|A Spy at Wolfe's Door
Author: clinkeroo PM
A funny lark that is meant as a tribute to Mr. Fleming's James Bond and Mr. Stout's Nero Wolfe. The two were friends in real life and actually discussed a crossover at one point. I hope you enjoy a small look at what such a meeting may have been like.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Adventure - James Bond/007 - Words: 2,134 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 1 - Published: 06-18-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2999023
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The Big, Bond Wolfe
The day began peaceably enough, when the quarter of a ton with lips that is my boss informed me of our impending dinner guest during his morning office hours. Not to confuse you, my dear, gentle readers, the morning office hours did not really involve working, at least not for my employer, Nero Wolfe.
"Archie," he informed me with all of the humility one would expect from Moses (post burning bush). "Could you please inform Fritz to anticipate two extra settings for dinner this evening? The squab appeared more than satisfactory and I believe we have at least one more bottle of the Pinot Noir."
I paused in the middle of my laborious typing of the great man's orchid cards and my internal debate of whether I should spell "Habenaria rumphii" with one "i" or two, or whether I should chuck the whole gig and get a corned beef sandwich around the corner.
"Who…" I paused and corrected myself, before the fat man had the satisfaction, "Whom, may I ask, are we dining with?"
Wolfe shrugged, and with no little effort, shifted his weight in the great chair that had been specially built to hold his girth.
"A man that was in British Naval Intelligence during the war, ran a special forces group called 30 AU, asked me to host one of his former men. It seems he still does government work, and needs a lower profile domicile while in town.
I held back my initial response that British Naval Intelligence was something of an oxymoron.
"So, you're telling me we're going to have some limey spook bunking in the guestroom and eating your precious food for some undisclosed amount of time? May I remind you that the coffers are a little thin, and that if you don't demean yourself soon by taking a case and using that huge brain of yours for something more than a paperweight to keep your head from falling off your shoulders, we aren't going to be able to afford mice for houseguests?"
"Archie, for all your pestering, you know better than most that I find such intrusions into my personal abode offensive, but there are some debts that run deeper than vanity, and this is one such obligation."
Unable to come up with an immediate glib reply, I let Wolfe go back to reading his morning papers, while I returned to the steady rhythm of the typewriter keys striking their staccato beat. That is, until I placed a finger on something he'd said.
"So, you said there would be two extras for dinner."
Wolfe paused with an audible sigh.
"Yes, my friend was quite clear about this, I guess our guest is quite fond of having attractive young females about to converse with and such." Wolfe almost visibly shuddered at the last bit. "I was thinking that you could invite one of your many lady friends over."
Curiouser and curiouser, I thought to myself.
Lilly Rowan signed on after about fifteen minutes of hard negotiating from yours truly; that and the opportunity to share one of Wolfe's live-in chef, Fritz Brenner's, famous meals and a hard, fast promise that I would take her dancing that Friday at a new club in Queens.
"And all I have to do is chat up some British stiff?" she sounded as skeptical as I felt. "The big man usually doesn't like idle chatter or women at his dinner table, and not in that order."
"I think he usually figures women and idle chatter are not mutually exclusive things. Look, Lilly, he's acting a little strange, but I don't think he's taking up pimping, if that's your worry."
The man on the other side of the two way glass that evening was a hard looking character, with his cruel mouth, black hair, and obviously firm build beneath a blue blazer jacket.
He was casually polite as I took his jacket and bag (he would not relinquish his briefcase), if not a bit stuffy, as so many educated Europeans could be. I informed him that Mr. Wolfe would be upstairs with his orchids until dinner was served at 7 p.m., and that he could use the time to settle into his room.
The shoulder holster was light, and well concealed, but he was obviously packing.
Dinner started unobtrusively enough.
James Bond, or Bond James Bond, depending upon how you interpreted his introduction, was sitting on Wolfe's right, with Lilly directly across the table on Wolfe's left. I was sitting next to Lilly, and after catching the look she gave the limey, I slid a little closer to let the bloke know that here in the Big Apple, we still believed in squatter's rights.
"Mr. Wolfe, I'd just like to thank you for inviting me into your beautiful home. I am going to be mostly uptown…"
Wolfe had raised one enormous hand, filled with sausage like fingers, to stop him.
"Pfui, Mr. Bond. Our mutual friend gave me little choice in the matter, but we are not ungracious hosts. There is, however, a house tenet regarding discussing work at the dinning table. Could Fritz interest you in a drink?"
Bond began to rattle off some concoction that seemed to go on for about ten minutes, at the end of which, the dutiful Fritz just nodded, and headed off to the bar.
When the drinks came, I sipped at an ice water in a cocktail glass and counted the number of times that Lilly laughed at every little prattle the Englishman belched. Wolfe, who had little patience for small talk, just sat and nursed his imported beer.
Once the salmon carpaccio and tuna tartare with cucumber had been dispatched, and we prepared to move onto the jumbo sea scallops atop lobster ravioli and lobster sauce, Bond made his first dire error of the evening and asked Fritz for a Miller High Life for the seafood.
