Something To Be Remembered By

Live and Let Die Chapter 8

Bond has been “cleared” by Solitaire, but Mr Big isn’t done with him. After instructing “Blabbermouth” via intercom to hurt Leiter “considerably”, he turns his attention to Bond.

Bond curses him and Mr Big then says that they must leave him something to remember them by. He asks him which finger he uses the least, and then answers the question for him. The little finger of his left hand. He then instructs Tee-Hee to break that finger. Tee-Hee does this simply by taking Bond’s little finger and bending it back until it breaks. Bond faints at the pain. While he is unconscious, Mr Big takes his gun and removes the bullets. They wake Bond up and give his gun back to him. Mr Big then launches into a grandiose speech telling Bond why he has spared his life.

Basically, Mr Big has gone as far as he can in his profession and is now bored. He has fallen “prey to what the early Christians called “accidie”. (A religious dictionary defines that term as “Accidie is analogous to sloth as one of the seven deadly sins”) He’s more interested in the “artistic” side of things. He likes to carry out his operations with a flair.

Because the nature of my operations demands it and because I admire the self-negation of the anonymous artist. If you will allow the conceit, I see myself sometimes as one of those great Egyptian fresco painters who devoted their lives to producing masterpieces in the tombs of kings, knowing that no living eye would ever see them.’ The great eyes closed for a moment. ‘However, let us return to the particular. The reason, Mister Bond, why I have not killed you this morning is because it would give me no aesthetic pleasure to blow a hole in your stomach.’

He casually admits that it would be a nuisance, nothing more than that, should Leiter and Bond disappear or be killed and people start coming around asking questions. He says that this is a warning, and that Bond is to return to England and Leiter to transfer to another assignment tomorrow. He then dismisses Bond, ordering Tee-Hee to take him “into Central Park and throw him in the ornamental water”. Tee-Hee grabs him roughly and ushers him out the door. Bond’s mind is plotting how to take him out. He gets his chance by pretending to stumble a little and then hitting him in the groin. He then takes his empty gun and clubs him over the head and kicks him over the stairwell.

As Bond goes down the stairs, he passes what must be Mr Big’s communication centre. He wishes he could make a quick raid, but with a bad hand and not knowing how many men are in the room, he can’t take the chance. He takes Tee-Hee’s gun from his “dead or dying” body and reaches the garage door, hearing the running engine inside. He has the advantage of surprise on the two men inside, and manages to take them both out with Tee-Hee’s gun and get in the car and get out of there. Once out, he has no idea where he’s going.

He wildly drives until he comes to the intersection of Park Avenue and 116th street. He keeps going, turning off just before what would become the Trump Towers at 60th street. He then ditches the car and gets a cab to take him to the St Regis. There, he gets a message from Leiter to call him at once. He’s relieved that this means they’re both alive.

Comic copyright their orginal owners. No copyright infringement is intended.

Into The Lair Of Mr Big

Live and Let Die Chapters 6 & 7

Bond and Leiter arrive at “The Boneyard” at about 12:45 AM. They are quickly shown to what appears to be a great table. The waiter tells them they had a reservation that hadn’t shown , and that Bond and Leiter can have their table. They sit down and order Scotch-and-soda and chicken sandwiches. They sit back for while and take in the scene.

It was not a large room, perhaps sixty foot square. There were about fifty tables and the customers were packed in like black olives in a jar. It was hot and the air was thick with smoke and the sweet, feral smell of two hundred negro bodies. The noise was terrific – an undertone of the jabber of negroes enjoying themselves without restraint, punctuated by sharp bursts of noise, shouts and high giggles, as loud voices called to each other across the room.

After a while, the MC comes on stage and introduces the main act. It’s a girl known as “G-G”, who does an erotic dance to Voodoo drummers. The act is intense and Fleming is quite descriptive in his account. She strips down to almost nothing, (after not having hardly anything on to begin with) and the crowd urges for it all to come off. The MC comes on again and announces that she will…but the lights will be off. Then, the lights do go off.

