فصل 14

مجموعه: جیمز باند / کتاب: زندگی کن و اجازه بده بمیرند / فصل 14

فصل 14

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

The Robber

At six o’clock, Bond paid his bill at The Everglades and left.

Leiter’s car had been returned and Bond drove it into the town. He visited a shop and bought several things, then found a restaurant. After dinner, he drove to the harbour and parked the car near the sea.

It was a bright, moonlit night and he walked along by the low sea wall. The wall was about three feet wide, and Bond climbed up and walked on top of it. When he got close to the warehouse, he jumped off the wall into the parking space at the back of the building.

Above his head, the roof and top part of the south wall of the warehouse were all made of glass. There were open windows up on the roof, but they were too high for Bond to reach. He started working with a glass-cutter that he had bought at the shop. While he was working, he looked through the glass into the huge, moonlit warehouse. He could see rows and rows of large glass tanks, and above them there was a long metal walkway. There were also shelves of shells and coral.

After a quarter of an hour’s careful work, Bond took out a large, square piece of the glass in front of him. He took off his shoes and pushed them inside his shirt. Then he pulled himself through the hole in the glass and dropped onto one of the shelves of shells. As quietly as he could, he made a space for his feet. A moment later, he was down on the floor.

He left his shoes on the shelf, then moved across the floor with a small torch in his hand. He walked slowly past tank after tank of coloured fish. Underneath these were trays of live worms and bait.

After a time, he found what he was looking for - the poisonous fish. Here the tanks were smaller, and there was only one fish in each tank. There must have been hundreds of these tanks. On the glass of each one was a sign saying VERY DANGEROUS or DON’T TOUCH.

He chose a tank which had a scorpion fish in it. Bond knew these did not attack, but they were poisonous when touched. He took out a pocket knife and opened the longest blade. He pulled up his shirt sleeve and put his arm into the tank. He then pushed the knife blade quickly towards the centre of the fish’s head. The knife went through it and Bond carefully removed the fish from the tank. He dropped it onto the floor.

Next, he put his hand into the sand at the bottom of the tank. His fingers touched rows of coins in a flat tray. He pulled out a coin and shone his torch on it. It was gold, and it was Spanish.

Bond thought for a moment. There had to be a thousand coins in that one tank. Several thousand dollars’ worth, guarded by one poisonous fish. The Secatur would carry about a hundred tanks - well over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars’ worth of gold on each journey. Trucks would come for the tanks, and in another place, the fish would be taken out and thrown back into the sea or perhaps burnt. The water and sand would be taken out and the gold coins washed and put into bags. Then the bags would go to Mr Big’s men to be sold. ‘All very clever,’ thought Bond.

He dropped the scorpion fish back into the tank.

Suddenly, all the lights in the warehouse came on. A voice said, ‘Don’t move! Put your hands in the air!’

Bond turned and threw himself under the tank. The Robber was about twenty yards away, pointing his rifle at him. There was a crack as The Robber fired a shot and the tank above Bond exploded like a bomb. Water poured down, but Bond had rolled into the next passageway. He quickly got up and ran. There was another shot and a second tank exploded near him.

He was now at the end of the warehouse where he had climbed in. The Robber was at the other end, fifty yards away and he was shooting under the tanks at Bond’s legs. Bond fired two shots from his Beretta as he quickly crossed the central passageway. There was a crash of glass and water, a scream, and then The Robber was shooting again.

As Bond passed a row of much smaller tanks, he pushed one of them onto the floor. It left a space on the table. He ran to get his shoes, then quickly ran back and jumped up onto the table. There was a moment’s silence as Bond hid on the table and put his shoes back on. Then The Robber shouted.

‘Come out, or I’ll bomb you out! Drop your gun on the floor and come down the central passageway with your hands up. I won’t shoot. We’ll have a little talk.’

‘OK,’ replied Bond, after a moment. ‘I don’t really have a choice.’ He dropped his Beretta on the floor. Then he took the gold coin from his pocket and held it tight in his injured left hand. He walked slowly along the central passageway with his hands up and stopped halfway up the passage.

The Robber came towards him. When he was a few yards from Bond, he stopped. ‘Put your hands up higher!’ he shouted.

Bond lifted his hands across his face. Between his fingers, he saw The Robber move something on the floor with his foot.

Suddenly, Bond guessed what had happened to Leiter, but there was no time to think about it now.

The Robber moved nearer. At that moment, Bond dropped the gold coin from his left hand. The Robber looked down, and Bond moved quickly. He reached out with his right foot and the steel-capped shoe almost kicked the rifle from the man’s hands. At the same time, The Robber fired the gun and the bullet went through the glass roof.

Bond threw himself at the man’s stomach. The Robber began to fall backwards, and Bond kicked again with his steel- capped shoe. It hit The Robber’s knee, and the man screamed with pain and dropped his rifle. As he fell to the ground, a large part of the floor moved and suddenly started to open. The Robber almost disappeared down the black opening of a trapdoor. He gave a scream of fear as his fingers caught the edge of the floor.

Bond looked down. Behind The Robber’s terrified face he could see nothing but blackness. But he heard the sound of water and guessed that there was a way out to the sea, probably through narrow bars. And he could hear something moving down there. A hammerhead or a tiger shark?

‘Pull me out!’ cried The Robber. His eyes were wide with fear. ‘I’ll tell you anything!’

‘What happened to Solitaire?’ asked Bond coldly.

‘Mr Big told me to arrange a kidnapping,’ said The Robber. ‘Two men in Tampa - Butch and The Lifer. They’ll be at The Oasis bar. Now will you pull me out?’

‘And the American, Leiter?’ asked Bond. ‘What happened to him?’

‘He called me early this morning. Told me to come here because the warehouse was on fire. When I got here, he said he wanted to search the place. He had a gun. He… he just fell through the trapdoor. It was an accident. We pulled him out before he was killed. He’ll be OK.’

Bond looked over at the fingers holding the edge of the floor. He knew that The Robber must have got Leiter over the trapdoor, then opened it. He imagined The Robber laughing at Felix’s half-eaten body.

Bond suddenly became very angry and he kicked the man as hard as he could in the back - twice.

The Robber screamed as he fell. There was a big splash, and more screams as he was attacked by something in the water. Bond kicked the trapdoor shut and there was silence. He picked up the gold coin and his Beretta, turned off the lights and then walked out of the building.

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