THE SCENE: A passenger compartment on the Orient Express. Five men enter the compartment, one at a time. Three are elderly but still with a certain twinkle in their eyes, while two are younger, in their fifties. All are impeccably dressed, in dark suits with perfect silk ties; their wristwatches are very expensive indeed. They take their seats in the compartment and wait for someone to speak. Finally one does.
JAMES BOND ONE: Well, as the first, I suppose I should call this meeting of Former James Bonds to order?
JAMES BOND THREE: That sounds fine, but shouldn't we all authenticate ourselves?
JAMES BOND ONE: Quite right. Have any of you got a match?
JAMES BOND THREE: The snow this year is better at Innsbruck.
JAMES BOND FIVE: In London, April is a Spring month.
JAMES BOND TWO: I didn't have any code phrases on my mission. But I do have this.
He holds up his left hand; on it is a wedding ring, which none of the other Bonds have.
BONDS ONE, THREE, FOUR and FIVE: Oh. Yeah. OK, you're in.
BOND ONE: (eyeing Bond Four) What about you?
BOND FOUR: I've got this cool key ring that Q made for me. Just don't whistle "Rule Britannia", OK?
BOND ONE: (to the others) Good enough?
BONDS TWO, THREE and FIVE: Sure. Fine.
BOND ONE: All right, then. We're all here, so I suppose we can get started—what?!
The compartment door slides open, and a guy dressed in full pirate regalia steps in. He's got the big hat, the beard, the cutlass, the eye patch, everything.
PIRATE: I'm in the wrong compartment, aren't I?
BOND FIVE: I'm not sure why you might think that.
BOND TWO: We're former James Bonds.
PIRATE: Oh! I misread my ticket, I'm in compartment 696, not 969. I'm looking for the meeting of former Dread Pirate Robertses. Sorry, gentlemen.
Dread Pirate Roberts exits, and the train lurches into motion.
BOND ONE: So, how are we all enjoying retirement?
BOND THREE: Meh. Not all it's cracked up to be.
BOND TWO: I retired too early.
BOND ONE: Yeah, that wasn't a smart move on your part. You would have got a lot better at it with practice.
BOND TWO: Some people don't think I was that bad to begin with!
BOND ONE: Sure, but I had to come back for one more after you left.
BOND THREE: And then it was my turn.
BOND TWO: I saw the film briefings on your missions. You certainly faced some strange people out there. That guy with the metal teeth....
BOND THREE: Yeah, it was questionable there for a while. Lots of people think I smirked too much. Pissed me off. I had to act like a dwarf was something to be scared of! I was in space! Were any of you guys in space?
BOND ONE: I almost went to space.
BOND FOUR: Yeah, way to go there. Even I know you don't carry that air unit onto the capsule with you.
BOND ONE: It didn't come with an instruction book, you know.
BOND FOUR: Uh huh.
BOND ONE: Say, weren't you a Prince of Mongo before you joined the James Bonds?
BOND FOUR: Say, didn't you get your head chopped off by a swordsman?
BOND ONE: That was a guy who looks like me. If my head had been chopped off, would I be here?
Bond Two is chuckling. Bond One turns to glare at him.
BOND ONE: What are you laughing at? You totally disappeared after your one mission!
BOND TWO: There was a TV show once, but that was--
BOND FIVE: Could we get back onto the subject, please?
BOND THREE: (whispering to Bond Four) He doesn't want to talk about his all-singing routine.
BOND FOUR: Heh.
BOND ONE: All right, let's get on with it. I assume we've all seen the latest film briefing on the second mission of Bond Six? Code-named "Quantum of Solace"?
BOND THREE: Wait, shouldn't we order drinks first?
Almost as if on cue, the compartment door opens and a waiter sticks his head in.
WAITER: May I bring you gentlemen some drinks?
BONDS ONE, TWO, THREE, and FOUR: Vodka martini, shaken--
BOND FIVE: Whoa! Since we're here to discuss Number Six, we should order what he orders, yes?
BOND ONE: Oh, Lord.
BOND FOUR: Yes! Three measures of Gordon's Gin, one measure of vodka, one half measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it until it's ice cold and serve with a twisted peel of lemon.
BOND THREE: I thought it was two measures of Gordon's?
BOND FOUR: No, three.
BOND TWO: Do they even make Kina Lillet anymore?
WAITER: I'll see if we have it, sir.
BOND THREE: But the Gordon's – was it two or three measures?
BOND ONE: Just bring us some damn martinis, would you?
WAITER: Yes, sir.
(The waiter exits.)
BOND ONE: That's the problem with Bond Six. He takes too long to order a drink.