Suddenly all his senses were alert. The howling of the mob was disappearing, rapidly. At the same time he felt cold air on his face. He felt as if he was sinking. ‘Hey,’ shouted Leiter. His voice was close but it sounded hollow. Christ! thought Bond. Something snapped shut above his head. He put his hand out behind him. It touched a moving wall a foot from his back. ‘Lights,’ said a voice, quietly. At the same time both his arms were gripped. He was pressed down in his chair.

Bond and Leiter find themselves prisoners…apparently on a floor under where they just where. The table was rigged to drop out slowly from under them. After a brief show of resistance, Bond and Leiter are told to say their goodbyes to each as “‘Yo is unlikely be seein’ yoselves agin.” Bond is taken off down the hallway.

At the start of the next chapter, Bond is taken through what appears to be a liquor warehouse and into an office.

He is greeted by Mr Big himself. Bond is told to sit down, and his arm is released, much to his relief. He then takes in the figure in front of him. A “great football of a head, twice the normal size”. He notes that the eyes are animal, not human and that his nose is “wide without being particularly negroid”. Even though Mr Big has a huge head, is fits with the rest of his body, which is six and half foot tall. Bond notices his huge flat hands, and curiously, a “very small ivory riding-crop with a long thin white lash”. There is no smell of smoke or cigarettes in this office. Around the office, there are many bookshelves, all filled with books, and a scarecrow figure of Baron Samedi in the corner of the office. Mr Big dismisses the man known as “Miami” while instructing “Tee-Hee” to remain. He then tells Bond that he is allowed to smoke. At the same time he gives a warning however. The desk which bond is sitting in front of contains a secret, deadly weapon.

Bond is impressed by the efficiency and neatness of all of Mr Big’s tricks. He lights his cigarette and ponders his situation. He realizes he is unlikely to be harmed. He just arrived in New York. It would be “clumsy” for him to disappear so quickly. He was more concerned about the fate of Leiter “in the hands of those clumsy black apes”. ( I don’t think you could’ve gotten away with that line today, Ian) Mr Big then starts talking to Bond, talking about his double-O number – whether Bond has been sent here to kill Mr Big. He says that he requires an answer from Bond and that he has ways of determining the truth. Bond believes him, and chooses a cover story involving the gold coins circulating in America. He terms Leiter as a member of the American Treasury who has been helping him with the case. Mr Big immediately corrects Bond, stating that Leiter is a member of the CIA. He then instructs Tee-Hee to tie Bond to his chair.

A “Miss Solitaire” is then brought into the room, and Bond observes her as one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. Mr Big says that he is going to marry this girl as she possesses telepathic powers he does not understand. She can divine the truth in people. He also tells Bond that she will have nothing to do with men, thus her name “Solitaire”. He then instructs her to tell him if Bond is lying to him. She sits down very close to Bond, and Bond takes a look at her.
Her face was pale, with the pallor of white families that have lived long in the tropics. But it contained no trace of the usual exhaustion which the tropics impart to the skin and hair. The eyes were blue, alight and disdainful, but, as they gazed into his with a touch of humour, he realized they contained some message for him personally. It quickly vanished as his own eyes answered. Her hair was blue-black and fell heavily to her shoulders. She had high cheekbones and a wide, sensual mouth which held a hint of cruelty. Her jawline was delicate and finely cut. It showed decision and an iron will which were repeated in the straight, pointed nose. Part of the beauty of the face lay in its lack of compromise.

She has an evening dress on, wears a few diamonds on her ears and wrist, but has no rings and no enamel on her fingernails. In those last details, she is similar to Vesper in Casino Royale. Fleming doesn’t like his women to have long nails or polish on them. She then does a remarkable thing. She rests her arms in her lap and draws them together towards Bond, revealing the “valley between her breasts”. This invokes a strong reaction from Mr Big, who strikes her with the riding crop described earlier.

