JOHNNY'S LOS ANGELES ADVENTURE

John "Bridge" Martin

Chapter 1 of 7 — "All Aboard!"

"Why wait in long line, Jane?" Johnny asked.

"If you want to go to Los Angeles to rescue Boyd, we have to," said Jane. "Airport security needs to check everyone out to make sure they aren't carrying a bottle of shampoo, a knife, a bomb, a —"

"Boyd not yet get role of Bomba," interrupted Johnny. "But Johnny always have knife."

"Oh no, Johnny," said Jane. "Didn't you pack it in your suitcase like I said?"

"Johnny always need knife handy," said Johnny.

It was their turn in line and the security agent, Monte Svante, looked the ape-man over and said, "Sir, please empty your pockets into this plastic tray." Johnny didn't like letting go of his knife, even for the brief time it would take for him to go through the scanner, but he complied.

"Say," said Svante, admiring the knife. "That's some knife you got there. But I'm afraid we're going to have to confiscate it." The agent was silently wondering what kind of a price it would bring on ebay.

"What confiscate mean?" asked Johnny.

"Oh John," said Jane. "It means they're taking it away and never giving it back to you!"

Johnny's eyes narrowed and his forehead scar from his youthful battle with Bologna the gorilla began reddening.

"That knife of my long-dead sire," Johnny rasped through his clenched teeth. "No one take Johnny's knife. Johnny make war."

Svante began to break out in sweat and he felt severe pain in his left arm, symptoms, he knew, of an impending fatal heart attack.

"Okay, okay," he told the ape-man. "Keep the knife. Just let go of my arm."

Johnny released his grip, grabbed his knife and shoved it back into its sheath, and crammed the other items from the plastic tray back into the pockets of the suit that Jane had made him buy just for this trip.

 

* * * * *

As he buckled his seat belt, Johnny noticed two stewardesses whispering and pointing toward him. They were either talking about how handsome he was, or they knew about the knife and were planning to steal it. Johnny wondered if they would try that while he was taking a nap. Fortunately, they couldn't drug him, as he had brought his own food onto the plane. The thought reminded him that he was hungry so, as the mighty passenger plane lifted off, he opened the Tupperware container Jane had packed for him. The stench of the raw, properly aged strips of the dead deer wafted into the plane's air circulation system and other passengers began looking at him and frowning.

Jane was busy sticking globs of Vick's Vaporub in her nostrils to kill the odor. Jane always came prepared. She also had a cannister of breath spray in case Johnny wanted to give her a smooch later on.

 

* * * * *

Meanwhile, back at the airport, Svante was on the hotseat. "You let him on the plane with a knife?" his supervisor roared.

"What could I do?" the security officer said. "The rest of the crew was at lunch and I was all alone. I thought the guy was going to kill me."

"So instead you let him on the plane where he can kill everybody," said the supervisor.

"Hey," said the agent. "As long as it's not me."

"Well, we're going to have to call the Sky Marshal on that flight and let him know what's going on."

CHAPTER 2 OF 7 — THE INCIDENT ON THE AIRLINER

Aboard the plane, Mac Svenson, U.S. Sky Marshal, was relaxing with a copy of Air Travel magazine. He kept shifting in his seat, trying to find a comfortable position, as he had several sore spots from all the sitting he had to do in airliner seats in his job of constantly riding in airplanes. It was seldom that exciting things happened once the skyjackers had realized sky marshals would be aboard planes.

His shoe phone rang so he slid it off his foot and held it to his head and listened, nodding and glancing around the plane until his eyes rested on the large, dark-haired man in the brown suit.

"Gotcha Chief," he said finally. He snapped the phone shut and fondled the tranquilizer dart gun in his armpit holster.

There was an empty seat two rows behind Johnny and across the aisle. Svenson moved casually up and took that seat.

Johnny was not fooled. He knew the official-looking man had moved from the rear of the plane up to the vacant seat because he could smell the man's putrid body odor, brought about by him not having time to change clothes and shower between flights. Very deliberately, the ape-man turned and looked directly into the eyes of Svenson. The Sky Marshal was a veteran law enforcement officer and had been in many precarious situations, but something in Johnny's stare suddenly caused a cold chill to creep up his spine and he started experiencing shortness of breath. He lifted his magazine just to create a barrier and soon he sensed that his target had turned back around in his seat.

