To Slip the Surly Bonds

Mack felt like an idiot standing around the woods in a tuxedo. They were on a dirt road behind the newest subdivision of Lawndale with the ominous name of Landon Meadows. With him were Artie, Andrea, and an older, balding man getting something out of a truck.

"Awright," the man said, "just remember what you did in the flight sim and you should be okay." He straightened up holding a rocket pack.

"Mr. Petelos, that thing looks old. Are you sure it's safe?" said Mack, taking a step back.

"Better you than me," muttered Andrea.

"This baby was used by the stunt double in the original Bond pic. It's been around the block a few times, but I've been assured that it works like a charm." He helped Mack into the rig. "Nothing but the best for a member of 'Petelos Messenger Service!' You remember what to do?"

"Yeah, I'm to fly over that house there, land by the pool and go up to the lady in red and present the martini shaker, saying, 'For you, m'dear, shaken... not stirred.' Then I remove the top, the flowers pop out, I give them to her, and with a jaunty smile and salute I fly back here."

"And no joy riding. This thing's got limited fuel."

"I assure you Mr. Petelos, the experience will probably be anything but joy. Look, why not let Artie do this?"

"With my vertigo?"

"You're the closest thing to a Bond look-alike we have," said Petelos, "So quitcher whining and get a move on, son. Daylights wasting!"

Mack looked out over the forest. The clouds were beginning to redden in the west. He wondered if this would be his last sunset.

Andrea slapped the martini shaker in his hand. "Happy landings," she sneered, obviously enjoying this too much.

"Yeah, thanks," he said, pressing the shaker into its velcro holder.

"Take care the aliens!"

"You too, Artie. Mr. Petelos, make sure my Dad gets my pay check."

"Yeah, yeah, go already!"

Mack turned the pack on and felt like something had kicked him in the back. He worked the controls and settled back to earth, then turned them on full, taking him up over the tree line, leaving Artie, Andrea and Petelos coughing in the dust.

He took no notice of their predicament, focusing instead on his own safety. He looked down, groaned, then looked to the roof of the house he was to fly over. He prayed his bladder would not fail him as he twisted the controls for a little more altitude.

Why can't people be satisfied with two stories, he thought, why ever would they want three. Greed, man, nothing but "WAAAUGH!"

His feet scrapped on the slope of the roof. As he goosed it for more altitude the jet of rocket exhaust knocked a few shingles off.

Skimming over the top of the roof, he tried to assess the damage below him. Just in time he looked up to see a lovely old elm tree in his path, it's branches reaching out as if to pluck him from the sky. He scooted around it and saw the party below, around a pool.

He plucked the shaker from its velcro holder with a smile he did not feel and gave a theatrical shake that caused him to start spinning. He quickly put it back in its holder and grabbed the controls, trying to correct the spin. He then twisted his body to get him back over the pool area.

He discovered that he liked the descent about as much as he liked the ascent. His stomach gave a lurch as he realized he was coming in too fast. He quickly tweaked the controls, which stopped him a couple of feet above the water and kicked him back up about twenty feet.

After two more aborted landing attempts, he finally touched down with a noticeable lack of grace, took two stumbling steps toward the edge of the pool, then switched the rockets off. He breathed deeply and resisted the urge to kiss the ground. The crowd around him gave him a desultory round of applause.

He stepped over to a lady wearing a red jacket, trying to keep his knees from buckling. He began to shake the shaker while he tried to remember his lines.

"Young man," she said, "I believe you want Loretta. She's over there."

"Oh! Th-thank you," he said, then looked over to a woman in a red dress. An older woman. Much older.

He remembered something Red Fox had once said on Sanford and Son, "Ain't nothin' uglier than an eighty year old white woman." He resisted the urge to run and walked toward her.

"M-ma'am, uh, I mean, 'For you, m'dear, staken... SHAKENnotstirred.'"

He tried to open the shaker, but it refused. He twisted it again with no luck.

"How very sweet of you, young man," Loretta said, holding out her martini glass. He stared at it and accidently hit the catch on the shaker. The top came off, propelled by the pop-up flowers inside and bounced off his nose.

The woman stood unsteadily for a moment, then said with disappointment, "No mar-toonie?"

Mack quickly gave her the bouquet, reached over and picked up the top of the shaker, started to hand it to the woman, then seeing that her hands were full, he handed it to a man standing nearby.

"Uh... " he said, then realized he had no exit line. He gave a somewhat-less-than-jaunty salute, then turned on the rockets again.

As he lifted off, he noticed a pair of huge, unbelieving eyes in a pretty, and familiar, African-American face. Beside her, looking incredulous and somewhat put off, were her parents.

Mack closed his eyes as he gained altitude. Could this get any worse, he wondered.

The rockets sputtered, coughed and died.

"Oh, God," he said as he began his descent, "I know you didn't go there."

Jodie screamed as Mack plummeted into the deep end of the swimming pool.

Later, by the gate as Mack stood drenched in the gathering dark, waiting for Petelos to bring the truck around for the battered rocket pack, Jodie brought him a cup of punch. He accepted it with a blush.

"You sure you're alright?" she asked as he took a sip.

"Body's fine. Don't know if I'll ever live down the humiliation."

"What were you thinking, agreeing to do a stupid stunt like that?"

"Getting out of debt with Dad, what else? Guess I'll have to find a new job now."

"He's not going to fire you for this, is he?"

"No, I'm quitting. Suddenly that job in the ice cream van isn't looking so bad now. Hope it's still open."

She embraced him. "As long as it's not something that's going to get you killed. Scared me to death!"

"Honey! You're getting your gown wet!"

"Don't care." She snickered. "Ol' 008, license to ill."

"Shaken..." he grinned, returning the embrace, "not stirred."

From the Iron Chef challenge "I Challenge You" by Roger E. Moore on the PPMB, challenge issued by RLobinske to do an in-character ficlet on Mack as one of his alter egos. I chose the Mack as Bond with Rocket Pack.

This is set toward the beginning of IIFY?, before we see Mack in the Ice Cream Van.