She then is at attention, shuffling her cards and in doing so sends Bond another message. He can hardly believe it. Mr Big asks if she is ready, and asks Bond to repeat the story he just told him about the coins and reasons for his presence in New York. Bond repeats what he said earlier and looks into the eyes of Miss Solitaire. Her eyes are looking through him, containing no message. There is silence in the room. Bond tries to appear indifferent, starting at the ceiling, then back at her. She focuses again, and looks at Mr Big. Finally she speaks.

‘He speaks the truth,’ she said coldly.

And the adventure is just beginning.

Comics copyright their orginal owners. No copyright infringement is intended.

Harlem Night

Live and Let Die Chapter 5

Bond and Leiter head into Harlem in the next chapter, which has the unfortunate title of “Nigger Heaven”.

They get on a bus into the city and are immediately spotted by the “Eyes” and reported back to “Whisper”. Bond is the one they identify by virtue of his scar. Leiter, who had dyed his hair is not recongnized right away.

The two of them head into Sugar Ray’s – A nightclub owned by the former world welterweight and middleweightboxing champion. They each have a “Scotch-and-soda – Haig and Haig Pinch-bottle” and examine their surroundings. Next comes a rather uncomfortable section of the book in which Bond and Leiter listen in to the conversation of a couple behind them, trying to understand what they’re saying. Bond gets a “whiff of expensive hair-straightener” and Leiter encourages him to listen and see if he can understand what they are saying. Fleming attempts to capture the dialect of the 1950’s African American by writing their conversation as follows:

‘Cmon, honey,’ wheedled the girl. ‘How come yuh-all’s actin’ so tahd tonight?’

‘Guess ah jist nacherlly gits tahd listenin’ at yuh,’ said the man languidly. ‘Why’nt yuh hush yo’ mouff’n let me ‘joy mahself ‘n peace ‘n qui-yet.’

‘Is yuh wan’ me tuh go ‘way, honey?’

‘Yuh kin suit yo sweet self.’

‘Aw, honey,’ pleaded the girl. ‘Don’ ack mad at me, honey. Ah was fixin’ tuh treat yuh tonight. Take yuh tuh Smalls Par’dise, mebbe. See dem high-yallers shakin’ ‘n truckin’. Dat Birdie Johnson, da maitre d’, he permis me a ringside whenebber Ah come nex’.

The man’s voice suddenly sharpened. ‘Wha’ dat Birdie he mean tuh yuh, hey?’ he asked suspiciously. Terzackly,’ he paused to let the big word sink in, ‘perzackly wha’ goes’tween yuh ‘n dat lowdown ornery wuthless Nigguh? Yuh sleepin’ wid him mebbe? Guess Ah gotta study ’bout dat little situayshun’tween yuh an’ Birdie Johnson. Mebbe git mahself a betterer gal. Ah jist don’ lak gals which runs off ever’ which way when Ah jist happen be busticated tem-poraneously. Yesmam. Ah gotta study ’bout dat little situayshun.’ He paused threateningly. ‘Sure have,’ he added.

‘Aw, honey,’ the girl was anxious. ‘ ‘dey ain’t no use tryin’ tuh git mad at me. Ah done nuthen tuh give yuh recasion tuh ack dat way. Ah jist thunk you mebbe preshiate a ringside at da Par’disc ‘nstead of settin’ hyah countin’ yo troubles. Why, honey, yuh all knows Ah wudden fall fo’ dat richcrat ack’ of Birdie Johnson. No sir. He don’ mean nuthen tuh me. Him duh wusstes’ man ‘n Harlem, dawg bite me effn he ain’t. All da same, he permis me da bestess seats ‘nda house ‘n Ah sez let’s us go set ‘n dem, ‘n have us a beer ‘n a good time. Gmon, honey. Let’s git out of hyah. Yuh done look so swell ‘n Ah jist wan’ mah frens tuh see usn together.’

‘Yuh done look okay yoself, honeychile,’ said the man, mollified by the tribute to his elegance, ‘an’ dat’s da troof. But Ah mus’ spressify dat yuh stays close up tuh me an keeps yo eyes offn dat lowdown trash ‘n his hot pants. ‘N Ah may say,’ he added threateningly,’ dat ef Ah ketches yuh makin’ up tuh dat dope Ah’ll jist nachrally whup da hide off’n yo sweet ass.’