BOND FIVE: That's true. He reminds me of this woman I saw in another filmed document, one which traced the relationship of a man and a woman through eleven years of friendship before they got married. They stop at a restaurant and the woman goes to order apple pie but she'll only have the ice cream if the pie is heated, or the whipped cream if it's real and not out of a can but then the pie shouldn't be heated, or if--
He notices that the other Bonds are staring at him.
BOND TWO: What are you talking about?
BOND FIVE: I have no idea.
BOND TWO: That doesn't sound like any MI6 mission film I've ever seen.
BOND FIVE: It wasn't. It was for fun. I saw it with some other people at one of those places where you pay to see films.
The Bonds all exchange quizzical looks, nobody having any idea what to say to this.
BOND FIVE: People like to see these films for fun.
BOND THREE: (to Bond One) Why'd they hire him, again?
BOND FIVE: Can we get back to Quantum of Solace, please?
BOND ONE: Please.
BOND TWO: I saw it last night. Who is filming these missions now, anyway? Did the MI6 budget for filming Double-O missions get cut or something? Whenever our man was called on to perform dome derring-do, it was impossible to see what he was doing.
BOND FOUR: Oh, I agree. That car chase at the beginning of the mission was terrible! Doesn't MI6 assign a camera crew to get establishing shots anymore? I couldn't tell how many cars were following him or what was going on there, until it was over. I suppose Bond Six is a good driver, but you couldn't tell, really. It might have been luck.
BOND FIVE: I kept wondering why he didn't just, I don't know, launch his missiles at the attackers or use the water jets out of the tail lights or something.
BOND ONE: I don't think he had that kind of car.
BOND FIVE: Well, that's just crazy. I had an invisible car!
BOND FOUR: I heard Q-branch got its budget severely axed after that fiasco. Nobody took that seriously.
BOND FIVE: Hey, it worked.
BOND THREE: Sure it did.
BOND FIVE: I never saw you guys escape a crumbling glacier on a parasail!
BOND ONE: Come on now. We all know that MI6 had to rescue you, and to save face, they used their special effects division to make it look like you did that yourself.
BOND FIVE: Well I never!
BOND THREE: Judging by the fact that Bond Six doesn't get any nifty toys for his missions, I assume that Q-branch was redirected after Bond Five to spend its time designing really neat computer displays for MI6? Have you ever seen cooler stuff?
BOND TWO: Well, I've got a phone that--
The compartment slides open again, and a woman with long, brown hair enters, stops, and looks at her ticket.
WOMAN: Oh, sorry. Wrong compartment. (stares at Bond Four) Mr. Steele?
BOND FIVE: No, sorry.
BOND TWO: And the boat chase was the same thing, wasn't it? Can anybody tell me how Bond Six managed to get that second boat to flip up into the air?
BOND ONE: He did something with a grappling hook, didn't he?
BOND TWO: Sure, but what?
BOND THREE: Does it matter?
BOND FOUR: Probably not. But really, this guy's got it hard, doesn't he? At least the rest of us never actually fell in love on our missions.
Nobody says anything for a minute, and Bond Four glances around, wondering at the awkward silence, until he looks at Bond Two.
BOND FOUR: Oh yeah. Sorry.
BOND TWO: We had all the time in the world....
BOND ONE: We know. But I killed him for you, if that helps.
BOND THREE: Actually, I did.
BOND ONE: You did not! That wasn't him!
BOND THREE: Sure it was! We just couldn't refer to him by name, that's all. But I dropped him down a smokestack.
BOND FOUR: I can't believe you did that. I had to beg my father for enough money to buy a delicatessen in stainless steel, and he was gonna give you one just for not killing him.
BOND THREE: What the hell am I going to do with a delicatessen in stainless steel? I don't even eat cold cuts.
BOND ONE: OK, enough of that. Anyway, we're sorry about Tracy, Bond Two.
BOND TWO: Thanks. (blows his nose very loudly)
BOND ONE: But that's a good point. Bond Six is awfully emotional, isn't he? Is that really a good thing?
BOND FIVE: I think it is. Face it, we were all pretty glib. Well, except you, Bond Four. You were closer to him than the rest of us.
BOND THREE: I wasn't glib all the time. Especially when I was in Greece. Did you see me kill that assassin?
BOND ONE: Yes. That was a good moment for you. We were all very proud.
BOND TWO: It impresses me how intense Bond Six is. He is so focused, isn't he? And those eyes of his. He's almost a hypnotist, isn't he.
BOND FOUR: He is. And you can see him thinking when he's fighting or chasing, can't you? You can see him planning, considering his next move, taking in his surroundings and figuring out how to best gain the advantage. He's really very impressive.
BOND FIVE: He has some wit, too. Actual wit, and not stupid double-entendres. I'm so glad that MI6 has dropped that particular requirement on the Bonds.
BOND THREE: Yeah, those kind of lost their cachet when you were going on about Christmas coming once a year, huh.
