Kerim lit his cigarette. He jerked his head back at the piece of tapestry. `Our friends paid me a visit yesterday,’ he said casually. `Fixed a limpet bomb on the wall outside. Timed the fuse to catch me at my desk. By good luck, I had taken a few minutes off to relax on the couch over there with a young Rumanian girl who still believes that a man will tell secrets in exchange for love. The bomb went off at a vital moment. I refused to be disturbed, but I fear the experience was too much for the girl. When I released her, she had hysterics. I’m afraid she had decided that my love-making is altogether too violent.’ He waved his cigarette holder apologetically. `But it was a rush to get the room put to rights in time for your visit. New glass for the windows and my pictures, and the place stinks of paint. However.’ Kerim sat back in his chair. There was a slight frown on his face. `What I cannot understand is this sudden breach of the peace. We live together very amicably in Istanbul. We all have our work to do. It is unheard of that my chers collègues should suddenly declare war in this way. It is quite worrying. It can only lead to trouble for our Russian friends. I shall be forced to rebuke the man who did it when I have found out his name.’ Kerim shook his head. `It is most confusing. I am hoping it has nothing to do with this case of ours.’
`But was it necessary
to make my arrival so public?’ Bond asked mildly. `The last thing I want is to get you involved in all this. Why send the Rolls to the airport? It only ties you in with me.’
Kerim’s laugh was indulgent. `My friend, I must explain something which you should know. We and the Russians and the Americans have a paid man in all the hotels. And we have all bribed an official of the Secret police at Headquarters and we receive a carbon copy of the list of all foreigners entering the country every day by air or train or sea. Given a few more days I could have smuggled you in through the Greek frontier. But for what purpose? Your existence here has to be known to the other side so that our friend can contact you. It is a condition she had laid down that she will make her own arrangements for the meeting. Perhaps she does not trust our
security. Who knows? But she was definite about it and she said, as if I didn’t know it, that her centre would immediately be advised of your arrival.’ Kerim shrugged his broad shoulders. `So why make things difficult for her? I am merely concerned with making things easy and comfortable for you so that you will at least enjoy your stay-even if it is fruitless.’
Bond laughed. `I take it all back. I’d forgotten the Balkan formula. Anyway I’m under your orders here. You tell me what to do and I’ll do it.’
Kerim waved the subject aside. `And now, since we are talking of your comfort, how is your hotel? I was surprised you chose the Palas. It is little better than a disorderly house-what the French call a baisodrome. And it’s quite a haunt of the Russians. Not that that matters.’
`It’s not too bad. I just didn’t want to stay at the Istanbul-Hilton or one of the other smart places.’
`Money?’ Kerim reached into a drawer and took out a flat packet of new green notes. `Here’s a thousand Turkish pounds. Their real value, and their rate on the black market, is about twenty to the pound. The official rate is seven. Tell me when you’ve finished them and I’ll give you as many more as you want. We can do our accounts after the game. It’s muck, anyway. Ever since Croesus, the first millionaire, invented gold coins, money has depreciated. And the face of the coin has been debased as fast as its value. First the faces of gods were on the coins. Then the faces of kings. Then of presidents. Now there’s no face at all. Look at this stuff!’ Kerim tossed the money over to Bond. `Today it’s only paper, with a picture of a public building and the signature of a cashier. Muck! The miracle is that you can still buy things with it. However. What else? Cigarettes? Smoke only these. I will have a few hundred sent up to your hotel. They’re the best. Diplomates. They’re not easy to get. Most of them go to the Ministries and the Embassies. Anything else before we get down to business? Don’t worry about your meals and your leisure. I will look after both. I shall enjoy it and, if you will forgive me, I wish to stay close to you while you are here.’
`Nothing else,’ said Bond. `Except that you must come over to London one day.’
`Never,’ said Kerim definitely. `The weather and the women are far too cold. And I am proud to have you here. It reminds me of the war. Now,’ he rang a bell on his desk. `Do you like your coffee plain or sweet? In Turkey we cannot talk seriously without coffee or raki and it is too early for raki.’
The door behind Bond opened. Kerim barked an order. When the door was shut, Kerim unlocked a drawer and took out a file and put it in front of him. He smacked his hand down on it.