Wolfe's chubby eyes narrowed for a moment in a look of pure hate. Although sharp, the Englishman may have missed it, but having lived with, eaten with, and slaved for the mere genius for what seemed like decades, for me it was like hearing distant thunder on a clear, Spring day.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Bond, I must have misheard you, did you ask for a domestic beer?" the great lips were drawn in so they appeared to be little more than two thin lines, like the scars of a lone skater across a virgin field of ice.
"Yes, Miller High Life and seafood are one of the finest combinations you Americans have given Western Culture."
"Mr. Bond, although I am proud of my adopted country, I am originally from Montenegro."
"Montenegro?" Bond scoffed. "So you're practically a Bulgar."
Even Lilly ceased in her giggling as her fish fork slipped from her hand and onto the floor.
I bent to retrieve the errant silverware…
…and was greeted by the sight of our houseguest's shoeless leg extended beneath the table where it squirmed like an eel seeking a chase somewhere in Lilly's nether regions.
When I arose with the fork, I could see our guest in a whole new light.
With as much couth as possible, I let my drink slip from my hand, and subtly fly the six feet between me and Bond. He caught it deftly with his left hand before it could smack into his temple, but he was unable to catch the ice and water which sloshed across his jacket.
"Archie!" Wolfe bellowed, obviously upset that another long standing house tenet, that being "no one can be rude to house guests but Nero Wolfe, himself" had been violated.
"How careless of me," I feigned, as I rose and walked around the table. By this time, Fritz had emerged with the lobster and scallops, and the look of shock on his face grew wider as I grabbed Bond by the back of his collar and jerked him to his feet. "I seem to have soiled your jacket, Sir. Let me help you with that."
There was silence from the table as I drug Bond out through the hallway and into the office.
"What's all this about then?" Bond snapped, shoving my hands away.
"The lady…" I began.
"Oh, yes, I meant to thank you for that. She's quite the gamer if you don't mind me saying so."
I hit him with a good right to the stomach, and he curled up dutifully, but didn't go down.
"The lady and I have been dating on and off for nearly twenty years, and in all of that time I've done nothing to defile her virtue."
By then he'd stood up straight once more. Slowly he took a ringed cigarette from a gunmetal case he'd pulled from his breast pocket. A lighter sparked and he drew deep from the smoke and smirked.
"Defiled her virtue, eh?" he said. "No wonder she's begging for it."
I swung again, but this time he was waiting. Moving like a person who enjoyed it, he grabbed my outstretched arm and twisted it behind me. His fingers were like steel rods as they groped, and finally found, my thumb, forcing it back until it was all I could do but keep from screaming.
His other hand pushed in the middle of my back forcing me to the floor without ever breaking his thumb hold. Once on the ground, his foot replaced his hand so he could take another long pull of smoke.
"Look, Friend, I'm only here as a favor to my old boss, I would much rather be at the Astor. In a few days, I'll either be on flight back to London, or I'll be dead, so I'm just looking for a spot of fun. I'll just dust a few cobwebs out of the girl, and she'll be much the better for it."
"Take a few moments, gather yourself, and think it over," he said, as the pressure in my back was released, and the man strode back into the dining room.
I took his advice, using the time to decide whether I would kill him in his sleep, or just shoot him at the dining table. Thinking of the job market at the time, I decided to go for the latter.
As I re-entered the dining room, Wolfe was doing his best to pretend that nothing had happened to disturb his gastronomic island of sanity.
"I think, Mr. Bond, you will find Fritz's squab stuffed with wild mushrooms and foie gras with Bordelaise sauce to be worth the flight alone," he was saying.
Lilly kept avoiding my eyes, and I knew that my little display had lost her to the Englishman for the night.
"Actually," Bond told Wolfe. "I have always found the French just use all their heavy sauces to hide inferior cuts of meat."
There was a crash from the kitchen, where an obviously eavesdropping Fritz had just found his personal boiling point.
"Could your man just fix me up some eggs scrambled? I can show him how to properly handle it if you like."
No matter how well-trained the spook was, there was no way he could have been prepared for how fast that quarter of a ton could launch itself from its seat to come crashing down upon him. It was all Fritz and I could do to steal in a few kicks from the sides of the great bulk.
It had taken some time to completely tear out the seat from the red leather chair in the office, but it was worth it to see the expression on Bond's face when he awoke to the insistent urging of the ammonia I wafted beneath his nostrils.
Nero Wolfe had been very explicit with his instructions, as I, naturally, did all the work. Bond was naked and strapped in the chair so that his personal bits hung down through the hole I'd worked in the seat.
"Oh, bloody hell," he muttered through broken lips. "Not again."
"Mr. Bond," Nero Wolfe informed him, his lips now pulsating back and forth as if he were in some hideous, male Lamaze class. "I'm afraid it is time we discussed some of the finer points of the culinary arts. Archie, do you have the egg beater?"
As I raised the evil-looking, wired instrument, and Wolfe began to fill the air with a deep, resonating and chilling laugh, I couldn't help but notice the fat man was too lazy to even do his own torturing.