Enjoy this excerpt from Rock Invasion!
Go Find Yourself!
Johnny believed —in his heart — that he was going to find a profound spiritual experience with Shannon.
One day, because of the redheaded hitchhiker, he would return to Los Angeles, a better person, at peace with the universe. For the next three hours, he tried to improve himself by offering Shannon cool massages (“I used to be called ‘all hands’ and ‘a great misogynist.’”) and bragging about his career. ( “I know seven chords!”)
She wasn’t buying any of his crap.
It drove him crazy.
After three hours of trying, Johnny, the gentleman ( i.e. the dumb sap) offered to escort Shannon home. Shannon asked Johnny if he would like to meet her friends living atop the Mirage Hotel.
Shannon, unbeknownst to Johnny, was getting him primed up for the band of women living in suite #1903, which was, coincidentally, right next door to the suite that Johnny had bought for cash — a perfect place to begin his after-morning-coffee spiritual wanderings through the desert.
(Isn't it interesting how everything in life works out? Kind of sweet, huh?)
Shannon knocked a “secret” knock. When the door opened, Johnny thought Serendipity (He’d never thought of that Goddess before. Why now?). He imagined Serendipity launching him toward his destiny.
He also thought of the word Home.
* * * *
Petite Shannon was a “recruiter” for a group of Amazonian women, all of whom were part of a Las Vegas revue called The Queens of the Jungle. The eleven women were all housed in a suite of rooms between Johnny’s, suite #1902, and a reclusive billionaire named Howard who lived on the other end of the roof in suite #1904. Only three suites covered the roof of the Mirage Hotel.
A tall blonde beauty dressed in a very loose leopard skin peek-a-boo loin cloth had opened the door of #1903. Sheena McCallah was the leader of the all-girl musical revue performing at the Flamingo Arms on the Strip. Their current production was called "The Amazonian Women of Kondo":" A classy show, all the way down to the colorful hand-dyed Persian cats that roamed the stage.
Sheena eyed Johnny carefully, turned to Shannon, and told her, as a master would to her servant, "Offer your guest a seat." And then, to Johnny, "What's your name, mister?"
"I'm ...uh ...”
Sheena smiled down at him from her straw cowboy hat. Her body was smothered in scented baby oil and she must have been wearing — oh yes, there they were — black stiletto heels. Johnny stared at her jeweled navel.
"You don't sound very sure about your name, Mr. Uh."
“I’m Johnny Pass ...Oh, God! That's a whole lot of blonde! Johnny thought as blood drained from his nearly empty skull. Instead, he tried to say, "No, your highness, I really am Johnny Passion."
"You? Johnny Passion? Yeah, you and about three hundred other guys down there on the strip." She strode across the living room toward the mini-bar. He kept a close eye on the lion cloth, trying to catch a peek at every boo."Can I spill you a martini, Johnny? Yeah, right. You are the great underwear-loving rock singer?" she said as the baby oil seemed to smoke.
"I-i-i-i-i-really ...uh," Johnny stammered.
"Okay. So then, Mr. Passion... here. Have some of our Nectar."
Sheena handed him the glass and he politely took a sip. It was Drinkie-Winkie and it made him think of Cori, the love he’d left behind. Cori would look really great in a loose fitting loin cloth and baby oil.
Once Johnny had gained a little more composure in the presence of the Jungle Queen, he noticed the colorful Amazonian Nectar bottle (i.e. Drinkie-Winkie) It had a shrunken head on the label, and read “A little head will make your day.” He asked politely, "Ngm ung um nya nya nya?" as he collapsed on the rug, with the backbone of a wet pile of rags.
* * * *
For the next twenty years, Johnny Passion would experience an amazing journey of self-discovery, His “brave new world” would, except for occasional errands, confine him to a space of 6000 square feet. His adventure would take place largely within the plush suite of the Queens. Johnny would never get to see the suite that he owned.
* * * *
Sheena was the spitting image of her grandmother, Irish McCallah, who had portrayed the original Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, on T.V. in the 1950s. The McCallah women were direct descendants of the legendary all-women warrior tribe that had originated in the Black Sea, in 5500 B.C. The tribe was founded by the Warrior God, Ares and the Sea Nymph, Harmonia.
The McCallah men were hard to trace. They had all been eaten, with a side of whole grain brown rice, and washed down with a goblet of Huge Morning Dump Tea.
The ancient Amazonian warrior women only needed men to perform slave labor and the breeding of subsequent female warriors. Sheena was the leader of the group and Shannon was only her procurer of slaves. The remainder of the "Queens of the Jungle" revue was made up of tall, stunning women of all races and nationalities. Every one was a multitalented singer, dancer, musician, or notary public.
