I thought readers might be more inclined to read a complete short story than a serialized novel. Any suggestions for making the story better would be welcome.
Rooney was dead. James Bond could scarcely believe it.
‘Rooney’ was David Spencer. Although Bond had known him since his own year at the University of Geneva some twenty-five years earlier, he’d never known the origin of his nickname. Like Bond, Rooney had entered government service and was stationed at the British Embassy in Vienna, Austria, until he’d had been found murdered in his flat a couple of days earlier. That was about all that Bond knew, gleaned from the gossip that was running through the corridors of the Secret Service.
Over the objections of M, the head of the Secret Service, he had insisted on investigating the crime himself. ‘Need I remind you, 007,’ M, his placid sailor’s face showing the slightest hint of perturbance, had said tartly, ‘you are not a detective, but a Double-O in her Majesty’s Secret Service. Licence to kill, not engage in routine police work. I’m sure the Viennese police have things well in hand.’ But Bond had pressed on: There were two men ready, in case something should come up; 008 was waiting for something to do, and 009 had just got back from an assignment. There was no reason he couldn’t take a few days out of the office. Finally, M relented and gave his permission for him to investigate, off the books.
The following day, Bond was at the appropriate police station in Vienna. From the outside, this looked more like a museum than a police station, at least those in England. The entire city was filled with such buildings constructed in the baroque style, which had been called theatrical and rhetorical. It was this type of buildings that Yanks imagined when they thought of European cities. Vienna looked like a storybook place, especially with the dusting of white snow that covered the roofs and streets like powdered sugar on a ginger bread house. It might have been a tableau in a snow globe. But on the inside, the building was like any other police station, grim and all business.
Bond asked for the detective in charge of the Spencer investigation. He spoke fluent German, a product of travelling as a boy with his father, a salesman for Vickers. He’d also spent a fair amount of time in Germany skiing when much younger. After some time, he was finally taken to a plodding middle-aged detective named Hauser whose gait was filled with the lethargy of a lifetime of unpleasant work that was never finished. Bond explained why he was there.
‘Your, eh, friend,’ sniffed the detective, holding a handkerchief to his face as he wiped his nose, ‘was involved with some bad people. Doubtless one of them killed him, as we can find no motive. The murder was personal, and some belongings were taken. But we don’t believe that robbery was the primary motive, but an afterthought.’
Bond was sceptical. Rooney wasn’t the type to get mixed up with the criminal element. He was as honest and decent a man as they came. Bond couldn’t accept the police theory that he’d been killed by a violent criminal. This didn’t rule it out, but the murder was certainly not due to a personal association with one, as Hauser suggested. ‘Do you have any suspects?’
‘There are a number of men we are investigating.’
Bond knew police work well enough to know what this meant. ‘So, no suspects.’
Hauser shrugged, stuffing his soiled handkerchief into his pocket after another swipe at his oversized nose. All of his features seemed oversized, from bushy eyebrows and protruding jaw to thick lips and ears that jutted out like open taxi doors, making his head appear too small for his face. His burly body made up for this cranial discrepancy.
‘What makes you certain David Spencer was interacting with criminals?’ Bond asked.
‘A number people who knew him stated that recently he was acting oddly, missing appointments, keeping to himself. He might have taken to illicit drugs.’
Inwardly, Bond shook his head. Not Rooney. ‘But what about the criminals?’
‘One witness saw him meet with known criminals.’
Hauser shrugged again. His massive form resembled ground heaving in an earthquake. ‘I cannot say.’
Bond relented on that point. ‘What was taken?’
‘Wallet, ring, watch,’ recited Hauser. ‘We found the wallet, empty, some blocks away from Herr Spencer’s home.’
‘Can you give me a copy of the police report?’
Hauser shrugged once more and Bond began to think it was one of the main ways he communicated. ‘It is a public record. You can request a copy through the proper channels.’
