Read Bond 07 - Goldfinger Online

Authors: Ian Fleming

Tags: #Fiction, #Espionage

Bond 07 - Goldfinger (7 page)

BOOK: Bond 07 - Goldfinger
3.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

By the time he had shaved and had an ice-cold shower and dressed it was eight o’clock. He walked through into the elegant sitting-room and found a waiter in a uniform of plum and gold laying out his breakfast beside the window. Bond glanced at the
Miami Herald
. The front page was devoted to yesterday’s failure of an American ICBM at the near-by Cape Canaveral and a bad upset in a big race at Hialeah.

Bond dropped the paper on the floor and sat down and slowly ate his breakfast and thought about Mr Du Pont and Mr Goldfinger.

His thoughts were inconclusive. Mr Du Pont was either a much worse player than he thought, which seemed unlikely on Bond’s reading of his tough, shrewd character, or else Goldfinger was a cheat. If Goldfinger cheated at cards, although he didn’t need the money, it was certain that he had also made himself rich by cheating or sharp practice on a much bigger scale. Bond was interested in big crooks. He looked forward to his first sight of Goldfinger. He also looked forward to penetrating Goldfinger’s highly successful and, on the face of it, highly mysterious method of fleecing Mr Du Pont. It was going to be a most entertaining day. Idly Bond waited for it to get under way.

The plan was that he would meet Mr Du Pont in the garden at ten o’clock. The story would be that Bond had flown down from New York to try and sell Mr Du Pont a block of shares from an English holding in a Canadian Natural Gas property. The matter was clearly confidential and Goldfinger would not think of questioning Bond about details. Shares, Natural Gas, Canada. That was all Bond needed to remember. They would go along together to the roof of the Cabana Club where the game was played and Bond would read his paper and watch. After luncheon, during which Bond and Mr Du Pont would discuss their ‘business’, there would be the same routine. Mr Du Pont had inquired if there was anything else he could arrange. Bond had asked for the number of Mr Goldfinger’s suite and a pass-key. He had explained that if Goldfinger was any kind of a professional card-sharp, or even an expert amateur, he would travel with the usual tools of the trade – marked and shaved cards, the apparatus for the Short Arm Delivery, and so forth. Mr Du Pont had said he would give Bond the key when they met in the garden. He would have no difficulty getting one from the manager.

After breakfast, Bond relaxed and gazed into the middle distance of the sea. He was not keyed up by the job on hand, only interested and amused. It was just the kind of job he had needed to clear his palate after Mexico.

At half past nine Bond left his suite and wandered along the corridors of his floor, getting lost on his way to the elevator in order to reconnoitre the lay-out of the hotel. Then, having met the same maid twice, he asked his way and went down in the elevator and moved among the scattering of early risers through the Pineapple Shopping Arcade. He glanced into the Bamboo Coffee Shoppe, the Rendezvous Bar, the La Tropicala dining-room, the Kittekat Klub for children and the Boom-Boom Nighterie. He then went purposefully out into the garden. Mr Du Pont, now dressed ‘for the beach’ by Abercrombie & Fitch, gave him the pass-key to Goldfinger’s suite. They sauntered over to the Cabana Club and climbed the two short flights of stairs to the top deck.

Bond’s first view of Mr Goldfinger was startling. At the far corner of the roof, just below the cliff of the hotel, a man was lying back with his legs up on a steamer chair. He was wearing nothing but a yellow satin bikini slip, dark glasses and a pair of wide tin wings under his chin. The wings, which appeared to fit round his neck, stretched out across his shoulders and beyond them and then curved up slightly to rounded tips.

Bond said, ‘What the hell’s he wearing round his neck?’

‘You never seen one of those?’ Mr Du Pont was surprised. ‘That’s a gadget to help your tan. Polished tin. Reflects the sun up under your chin and behind the ears – the bits that wouldn’t normally catch the sun.’

‘Well, well,’ said Bond.

When they were a few yards from the reclining figure Mr Du Pont called out cheerfully, in what seemed to Bond an overloud voice, ‘Hi there!’

Mr Goldfinger did not stir.

Mr Du Pont said in his normal voice, ‘He’s very deaf.’ They were now at Mr Goldfinger’s feet. Mr Du Pont repeated his hail.

Mr Goldfinger sat up sharply. He removed his dark glasses. ‘Why, hullo there.’ He unhitched the wings from round his neck, put them carefully on the ground beside him and got heavily to his feet. He looked at Bond with slow, inquiring eyes.

‘Like you to meet Mr Bond, James Bond. Friend of mine from New York. Countryman of yours. Come down to try and talk me into a bit of business.’

