Bond tried again. After checking that Q’s Multi-lingual Voice Dissimulator was comfortably settled into the place where his wisdom tooth had been, he dialed the top-secret National Security Urgent Priority line for the fourth time. Finally the White House operator answered: “Press 1 for Spanish, 2 for Chinese, 3 for Arabic, 4 . . .”
Cursing, Bond slammed down the phone. It sounded odd to hear his Old Etonian curse words emerge as the subdued bureaucratic tones of David Petraeus. But what use was Q’s clever gadget if he couldn’t get through to the president? He rang again, this time using the number that Moneypenny had gotten from the Johansson woman at some cocktail party. To his surprise, he got through right away to a woman who identified herself as the president’s personal secretary.
“This is the director of the Central Intelligence Agency,” Bond said crisply. “I need to see the president right away on a matter of supreme national importance. It’s not something that can wait.”
“Of course, Director,” replied the woman encouragingly. “Well, let’s see. He has an opening on Thursday of next week at 2:30 p.m. for half an hour. He’s fully booked until then but, wait a minute, another vacancy on Wednesday morning has just opened up. But if I were you, I’d take the Thursday since he plays golf that morning and it usually puts him in a good mood.”
Bond tried to keep any note of desperation out of Petraeus’s voice. “But I need to see him at once, right away, this afternoon, before he meets with Colonel Hawkeye and the North Korean intelligence defector, Mr. . . .”
Bond’s voice trailed away.
“Mr. Oddball?” asked the secretary helpfully. “Yes, that meeting is at 3:30 p.m. Anything before then is quite impossible, I’m afraid. The president has back-to-back meetings with Hollywood agents. They’re turning his book into a film, you know. Isn’t it exciting? But why not come along to the 3:30 meeting? I’m sure Colonel Hawkeye and Mr. Oddball would be simply thrilled to have the CIA along.”
Bond put the phone down and looked across at the mirror, in which the scarred features and cruel smile of Oddball stared back at him — definitive proof that Oddball would never agree to be in the same room with him.
It had all seemed so simple when M explained it to him a month ago in London. Not that the meeting had been altogether a pleasant one. M was in a tearing bloody rage over Bond’s role in the rocket attack on the Homeland Security Department in D.C. It had required all the smooth diplomacy of the foreign secretary to convince the CIA that Bond had persuaded the president to bomb his own government only because he could not break “deep cover.” To make matters worse, one of the rockets had gone astray, hit the British embassy, and destroyed the entire consignment of Churchill busts brought over in case of a Romney victory. After tearing what seemed like a dozen strips off Bond, M had stared at him blankly, sighed heavily, and issued a set of curt instructions.
“We’ve made all the preparations,” M explained. “Romney’s valet, Oddball, has been captured and is in an MI6 safe house. Your plastic surgery will be complete in an hour. Q has this new computer voice imitator that enables you to speak in any one of 20,000 voices. Romney’s expecting Oddball to join him at the Republican convention next Monday. You’ll be there. Don’t mess it up this time, 007.”
The intelligence chief returned to his papers and Bond left feeling undervalued — and determined to prove himself this time around.
Four days later he arrived in Romney’s convention suite just as the candidate was watching the peroration of his wife’s speech to the convention. Romney gave a guttural laugh at the torrent of applause: “Welcome back, Oddball. You are just in time to congratulate my wife on her speech to the untermensch. It was the most revoltingly sentimental pap I have ever heard. Pure goo, just what we needed, liebchen.”
Romney addressed these last few words to the beautiful blonde woman who had just entered the suite and was now fitting a cigarette into a long holder. Bond marveled. Even though he had read her dossier, he found it hard to believe that this gorgeous creature was really the 97-year-old daughter of a Prussian aristocrat wanted by Interpol since 1945 on countless human-rights violations. She smiled at Bond seductively and slipped into her native German accent: “Gin martini, very dry, no vermouth, Oddball. I will need all my strength not to vomit watching this Ryan — how do you say? — wowing the bobby-soxers.”