They could not stand competition, and the one way to overcome it was to stifle it in the roar of machine guns and to proclaim to expiring racketeers the dominance of their own position. He settled back in his corner and pulled at the brim of his hat—a broad-shouldered, prematurely old young man of about twenty-eight, with a square jaw and two deep creases running down from his nose and past the corners of his thin mouth.
He was one of the first examples of a type of crook that was still new and strange to England, a type that founded itself on the American hoodlum, educated in movie theatres and polished on the raw underworld fiction imported by F. Woolworth—a type that was breaking into the placid and gentlemanly paths of old-world crime as surely and ruthlessly as Fate.
In a few years more his type was no longer to seem strange and foreign, but in those days he was an innovation, respected and feared by his satellites. He had learned to imitate the Transatlantic callousness and pugnacity so well that he was no longer conscious of playing a part. Part Two, ch. International politics were something else. This is the midnight—let no star Deceive us—dawn is very far. This is the tempest long foretold— Slow to make head but sure to hold.
Soon through the walls of our content The gathering flood will force a rent And taller than a tree Hold sudden death before our eyes Whose river dreams long hid the size And rigours of the sea. And there was the self-protective belief of the governing class that Hitler was really OK, and just a normal politician cleverly role-playing in his angers and tirades.
In , Victor Gollancz published The Brown Book of the Hitler Terror and the Burning of the Reichstag , with a foreword by Lord Marley, Chairman of the World Committee for the Victims of Fascism, in which every kind of atrocious act by the newly in power National Socialists was documented with more eye-witness and first-hand accounts than one would normally choose to read. The man with the truncheon made a show of hitting the mechanic across the knee with it. I understood. A blow on the knee-cap is bad enough at the best of times. When that blow is dealt with a rubber truncheon the pain is unbearable.
Moreover, the knee-cap does not numb as easily as other parts of the body, so that repetitions of the blow will intensify the agony. The mission fails when the mine-owners agree to sell to the other side. In ? And the British Army was much inferior at the top to the German, to the exasperation of Churchill in wartime, hungry for generals who would fight and win , and himself technologically oriented.
This guy gets up and spits out a coupla teeth. The bombs, the food-queues, the rubber truncheons, the barbed wire, the coloured shirts, the slogans, the enormous faces, the machine-guns squirting out of bedroom windows. I know it—at any rate I knew it then. VII: Raymond, son of a regular Army officer, put things together in his first novel.
These characters are all playing for real, with each of them given a fair amount of screen-time, as it were. He often wondered what it was like to be a woman, but never before in connection with kidnapings. He supposed it was pretty bad. In the first place, when you were kidnaped, man or woman, you were always in doubt whether your captors would ultimately kill you or release you. But with a woman there was another consideration. With a pretty girl like Camelia Essex, especially, there was another consideration.
It was funny people never spoke about this. It was like solo transatlantic flyers. You never heard how they went to the bathroom, It was just something you never spoke about. And so was being raped by kidnapers. What was standard procedure? How the hell could you know? Raymond, as we have been told, wrote No Orchids in the late summer of that year.
A sound-proof room, Senator, with only one chair—a replica of the electric chair—in the middle, with a big spotlight shining in the face of whoever sits in it. So we went to work on him with the rubber hose—and a couple of hours later he admitted that Fred Coughlin had hired him. To judge from the enduring popularity of its basic narrative—two films, two plays, numerous reprintings by different houses—he might be onto something.
He was out cold. This is not just because of the questionable pleasures of Memory Lane. Like the opium smoker, the chronic masturbator would be off in a hedonistic trance that worked against the demands of an increasingly industrializing and imperialist nation. But the imagination, as was apparent with pre-Code Hollywood movies, needed only a few glimpses of normally concealed flesh to feed it. Then she slithered to the floor. On the way her skirt hooked over the corner of a chair and peeled itself back into a roll at her waist. She meant the long stretch of silk-clad legs and delicate almost transparent knickers and the exposed white body from waistband up.
I, , italics mine. The post-War British covers were sexier than American ones, and for a lot of collectors now, the Jungle is probably coterminous with the art of Reginald Heade, whose luscious images are likely to have no narrative connection with the contents. See the Web. Their activities normally issued from the bosom of organizations into which it was necessary to fit—the armed forces, Scotland Yard, the ranch, and so forth—and what they accomplished depended on their being so focused and consistent themselves that they never lost self-control.
Which are not frequent characteristics of the young. In fact he seems to have done swimmingly there. Nor do I know how typical all the elements of my own professional-middle-class boyhood in the Thirties were. And my much-loved grandmother was loving-care itself.
If any other members of the family had gone to university, I never heard about it. Bullying for him was a cardinal sin. The Beatles were mere MBEs, two steps down. We had an aristocratic black Chow called Chang, and there was a sawed-off walking stick that my father had broken I was told on the back of an Airedale that was attacking Chang in the park.
And a youth on the curve of a cupola one of those on St. James, whose Ghost Stories of an Antiquary were also in the drawing-room. Poetry is where you find it. As my father pointed out, he himself was only one-sixteenth part Scottish, making me one-thirty-second part. But it made no difference, family-wise.
All that I knew about the paternal side of the family otherwise was that there had been a gasworks in it, near Brighton. When King Kong turned up at our local cinema, she tried in vain to talk me in past its rating of H for Horror , meaningabsolutely no-one under sixteen admitted. Plus an unfunny Little-Shop-of-Horrors plant in the conservatory of a mysterious doctor:. The shortest of these boughs was seven or eight yards [sic] long. I never talked with grown-ups about anything that I read. Eating more than he was able, John fell dead at the breakfast table. John K. Not then.
Not until the War. We had unostentatious school uniforms—grey-flannel jackets and shorts, with pale-blue caps—and did all the usual schoolboy things—cricket, soccer, gym once a week, a sports day, some boxing lessons, conkers in season. Writing lines was the normal punishment, and a caning by the Headmaster a rare exception. But the Head never suggested that we live up to it, or talked about our future prospects. Nor did my parents. I missed out on programmes like In Town Tonight and Monday Night at Eight , and serial thrillers like The Mystery of the Mine, because of having to go to bed early, with my little supper and something to read.