If Bond had been there in an official capacity, he’d have been treated differently. He was, after all, a civil servant like Hauser. But he was also there unofficially. ‘What can you tell me about the way he was killed?’
‘Shot twice,’ said Hauser. ‘Once in the chest and once in the head. Doesn’t look like he put up a fight.’
‘Thank you,’ Bond said, unable to muster up much sincerity. Hauser and the Viennese police had written off David Spencer’s murder as a result of mixing with the underworld, and possessed no great desire to look any further. That was now up to Bond.
After obtaining the police report from a clerk, James Bond returned to his room at the Hotel Bristol. There were many of these around the world, all operated independently, supposedly named for the fourth Earl of Bristol, who had been a famed traveller. However, many of these establishments displayed the coat of arms of the city of Bristol, in England, and not the coat of arms of the Bristol family, weakening this theory.
The Viennese Hotel Bristol was constructed in the Art Nouveau style in the Karntnerstrasse shopping district with one hundred forty rooms and was within walking distance of the Naschmarkt where market stalls were piled high with specialty cheeses, fresh breads and fish. Within the hotel lay Restaurant Korso, the décor of which was a mixture of modern and vintage elements and which served both local and international dishes, and the American-inspired Bristol Bar which featured green Biedermeier armchairs and antique racing prints. Located on the corner of Opernring and Karntnerstrasse across from the Vienna State Opera, it was a nice hotel reasonably priced. Bond wasn’t on a Service expense account now.
Over a late lunch, he studied the police report on the murder. There wasn’t much there. After a nap and a shower, he went to Rooney’s flat. He had lived alone, which showed in the décor, which consisted of golds and browns and fairly screamed ‘no woman lives here.’ This was not to say that the home was garishly decorated, or unclean, but merely lacked a woman’s touch for subtlety and grace. It was, in its way, a monument to the life of a bachelor.
Bond ducked under the rope placed by police to ward off trespassers and pushed open the door. Closing it behind him, he looked around. If the flat had been searched, it had been done quietly, subtly. Drawers had not been left open, furniture had not been cut or overturned. Nothing appeared out of place. No criminal had ransacked the flat. If the authorities had searched it, they left no trace of their handiwork, which wasn’t typical of police detectives who were generally not known for their subtlety.
In the taxi ride to the flat, Bond had been thinking of what little the police report had told him. Someone Rooney had known had probably shot him. The first shot had been to incapacitate him, the second to kill. Rooney would probably have died of the chest wound, Bond surmised upon seeing the large bloodstain on the floor of the parlour, but the killer took no chances, shooting his victim in the head to be sure. That meant the killer was probably experienced. This didn’t rule out the criminal element, but suggested that it wasn’t the petty sort that Hauser had implied, common street toughs or drug dealers. Men acting under the influence of passion, even that of hate or anger, don’t take the time to make a precision shot to the head after their victim is down and bleeding. That had required some thought. The murder didn’t seem to be connected to Rooney’s work at the Embassy. Hauser had ruled that out.
Bond gazed at the bloodstain. It was a Rorschach blot. What he saw there said as much about him as it did the murder. What did he see there? A killer who knew what he was doing, but not a professional. A professional wouldn’t need two shots to do the job, and what professional would David Spencer have known well enough to let him into his home? Robbery wasn’t the motive. Although Rooney’s wallet and personal jewellery had been taken, nothing of value in the flat had been disturbed. Nothing there seemed overly expensive to Bond, but there was enough for a man desperate for money to steal in order to fence. Rooney wasn’t a gambler, so that left a personal motive of some kind. Who hated David Spencer enough to murder him in cold blood?
There was no safe, Bond found, but he located a hidden compartment behind the Liebherr refrigerator after some searching. A small rectangle had been cut into the plasterboard, large enough for a manila envelope to pass through. Bond found one inside the hole. It contained a small notebook and a key. Leafing through the book, he saw a code of some kind. At first glance, it looked like dates and names (there were two words in each listing in this column and no numerals) and possibly descriptions of transactions. These might be locations or described what occurred. The numbers ran together in each listing in that column, but seemed to represent recent dates, running in backward sequence from what was normally used in Europe, year, month then day. They all started with 57 and the final entry looked like just a couple of days before Rooney’s murder.