Svenson didn't want to alarm his fellow seatmates, one of whom was a little old lady with two sharp-looking knitting needles and the other a pretty young blonde. He wondered how the old lady had gotten the knitting needles on board but he could deal with her later if necessary. Holding his magazine to block the view of the rest of the passengers, he slid his Sky Marshal badge out of his pocket and made a shushing motion with his right forefinger toward the two females by his side and then opened his hand to reveal his badge. He smiled reassuringly and extracted his dart gun and aimed it at Johnny's exposed neck and pulled the trigger.

Quick as Ara the Lightning were the reflexes of Johnny the Ape Man. Even though the sound was barely audible, the quiet click of the trigger and the "flut" of the dart as it left the barrel, while unnoticed by other passengers, was the first alert to Johnny. Then, the forward progress of the flying dart pushed air ahead of it, and it was this slightest of breezes that confirmed to Johnny that something was headed his way. As the dart's tip made contact with Johnny's skin, but before it could actually penetrate the outer layer of epidermis, it was in Johnny's hand and being swept to the side.

Johnny turned and looked at Svenson and the man lost the will to live. The ape-man stood up and took two steps and was standing next to the quivering mass of jelly that had once been an international agent. Johnny opened his palm and offered the dart to the man.

"Here," he said. "Johnny think you lose this. Johnny also think you know what to do with dart." Johnny's meaning was clear. Svenson could barely move, but he managed to take the dart, turn it toward himself, and stick it into his arm. Seconds later he was sleeping peacefully.

Johnny winked at the blonde and then smiled at the little old lady. "Woman have nice pig stickers," he said.

"Thank you," she smiled. "But don't you mean horta hookers?"

"Ah, woman know language of great apes," grinned Johnny.

"Rak," she replied.

Johnny gave her a high five. "Ben," he smiled, then returned to his seat.

Jane turned to Johnny as he sat back down. "What was that all about, Johnny?" she asked.

"Johnny take care of problem," the ape-man said. "Jane not worry."

"Oh, I never worry when I'm around you, Johnny," she said. "Except for the times you get hit on the head and have amnesia, or get captured in native traps, or get suckered in by white hunters with high-sounding words that hide the evil in their hearts."

"Jane know Johnny well," he said.

Then, having — for the time being — solved the problems associated with in-flight air travel — Johnny allowed himself to drift into the arms of Morpheus.

CHAPTER 3 OF 7 - A NIGHT AT THE CIRCUS

The ape man was awakened by the creaks of the lowering landing gear. He stretched like a great jungle cat and then took a quick look back at Svenson. He was snoring loudly but peacefully. The little old lady had positioned his hands about 10 inches apart to use them for holding her skein of yarn, but now she gathered up the material and stuffed everything into her handbag for departure from the plane.

The blonde was staring at Johnny with a yearning expression. The ape man held up his left hand with the wedding ring and pointed to it with his right forefinger. A tear crawled down the face of the blonde and she dabbed at it with her pink, flowered hanky.

Despite their urgency to find Boyd, since he had been kidnapped by circus people, Johnny and Jane politely waited until others had debarked and they then made for the exit. They stood at the top of the stairs that had been rolled up to the airplane and Johnny got his first view of Los Angeles since he had traveled to Hollywood, as recorded at the end of the historical account, "Johnny and the Lyin' Man." He had also been to New York once before to rescue Boyd, as depicted in the movie, "Johnny's Manhattan Adventure."

Johnny stood at the top of the stairs and sniffed the air. At once he identified the faint but unmistakable scent of Boyd.

"Boyd that way," Johnny said, pointing to the West. "We go, Jane."

As they headed down the stairway, a scream came from inside the plane. "Stewardess find sleeping sky marshal," Johnny said.

After several hours of riding in cabs and transit buses, Johnny and Jane spied a large field with tents and vehicles and a sign that proclaimed "Big Top."

But Johnny knew that long before they were within eyesight range. He had told Jane, "Nose smells popcorn, lion urine and..." he stopped.

"Johnny," said Jane, "What's the matter?"