BOND FIVE: I'm still annoyed by that. Like any of you guys would have been caught dead with a woman named Christmas.
BOND THREE: No, I just had to get it on with a woman named Octopussy.
BOND ONE: Pussy Galore. Plenty O'Toole.
BOND FOUR: Wow, I'm glad I dodged those bullets.
BOND TWO: Me too. But at least I seduced three mental patients in one night! Did any of you do that?
BOND THREE: Yup, you sure cornered us in the "Scoring with Girls Who Are Phobic About Chickens" department.
BOND FOUR: Heh! I made it with one of the world's great cellists.
BOND FIVE: Who broke up with you after you refused to pay for the repair of the bullet hole that you put in her cello.
BOND FOUR: Hey, maybe MI6 paid more when you came aboard, but there was no way I could have paid to restore a Stradivarius cello on what I was making back then.
BOND FIVE: You know, Bond Six looks really good without a shirt on. Seriously, he's got an amazing physique. Those deltoids of his, and he's got what the Americans call "a six pack". Amazing. None of us was ever that - (notices all the other Bonds staring at him) - what?
BOND THREE: We're men here, aren't we?
BOND FIVE: I'm just pointing out the obvious here. It's not like I'm--
BOND ONE: This from the Bond who spends his free time watching "romantic movies" with the commoners.
BOND FIVE: I don't know why I talk to you fellows.
The compartment door slides open again, this time admitting an old guy who looks a lot like Richard Harris. The old man peers at his ticket and scowls.
RICHARD HARRIS: Oh, I am sorry. They make these damned tickets so hard to read...peers at Bond One...King Arthur?
BOND ONE: No, but I get that a lot.
RICHARD HARRIS: So do I.
Richard Harris exits.
BOND TWO: I thought he was dead.
BOND THREE: We're complaining about realism, now?
BOND FIVE: But about Bond Six again. I think this guy may be Bond for a good, long time. He's really good at it.
BOND THREE: But how does he not make love to the girl at the end? How can that be?
BOND ONE: I had to make love to Tiffany Case at the end of my last one. And that was after your wife had died.
BOND TWO: That's OK, because you weren't married to her. Oh, my poor Tracy.
BOND THREE: Oh, I've been putting flowers on her grave, just so you know. Solidarity and all that.
BOND TWO: But he was still getting over that Vesper woman. It makes sense that he wouldn't fall for that Bolivian girl.
BOND ONE: Yeah, that's OK with me. At least he scored with that Mrs. Fields.
BOND TWO: Mrs. Fields? The cookie lady?
BOND ONE: No, but the roster at the end of the mission film named her as "Strawberry Fields". Was that a joke?
BOND FOUR: Of course it was – oh yeah, you're the Bond who doesn't like the Beatles.
BOND ONE: Absolutely not! I'm a Stones man, all the way. (singing) "I can't get no'--"
BOND TWO: Please stop.
BOND ONE: What's wrong with my singing?
BOND TWO: (singing) "Underneath the mango tree, my honey and me--"
BOND ONE: That wasn't my fault. I didn't write that song.
BOND THREE: Thank God for that.
BOND ONE: Oh, like you're one to talk. (singing)"Love is required, whenever he's hired! He comes just before the kill!"
BOND THREE: So, have you struck like Thunderball lately?
BOND ONE: That's the only way to strike, baby.
BOND FOUR: (to Bond Five) Do you know what they're on about?
BOND FIVE: I promise you, I have no idea.
Now Bonds One and Three are trying to out-do each other, singing at the same time:
BOND ONE: (singing) Goldfinger! He's the man, the man with the Midas touch!
BOND THREE: (singing) Nobody does it better! Makes me feel sad for the rest!
BOND FIVE: (breaking in, louder than these two) Max Power! He's the man, whose name you'd love to touch! But you mustn't touch....
Silence falls, and Bond Five sits back, satisfied.
BOND FIVE: Good.
BONDS ONE, TWO, THREE and FOUR: Huh?
BOND FIVE: Once I lent my voice to another bit of...well, you don't want to hear about that. Back to Bond Six: how come he isn't getting a new Felix Leiter every time he goes out in the field? Anybody wonder about that?
BOND ONE: Damn, that got confusing. Every time I went out, a new Felix. One time I got a strong, handsome Felix. The next time I got Felix the accountant. And then they tried handsome Felix again.
BOND THREE: I only had one Felix. He was okay.
BOND TWO: No Felixes here.
BOND FIVE: Or here.
BOND FOUR: I had two. First one was like a bottle of Paul Masson.
BONDS ONE, TWO, THREE and FIVE: Ewwwwww!
BOND FOUR: Yeah, not very interesting at all. But then, next time, I got your Felix, Bond Three.
BOND THREE: And look what happened to the guy! Jeez, that was never supposed to happen to Felix!