The most English medium, as it would continue to be, was the radio. Pain back then was more stimulating than sex for pre-pubescents. You could give one another a Chinese Burn by twisting your hands in opposite directions on their wrist. On one occasion a heavy rubber-truncheon, presumably from Germany, was passed around the lunch table. In a circus movie, with the effect repeated three times, a wall of barrels and boxes trembled and then came crashing down this was at night, under arc lights as a gorilla pushed terrifyingly through it and came towards you—towards you.
A pea-jacketed seamen stumbled his way around a misty deck, lone survivor in The Mystery of the Marie Celeste , that name so redolent of the uncanny—a schooner found inexplicably abandoned, with the stove still warm and the crew never found. The unseen could be almost as thrilling as the seen, like the posters greenish, as I recall for the double bill of the re-released Frankenstein and Dracula in When we entered the theatre, the most appalling screeching was coming from a pitch-black screen, making me feel that this time I was in over my head.
But it was only a documentary about the depredations of foxes. The moment was still to come when Joel McCrea, sole survivor from those swirling sharks after the yacht foundered off-shore, struck the castle door hollowly, once, with the knocker with the wounded centaur on it, and after a pause the heavy door slowly swung inwards. He must have seen some. In the s, cinemas were the only convenient places in which to do a bit of snogging.
In he enthusiastically reviewed The Great Dictator. Insofar as conditioning was occurring, I would say that what it did was to make going into the armed forces, if and when called upon, a natural thing to do. Which, given the state of play in the later Thirties, was not an unreasonable or dysfunctional attitude. Maybe the angry guys in dark suits and soft hats on the covers of toughies, socking one another with fists and blackjacks, or blasting away with heavy automatics, were too alien for me.
Douthwaite, Gerald Fairlie, Sydney Horler, and dramatic illustrations. There was a rumour that the previous owners, who had turned the lawn into a badminton court, and left behind a large wooden aeroplane propellor, had kept a python. But the bars seemed a bit far apart for that. And each summer there was a three-week seaside holiday, with some piers with penny-in-the slot machines, and a couple of castles, one of them Pevensey with a newly discovered oubliette, and, at home, family trips to the Zoo, and the War Museum, and the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum.
Another portal. S closed, and two of the younger masters bought a small boarding school down in Hampshire, near Romsey, out in the country. A girl was given the strappado, with the help of a winch, her last fall so extreme that her arms were ripped from her body. There was a drawing of her up there before that happened.
Behind a curtain a life-sized figure, blood glistening, dangled from a hook driven through her waist. Attach to it a boarding unit for some fifty boys. Plus a school library with a large reproduction on the wall Bouguereau? Turn off the heat at night, provide too few thin blankets, and insist on the windows being kept open during the winter. Have a less than competent cook cope with wartime rations, cheap gristly cuts of meat, occasional powdered eggs, oatmeal forming lumps in watery porridge.
Plus an incompetent tweaking barber who visited every few weeks to give short haircuts, British style. Have an annual cross-country run in the winter—twenty-five miles for the bigger boys, five for junior ones, without any training. A new master with a university half-blue in running got all that changed before I had to do the senior one. Require permission to go down town. No girls, of course. They remained distant Ronald-Searle-like beings in their school uniforms several blocks away.
None was ever on the school grounds that I can remember, nor were there any individual contacts that I ever heard of. However, no bombs ever fell, though once a Heinkel with the black crosses on its wings, zoomed overhead on a sports-day, the rear-gunner fortunately dead, or so we were told later. Only the Head could cane, and did it seldom, no boarder ever being caned during my time there. During the first couple of years there were several exceptional senior boys, heroes on the rugger field, keeping order at school assembly by their mere patrolling presence, true officer material without any affectations.
There was no class snobbery that I was aware of, and no privileging of better-off boys with their own tuck-boxes or even, so far as I know, cash. Not officially, anyway, allowances of a shilling or two or so being doled out once a week to each of us by the Head. Would the dish with seconds on it be emptied before it got to you as it was passed down the table? Would the movie usher come out and announce to the queue that the theatre was now full, and that all of you beyond this point had no chance of getting in?
It was guys and girls. And the most marvellous love songs. Nor do I recall ever seeing Yanks behaving badly in town on Saturday, even though there was a large air-force base nearby. My guess is that they were pretty strictly monitored by their MPs when off base, whereas London was where guys went on leave. Once a couple of us crept up close at night to a marquee in a field from which swing was emanating. The only Yank-type mags that came my way during the war, however, were a copy of Black Mask not in the least scandalous and Shark Gotch of the Islands. With more options than before the war, and more to identify with.
I can recall almost no gangster movies, apart from Kid Galahad I would guess that the images of America and Americans had been pretty carefully tailored once America was dragged into the war. Since I had and have no musical aptitude whatsoever, my lessons from a lady music teacher away from school were a mutual embarrassment. But the search for a used B-flat simple-system clarinet had me haunting the Charing Cross Road area, with its music shops, and store-windows displaying books about birth control and flagellation, and I yearned for Yank-style suits and jackets like those in the windows of Cecil Gee.
I also became fleetingly acquainted at Oxford with three actual Americans, one of them George Steiner. It had been circulating among two or three older boys. What with Lynx Hanson fondling blindfolded society girl Doreen Milmay in the Chrysler Airflow, the flogging of Clare Holding with a rubber hose by hunchback Min, the stroking by Dill Slitson of the slits torn in her panties, the rape of blonde, soft, nice Edda Van Luys by Mouth Fennig, the third-degreeing of Hanson that goes way over the one in No Orchids , and the hara-kiri killing of naked stripper Cora Bilt by the Jap gangster Matsu, it was a heady mix.
Which was the only significant intellectual input that I can recall from any of the masters, to my advantage. There was less to unlearn. And though he was Oxford himself, we used in our Sixth Form discussion group a couple of Leavis-derived textbooks, one containing a fascinating portal from Joyce. In Paris in the summer of , I would haunt bookstores in search of Ulysses , that secular Necronomicon , which the Headmaster, a bit imprudently perhaps, had called the filthiest book ever written.
