The BOAC flight dispatcher was close to Bond. She picked up the telephone-to Flight Control, Bond supposed-and said

“I have forty passengers in the Final Lounge”. She waited for the okay and then put the telephone back and picked up the microphone.

“Final Lounge?” Cheerful start to flying the Atlantic, reflected Bond, and then they were all walking across the tarmac and up into the big Boeing and, with a burst of oil and metanol smoke, the engines fired one by one. The chief steward announced over the loudspeaker that the next stop would be Shannon, where they would dine, and that the flying time would be one hour and fifty minutes, and the great double-decker Stratocruiser rolled slowly out to the East-West runway. The aircraft trembled against its brakes as the Captain revved the four engines, one at a time, up to take-off speed, and through his window Bond watched the wing flaps being tested. Then the great plane turned slowly towards the setting sun, there was a jerk as the brakes were released and the grass on either side of the runway flattened as, gathering speed, the Monarch hurtled down the two miles of stressed concrete and rose into the west, aiming ultimately for another little strip of concrete carpet on the other side of the world.

Bond lit a cigarette and was settling himself with his book when the back of the reclining seat on the left of the pair in front of him was lowered sharply towards him. It was one of the two American business men, the fat one, lying slumped down with his safety belt still fastened round his stomach. His face was green and sweating. He held a brief case clutched across his chest and Bond could read the name on the visiting card inserted in the leather label tag. It said Mr W. Winter and below, in neat red ink capitals, was written MY BLOOD GROUP is F.

Poor brute, thought Bond. He’s terrified. He knows the plane is going to crash. He just hopes the men who pull him out of the wreckage will give him the right blood transfusion. To him this plane is nothing but a giant tube-full of anonymous deadweight, supported in the air by a handful of sparking plugs, and guided to its destination by a scrap of electricity. He has no faith in it, and no faith in safety statistics. He ‘is suffering the same fears he had as a small child-the fear of noise and the fear of falling. He won’t even dare to go to the lavatory for fear he’ll put his foot through the floor of the plane when he stands up.

A silhouette broke the rays of the evening sun that filled the cabin and Bond glanced away from the man. It was Tiffany Case. She walked past him to the stairs leading down to the cocktail lounge on the lower deck and disappeared. Bond would have liked to follow her. He shrugged his shoulders and waited for the steward to wheel round the tray of cocktails and the caviar and smoked salmon canapés. He turned again to his book and read a page without understanding a single word. He put the girl out of his mind and started the page again.

Bond had read a quarter of the book when he felt his ears begin to block as the plane started its fifty-mile descent towards the western coastline of Ireland. “Fasten your seat-belts. No smoking” and there was the green-and-white searchlight of Shannon and the red and gold of the flare-path rushing towards them, and then the brilliant blue of the ground-lights between which the Stratocruiser trundled towards the unloading bay. Steak and champagne for dinner, and the wonderful goblet of hot coffee laced with Irish whisky and topped with half an inch of thick cream. A glance at the junk in the airport shops, the ‘Irish Horn Rosaries’, the ‘Bog Oak Irish Harp’, and the ‘Brass Leprechauns’, all at $1.50, and the ghastly ‘Irish Musical Cottage at $4, the furry, unwearable tweeds and the dainty Irish linen doilies and cocktail napkins. And then the Irish rigmarole coming over the loudspeaker in which only the words ‘BOAC’ and ‘New York’ were comprehensible, the translation into English, the last look at Europe, and they were climbing to 15,000 feet and heading for their next contact with the surface of the world, the radio beacons on the weather ships Jig and Charlie, marking time around their compass points somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic.

Bond slept well and awoke only as they were approaching the southern shores of Nova Scotia. He went forward to the washroom and shaved, and gargled away the taste of a night of pressurized air, and then he went back to his seat between the lines of crumpled, stirring passengers and had his usual moment of exhilaration as the sun came up over the rim of the world and bathed the cabin in blood.

Slowly, with the dawn, the plane came alive. Twenty thousand feet below, the houses began to show like grains of sugar spilt across a brown carpet. Nothing moved on the earth’s surface except a thin worm of smoke from a train, the straight white feather of a fishing boat’s wake across an inlet, and the glint of chromium from a toy motor car caught in the sun; but Bond could almost see the sleeping humps under the bedclothes beginning to stir and, where there was a wisp of smoke rising into the still morning air, he could smell the coffee brewing in the kitchens.

Breakfast came, that inappropriate assortment of foods that BOAC advertise as ‘An English country house breakfast’, and the chief steward came round with the US customs forms-Form No 6063 of the Treasury Department-and Bond read the small print: failure to declare any article or any wilfully false statement… fine or imprisonment or both and wrote Personal effects and cheerfully signed the lie.

