The story opens in Paris, early July 1971. After lunching with a friend at Le Mazet, Jim Morrison heads to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus for a beer. But he’s barely grabbed a seat at the bar when shooting erupts between his CIA handlers and a KGB kill squad that ends in a harrowing, guns-blazing escape down the Champs-Élysées. It would be two and a half decades before anyone outside a small circle in the CIA knew what happened next.
Morrison, who’s been living a quiet, hermit-like existence in northern Virginia, is awakened by a troubling dream. Too anxious to fall back asleep, he gets an unexpected visit from Elvis Presley. Elvis explains they were part of the Agency’s Rock Star Relocation Program, created after a deep-cover Soviet agent stumbled on the network of world-touring artists used to “mule government secrets.”
Down the road at the White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is using an invisible Jimi Hendrix to demonstrate a new technology for the President. He explains the invisibility protocols are most effective on Rastafarians who listen to reggae, play video games, and chain-smoke marijuana. To bridge the invisibility gap and stay ahead of the Russians and Red Chinese, he goads the gullible President into green-lighting a plan to annex the island nation as the fifty-first state.
Spurred by his dream (a shaman directed Morrison to a quest in Las Vegas) and some equally mysterious instructions from Cosmo, Presley’s globe-trotting cat (all his “appearances” are via chat room), they pack Morrison’s limo and head toward DC. There they collect Jimi who, tired of playing the Pentagon’s guinea pig, strolled past security and down Pennsylvania Avenue. Together the trio of presumed-dead rock icons sets off on a cross-country road trip.
“Outside of a dog, this book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.”Groucho M.New York, NY
“Loved this book so much, I read it two times – once for tomorrow and once just for today.”Jim M. Venice Beach, CA
“Are you lonesome tonight? Grab your blue suede shoes and take Mr Mojo Risin out for a night on the town.”Elvis P.Memphis, TN
“Move over rover, and let Scott T. take over. A wickedly funny, full-throttle ride.”Jimi H.Seattle, WA
“I read this book backwards and realized I’m a dead walrus upholstering an ancient Citroën. Goo goo g’joob.”Paul M.Liverpool, England
“Yo, Cuz! Your book’s more fun than Magic Mike XXXL.”Channing T.Hollywood, CA
“A manically inventive tour-de-force, Mr Mojo Risin puts the whack in wacky humor.”Alphonse “Scarface” C.Chicago, IL
“Of all the 14 karat saps. He started out on a caper with a woman and a dog.”Humphrey B.Casablanca
“This book by any other name still left me doubled-up over my doublet laughing.”William S.Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
“Turns out, the report of Jim Morrison’s death was an exaggeration.”Mark T.Hannibal, MO
“A hilarious book from a devout Bokononist in my granfalloon.”Kurt V.Indianapolis, IN
“The perfect read after a bullfight and a frosty pitcher of mojitos.”Ernest H.Havana, Cuba
“I cannot tell a lie. Mr Mojo Risin is the love child of Carl Hiaasen’s wacky cynicism and the subversive whimsy of Tom Robbins.”George W.Mount Vernon, VA
“This story’s a stoner flashback as revealing as Deep Throat.”Richard Milhous N.Yorba Linda, CA
“Mr Mojo Risin is a how-to book for the deep-state conspiracy.”Donnie “Little Hands” T.Washington, DC
When the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs realizes Jimi, the only completely successful test subject in the Pentagon’s invisibility program, has “disappeared,” he sends SEAL Team 13 – a unit organized to strike terror not with the robotic efficiency of existing special ops units but as the modern military equivalent of Viking berserkers. Their orders: bring back Hendrix at any cost.
Haunted by childhood ghosts during the morning’s drive through New Mexico, Morrison and company roll into Vegas, looking for a place to rest. Belching great, billowy clouds of blue-black smoke, the limo rolls to a dead stop in front of the Chapel d’Love, a kitschy wedding mill off the Vegas Strip. When Morrison knocks on the door, hoping to borrow a phone, he discovers they’re expected. A letter delivered Special D arrived that morning from Cosmo.