‘Shoh ting, honey,’ whispered the girl excitedly.

Bond heard the man’s foot scrape off the seat to the ground.

‘Cmon, baby, lessgo. Waiduh!’

Just seeing that in print makes me wince, though I don’t believe Fleming was in any way being racist or saying that the blacks were less intelligent. In fact, Leiter remarks to Bond that they are just the same as everyone else, some interests and concerns. They then try to get a handle on where Mr Big might be operating that night, and the waiter simply says ‘I’ve got a wife’n kids, Boss’ – ending the conversation.

They move on soon after, heading down to Ma Fraizer’s for the best food in Harlem. As they walk, Bond observes the surroundings, noting the amount of attention given to “lucky charms and various occultisms”, noting that in Voodoo, Mr Big has harnessed the best possible vehicle for enducing fear among his constituents. They get to Ma Fraziers and have want Leiter terms “the national dish” a meal consisting of ” Little Neck Clams and Fried Chicken Maryland with bacon and sweet corn.” They move on to the Savoy, and while there Leiter goes to the mens room and for $20 learns that Mr Big will be at The Boneyard later that night. They hit a few other spots, with the “Eyes” following them all the way until their final destination. When it is determined that they are on their way, preparations are made for their arrival. Table “Z” is to be theirs, and although there is already people at that table, they are whisked away and the table cleaned off.

Meanwhile Mr. Big had made two more calls on the house-phone. One to the Master of Ceremonies. ‘Lights out at the end of G-G’s act.’ ‘Yes, Sir, Boss,’ said the MC with alacrity. The other call was to four men who were playing craps in the basement. It was a long call, and very detailed.

Back From The Dead

Live and Let Die Chapter 12

Bond and Solitaire quietly leave the train at 5:00 am in Jacksonville, thanks to the assistance of the helpful Porter, Baldwin. They slip off, book tickets on the next train and head over to find some breakfast in an all night diner. It’s more scrambled eggs for the two of them, and Bond/Fleming have more comments on American cooking and food.

The scrambled eggs’ll be cooked with milk,’ said Bond. ‘But one can’t eat boiled eggs in America. They look so disgusting without their shells, mixed up in a tea-cup the way they do them here. God knows where they learned the trick. From Germany, I suppose. And bad American coffee’s the worst in the world, worse even than in England. I suppose they can’t do much harm to the orange juice. After all we are in Florida now.’

While they eat, the talk some about Florida and St Petersburg, Solitaire knows quite a bit about the place and the community, including the fact that they have a couple of baseball teams called the “Kids” and the “Kubs” and that all the players are over 75 years old! Florida then, as it is now is full of senior citizens. However back then, there wasn’t much crime, so there wasn’t much in the way of law enforcement in the area. This made it a perfect place for Mr Big to operate.

Bond continues to get information from Solitaire about Mr Big’s organization, he takes some brief notes on some of the things she tells him. Bond however, doesn’t tell her anything about what he knows, despite his “growing warmth” towards her. They catch the train and continue on their way to St Petersburg, getting off at Clearwater, intending to drive the rest of the way there. They are spotted by a negro cab driver, who recognizes Solitaire after she has taken her veil off. He makes a report to “The Robber”, who has his own orders, but doesn’t know how Solitaire fits in.

They arrive at their accommodations in The Everglades, where Mr Leiter is expecting them. He seems stunned to see them. After answering his phone and informing the caller that Bond has arrived, he sits down saying that for the second time in the last 24 hours he hadn’t expected to see Bond ever again. Bond informs him that Solitaire is now “on their side”.

‘That’s a break,’ said Leiter. ‘Well, you won’t have seen the papers or heard the radio, so I’ll give you the headlines first. The Phantom was stopped soon after Jacksonville. Between Waldo and Ocala. Your compartment was tommy-gunned and bombed. Blown to bits. Killed the Pullman porter who was in the corridor at the time. No other casualties. Bloody uproar going on. Who did it? Who’s Mr. Bryce and who’s Mrs. Bryce? Where are they? Of course we were sure you’d been snatched. The police at Orlando are in charge. Traced the bookings back to New York. Found the FBI had made them. Everyone comes down on me like a load of bricks. Then you walk in with a pretty girl on your arm looking as happy as a clam.’