"Maybe trouble," said the jungle lord. "Johnny not smell Tantor."

"Oh, Johnny," said Jane. "Don't you remember? Ringling Brothers was planning to get rid of all of its elephants. They must have gone ahead and done it."

"That not good," said Johnny. "Tantor come in very useful last time."

"Well, maybe it won't come to that this time," sighed Jane, secretly wishing that it would not. The elephant-car chase through New York was plenty for her.

Nearby, special agent Mick Svinth picked up his radio and called into headquarters. "They're going to the circus, of all places," he radioed. "Any news on Svenson yet?"

"They're still trying to revive him," came the voice of the chief. "Apparently the idiot stuck himself with his own tranquilizer dart."

"Or someone did it for him," snarled Svinth. "Their taxi's dropping them off. I'll find a parking place and follow them in."

Svinth parked his government-issued pickup truck pointing outward, so he could leave quickly if need be. Johnny, his target, and Jane were at the entrance. As he approached, he saw Johnny stuffing some money back into his leopard-hide wallet and Jane holding the two tickets. They stopped as Jane bought some cotton candy.

Inside, Johnny and Jane found seats in the front row and Svinth quietly seated himself a few rows back. Just as fear has its own unique smell, so does suspicion. Johnny immediately realized that there was someone exuding an aroma of such hostility and his senses accurately determined just how far back the spy was sitting.

And at that moment, Jane realized she had gotten cotton candy stuck in her hair.

CHAPTER 4 OF 7 — BUNDOLO THE KILLER

Jungle-bred Johnny at once recognized the strategic possibilities the cotton candy situation presented. It gave him an excuse to turn his head sideways without arousing suspicion, ostensibly to help Jane by plucking tufts of the pink cobwebbing from her silken locks, but really to size up the enemy with his peripheral vision.

Calliope music started and a parade of performers came from a side entrance and circled the arena. Johnny was sad to see there were no elephants, although there were two clowns who were wearing an ungainly and cartoonish elephant costume. Johnny's eyes narrowed. This was an insult of the first order to his friend, Tantor. But that was a battle he could wait to fight another day.

Johnny and Jane both spotted Boyd at the same time. He was riding a mighty lion and the pretty girls in skimpy outfits came before and after him, some holding a large, decorated banner that read: "Bundolo the Killer."

"Bundolo?" whispered Johnny to Jane. "Where he get that name?"

"Johnny," Jane admonished. "He earned it...by killing bad people and mean animals. Just because you still call him 'Boyd' doesn't mean he isn't entitled to his jungle moniker."

Johnny grimaced but said nothing more. Even to himself he had to admit that he was quite impressed with Boyd's act, as the young man performed like no other trapeze artists or aerial acrobats, doing flips and swings that had the audience covering their eyes for fear he would fall and be impaled on the pointed bars of the lion-taming ring.

As Boyd's act ended, Johnny arose and moved around the edge of the arena like a jungle cat until he came to the opening which led to the circus dressing room wagons. He began following the effluvia of Boy's vapor trail.. Then, a big burly guard stepped in front of him and blocked his way.

"Where da ya think you're goin' Buster," the crabby man challenged.

Johnny didn't even reply. He quickly doffed his jacket, took two quick steps forward and a backhand sent the man sprawling. From out of nowhere, three tiny bluebirds appeared and began tweeting as they flew in a circle around the man's head as he himself sat with a silly expression on his face.

Johnny turned and continued following Boyd's spoor among the circus wagons. At last he found the one that could belong to none other than the Son of Johnny.

Jane had followed him, carefully scrutinizing the area to make sure no one was about. Johnny knocked on the door of the wagon and heard a voice inside saying, "Who's there?"

"Me Johnny, your father," said the ape-man.

"Dad?" said Bundolo. The door opened. "What are you doing here?"

"Johnny come to rescue Boyd," said Johnny. "Come! We go."

"Rescue?" said Boyd. "I don't need rescuing. I took this job voluntarily."

"Boyd joke," said the ape-man. "But Johnny not laughing. What you mean, job?"

"I mean a salaried job," said Boyd. "I get paid for doing what I did in the jungle for free. I don't know how many white hunters I rescued from Numa in the jungle. It's about time I got paid for what I'm doing."