The other Queens of the Jungle included Shalondra, Shaneequa, Shalaqua, Shondell, Sushi Q, Shoshanna, Shamalamalamadingdong, Shame — who had no shame and was Johnny's favorite, Sham—the deceitful—and the Queen’s substitute dancer, Shemp.
Each of the statuesque beauties stood over six feet tall, except for Shannon, the “helpless hitchhiking waif,” who was only five-foot-two. Johnny towered at five-feet eight when he wasn’t wearing his rock ‘n roll boots.
* * * *
Lost in the Jungle
For nearly twenty years, "Sheena and the Queens of the Jungle" used Johnny Passion as a slave. It took the Queens many years to finally become convinced that Johnny was the real deal. During a segment of What Ever Happened to this Loser Has-been? on a morning news show, the Queens learned the truth about their domestic helper, Johnny, who they’d dressed in a French Maid's outfit, and was busy serving the women their morning Winkies before applying their baby oil.
Johnny had sung for them on occasion. He had a great voice, but for years, the women had simply figured that their Johnny was a just one of the better Las Vegas Johnny Passion impersonators.
Each day Johnny was expected to "service" the entire group of beautiful women by doing their dishes, dressing, bathing, feeding and driving the younger ones to and from school. He even took the women to music lessons and soccer games in the band van. Johnny also cooked, did the laundry, took out the garbage, changed the cat box, and washed the tour bus. He was given so many domestic chores that he barely had enough free time to take a break for lunch, or watch General Hospital.
If Johnny found himself completely exhausted, he only had to remember that the Queens of the Jungle intended to cook and eat him when he was deemed useless.
Oh yes, Johnny was forced to have sex with everyone in the group.
(Nothing to see here folks. Let’s move along.)
* * * *
One afternoon, Johnny was watching the tale of Scheherazade on the Cartoon Network. It’s the story of a woman who kept herself alive in a harem by telling a new story to her murderous husband, the King, every night. Johnny began to write his own stories, mostly fiction about his love, Cori. By adding bedtime stories to his nightly entertainment, Johnny secured his survival.
In the evening, after all his chores were done, he would gather the women around the soft glow of the hot tub, and tell them the tales of Cori. Her heroic deeds, her beauty and how she had broken his heart. Johnny told the women about how Cori had spurned him and had gifted her underwear to "some other creep" at Biggie's Nutshell bar. It was a two-handkerchief tale that they begged him to tell many times.
* * *
The Great Escape — 1992
For twenty years, Johnny told his "Cori-Zade Stories to Sheena and the Queens. For heartsick Johnny, the anecdotes kept, not only him, but Cori's memory alive.
(Did I mention that Johnny was forced to...? In the interest of time we'll move on...)
If only I could see my true love, Cori, now, he wished.
The sun was rising and Cori was at the end of Lonely Street,
waiting for the bus... working on new tunes and smiling at... well, everything.
Smile, smile, smile. Cori was back in the sun and truly happy.
* * * *
Johnny kept Sheena and the girls enthralled night after night with stories, until (Did I mention ... Okay.) Johnny had decided that he would make his daring escape.
One evening as they warmed themselves beneath the gentle glow of the 61" wide-screen T.V., their motherly instincts kicked in. Sheena stood among the other girls and told her band, "We must tell Johnny that it is time."
Johnny was in the kitchen cleaning up the dinner plates. It was his birthday and the girls had not given him as much as a tongue jammed down his throat — or even a card. The Queens of the Jungle had never forgotten before. Tears formed in his blue eyes as he scraped his homemade lasagna off of the plates. After twenty years! He felt as though he were being taken for granted. He began to feel ... married? What had happened to his relationships with Sheena, Shannon, Shalondra, Shaneequa, Shalaqua, Shondell, Sushi Q, Shoshanna, Shamalamalamadingdong, Shame —who had no shame and was Johnny's favorite, Sham and Shemp?
Shannon, whose butterfly tattoos were beginning to hang, fade, and look like dead moths, walked into the kitchen, sat him down at the breakfast nook, and said, " Johnny, you have to leave tonight. Your destiny is back in L.A. Oh, and by the way, I wrecked your Mustang on Saturday night when I was fucked up and sexting."
Sheena, who had been listening at the kitchen door added, "You wrecked the Mustang? I'll talk to you later Shannon. Go!” Sheena waited until Shannon was gone. “Johnny, what you really need to do is start singing again.”
“Yes,” added Shame, who shamelessly entered the kitchen wearing only a thin veneer of carmel sauce.
