GOLDFINGER
(A James Bond - Agent 007 - Story)
by Ian Fleming

 

17 ....... HOODS’ CONGRESS

 

‘FORT KNOX.’ Bond shook his head seriously. ‘Isn’t that rather a tall order for two men and a girl?’

 

Goldfinger shrugged impatiently. ‘Please put away your sense of humour for one week, Mr Bond. Then laugh as much as you please. I shall have under my command approximately one hundred men and women. These people will be hand picked from the six most powerful gangster groups in the United States. This force will amount to the toughest and most compact fighting unit that has ever been assembled in peace time.’

 

‘All right. How many men guard the vault at Fort Knox?’

 

Goldfinger slowly shook his head. He knocked once on the door behind him. The door flicked open. Oddjob stood on the threshold, crouching, alert. When he saw that the meeting was still peaceful he straightened himself and waited. Goldfinger said, ‘You will have many questions to ask, Mr Bond. They will all be answered this afternoon. Beginning at two-thirty. It is now exactly twelve o’clock.’ Bond glanced at his watch and adjusted it. ‘You and Miss Masterton will attend the meeting at which the proposition will be put to the heads of the six organizations I have mentioned. No doubt these people will ask the same questions as occur to you. Everything will be explained. Afterwards you will settle down to detailed work with Miss Masterton. Ask for what you want. Oddjob will see to your welfare and also be on permanent guard. Do not be obstreperous or you will instantly be killed. And do not waste time trying to escape or to contact the outside world. I have hired your services and I shall require every ounce of them. Is that a bargain?’

 

Bond said drily, ‘I’ve always wanted to be a millionaire.’

 

Goldfinger didn’t look at him. He looked at his fingernails. Then he gave Bond one last hard glance and went out and shut the door behind him.

 

Bond sat and gazed at the closed door. He brusquely ran both hands through his hair and down over his face. He said ‘Well, well’ aloud to the empty room, got up and walked through the bathroom to the girl’s bedroom. He knocked on the door.

 

‘Who is it?’

 

‘Me. Are you visible?’

 

‘Yes.’ The voice was unenthusiastic. ‘Come in.’

 

She was sitting on the edge of the bed, pulling on a shoe. She was wearing the things Bond had first seen her in. She looked cool and collected and unsurprised by her surroundings. She looked up at Bond. Her eyes were aloof, disdainful. She said coldly, precisely, ‘You’ve got us into this. Get us out.’

 

Bond said amiably, ‘I may be able to. I got us out of our graves.’

 

‘After getting us into them.’

 

Bond looked thoughtfully at the girl. He decided it would be ungallant to spank her, so to speak, on an empty stomach. He said, ‘This won’t get us anywhere. We’re in this together, whether we like it or not. What do you want for breakfast or lunch? It’s a quarter past twelve. I’ve eaten. I’ll order yours and then come back and tell you the score. There’s only one way out of here and Oddjob, that Korean ape, is guarding it. Now then, breakfast or lunch?’

 

She unbent an inch. ‘Thank you. Scrambled eggs and coffee, please. And toast and marmalade.’

 

‘Cigarettes?’

 

‘No, thank you. I don’t smoke.’

 

Bond went back to his room and knocked on the door. It opened an inch.

 

Bond said, ‘All right, Oddjob. I’m not going to kill you yet.’

 

The door opened farther. Oddjob’s face was impassive. Bond gave the order. The door closed. Bond poured himself a bourbon and soda. He sat on the edge of the bed and wondered how he was going to get the girl on his side. From the beginning she had resented him. Was that only because of her sister? Why had Goldfinger made that cryptic remark about her ‘inclinations’? What was there about her that he himself felt – something withdrawn, inimical. She was beautiful – physically desirable. But there was a cold, hard centre to her that Bond couldn’t understand or define. Oh well, the main thing was to get her to go along. Otherwise life in prison would be intolerable.

