Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, and Jimi Hendrix are back, twenty-five years after being ghosted by the CIA when a Soviet deep-cover agent outed the network of world-touring artists couriering sensitive agency documents.
Jimi Hendrix is invisible. He was “recruited” for a top-secret Pentagon project after early results suggested marijuana users made the best test subjects. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs uses Jimi’s command performance at the White House to convince the gullible president America needs Rastafarians to stay ahead of the Russians in the invisibility race and gets the green-light for a mission to annex Jamaica as the fifty-first state.
Jim Morrison’s living quietly in northern Virginia. An Apache shaman appears in a dream and summons him to Las Vegas. Unable to fall back asleep, he’s downstairs making hot chocolate when he gets an unexpected visit from Elvis Presley. Spurred by the dream and cryptic messages from Elvis’s mysterious chatroom friend, they drive to Washington, collect Jimi, and set off on a cross-country road trip to Sin City.
When the chairman realizes the invisibility program’s only completely successful test subject has “disappeared,” he sends SEAL Team 13, a special-ops unit that’s the modern military equivalent of Viking berserkers, to bring Hendrix back at any cost.
With the help of a steel-drum band, a senior citizen RV club, and a militia of dwarf Elvis impersonators, Morrison, Presley, and Hendrix have to find a way to monkey-wrench the plan and save the world.
“Loved this book so much, I read it two times – once for tomorrow and once just for today.”Jim MorrisonLa Camaraderie des Amoureux
“Are you lonesome tonight? Grab your blue suede shoes and take Mr Mojo Risin out for a night on the town.”Elvis PresleyGraceland
“Move over rover, and let Scott T. take over. A wickedly funny, full-throttle ride.”Jimi HendrixElectric Ladyland
“When I read the book backwards, I realized I’m a dead walrus upholstering an ancient Citroën. Goo goo g’joob.”Paul McCartneyLiverpool
“Yo, Cuz! Your book’s more fun than Magic Mike XXXL.”Channing TatumHollywood
“Turns out, reports of Jim Morrison’s death were exaggerated.”Mark TwainHannibal, MO
“A hilarious book from a devout Bokononist in my granfalloon.”Kurt VonnegutIndianapolis
“Just because something didn’t happen, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”Tom RobbinsLa Conner
“McDannold’s presidential legacy is a lack of substance abuse.”Carl HiaasenMiami
“Two enthusiastic thumbs up. Can’t wait to download the movie on my iPad.”Roger EbertChicago
“A virtual how-to book for the deep-state conspiracy.”Donald J. TrumpMar-a-Lago
Paris, July, 1971
The agent he hadn’t met jerked his chin toward the club. “A couple of Russians are looking for you inside, and two more staked out your place on Rue Beautreillis.”
Not grasping the seriousness of the situation, Morrison was wondering how to get into his apartment to pack, when two figures appeared on the opposite end of the alley. Backlit by a streetlamp, he couldn’t see their faces clearly. They hesitated, apparently recognizing him. Before they could react, one of the Americans fired first, hitting the stockier Russian twice in the chest. He lurched forward, stumbling headfirst into a stack of produce crates.
“We’re outta here now!” the taller spook shouted, and they ran down the alley to the street. As they turned the corner onto Rue Mazarine, he stopped and, using the night club’s wall for cover, pinned the surviving Russian down long enough for Morrison and the other agent to scramble into a dark sedan. When his partner revved the engine, he sprinted after them and dove headfirst through the open window into the back seat.
“Go! Go! Go!” he shouted. Tires squealing, they roared off along the Seine toward the Pont des Invalides. They were almost to Quai Voltaire when gunfire erupted from a chase car.
“Get down!” the driver screamed.
The agent behind him leaned out the window and fired back. Morrison stole a peek in the side view mirror as he slid down in his seat. He glimpsed muzzle flashes and a black Peugeot closing fast. A heartbeat later, the mirror exploded.
During the primaries, the eventual Republican nominee, South Carolina Senator Wallace Hartley, promised his administration would fight for the rights of all real Americans and ship any sodomite, wetback, or shanty Irishman to their ancestral homeland if they so much as jaywalked. But he saved his most passionate vitriol for those whose family trees traced their roots to the “Dark Continent.”
At the national convention, Hartley declared it was “high time America elected a president willing to call a spade a spade” and suggested, “seeing how those people like to whine about how their forefathers were brought here against their will, they shouldn’t mind being shipped back the same way.”