A sudden noise at the door impelled Bond to move. Leaving the refrigerator where it was, out from the wall, he moved to its side, tucking the notebook and envelope into an outer coat pocket. This shielded him from view of the kitchen doorway. Moving the Liebherr back into place would alert whoever had arrived to his own presence.
He silently withdrew his Walther PPK from its holster when he heard the footsteps of men entering the flat. It was still new to him, though he was finally getting comfortable with it after several months.
Bond waited. There came two voices. He knew only a few words of the language he heard but recognized it – Russian. One set of footfalls came closer. Bond readied his Walther. The man came into the kitchen. Bond revealed himself, pointing his automatic at the big Russian. The intruder’s hand flashed to a pocket. That decided things for Bond.
The Walther coughed once. A red stain began to appear on the Russian’s white shirt as the big man slumped to the floor, dead.
A voice from the other room queried, ‘Vassily?’ There was as much suspicion as hope in the tone.
Bond moved forward quietly, prepared for the second man. But instead, footfalls retreated as the other Russian fled.
Bond went to the door, peered out it obliquely and saw no one in the corridor. Shutting the door, he fastened it and quickly searched the fallen man. Now, seconds mattered. The police would be summoned because of the noise of the gun report and he couldn’t afford to be found here with a corpse.
Kneeling beside the dead man, Bond searched his clothing. A Soviet passport, a wallet. Nothing unusual there. It was the gun that gave the two men away as agents of the Soviet Union, a 9 mm Makarov. Businessmen don’t normally conduct business armed, unless their business is death.
Bond didn’t like it. It was beginning to look like Rooney had been selling secrets to the Soviets and they killed him, for some reason. Bond didn’t have time to ponder it now. He had to withdraw to his hotel.
Bond went outside. It was now dark. Dusk had fallen while he had searched Rooney’s flat and he had no trouble disappearing into the evening darkness.
James Bond, threading his way through early evening pedestrian traffic, had not walked a dozen yards from the apartment building when a shot rang out. Diving for cover, one thought blazed in his brain: The Russian hadn’t fled after all!
Not everyone on the sidewalks immediately realised what was occurring. Two more shots informed them, causing the pedestrians to scatter, their belief that the noise had come from an automobile backfire dispelled. The Russian was at least a good shot: He hit no innocent bystanders, but neither did he hit Bond, now ducked down in a stairwell. After another two reports, the shooting stopped.
Bond didn’t move. He scanned the gloomy darkness for the gunman but found no sign of him. Minutes passed, seeming like hours. Life began to go back to normal for the frightened citizens of Vienna, as life is wont to do. Life is a river that keeps moving forward, despite its being diverted by calamity. When the shooting stopped, so did the panic, though the pedestrians’ strides were more lively, more cautious now.
Bond continued to wait, until the distinct sound of Viennese police sirens filled the air. These possessed a different one and rhythm than those of London. Then he cut through the nearest alley and hailed a taxi, which took him away from David Spencer’s flat and the police. Just as Bond’s mind returned to the mysterious contents of the notebook, the taxi jumped as it was struck from behind. Without thinking, Bond ducked down in the rear seat and drew his Walther again.
The taxi hopped a second time as it was rammed once again. It skidded across the wet street and scraped a parked vehicle. This caused an ugly, wrenching noise but seemed to do little actual damage. To his credit, the driver kept the taxi on the road.
‘If you value your life,’ Bond warned in German, ‘don’t stop!’
The driver, seeing his passenger’s gun and mistaking his warning for a threat, stepped on the accelerator pedal, sending the taxi forward.
