Monday, August 26, 2013

This Never Happened to the Other Fellow (Satire) by Jon Wesick

James Bund took two cards from the shoe and placed them face down on the green baize. Using a wooden baccarat pallet the dealer transferred them to man wearing an eye patch and white, smoking jacket. Bund turned his cards over.

“Six for the bank,” the dealer said.

The other man turned his over.

“Eight for the player.”

After turning over his chips to the dealer Bund passed the shoe and left the table.

 “Excuse me, is your name Bund?” A woman in a black, evening gown ran her finger along Bund’s shoulder.

“That’s right. Bund, James Bund.”

“You’ve been served.” She handed him an envelope.

Bund studied the woman’s pear-shaped behind as she walked away before reading the envelope’s contents.

“A summons? Sexual harassment!” He folded the paper and slipped it in his lapel pocket.

Something wasn’t right. Staying close to the wall so he wouldn’t be seen Bund followed the woman out of the casino. It was a festive night in Monaco with well-heeled tourists strolling the sidewalks in search of a little nightlife. Bund could tell the woman was an amateur by the way she walked purposely toward the docks without any of the detours and double backs that were standard tradecraft for a trained agent. Someone must have put her up to this. But who?  A silver Bentley pulled to the curb and the woman got in. Bund glimpsed a bald man under the dome light before the door closed and the car drove away. He raised his hand to summon a taxi when his cell phone buzzed. It was a text from headquarters.

“Return to London immediately.”

On the high-speed train Bund dreamed of a courtroom. Female barristers their breasts swaying from open, legal gowns danced under multicolored lights. Bund stood from the defendant’s chair. The judge put a black cloth on top of her white, legal wig, produced an order to pay child support, and pointed her gavel like a pistol.

“There you are!” Honeypenny looked up from her computer. “The old man’s been looking for you all afternoon. Go right in.”

Bund passed through the two red-leather padded doors and stood before N’s desk.

“You wanted to see me, sir?”

“Ah 067.” N took off his reading glasses. “We’ve been getting several complaints lately so I’ve enrolled you in MI-6 sensitivity training in Istanbul.”

“With all due respect, sir…”

“All due respect nothing! I won’t have MI-6 dragged through the courts by every personal injury lawyer between here and Addis Ababa! See Honeypenny for your travel arrangements. You leave, tonight.” N put on his reading glasses. “Oh and 067, take some condoms for God’s sake!”

“I don’t have your tickets, James.” Honeypenny smoothed her hair. “A Mr. Goldhoarder in accounting said there were some irregularities in your last expense report.”

“Ah, Honeypenny.” Bund adjusted his slacks and sat on the edge of her desk. “I don’t leave until later tonight. After I cancel my karate lessons, airplane rental, hour at the shooting range, and SCUBA, I’ll have just enough time to arrange a romantic dinner, oysters, conch chowder, and Dom Perignon 85. My place? Say around 6:30?”

“Sorry James.” Honeypenny looked at her nails. “It’s Tuesday and I really must shampoo my hair.

Goldhoarder was a ginger-haired man in a ginger suit with a yellow vest underneath. Even though he was British, he spoke with a Swiss accent.

“Man has climbed Mount Everest, gone to the bottom of the ocean. He’s landed men on the moon, split the atom, achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor except accounting.” Goldhoarder turned his computer monitor so Bund could see the spreadsheet. “This is the entire MI-6 operating budget! By implementing the principles of cost-benefit analysis I have increased efficiency by twenty-three percent.”

“Yes, well, I’ve worked out a few statistics of my own. Your cost cutting has decreased this department’s effectiveness by half and cost the lives of a dozen good agents.”

“You’ve troubled me with your extravagant expenses for the last time, Mr. Bund!” Goldhoarder’s face grew red. “I’ve cancelled your credit card.”

“You expect me to pay for a ticket on the Orient Express with cash?”

“No Mr. Bund, I expect you to fly!” Goldhoarder handed Bund plane tickets. “Goodbye, Mr. Bund.”

At airport security Bund emptied his pockets and placed his attaché case on the conveyor that fed the x-ray. He stepped through the metal detector, took his keys, and put them in his pockets.