In Las Vegas, the hunt for Morrison, Elvis, and Jimi is joined by a veteran FBI agent obsessed with making a career-defining arrest, his bumbling, still-wet-behind-the-ears partner, a ruthless Mafia hitman haunted by a terrible secret, and a seductive Yakuza assassin in town with a few days to kill.
With help from a Jamaican steel-drum band and their mammoth, albino front man, a geriatric RV club, and a militia of mini Elvis impersonators, Morrison, Elvis and Jimi have to find a way to monkey wrench the Pentagon’s plan and save Jamaica.
Paris, July, 1971
The spook Morrison hadn’t met jerked his chin toward the club. “Two Russians are looking for you inside,” he said. “And two more staked out your place on Rue Beautreillis.”
As Morrison wondered how he was going to get into his apartment to pack, two figures appeared at the opposite end of the alley. Backlit by a streetlight, he couldn’t see their faces clearly. They hesitated, apparently recognizing him.
Then all hell broke loose. Both agents drew their weapons and fired, hitting the stockier Russian in the chest. He lurched forward, stumbling headfirst into a stack of wooden produce crates. “We’re getting out of here!” the taller spook shouted, and they took off down the alley toward Rue Mazarine.
One of the Americans stopped as Morrison and the second agent turned the corner. Using the brick wall for cover, he pinned the surviving Russian down long enough for them to scramble into a dark sedan. He sprinted to the car as soon as they were inside and dove headfirst into the back seat. The door jerked closed as they roared off along the Seine toward the Pont des Invalides. They were barely to Quai Voltaire when Morrison heard more gunfire.
“Get down!” the driver screamed.
The agent behind him leaned out the window and fired back. As he slid down the seat, Morrison stole a peek in the side view mirror. He glimpsed muzzle flashes and a Peugeot closing fast. A heartbeat later, the mirror exploded.
The KGB had taken up the chase in earnest.
Verduci was a puffed-up little man susceptible to flattery and McCullough wanted as much plausible deniability as he could muster. Jamaica was looking more and more like a win-win scenario. There was the possibility, however remote, the dimwitted President and his Chief of Staff would succeed in the mission and add a new weapon to the U.S. arsenal. In all likelihood, they would bumble into disaster, discredit themselves, and create an opening for McCullough in the next presidential election. The General licked his lips, savoring the heady prospect of being the first person elected president unanimously.
McCullough felt like celebrating. He strutted across the room and poured three cognacs, handing one each to the President and Verduci. McDannold eyed his drink suspiciously. What he really wanted was more Macadamia Brittle.
Verduci tossed his brandy down like a tequila shot, his face contorting as if he’d swallowed napalm. Coughing into his fist, he curled up over his knees. McCullough clapped him between the shoulder blades, grinning.
Oblivious to Verduci’s coughing fit, the President tugged McCullough’s sleeve. “Jamaicans. Aren’t they the guys who wear knit caps with the bright colors?”
“Yes, Mr. President.”
“Maybe we could make the caps part of their uniforms.”
“Right,” Verduci chimed in, his face pinched and red from coughing. “We could call them the Rainbow Berets.”
McCullough struggled to hide his exasperation. “Let’s not get caught up designing uniforms for guys you can’t see.”
“Oh, right.” Verduci stared self-consciously at his shoes.
McCullough helped himself to another cognac. He sniffed it thoughtfully before raising his glass in a toast. “Here’s to a well-trained, well-equipped, well-disciplined, elite fighting force in defense of truth, justice, and the American way.”
Nobody noticed McCullough neglected to mention “well-medicated.” And, in his lilting Scottish brogue, it sounded like he said elite fighting “farce.” The irony was lost on the President, who hooted and clapped wildly like a six-year-old with a new toy.
