Bayamo - a James Bond Adventure

Here are the first two chapters of a Bond story I wrote some years back - enjoy!

                                                                  CHAPTER 1
                                                               A STEADY HAND

Harris lay still on his back, cigarette held loosely between dry lips. The only sign of nerves a trickle of sweat at the temple, a lazy bead of betrayal that didn’t escape the attention of the others in the guard-room. Across the expanse of frayed carpet the man perched on the government issue steel desk took careful aim at the cigarette, a thick comma of unruly black hair and cruel eyes above the ugly mouth of the Browning.
‘O.k. Bond, you’ve made your point - lets call it quits at forty, eh?.’ Definitely sweating now.
‘Now where’s the fun in that?.’ With that, the finger tightened around the trigger, the hammer released to crash forward, sending the pencil inside the barrel through the air, the point lodging itself firmly into the prone Harris’ ear. As the others rushed to his aid, James Bond reached for his wallet, tossing the notes onto the desk, along with the pistol. Leaving the unfortunate victim writhing in pain on the floor, Bond made for the door, striding across the hall to the bank of lifts. As he waited, one of the men from the guard-room joined him. Maybridge, an analyst from the European desk seemed somewhat uneasy at the scene he had just witnessed.
‘Bit over the top, that, eh Bond?.’ ‘Perhaps - but he was well overdue, fifty pounds worth, at least.’ He could have told Maybridge of the report that had accidentally come to his desk, that included a note to the effect that Harris had lost his nerve on a job in Red China and cost a loyal and prized local agent his life… but since neither man was on the official distribution list, he thought better of it. Besides, Harris ought to have thanked him; the injury would almost certainly see him downgraded, maybe even give his nerves a chance to recover.
Depositing Maybridge on five, the lift took Bond up to the communications section on the eighth floor, where he signed in at the security desk to be handed an envelope before grabbing a thick bundle of newspapers and magazines then a black coffee from the pot in the small galley before making his way to the duty room. A tired, but pretty looking girl gratefully vacated the desk, leaving Bond alone with a room full of radio equipment, teleprinters and the hated array of telephones that would serve as his shackles for the next eight hours. It wasn’t so much that Bond hated the duty room - the radio gear was always good to practice his morse - as that he despised any office duties. At least his own office had a view; the secretaries and office girls took their lunch in the small courtyard below, and skirts seemed to get shorter as the fifties receded. Settling in with the Times, Bond checked his Rolex against the London clock, one of seven on the wall above the racks of gear.
Time runs slowly for no man, but for James Bond, checking the time some two hours later, it certainly seemed to. Cursing softly, he stretched his arms, reaching for the headphones. Idly flicking through the switches and dials, he checked each station’s frequencies against the listing card from the envelope he had been given. One by one, the stations began their hourly reports - each staggered five minutes to allow the lone operator to receive and record them all, a dexion shelf sagging under the weight of a row of tape machines, each operated in turn by a timer mechanism to allow automated recording of the day’s reports.
Strictly against protocol, Bond began the laborious process of decoding some of the likelier candidates for entertainment, using a code-sheet marked ‘SECTION CHIEF ONLY - UNAUTHORISED USAGE STRICTLY PROHIBITED’. It took him the best part of the next three hours and a pack of cigarettes, at the end of which he knew that while station V (Vienna) had
nothing better to report than a negative sighting of a missing Soviet Atomic scientist and a shortage of office stationery - and station AU (Australasia) was requesting a spare set of valves for its transmitter, station C in Kingston was in the lead by sending home a wren in disgrace. Despite himself, Bond had to smile - having spent time there on assignment he knew that after rummy the station girls were the best game in town.