Mr Goldfinger held out a hand. ‘Pleased to meet you, Mr Bomb.’

Bond took the hand. It was hard and dry. There was the briefest pressure and it was withdrawn. For an instant Mr Goldfinger’s pale, china-blue eyes opened wide and stared hard at Bond. They stared right through his face to the back of his skull. Then the lids drooped, the shutter closed over the X-ray, and Mr Goldfinger took the exposed plate and slipped it away in his filing system.

‘So no game today.’ The voice was flat, colourless. The words were more of a statement than a question.

‘Whaddya mean, no game?’ shouted Mr Du Pont boisterously. ‘You weren’t thinking I’d let you hang on to my money? Got to get it back or I shan’t be able to leave this darned hotel,’ Mr Du Pont chuckled richly. ‘I’ll tell Sam to fix the table. James here says he doesn’t know much about cards and he’d like to learn the game. That right, James?’ He turned to Bond. ‘Sure you’ll be all right with your paper and the sunshine?’

‘I’d be glad of the rest,’ said Bond. ‘Been travelling too much.’

Again the eyes bored into Bond and then drooped. ‘I’ll get some clothes on. I had intended to have a golf lesson this afternoon from Mr Armour at the Boca Raton. But cards have priority among my hobbies. My tendency to un-cock the wrists too early with the mid-irons will have to wait.’ The eyes rested incuriously on Bond. ‘You play golf, Mr Bomb?’

Bond raised his voice. ‘Occasionally, when I’m in England.’

‘And where do you play?’

‘Huntercombe.’

‘Ah – a pleasant little course. I have recently joined the Royal St Marks. Sandwich is close to one of my business interests. You know it?’

‘I have played there.’

‘What is your handicap?’

‘Nine.’

‘That is a coincidence. So is mine. We must have a game one day.’ Mr Goldfinger bent down and picked up his tin wings. He said to Mr Du Pont, ‘I will be with you in five minutes.’ He walked slowly off towards the stairs.

Bond was amused. This social sniffing at him had been done with just the right casual touch of the tycoon who didn’t really care if Bond was alive or dead but, since he was there and alive, might as well place him in an approximate category.

Mr Du Pont gave instructions to a steward in a white coat. Two others were already setting up a card table. Bond walked to the rail that surrounded the roof and looked down into the garden, reflecting on Mr Goldfinger.

He was impressed. Mr Goldfinger was one of the most relaxed men Bond had ever met. It showed in the economy of his movement, of his speech, of his expressions. Mr Goldfinger wasted no effort, yet there was something coiled, compressed, in the immobility of the man.

When Goldfinger had stood up, the first thing that had struck Bond was that everything was out of proportion. Goldfinger was short, not more than five feet tall, and on top of the thick body and blunt, peasant legs, was set, almost directly into the shoulders, a huge and it seemed exactly round head. It was as if Goldfinger had been put together with bits of other people’s bodies. Nothing seemed to belong. Perhaps, Bond thought, it was to conceal his ugliness that Goldfinger made such a fetish of sunburn. Without the red-brown camouflage the pale body would be grotesque. The face, under the cliff of crew-cut carroty hair, was as startling, without being as ugly, as the body. It was moon-shaped without being moonlike. The forehead was fine and high and the thin sandy brows were level above the large light blue eyes fringed with pale lashes. The nose was fleshily aquiline between high cheek-bones and cheeks that were more muscular than fat. The mouth was thin and dead straight, but beautifully drawn. The chin and jaws were firm and glinted with health. To sum up, thought Bond, it was the face of a thinker, perhaps a scientist, who was ruthless, sensual, stoical and tough. An odd combination.

What else could he guess? Bond always mistrusted short men. They grew up from childhood with an inferiority complex. All their lives they would strive to be big – bigger than the others who had teased them as a child. Napoleon had been short, and Hitler. It was the short men that caused all the trouble in the world. And what about a misshapen short man with red hair and a bizarre face? That might add up to a really formidable misfit. One could certainly feel the repressions. There was a powerhouse of vitality humming in the man that suggested that if one stuck an electric bulb into Goldfinger’s mouth it would light up. Bond smiled at the thought. Into what channels did Goldfinger release his vital force? Into getting rich? Into sex? Into power? Probably into all three. What could his history be? Today he might be an Englishman. What had he been born? Not a Jew – though there might be Jewish blood in him. Not a Latin or anything farther south. Not a Slav. Perhaps a German – no, a Balt! That’s where he would have come from. One of the old Baltic provinces. Probably got away to escape the Russians. Goldfinger would have been warned – or his parents had smelled trouble and they had got him out in time. And what had happened then? How had he worked his way up to being one of the richest men in the world? One day it might be interesting to find out. For the time being it would be enough to find out how he won at cards.

