Friday, September 19, 2014

The Great Morass

Write Like Fleming Series #7

"One dreams all day as well as all night"
The Man with the Golden Gun

James Bond is a daydreamer. Yep! He has visions, sometimes comical, juvenile visions, and often during the moments when he most needs to focus on getting the job done.

You can't always blame him. Sometimes it's the alcohol. Sometimes it's the allure of a beautiful stranger. And sometimes, as in the case below, Bond is near death, and his daydreams are his mind's last grasp at consciousness — his last hope at making it through his ordeal alive.

In this, post 007 (hurrah!) in the Write Like Fleming Series, in which I delve into the writing style of one of my favourite authors, Ian Fleming, we'll see how Fleming uses daydreams to add vividness, and sometimes a bit of humour, to high-intensity scenes.


In the finale of "The Man with the Golden Gun", in the chapter (aptly) titled "The Great Morass", James Bond finally gets his chance to duel with the titular man with the golden gun, Scaramanga. Only it doesn't quite happen according to plan. Bond is shot at, thrown off of a moving train, and is now lost, and vulnerable, in the swampy mangroves of Jamaica. But Scaramanga's out there, too — waiting, hunting.

Watch how Bond's daydreaming offers fuel to his broken body — that is, until he finally decides to snap out of it!

Bond crept off along the line of mangroves towards the bridge. For the time being, he would have to keep more or less in the open. He prayed that, nearer the river, the swamp would yield to drier land so that he could work down towards the sea and then cut back towards the river and hope to pick up the man's tracks. 
It was one o'clock and the sun was high. James Bond was tired and very thirsty, and his shoulder wound throbbed with his pulse. The wound was beginning to give him a fever. One dreams all day as well as all night, and now, as he stalked his prey, he found, quizzically, that much of his mind was taken up with visualizing the champagne buffet waiting for them all, the living and the dead, at Green Island. For the moment, he indulged himself. The buffet would be laid out under the trees, as he saw it, adjoining the terminal station, which would probably be on the same lines as Thunderbird Halt. There would be long trestle tables, spotless tablecloths, rows of glasses and plates and cutlery, and great dishes of cold lobster salad, cold meat cuts. And mounds of fruit — pineapple and such — to make the decor look Jamaican and exotic. There might be a hot dish, he thought. Something like roast stuffed sucking-pig with rice and peas — too hot for the day, decided Bond, but a feast for most of Green Island when the rich "tourists" had departed. And there would be drink! Champagne in frosted silver coolers, rum punches, Tom Collinses, whisky sours, and, of course, great beakers of iced water that would only have been poured when the train whistled its approach to the gay little station. Bond could see it all. Every detail of it under the shade of the great ficus trees. The white-gloved, uniformed coloured waiters enticing him to take more and more; beyond, the dancing waters of the harbour; in the background the hypnotic throb of the calypso band, the soft, enticing eyes of the girls. And, ruling, ordering all, the tall, fine figure of the gracious host, a thin cigar between his teeth, the wide white Stetson tilted low over his brow, offering Bond just one more goblet of iced champagne.
James Bond stumbled over a mangrove root, threw out his right hand for support from the bush, missed, tripped again, and fell heavily. He lay for a moment measuring the noise he must have made. It wouldn't have been much. The inshore wind from the sea was feathering the swamp. A hundred yards away the river added its undertone of sluggish turbulence. There were cricket and bird noises. Bond got to his knees and then to his feet. What in hell had he been thinking of? Come on, you bloody fool! There's work to be done! He shook his head to clear it. Gracious host! Goddamn it! He was on his way to kill the gracious host! Goblets of iced champagne? That'd be the day! He shook his head angrily. He took several very deep slow breaths. He knew the symptoms. This was nothing worse than acute nervous exhaustion with — he gave himself that amount of grace — a small fever added. All he had to do was to keep his mind and his eyes in focus. For God's sake, no more daydreaming! With a new, sharpened resolve he kicked the mirages out of his mind and looked to his geography.

Do you use daydreams in your stories? If so, for what purpose?

The Write Like Fleming Series:
#1 - Reflections in a Double Bourbon
#2 - From a View to a Kill
#3 - Tension, Mr. Bond!
#4 - Seascape with Figures
#5 - Interview with M
#6 - Dead Duck!
#7 - The Great Morass