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The Lost James Bond Novel, Or Where Have You Gone, Auric Goldfinger?

In 1965, I finished my freshman year at a Los Angeles high school and completed the first six chapters of a James Bond thriller. The novel was not a solo effort—like Gilbert, I had my Sullivan. His name was Eddie Galán, and I have not seen him nor our opus in over twenty years.

I still remember the two of us as libido-ridden fifteen-year-olds who revered 007, a man who could dismantle a nuclear device with one hand and locate a bra strap with the other.

Ian Fleming, the British secret agent’s creator, had died the year before. Who would carry on the Bond saga? Epiphanies are conceived from such questions.

The next morning, before summer’s heat surrounded our East L.A. suburb, I was at Eddie’s house. I would return there five days a week for the next couple of months. My job was to sit at a desk, pencil in hand, while my fellow wordsmith lay flat on his bed and stared at the ceiling. Daily, we would wait for the muse to erupt, and sometimes it did.

We exhausted most of that first morning describing, with a hefty inventory of adjectives, a midnight car chase in some California desert. Crucial questions arose. What kind of cars would the chasers and chasees be driving? What does a desert actually look like? Should the killer have a size C or D cup?

We had been introduced to the standard prerequisite of writing: research. We studied every library book on desert biomes, as well as the women’s section in the Sears catalog.

Of course, we needed a slimeball who would do unspeakable deeds to the free world. We spent one morning sifting through the phone pages, attempting to locate a special combination of names that would announce to our readers that a heavy was in their midst. We christened our malefactor Mr. Jules Mobfert.

He would not be alone in his villainy. Mobfert needed an evil organization that would dwarf Fleming’s SPECTRE, an acronym which stood for “SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.” Our dictionary became dog-eared as we created a nefarious organization from the Latin phrase SIGNUM FIDEI, which translated as “Sign of Faith.” When we punched the time clock at the end of the day, SIGNUM FIDEI now stood for “Special International Group Negotiated Under Mobfert For the International Domination of Earth, Infinitely.” Eat dust, SPECTRE.

007 entered our novel in Chapter Two, casually dragging on a cigarette while conversing seriously with M about that “Mobfert fellow.” Mr. Bond was handed a first-class airline ticket for Manila where SIGNUM FIDEI had their Philippine franchise. M leaned over his leather top desk and looked at 007 with an expression resembling Judy Garland’s as she pleaded with Margaret Hamilton to not take the dog. “James,” he said, “for the sake of Earth, do not fail.”

The muse had struck. We looked at each other and realized we had found the name of our Bond installment: For the Sake of Earth. (I know, I’m shuddering, too.)

The only thing left was to create Bond’s woman – in our image, of course. She would be a goddess, a woman who resembled the female silhouettes that adorn Mack truck mud flaps. She needed a name equal to the timbre of those other Fleming monikers: Pussy Galore, Honeychile Rider, Tiffany Case, and Kissy Suzuki. We settled on Diane Givealot. Never had there been a grander collection of pubescent syllables.

Sadly, James Bond would never make it between the sheets with Diane Givealot. Even 007 could not stop the Watts Riots that woke that slumbering summer of ’65. My parents kept me and my two sisters at home, prisoners of constant, up-to-the-minute television news bites. By the time things quieted down, school was only days away.

Eddie and I remained friends throughout high school, but we never did return to our Bond novel.

If you’re out there, Eddie, let’s get together. Do you still have the only copy of For the Sake of Earth? Let’s finish it this time, okay? We’ll set James up in first-class accommodations at the Manila Hilton and—you’ll love this—in the adjoining suite will be Diane Givealot’s daughter. Call me.

Copyright © 2002 Joe Tortomasi.

At age 51, Joe Tortomasi no longer writes spy novels. He now composes humorous essays from his home in Sierra Madre, California, and is ever on the lookout for punchlines in the active voice.