`My friend,’ he said grimly, `I do not know what to say about this case.’
He leant back in his chair and linked his hands behind his neck. `Has it ever occurred to you that our kind of work is rather like shooting a film? So often I have got everybody on location and I think I can start turning the handle. Then it’s the weather, and then it’s the actors, and then it’s the accidents. And there is something else that also happens in the making of a film. Love appears in some shape or form, at the very worst, as it is now, between the two stars. To me that is the most confusing factor in this case, and the most inscrutable one. Does this girl really love her idea of you? Will she love you when she sees you? Will you be able to love her enough to make her come over?’
Bond made no comment. There was a knock on the door and the head clerk put a china eggshell, enclosed in gold filigree, in front of each of them and went out. Bond sipped his coffee and put it down. It was good, but thick with grains. Kerim swallowed his at a gulp and fitted a cigarette into his holder and lit it.
`But there is nothing we can do about this love matter,’ Kerim continued, speaking half to himself. `We can only wait and see. In the meantime there are other things.’ He leant forward against the desk and looked across at Bond, his eyes suddenly very hard and shrewd.
`There is something going on in the enemy camp, my friend. It is not only this attempt to get rid of me. There are comings and goings. I have few facts,’ he reached up a big index finger and laid it alongside his nose, `but I have this.’ He tapped the side of his nose as if he was patting a dog. `But this is a good friend of mine and I trust him.’ He brought his hand slowly and significantly down on to the desk and added softly, `And if the stakes were not so big, I would say to you, “Go home my friend. Go home. There is something here to get away from”.’
Kerim sat back. The tension went out of his voice. He barked out a harsh laugh. `But we are not old women. And this is our work. So let us forget my nose and get on with the job. First of all, is there anything I can tell you that you do not know? The girl has made no sign of life since my signal and I have no other information. But perhaps you would like to ask me some questions about the meeting.’
`There’s only one thing I want to know,’ said Bond flatly. `What do you think of this girl? Do you believe her story or not? Her story about me? Nothing else matters. If she hasn’t got some sort of a hysterical crush on me, the whole business falls to the ground and it’s some complicated M.G.B. plot we can’t understand. Now. Did you believe the girl?’ Bond’s voice was urgent and his eyes searched the other man’s face.
`Ah, my friend,’ Kerim shook his head. He spread his arms wide. `That is what I asked myself then, and it is what I ask myself the whole time since. But who can tell if a woman is lying about these things? Her eyes were bright-those beautiful innocent eyes. Her lips were moist and parted in that heavenly mouth. Her voice was urgent and frightened at what she was doing and saying. Her knuckles were white on the guard rail of the ship. But what was in her heart?’ Kerim raised his hands, `God alone knows.’ He brought his hands down resignedly. He placed them flat on the desk and looked straight at Bond. `There is only one way of telling if a woman really loves you, and even that way can only be read by an 佛山桑拿经理 expert.’
`Yes,’ said Bond dubiously. `I know what you mean. In bed.’
Chapter Fifteen Background to a Spy
Coffee came again, and then more coffee, and the big room grew thick with cigarette smoke as the two men took each shred of evidence, dissected it and put it aside. At the end of an hour they were back where they had started. It was up to Bond to solve the problem of this girl and, if he was satisfied with her story, get her and the machine out of the country.
Kerim undertook to look after the administrative problems. As a first step he picked up the telephone and spoke to his travel agent and reserved two seats on every outgoing plane for the next week-by B.E.A., Air France, S.A.S. and Turkair.
`And now you must have a passport,’ he said. `One will be sufficient. She can travel as your wife. One of my men will take 佛山桑拿按摩技师网 your photograph and he will find a photograph of some girl who looks more or less like her. As a matter of fact, an early picture of Garbo would serve. There is a certain resemblance. He can get one from the newspaper files. I will speak to the Consul General. He’s an excellent fellow who likes my little cloak-and-dagger plots. The passport will be ready by this evening. What name would you like to have?’
`Take one out of a hat.’