 

Bond went back into her room. He left both doors open so that he could hear. She was still sitting on the bed wrapped in a coiled immobility. She watched Bond carefully. Bond leaned against the jamb of the door. He took a long pull at his whisky. He said, looking her in the eye, ‘You’d better know that I’m from Scotland Yard’ – the euphemism would serve. ‘We’re after this man Goldfinger. He doesn’t mind. He thinks no one can find us for at least a week. He’s probably right. He saved our lives because he wants us to work for him on a crime. It’s big business. Pretty scatter-brained. But there’s a lot of planning and paperwork. We’ve got to look after that side. Can you do shorthand and typing?’

 

‘Yes.’ Her eyes were alight. ‘What’s the crime?’

 

Bond told her. He said, ‘Of course it all sounds ridiculous and I daresay a few questions and answers will show these gangsters, if they don’t show Goldfinger, that the whole thing’s impossible. But I don’t know. Goldfinger’s an extraordinary man. From what I know about him, he never moves unless the odds are right. And I don’t think he’s mad – at least not madder than other kinds of geniuses – scientists and so on. And there’s no doubt he’s a genius in his particular field.’

 

‘So what are you going to do about it?’

 

Bond lowered his voice. He said, ‘What are we going to do about it, you mean. We are going to play along. And to the hilt. No shirking and no funny business. We’re going to be greedy for the money and we’re going to give him absolutely top-notch service. Apart from saving our lives, which mean less than nothing to him, it’s the only hope we, or rather I because that’s my line of country, can have of a chance to queer his pitch.’

 

‘How are you going to do that?’

 

‘I haven’t the faintest idea. Something may turn up.’

 

‘And you expect me to go along with you?’

 

‘Why not? Any other suggestions?’

 

She pursed her lips obstinately. ‘Why should I do what you say?’

 

Bond sighed. ‘There’s no point in being a suffragette about this. It’s either that or get yourself killed after breakfast. It’s up to you.’

 

The mouth turned down with distaste. She shrugged her shoulders. She said ungraciously, ‘Oh, all right then.’ Suddenly her eyes flared. ‘Only don’t ever touch me or I shall kill you.’

 

There came the click of Bond’s bedroom door. Bond looked mildly down at Tilly Masterton. ‘The challenge is attractive. But don’t worry. I won’t take it up.’ He turned and strolled out of the room.

 

One of the Koreans passed him carrying the girl’s breakfast. In his room another Korean had brought in a typist’s desk and chair and a Remington portable. He arranged them in the corner away from the bed. Oddjob was standing in the doorway. He held out a sheet of paper. Bond went up to him and took it.

 

It was a foolscap memo sheet. The writing, with a ball point, was neat, careful, legible, undistinguished. It said:

 

Prepare ten copies of this agenda.

 

Meeting held under the chairmanship of Mr Gold

 

Secretaries: J. Bond

 

Miss Tilly Masterton

 

 

 

Present

 

Helmut M. Springer Jed

 

Midnight The Purple Gang. Detroit

 

Shadow Syndicate. Miami and

 

Havana

 

Billy (The Grinner) Ring

 

Jack Strap

 

Mr Solo

 

Miss Pussy Galore The Machine. Chicago

 

The Spangled Mob. Las Vegas

 

Unione Siciliano

 

The Cement Mixers. Harlem.

 

New York City

 

 

 

Agenda

 

A project with the code name OPERATION GRAND SLAM. (Refreshments.)

 

At the end of this was written, ‘You and Miss Masterton will be fetched at 2.20. Both will be prepared to take notes. Formal dress, please.’

 

Bond smiled. The Koreans left the room. He sat down at the desk, slipped paper and carbons into the typewriter and set to. At least he would show the girl that he was prepared to do his stint. Gosh, what a crew! Even the Mafia had come in. How had Goldfinger persuaded them all to come? And who in heaven’s name was Miss Pussy Galore?

 

Bond had the copies finished by two o’clock. He went into the girl’s room and gave them to her together with a shorthand notebook and pencils. He also read her Goldfinger’s note. He said, ‘You’d better get these names in your head. They probably won’t be hard to identify. We can ask if we get stuck. I’ll go and get into my formal dress.’ He smiled at her. ‘Twenty minutes to go.’

 

She nodded.