And despite ten years of it, I never acquired any Latin. This will entail some guesswork, and not just because of the inaccessibility of so many works. We were well-fed and well housed, with no needless discipline, plenty of freedom after hours, free travel passes, and pay. The talk in the HQ office was mostly about sports. Those were the days when people argued the respective merits of Bradman and Hobbs in cricket.
And when I was moved into a barracks with aircraft mechanics, these were still members of a craft, and civil in their dealings with one another. No paperbacks circulated that I was aware of. It was an England of chronic shortages—food, clothing, housing, sex. Given the shortage of accommodation, a lot of the returnees had to either defer marriage or move in with parents.
Where did you do it? Reading, if you wanted escape, was still cheap—it had been encouraged during the war—and people were still readers. But what would you read now if you were working-class? The carpet has to keep rolling up behind as it unrolls in front. There were still the managers and the managed, the bosses and the bossed.
It seems to me, in contrast, eminently natural, since such narratives were strong enough to override, like sounds overriding pain, the clatter and chaos and fear. When the Commissioner of Police at the Metropolitan wrote his annual report for Parliament for , there was no masking the fact that crime was rampant and, worse, on the increase. London, as usual, was the crime capital of the country. Criminal gangs flourished, The Piccadilly Commandos and Hyde Park Rangers—prostitutes in the West End—plied their trade with impunity, while their less professional sisters were not above luring some hapless American serviceman into a dark corner and robbing him.
Looting of bomb sites, sometimes while the dead and injured lay trapped in the debris, was not uncommon. Pilfering from employers was rife. Robberies from warehouses and highjacking of lorries fed the black market, which was increasing in vigour as wartime scarcity continued into the peace. The damaged state of much of the property in the capital—and the absence of many householders in the country—made breaking and entering a cinch. There was a rash of female burglars. Deserters without papers roamed the street preying on the public to survive. Even respectable men and women were increasingly drawn into a dalliance with crime.
War offered fresh opportunities for crime. But there was also a new breed of criminal abroad: ruthless young men, armed robbers, who meted out gratuitous violence with casual ease. Criminal associates such as the Elephant Boys of Bermondsey, who had robbed a City jeweller and run over a brave but foolhardy man who tried to stop them in December , had no compunction in shooting to kill as they made off with their booty.
Armed violence had been imported with the Americans, who lived in a society where guns were commonplace. But the viewpoints were very much those of the Decent Citizenry, and, when pinch came to crunch, more disturbingly than in the late Twenties and early Thirties, efficient police and legal work prevailed. Thrillers are an affair of dangers faced, risks run, adversaries defeated or eluded. Thrillers need scary villains, as Lee Child has shown us in his riveting forays man nailed to bedroom wall, wife fed his cut-off testicles beyond the viciousness of John D.
They were more like natural catastrophes—shipwrecks, train wrecks, mine disasters. But the Bryce Report of , about German atrocities in Belgium in contained such unpleasant first-hand recollections that it probably had a lot fewer British readers than the Government would have preferred, though the primary audience would have been still-neutral America.
Previously, in terms of popular imagery, torture was what was done by Red Indians, and the cruel Chinese, and the Spanish Inquisition, and the like. Truly atrocious things could now happen to decent people in the heart of modern Europe. And it had successors, especially during the time of the phony war, of which we learn in the ghostwritten memoirs of gangster Billy Hill that:. It seemed that London had got over the first shock of the war and had now adjusted itself to a new and strange existence. To a great extent the black-out and a depleted police force increased the opportunity for crime.
So did the loose money which was flying about the country. The result was that the West End became a roaring square mile of bustling prosperity and activity. Women flocked from all over to walk the streets and haunt the hotel lobbies, bars and clubs. Good-time girls became brazen tarts, ordinary wives became good-time girls. Small-time tealeaves turned into well-to-do operators. In the netherworld of pubs and clubs, of spielers [gambling dens] and dumps, you were assessed by two things, the amount of money in your pocket and your connections on the black market.
In particular, tough American gangster stories were prominently displayed and enjoyed enormous sales. My copies of Road Floozie and Deep South Slave came to me years later from an author who had been left a trove of paperbacks by an army sergeant who had served under him in Cairo. The brothers Hector ten years the younger must have been preparing to launch Robin Hood books once victory seemed assured, probably with Harold doing some stock-piling of works and authoring the majority of its titles, including pseudonymous Westerns, into which he put some of his best writing.
Some of them were in fact reissued in America, mostly, I think, New York. And for the British, which had fought on after the fall of France and saved the civilized world, as they saw it, peacetime was little better than wartime, while back home the Yanks were enjoying the emergent bounties of technology switched from wartime to peace. And there were no upper classes in the British sense, only the rich, who were likely to be crooked or phony. In the Junglies, Americans became ordinary guys, with a variety of problems, few luxuries, apart from automobiles and cheap liquor, and few things coming easily.
And America was where interesting things could happen to ordinary guys. At first the consistently staccato style feels like a way of doing a lot of monologuing by Nat without having to provide any strong action. Suddenly I say the hell with it. Whose joint is this? Fee or no fee. Client or no client. I bang my desk. I hurt my hand. I even hurt the desk. All of it. Every bit he has. He looks at me. Licks his lips. Shifts around.
All that guff. After which Nat fastens his wrists and ankles with copper wire, gags him, smears ripe cheese over his face, neck, and hands, and leaves him to the literal rats. Nat is arrested on a frame-up by a corrupt cop and bailed out by an honest one. Nat tracks them down, kills one of them in an alley shoot-out, challenges the other to a fist-fight, wrecks him with the help of a roll of quarters in his fist, pounds out of him where he took Virgie, and leaves him gut-shot and screaming.
After which he fights with Vecchi himself, who proves unexpectedly skillful and dangerous until Nat finally breaks his spine across his knees. After which he lines up and photographs the dignitaries behind the mirror and exits with the still virginal but sexually demanding Virgie, with whom he does not in fact sleep. A treat? Well, actually yes. Though the author doubtlessly read Spillane and, for a lighter touch, Richard S.
