Live and Let Die Chapter 15
James Bond is determined to avenge his friend Felix Leiter. He packs up his bag and leaves The Everglades. They’re glad to see him go. After visiting a hardware store and picking up a few unspecified items, he has dinner.
Then he had the biggest steak, rare, with French fried, he had ever seen. It was a small grill called Pete’s, dark and friendly. He drank a quarter of a pint of Old Grandad with the steak and had two cups of very strong coffee. With all this under his belt he began to feel more sanguine. He spun out the meal and the drinks until nine o’clock.
Old Grandad? When I see that stuff in the store, it’s usually down on the bottom shelf. James Bond is drinking it? C’mon. Ian Fleming goofing on us Americans again…must be.
Bond then heads for the Ourobouros warehouse. He uses a glass cutter and hunk of putty that he had bought at the hardware store and gets into the warehouse. Fleming devotes nearly two and half pages to the meticulous work that Bond does to get in. Once inside, Bond looks around and sees many dangerous species scattered in tanks throughout the building. He also notices that all the poisonous fish are in tanks in which the mud or sand at the bottom occupies nearly half of the tank. He has a hunch and decides to act on it.
Spearing a Scorpion fish with his knife and taking it out of the tank, he reaches into the mud and finds rows of coins. He’s discovered how Mr Big is getting the coins into the country. What customs agent is going to stick his hand into a tank of poisonous fish? (This is the 1950’s, remember) Just about that same time however, all the lights in the warehouse come on. The Robber has returned. There is a very loud gun battle as tanks shatter and large conch shells are hurled. Bond realizes however, that he can’t win this battle. He’s got limited ammunition, while his opponent seems to have an endless supply.
He calls out to The Robber, telling him he gives up. He tosses his gun down, clenching in his hand a gold coin. The Robber has him move to the middle of the floor, where there is the outline of a trap door. He realizes what happened to Felix.
At that moment Bond dropped the gold coin out of his left hand. It clanged on the cement floor and started to roll.
In the fraction of a second that The Robber’s eyes flickered down, Bond’s right foot in its steel-capped shoe lashed out to its full length. It kicked the rifle almost out of The Robber’s hands. At the same moment that The Robber pulled the trigger and the bullet crashed harmlessly through the glass ceiling, Bond launched himself in a dive at the man’s stomach, his two arms flailing.
After a back and forth pitched battle, Bond connects with an uppercut which sends The Robber staggering towards the middle of the floor, where the bolt for the trapdoor has come completely out.
What happens next is startling. As The Robber lands in the middle of the trap door, it pivots and sends the man tumbling down. He manages to grab onto the edge and hang there.
He begs Bond to help him out, as there is a shark in the water below him.
Bond asks him first what happened to Solitaire. He assures Bond that she is ok, snatched by two men from Tampa. He tells Bond where he can find them. Bond then asks him about Leiter. The Robber tries to place the blame on Felix.
Called me out early this mornin’. Said the place was on fire. Seen it passing in his car. Held me up and brought me back in here. Wanted to search the place. Just fell through the trap. Accident. I swear it was his fault. We pulled him out before he was finished. He’ll be okay.’
Bond knows the man is lying. No doubt he led Felix right over the door just as he tried to do with Bond. He pictures the cruel smile on his face as they fished Felix out, half eaten.
This thought leads Bond to rage. He kicks The Robber’s hands off the ledge and the man falls into the pool, where the shark emits a great snuffling grunt before attacking him. Bond closes the trap door, bolts it closed and picks up the coin off the floor. As he leaves, he muses that a small payment had been made on account of Solitaire and Leiter.
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I don’t think Fleming is making fun of Americans by having Bond drink Old Granddad whiskey. Back in the fifties that brand was apparently a higher quality than it is now, I’m told.
Furthermore, I don’t think Fleming poked fun at Americans more than any nationality, for two reasons. First, he was too smart to risk offending a huge potential market of readers. Second, most of the things he had Bond enjoy when in the USA are also some of the favorites of my European friends when they visit the USA, like the stone crabs that Bond feasts on in Goldfinger.
Fleming did poke a little fun at various dialects and accents, but he did that with the Brits too, when he had Leiter tell Bond never to use certain British words, like “ectually” (actually)…..