For his running mate, he chose Mississippi Senator and cable televangelist Garland Thibodeaux. Their platform included making the Bible the primary public-school textbook, bombing America’s enemies both foreign and domestic back to the Stone Age, and repealing the amendments that abolished slavery and granted women the right to vote. Hartley also threw his unbridled support behind Thibodeaux’s efforts to add former Vice President Spiro Agnew to Mount Rushmore.
Hartley proposed building a hundred-foot-high wall from Peace Arch State Park in Blaine, Washington to the West Quoddy Head lighthouse in Lubec, Maine to halt the flow of cheap prescription drugs from Canada. He threatened to station National Guardsmen shoulder-to-shoulder at the border with orders to “shoot first and ask questions never.”
During a campaign speech in Climax, Minnesota, Hartley vowed to create a special task force to prosecute bootleg Viagra smugglers. “It’s the patriotic duty of every American,” he declared, “to pay full price for erections lasting four hours or more.”
Hartley characterized Canadians, scathingly referred to as “Canuckleheads” during his campaign, as a mongrelized race of “Dudley Do-Nothings,” promised an executive order requiring all Canadian bacon sold in the U.S. be labeled “Liberty Bacon,” and suggested the Democratic nominee, whose father played club hockey in Boston, was born in Toronto.
The campaign’s anti-Canadian rhetoric was inflamed when an alleged plot to kidnap the Baldwin brothers by a Shania Twain-led terror cell was widely reported in pro-Hartley media outlets.
With his hawkish nose, sunken eyes, and long, asymmetrical face, the Republican candidate looked like a short, clean-shaven Abraham Lincoln. He wore lifts on the campaign trail and stood on his tiptoes for photographs. Negotiations for a televised debate broke down when the two sides couldn’t agree on the height of the soapbox the diminutive Hartley could stand on.
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. While there was the possibility, however remote, the dimwitted President and his chief of staff would succeed and add a formidable new weapon to the US arsenal, it was much more likely they would bumble into disaster and create an opening for McCullough in the next election. Savoring the heady prospect of being the only unanimously elected president since George Washington, McCullough strutted to the bar, poured three cognacs, and handed McDannold and Verduci each a glass.
Verduci tossed his down like a tequila shot. His face contorted like he’d swallowed napalm. He coughed violently into his fist and curled up over his knees. McCullough clapped him firmly between the shoulder blades.
The President stared fretfully at his drink. What he really wanted was more Cherry Garcia. “Jamaicans. Aren’t they the guys with the brightly-colored knit caps?” he asked, tugging on the general’s sleeve.
“Yes, Mr. President.”
“Maybe we could make the hats part of their uniforms.”
“Right.” Verduci’s face was pinched and red from coughing. “We could call them the Rainbow Berets.”
McCullough bit his lip. “Let’s not get caught up designing uniforms for guys you can’t see.”
“Oh, right.” Verduci stared self-consciously at his shoes.
McCullough poured himself another cognac, sniffing it thoughtfully before raising his glass in a toast. “Here’s to a well-trained, well-equipped, well-disciplined, elite fighting force for truth, justice, and the American way.”
Nobody noticed McCullough neglected to mention “well-medicated” and influenced by 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 trudged down the hallway, too tired to overthink Digby’s invitation to make himself at home. The kitchen was tidy with tiled counters and white cupboards. Hand-washed dishes were arranged in a rack by the sink. He could hear Digby, Elvis, and Jimi talking in the living room like there was nothing unusual about a sixty-year-old Elvis impersonator in a cleric’s collar chatting with the real Elvis and an invisible man.
Morrison foraged through the foil-wrapped leftovers in the fridge before deciding he wasn’t that hungry. He poured himself a glass of orange juice and settled into a chair at the kitchen table. After playing dad in their impromptu family for three, long days, he was glad to have a moment to himself.
As he sipped his juice, Morrison wondered how Elvis and Jimi came to be his responsibility. Part of it was driving. Sitting behind the wheel assumed a particular place in the pecking order. Part of it was his 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 stepped back, Larry, Moe, and Curly “volunteered.”
That’s what happened to me, he realized. I forgot to step back.
Morrison felt like he’d been caught in a misguided practical joke. The limo rolled to a dead stop in front of the Chapel d’Love. He knew, without checking, the Chapel’s phone number was the one Cosmo had given Elvis. And then there was the Special Delivery letter. The hard part was not the weirdness of it all but feeling like he was the only one not in on the gag. Morrison smiled softly, realizing he was enjoying whatever this was.