Laura Doolittle, the daring and beautiful covert CIA operative, stood before her lover, Dr. Mark Redvane, bidding him farewell. Not forever, mind you. Unless, of course, she was killed in action—which was actually quite likely. In fact, there was not an insurance underwriter in town who would even consider issuing her a policy.
Mark Redvane was something of a star in his own right, a board-certified surgeon, whose skills were second to none. In fact, legend had it that Dr. Redvane was able to successfully perform microsurgery with one hand, while penning a prize-winning medical tome with the other. And so good looking was he that women would faint in his path. Fortunately, for all of them, Mark Redvane never failed to give them mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the spot, whether they needed it or not.
As usual, Dr. Redvane did his best to talk Laura out of accepting the mission. “Let someone else save the world for a change,” he said. But Laura didn’t listen. She knew that the rest of the agents, men and women alike, could barely box their way out of their Langley homes, no less save humankind.
To distract Mark from his deepening sadness—and maybe to show off a little—Laura leapt up, performed a flip midair, and somehow managed to position herself upside down from a chandelier. There she hung by her feet, her burnt auburn hair falling in a luxurious cascade to the floor. It was the shampoo commercial of the century.
“Don’t leave me hanging here, you fool,” she said, in her irrepressibly smoky voice. “Kiss me farewell. Kiss me now. Kiss me hard. But not too hard. I have a small canker sore on my upper lip.”
Mark Redvane pressed his mouth against Laura’s. The canker sore hurt like hell, but pain meant nothing to her. Sense of duty, however, meant everything. She leapt in her Ferrari 458 Spider, and drove off at a clip of no less than one hundred eighty miles an hour. After receiving three speeding violations on route to the air base, Laura boarded a transport jet en route to the enemy state of Baldheadistan.
Laura entered the rogue country under the guise of an illegal arms dealer. Her mission was to secure several contracts with the Baldheadistan military. The CIA had a few tricks in mind concerning the contracts. First off, all warheads sold to Baldheadistan would be loaded with stink bombs instead of actual nuclear material. Should the country ever deploy the weapons, Baldheadistan would just wind up looking like a large Slavic fraternity with extremely bad taste. They would be the laughingstock of evil, despotic countries everywhere.
Furthermore, at first chance, Laura Doolittle would bug the offices of high-ranking Baldheadistan officials to gather sensitive information, and to catch them in embarrassing activities, like watching old reruns of Punky Brewster and Ally McBeal.
Laura quickly worked her way into the good graces of the Baldheadistan elite. It wasn’t long before she caught the attention of the Supreme Leader himself, Vladimir Rubechik.
One night, she was summoned to the royal palace. Rubechik’s eyes grew wide at first glance of Laura. He rubbed his palms together as if he were preparing for one of his sumptuous fifty-seven course meals, followed by a night of carnal depravity and Netflix binge TV. He opened his palms in a welcoming and thoroughly tyrannical gesture.
“Let us partake of some Baldheadistan blood goat wine,” he said, gazing at a control panel skillfully built into the top of his desk. “Now which knob is it that opens the liquor cabinet? Let me see.” Rubechik pressed a button and a king-size bed, with twenty-four carat gold bedposts, popped out from the wall.
“Oops,” he said, sheepishly. “Well, we may as well forget the blood goat wine. It’s your lucky day, my dear. You’re about to romp with the leader of the enslaved world!”
Laura didn’t bat an eye. She was a patriot, after all. Furthermore, she planned to chop Rubechik’s head off at the first given opportunity. He probably wouldn’t even have a chance to untie his shoes.
Suddenly, Rubechik pointed a finger in the air. “First, though, I must visit the little boys’ room. That Baldheadistan coffee goes though you like the Volga River.”
Rubechik left the room, and Laura seized upon the moment to begin bugging his office. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before something went terribly awry. One of the bugging devices had accidentally been swapped, by a CIA technician, with a tiny prototype of the world’s smallest stink bomb. It went off in Laura’s hand as she bent down to plant it under the Supreme Leader’s desk.
Rubechick ran out of the bathroom in a flurry, throwing a silk robe over himself. “What the hell is that smell,” he shouted, in a pained voice. “My God, it’s awful!”
