Johnny Angel

I mentioned in last week’s post that for a short time in my young adult years I sold cars for a living (see Dog People). Well, “sold” and “a living” are relative terms. It didn’t work out, although the dealership kept me on, because I could speak to the one or two French tourists who wandered onto the lot every once in a while. Les toilettes sont là-bas.

Several readers have asked about that and the unpublished novel that came out of it, Johnny Angel. The novel is about the exploits of a car salesman of the same name who seeks revenge on the people who double-crossed him at the Oldsmobile dealership where he worked (see High and Tight, Low and Slow). The fact that it was set in an Oldsmobile dealership should tell you how old the novel is. Still, it deals with all the machinations and cut-throat drama you would expect at a dealership in any period in modern times. But I wrote it as a comedy. Think Glengarry Glen Ross meets As Good as It Gets and Elf. Something like that.

Johnny Angel is a fast-talking, good-looking, quick-thinking seducer of all things except himself (he has little to no self-knowledge) and Xenia Rosalita Mediaseda Verde, a “sultry Desdemona” with green eyes from the Caribbean who resists his advances with implacable defiance and occasional feline glee. In the end they get together but only after the dealership that Johnny has committed his life to collapses around them–literally.

Below is an excerpt where Johnny describes preparing dinner for Xenia, who has agreed to a date. You’ll find him a bit obsessed, but that’s what made him a successful car salesman in the first place. I hope this satisfies interest in the novel, excerpts of which I may turn into Johnny Angel Blog Pods, which sounds like something you’d use to fix a toilet. Finally, if the Linda Robb Agency of Los Angeles or its successor is still interested in representing the novel, I’m all ears, as Ross Perot once said. Imagine my thumb and pinky waving, “Call me!”

From my wardrobe I select something for the well-groomed man (l’homme soigné) : an Italian, single-breasted, nailhead patterned, woolen suit; a spread-collared (no pun), lavender, cotton-royale shirt; a patterned, silk tie; and, for that dash of panache, a pair of Brutini, snakeskin shoes. And let’s not forget the Ghiardelli chocolates to make the wooing a little more gooing, if you know what I mean. Then I carefully arrange Anthuriums, the penis flower, as a centerpiece. Everything’s subliminal, you know.

“After all this it’s still only seven o’clock, close but no Habana, so I put the finishing touches on my culinary feast. I’ve already spent hours baking, basting, and roasting, as well as sipping dry sherry and snorting a line or two, maybe three, of coke. As I pour the remains of yet another bottle of champagne into the extremely snobby, haute-cuisine sauces, which are burping and gurgling on the stove, it occurs to me that despite the depressants I haven’t mellowed one bit. Not a whit. I’m jittery, for chrissakes, as weak-kneed as a teenager.

“I check the table for the ninety-second time: the arrangement of plates, soup bowls, glasses, coffee cups, napkins, breadsticks, flowers, candles, chairs, and our respective backdrops (the kitchen for her, so I can monitor the sassy sauces, and a four-color, pornographic lithograph by Rowlandson for me, for obvious reasons). Then some bossa nova music to set the mood, and this Angel is about to fly over these prison walls, as the song goes. The only thing missing, at this point, is the Hoffman girl, the one who not only drinks through the straw, but who snorts through it, too. Where, oh where, has my little demimondaine gone? Oh where, oh where, can she be? With her nails cut short, and her braids cut long, oh where, oh where can she be?

“In a display of manly manliness, I hold my palm over a candle flame for about three milliseconds and then bounce around the room several times with my imaginary Hoffman girl. When I’m about ready to throw up from anxiety, the doorbell rings. Cleopatra has arrived on her barge! Almost immediately she rings the bell again and bursts into my apartment; patience, of course, being a virginal trait.”

“Johnny Angel,” by Lyn Duddy and Lee Pockriss (1962 Colpix). Performed by Shelley Fabares.

Image credits: feature by Dieter Blom. Order your copy of The Gringo (2011), Laura Fedora (2014), and Nine Lives (2016) here or go to Robert Brancatelli. The Brancatelli Blog is a member of The Free Media Alliance, which promotes “alternatives to software, culture, and hardware monopolies.”

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