This is more that big-city America of the British mind that figures in accounts of the jungle books, here in industrial strength, with Nat running real risks, the way that the Man with No Name does in the Sergio Leone Westerns, those other over-the-top adaptations that leave one perked up rather than depressed. And there was no obligatory noir pessimism, since in contrast to the States, there was no washing-machine-and-family-car prosperity in Britain whose dark underside needed pointing out.
Five feet nine would be the height rating if she got down off the high barstool and let somebody measure her. She wore a green-and-white-striped cotton cord two-piece and a white cap sat on top of a lot of shining blue-black hair which fell in one of those tremendous off-the-face cuts. I thought she had known that for a long time.
Duval gave her a hard shove. She staggered, fought hard to regain her balance, and one foot slipped over the edge of the cliff. She fell then, her eyes wide with horror, screaming madly.
She fell so that her legs dangled over the edge while her arms sprawled over the lip of the cliff, scrabbling, digging into the ground, trying to save herself. The two men stood there looking down at her while she screamed and raved and tried to climb back. Neither man moved except when once she looked as though she might claw herself back to safety and then Duval stepped forward and brought his heel down savagely on her fingers.
They stood there watching while the strength went from her arms, watched as she slid backward, slowly, slowly, her arms flagging, her fingers, bleeding, digging into the ground. They watched until her arms slipped from the edge of the cliff and only her fingers held and they still watched as the fingers lost their strength and finally released their hold. Then they listened as the long scream went hurtling down onto the sharp rocks two hundred feel below and checked abruptly.
He was obviously fascinated by pain his In the Hands of the Inquisition  , as byMaria Deluz , is harrowing without being, in the S-M sense, sado-masochistic. In Lions and Shadows Christopher Isherwood recalls having bought a large motorbike after the Great War in order to make himself experience The Test.
I smacked her, fore and back-handed, on both sides of her face with all my strength. Then I doubled my fist and smashed her on the nose, and felt it crunch and flatten under my fist. Then I threw her down and grinned at the handful of rich, dark hair left in my paw. Person-to-person killings may not be tidy. Which is immediately followed in the next chapter by:.
The massacre of the Schentuck boys was afterwards filed as one of the biggest home news stories of the year. Fifteen hoodlums in all met violent death in a variety of forms. Some got it swiftly with lead, some lay writhing in dreadful agony from knife wounds that had torn their stomach apart; others were discovered with their faces battered beyond recognition, and a couple were strung up from posts in back alleys. The Press boys had a gala night.
Hard-boiled New Yorkers, reared on sensationalism, went green when they opened their morning papers over breakfast. There is no hero-worshipping of Eddie in the narrative, and no lip-smacking lingering on the violences. They are how Eddie convincingly behaves, character-driven. I kicked his face again and heard the crunch of bone.
- El signo de los cuatro (Spanish Edition).
- Tobacco and Alcohol.
- Dogfish! Learn About Dogfish and Enjoy Colorful Pictures - Look and Learn! (50+ Photos of Dogfish);
The next kick loosened his teeth in front and then I contented myself with going at his body. The more I did it the more the blood seemed to pound through my head. I was back in there in a cell and that buzzard was giving me hell with a sap. I was down on my knees beside him with a pocket-knife in my hand. I was tearing at his clothes to get them away from his fat belly. Then when the big white fleshy expanse was laid open for me I gave him the knife. Wrote a few pieces on Dixieland Jazz for the Amsterdam News , one of the local papers.
Did a series for the North American Newspaper Alliance on the negro theatre about the time Orson Welles put on his Macbeth with an all-negro cast at the Lafayette. So I know my way about up there. And I admire the way they're getting on in the world, though God knows I can't see the end of it. Harlem's the capital of the negro world. In any half a million people of any race you'll get plenty of stinkeroos. And he must be pretty well organized up there. After all, this is what we're paid for. We'll take a bus on Fifth Avenue. You won't find many cabs that want to go up there after dark.
It was raining. Bond turned up the collar of his coat and gazed up the Avenue to his right, towards Central Park, towards the dark citadel that housed The Big Man. Bond's nostrils flared slightly. He longed to get in there after him. He felt strong and compact and confident. The evening awaited him, to be opened and read, page by page, word by word. In front of his eyes, the rain came down in swift, slanting strokes--italic script across the unopened black cover that hid the secret hours that lay ahead. At the bus stop at the corner of Fifth and Cathedral Parkway three negroes stood quietly under the light of a street lamp.
They looked wet and bored. They were.
They had been watching the traffic on Fifth since the call went out at four-thirty. But he pulled his hat down over his eyes and climbed aboard, slotted his coins and moved down the bus, scanning the occupants. He blinked as he saw the two white men, walked on and took the seat directly behind them.
He examined the backs of their necks, their coats and hats and profiles. Bond sat next to the window. The negro saw the reflection of his scar in the dark glass. He got up and moved to the front of the bus without looking back. At the next stop he got off the bus and made straight for the nearest drugstore. He shut himself into the paybox. The Limey with the scar. Got a friend with him, but he don't seem to fit the dope on the other two.
He glanced at his shorthand pad and whispered fluently and without a pause into the mouthpiece. From the moment that Bond and Leiter walked under the canopy of Sugar Ray's on Seventh Avenue at rd Street there was a team of men and women watching them or waiting to watch them, speaking softly to The Whisper at the big switchboard on the Riverside Exchange, handing them on towards the rendezvous.
In a world where they were naturally the focus of attention, neither Bond nor Leiter felt the hidden machine nor sensed the tension around them. In the famous night spot the stools against the long bar were crowded, but one of the small booths against the wall was empty and Bond and Leiter slipped into the two seats with the narrow table between them. They ordered scotch-and-soda--Haig and Haig Pinchbottle.
Bond looked the crowd over. It was nearly all men. There were two or three whites, boxing fans or reporters for the New York sports columns, Bond decided. The atmosphere was warmer, louder than downtown. The walls were covered with boxing photographs, mostly of Sugar Ray Robinson and of scenes from his great fights. It was a cheerful place, doing great business. He stashed plenty away and now he's adding to his pile on the music halls. His percentage of this place must be worth a packet and he owns a lot of real estate around here.