Finally, the hands arranged themselves at five to six, as a familiar face arrived to relieve Bond; the same poor girl he had taken over from. ‘Anything to report?.’ Her question prompted a shrug and a shake of the head. On a whim, Bond stuck his head back round the door. ‘You seem a little pale - may I suggest a transfer request?. I hear station C is short-handed.’
With a little over an hour to kill before his club opened, Bond decided on a change of clothes and a shower. The small suite of rooms on five were set aside for the temporary accommodation of agents and defectors during their period of interrogation and debriefing. Naturally, Bond had acquired a key, so after five minutes under a stream of near-scalding water he had a quick shave before changing into a fresh suit - a single-breasted number in lightweight navy serge by Benson, Perry and Whitley of Cork Street. Still with fifty minutes on his hands, he took the lift down to the sub-basement which housed the Armoury and the series of vaults which were the private domain of the man known as ‘Q’ to the handful subject to the privilege.
The low-ceiling of the room stretched back into darkness, the whole place resembling nothing so much as an untidy mixture of scrapyard and laboratory. Major Boothroyd, the Service’s weapons and equipment expert was busily tinkering with a steel tube mounted on a test-bench. A small cylinder marked ‘Co2 - Carbon Dioxide’ was linked to the tube by a steel reinforced pipe. At Bond’s approach, Boothroyd set down his spanner and waved the younger man across.
‘Ah, Double-O-Seven. Good, I was hoping you’d drop by.’ ‘Major.’ Bond couldn’t help but like the old recluse; he had a shared dislike of authority as well as all the best toys in the shop.
Indicating the pipe and cylinder contraption, ‘Q’ explained its purpose.
‘An engine compartment fire suppression system, intended for fitment to all Service cars. Now listen in; I had a look at your Walther and there’s nothing wrong with it, apart from you evidently mistaking it for a hammer.’ ‘The old Beretta…’ Boothroyd held up a finger to silence Bond. ‘Message from the top, M himself no less. Here, read it for yourself.’ Sifting rapidly through a pile of papers on one end of his battered old workbench, Boothroyd handed his visitor a sheet of notepaper. Under the heading ‘Q Branch Only’ was a terse missive from the Chief of the Service, known only as a cypher. ‘Reminder - The Walther PPK is now standard-issue for the ‘00’-section, no, repeat NO other sidearm to be issued under ANY circumstance without approval. Above goes especially for certain adherents of unreliable Italian arse-ticklers - signed ‘M’. The last a plainly worded dig at Bond’s fondness for his old Beretta, which had jammed and cost him several months in hospital as a result. ‘Well, that’s certainly clear enough - the Walther it is, then.’ Bond accepted the wooden box from the Major, setting it down to examine the contents.
‘One Walther PPK, Service Issue. Re-furbished and re-finished to remove obvious signs of abuse.’ Ignoring the dig, Bond let his benefactor continue the inventory. ‘Two barrels - one threaded for a Brausch silencer. Four magazines and two boxes of standard ammunition, calibre 7.65, second box contains sub-sonic ammunition for use with the silencer. Note the phosphorescent dots on rear and fore-sights - a new development to aid in the accuracy of shooting under low light conditions.’ With quick, professional efficiency, Bond assembled the pistol, the slide klacking into place. Thumbing a round into the magazine, he slipped it home with a satisfying click, thumbing the hammer back as he looked around for something suitable for what had come to mind, his eye coming to rest on an optician’s eye chart hung on the far wall. Spotting an orange in ‘Q’s open lunchbox, he waited until the Major’s back was turned before grabbing it, stuffing the fruit into the pipe on the bench then yanking the release lever on the Co2 cylinder.
To Boothroyd’s shout of alarm, the orange shot from the pipe like a citrus cannon-ball, Bond’s arm whipping up after it, a deafening KRAK! splitting the air as the orange exploded into droplets of pulp. ‘Bloody hell!, you might have killed one of us!. If that bullet had ricocheted…’. ‘Easy, Major - I made sure of my shot. Anyway, I’m for my club. Thanks for the Walther, I’ll take better care of it this time round.’ Leaving ‘Q’ to contemplate the mess he had made of the place, James Bond patted the Major on the shoulder and left. Alone with his work once more, Boothroyd returned his attention to the eye chart. The point at the middle of the letter ‘Q’ was now sporting a bullet-hole.