`Somerset. My mother came from there. David Somerset. Profession, Company Director. That means nothing. And the girl? Let us say Caroline. She looks like a Caroline. A couple of clean-limbed young English people with a taste for travel. Finance Control Form? Leave that to me. It will show eighty pounds in travellers’ cheques, let’s say, and a receipt from the bank to show you changed fifty while you were in Turkey. Customs? They never look at anything. 佛山夜生活桑拿论坛 Only too glad if somebody has bought something in the country. You will declare some Turkish Delight-presents for your friends in London. If you have to get out quickly, leave your hotel bill and luggage to me. They know me well enough at the Palas. Anything else?’
`I can’t think of anything.’
Kerim looked at his watch. `Twelve o’clock. Just time for the car to take you back to your hotel. There might be a message. And have a good look at your things to see if anyone has been inquisitive.
He rang the bell and fired instructions at the head clerk who stood with his sharp eyes on Kerim’s and his lean head straining forward like a whippet’s.
Kerim led Bond to the door. There came again the warm powerful handclasp. `The car will bring you to lunch,’ he said. `A little place in the Spice Bazaar.’ His eyes looked happily into Bond’s. `And I am glad to be working with you. We 佛山桑拿论坛浦友 will do well together.’ He let go of Bond’s hand. `And now I have a lot of things to do very quickly. They may be the wrong things, but at any rate,’ he grinned broadly, `jouons mal, mais jouons vite!’
The head clerk, who seemed to be some sort of chief-of-staff to Kerim, led Bond through another door in the wall of the raised platform. The heads were still bowed over the ledgers. There was a short passage with rooms on either side. The man led the way into one of these and Bond found himself in an extremely well-equipped dark-room and laboratory. In ten minutes he was out again on the street. The Rolls edged out of the narrow alley and back again on to the Galata Bridge.
A new concierge was on duty at the Kristal Palas, a small obsequious man with guilty eyes in a yellow face. He came out from behind the desk, his hands spread in apology. `Effendi, I greatly regret. My colleague showed you to an inadequate room. It was not 佛山夜生活888 realized that you are a friend of Kerim Bey. Your things have been moved to No. 12. It is the best room in the hotel. In fact,’ the concierge leered, `it is the room reserved for honeymoon couples. Every comfort. My apologies, Effendi. The other room is not intended for visitors of distinction.’ The man executed an oily bow, washing his hands.
If there was one thing Bond couldn’t stand it was the sound of his boots being licked. He looked the concierge in the eyes and said, `Oh.’ The eyes slid away. `Let me see this room. I may not like it. I was quite comfortable where I was.’
`Certainly, Effendi,’ the man bowed Bond to the lift. `But alas the plumbers are in your former room. The water supply . . . .’ the voice trailed away. The lift rose about ten feet and stopped at the first floor.
Well, the story of the plumbers makes sense, reflected Bond. And, after all, there was no harm in having the best room in the hotel.
The concierge unlocked a high door and stood back.
Bond had to approve. The sun streamed in through wide double windows that gave on to a small balcony. The motif was pink and grey and the style was mock French Empire, battered by the years, but still with all the elegance of the turn of the century. There were fine Bokhara rugs on the parquet floor. A glittering chandelier hung from the ornate ceiling. The bed against the right-hand wall was huge. A large mirror in a gold frame covered most of the wall behind it. (Bond was amused. The honeymoon room! Surely there should be a mirror on the ceiling as well.) The adjoining bathroom was tiled and fitted with everything, including a bidet and a shower. Bond’s shaving things were neatly laid out.
The concierge followed Bond back into the bedroom, and when Bond said he would take the room, bowed himself gratefully out.
Why not? Bond again walked round the room. This time he carefully inspected the walls and the neighbourhood of the bed and the telephone. Why not take the room? Why would there be microphones or secret doors? What would be the point of them?
His suitcase was on a bench near the chest-of-drawers. He knelt down. No scratches round the lock. The bit of fluff he had trapped in the clasp was still there. He unlocked the suitcase and took out the little attaché case. Again no signs of interference. Bond locked the case and got to his feet.
He washed and went out of the room and down the stairs. No, there had been no messages for the Effendi. The concierge bowed as he opened the door of the Rolls. Was there a hint of conspiracy behind the permanent guilt in those eyes? Bond decided not to care if there was. The game, whatever it was, had to be played out. If the change of rooms had been the opening gambit, so much the better. The game had to begin somewhere.