Live and Let Die Chapter 14
James Bond and Felix Leiter rush back to their rooms after being told by Mrs. Stuyvesant about the “delivery” of a huge radiogram in a packing case. As they feared, Solitaire is gone, but there is an old radiogram at the entrance to their rooms. It’s not hard to see how they got her out. Bond and Leiter quickly get on the phone with the FBI to have the ‘Airports, railroad terminals and the highways’ watched. Bond goes to Solitaire’s room to search for clues, and it seems he has an attack of sentiment. He gets a sniff of the scent she wore (Vent Vert) and finds her bag, which she apparently had kicked under her bed. He finds the five thousand dollars that she had sewed into the lining of the bag, and vows to either return it to her, or use it to avenge her.
Bond and Leiter then have dinner in The Everglades dining room. The food seems rather underwhelming:
What it came down to was tomato juice, boiled fish with a white sauce, a strip of frozen turkey with a dab of cranberry, and a wedge of lemon curd surmounted by a whorl of stiff cream substitute. They munched it down gloomily while the dining-room emptied of its oldster couples and the table lights went out one by one. Fingerbowls, in which floated one hibiscus petal, was the final gracious touch to their meal.
More Fleming rips on American cuisine? The meal doesn’t sound all that great, but it actually sounds like a meal you’d get in a dining room like that.
After dinner, the two of them go back to their sitting room, and drink, looking out to the sea. They go to their separate rooms and go to bed. Bond makes up his mind to go see The Robber as soon as day breaks and “strangle the truth out of him”. He then goes to sleep. He wakes up at 8:00 – much later than he had intended. Furious, he goes to find Leiter, who is gone. Eventually he finds a note from the CIA man, saying that he couldn’t sleep and decided to go pay The Robber a visit around 5:00 AM. The note instructs Bond to wait and if he’s not back by 10:00 to “call out the militia”.
Bond doesn’t wait. He calls for some “coffee and rolls” and is headed out when he gets a phone call. It’s a Doctor Roberts from Mound Park Hospital asking Bond to come down as there is a Mr Leiter asking for him. He says it’s nothing to worry about…minor concussion from a hit and run job. Bond is relieved and heads to the hospital. But when he gets there, they have no idea what he’s talking about – no Doctor Roberts, no Leiter. He starts to sweat, realizing that someone wanted to lead him away from The Everglades and away from Ourobouros.
He rushes back, and on the way he realizes that there has been a shift in momentum, “the initiative was back in the hands of Mr Big and his machine”. When he arrives, Mrs Stuyvesant tells him without sympathy that his friend should be more careful. She mentions a “nice coloured man” who was in charge of bringing Leiter in on the stretcher. Bond bolts through and into Leiter’s room.
There was the shape of a body on Leiter’s bed. It was covered with a sheet. Over the face, the sheet seemed to be motionless.
Bond gritted his teeth as he leant over the bed. Was there a tiny flutter of movement?
Bond snatched the shroud down from the face. There was no face. Just something wrapped round and round with dirty bandages, like a white wasps’ nest.
He softly pulled the sheet down further. More bandages, still more roughly wound, with wet blood seeping through. Then the top of a sack which covered the lower half of the body. Everything soaked in blood.
Bond telephones for help and notices a note on the body. It’s a very simple message.
HE DISAGREED WITH SOMETHING THAT ATE HIM
(P.S. WE HAVE PLENTY MORE JOKES AS GOOD AS THIS)
Bond is shaken badly, as he waits for the police and surgeon to arrive, he notices that Leiter’s hair is wet. He tastes it and notices it is salty. The authorities arrive and the surgeon does his thing. He says that Leiter will likely live, though it is 50/50. Leiter’s arm is gone (doesn’t say which) and half his left leg. The damage to his face is superficial. He believes it was some sort of big fish that did it.
A car was sent to The Robber’s place, but there was no evidence there and his lawyer quickly springs him from custody. After everyone leaves, Bond gets a call from Leiter’s boss at the CIA. They’d like Bond to move on to Jamaica as quickly as possible. After hanging up, Bond makes a call to the Eastern Garden Aquarium in Miami (A place that did actually exist at that time, not sure if it does now, Google doesn’t bring up a current site) and inquires about where one might be able to buy a shark to put into a lagoon. The answer is clear – there’s only one place – Ourobouros.