This time, the automobile behind the taxi came up alongside it and gave its rear panel a hard nudge. Bond heard metal crumple. Working the handle, he got the window down and, poking the Walther out of the opening, began firing at the pursuing vehicle’s driver. A hail of bullets came in reply. He’d missed the driver. He’d also avoided being killed by not sticking his head out the window along with his automatic.
The taxi suddenly listed – its driver had been hit, Bond realised – until it crashed into the row of parked automobiles that lined the sidewalk and ground to a noisy halt as metal scraped metal. Bond leaned back until he was on the floor, his Walther pointing up at the outer door of the taxi, the one facing the street. From this angle, he had a view of the night sky and nothing else. It was considerably lighter than the street-level view, and dropping to look up for a target in the dark was something he’d learned during the war.
Suddenly, the roof of the pursuing automobile was silhouetted against the sky. Shooting through the thin metal of the door, Bond emptied the Walther into the space where he estimated the driver to be.
Ejecting the spent clip from the handle of the automatic, he jammed a new one in and sprang up to the window. The Russian, covered in blood that was black in the darkness, was slumped over the steering wheel of his automobile.
Disembarking, Bond hurried to lose himself among the growing evening foot traffic as pedestrians huddled in fear began poking their heads up to see what had occurred.
Station V was located in what appeared to be a small printing shop that was run by Martin Bale, a career civil servant. The place was actually a functioning printing shop that did very little business, as a result of either demanding too high prices or finicky equipment that never seemed to be working. If anyone had checked its books, they would have found that the shop’s profits did not cover its expenses, and cash was continually being funnelled in from outside sources who had to have known they would never see a return on their investment.
Bale was in his late thirties, with jet black hair that he combed back, while a pretty little moustache rest upon his upper lip. He was quite dashing and reminded James Bond of World War I pilots portrayed in films. But there was a sneer about his face that left an unpleasant aftertaste, as it were, upon viewing him. It gave off a smug air of superiority which Bond doubted was deserved. He could see how women might find Bale attractive, but he found nothing appealing about the man’s appearance.
Bond, going to the counter, gave the code of the month. Previously these had been designed all at one time for an entire calendar year until SMERSH captured a British agent a couple of years ago and tortured him until they had learned everything they’d needed to crack Secret Service communications. Since that time, the monthly codes weren’t released until they became necessary and no one person in the section knew all the codes until that time. There had been no further incidents.
‘Good evening, 007,’ said Martin Bale neutrally. ‘I was told you might turn up.’
‘I’ve got some work for Codes,’ said Bond, unsurprised that M had warned Bale.
Before he could explain about the notebook he’d found hidden in Rooney’s flat, the head of Station V interrupted. ‘I can’t help you, 007. Orders straight from M. Says you’re on your own time. Sorry, old chap.’ There was no sympathy in Bale’s voice. If anything, there was a hint of concealed glee there. Martin Bale was one of those who did not like the Double-O section. If he’d been in charge of the Secret Service, he would have shut it down. Men like that, however well intentioned, simply did not understand the realities of the world, Bond thought. There had been a time when the feeling that ‘gentlemen do not read each other’s mail’, a sentiment voiced by the American Henry Stimson when he became Secretary of State in 1929, had prevailed. Currently, the British government saw the need for the Double-Os.
Walking out of the shop’s door, Bond muttered under his breath, ‘Bloody bastard!’ It was not clear to whom he was referring, Martin Bale or M.
James Bond awoke refreshed the next morning, despite a lack of sleep. He had worked on David Spencer’s code late into the night. Although he did not completely crack it, he became convinced his first instincts about it had been correct: The six-digit numbers were dates and the double-word column consisted of names. The majority of the latter were identical, suggesting the same contact man. This made sense. Going with the notion that the Soviets were involved, Bond began playing with Russian names, and by the time he went to sleep, exhausted, he had deciphered a fair amount of the code.