 

Walking down the corridor behind Oddjob, Bond could hear the sounds of the river – the slapping of water on the piles below the warehouse, the long mournful hoot of a ferry clearing her way, the distant thump of diesels. Somewhere beneath his feet a truck started up, revved and then growled away presumably towards the West Side Highway. They must be on the top tier of the long two-tiered building. The grey paint in the corridor smelled new. There were no side doors. Light came from bowls in the ceiling. They reached the end. Oddjob knocked. There was the sound of a Yale key being turned and two lots of bolts being pulled and they walked through and into a large bright sunlit room. The room was over the end of the warehouse and a wide picture window, filling most of the facing wall, framed the river and the distant, brown muddle of Jersey City. The room had been dressed for the conference. Goldfinger sat with his back to the window at a large round table with a green baize cloth, carafes of water, yellow scratch-pads and pencils. There were nine comfortable armchairs and on the scratch-pads in front of six of them were small oblong white parcels sealed with red wax. To the right, against the wall, was a long buffet table gleaming with silver and cut glass. Champagne stood in silver coolers and there was a row of other bottles. Among the various foods Bond noticed two round five-pound tins of Beluga caviar and several terrines of foie gras. On the wall opposite the buffet hung a blackboard above a table on which there were papers and one large oblong carton.

 

Goldfinger watched them come towards him across the thick wine-red carpet. He gestured to the chair on his left for Tilly Masterton and to the one on the right for Bond. They sat down.

 

‘The agenda?’ Goldfinger took the copies, read the top one and handed them back to the girl. He gave a circular wave of the hand and she got up and distributed the copies round the table. He put his hand beneath the table and pressed a hidden bell. The door at the back of the room opened. One of the Koreans came in and stood waiting. ‘Is everything ready?’ The man nodded. ‘You understand that no one is to come into this room but the people on your list? Good. Some of them, perhaps all, will bring a companion. The companions will remain in the anteroom. See that they have everything they wish. The cards are there and the dice? Oddjob.’ Goldfinger glanced up at the Korean who had remained behind Bond’s chair. ‘Go and take up your position. What is the signal?’ Oddjob held up two fingers. ‘Right. Two rings on the bell. You may go. See that all the staff carry out their duties to perfection.’

 

Bond said casually, ‘How many staff have you got?’

 

‘Twenty. Ten Koreans and ten Germans. They are all excellent men, hand picked. Much goes on in this building. It is like below-decks in a man-of-war.’ Goldfinger laid his hands flat on the table in front of him. ‘And now, your duties. Miss Masterton, you will take notes of any practical points that arise, anything that is likely to require action by me. Do not bother with the argument and chatter. Right?’

 

Bond was glad to see that Tilly Masterton now looked bright and businesslike. She nodded briskly, ‘Certainly.’

 

‘And, Mr Bond, I shall be interested in any reactions you may have to the speakers. I know a great deal about all these people. In their own territories they are paramount chiefs. They are only here because I have bribed them to come. They know nothing of me and I need to persuade them that I know what I am talking about and will lead them to success. Greed will do the rest. But there may be one or more who wish to back out. They will probably reveal themselves. In their cases I have made special arrangements. But there may be doubtful ones. During the talk, you will scribble with your pencil on this agenda. Casually you will note with a plus or a minus sign opposite the names whether you consider each one for or against the project. I shall be able to see what sign you have made. Your views may be useful. And do not forget, Mr Bond, that one traitor among them, one backslider, and we could quickly find ourselves either dead or in prison for life.’

 

‘Who is this Pussy Galore from Harlem?’

 

‘She is the only woman who runs a gang in America. It is a gang of women. I shall need some women for this operation. She is entirely reliable. She was a trapeze artiste. She had a team. It was called “Pussy Galore and her Abrocats”. ’ Goldfinger did not smile. ‘The team was unsuccessful, so she trained them as burglars, cat burglars. It grew into a gang of outstanding ruthlessness. It is a Lesbian organization which now calls itself “The Cement Mixers”. Even the big American gangs respect them. She is a remarkable woman.’

 

A buzzer sounded very softly beneath the table. Goldfinger straightened himself. The door at the end of the room opened briskly and five men came in. Goldfinger rose in his chair and ducked his head in welcome. He said, ‘My name is Gold. Will you please be seated.’