Bond hands him the note that ended the last chapter and Solitaire also sees it for the first time. She’s glad Bond had not shown it to her. Bond suggests that they fly Solitaire over to Jamaica for safety the next day. Leiter says she can fly “KLM or Panam” tommorow afternoon. (Not really related but those two airlines would combine for one of the worst disasters in Airline history- 583 dead – a little more than 20 years later in Tenerife, Spain.) Solitaire seems distant as she agrees to the arangement. Bond notes the far away look he has seen before.

Whispers In The Dark

Live and Let Die Chapter 4

Bond spends the next morning on Fifth Avenue and Broadway, checking out various shops, watching crowds and trying to assimilate himself into the American culture. He then goes to police headquarters (NYPD?) and talks with a Lieutenant Binswanger of Homicide about Mr Big’s police record. He gets details from the Coast Guard on the movements of Mr Big’s yacht, the Secatur and its regular trips into St Petersburg to the wharf of the ‘Ourobourous Worm and Bait Shippers Inc’ a company with an unusual sideline in rare poisonous species of aquarium fish for research departments. They look at FBI records of attempted taps of the Secatur’s wireless transmission, which were fruitless because the messages are short and always spoken in a secret Voodoo speech. Despite all the surveillance, about a hundred of the coins are still showing up on the streets of New York each week.

After some complaints from Binswanger about “Mr Hoover” not taking any action, Bond rejoins Dexter and is told that he is headed to St Petersburg with Leiter tomorrow. Bond remarks that he’d like to go and take a look around Harlem that night. Dexter agrees, with the condition that they not show themselves too much.

‘This case isn’t ripe yet. Until it is, our policy with Mr Big is “live and let live”.’
Bond looked quizzically at Captain Dexter.
‘In my job,’ he said, ‘when I come up against a man like this one, I have another motto. It’s “live and let die.”.’

So there you have the title of the book. With the encouraging words “Stay alive” Dexter departs from Bond and Leiter, who then go about making their plans for the night. They take an amusing cab ride back to the hotel:

Leiter wound down a window.
‘Whaddya want ter do?’ asked the driver over his shoulder. ‘Gimme pneumony?’

They get back to the hotel, where Bond goes and takes a nap before the big night on the town. Before going to sleep, Bond yearns for London. Meanwhile, a neat, efficient machine is in motion. At a big switchboard, ‘The Whisper’ is startled into action by a blinking light…Mr Big himself.

‘Tell all “Eyes”,’ said a slow , deep voice, ‘to watch out from now on. Three men.’ A brief description of Leiter, Bond and Dexter followed. ‘May be coming in this evening or tomorrow. Tell them to watch particularly on First to Eight and the other Avenues. The night spots too, in case they’re missed coming in. They’re not to be molested. Call me when you get a sure fix. Got it?”

“Whisper” immediately springs into action, sending the command to all corners of the network.

Bond awakens, prepares for the night, including putting on a pair of steel toed shoes he had hidden from the Americans who had taken his “British” clothes, and goes to meet Leiter in the bar for a drink.

Leiter orders them Martini’s made with “House of Lords” gin, saying that this “American” gin had a higher proof than English gin. However, as you can see from the ad to the right, “House of Lords” is distilled by Booth’s and imported from England. (Not to mention you can’t get much more British than having Rex Harrison as the endorser. Harrison, by the way, was being considered for the role of James Bond right around the time this ad was on the market.) A mistake by Fleming? It appears that way. While they drink, Leiter talks about Harlem, how it has changed, how they will have to watch out, simply because they are white. He assures Bond however, “I like the negroes and they know it somehow.” He speaks of articles he’s written for local papers about jazz and the local negro theatre. The chapter finishes with the two of them eager to start into Harlem for the evening, and Bond itching for some action.

He’ll get it.