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James Bond on the Election

November 11, 2012

On Friday night, you should be at home, cooking.  If you feed yourself on Friday night, if you’ve toiled and thought and washed some dishes and fed some animal, any animal, you’ve accomplished something huge.  Consider your week: ended.  Conclusions drawn.  Case closed.  All in your favour.  How exemplary you are for cooking at home on Friday night.  Mothers everywhere are proud and jealous.

when you're baked, you're baked

When You’re Baked, You’re BAKED

What happens next, you will not be proud of me for doing.  You won’t be jealous of the outcomes, either.  I am the worst son.  Just a son of a bitch.  Just like a million others, but set apart by circumstance, and here I am speaking with you.  Aren’t you less special now for it, too.

This concerns my latest trial.  A trial by fire is a test of character.  Of the immediate stress response to some conflagration.  Trial by water is arduous, an endurance, a test of the strength of that very character.  These are Herculean-order terms.  This tale is a bit of both.  This is about election night, when I had to choose between my life and my duty.  You’ve no doubt pieced together which one I protected.

My name, as you’ve also no doubt pieced together from the title, is James Bond.  No, not that one.  And no, I will not introduce myself to you that way, ever.  I’m in security, close protection, we call it, warming and shielding the fronts and sides of some of the more note-worthy people on the planet for the last seven years.  You grow up with a name, and you follow certain expected paths.  Like a Larry Butts who ends up selling pornography, or a Dave Burger running the local Dairy Queen.  I’ve never been better at anything else.  There’s a decent retirement package.  And you get to spend time with all kinds of neat people, making sure they don’t get stabbed, shot or strangled.

Some people you cover more than once.  I was with Clinton in London, back in April.  I don’t know the true reason for his visit.  He flew in with a small retinue, mostly female.  His holiday in Cambodia, he called it, which I guess was a bit of a jibe on his alleged draft-dodging as well as a sharp observation on the sticky sweet, hay coloured weather.  We had a heck of a time.  Lots of coke in the evening, lots of smoke through the days.  He was the one who requested me to be part of his detail in New York for election night.  So here I am, out raving with an ex-President again, rolling hard on MDMA and looking to bag some chocolate love during the course of his revelries, without being cock blocked or assassinated.  Only this time it’s through Manhattan.

The last time was a struggle even at three in the afternoon on a Sunday.  Here’s one illustrative anecdote for you: Billy wanted some sparkling water in a glass bottle.  Insisting he could run this errand on his own, he grabs a handful of spliffs and my elbow, and we leave the Saint Martens hotel.  To get water.  He hunted through every shitty corner shop, all the way through ChinaTown.  Up Wardour Street, past the titty bars and the skin mag parlours.  Back down ‘round Rupert, Gerard, large painted dragons.  Back up to Seven Dials.  Asking every clerk the same question after a poke around in their coolers.  Do you have sparkling water in a glass bottle?  Always back out in the street with that, oh shucks, we’ll just have to check when we come to the next one.  Meanwhile, no one’s dying of thirst.  It’s just the principal impulse he found himself able to maintain, the two of us being as stoned as we were.  Apparently, the plastic bottles are bad for you.  Ketons.  So we continued to bump and float around as human balloons, reacting to lights, movements, until he or I saw the next shop; another one.  This went on for what felt like hours.  So stoned.  He eventually found the fucking water.  Bought it.  And bought one for me to drink, he was so happy to find them and buy them.  I was at first resistant; but being as stoned as I was, I got cotton mouth, so I had a cautious quaff of the stuff.  I was shocked when I found it so enjoyable.  It was … refreshing.

That was five years ago.  I may be getting older, but the rules remain the same.  Don’t compromise, don’t retreat.  I still masturbate, I just might not remember to do it every day.  And I’ll never give up my mark while on detail.  Or I thought I wouldn’t.  It’s just that robots had never tried to blow me up before.

On Tuesday nights, as a rule, you should try not to get blown up.  Especially by robots.  I am currently on a twelve-day streak.  They say it takes doing something twenty-eight days in a row in order to make it a habit.  Two more weeks and I’ll be invincible.

