In Love’s Secret Service

   How far would James Bond go for love? We’re about to find out.

   

You are invited to a preview of James Bond, the exhibition. See memorabilia from your favourite films and watch the shooting of Bond 25.

Where: Movieworld, Gold Coast, Australia, 7.30-10pm

***

I flash my invitation at a doorman in black tux, like most men here.

“Waites. Miranda Waites,” I say. He scans his guest list.

“Bond. James Bond,” he replies.

How many times would I hear that tonight?

We are in a glass dome, within an amusement park. Looming over us, is a skyline of thrill-rides. The scariest of the lot, the Hypercoaster, beside us, sits still as a camera crew prepares to shoot a stunt for Bond 25.

“Ready for this?” Anton’s dark eyes shine with mischief. In blue, terry shorts and shirt -Sean Connery’s poolwear in Goldfinger – he looks better than most men in black-tie.

“As I’ll ever be.”

“Tell me what you see.”

“One exit, two security guards. One’s drinking heavily, the other’s flirting with Miss Moneypenny. Our host is on orange juice and has eyes everywhere. Like he’s expecting to be robbed.”

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you.” Anton’s twinkly smile does little to calm the roller coaster of nerves barrelling through me.

“It’s a plunger lock,” he whispers. “Forty-five seconds tops with steady hands. How’re yours?”

My left hand trembles slightly. Is it nerves or him? Swiping a glass of bubbly from a passing tray, I down half of it. The shaking stops.

“Not too much of that,” Anton says. “Remember, if we do manage to divert all eyes inside, someone outside might still see.”

The world’s hardest robbery; potential witnesses inside and out.

Through the glass, we watch the crew mount cameras on a coaster carriage. A dozen extras chomp mini-quiches and egg sandwiches, as they wait.

“Still want to go ahead?” Anton whispers.

No, let’s go, have dinner, forget about it.                 

But the band plays the Bond theme and I remember why I’m here. I nod.

“Stay under the radar. Don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself.”

As he wanders off, I can barely tear my eyes away. He’s a thief, not a date. Pull yourself together.

I drain my glass and resist the urge to take another as I mooch around the exhibits. A stuffed alligator from Live and Let Die. The cello from The Living Daylights. Oddjob’s steel-rimmed murder hat.

And . . . It. The Bikini. White with a gold belt, knife sheathed on the side,  captioned: Worn by Ursula Andress: Dr No, 1962. It’s in a glass case in the centre of the room.

With luck, it’ll soon be in my hands.

“Exciting isn’t it, Miss…?” A man in a golden jacket appears beside me.

“Waites.”

“Don’t you mean, Lynd? Vesper Lynd?” He eyes my slinky purple dress, with silver V neck – from Casino Royale.

“I’m Milton Carver. Bond collector.” He’s mid-forties, with slick auburn hair and a pasty complexion from too many movies.

“All this stuff is yours?”

“From a lifetime of devotion, ” he says, “starting with Dr No, and that bikini.”

His eyes lose focus and he’s Bond on that beach watching the blonde vision emerge, Caribbean-wet clutching a shell.

He launches into Bond tales, his conversation peppered with “Sean”-this and “Roger”-that, as if they’re personal friends.

“How many Bonds have you met?” I ask.

“None, as yet.”

“Villains? Bond girls?”

“No.”

“That’s a shame.”

A muscle clenches along his jawline. After that, he keeps glancing over, shooting resentment my way.

“Why is he watching you?” Anton is beside me again.

“I might have offended him.”

“Not good. How much time do we have?”

“Not much.”

“We need something to distract him.”

 

“ACTION!” calls the director outside and the coaster-cars begin to roll.

At the exhibition entry, there’s a flourish of applause. Flashes strobe the darkness as Ursula Andress emerges from a white limo. In her eighties, she’s still elegant, as she poses for fans. The security guards are transfixed.

Anton breaks into the glass case, retrieving the bikini, which smells of the sea. As he hands it to me, the coaster whizzes past. Carver, in the back seat – a last minute extra – shrieks and points.

“Uh-oh. He’s seen us!” says Anton.

“But he can’t do a thing!”

If I know anything about films, that coaster will keep whizzing until the director’s happy, which could be quite some time. Though I wonder at the wisdom of those egg sandwiches.

 

In an empty sidestreet, the white limo idles. Anton and I slip into the backseat – with Ursula.

“Hi Gran,” I say.

“Hello sweetie.”

I hand her the bikini. She cuts a few stitches on the lining and extracts a rolled scrap of paper.

“Sean slipped me this note on set. I was married at the time, so I hid it, meaning to read it later. But my scenes wrapped that day, they took the bikini. I tried to bid at auction, but Carver is ruthless about acquiring these things. He bribed someone that day. I never got the chance.”

“Is it a love note?” I ask. She smiles and the years melt away in the glow of memories.

Anton and I step outside, giving her some privacy.

“Just goes to show,” he says, “you should seize the moments, before they whizz right past.”

“Like a roller coaster on its tenth loop.” We giggle.

 

By the time Carver returns, stinking of rotten eggs, the bikini’s back in the case. He eyes Anton and I with suspicion, unsure exactly what he saw.

“You missed Ursula Andress while you were gone.”

“What!”

“But at least you’ll appear in a Bond movie.”

“No, they can’t use the footage. On account of the vomiting.”

“That’s a shame,” I say.

“Did you read the note?” Anton whispers.

I nod. “Nice working with you.”

“Is that the note? Or you?”

“Both.”

I unroll the paper. Written in blue, in a spidery hand is: “Nice working with you. Sorry the film’s not more memorable. SC.

 

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