'Yes. Got it here.' Bond pulled the file towards him. He knew what it was about. Station H wanted some limpet mines to put paid to three Communist spy junks that were using Macao to intercept British freighters and search them for refugees from China.
'Must have payment by the tenth.'
That would mean that the junks were leaving, or else that the guards on the junks would be doubled after that date, or some other emergency.
Bond said briefly, 'Wilco.'
“Bye.” Bond put down the receiver. He picked up the green receiver and dialled Q Branch and talked to the section duty officer. It would be all right. There was a BOAC Britannia leaving in the morning. Q Branch would see that the crate caught the plane.
Bond sat back. He reached for a cigarette and lit it. He thought of the badly air-conditioned little office on the waterfront in Hongkong, saw the sweat marks on the white shirt of 279,, whom he knew well and who had just called himself Dickson. Now 279 would probably be talking to his number two: 'It's okay. London says can do. Let's just go over this ops. schedule again.' Bond smiled wryly. Better they than he. He'd never liked being up against the Chinese. There were too many of them. Station H might be stirring up a hornets' nest, but M had decided it was time to show the opposition that the Service in Hongkong hadn't quite gone out of business.
When, three days before, M had first told him his name was down for night duty, Bond hadn't taken to the idea. He had argued that he didn't know enough about the routine work of the stations, that it was too responsible a job to give a man who had been in the double-O section for six years and who had forgotten all he had ever known about station work.
'You'll soon pick it up,' M had said unsympathetically. 'If you get in trouble there are the duty section officers or the Chief of Staff - or me, for the matter of that.' (Bond had smiled at the thought of waking M up in the middle of the night because some man in Cairo or Tokyo was in a flap.) 'Anyway, I've decided. I want all senior officers to do their spell of routine.' M had looked frostily across at Bond. 'Matter of fact, 007, I had the Treasury on to me the other day. Their liaison man thinks the double-O section is redundant. Says that kind of thing is out of date. I couldn't bother to argue' - M's voice was mild. 'Just told him he was mistaken.' (Bond could visualize the scene.) 'However, won't do any harm for you to have some extra duties now you're back in London. Keep you from getting stale.'
And Bond wasn't minding it. He was half way through his first week and so far it had just been a question of common sense or passing routine problems on down to the sections. He rather liked the peaceful room and knowing everybody's secrets and being occasionally fed coffee and sandwiches by one of the pretty girls from the canteen.
On the first night the girl had brought him tea. Bond had looked at her severely. 'I don't drink tea. I hate it. It's mud. Moreover it's one of the main reasons for the downfall of the British Empire. Be a good girl and make me some coffee.' The girl had giggled and scurried off to spread Bond's dictum in the canteen. From then on he had got his coffee. The expression 'a cup of mud' was seeping through the building.
A second reason why Bond enjoyed the long vacuum of night duty was that it gave him- time to get on with a project he had been toying with for more than a year - a handbook of all secret methods of unarmed combat. It was to be called Stay Alive! It would contain the best of all that had been written on the subject by the Secret Services of the world. Bond had told no one of the project, but he hoped that, if he could finish it, M would allow it to be added to the short list of Service manuals which contained the tricks and techniques of Secret Intelligence.
Bond had borrowed the original textbooks, or where necessary, translations, from Records. Most of the books had been captured from enemy agents or organizations. Some .had been presented to M by sister Services such as OSS, CIA and the Deuxieme. Now Bond drew towards him a particular prize, a translation of the manual, entitled simply Defence, issued to operatives of SMERSH, the Soviet organization of vengeance and death.
That night he was half way through Chapter Two, whose title, freely translated, was 'Come-along and Restraint Holds'. Now he went back to the book and read for half an hour through the sections dealing with the conventional 'Wrist Come-along', 'Arm Lock Come-along', 'Forearm Lock', 'Head Hold' and 'Use of Neck Pressure Points'.
After half an hour, Bond thrust the typescript away from him. He got up and went across to the window and stood looking out. There was a 'nauseating toughness in the blunt prose the Russians used. It had brought on another of the attacks of revulsion to which Bond had succumbed ten days before at Miami airport. What was wrong with him?
Couldn't he take it any more? Was he going soft, or was he only stale? Bond stood for a while watching the moon riding, careering, through the clouds. Then he shrugged his shoulders and went back to his desk. He decided that he was as fed up with the variations of violent physical behaviour as a psychoanalyst must become with the mental aberrations of his patients.
Bond read again the passage that had revolted him: 'A drunken woman can also usually be handled by using the thumb and forefinger to grab the lower lip. By pinching hard and twisting, as the pull is made, the woman will come along.'
Bond grunted. The obscene delicacy of that'thumb and forefinger'! Bond lit a cigarette and stared into the filament of the desk light, switching his mind to other things, wishing that a signal would come in or the telephone ring. Another five hours to go before the nine o'clock report to the Chief of Staff or to M, if M happened to come in early. There was something nagging at his mind, something he had wanted to check on when he had the time. What was it? What had triggered off the reminder? Yes, that was it, 'forefinger' -Goldfinger. He would see if Records had anything on the man.
Bond picked up the green telephone and dialled Records.
'Doesn't ring a bell, sir. I'll check and call you back.'