Settings

Page 17


There was a pause. The man's tone altered, became slightly menacing. His target was now Scaramanga. “But, Mister S. How can this have come about? How can you possibly have let it arrive? My Zentrale is dumbfounded at the mistake. The man might have done much damage but for the watchfulness of my superiors. Please explain, Mister S. I must be making the very full report. How is it that you are meeting this man? How is that you are then carrying him efen into the centre of The Group? The details, pliss, Mister S. The full accounting. My superiors will be expressing sharp criticism of the lack of vigilance against the enemy.”

Bond heard the rasp of a match against a box. He could imagine Scaramanga sitting back and going through the smoking routine. The voice, when it came, was decisive, uncowed. “Mr. Hendriks, I appreciate your outfit's concern about this and I congratulate them on their sources of information. But you tell your Central this: I met this man completely by accident, at least I thought so at the time, and there's no use worrying about how it happened. It hasn't been easy to set up this conference and I needed help. I had to get two managers in a hurry from New York to handle the hotel people. They're doing a good job, right? The floor staff and all the rest I had to get from Kingston. But what I really needed was a kind of personal assistant who could be around to make sure that everything went smoothly. Personally, I just couldn't be bothered with all the details. When this guy dropped out of the blue, he looked all right to me. So I picked him up. But I'm not stupid. I knew that when this show was over I'd have to get rid of him, just in case he'd learned anything he shouldn't have. Now you say he's a member of the Secret Service. I told you at the beginning of this conference that I eat these people for breakfast when I have a mind to. What you've told me changes just one thing: he'll die today instead of tomorrow. And here's how it's going to happen.”

Scaramanga lowered his voice. Now Bond could only hear disjointed words. The sweat ran down from his ear as he pressed it to the base of the champagne glass. “Our train trip . . . rats in the cane . . . unfortunate accident . . . before I do it ... one hell of a shock . . . details to myself . . . promise you a big laugh.” Scaramanga must have sat back again. Now his voice was normal. “So you can rest easy. There'll be nothing left of the guy by this evening. Okay? I could get it over with now by just opening the door. But two blown fuses in two days might stir up gossip around here. And this way there'll be a heap of fun for everyone on the picnic.”

Mr. Hendriks' voice was flat and uninterested. He had carried out his orders, and action was about to follow, definitive action. There could be no complaint of delay in carrying out orders. He said, “Yes. What you are proposing will be satisfactory. I shall observe the proceedings with much amusement. And now to other business. Plan Orange. My superiors are wishing to know that everything is in order.”

“Yes. Everything's in order at Reynolds Metal, Kaiser Bauxite, and Alumina of Jamaica. But your stuffs plenty --what do they call it?--volatile. Got to be replaced in the demolition chambers every five years. Hey,” there was a dry chuckle, “I sure snickered when I saw that the how-to-do-it labels on the drums were in some of these African languages as well as English. Ready for the big black uprising, huh? You better warn me about The Day. I hold some pretty vulnerable stocks on Wall Street.”

“Then you'll lose a lot of money,” said Mr. Hendriks flatly. “I shall not be told the date. I do not mind. I hold no stocks. You would be wise to keep your money in gold or diamonds or rare postage stamps. And now the next matter. It is of interest to my superiors to be able to place their hands on a very great quantity of narcotics. You have a source for the supply of ganja, or marijuana as we call it. You are now receiving your supplies in pound weight. I am asking whether you can stimulate your sources of supply to providing the weed by the hundredweight. It is suggested that you then run shipments to the Pedro Cays. My friends can arrange for collection from there.”

There was a brief silence. Scaramanga would be smoking his thin cheroot. He said, “Yeah, I think we could swing that. But they've just put some big teeth into these ganja laws. Real rough jail sentences, see? So the goddam price has up and gone through the roof. The going price today is sixteen pounds an ounce. A hundredweight of the stuff could cost thousands of pounds. And it's darned bulky in those quantities. My fishing boat could probably only ship one hundredweight at a time. Anyway, where's it for? You'll be lucky to get those quantities ashore. A pound or two is difficult enough.”

“I am not being told the destinations. I assume it is for America. I am under the impression that they are the largest consumers. Arrangements have been made to receive this and other consignments initially off the coast of Georgia. I am being told that this area is full of small islands and swamps and is already much favoured by smugglers. The money is of no importance. I have instructions to make an initial outlay of a million dollars, but at keen market prices. You will be receiving your usual ten percent commission. Is it that you are interested?”

“I'm always interested in a hundred thousand dollars. I'll have to get in touch with my growers. They have their plantations in the Maroon country. That's in the centre of the island. This is going to take time. I can give you a quotation in about two weeks--a hundredweight of the stuff f.o.b. the Pedro Cays. Okay?”

“And a date? The Cays are very flat. This is not stuff to be left lying about, isn't it?”