Morrison pointed the car toward a horizon line colored in deeply bruised shades of purple and gray. A light wind out of the east piled brooding thunderheads the texture of old Brillo pads along the edges of the sky. If sunrise in the Blue Ridge Mountains looked like the beginning of the world, this looked pretty close to the end.
Elvis huddled over his keyboard, his face scrunched in concentration, alternately studying the screen and typing furiously. “What are you doing?” Morrison asked.
“Talking to God.” He said it with such a mischievous smile Morrison had to laugh. Elvis explained how the glowing icon, Cosmo’s avatar, was a burning bush. The strange, little figure jitterbugging across the monitor looked more like a ball of green yarn with red and orange hair. Morrison would have wondered more about Elvis’ sanity if the Shiftly experience hadn’t forced him to question his own.
For the next hundred miles, Morrison’s attention flitted back and forth between the drive and Elvis’ laptop. He was not entirely comfortable with computers; even under the most comprehensible circumstances, they made him nervous. If you couldn’t fix something with a hammer, he figured it wasn’t broken. Though he had yet to acquire firsthand experience, he assumed microchips would not respond well to hammering.
Jimi stretched out in the back seat with Jaxx, watching Jeopardy and consuming copious amounts of dope. Morrison might have worried about the mutt developing a debilitating fondness for game shows and secondhand smoke if he wasn’t preoccupied with more pressing concerns. He glanced at the sheet of hotel stationery folded on the dash. Elvis handed it to him as they were leaving the motel. On it he’d scribbled a phone number from Cosmo for when they got to Vegas. Morrison rubbed the stubble on his chin and stared at the highway. Somewhere out there, the Emerald City glittered like a gaudy piece of costume jewelry.
Morrison trudged down the hallway. Behind him, Elvis, Digby and presumably Jimi sat in the living room like there was nothing unusual about a potbellied, sixty-year-old guy in a cleric’s collar, bushy sideburns, and a bad Elvis wig engaged in quiet conversation with the real Elvis and an invisible Jimi Hendrix.
Morrison found his way to the kitchen, too tired to overthink Digby’s invitation to make himself at home. The room was tidy with tiled counters and white cupboards. Dinner dishes had been hand-washed and arranged in a rack by the sink. He yanked open the refrigerator and foraged through several shelves of Tupperware and foil-wrapped leftovers. Morrison eyed each suspiciously before deciding he wasn’t that hungry. Grabbing a carton of orange juice, he checked the expiration. Even though the sell-by date was more than a week away, he sniffed it suspiciously before pouring a glass.
Morrison plunked down on a kitchen chair, resting his elbow on the table and his chin on the heel of his palm. He’d spent the last twenty-five hundred miles playing the dad in their impromptu family and was happy to have a moment to himself. As he sipped the juice, he wondered how Elvis and Jimi came to be his responsibility.
Part of it was driving. Sitting behind the wheel assumed a certain place in the pecking order. Part of it was his own personality, paired with a basic rule he learned in high school physics: nature abhors a vacuum. The rest was like the Three Stooges French Foreign Legion sketch where the Captain asked three volunteers to step forward. When everyone else in the formation stepped back, Larry, Moe, and Curly volunteered. That’s what happened to me, Morrison realized. I forgot to step back.
From the living room, he heard muffled exchanges, punctuated with laughter. Sometimes he could pick out Elvis, Jimi or even Digby, but the voices sounded far away. Morrison took another sip of juice. “I’m a long, long way from home,” he grumbled. “Where’s that pair of ruby slippers when I really need them?”
The limo rolled to a dead stop in front of the Chapel d’Love. Morrison knew, without checking, the Chapel’s phone number was the same one Cosmo gave Elvis. The whole thing had begun to feel less like a series of odd coincidences and more like a misguided, practical joke.
Morrison stared at the nearly empty glass. The hard part was no longer the weirdness of it all but the feeling he was the only one not in on the gag. He replayed the curious turn of events several times without drawing any meaningful conclusions. All he knew for sure was the sum of those events brought him to a wedding chapel in Las Vegas.