"Why Boyd not say he need money," asked Johnny. "Johnny have gold from lost city."

"Dad, it's not that. It's just that I want to make my own way in the world, just like I made my own way in the jungle when I ran away from our home in London."

"Johnny now understand..." said the ape-man. "Johnny young himself once and..."

"Hold it right there!" came a voice behind them. "Hands up. Don't move."

Johnny had been so preoccupied talking to Boyd that he had let his guard down. Mick Svinth had come up behind him and had his gun planted in Johnny's ribs.

CHAPTER 5 OF 7: JOHNNY LAWYERS UP

Johnny was a bit deflated by the refusal of his son, now known as Bundolo, to return to the jungle. Although he could easily have handled Mick Svinth and his peashooter, just by turning quickly with a sweeping hand, he decided to just go along with the law for the time being whle he sorted things out. So, he had no problem raising his hands and surrendering. There was no reason why he should be arrested, but that could all be straightened out later in a court of law. Johnny could see that Jane had arrived with her smart phone out and was videoing the whole scenario, so it would be evident that he had done nothing to warrant Svinth's actions.

A couple of uniformed officers arrived and Johnny allowed himself to be handcuffed. The ape-man smiled grimly. He knew he could easily break the cuffs but it pleased him for now to simply go along through the booking process. He was curious about what all it involved and this was a good way to find out. You never could tell if this experience would be of value in a future adventure. He saw Jane talking with someone on her phone and knew that she was already in touch with an attorney who would arrive at the jail shortly with bail.

But down at the station there was disconcerting news. Johnny learned he had been arrested on suspicion of murder. Svenson, the sky marshal, had died. Foul play was suspected, and evidence pointed to Johnny, who had been seen approaching the officer and extending his hand toward the man with a sharp object in it. Svenson had become unresponsive just moments later, witnesses had said.

Ultimately, Johnny was not concerned. He knew that there were a lot of run-of-the-mill convicts who had broken out of even such places as maximum security prisons, and if they could do it, so he could he.

Johnny did not fear execution, either. He had escaped from jungle death rows many times. Besides, this was California.

The detectives tried to interview Johnny but he knew his rights. Besides, being taciturn was the normal state of affairs for the Ape Man. He simply said, "Johnny want lawyer."

A tall, dark-haired man came into the interview room and put down his briefcase.

Johnny's eyes narrowed. "You look like Vargo. Bad man in jungle," he said.

"My name is Mason, Mr. Clayton," said the lawyer. "Perry Mason. I specialize in defending people who have been wrongly accused."

"How lawyer know I wrongly accused?" said Johnny.

"It really doesn't matter," said Mason, lighting a cigarette. "By the time I get through with my courtroom theatrics, everyone believes that my client is innocent and someone else is motivated to take the blame."

CHAPTER 6 OF 7: PERRY MASON PERFORMS

On Sept. 1, the trial was held in Department 231, Superior Court of the State of California, in and for the County of Los Angeles. Johnny noted that the little old lady from the airplane was sitting in the courtroom, continuing her knitting.

Mason was obviously well worth the high fee he was charging. He made the district attorney, Hamilton Beach, appear to be a mixed-up old fool. All of the witnesses quickly retracted their stories as Mason tripped them up and made them feel as if they didn't even know why they had been called to testify.

Then Mason pulled an ace out of his hat. It was the ace of hearts from a plain deck of playing cards.

"This is the image of a heart," Mason said. "I would like it entered into evidence."

Hamilton Beach jumped up and said, "Let me see that." He examined the card and then turned to the bench. "Your honor, this is incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial. It has nothing to do with the crime. This is just another example of the defense trying to manipulate this court and make a mockery of justice. I object!"

"Your honor," said Mason calmly, "I intend to show the relevance of this card."

"Very well," said the judge, Mike Svornssen. "Objection overruled."

Beach sat back down, fuming.

Mason cleared his throat and addressed the court. "The reason we need a picture of a heart is to remind everyone what a heart looks like. And Mr. Svenson had one. But there is someone in this courtroom who is heartless. Cold, calculating, a killer. And after Mr. Clayton merely returned Mr. Svenson's lost possession to him, this perpetrator cruelly stabbed him to death in the heart with a long, sharp instrument."

