Bond felt dirty, as he always did when getting enmeshed in politics. He wished he could be doing something decent like entrapping homosexuals. But the president had worse tales to impart.
“Nor is he from Massachusetts. He stole that identity. He’s a Bulgarian Nazi who fled Berlin with secret drugs for rejuvenation and advanced techniques of plastic surgery developed by German scientists in the last ten days of the Reich. Though he is in fact 104, he looks an astoundingly youthful 45 — the same age that the poor Mormon missionary kid would be if he had not . . . ”
The president’s voice trailed off disconsolately.
Bond was puzzled. If the White House knew all this, what was preventing them from putting a stop to this fake Romney? In the good old days, the plumbers would simply have followed him late one night — a tap on the head with a mallet, a fall from some convenient bridge, a splash in the Potomac, and hey presto! World War III averted. But we were going soft. It was all subpoenas, evidence, proof, and telephone calls to a lawyer these days. Sometimes Bond admired the Romneys of this world, who knew what they wanted and went for it. Still, surely there is something we can do?
The president seemed to read his mind.
“There’s nothing we can do,” he said. “He’s too darned clever for us. We were on the verge of getting him, within days of tracking down his Bulgarian birth certificate. He must have found out, because his agents fanned out over America alleging that my birth certificate in Hawaii was fake and I wasn’t a U.S. citizen eligible to hold high office. Everyone mocked them, of course. Our own people trashed them more than anyone. So it was impossible for us to make the same allegation about Romney. He’d closed off that option.”
Bond almost whistled. It was the most brilliant “spoiler” operation he had ever come across. M himself could hardly have done better. But he was brought back to earth by the sight of the president sinking into the chair behind his desk, anguish and fear written on his features.
“I’m desperate, Commander Bond, desperate,” he said, head in hands. “You must help me. You must find Romney and render him inoperative. Of course, I’m not suggesting anything violent or illegal or likely to offend people of a sensitive disposition. But, please, do something, anything. Don’t let him take it all away from me. Once I was cool. I want to be cool again.”
“And so you shall, Mr. President,” said Bond, turning away to hide his feelings. He hated to see a president cry. He left the White House at once and, with Felix Leiter as his guide, set off to Georgetown wondering where in this desert of small-town puritans he might find a Victoria’s Secret peephole bra, an Agent Provocateur basque, and a pair of black fishnet stockings from Frederick’s of Hollywood.