Try as he might, James Bond could not shut it out any longer. No man can compete with the animated noise that is early morning Chelsea on a February Monday. Muttering darkly, he padded to his bathroom for the three ‘s’s instilled into every serviceman. His coffee machine fussed and gurgled as it processed the beans - the strongest blend De Bry’s could find for him. He made an edible bacon and eggs with a pile of toast, taking his breakfast out onto the modest rooftop balcony. He checked his watch, the battered Rolex showing he would be late. Reluctantly, he left the last two pieces of toast for the pigeons and went inside to dress, choosing a navy pinstripe with a plain grey silk tie - a gift from May, his housekeeper, whose yearly weekly absence was the cause of the heartburn now beginning to nag at him. He called down for a taxi, which was waiting by the time he had exited the lift. Bill the Concierge came to attention and snapped Bond a smart salute, the result of thirty year’s practice in the Guards. Bond’s ‘Morning, Bill’ got the usual ‘Morning, Sah’ in return.

Bond paid the cabbie and walked the last few streets to the drab building overlooking Regent’s Park that was both his prison and the launch pad for so many of his adventures. He had just made his office when the phone rang. It was Moneypenny, personal secretary to the Chief. ‘James, he wants you in ten minutes, it’s going mad up here, he’s even put his report to the FO on the backburner.’ Bond felt the flush of his blood running, that feeling he had almost forgotten after months of office-work and exercises. He took the stairs, two at a time, to the thirteenth floor.

In the outer office, Moneypenny lit up at the sight of Bond, discretely moving her foot from the button in the floor (Ten seconds until thirty-eight Stone of ex - Royal Marines with guns crashing in). ‘James - how nice to have a man who’ll drop everything for me…’ ‘Penny - and in Chanel, too. I approve.’ ‘But I always wear Chanel…’ Bond smiled at the offended pout. ‘I meant the dress, Couture on your salary?.’ ‘Actually, there was a sale at Selfridges.’ The buzzer angrily interrupted them, Moneypenny flushing slightly, as a schoolgirl caught behind the bicycle sheds by a headmaster. Bond winked and went through the double doors, the light above going from green to red.

Admiral Sir.Miles Messervy, known as ‘M’, was standing awkwardly behind his desk. Two men, one distinguished and mid-fifties, the other with the look of a junior clerk sat in easy chairs beside the well-worn oak desk. ‘Double-O Seven, about time too. This is Sir.Charles Berkley from the Treasury, Benjamin Fowler here is from the Bank of England. Take a seat and we can begin.’

Without asking, Bond lit up one of his Morlands, made especially for him from a Turkish blend, white with three gold bands. Bond was a willing slave to two things; ‘M’ and the Morlands. ‘M’ reached for his pipe, filling it with ‘ships’, gesturing for Sir.Charles to start the briefing. Reaching inside his jacket, he produced a banknote, a crisp £5 which he handed silently to ‘M’. Shrugging, the Chief passed the note to Bond, who examined it cursorily before handing it on to Fowler. Screwing a loupe into his eye, the younger man held the note up to the light for scrutiny, humming distractedly to himself. ‘Yes, unmistakable. This is a series ‘B’ five pound note, paper from Porters of Bournemouth, issued in 1958. Unmistakable, yes.’
‘It’s a forgery.’

Sir.Charles let the words sink in before continuing. ‘Two days ago, a routine sweep picked up three of these notes in the Plymouth area. One had been tendered in a public house - the Eight Bells, I believe, the others at a Chandlers Yard. They were only identified after second examinations were conducted - apparently the quality of production was too high for the batch they were purported to be from. Naturally, there’s been the hell of a flap - the opposition has got wind of it somehow and theres calls for questions in the House. You can imagine the effect on the economy if this got out into the open - only a ‘D’ notice has kept the press quiet - and it’s a matter of time.’

Leaning back in his seat, M regarded the air between the men thoughtfully. ‘007 - first impressions?.’ Drawing deeply on his cigarette, Bond waved it in the air in a vague gesture. ‘It all sounds rather like that business during the war - Operation Bernhard, if I recall. SS Operation, ran out of Sachenhausen Concentration Camp. Hitler planned to flood England with forged five pound notes, cause a panic that would make a Nazi invasion easier. Whatever the truth behind it, someone has gone to an awful lot of trouble… reeks of the opposition.’ ‘Yes, well, I’ve heard enough. Sir.Charles, Mr.Fowler, thank you for your time - I assure you both our full resources will be directed at this matter. I need hardly remind you of the need for secrecy, but I’m afraid I must ask you to sign the OSA forms as a matter of routine. My secretary Miss Monepenny has a pile of them in her desk.’

When the two men had left, M steepled his fingers, as if struggling to summon the resolve he needed. Bond sat, alert to the electric tension now present in the air between him and the man who would doubtless be about to send him into the firing line once more. Pressing the button, M spoke.
‘Moneypenny - drop everything. Recall Double-O’s Three and Five, call Double-O Eight back from leave, immediate. Call the PM’s office, book me in for an hour, request the Foreign Secretary attends. Get hold of the Admiralty, Rear Admiral Blake’s office, I want a call for five minutes on the Scrambler phone.’