Johnny was shocked. "I just mopped in here, Shame on you Shame! You’re dripping everywhere!Take all of that ... nice ...uh, wow, ...How do you move all of that cool stuff at once? Please take it outside! No, I mean wait..."
Shame turned toward Johnny on her way past the sliding glass door that lead to the hot tub. She quoted Sir Winston Churchill, “It's time to leave the cocoon! Spread your love handles, and fly away, like a brave salmon galloping upstream away from the nest."
“Freedom. That is our birthday gift to you, Johnny," said Shoshanna. That and a special going away party that we’ve arranged.”
Johnny's maid’s outfit was inadequate for the weather. The women hurried him outside. "It's freezing out here!" he said.
"Well, we have a gift that will to help you keep warm" said Shalamalamadingdong.
Sheena handed Johnny a small box. Inside the box there appeared to be a mangy dead cat. Its a god damned toupee?! Always self-conscious, Johnny felt a little insulted.
“That toupee is from Cori. She wants you back in Los Angeles.”
“Cori? She remembers me? Is she still drinking at Biggies?”
“Sure, Johnny. She’s waiting for you. We can only obey her wishes.”
‘Why do you have to obey Cori’s wishes?” asked Johnny.
“Nothing important. Just Goddess stuff. You wouldn’t understand. She must love you, Johnny. It would have to be very important for Cori to leave her barstool and actually stand in line at the Post Office, just to mail you a this silly thing.”
“Cori didn’t stand in line," said Shondell. "It arrived by UPS. They probably picked it up at Biggie’s Bar.”
“Wow! A magic toupee!” said Sushi Q.
“A magic what?” the singer asked.
“The important thing, Johnny, is that she wants you back in L.A. to sing.”said Sheena. “However, we can’t just let you go into the night naked and unprotected.”
“Not before we give you our personal gifts.”said Shaneequa.
It didn’t turn out to be the party that Johnny was expecting. Shalondra, Shaneequa, Shalaqua, Shondell, Sushi Q, Shoshanna, Shamalamalamadingdong, Sham and Shemp started to stack boxes in front of him. The Queens had packed, and were returning his out-of-date clothes and personal effects.
They’e setting me free? Johnny thought.
Wait!” said Sheena. “Didn’t you ladies forget something?”
“We didn’t forget.” said Sham. “It’s time for cake, girls!”
Johnny could blink, he found himself on top of the balloon decorated table, covered in chocolate, whipped cream and Maraschino cherries. “Make a wish Johnny,” Shalaqua whispered in his ear. “It’s time to light your candle.”
For the next three hours, Johnny became a human party favor. Like the tubular noise maker that is called a Party Horn, poor Johnny unrolled, honked, rolled, unrolled, honked, rolled, unrolled and honked again. The honks were heard throughout Vegas from the top of the Mirage. Thank you, God, I can die now! he thought. It was a royal send-off.
At the end of the event, the tearful women gifted Johnny their favorite lingerie. Some threw their panties into a box with his shredded French Maid's outfit and stacked among the other boxes already in the van. At 3 a.m., the Queens led Johnny to the Jungle bus and solemnly drove him into the heart of downtown Vegas.
“Wake up, Johnny. We’re here.”
There was guilt, all around, about Shannon crashing Johnny's Mustang. Before the frightened male was set loose into the Vegas night, they had given him an envelope with $45,000 for bus money. Sheena told the startled singer that "the droopy, tattooed Shannon would be sacrificed at 4 a.m. to a giant horny toad, named Dwayne the Lizard."
Sheena would not allow the others to explain this comment any further.
So that was Johnny's daring escape.
* * * *
From that day on Johnny could cook and clean better than Martha Stewart. He was also returning to L.A. triumphantly (?) balding, paunchy, and nearly unrecognizable.
Howard Hughes, the Queens of the Jungle's primary sex-slave, and neighbor, from the next penthouse over, had recently passed away, (Mr. Hughes death was reported in 1976, but he lived a very, according to the Queens, productive life until his "death by chocolate bliss" in 1991.) Yes, it was time for Sheena and her group to "move on with their lives." By employing Howie's leftover cash, his room full of golden treasure, and his house-sized freezer full of Baskin Robbins Banana Ripple ice cream, the Queens were free to do anything. The Queens agreed to let Sheena donate their entire fortune to the Terpsichorian (Cori’s Temple) Church of Westchester, California.
One Sunday morning after Sheena and the girls had sung their hearts out in a Las Vegas church, their bus crashed through a canyon railing. A rescue team found the bus weeks later surrounded by buzzards. The vehicle was charred, and split in half at the bottom of San Tomasos ravine. No bodies were recovered. Damned vultures.
(Did I mention that Johnny was forced to have uh... except for old Howie, that is.)
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