 

There was a careful murmur. Silently the men closed round the table, pulled out chairs and sat down. Five pairs of eyes looked coldly, warily at Goldfinger. Goldfinger sat down. He said quietly, ‘Gentlemen, in the parcels before you you will find one twenty-four-carat gold bar, value fifteen thousand dollars. I thank you for the courtesy of your attendance. The agenda is self-explanatory. Perhaps, while we wait for Miss Galore, I could run through your names for the information of my secretaries, Mr Bond here, and Miss Masterton. No notes will be made of this meeting, except on action you may wish me to take, and I can assure you there are no microphones. Now then, Mr Bond, on your right is Mr Jed Midnight of the Shadow Syndicate operating out of Miami and Havana.’

 

Mr Midnight was a big, good-living man with a jovial face but slow careful eyes. He wore a light blue tropical suit over a white silk shirt ornamented with small green palm trees. The complicated gold watch on his wrist must have weighed nearly half a pound. He smiled tautly at Bond and said, ‘Howdo.’

 

‘Then we have Mr Billy Ring who controls the famous Chicago “Machine”. ’

 

Bond thought he had never seen anyone who was less of a ‘Billy’. It was a face out of a nightmare and, as the face turned towards Bond, it knew it was, and watched Bond for his reactions. It was a pale, pear-shaped, baby face with downy skin and a soft thatch of straw-coloured hair, but the eyes, which should have been pale blue, were a tawny brown. The whites showed all round the pupils and gave a mesmeric quality to the hard thoughtful stare, unsoftened by a tic in the right eyelid which made the right eye wink with the heart-beat. At some early stage in Mr Ring’s career someone had cut off Mr Ring’s lower lip – perhaps he had talked too much – and this had given him a permanent false smile like the grin of a Hallowe’en pumpkin. He was about forty years old. Bond summed him up as a merciless killer. Bond smiled cheerfully into the hard stare of Mr Ring’s left eye and looked past him at the man Goldfinger introduced as Mr Helmut Springer of the Detroit Purple Gang.

 

Mr Springer had the glazed eyes of someone who is either very rich or very dead. The eyes were pale blue opaque glass marbles which briefly recognized Bond and then turned inwards again in complete absorption with self. The rest of Mr Springer was a ‘man of distinction’ – casually pin-striped, Hathaway-shirted, Aqua-Velva’d. He gave the impression of someone who found himself in the wrong company – a first-class ticket holder in a third-class compartment, a man from the stalls who has been shown by mistake to a seat in the pit.

 

Mr Midnight put his hand up to his mouth and said softly for Bond’s benefit, ‘Don’t be taken in by the Duke. My friend Helmut was the man who put the piquéd shirt on the hood. Daughter goes to Vassar, but it’s protection money that pays for her hockey-sticks.’ Bond nodded his thanks.

 

‘And Mr Solo of the Unione Siciliano.’

 

Mr Solo had a dark heavy face, gloomy with the knowledge of much guilt and many sins. His thick horn-rimmed spectacles helioed briefly in Bond’s direction and then bent again to the business of cleaning Mr Solo’s nails with a pocket knife. He was a big, chunky man, half boxer, half head waiter, and it was quite impossible to tell what was on his mind or where his strength lay. But there is only one head of the Mafia in America and, if Mr Solo had the job, thought Bond, he had got it by strength out of terror. It would be by the exercise of both that he kept it.

 

‘Howdy.’ Mr Jack Strap of the Spangled Mob had the synthetic charm of a front man for the Las Vegas casinos, but Bond guessed he had inherited from the late lamented brothers Spang thanks to other qualities. He was an expansive, showily dressed man of about fifty. He was coming to the end of a cigar. He smoked it as if he was eating it, munching hungrily. From time to time he turned his head sideways and discreetly spat a scrap of it out on to the carpet behind him. Behind this compulsive smoking there would be a lot of tension. Mr Strap had quick conjuror’s eyes. He seemed to know that his eyes frightened people because now, presumably not wanting to frighten Bond, he gave them charm by crinkling them at the corners.