We drive out to the first press junket of the night, everyone’s dry as salt flats except for Clinton, who’s necking a bottle of Chivas and has this Puerto Rican girl with him that I think acts in some sitcom.  Everyone is smoking the hash pipe.  Midway through the drive to the Astoria, we get the call: the machines have fucked up.  The Diebold machines are malfunctioning.  “Isn’t that exemplary of how short mankind’s inventiveness falls when compared to the perfection of creatures like Sophia, here?”  But she’s not turned on anymore.  She’s buckled her safety belt.  The news has rattled her.  She repeats it to Bill.  “He says, the MACHINES are malfunctioning, Guillermo!  THE MACHINES!” she pronounces it like ‘ma cheen,’ it’s so cute.  And then I realize what she’s on about: we’re all headed toward a squadron of armed, malfunctioning drones.

It had been some pencil-jockey’s idea when budget cuts for the Secret Service were proposed after their escort scandal earlier in the year.  Why not hover some really expensive, automated killing machines over high-priority marks when they were not on official state business?  You get the added bonus of having justification for otherwise unwarranted surveillance in an area.  Slim down the personnel presence, and get a few eyes-in-the-sky, all on the same dime.

Then the election.  Aryan nationalist groups have hacked the drone detail.  They were code-named ‘Diebold’ on account of the occasion.  The hackers took the robotic killers off-line from Norad, and then spoofed their controllers, authorised their arming sequences.  And then flew them into the conference room at the Waldorf, where they murdered everything with a heat signature and were now no doubt lying in wait for the mark we’re protecting.  Fuck me, this is better than a movie.  God, I’m stoned.

When I start to vibrate the way I should, it warms the air and worries certain people.  Being the man I am.  Just a trained killer, really, pack and a half of problems in a sack on my shoulder.  The pleasure is yours, and hers, and the Messieurs over there; get to know me, and I’m class, a real plum sweetheart.  I’m always armed, so I don’t mind speaking with strangers in dark establishments over a few drinks and some drugs.  But on first blush, I can be taken as a bit of a cunt.  Just a bit too brusque.

I explain to Clinton what it means that the Diebold machines are malfunctioning.  He gets wide-eyed and asks why we haven’t changed our course away from the threat.  I tell him calmly and plainly that I am not going to be made a fool of.  We are going to pacify the threat.  He tries to argue.  I tell him to shut his puling, vegan, pussy-eating mouth.  This is going to happen, one way or another.

There are no huge revelations in what happens next.  There’s no squealing tires.  The ex-Pres and the Puerto Rican starlet stay in the van.  Yes, there is bloodshed.  There is an element of shooting at robots.  Not the satisfying “Bew!  Bew!” of those Star Wars fights, but we shoot at them in sporadic bursts of shells.  Throw their equipment off track with flash munitions, propeller-ed darts, and good old fashioned water balloons.  Out of a detail of nine, two were cooked by the damned machines before we laid them to waste.  It doesn’t feel good that we took no lives in turn, no like-for-like exchange.  So we may never achieve a sense of closure over the gun battle.

But what’s for certain is that at some point, Clinton and company, along with two vehicles from our convoy, were spirited away during the ordeal inside the Waldorf.  CCTV footage shows four men approaching the vehicles, trying to look either befuddled or nonchalant while pivoting on one foot, looking out for possible witnesses, and they jump in the vans and speed off after a few moments of hot-wiring manoeuvres.  We figure between the bags of drugs and the television bombshell, Bill’s probably capable of holding court with four black guys from New York.  He’ll phone us from one of the vehicles when he’s hungry and ready to come home.

Wait a minute, I can hear you saying, hadn’t I announced this tale as a moral tale?  One where I forgot Marcus Catullus Cicero’s admonition that there is no separation between what is just and what is expedient?  One where I sold out my duty to protect my life?   The first 180 or so characters before the fold are so crucial, aren’t they;  the most space and effort we can bother to give a shit about when searching for an author, a lost friend, an article of faith, or just when we’re expressing ourselves…  distilling the complex pap of squidgy emotions and perceptions into a few bits of text… using some grey-tupperware template to capture the mood.  Adding cat shit to the cosmic conversation.  I hate writing this way, but it must be done.

I can offer you this much:  earlier in the day, I voted for Mitt Romney.  My mark had backed the other guy.  Not exactly the conflict that you had imagined, eh?  I’m going to be getting a high-five from the Secret Service for what I’ve done, AND four dudes from wherever get to say they partied with the ex-President, too.  Sorry.  I know it’s a let down.  Just like always.  I had to get you bastards reading somehow, now didn’t I?  Wait for the sequel, sucker!

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