He works hard still, but it's not the sort of work that sends you blind or gives you a haemorrhage of the brain. He quit while he was still alive. One can't plan for everything. It isn't a bad life when it consists of sitting in a comfortable bar drinking good whisky. How do you like this corner of the jungle? From what I've heard they're straight out of "Nigger Heaven". The booth behind him contained a handsome young negro in an expensive fawn suit with exaggerated shoulders. He was lolling back against the wall with one foot up on the bench beside him.
He was paring the nails of his left hand with a small silver pocket-knife, occasionally glancing in bored fashion towards the animation at the bar. His head rested on the back of the booth just behind Bond and a whiff of expensive hair-straightener came from him. Bond took in the artificial parting traced with a razor across the left side of the scalp, through the almost straight hair which was a tribute to his mother's constant application of the hot comb since childhood. The plain black silk tie and the white shirt were in good taste.
Opposite him, leaning forward with concern on her pretty face, was a sexy little negress with a touch of white blood in her. Her jet-black hair, as sleek as the best permanent wave, framed a sweet almond-shaped face with rather slanting eyes under finely drawn eyebrows. The deep purple of her parted, sensual lips was thrilling against the bronze skin.
All that Bond could see of her clothes was the bodice of a black satin evening dress, tight and revealing across the firm, small breasts. She wore a plain gold chain round her neck and a plain gold band round each thin wrist. Ah was fixin' tuh treat yuh tonight. Take yuh tuh Smalls Par'dise, mebbe. See dem high-yallers shakin' 'n truckin'. The man's voice suddenly sharpened. Yuh sleepin' wid him mebbe? Guess Ah gotta study 'bout dat little situayshun 'tween yuh an' Birdie Johnson. Mebbe git mahself a betterer gal. Ah jist don' lak gals which runs off ever' which way when Ah jist happen be busticated temporaneously.
Ah gotta study 'bout dat little situayshun. Ah done nuthen tuh give yuh recasion tuh ack dat way. Ah jist thunk you mebbe preshiate a ringside at da Par'dise 'nstead of settin' hyah countin' yo troubles. Why, honey, yuh all knows Ah wudden fall fo' dat richcrat ack' of Birdie Johnson. No sir. He don' mean nuthen tuh me. Him duh wusstes' man 'n Harlem, dawg bite me effn he ain't. All da same, he permis me da bestess seats 'nda house 'n Ah sez let's us go set 'n dem, 'n have us a beer 'n a good time.
Cmon, honey. Let's git out of hyah. Yuh done look so swell 'n Ah jist wan' mah frens tuh see usn together. But Ah mus' spressify dat yuh stays close up tuh me an keeps yo eyes off'n dat lowdown trash 'n his hot pants. Bond put down the menu. Thank God they're not genteel about it. The Methodists are almost their strongest sect.
Harlem's riddled with social distinctions, the same as any other big city, but with all the colour variations added. Come on,' he suggested, 'let's go and get ourselves something to eat. As the waiter was picking up the change, Leiter suddenly said, 'Know where The Big Man's operating tonight? He stacked the glasses on his tray and went back to the bar. They went out on to Seventh Avenue. The rain had stopped, but 'Hawkins', the bone-chilling wind from the north which the negroes greet with a reverent 'Hawkins is here', had come instead to keep the streets free of their usual crowds.
Leiter and Bond moved with the trickle of couples on the sidewalk. The looks they got were mostly contemptuous or frankly hostile. One or two men spat in the gutter when they had passed. Bond suddenly felt the force of what Leiter had told him. They were trespassing. They just weren't wanted. Bond felt the uneasiness that he had known so well during the war, when he had been working for a time behind the enemy lines.
He shrugged the feeling away. He was struck by the number of barbers' saloons and 'beauticians'. They all advertised various forms of hair-straightener--'Apex Glossatina, for use with the hot comb', 'Silky Strate. Leaves no redness, no burn'--or nostrums for bleaching the skin. Next in frequency were the haberdashers and clothes shops, with fantastic men's snakeskin shoes, shirts with small aeroplanes as a pattern, peg-top trousers with inch-wide stripes, zoot suits.
All the book shops were full of educational literature--how to learn this, how to do that--and comics. Confuses and Baffles Enemies'. Bond reflected it was no wonder that the Big Man found Voodooism such a powerful weapon on minds that still recoiled at a white chicken's feather or crossed sticks in the road--right in the middle of the shining capital city of the Western world.
One just doesn't catch the smell of all this in a country like England.
- Dangerous Mood.
- Sei nicht bös from the operetta Der Obersteiger - Score;
We're a superstitious lot there of course--particularly the Celts--but here one can almost hear the drums. Leiter grunted. Ma Frazier's was a cheerful contrast to the bitter streets. It was very civilized in the warm restaurant. Their waiter seemed glad to see them and pointed out various celebrities, but when Leiter slipped in a question about Mr Big the waiter seemed not to hear. He kept away from them until they called for their bill. By the time they left the restaurant it was ten-thirty and the Avenue was almost deserted.
They took a cab to the Savoy Ballroom, had a scotch-and-soda, and watched the dancers. All started on that floor. It's the Mecca of jazz and jive. They had a table near the rail round the huge floor. Bond was spellbound. He found many of the girls very beautiful. The music hammered its way into his pulse until he almost forgot what he was there for. Better move along.
We'll miss out Small's Paradise. Much the same as this, but not quite in the same class. Think I'll take you to "Yeah Man", back on Seventh. After that we must get moving to one of Mr Big's own joints. Trouble is, they don't open till midnight. I'll pay a visit to the washroom while you get the check. See if I can get a line on where we're likely to find him tonight. We don't want to have to go to all his places. Small place on Lenox Avenue. Quite close to his headquarters. Hottest strip in town.