Almost immediately, Laura was surrounded by armed guards. Also, for unknown reasons, there was a goat and several chickens in the room, running nervously across the floor.
The guards pointed their guns at Laura. Most of them did, anyway. Some of the guards were so busy holding their noses that they neglected their duties altogether. In fact, one soldier was simply unable to contain himself and ran from the room, screaming, “Who the hell laid the egg? What in God’s name are they feeding people these days?”
Laura was dragged off and thrown into a solitary confinement in Baldheadistan’s notorious Schatzcrik prison. The only access to the room was secured by a thick steel door with no less than thirty-seven padlocks, freshly purchased from the Master Lock Corporation. The keys were kept in a storage facility all the way down the hall, behind a door that read, “Do Not Enter,” to prevent any breach of security.
Meanwhile, Rubechik sat in his office fuming. The sense of betrayal was overwhelming, and the room smelled indescribably bad. A case of Febreeze couldn’t begin to mask the stench. Furthermore, he was as horny as a rabbit. He slammed a button and watched the bed, with the 24-carat posts, slide back into the wall.
He tried to think of a cruel and inhuman punishment befitting of the crime. On one level, it should have been easy, given Rubechik’s borderline psychotic disposition. On the other hand, it proved difficult, since he wasn’t the most creative guy in the world.
Finally, he decided on Laura’s fate. She would be bound at the hands and feet, and enclosed in a transparent box. The box would be secured with the best Master Lock money could buy. A small hole would be inserted into the top of the box to accommodate a garden hose.
Water would flow in, and Laura would drown, suffering visibly before the entire population of Baldheadistan, as well as the world at large. The execution would be aired on primetime TV. Right after the camel races.
Meanwhile, across the ocean, Dr. Mark Redvane was on a working vacation in Aspen, Colorado. With the help of a local contractor, he had managed to set up a gurney on a pair of skis, so that he could operate on patients while skiing down a mountain trail.
Redvane was giving the apparatus a test run—blazing down a forty-nine degree slope studded with outcroppings, while performing a septal myectomy—when the alert sounded on his phone, informing him of Laura’s scheduled execution.
He shoved the patient’s heart back into the pericardial cavity, and made haste to the nearest television. He arrived in the lodge, just in time to witness the gruesome event. Laura appeared on the screen, in her transparent tomb, under a flood of stage lights. The makeup artist had done a terrific job. She looked fabulous. A touch of bronzer below the eyes wouldn’t have hurt, to accentuate her high cheekbones, but why quibble.
Slowly, water began to flow into the box. As the saying goes, Laura seemed like a goner. She would be retiring early from the CIA in a most ignoble and inhuman manner. The agency would save a bundle on severance pay.
Suddenly, however, Laura began to contort herself in a manner once only thought possible by YMCA yoga instructors. No sooner had she freed her hands and feet, than she started to disassemble the top panel of the box, using her fingernail as a makeshift screwdriver.
Fortunately the box had been built with #6 slotted machine screws from Home Depot, which fit the edge of her nail perfectly. They came off loose like butter. Of course, she would need a manicure at the first given opportunity. She made a quick note of this in the memo app of her iPhone, and then shot out of the container like an Olympic diver springing from a board, all the while taking a selfie in midair.
The studio audience burst into applause, cheering, stomping, calling her name. “Doolittle. Doolittle. Doolittle.” It was obvious, Laura was a star. Mark Redvane smiled and went back to skiing.
Rubechik’s sense of outrage was simply uncontainable. The blood throbbed through his temples like hot lava. He gave orders for Laura to be summarily executed. Chopped into a thousand pieces and fed to mountain hyenas. Poisoned with strychnine and hung by the toes. Flogged to death with brine-soaked horse whips. Suffocated in polyester dry cleaning bags sealed with Gorilla tape.
Ah, but then there was the illustrious impresario Barif Goldtuthe to contend with—and Goldtuthe had no intentions of allowing Laura Doolittle to be slain. Goldtuthe was the top money man in Baldheadistan, and he had big plans for Laura Doolittle. The Baldheadistan public was obviously enthralled with her, and Goldtuthe knew a business opportunity when he saw one. He assembled a team of high-paid lawyers to stay the execution. Each attorney would receive a herd of Gotland sheep and a dozen Baldheadistan virgins for his services. It was the deal of the century.