And then there were three hours when the plane hung dead-steady in the middle of the world, and only the patches of bright sunshine swaying slowly a few inches up and down the walls of the cabin gave a sense of motion. But at last there was the great sprawl of Boston below them, and then the bold pattern of a clover-leaf on the New Jersey Turnpike, and Bond’s ears began to block with the slow descent towards the pall of haze that was the suburbs of New York. There was the hiss and sickly smell of the insecticide bomb, the shrill hydraulic whine of the air-brakes and the landing-wheels being lowered, the dip of the plane’s nose, the tearing bump of the tyres on the runway, the ugly roar as the screws were reversed to slow the plane for the entrance bay, the rumbling progress over the tired grass plain towards the tarmac apron, the clang of the hatch being opened, and they were there.



THE customs officer, a paunchy good-living man with dark sweat marks at the armpits of his grey uniform shirt, sauntered lazily over from the Supervisor’s desk to where Bond stood, his three pieces of luggage in front of him, under the letter B. Next door, under C, the girl took a packet of Parliaments out of her bag and put a cigarette between her lips. Bond heard several impatient clicks at the lighter, and the sharper snap as she put the lighter back in her bag and closed the fastening. Bond felt aware of her watchfulness. He wished that her name began with Z so that she would not be so close. Zarathustra? Zacharias? Zophany… p

“Mr Bond?”


“Is this your signature?”


“Just your personal effects?”

“Yes, that’s all.”

“Okay, Mr Bond.” The man tore a customs stamp out of his book and pasted it on the suitcase. He did the same for the attaché case. He came to the golf clubs. He paused with the stamp book in his hand. He looked up at Bond.

“What d’ya shoot, Mr Bond?”

Bond had a moment of blackout.

“They’re golf clubs.”

“Sure,” said the man patiently. “But what d’ya shoot? What d’ya go round in?”

Bond could have kicked himself for forgetting the Americanism. “Oh, in the middle eighties, I guess.”

“Never broken a hundred in my life,” said the customs officer. He gummed a blessed stamp on the side of the bag a few inches away from the richest haul of contraband that had ever been missed at Idlewild.

“Have a good vacation, Mr Bond.”

“Thanks,” said Bond. He beckoned a porter and followed his bags across to the last hurdle, the Inspector at the door. There was no pause. The man bent over, searched for the stamps, over-stamped them and waved him through.

“Mr. Bond?”

It was a tall, hatchet-faced man with mud-coloured hair and mean eyes. He was wearing dark brown slacks and a coffee-coloured shirt.

“I have a car for you.” As he turned and led the way out into the hot early morning sun, Bond noticed a square bulge in his hip-pocket. It was about the shape of a small-calibre automatic. Typical, thought Bond. Mike Hammer routine. These American gangsters were too obvious. They had read too many horror-comics and seen too many films.

The car was a black Oldsmobile Sedan. Bond didn’t wait to be told. He climbed into the front seat, leaving the disposal of his luggage in the back and the tipping of the porter to the man in brown. When they had left the cheerless prairie of Idlewild and had merged into the stream of commuter traffic on the Van Wyck Parkway, he felt he ought to say something.

“How’s the weather been over here?”

The driver didn’t take his eyes off the road. “Either side of a hundred.”

“That’s pretty hot,” said Bond. “We haven’t had it much over seventy-five in London.”

“That so?”

“What’s the programme now?” asked Bond after a pause.

The man glanced in his driving-mirror and pulled into the centre lane. For a quarter of a mile he busied himself with passing a bunch of slow-moving cars on the inside lanes. They came to an empty stretch of road. Bond repeated his question. “I said, what’s the programme?”

The driver gave him a quick glance. “Shady wants you.”

“Does he?” said Bond. He was suddenly impatient with these people. He wondered how soon he would be able to throw some weight about. The prospect didn’t look good. His job was to stay in the pipeline and follow it farther. Any sign of independence or non-co-operation and he would be discarded. He would have to make himself small and stay that way. He would just have to get used to the idea.

They swept into up-town Manhattan and followed the river as far as the forties. Then they cut across town and pulled up half way down West 46th Street, the Hatton Garden of New York. The driver double-parked outside an inconspicuous doorway. Their destination was sandwiched between a grubby-looking shop selling costume jewellery and an elegant shop-front faced with black marble. The silver italic lettering above the black marble entrance of the elegant shop-front was so discreet that if the name had not been in the back of Bond’s mind he would not have been able to decipher it from where he sat. It said ‘The House of Diamonds, Inc.’.

As the car stopped, a man stepped off the pavement and sauntered round the car. “Everything okay?” he said to the driver.

“Sure. Boss in?”

“Yeah. Want me to park the heap?”

“Be glad if you would.” The driver turned to Bond. “This is it, bud. Let’s get the bags out.”

Bond got out and opened the rear door. He picked up his small attaché case and reached for the golf clubs.

“I’ll take the sticks,” said the driver behind him. Obediently Bond hauled out his suitcase. The driver reached in for the clubs and slammed the door of the car. The other man was already in the driver’s seat and the car moved off into the traffic as Bond followed the driver across the sidewalk and through’ the inconspicuous door.