Goldfingered

All that glitters is not gold. It might just be the barrel of a gun.

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All that glitters is not gold. It might just be the barrel of a gun.

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Editor’s note: Jim Union’s Christian name is Richard Schlong, and he was once a private eye; kidnapped by his former nemesis, Kaufman (now known as “K.”), and subjected to plastic surgery, Richard has now become an agent for an agency that doesn’t exist–operating under the name: Jim Union.

 

Her name was Philippa Snatch and she had a cosmo in her hand.

“Now listen, James,” she began – I said, “It’s Jim.”

She ignored me and continued, “When you meet Mr. Goldfinger, you’ll see what I mean. He shines. He just sparkles. What’s that story, you know, the myth, about the man whose son wore fake wings and the wax melted in the sun?”

“Daedalus.”

“Well for some reason, he reminds me of that,” she said, then sipped. The sun danced in her cosmo like flamencos on the sea.

The place was Tennessee. The garden was frosted with birdsong. We were alone. Then the gate swung open and we weren’t.

My jaw swung open with it. The man who walked through the gate looked like K. The belly that would boost Santa Claus’s self-esteem. The face like a stack of sweaty pancakes. The gait, like he’d sat on a tree and never bothered to pull it out.

But there were differences. The Hitler ‘stache, for one. And he wasn’t wearing his monocle: this man had thick-rimmed glasses. Then there was his voice—and K. didn’t wear polos.

“Meester Adhesive?” the doppleganger said, thrusting out a meaty flipper.

“I’m sorry,” I said, keeping my hands to myself for a change. “You are?”

“Oh,” he said. “Excuse me.”

He was silent. I looked at Philippa. She looked uncomfortable and sipped her cosmo. Half a minute passed. I looked at the doppleganger.

“What’s going on here?”

“I farted,” he said.

“Maybe you can expel something else for me,” I growled. “Maybe a name.”

“Of course, das jungen,” he said. “Mein name ist Aural Goldfinger.”

“Would you excuse me?”

“How could I not, mein little eichhornchen,” Goldfinger said, “after you’ve just done the same for me?”

I went into the corner of the garden, behind a bush. I could hear Goldfinger’s colonoscopy of a Deutsch laugh intermingling with Philippa’s Manhattan cacophony.

I unzipped my fly. A voice from my crotch said: “K. here.” Then: “If the next thing I hear is even a minute trickle, dear boy—”

“This time I’m calling you on purpose, K.,” I said. “I’m in the garden with your bloody doppleganger.”

“How close is he?” K. gasped.

“15 yards.”

“We were separated at birth,” K. said, talking fast. “Inconsequential plot point. Right now you can’t let this Aural Goldfinger out of your sight. We have reason to believe—”

Choking fluttered across the garden. I zipped my fly and leaped out from behind the bush.

Goldfinger was smiling at me and twitching. His smile was an undulating worm under a shrub of mustache hair.

“James Adhesive,” he said. “Very clevah. Jah. Das stimmt. But you are not fooling diese eichhornchen.

I looked at Philippa. She was gasping and sweating. Her sweat was gold and I imagined it tasted like cosmo. Her chest didn’t look natural. It didn’t before, but now it looked horrific. Before it just looked booby.

“Zhere is a bomb, ja,” Goldfinger said. “It is under Frau Snatch’s chest. She has been… Goldfingered. And, Mr. Union, ich habe mein Goldfinger on the trigger. Unless you do exactly vhat I zay.”

“Talk.”

“Do ein hundred pushups!!” he yelled.

I dropped down. The gravel hurt my palms. I typically did them in sets of 25. This would be a challenge.

Diamond pushups.” Goldfinger sneered.

Diamond pushups. A no-holds-barred assault on the triceps. I’d asked K. to model me after Timothy Dalton. I started to wish I’d asked for Daniel Craig.

100 pushups was impressive. 100 diamond pushups was insane.

“Tick-und-tock!” Goldfinger roared. “Or diese little eichhornchen ist tot!”

 

I made a triangle out of the space between my hands. Then I started pushing. Damn gravity, I thought. Damn it to hell. I wished I was back in a rocketship with Edward Snowden, heading toward the moon.

At 25, the burning started. I heard frantic sounds from Goldfinger and thanked god I was facing the gravel. At 50, my arms weakened.

“This is insane, Goldfinger!” I cried.

“HAH!” he laughed. “L-O-L!”

At 75 diamond pushups, my triceps failed. Every pushup became a feat. I wasn’t going to make it to 100.

“We want to know what Znowden told you,” Goldfinger said.

“Let me stop,” I gasped. “I’ll tell you.”

“Stand up,” Goldfinger said. He didn’t have to tell me twice.

He said, “Crabwalk around the garden.”

I sat down, put my hands behind me, and raised my midsection off the ground. Then I crawled backwards around the garden. Goldfinger cried, “Faster!!”

“Now tell me what Znowden told you!” he screamed.

“Was my alcohol… poisoned?” Philippa gasped.

Ja,” Goldfinger told her. “With alcohol.”

I’d crabwalked behind him. When Goldfinger looked at Philippa, I leapt up and locked my forearm around his neck.

He choked, “Sehr gut, Meester Union… but ze bomb is tied to mein pulse!”

I let him go. He turned around. I hit him in the face. He hit the gravel. Philippa screamed, “NO!!”

I put two fingers to Goldfinger’s neck. “His pulse is fine,” I said, smiling at Philippa.

She smiled back. There was a protrusion on her chest the shape of dynamite.

I turned to Goldfinger. “Here’s a finger for you,” I said.

Then I flipped him the bird.

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