 

The door at the back of the room opened. A woman in a black masculine-cut suit with a high coffee-coloured lace jabot stood in the doorway. She walked slowly, unselfconsciously down the room and stood behind the empty chair. Goldfinger had got to his feet. She examined him carefully and then ran her eyes round the table. She said a collective, bored ‘Hi’ and sat down. Mr Strap said ‘Hi Pussy,’ and the others, except Mr Springer who merely bowed, made careful sounds of welcome.

 

Goldfinger said, ‘Good afternoon, Miss Galore. We have just been through the formality of introductions. The agenda is before you, together with the fifteen-thousand-dollar gold bar I asked you to accept to meet the expense and inconvenience of attending this meeting.’

 

Miss Galore reached for her parcel and opened it. She weighed the gleaming yellow brick in her hand. She gave Goldfinger a direct, suspicious look. ‘All the way through?’

 

‘All the way through.’

 

Miss Galore held his eyes. She said ‘Pardon my asking’ with the curt tone of a hard woman shopper at the sales.

 

Bond liked the look of her. He felt the sexual challenge all beautiful Lesbians have for men. He was amused by the uncompromising attitude that said to Goldfinger and to the room, ‘All men are bastards and cheats. Don’t try any masculine hocus on me. I don’t go for it. I’m in a separate league.’ Bond thought she would be in her early thirties. She had pale, Rupert Brooke good looks with high cheekbones and a beautiful jawline. She had the only violet eyes Bond had ever seen. They were the true deep violet of a pansy and they looked candidly out at the world from beneath straight black brows. Her hair, which was as black as Tilly Masterton’s, was worn in an untidy urchin cut. The mouth was a decisive slash of deep vermilion. Bond thought she was superb and so, he noticed, did Tilly Masterton who was gazing at Miss Galore with worshipping eyes and lips that yearned. Bond decided that all was now clear to him about Tilly Masterton.

 

Goldfinger said, ‘And now I must introduce myself. My name is not Gold. My credentials are as follows. By various operations, most of them illegitimate, I have made a large sum of money in twenty years. That sum now stands at sixty million dollars.’ (A respectful hm-ing went round the table.) ‘My operations have, for the most part, been confined to Europe, but you may be interested to know that I founded and subsequently disposed of the “Golden Poppy Distributors” who operated out of Hong Kong.’ (Mr Jack Strap whistled softly.) ‘The “Happy Landings Travel Agency”, which some of you may have employed in emergency, was organized and owned by me until I disbanded it.’ (Mr Helmut Springer screwed a rimless monocle into one glazed eye so that he could examine Goldfinger more closely.) ‘I mention these minor concerns to show you that, although you may not know me, I have, in the past, acted at many removes on, I believe, all your behalfs.’ (‘Well, whaddya know!’ muttered Mr Jed Midnight with something like awe in his voice.) ‘That, gentlemen and – er – madam, is how I knew of you and how I came to invite here tonight what I have learned through my own experience to be the aristocracy, if I may so describe it, of American crime.’

 

Bond was impressed. Goldfinger had, in three minutes flat, got the meeting on his side. Now everyone was looking towards Goldfinger with profound attention. Even Miss Pussy Galore’s eyes were rapt. Bond knew nothing about the Golden Poppy Distributors or the Happy Landings Agency, but they must have run like clockwork from the expressions on their former customers’ faces. Now everyone was hanging on Goldfinger’s words as if he was Einstein.

 

Goldfinger’s face showed no emotion. He made a throwaway gesture of his right hand. He said flatly, ‘I have mentioned two projects of mine that were successful. They were small. There have been many others of a higher calibre. Not one of them has failed, and, so far as I know, my name is on the police files of no country. I say this to show you that I thoroughly understand my – our – profession. And now, gentlemen and madam, I propose to offer you partnership in an undertaking that will assuredly place in each of your treasuries, within one week, the sum of one billion dollars.’ Mr Goldfinger held up his hand. ‘We have different views in Europe and America as to what constitutes the arithmetical expression “a billion”. I use the word in the sense of one thousand million. Do I make myself clear?’


 

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