Girl called G-G Sumatra. We'll have another drink at "Yeah Man" and hear the piano. Move on at about twelve-thirty. The big switchboard, now only a few blocks away, was almost quiet. Midnight had them entering Yeah Man. At twelve-thirty the final call came and then the board was silent.
He hurried across the dance-floor to a table away on the right, obscured from most of the room by a wide pillar. It was next to the Service entrance but with a good view of the floor and the band opposite. Table's reserved. Newspaper men from downtown. Drinks is on the house. Sam,' he beckoned to another waiter, 'clear the table.
Two covers. The other call was to four men who were playing craps in the basement. It was a long call, and very detailed. At twelve forty-five Bond and Leiter paid off their cab and walked in under the sign which announced 'The Boneyard' in violet and green neon. The thudding rhythm and the sour-sweet smell rocked them as they pushed through the heavy curtains inside the swing door.
The eyes of the hat-check girls glowed and beckoned. The head waiter consulted his table-plan. He seemed to decide. He put his pencil firmly through a space at the end of the card. Guess Ah cain't hold their res'vation all night. This way, please. Bond looked round. The music had stopped. The small four-piece band, clarinet, double-bass, electric guitar and drums, was moving out of the corner opposite. The dozen or so couples were walking and jiving to their tables and the crimson light was turned off under the glass dance-floor.
Instead, pencil-thin lights in the roof came on and hit coloured glass witchballs, larger than footballs, that hung at intervals round the wall. They were of different hues, golden, blue, green, violet, red. As the beams of light hit them, they glowed like coloured suns. The walls, varnished black, mirrored their reflections as did the sweat on the ebony faces of the men. Sometimes a man sitting between two lights showed cheeks of different colour, green on one side, perhaps, and red on the other.
The lighting made it impossible to distinguish features unless they were only a few feet away. Some of the lights turned the girls' lipstick black, others lit their whole faces in a warm glow on one side and gave the other profile the luminosity of a drowned corpse. The whole scene was macabre and livid, as if El Greco had done a painting by moonlight of an exhumed graveyard in a burning town. 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. From time to time a man or girl would erupt on to the dance-floor and start a wild solo jive. Friends would clap the rhythm. There would be a burst of catcalls and whistles. If it was a girl, there would be cries of 'Strip, strip, strip,' 'Get hot, baby! The sweat began to bead on Bond's forehead. Leiter leant over and cupped his hands. Service behind us. Behind the band.
At that moment he felt it didn't matter. This was nothing new to Leiter, but for Bond it was a close-up of the raw material on which The Big Man worked, the clay in his hands. The evening was gradually putting flesh on the dossiers he had read in London and New York. If the evening ended now, without any closer sight of Mr Big himself, Bond still felt his education in the case would be almost complete.
He took a deep draught of his whisky. There was a burst of applause. The MC had come out on to the dance-floor, a tall negro in immaculate tails with a red carnation in his button hole. He stood, holding up his hands. A single white spotlight caught him. The rest of the room went dark. Four grinning negroes in flame-coloured shirts and peg-top white trousers were revealed, squatting astride four tapering barrels with rawhide membranes.
The drums were of different sizes. The negroes were all gaunt and stringy. The one sitting astride the bass drum rose briefly and shook clasped hands at the spectators. There was silence. With the tips of their fingers the drummers began a slow, broken beat, a soft rumba shuffle. The last word was a yell. He began to clap. There was pandemonium in the room, a frenzy of applause. The door behind the drums burst open and two huge negroes, naked except for gold loincloths, ran out on to the floor carrying between them, her arms round their necks, a tiny figure, swathed completely in black ostrich feathers, a black domino across her eyes.
They put her down in the middle of the floor. They bowed down on either side of her until their foreheads met the ground. She took two paces forward. With the spotlight off them, the two negroes melted away into the shadows and through the door. The girl put her hand up to her throat and the cloak of black feathers came away from the front of her body and spread out into a five-foot black fan.
She swirled it slowly behind her until it stood up like a peacock's tail. She was naked except for a brief vee of black lace and a black sequined star in the centre of each breast and the thin black domino across her eyes. Her body was small, hard, bronze, beautiful. It was slightly oiled and glinted in the white light.
The audience was silent. The drums began to step up the tempo. The bass drum kept its beat dead on the timing of the human pulse. The girl's naked stomach started slowly to revolve in time with the rhythm. She swept the black feathers across and behind her again, and her hips started to grind in time with the bass drum.
The upper part of her body was motionless. The black feathers swirled again, and now her feet were shifting, and her shoulders. The drums beat louder. Each part of her body seemed to be keeping a different time. Her lips were bared slightly from her teeth. Her nostrils began to flare. Her eyes glinted hotly through the diamond slits.
It was a sexy, pug-like face-- chienne was the only word Bond could think of. The drums thudded faster, a complexity of interlaced rhythms.
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The girl tossed the big fan off the floor, held her arms up above her head. Her whole body began to shiver. Her belly moved faster. Round and round, in and out. Her legs straddled. Her hips began to revolve in a wide circle. Suddenly she plucked the sequined star off her right breast and threw it into the audience.
The first noise came from the spectators, a quiet growl. Then they were silent again. She plucked off the other star. Again the growl and then silence. The drums began to crash and roll. Sweat poured off the drummers. Their hands fluttered like grey flannel on the pale membranes. Their eyes were bulging, distant. Their heads were slightly bent to one side as if they were listening. They hardly glanced at the girl. The audience panted softly, liquid eyes bulging and rolling.
The sweat was shining all over her now. Her breasts and stomach glistened with it. She broke into great shuddering jerks. Her mouth opened and she screamed softly. Her hands snaked down to her sides and suddenly she had torn away the strip of lace. She threw it into the audience. There was nothing now but a single black G-string. The drums went into a hurricane of sexual rhythm. She screamed softly again and then, her arms stretched before her as a balance, she started to lower her body down to the floor and up again.
Faster and faster. Bond could hear the audience panting and grunting like pigs at the trough. He felt his own hands gripping the tablecloth. His mouth was dry. She sank to her knees and as the rhythm slowly died so she too went into a last series of juddering spasms, mewing softly. The drums came down to a slow tom-tom beat and shuffle. The audience howled for her body. Harsh obscenities came from different corners of the room.