He’d also had time to ponder the presence of the Russians at Rooney’s flat. They doubtless were there to find anything incriminating, such as the coded notebook. After murdering Rooney, they didn’t want his contact identified. That made sense, but it didn’t feel right to Bond. Rooney wasn’t a traitor. He had no doubts on that score. Something else was going on. But what? It looked like he’d been passing secrets. He couldn’t have been a double agent working for the Service because M would have revealed this to Bond, in order to keep him from wasting his time. In that case, a special investigation would have been launched to discover if his cover had been blown, among other things.
The prospect of new leads energized Bond. As soon as he completed his morning routine, which consisted of exercises followed by a cold shower (which itself was preceded by a hot one, due to the season) and a hearty breakfast that included soft-boiled eggs, buttered toast and a wiener, the name of which came from Vienna itself. He had orange juice with the meal, and, after he’d finished eating, coffee – the einspaenner variety, which was strong and black and served in a glass and topped with whipped cream; powder sugar, which Bond didn’t use, was served on the side – and a cigarette, one of his habitual Morlands, as he contemplated the day before him.
Bond’s first stop was the British Embassy. Detective Hauser had mentioned peculiar behaviour by Rooney that had been noticed by co-workers. They might have some idea what had caused this behaviour without assuming an affiliation with common criminals as the big detective had. Bond was, naturally, met by Calvin Treach, the head of security for the Embassy, after he identified himself, and taken by Treach, a middle-aged balding fellow whose hair retained its jet colour through the use of a dye, to his office, which was in one corner of the embassy. This was business-like, with the exception of a small porcelain statuette of a clown that read ‘Pagliaccio’ on its base. This frivolous item seemed out of place amongst the austere décor of the room. Bond chalked it up to the peculiarities of human nature, like the solemn judge who secretly enjoys reading women’s romance novels.
Bond explained why he was in Vienna, admitting that he was there unofficially. He would never hear the end of it from M if he misused his position for personal reasons. Treach seemed to have been expecting him; he’d probably been warned by M.
‘Sorry about Spencer,’ Treach said with notable sympathy. ‘We’d become rather close in the past few months since he was stationed here. But he wouldn’t confide in me what was bothering him. I asked as a friend, and also as head of security. He assured me it was a personal matter and had nothing to do with his work.’
‘He wasn’t acting suspiciously?’
‘There’s a fine line between peculiar and suspiciously, 007,’ answered Treach. ‘I thought he was in trouble. I tried to help. He rebuffed me.’
‘And that was it?’ Bond asked.
Treach shifted uncomfortably in his seat. ‘I had to look into look into it, naturally. I found that he’d been associating with undesirables that could have compromised his position here. He was killed before I’d turned up anything solid.’
‘Gambling?’ Bond suggested. ‘Drugs?’
Treach shook his head rather vaguely. ‘I couldn’t say. I wouldn’t like to think so, but something was going on.’
‘Well, thank you for your time,’ said Bond, rising from his seat. Treach’s manner told him the head of security knew more than he was telling. For a moment he wondered if this was due to M’s interference, then dismissed the thought. As crusty as the old man could be, he wasn’t petty.
On his way out, Bond asked around but learned nothing new from Rooney’s co-workers.
James Bond’s next destination was the nearest locksmith. The key he’d found with Rooney’s notebook was familiar. He had pondered the meaning of the key the night before. He had seen many like it in his lifetime, and had guessed it belonged to either a bus, train or airport terminal locker, and he wanted to save himself trips to every transportation terminal in Vienna.
Less than a mile into the journey, Bond spotted a black sedan following the taxi. The Soviets? No, they didn’t know Bond’s name or where he was staying. It couldn’t be Hauser’s alleged underworld criminals. No, it had to be the police themselves.
He smiled grimly to himself. They’d probably found the corpse in Rooney’s flat. There was no evidence to tie him to it – at least until they matched his gun to the bullet in ‘Vassily’. He wondered why he hadn’t been questioned. Maybe they thought he knew more than he’d told them and was hoping he would lead them to new information. It was just as likely they wanted to see what he would do, since he’d gone to them asking questions. He’d have to be more careful now. And he didn’t want them bumbling around his investigation. He directed his taxi back to the Hotel Bristol, where he went to work on the code once again.