“Sorry sir.” A uniformed guard handed him his case. “You’ll have to check this.”

After returning to check in and passing through security again Bund boarded the plane. Only then did he realize that Goldhoarder had put him in a middle seat in coach. Bund sighed, sat next to a pimply teenager, and took out an Ian Fleming novel.

“Ugh! Ugh!” A stocky, Asian mute in a bowler hat gestured and took the aisle seat.

His girth overflowed his arm rest and took up a quarter of Bund’s space. This irritated the back injury Bund sustained in a fight to the death with two leotard-clad Capoeiraistas two years back. Difficult as it was, Bund fought valiantly to maintain possession of the arm rest along with a quantum of dignity. Once the plane reached cruising altitude, flight attendants pushed carts down the aisle.

“Drink sir?”

“I’ll have a vodka martini, shaken not stirred.”

“That’ll be four pounds twenty.” The flight attendant put a tiny bottle of vodka and pack of pretzels on Bund’s tray.

Bund took out his wallet and handed him some cash.

“Sorry sir, we only take credit cards. Would you care for a soda instead?”

After Bund put his wallet away, he realized his neighbor had taken possession of the arm rest. Twisting his body like a yogi he tried to find a comfortable position to read. A child behind him began to kick and the man in front reclined his seat so his head was practically in Bund’s lap. Bund put the novel down. In moments like these he longed for the good old days, like when Dr. Lacombe beat his testicles with a steel cable.

“My name is Bund, James Bund.” He put his passport on the counter of the Istanbul Motel 6.

The clerk held up a finger for silence until he finished his phone conversation.

“Now, what was your name?”

“James Bund. I have a reservation.”

“No record of you here.” The clerk typed on the computer. “Credit card, please.”

No Topkapi. No Turkish coffee. No Blue Mosque. Training took place in a windowless room in the motel’s basement. It began with a long-winded presentation on the statutory authority for demanding gender-neutral language in MI-6 reports that would have made the troops guarding Fort Knox unconscious faster than Delta 9 nerve gas. Bund guzzled instant coffee in a desperate attempt to stay awake. He couldn’t nod off because there would be a written test. It looked like he was doomed unless…

Bund sized up the instructor, Ms. Domino Theory. She was an athletic woman with a beauty mark next to her mouth. Domino wore Ugg boots, a denim skirt, and a suede vest over a dark blue jumper. Based on her dress Bund made a plan and approached her at the end of class.

“Ah Domino, I’ve enjoyed the class so far but there’s something you don’t realize. Respect is not a zero-sum game. I’d like to discuss it further with you, say over dinner. I know a place with the bestmezze in Istanbul.”

After dinner and several glasses of raki Bund accompanied Domino back to her motel room. Once the door closed behind them, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and kissed him.

“Oh James!” She lay back on the bed, her chestnut hair fanning out over the pillow.

The new MI-6 budget wouldn’t cover champagne on ice so Bund raided the mini-bar for a plastic bottle of white wine and some peanuts.

After a suitable amount of fondling a kissing Bund reached between her legs only to have a steel-like hand stop him.

“I’ve got my period.”

“That’s all right, darling. We can just,” Bund swallowed, “cuddle.”

Once Domino was fully asleep, Bund slipped out of bed and took her laptop into the bathroom. It had to have the answers to the exam questions. As expected it was password protected. Bund attached his watch to the USB port and pressed the buttons that would activate the hacking function. The dial went black except for the message, “ERROR 404.”

Bund retrieved his cell phone and dialed.

“Thank you for calling Cue Division. If you want sales, press 1. For an inquiry about a delivery, press 2. For technical support, press 3.”

Bund pressed 3.

“All operators are currently busy. Please stay on the line. Your call is very important to us.”

Bund put his head in his hands. It was going to be a long night.

Author bio: 

Host of the Gelato Poetry Series, instigator of the San Diego Poetry Un-Slam, and an editor of theSan Diego Poetry Annual, Jon Wesick has published more than sixty short stories in journals such as Clockwise Cat, The Berkeley Fiction Review, Space and Time, Zahir, Tales of the Talisman, Blazing Adventures, and Metal Scratches. He has also published over two hundred fifty poems. Jon has a Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts. One of his poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest.

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