“Sure. Sure. Now then. Any other business? Okay. Well, I've got something I'd like to bring up. This casino lark. Now, this is the picture. The government is tempted. They think it'll stimulate the tourist industry. But the heavies-- the boys who were kicked out of Havana, the Vegas machine, the Miami jokers, Chicago, the whole works--didn't take the measure of these people before they put the heat on. And they overplayed the slush fund approach--put too much money in the wrong pockets. Guess they should have employed a public relations outfit. Jamaica looks small on the map, and I guess the syndicates thought they could hurry through a neat little operation like the Nassau job. But the opposition party got wise, and the Church, and the old women, and there was talk of the Mafia taking over in Jamaica, the old Cosa Nostra and all that crap, and the boys lost out. Remember we were offered an in coupla years back? That was when they saw it was a bust and wanted to unload their promotion expenses, coupla million bucks or so, onto The Group. You recall I advised against and gave my reasons. Okay. So we said no. But things have changed. Different party in power, bit of a tourist slump last year, and a certain minister has been in touch with me. Says the climate's changed. Independence has come along, and they've got out from behind the skirts of Aunty England. Want to show that Jamaica's with it. Got oomph and all that. So this friend of mine says he can get gambling off the pad here. He told me how and it makes sense. Before, I said stay out. Now I say come in. But it's going to cost money. Each of us'll have to chip in with a hundred thousand bucks to give local encouragement. Miami'll be the operators and get the franchise. The deal is that they'll put us in for five percent--but off the top. Get me? On these figures, and they're not loaded, our juice should have been earned in eighteen months. After that it's gravy. Get the picture? But your, er, friends, don't seem too keen on these, er, capitalist enterprises. How do you figure it? Will they ante up? I don't want for us to go outside for the green. And, as from yesterday, we're missing a shareholder. Come to think of it, we've got to think of that too. Who we goin' to rope in as Number Seven? We're short of a game for now.”

James Bond wiped his ear and the bottom of the glass with his handkerchief. It was almost unbearable. He had heard his own death sentence pronounced, the involvement of the K.G.B. with Scaramanga and the Caribbean spelled out, and such minor dividends as sabotage of the bauxite industry, massive drug smuggling into the States, and gambling politics thrown in. It was a majestic haul in area Intelligence. He had the ball! Could he live to touch down with it? God, for a drink! He put his ear back to the hot base of the glass.

There was silence. When it came, the voice of Hendriks was cautious, indecisive. He obviously wanted to say “I pass”--with the corollary, “until I've talked to my Zentrale, isn't it?”

He said, “Mister S. Is difficult pizzness, yes? My superiors are not disliking the profitable involvements, but, as you will be knowing, they are most liking the pizzness that has the political objective. It was on these conditions that they instructed me to ally myself with your Group. The money, that is not the problem. But how am I to explain the political objective of opening casinos in Jamaica? This I am wondering.”

“It'll almost certainly lead to trouble. The locals'll want to play--they're terrific gamblers here. There'll be incidents. The native's will be turned away from the doors for one reason or another. Then the opposition party'll get hold of that and raise hell about colour bars and so on. With all the money flying about, the unions'll push wages through the roof. It can all add up to a fine stink. The atmosphere's too damn peaceful around here. This'll be a cheap way of raising plenty of hell. That's what your people want, isn't it? Give the islands the hot foot one after another?”

There was another brief silence. Mr. Hendriks obviously didn't like the idea. He said so, but obliquely: “What you are saying, Mister S., is very interesting. But is it not that these troubles you envisage will endanger our monies? However, I will report your inquiry and inform you at once. It is possible that my superiors will be sympathetic. Who can be telling? Now there is this question of a new Number Seven. Are you having anyone in mind?”

“I think we want a good man from South America. We need a guy to oversee our operations in British Guiana. We oughta get smartened up in Venezuela. How come we never got further with that great scheme for blocking the Maracaibo strait? Like robbing a blind man, given a suitable block ship. Just the threat of it would make the oil companies shell out--that's a joke by the way--and go on shelling by way of protection. Then, if this narcotics spiel is going to be important, we can't do without Mexico. How about Mr. Arosio of Mexico City?”

“I am not knowing this gentleman.”

“Rosy? Oh, he's a great guy. Runs the Green Light Transportation System. Drugs and girls into L.A. Never been caught yet. Reliable operator. Got no affiliates. Your people'll know about him. Why not check with them, and then we'll put it up to the others? They'll go along with our say-so.”

“Is good. And now, Mister S. Have you anything to report about your own employer? On his recent visit to Moscow, I understand that he expressed satisfaction with your efforts in this area. It is a matter for gratification that there should be such close cooperation between his subversive efforts and our own. Both our chiefs are expecting much in the future from our union with the Mafia. Myself I am doubting. Mr. Gengerella is undoubtedly a valuable link, but it is my impression that these people are only being activated by money. What is it that you are thinking?”

“You've said it, Mr. Hendriks. In the opinion of my chief, the Mafia's first and only consideration is the Mafia. It has always been so and it always will be so. My Mister C. is not expecting great results in the States. Even the Mafia can't buck the anti-Cuban feeling there. But he thinks we can achieve plenty in the Caribbean by giving them odd jobs to do. They can be very effective. It would certainly oil the wheels if your people would use the Mafia as a pipeline for this narcotics business. They'll turn your million-dollar investment into ten. They'll grab the nine out of it, of course. But that's not peanuts, and it'll tie them in to you. Think you could arrange that? It'll give Leroy G. some good news to report when he gets home. As for Mister C., he seems to be going along all right. Flora was a body-blow, but, largely thanks to the Americans leaning on Cuba the way they do, he's kept the country together. If the Americans once let up on their propaganda and needling and so forth, perhaps even make a friendly gesture or two, all the steam'll go out of the little man. I don't often see him. He leaves me alone. Likes to keep his nose clean, I guess. But I get all the cooperation I need from the D.S.S. Okay? Well let's go see if the folks are ready to move. It's eleven-thirty and the Belle of Bloody Bay is due to be on her way at twelve. Guess it's going to be quite a fun day. Pity our chiefs aren't going to be along to see the limey eye get his chips.”

Copyright 2016 - 2020