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.