wind thrummed and moaned in the masthead, the radio aerials were already transmitting the morse of the duty operator to the listening ear of Portishead.

And what the duty operator was sending at exactly ten pm Eastern Standard Time, Was a cable addressed: ABC, CARE HOUSE OF DIAMONDS, HATTON GARDEN, LONDON, which Said : PARTIES LOCATED STOP IF MATTER REQUIRES DRASTIC SOLUTION ESSENTIAL YOU STATE PRICE PAYABLE IN DOLLARS. The Signature Was WINTER.

An hour later, while the Queen Elizabeth’s operator was sighing at the thought of having to transmit five hundred five-letter groups addressed: THE MANAGING DIRECTOR, UNIVERSAL EXPORT, REGENTS PARK, LONDON, Portishead radio was sending a short cable addressed : WINTER FIRST CLASS PASSENGER QUEEN ELIZABETH, which said : DESIRE TIDY SPEEDY CONCLUSION OF CASE REPEAT CASE STOP WILL PAY TWENTY GRAND STOP WILL PERSONALLY HANDLE OTHER SUBJECT ON ARRIVAL LONDON CONFIRM ABC.

Source: www_Novel22_Net

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