Turning to Bond, M’s face was grave, the gaze that of a judge announcing the death sentence.
‘Double-O Seven. Your mission is as follows. You will find the source of these forgeries, investigate and report. If I were you, I’d start in Plymouth - better get up to Natural Cover, see Billy Cohen, while you wait you can ask him about Operation Bernhard. I’ll get someone onto Porters, the paper people - could be an inside job.’ Bond had remained in his seat. ‘Well?’
‘Just this, Sir – and with respect, I had hoped to get the Blue Steel job. Isn’t this all a little excessive, for a few notes of funny money?.’ ‘Look here, Bond, I wouldn’t call Sir.Charles Berkley prone to excess – if he’s worried then I’m worried, that means you are worried too. Now, Blue Steel is over and done – there’s little if any chance of recovery. You’ll either go to Plymouth or to the Labour Exchange, do I make myself clear?.’ ‘Yes, you do, Sir.’ Bond considered saying more – quite a bit more in fact – but at least it was a job, however dull the prospects. He left M perusing the contents of his pipe.

Bond cut the usual banter to a wink, blowing Moneypenny a kiss as he departed. He took the lift to the fifteenth floor, a darkly-lit place with peeling linoleum-floored corridors leading off to gloomily mysterious suites of rooms. In one such suite, little more than a glorified storage area, he found the cheerful Cohen at his business. Wrinkled olive skin and a bent frame could not hide the vitality of this old man, the life in him a joyous contrast to his surroundings. ‘James - how good of you to come, the Boss said I’d see you. Put the kettle on, there’s a jar of real coffee under the sink.’ Amused, Bond did as he was told, finding two chipped service enamel mugs and the coffee - some truly hideous freeze-dried instant powder with a picture of a smiling Bolivian peasant on the label. Handing Cohen his mug, Bond experimentally sipped at his, wincing at the taste. He doubted the man on the label would have been smiling if forced to drink his own coffee.

‘Billy, M said you knew about an old job from the war - Operation Bernard?.’ Suddenly a change came over the old man, somehow the life seemed to drain from the eyes, which were now misty, distant. ‘Bernhard, Operation Bernhard. Yes, I know about it. Here, I’ve a small souvenir…’. Bond set his mug down with a thump, spilling some of the noxious liquid. M - the bastard!. Before he could think of anything to say, Cohen had rolled his sleeve back down, covering the tattoo he had hidden these last fifteen years - the series of numbers denoting a Concentration Camp inmate. ‘Now, James - I’ll tell you all you need to know. But first, lets take some for the family album…’

There are times in the lives of a professional when he gets to see something truly exceptional; a master at his craft. For the next forty minutes or so, Bond watched spellbound as Billy Cohen showed the magic of his trade - that of master forger. Asking Bond what was required, Cohen set to work. Plymouth being a maritime town, Bond chose to become a Merchant Mariner, one of the many itinerant sailors to be found in such places. First, the photographs; Bond as a younger man, then a recent shot of him with his arm around a tailor’s dummy. Rummaging through a drawer full of wallets, a well-worn Moroccan leather example was selected to host Cohen’s work. Setting about the negatives in his dark-room, the Service’s wizard artfully applied various solvents, producing subtle alterations before developing them. As the strips dried, Cohen produced the documents, some from original blanks, others from carefully studied originals. Finally, a carefully smudged rubber stamp here and there and, now straight-backed, he handed Bond the papers that would form his new identity. ‘Right; Merchant Seaman’s card, Deckhand, then Able Seaman rating, Crane Operators ticket Class II, Passport, Driving Licence, heavily endorsed, Communist Party member’s card - careful with that, the number’s a bit dodgy - and some photos; you on the deck of an unidentifiable ship, you with arm round a blonde by the harbour at Valletta. Say hello to James Taylor, good enough?.’ ‘Billy, these are fantastic, the picture with the girl- how?..’ Tapping his nose, Cohen smiled ruefully. ‘Never ask, ‘cos I’m not saying - now about that, what was it, ‘old job from the war?’ make us another cup and I’ll tell you.’

Note to reader; the formating seems to have been garbled somewhat here, so apologies for this.