فصل 11

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فصل 11

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  • زمان مطالعه 10 دقیقه
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CHAPTER eleven

Mud Baths

The small red bus had the words ‘Acme Mud and Sulphur Baths’ on its side. It went down a short hill towards a group of dirty, grey buildings. A tall, yellow chimney stood up from the centre. Black smoke came from the chimney.

The bus stopped by the baths. There was a seat near the entrance, under some dead-looking trees. Bond sat there for a few minutes, trying to prepare himself. He was not happy. He did not like the look of the place, and he did not like what was going to happen to him inside.

But after a few more moments, he went inside. The bad smell of sulphur was strong. A woman sat behind a desk, reading a paperback book. She looked up. ‘Yes?’

‘I’d like a bath,’ said Bond.

‘Mud or Sulphur?’ asked the woman.

‘Mud,’ said Bond. He paid for a ticket.

At the back of the room were two doors. One said MUD, the other SULPHUR. Bond went through the MUD door. He found himself in a long room with a window in the roof and changing rooms along the walls. It was hot and steamy in the room. Two men sat at a table playing cards. They were naked except for towels around their waists. They looked up at Bond.

‘Ticket?’ one of the men asked.

Bond gave him his ticket and the man gave him a key for one of the changing rooms. He pointed at the door at the end of the room. ‘The baths are through there,’ the man said.

There was nothing in the changing room except a thin towel. Bond took off his clothes and put the towel round his waist. He pushed the money into his coat pocket. Then he walked out and locked the changing room door behind him.

He went through the door at the end of the room. A large black man with no hair met him on the other side.

‘Follow me,’ said the black man.

The room was square and grey, and there were long tables against the walls. On each table was a heavy wooden box like a coffin. It had a wooden top that covered most of the box. Men’s hot, wet faces showed above the sides of most ‘coffins’.

Bond followed the black man to a wooden seat next to two shower rooms. Bond sat on the seat and the man went across to an empty coffin. He put a sheet into it. Next he went to the middle of the room and got two buckets. They were filled with hot brown mud. He poured mud into the empty coffin until the bottom was full.

He left it to cool and went to a bath full of ice. From this he took several wet towels, then walked round the room. At each coffin, he stopped to put a cold towel around the head of the red-faced man inside. When he had finished, he walked across to the empty coffin.

‘OK,’ he said to Bond.

The man took Bond’s towel and key. Bond climbed into the coffin and lay down in the hot mud. The man put a cold towel under Bond’s head, then took one of the buckets of hot mud. He put the mud all over Bond’s body. When he had finished, only Bond’s face and a very small part of his body round his heart was white. The man then pulled the sheet round Bond until Bond could only move his fingers and his head. He felt like a trapped animal.

‘Twenty minutes,’ the man said to Bond. He closed the lid.

It was six o’clock.

Bond was uncomfortable and hot. At three minutes past six, the door opened and Tingaling Bell came into the room. The black man came across and put a towel around Bond’s head. It felt wonderfully cold.

The jockey climbed into a coffin in front of Bond. The black man covered him in mud and put the sheet round him. Then he shut the lid over Tingaling’s body.

Bond closed his eyes. How was he going to give Tingaling the money? In the changing room after the bath? On the way out? In the bus?

‘OK, nobody move!’ It was a hard, frightening voice and came from the doorway.

Bond opened his eyes. The door to the room was open and a man stood by it. Another man walked quickly into the middle of the room. They both carried guns and had black hoods over their heads. There were holes cut in the hoods for their eyes and mouths.

‘Where’s the jockey?’ the man in the middle of the room asked. He moved across the room and hit the black man with his gun.

The black man, afraid, pointed.

The man with the gun walked towards Tingaling. When he went past Bond, he stopped and looked for a few seconds. Then he moved over to the jockey.

‘Hello, Tingaling,’ he said, coldly.

‘What’s wrong?’ The jockey’s voice was high and frightened.

‘Wrong?’ said the man with the gun. ‘Maybe you’ve never heard of a horse called Shy Smile. Maybe you weren’t there when he was disqualified this afternoon.’

The jockey started to cry softly. ‘It… it wasn’t my fault, Boss. It was an accident.’

‘My friends think that it wasn’t an accident.’ The man put the gun to the jockey’s head. ‘They found a thousand dollars hidden in your room. Where did it come from?’

‘I’ve saved it!’ cried Tingaling. ‘It’s all the money I’ve got!’

The man took the gun away. ‘You’ve been riding too much, Tingaling. You need a rest. In a hospital, maybe.’ He walked across and picked up one of the buckets of hot mud and walked back.

The jockey started shouting, ‘No! No!’ as the hot, brown mud came out of the bucket and onto his head.

When it was empty, the man threw the bucket across the room. ‘Don’t call the police,’ he said as he walked to the door. He laughed and pointed at Tingaling’s coffin. ‘You’d better get him out before he begins to cook.’ Still laughing, the two men went out of the room.

Sometime later, Felix Leiter was sitting in Bond’s room at the motel.

‘What happened next?’ he asked.

‘The two ticket men came running in,’ said Bond. ‘They took the lid off Tingaling’s box and pulled off the sheet. Then they carried him to the shower. He was half dead, and all of his face was burned.’

‘Describe the two gunmen,’ said Leiter.

‘The man by the door was small and thin,’ said Bond. ‘The other man was big and fat. He had a red wart on his right thumb.’

‘Wint,’ said Leiter. ‘And the other man was Kidd. They work for the Spangs and they always work together. Wint is always sucking that wart on his thumb. He’s called “Windy”. He gets sick in cars and trains, and he thinks that planes are going to crash at any minute. Kidd’s got white hair, but he’s only about thirty years old. I’ll tell the police about them and about Shy Smile. I won’t tell them about you, James. I’ll be back in an hour.’

Bond got dressed, then went to find a telephone.

He spoke to Shady Tree. ‘Shy Smile didn’t win,’ he said.

‘I know,’ said Shady Tree. ‘Tell me where you are staying and I’ll send you another one thousand dollars. You’ll get the money in the morning. Now, listen carefully. Come to New York and get a plane to Los Angeles. Then get another plane to Las Vegas. There is a room booked for you at the Tiara Casino. At ten o’clock on Thursday evening, go to the centre table of the three blackjack tables near the bar. Sit down and bet the one thousand dollars. Do this five times. Then get up and leave the table. Don’t bet any more, but wait for more orders. OK?’

‘OK,’ said Bond.

Later, Felix Leiter returned and he and Bond went out to dinner.

‘My boss wants me to go to Las Vegas,’ said Leiter, when they were eating. ‘He wants to know where the real Shy Smile’s body is buried.’

‘Then we’re both going to Las Vegas,’ said Bond. He told him about Shady Tree’s orders.

‘I’ll be there by the end of the week,’ said Leiter. ‘Maybe we could meet sometimes. Listen, Pinkerton’s have got a man there. His name’s Ernie Cureo. I’ll tell him that you’re coming and he’ll look after you. But be careful, James.’

Bond smiled. ‘I’ll be careful. But I’ve got to get further down the pipeline. Also, I’ve got to get close to Seraffimo Spang. I really don’t like the Spangs. I don’t like what they did to that black man and Tingaling.’

‘Are you still an agent with a double “O” number?’ asked Leiter. ‘The number that means you’re allowed to kill?’

‘Yes,’ said Bond, quietly. ‘I am.’

‘Good,’ said Leiter.

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