There was a delighted howl from the audience. Now she would be quite naked. Show yoself, Baby. Cmon, cmon. 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. Something snapped shut above his head. He put his hand out behind him. It touched a moving wall a foot from his back. Opposite him, still at the table, sat Leiter, a huge negro grasping his elbows. They were in a tiny square cell. To right and left were two more negroes in plain clothes with guns trained on them. There was the sharp hiss of a hydraulic garage lift and the table settled quietly to the floor.
Bond glanced up. There was the faint join of a broad trap-door a few feet above their heads. No sound came through it. He seemed to be in charge. The pistol he held trained lazily on Bond's heart was very fancy. There was a glint of mother-of-pearl between his black fingers on the stock and the long octagonal barrel was finely chased. The negro's grip on Bond's arm was terrific. It was as if he had two fierce tourniquets applied above the elbows. His hands were beginning to go numb.
The man with the fancy gun came round the corner of the table. He shoved the muzzle of his gun into Bond's stomach. The hammer was back. He frisked Bond expertly with his left hand--legs, thighs, back, sides. He dug out Bond's gun and handed it to the other armed man. Yuh go 'long wid em. Da other guy stays wid me. Bond was hauled to his feet. He had one foot hooked under a leg of the table. He yanked hard. There was a crash of glass and silverware. At the same moment, Leiter kicked out backwards round the leg of his chair. There was a satisfactory 'klonk' as his heel caught his guard's shin.
Bond did the same but missed. There was a moment of chaos, but neither of the guards slackened his grip. Leiter's guard picked him bodily out of the chair as if he had been a child, faced him to the wall and slammed him into it. It nearly smashed Leiter's nose. The guard swung him round. Blood was streaming down over his mouth. The two guns were still trained unwaveringly on them.
It had been a futile effort, but for a split second they had regained the initiative and effaced the sudden shock of capture. Bond smiled at Leiter. Leiter grinned back. His teeth were red with blood. Be seeing you. Bond's guard whipped him round and shoved him against a section of the wall. It opened on a pivot into a long bare passage. The man called Tee-Hee pushed past them and led the way. Their footsteps echoed down the stone passage. At the end there was a door.
They went through into another long passage lit by an occasional bare bulb in the roof. Another door and they found themselves in a large warehouse. Cases and bales were stacked in neat piles. There were runways for overhead cranes. From the markings on the crates it seemed to be a liquor store. They followed an aisle across to an iron door. The man called Tee-Hee rang a bell. There was absolute silence. Bond guessed they must have walked at least a block away from the nightclub. There was a clang of bolts and the door opened.
A negro in evening dress with a gun in his hand stepped aside and they went through into a carpeted hallway. Bond's guard led him across the thick carpet to a low armchair in leather and tubular steel. It was a blessed relief to be rid of the two vice-like hands. All sensation had left Bond's forearms. He let them hang beside him and welcomed the dull pain as the blood started to flow again.
Mr Big sat looking at him, his huge head resting against the back of the tall chair. He said nothing. Bond at once realized that the photographs had conveyed nothing of this man, nothing of the power and the intellect which seemed to radiate from him, nothing of the over-size features. It was a great football of a head, twice the normal size and very nearly round. The skin was grey-black, taut and shining like the face of a week-old corpse in the river.
It was hairless, except for some grey-brown fluff above the ears. There were no eyebrows and no eyelashes and the eyes were extraordinarily far apart so that one could not focus on them both, but only on one at a time. Their gaze was very steady and penetrating. When they rested on something, they seemed to devour it, to encompass the whole of it.
They bulged slightly and the irises were golden round black pupils which were now wide. They were animal eyes, not human, and they seemed to blaze. The nose was wide without being particularly negroid. The nostrils did not gape at you. The lips were only slightly everted, but thick and dark. They opened only when the man spoke and then they opened wide and drew back from the teeth and the pale pink gums. There were few wrinkles or creases on the face, but there were two deep clefts above the nose, the clefts of concentration.
Above them the forehead bulged slightly before merging with the polished, hairless crown. Curiously, there was nothing disproportionate about the monstrous head. It was carried on a wide, short neck supported by the shoulders of a giant. Bond knew from the records that he was six and a half foot tall and weighed twenty stone, and that little of it was fat.
But the total impression was awe-inspiring, even terrifying, and Bond could imagine that so ghastly a misfit must have been bent since childhood on revenge against fate and against the world that hated him because it feared him. The Big Man was draped in a dinner-jacket. There was a hint of vanity in the diamonds that blazed on his shirt-front and at his cuffs. His huge flat hands rested half-curled on the table in front of him. There were no signs of cigarettes or an ash-tray and the smell of the room was neutral.
There was nothing on the desk save a large intercom with about twenty switches and, incongruously, a very small ivory riding-crop with a long thin white lash. There was one high window above Mr Big's head but otherwise the walls were solid with bookshelves. Bond turned round in his chair. More bookshelves, packed with books.
There was no sign of a door, but there might have been any number of doors faced with dummy books. The two negroes who had brought him to the room stood rather uneasily against the wall behind his chair. The whites of their eyes showed. They were not looking at Mr Big, but at a curious effigy which stood on a table in an open space of floor to the right, and slightly behind Mr Big.
Even with his slight knowledge of Voodoo, Bond recognized it at once from Leigh Fermor's description. A five-foot white wooden cross stood on a raised white pedestal. The arms of the cross were thrust into the sleeves of a dusty black frock-coat whose tails hung down behind the table towards the floor. Above the neck of the coat a battered bowler hat gaped at him, its crown pierced by the vertical bar of the cross.
A few inches below the rim, round the neck of the cross, resting on the cross-bar, was a deep starched clergyman's collar. At the base of the white pedestal, on the table, lay an old pair of lemon-coloured gloves. A short malacca stick with a gold knob, its ferrule resting beside the gloves, rose against the left shoulder of the effigy. Also on the table was a battered black top hat. Even to Bond it seemed to carry a dreadful gaping message. Silence fell again. At first, Mr Big's eyes had been focused sharply on Bond. They had examined him minutely.