The little old lady stood up and cried out suddenly. "No, no, it wasn't me. I wouldn't do it. And my mother didn't do it, either."

As she spoke, her wig fell off and the courtroom gasped. "Good grief," said the judge. "It's Norman Bates. Bailiff, remove that man."

"Yes," said Mason. "The little old lady was Norman Bates in disguise. But he's not the killer."

"Then who is?" asked Beach.

"It was me." The shapely blonde from the airplane stood up. "When Johnny showed me that he was already married, it broke my heart. Yes, like the ace, I have a heart. And that man who sat in the empty seat, that awful, smelly man. He tried to shoot that good and decent man there with some kind of a dart gun. So when I had a chance, I got him with my hatpin."

"Order! Order!" yelled the judge. "Bailiff, take her into custody."

"No," yelled Johnny. "She was only trying to help. Leave her alone."

"Your honor, he's right," said Mason. "And if that young lady is arrested she will get the best defense lawyer in the world."

"You mean Johnnie Cochran?" asked Beach.

Mason glared at him and folded his arms.

"Flea Bailey?" Beach tried.

"No, and no," said Mason. "Look. Obviously, I'm talking about me. And despite her confession, I will be able to prove her innocence. Get over it and get used to it."

"Your honor," said Beach. "In the interests of saving the taxpayers money, my office will not file charges against that woman. If Mason is going to defend her, there's really no point."

Beach smiled to himself. Why had he not thought of it before? If he refused to prosecute everyone that Mason defended, then that meant the high-priced lawyer could no longer collect his huge fees, and soon he would go out of business. With Mason out of the way, Beach could easily prevail in his prosecutions.

"Case dismissed," said Judge Svornssen.

CHAPTER 7 OF 7: THE BAR SCENE

It was a happy group that gathered at Smokey's Bar after the trial. Even Beach and Lt. Trigger seemed pleased to be in the company of their courtroom adversaries.

"Tell me just one thing, Perry," said Beach, taking a long draw on the cigarette the attorney had offered him. "How did you know it was this pretty blonde here who delivered the fatal jab to Svenson?"

"Whoa," said Perry. "She's still my client, and I'm not going to say anything that incriminates her. Besides, Svenson was a dirty cop."

"Indeed, the human body will accumulate dirt when it isn't washed regularly," said Jane. "And the nature of Svenson's job didn't allow him a lot of bathroom breaks."

Norman Bates said nothing. He had his chair tipped slightly back and he was rocking on it, keeping himself from falling backward only by the presence of a finger, anchored on the underside of the table. He was smiling sinisterly, the wild glare of insanity in his eyes.

Jane was flipping through the pictures and videos in her smart phone, showing them to the blonde, who oohed and aahed at all of the jungle scenes, especially those with Bundolo.

The son of Johnny sat on the other side of the girl, obviously infatuated with her.

"I don't think we've ever found out what your name is," he said to her.

She smiled sweetly and replied. "My name is Jacot, Mademoiselle Maryann Jacot."

As she spoke, a dark, mustachioed man from the next table leaped to his feet. "French!" he enthused. "You spoke French! I love it when women speak French." He grabbed her arm and began kissing her hand, working his way up her forearm and toward her shoulder.

A tall, cadaverous-looking woman, clad in Goth garb, who had been sitting at the table with the fanatic, came over and put her hand on his arm. "Gomez," she said. "It's only when I speak French that you are supposed to get giddy...Monsieur."

Gomez got a grin of goofy delight on his face. "Tish," he leered. "You spoke French!" He followed the woman back to their table.

Bundolo slid his chair closer to Maryann, Tarzan slid his chair closer to Jane. Perry Mason slid his chair closer to his secretary, Della Strep, and Trigger looked at Beach, and then got up and left the bar. Perry motioned to his detective, Paul Gander, who surreptitiously followed Trigger out the door.

Bates continued to try to act normal, muttering to himself that it was obvious everyone could see that he was harmless, that he wouldn't even hurt a fly.

The bartender walked over to the table and asked, "Will anybody be needing anything else?"

"Yes," said Johnny. "Whole story need rewrite. What shortest route to office of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc?"

 

THE END