Within days, Goldtuthe had Laura starring on primetime TV, in the coveted spot between Belly Dancing with the Stars and Balheadistan’s Got Talent. Every week, Laura would escape from fiery deaths, unshackle herself from straitjackets while being cast from airplanes, stave off ravenous wolves, while blindfolded, handcuffed, and fed nothing but microwave popcorn for a week straight.
The ratings went sky high. Laura Doolittle was a hit, a national celebrity. Goldtuthe was beside himself. He immediately purchased a dozen McMansions in the hills of Baldheadistan, a fleet of Tesla Model S sports cars, and the entire block of Madison Avenue, from Twenty-Third Street all the way to the Harlem River Drive.
Ever the insatiable speculator, Goldtuthe soon sought ways to increase Laura Doolittle’s profitability. Against the vigorous protestations of Vladimir Rubechik, Goldtuthe began to eye opportunities beyond the borders of Baldheadistan. When a lucrative contract was offered, in the neutral country of Wishywashystan, Goldtuthe signed on the spot.
It was a big mistake. Laura defected within days, taking refuge in the American Embassy. Days later, Barif Goldtuthe was found unresponsive in one of his McMansion bedrooms. The Baldheadistan coroner ruled that Goldtuthe had died of natural causes. This was highly suspicious, however, given the trace amounts of Arsenic, Strychnine, Hemlock, Belladonna, Ricin, Cyanide, Agent Orange, Mustard Gas and Liquid Plumber that were found in his blood.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department wasted no time in bringing Laura home. Within days, she was back in the arms of Dr. Mark Redvane. “Laura, my darling,” he said, “how I’ve longed for you all these months.”
He tilted her back, like Gable had done with Vivian Leigh in Gone with the Wind. Unfortunately, an important call came in at just that moment, and Redvane unceremoniously dropped Laura on the floor. “Sorry, I gotta take this,” he said.
Laura’s head bounced like a coconut on a rock but, fortunately, due to her extensive physical training, she recovered consciousness within hours. The couple spent the night in a loving embrace. The small laceration in Laura’s Occipital Bun did nothing to ruin the moment.
The couple’s euphoria, however, did not last long. Rubechik, now more incensed than ever, sent a team of vile, foul-smelling assassins after Laura. In fact, they were only able to slip past U.S. customs agents by dousing themselves with large amounts of Armani Code for Men cologne.
Meanwhile, members of her own organization, the CIA, started to question Laura’s allegiances, after Rubechick published the entire schematic of the mini stink bomb on WikiLeaks, including the bomb’s secret smell agent: week- old Brussels sprouts. Soon, the CIA also had Laura on its hit list.
Given her unparalleled skills, Laura was able to dodge all bullets. However, she soon became despondent. She now was under siege from elements in Baldheadistan as well as those in her own country. Furthermore, her Netflix account had been cancelled due to non-payment, while she served overseas, just when the new season of Luke Cage was being released.
Then one day, Laura disappeared without a trace. She gave no advance warning and left no trail behind. It was as if she had vanished into thin air. Rumors of her assassination quickly spread. There was also speculation that she had just gotten stuck in a very long line at Whole Foods Market, and would be returning shortly--there was a big sale on spring produce that week, and the place was mobbed.
Mark Redvane sunk rapidly into a deep depression. He cancelled all appointments for a month straight and soon became addicted to prescription drugs. Antibiotics. They didn’t get him high, but he didn’t contract a single infection for months.
One day, however, a mysterious package arrived in his mailbox. It was from the small tropical paradise of Bikiniland. Inside, was a one-way ticket to the island, and a note that said, ‘”Don’t leave me hanging here, you fool. The chandeliers aren’t nearly as secure as the ones in the USA. They’re made of cheap Chinese plastic, with molding defects up and down the chains.”
Dr. Mark Redvane made haste to the airport. He, too, was never to be seen again. An associate of his, Dr. Henry Hartstoke, assumed control of Mark’s lengthy client roster. Dr. Redvane’s patients initially found the arrangement to be satisfactory, however, discontentment eventually spread among his clientele. For although Hackenscapel’s surgical skills were equal to those of Redvane’s, Hartstoke wasn’t nearly as good looking. Plus, he couldn’t ski to save his life.