Now, Bond noticed that though the eyes rested on him they had become slightly opaque. They gazed upon Bond without perception. Bond had the impression that the brain behind them was occupied elsewhere. Bond was determined not to be disconcerted. Feeling had returned to his hands and he moved them towards his body to reach for his cigarettes and lighter. In case you have any other intentions you may care to lean forward and inspect the keyhole of the drawer in this desk facing your chair.
I shall be ready for you in a moment. Bond leant forward. It was a large keyhole. In fact, Bond estimated,. Fired, Bond supposed, by a foot-switch under the desk. What a bunch of tricks this man was. Perhaps, after all, not to be dismissed so easily. The tricks--the bomb, the disappearing table--had worked neatly, efficiently. They had not been just empty conceits, designed to impress. Again, there was nothing absurd about this gun. Rather painstaking, perhaps, but, he had to admit, technically sound.
He lit a cigarette and gratefully drew the smoke deep into his lungs. He did not feel particularly worried by his position. He refused to believe he would come to any harm. It would be a clumsy affair to have him disappear a couple of days after he arrived from England unless a very expert accident could be contrived. And Leiter would have to be disposed of at the same time. That would be altogether too much for their two Services and Mr Big must know it. But he was worried about Leiter in the hands of those clumsy black apes. Not since the war. Your Service did well in the war.
You have some able men. I learn from my friends that you are high up in your Service. You have a double-0 number, I believe, if I remember right. The significance of that double-0 number, they tell me, is that you have had to kill a man in the course of some assignment. There cannot be many double-0 numbers in a Service which does not use assassination as a weapon. Whom have you been sent over to kill here, Mister Bond?
Not me by any chance? The voice was soft and even, without expression. There was a slight mixture of accents, American and French, but the English was almost pedantically accurate, without a trace of slang. The fate of both of you depends upon your doing so. I have confidence in the sources of my information. I know much more than I have said. I shall easily detect a lie.
Edward IV Rose Nobles,' he said. The American Treasury asked for assistance in tracing them since they must come from a British source. I came up to Harlem to see for myself, with a representative of the American Treasury, who I hope is now safely on his way back to his hotel. He lowered himself back into his chair. Immediately a broad strap was passed round his body and buckled tight. Two short straps went round his wrists and tied them to the leather and metal arms. Two more went round his ankles. He could hurl himself and the chair to the floor, but otherwise he was powerless.
There was a moment's pause and then a section of the bookcase to the right of the desk swung open. One of the most beautiful women Bond had ever seen came slowly in and closed the door behind her. She stood just inside the room and stood looking at Bond, taking him in slowly inch by inch, from his head to his feet. When she had completed her detailed inspection, she turned to Mr Big. I found her in a cabaret in Haiti, where she was born. She was doing a telepathic act which I could not understand.
I looked into it and I still could not understand. There was nothing to understand. It was telepathy. She is my inquisitor. Torture is messy and inconclusive. People tell you what will ease the pain. With this girl it is not necessary to use clumsy methods. She can divine the truth in people. That is why she is to be my wife. She is too valuable to remain at liberty. And,' he continued blandly, 'it will be interesting to see our children.
She will have nothing to do with men. That is why, in Haiti, she was called "Solitaire". Keep clear of the gun,' he added. The girl said nothing but took a chair similar to Bond's from beside the wall and pushed it towards him. She sat down, almost touching his right knee. She looked into his eyes. 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. It was a face born to command. The face of the daughter of a French Colonial slave-owner. She wore a long evening dress of heavy white matt silk whose classical line was broken by the deep folds which fell from her shoulders and revealed the upper half of her breasts. She wore diamond earrings, square-cut in broken bands, and a thin diamond bracelet on her left wrist.
She wore no rings. Her nails were short and without enamel. She watched his eyes on her and nonchalantly drew her forearms together in her lap so that the valley between her breasts deepened. The message was unmistakable and an answering warmth must have showed on Bond's cold, drawn face, for suddenly The Big Man picked up the small ivory whip from the desk beside him and lashed across at her, the thong whistling through the air and landing with a cruel bite across her shoulders.
She sat slowly more upright. She had a pack of cards in her hands and she started to shuffle them. Then, out of bravado perhaps, she sent him yet another message--of complicity and of more than complicity. Between her hands, she faced the knave of hearts. Then the queen of spades. She held the two halves of the pack in her lap so that the two court cards looked at each other. She brought the two halves of the pack together until they kissed. Then she riffled the cards and shuffled them again. At no moment of this dumb show did she look at Bond, and it was all over in an instant.
But Bond felt a glow of excitement and a quickening of the pulse. He had a friend in the enemy's camp. Bond looked into her eyes. There was no message. They were not focused on his. They looked through him. For a moment he felt an uncanny thrill. Could this girl tell? If she could tell, would she speak for him or against him? For a moment there was dead silence in the room.
Bond tried to look indifferent. He gazed up at the ceiling--then back at her. They have no jurisdiction in America. The American Secret Service has no power in America--only abroad. And the FBI are no friends of theirs. Tee-Hee, come here. He walked jauntily over to Bond. Bond clutched madly at the arms of his chair. Sweat started to break out on his forehead.
He tried to imagine the pain so that he could control it. The negro slowly unhinged the little finger of Bond's left hand, immovably bound to the arm of his chair. He held the tip between finger and thumb and very deliberately started to bend it back, giggling inanely to himself. Bond rolled and heaved, trying to upset the chair, but Tee-Hee put his other hand on the chair-back and held it there. The sweat poured off Bond's face. His teeth started to bare in an involuntary rictus.
Through the increasing pain he could just see the girl's eyes wide upon him, her red lips slightly parted. The finger stood upright, away from the hand. Started to bend slowly backwards towards his wrist. Suddenly it gave. There was a sharp crack. The Big Man picked it up and looked at it expertly. He weighed it in his hand, testing the feel of the skeleton grip. Then he pumped the shells out on to the desk, verified that he had also emptied the chamber and slid it over towards Bond.
Here is your gun.