Bond spent the rest of the morning on the notebook, eating a sandwich in his room for lunch.
He finally identified one word in the final column, which was a location, ‘opera’, the alternation of consonants and vowels of which had made it easy to decipher. He assumed this referred to the Vienna State Opera. Built in the 1860s, it was the first major building constructed on the Ringstrasse. There was little hope that he would find anything useful at this date at a public place – a perfect place to make contact with a fellow spy – so he returned to the key. The opera house would still be across the street whenever he wanted to visit it. Perhaps he would that evening, just to have a look around.
Hailing a taxi, Bond directed his taxi to Wien Westbahnhof train station, playing a hunch. He couldn’t allow the police to follow him to a locksmith, for they might deduce he possessed a key and demand it from him. ‘Take your time,’ he told the driver, surreptitiously watching the automobile behind the taxi. ‘There’s no rush.’
Wien Westbahnhof – Vienna West Train Station – was located just west of the city centre on the famous shopping street Mariahilferstrasse, and the taxi arrived there shortly amid bustling traffic. After calmly disembarking and entering the station, Bond ran for the lockers that lined one wall. Using the number on the key as a guide, he located the matching locker and opened it. A thick sheaf of papers, bound together, lay inside. These could be nothing less than the information the coded notebook hinted at!
After glancing at them, Bond let them be. He continued to the ticket counter, seeing, out of the corner of one eye, two police detectives enter the station. He couldn’t suppress a grim smile that his ploy had worked; they were none the wiser to the locker or its contents.
A plan formed in Bond’s mind as he waited in line at the ticket counter.
After buying a ticket for later that day, he returned to his hotel. Now the codebook made sense: Rooney couldn’t run to the train station locker every time he wanted to record something. It was a shorthand description to the papers in the locker. These, Bond realised, held the key to his friend’s murder. He had an idea how to retrieve them without alerting the police to their existence. All he needed was a little time.
As the departure time for the train for which he had bought a ticket came, James Bond prepared to go to the Wien Westbahnhof. He did not, as one might expect, take his luggage with him. He only carried his briefcase. Leaving the hotel, he looked like any other businessman in the city. Hailing a taxi, Bond told the driver, ‘Schnell! Hurry! I’m going to miss my train!’ He flashed a twenty-shilling note, with muddy brown trim and a picture of old moustachioed Carl von Ghega on it, at the driver to show how serious he was. The taxi jumped away from the curb and veered out into the early evening traffic in a seemingly careless manner. This gave the distinct impression the driver valued his fare over his own life.
Bond watched as the black police sedan pulled out after the taxi. He hoped they’d stop the taxi, thinking that he was acting suspiciously, but they did not. They followed patiently, like a dog behind a child with an ice cream cone that was wobbling precariously.
Bond consulted his Oyster Perpetual Rolex. It would be close, very close. He hoped his driver wasn’t overly zealous in his commission.
At the entrance to the train station, Bond vaulted out of the taxi, having handed over the twenty-shilling note as soon as the station came into view, and ran inside. He went straight for the lockers, scooped the papers there into his briefcase and madly dashed for the gate where his train waited. When he arrived, the gate was already closed.
‘The train has gone!’ exclaimed the gate man, dressed neatly in a smart, military-style uniform. ‘I’m sorry, sir, the train has already left the station!’
As Bond turned to leave, he found the two police detectives in the doorway of the station.
They hastily retreated upon seeing him, having witnessed his rebuff by the man at the gate, and knew that he had missed his train.