‘All set?’ Mr Du Pont called to Goldfinger who was coming across the roof towards the card table. With his clothes on – a comfortably fitting dark blue suit, a white shirt open at the neck – Goldfinger cut an almost passable figure. But there was no disguise for the great brown and red football of a head and the flesh-coloured hearing aid plugged into the left ear was not an improvement.

Mr Du Pont sat with his back to the hotel. Goldfinger took the seat opposite and cut the cards. Du Pont won the cut, pushed the other pack over to Goldfinger, tapped them to show they were already shuffled and he couldn’t bother to cut, and Goldfinger began the deal.

Bond sauntered over and took a chair at Mr Du Pont’s elbow. He sat back, relaxed. He made a show of folding his paper to the sports page and watched the deal.

Somehow Bond had expected it, but this was no card-sharp. Goldfinger dealt quickly and efficiently, but with no hint of the Mechanic’s Grip, those vital three fingers curled round the long edge of the cards and the index finger at the outside short upper edge – the grip that means you are armed for dealing Bottoms or Seconds. And he wore no signet ring for pricking the cards, no surgical tape round a finger for marking them.

Mr Du Pont turned to Bond. ‘Deal of fifteen cards,’ he commented. ‘You draw two and discard one. Otherwise straight Regency rules. No monkey business with the red treys counting one, three, five, eight, or any of that European stuff.’

Mr Du Pont picked up his cards. Bond noticed that he sorted them expertly, not grading them according to value from left to right, or holding his wild cards, of which he had two, at the left – a pattern that might help a watchful opponent. Mr Du Pont concentrated his good cards in the centre of his hand with the singletons and broken melds on either side.

The game began. Mr Du Pont drew first, a miraculous pair of wild cards. His face betrayed nothing. He discarded casually. He only needed two more good draws to go out unseen. But he would have to be lucky. Drawing two cards doubles the chance of picking up what you want, but it also doubles the chance of picking up useless cards that will only clutter up your hand.

Goldfinger played a more deliberate game, almost irritatingly slow. After drawing, he shuffled through his cards again and again before deciding on his discard.

On the third draw, Du Pont had improved his hand to the extent that he now needed only one of five cards to go down and out and catch his opponent with a handful of cards which would all count against him. As if Goldfinger knew the danger he was in, he went down for fifty and proceeded to make a canasta with three wild cards and four fives. He also got rid of some more melds and ended with only four cards in his hand. In any other circumstances it would have been ridiculously bad play. As it was, he had made some four hundred points instead of losing over a hundred, for, on the next draw Mr Du Pont filled his hand and, with most of the edge taken off his triumph by Goldfinger’s escape, went down unseen with the necessary two canastas.

‘By golly, I nearly screwed you that time.’ Mr Du Pont’s voice had an edge of exasperation. ‘What in hell told you to cut an’ run?’

Goldfinger said indifferently, ‘I smelled trouble.’ He added up his points, announced them and jotted them down, waiting for Mr Du Pont to do the same. Then he cut the cards and sat back and regarded Bond with polite interest.

‘Will you be staying long, Mr Bomb?’

Bond smiled. ‘It’s Bond, B-O-N-D. No, I have to go back to New York tonight.’

‘How sad.’ Goldfinger’s mouth pursed in polite regret. He turned back to the cards and the game went on. Bond picked up his paper and gazed, unseeing, at the baseball scores, while he listened to the quiet routine of the game. Goldfinger won that hand and the next and the next. He won the game. There was a difference of one thousand five hundred points – one thousand five hundred dollars to Goldfinger.

‘There it goes again!’ It was the plaintive voice of Mr Du Pont.

Bond put down his paper. ‘Does he usually win?’

‘Usually!’ The word was a snort. ‘He always wins.’

They cut again and Goldfinger began to deal.

Bond said, ‘Don’t you cut for seats? I often find a change of seat helps the luck. Hostage to fortune and so on.’

Goldfinger paused in his deal. He bent his gaze gravely on Bond. ‘Unfortunately, Mr Bond, that is not possible or I could not play. As I explained to Mr Du Pont at our first game, I suffer from an obscure complaint – agoraphobia – the fear of open spaces. I cannot bear the open horizon. I must sit and face the hotel.’ The deal continued.

BOOK: Bond 07 - Goldfinger
3.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Master of Liversedge by Ley, Alice Chetwynd
SexontheBeach by Amber Skyze
Poisoned Pins by Joan Hess
The Someday Jar by Allison Morgan
Death Line by Maureen Carter