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.
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