01/ ARRIVAL OF A SECRET AGENT
James Bond finished his conversation with the custom's official and walked towards the baggage claim area. For an hour, Bond sat in the "nothing to declare" line at customs and waited for his turn. The flight from London to New York took longer than expected. He boarded the last-minute flight to America on the urging from his boss. She had confidence and trust in James Bond, and felt at ease knowing that she could depend on him with this urging and pressing assignment. It took an hour of explanation and debriefing, another hour to pack, and a long, weather-related delay at Heathrow and another five hours to New York's JFK International. Bond's boss, known to many in the Double-O section as "M", was clear and simple with her orders: "Go to New York City, and meet Felix Leiter". Bond had known Felix for some time. Letier, now working for the Central Intelligence Agency in America, had worked with James Bond in Montenegro and Bolivia. He had an easygoing, but cold demeanor in his voice, and referred to the British ally simply as "brother". (Seeing that Felix Leiter was "a brother from Langley"). Bond's objective was also clear. When he would meet Felix, he would find out what was going on.
Bond walked up to the third customs booth and looked at the official. He was a pear-shaped man with a button nose and a black mop of messy hair. He also looked exhausted and bored, but came alert at the sight of Bond. The British agent smiled at the official, and then passed his passport and customs form to him. The official looked at Bond's picture and information and studied them. He returned to the photo page and asked, "How are you today?" Bond replied in a British accent, "Fine. Long flight, however." The man ignored him. "What's the purpose of your visit, Mr. Bond?"
"What kind of business are you in?"
"I'm in the publishing agency. I want to open up an office here in New York City."
"Interesting. And how long will you be staying?"
"You're checked into the Marriot?"
"That is correct."
"Anything to declare, Mr. Bond?"
The official then studied the customs documents, the man standing before him wrote that he carried less than $2,000 cash, which was of no alarm. The information written on the card matched the questions that he had just answered. After a minute, he handed Bond back his paperwork and said, "Welcome to the United States, Mr. Bond. I hope you have a pleasant stay." "Thank you." Bond then took his documents and walked over to the doors that led to the baggage claim area. He waited at carousel number five, as did many people on the flight from London. Two minutes later, a buzzer sounded, the carousel came to life, and the luggage appeared from the conveyor belt. Bond retrieved a medium-sized bag and walked into the main airport to the arrivals juncture. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an iPhone. He punched a button and waited. A man's voice then came over the phone.
"It's Bond. I'm here now."
"Which door are you at?"
Bond scanned the airport arrivals lounge and found the nearest exit door by the airport Starbucks. Bond then replied, "Door number five."
"Look for a white Taurus with New York plates. I'm in it. I will take you straight to the hotel."
"Alright." Bond hung up and walked through door five and out into the roundabout. Taxis, limousines, tuxedo-black Lincoln Continentals livery cars, and hotel and airport parking shuttles prowled the area. He saw a shuttle bus going to the airport Marriot, but he ignored it. Leiter was going to pick him up. He waited underneath the bright lights of the International Arrivals area and waited for the white Taurus as instructed. It was then the iPhone buzzed and Bond answered it. It was a text message from Bill Tanner, Chief of Staff.
The Car has arrived for you.
Bond cursed the fact that he couldn't have the car brought to the airport to pick him up. But driving a fancy European car in the middle of an American city would draw much more attention than expected. Nonetheless, Bond waited for Leiter's car. Just then, the Taurus appeared, illuminated by the bright lights and the glass windows of the terminal. The Taurus pulled up close to Bond and flashed its high-beams to signal him. The driver didn't get out but motioned for Bond to enter. He opened the back door and plopped his bag down on the seat, and then he got in the passenger seat. Leiter offered a handshake. "Good to see you, brother."
With a coffee complexion, brown eyes, and a neatly-trimmed, jet-black beard, Felix Leiter of the CIA looked professional to match Bond's standards. At forty-four, he was older than Bond, and looked at things with a casual attitude. It was the only thing that set both agents apart. Bond shook Leiter's hand and replied, "Likewise." Leiter put the vehicle in gear and pulled away from arrivals. The car melted into the night and onto the Interstate. Leiter then got down to business.
"Do you know why you're here?"
Bond shrugged. "M sent me. Said it was important."
"Let me fill you in." Leiter handed Bond his iPhone. On it was a picture of an olive-skinned man with black hair and brown eyes, wearing an expensive Armani suit. He was talking to another man in what looked like a café. Leiter spoke up. "His name is Zayed Rahman—Zayed Abdullah Rahman. He's Lebanese, 46-years-old, and a major player in Al Qaeda. Just two weeks ago, the CIA got intel that he was looking to purchase a weapon of mass destruction and the equipment necessary to disperse it. For weeks he was in contact with a German antiquities expert known as Wilhelm Schmidt." Bond saw the next picture. The picture was of a European male with white hair, black eyes, and who appeared to be in his early sixties.
"What would a member of Al Qaeda want with an antiquities dealer?" Leiter laughed. "It seems that Mr. Schmidt is popular with Middle Eastern terror groups with selling weapons. He sells small-arms, RPGs, and occasionally some military vehicles. His cover is that of an antiquities dealer. He runs his business out of the New York Museum of History out of Manhattan. Just one week ago, one of Rahman's aliases popped up on the grid here in New York. Text messages and phone calls confirm he's meeting Schmidt at the museum later tonight. Rahman's presumably attending the unveiling ceremony of rare Egyptian antiquities. He's leaving with more than an eyeful of relics and a bloodstream full of champagne. Now, where's this hotel of yours?"
Bond told him where it was and Leiter swung the car onto an off-ramp and onto a quiet street. They came to the hotel and Leiter stopped the car. He reminded, "The party's in two hours. It's full glitz, if you know what I mean." Bond knew right away and got his bag out of the car. He was given an envelope by Leiter before entering the hotel. Within minutes, Bond checked into his room, submitted his credit card information in case of incidentals, and was directed to his floor and the elevators. Bond got into the available car and punched the button for the sixth floor. He found room 642 and unlocked the door and walked inside. The room was a simple one: two queen-sized beds, a small bathroom with shower, a mini-bar, flat-screen TV, and a lovely view of JFK International Airport. Bond laid his bag out on the first bed and looked at the envelope in his hand. He opened it and found his invitation, under his real name; listing the address as 1330 West 74th Street and the opening time as 8:00 pm. James Bond lay down on the opposite bed and stretched out his legs. He set his phone alarm to go off in one hour and closed his eyes. He hoped it won't be the only time he would get some shut-eye during the mission.