The Quartermaster Quest: A Drabble Upon the Dreams of Quillsh Wammy
His imitators thought hedonism set Bond apart from all those other two-bit classy spies - that seemed everywhere from the pulp fiction piles to the silver screen in these days of escalating Cold War news. Ubiquitous in the background; sparking a backlash frenzy of unimaginative fashionable writers pandering to their half-asleep readership. No, the real thing that elevated Fleming's work wasn't Bond himself, but the gadgetry he carried on him.
And that wasn't Bond, James Bond, at all. That was the truly exciting position held by Q. The inventor(s). Bound by nothing but the outer reaches of his - or their - own imagination; boundless really in its lack of brevity. The creative force behind the flashy tapestry of the spy's rich world. Godlike in that way. So mysterious too, that single letter to denote a being controlling Fate from the background.
Q. Like Quillsh. His own first name. Thrilling to it the first time he read Casino Royale - 'see Q for any equipment you need' - twenty-two and suddenly knowing precisely what he wanted to do. Join the British Secret Service Q-Squad and invent things to save the world.
Only the reality wasn't like that at all. He was in. His family connections saw to that. But there was no Q-Squad in MI6 like the novels promised. Just order requisitions in triplicate; more paperwork than vision could withstand. No figure of Q as strode gloriously withdrawn into the shadows of the movie plots inspired by the books. Merely Quillsh Wammy labouring under the surrender of disappointment with petty bureaucrats (and worse, politicians) dictating his work-life with rigid demands. Tedious in their scope. No room for innovation. No Q. Not even a Bond. Just people who wished they were the latter and thought an Aston Martin purchase, celebrated with a Martini, could cut it for themselves.
The field guys called him Q and thought it funny. Wammy enjoyed the shivery honour of the title, at first; then realised the joke was on him and disdained them for it. People whom Wammy wouldn't trust with the key to the office petty change box given free rein with the treasury of Britain. Most of them raised to start wars, not intercept their onset and divert into harmless channels. Playing at national security as they'd arranged their tin soldiers in childhood. Like it was all a game.
It was the way they were raised. Q mused. Those with the wealth and connections to be here weren't those with the common touch to understand why they should change the world. Improve it. Make it safer. Most of them breed out of brain cells several generations back. Too lacking in much beyond what was and what should always be, in their opinion, immutable; and unfair.
In bitterness, Quillsh tried to tip the balance in his own small ways. Bypassing the limitations of that stack of requisition forms by letting his mind soar into the stratosphere of inventive bliss. Becoming the Creator. Q in actuality, not just name.
That earned him a final warning and quite a few dressings down for wasting public funds. So he did it in his own time. Wasting his hours on wandering through ideas, akin to Da Vinci in their scope, and enjoying them immensely. Then finding and patenting one, then more, that stood out as genuinely useful.
Of all the weird and wonderful, it was a tiny stop-lock that made him rich. In his own right wealthy beyond his uncle's wildest dreams. That sour old man for whom money and its acquisition had always taken the place of feeling or reaching further than himself. Who'd raised Wammy in name only as guardian; the reality being boarding school, held back for the holidays, as his uncle found it too distracting to have a child at home. Except for Christmas break, which was achingly boring and way too formal. Quillsh blocking out droning talk of the stock exchange and investment banking with mechanisms of the imagination, built silently as excitement, or diversion to replace the love lost with his long gone parents.
Uncle William was interested in his nephew now. Fascinated in fact, in his prospects and his bank-account. Lectures on the best stock in which to invest at the present time - naturally brokered through himself - didn't get more alluring with adulthood. Uncle William's interest being solely in the interest that could be due.
While Wammy's remained entirely with the Quartermaster.
The first orphanage founded was to thwart Uncle William, and to teach him something too. A little reaching out in assuage of his childhood; plus amusement. So many startled agents learning that power in riches didn't need to come with Martinis on a yacht; the Aston Martin waiting; an endless supply of fine foods and alcohol; the ladies dripping in all they could grab. Power came best in the adulation of young minds under his control, to cater for and educate according to Wammy's wealth and whim.
Such things confused them. Which suited Quillsh just fine. For he was an orphan and so was James Bond. A fact that seemed to miss them entirely. Maybe one day a young Bond might pass within his warden watch; and he could be Q.