BOND FOUR: I felt terrible about it.
BOND THREE: I hope so.
BOND ONE: It's interesting how Bond Six's Felix is working on his own thing, isn't it? My Felix was always there to do whatever I told him to do. The new Felix actually gives Bond Six some lip. I wonder how he is in a scrape.
BOND FIVE: It's too bad he had to work with such a ponce this time, isn't it? That other CIA guy Felix was with? What a git.
BOND FOUR: Hey, he reminded me of another CIA guy I saw recently, in a historical documentation of a 1980s CIA clandestine operation in Afghanistan. Felix's CIA buddy looked just like the guy in that other film.
BOND FIVE: Yeah, now that you mention it. The same porn-star mustache.
BOND ONE: Show of hands, though – who ever thought Bolivia would be a major location of a James Bond mission?
BOND TWO: Not me, that's for sure. Is it really all desert down there?
BOND THREE: I guess so.
BOND FOUR: So, did those people get water when Bond Six got the bad guys?
BOND FIVE: I don't think the mission film said whether they did or not.
BOND ONE: These new mission films certainly leave behind lots of loose ends, don't they.
BOND THREE: They really do.
BOND TWO: If the bad guy drank the motor oil, why was he shot? And who shot him?
BOND FOUR: Obviously, Quantum is the new SPECTRE.
BOND ONE: You guys never had to deal with SPECTRE.
BOND TWO: I did!
BOND ONE: Oh yeah.
The compartment slides open again. It's another beautiful woman.
WOMAN: Oh, sorry. (peers at Bond Four) Rhett?
BOND FOUR: (waving her off) SHHHHH!
BONDS ONE, TWO, THREE, and FIVE: Rhett?
BOND FOUR: How the hell do I know?
BOND ONE: You know what? It amazes me that for these briefing films, MI6 spends money to have singers do songs for them. Especially when the song is such shite.
BOND TWO: Yes. Total shite.
BOND THREE: Shite indeed.
BOND FOUR: I liked it.
BOND ONE: Really?
BOND FOUR: No. 'Twas shite.
BOND FIVE: It sounded good at first, but then it never went anywhere. Shite. But the animations were cool. I'm glad we're beyond the silhouettes of naked girls flying about empty air or whatever.
BOND FOUR: I'd sure love to see some of the base footage of those old title sequences, though. It had to involve naked girls and trampolines.
BOND THREE: Ahh, trampolines. I'm so glad I got to do the mission with the circus in it.
BOND ONE: Yeah, that was quite the breakthrough there, Clownie.
BOND THREE: Well at least I defused the ticking nuclear bomb myself. I didn't just stand there waiting for one of Felix's buddies to do it.
BOND ONE: That bomb was very complex!
BOND THREE: He reached in and flipped a switch!
BOND ONE: That switch was hard to find, and I was still winded after killing the fat guy with the bowler hat.
BOND THREE: I was always able to turn the strong henchmen to my side.
BOND FIVE: Bond Six hasn't had to deal with henchmen yet, has he? My last one had a face studded with diamonds.
BOND FOUR: My girl killed my last henchman.
BOND THREE: You know, I thought she was a pretty underrated girl. She was plucky.
BOND FOUR: Thanks. You really got screwed on the girl on your last one, didn't you?
BOND THREE: Seriously, if she screamed my name one more freaking time, I was gonna toss her from that bridge myself.
BOND TWO: Interesting that the new guy hasn't had to contend with a ticking bomb yet.
BOND FOUR: In all fairness, there's a new guy on the scene in America who seems to have the market cornered on ticking bombs.
BOND FIVE: You mean that guy on TV who has our initials?
BOND FOUR: Yeah. "Chloe, hack the database! We're running out of time!"
The Bonds laugh.
BOND ONE: So, are we all in agreement that Bond Six is doing a fine job? And that MI6 just needs to devote more energy to making the derring-do easier to follow?
BONDS TWO, THREE, FOUR and FIVE: We are.
BOND ONE: Good. So, let's talk about something really important, then. Which of our girls was the hottest, eh?
The other Bonds begin talking heatedly at once, when the compartment door opens again, this time admitting an American man with brown hair and a little scar on his chin.
MAN: What's this?
BOND TWO: We're Bonds.
BOND THREE: James Bonds.
MAN: Oh, sorry. I'm looking for Jack Ryans. (peers at Bond One) Dad?
BOND ONE: No.
The man exits.
BOND TWO: I wish I'd get mistaken for someone....
BOND ONE: Maybe someday, Bond Two. Maybe someday.
BOND THREE: Speaking of someday, where are our drinks?
BOND TWO: Maybe we should order some food, too.
BOND ONE: Oh here we go....
And the train chugs away into the night.
Slightly edited to correct a joke.