Darkness came early in Vienna these days, and it might as well have been midnight when Calvin Treach left the British Embassy although it was only six PM. He bundled his trench coat about his thickening figure. It was cold, very close to freezing. The humidity intensified this feeling. He hurried to his automobile, a black-topped grey Daimler DB 18, and, leaving the Embassy parking lot, drove it to his flat in the fashionable Donaustadt district in the northeast section of Vienna on the banks of the Danube River and parked it in front of his residence. As soon as he had got out, a voice from the darkness said, ‘Hello, Treach.’
‘Uh, hello,’ Treach responded uncertainly to the man in the darkness. ‘Do I know you?’
As he watched, the man came into the light. He was six feet tall, with black hair that fell in a comma over his forehead. His wide mouth was little more than a slit, his eyes colder than the night air. ‘Bond?’
‘That’s right,’ answered James Bond. ‘I’m here about David Spencer.’
‘Well, I’ve told you all I know but come see me in my office tomorrow.’ Treach’s voice was tight with anxiety.
‘I think we can settle things now.’ Bond produced the sheaf of papers he had taken from the train station locker and thrust them at Treach. ‘These made for some interesting reading.’
A sick look came over Treach’s features. ‘Wh-what are they?’
‘What you think they are,’ replied Bond, shoving them back inside his overcoat. ‘A log of your transactions with the Soviets. You’ve been passing information to them and David found you out. He actually was nervous and paranoid because he was afraid that you were onto him. He was surveilling you and didn’t know who to trust. He couldn’t tell anyone because you’d know immediately being the head of security at the embassy, or at least that’s what he thought. It got him killed.’
Putting up his hands in protest, Treach said in a pleading tone, ‘I didn’t kill Spencer!’
‘I know,’ said Bond. ‘But he’s dead all the same because of you.
‘More importantly, you’re a traitor and a Red spy.’
The Walther automatic suddenly appeared in Bond’s right hand. ‘You framed David, making up lies about his association with the underworld for the police because you couldn’t reveal that the Soviets were involved, even if they were involved with you and not David. His close friends called him Rooney, by the way.
‘I should have known immediately it was you when the codebook said “opera”. You have that statuette of Pagliaccio on your desk.’
‘No! Don’t!’ Treach pleaded.
Bond squeezed the trigger. The bullet put a hole in the traitor’s head. Bond walked away as Treach fell to the pavement, his scarlet blood staining the white snow.
James Bond went into the Secret Service building after lunch the next day. He’d had time to think after executing Treach, and went to see M. The old man’s face was unreadable as Bond entered his office. Waving a newspaper at Bond, he said, ‘I suppose this is your handiwork, 007.’
‘He was a traitor,’ Bond explained. Carelessly tossing Rooney’s file onto the leather-topped desk, he added, ‘Here’s all the proof you need here, sir.’ Bundled with the sheaf of papers was the notebook with coded descriptions of Treach’s transactions with the Soviets. ‘Codes should have an easy time of deciphering it. I’ve done quite a bit of the work for them.’
M eyed the bundle for a moment, then gingerly picked it up as if it were poisonous. ‘If this is all true, then you’ve done the government a great service,’ M said with what Bond thought sounded like gratitude, if guarded gratitude. M was not one wont to praise his employees, even upon the greatest of achievements.
‘David Spencer was killed because Treach framed him as the one passing secrets. His report must have been airtight.’ Bond paused and gazed at M, whose placid face gave nothing away.
‘I presume that’s where 009 was earlier this week.’
‘Treach presented a strong case that Spencer could not be turned. He was on the verge of defecting, Treach claimed. I didn’t see any other choice,’ answered M, without any sympathy in his voice. He was accustomed to assigning men to death every day, and one more, even one in error, gave him little pause.
‘I understand,’ said Bond tightly. Without waiting for a reply, he turned and left M’s office.
Sometimes government work wasn’t as glamourous as people made out. Often, it consisted of doing nasty things for the right reasons. Sometimes it exposed the worst of humanity, not its best. David Spencer had been one of humanity’s best, and because of it, he’d been killed like he was one of its worst.