© Dan Stone
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This is the way it is.
I’m in mid-air, twenty thousand feet above the ground without a parachute.
I’ve just been thrown out of an airplane and I’m stuck here, waiting.
So, while I’m here I might as well give you the heads-up.
I’m Johnny Rainbow, ex-SAS operative and now special agent for hire. If you haven’t heard of me then you’ve probably heard of my author Dane Lee. He's often on the radio and does a bit of telly from time to time. His books are big news in terms of readers who seem to enjoy the murderous hoops and loops he puts me through no matter how dangerous or painful they may be. For example, in his last book, Rainbow over Europe, he had me kidnapped, tortured by the Mafia and then escape through a secret sewer pipe that fed into the Tiber. He then had me swim onto the villain’s boat, butcher the crew, disarm a bomb and then continue on my way to Brussels to complete my mission.
In real life... obviously not… but as a figment, perfectly possible.
Anyway, as I said, his readers seem to love it even if I don’t. If I was a Bond and pulled some gorgeous chick every time I strapped on my shoulder holster I shouldn’t mind so much but I’m not a Bond, not any more anyway because now, apparently, I’m beginning to fancy men!
Dane seems to have this idea that if he can turn me from straight to part-time gay, he’ll be able to still further broaden my appeal by adding pink to the colors of my rainbow. Thankfully this idea hasn’t, as yet, met with his publishers’ approval.
So for now, at least in this adventure, I think he’s having me test the water by having me praise men’s ‘sculptured abs,’ ‘powerful legs’ and ‘well-rounded buttocks’, no doubt however in preparation for my coming out in his next novel, if his publishers can be persuaded.
It’s all a bit embarrassing really, especially as I’m supposed to be a hard-nosed crime fighter with a trigger happy sense of justice.
Talking of Bond, I met him once? I say met, I mean saw him. He was in some casino sitting at the Black Jack table looking very out of sorts. I think Fleming or whoever his new author is, had simply left him there, mid-sentence, while he’d popped out to some awards do or other. Dane does the same thing to me sometimes, just leaves me in some awkward or dramatic situation while he goes on the piss, like now. Look at me, bruised and beaten and enduring a mid-air death plunge while he’s probably out supping huge quantities of craft ale and cheese and onion crisps with his friends. If he comes back pissed, God forbid, he’ll undoubtedly have me do something unspeakably stupid like employing some ludicrous, top-secret SAS flying technique, until of course he sobers up, regrets it and starts all over again.
He’s a funny fellow, Dane. He’s got no talent, no real talent. I mean he couldn’t write a Dickens or a Hardy or even a Rankin although, oddly enough he is quite good at writing me with my ‘firm jaw’, ‘broken nose’, gimlet eyes,’ ‘sensual mouth’ and ever so sardonic smile.’
Yep, that’s me, a creation of clichés I’m afraid.
However, I’m quite happy to go along with them, they serve the stories well and blend seamlessly into the world in which I live. A world where ‘the sun shines fiercely’ ‘the rain pours’ and the water is always ‘icy cold’.
Yep, that’s my sort of world, not forgetting of course that the sky is blue, the clouds are white and the grass is always green.
He uses those old chestnuts a lot. No doubt he’ll drag them out again as I continue to plummet earthwards. I'm guessing his next sentences will include: 'falling through a blue sky'.... 'sun shining fiercely'... 'the green grass below'. If he mentions clouds, which he probably will, they’re bound to be white and fluffy because that’s the sort of writer he is, lazy, second hand and indiscriminate but to his credit, oh so easy to digest.
By the way, even if he’s not pissed when he returns, I’m sure he’ll still find some highly preposterous occurrence to prevent me from actually meeting the 'green grass below'. If that were to happen of course it would mean the end of the series and the shattering of his pot of gold and I’m sure he wouldn’t want that, especially since the film rights to both Rainbow over Britain and Rainbow over Europe have recently been optioned.
‘Why kill off the golden goose? As he’d no doubt put it.
However, if they do get to make a film I hope to God they get someone else to write the script.
Dane’s gift for writing dialogue isn’t a gift that keeps on giving, sadly. He simply uses it as a tool for exposition or to decorate my actions with a plethora of colorful swear words.
Okay, to be fair, he does sometimes attempt the odd quip but so crude or cumbersome are they that more often than not I’m embarrassed to have to voice them. All very well in a novel I suppose, where much can be forgiven just so long as the action keeps rolling on like a tsunami but on the screen?
It doesn’t really bare thinking about. Anyway who in the hell is going to play me? Who has a jaw line firm enough, muscles that ripple enough or a smile as sardonic? It will be tricky.
If he was a more talented writer he would have chosen a more realistic ways of describing me, making it easier for casting directors but as he just repeats tropes he’s clearly read elsewhere, it tends to leave the field wide open. After all, his description of me doesn’t really conjure up a person, a real person; it’s just a collection of random clichés signifying nothing very much which, I suppose, on second thoughts…
Oh, hold on, he’s back, he’s booting up his kit and I’m on my way….
Right, well, you won’t believe how he’s resolved my predicament. Well, perhaps you will and if you are a reader, you’ll probably love it.
I certainly didn’t I can tell you… bloody painful! Not quite as painful as hitting the 'green grass' below I’ll give you that but careering head-first into a passing hayrick from twenty thousand feet is no joke either. If there is a joke of course it’s the fact that a hayrick was there in the first place and incredibly being towed beneath me on a trailer by two horses at precisely the moment my ‘braced and bronzed body’ should have been hitting ground zero.
How often does that happen? Only in Johnny Rainbow books I’m afraid and only in the mind of Dane Lee.
I was relieved of course at not having died but before I had much time to fully appreciate it and without any recourse to my actual welfare I was on the move again. I know I’m a rough, tough, laugh in the face of danger kind of guy but even I get bruised and need time to recover but not in this novel apparently because, before I know it, I’m off, sprinting across some field to a farmhouse in order to use their phone to summon help; my mobile having just been seized by those bastards in the plane. However, as shaken and as bruised as I am, I still have enough about me to describe the good looking young farmer in great physical detail. ‘Taught stomach’ ‘firm legs’ ‘buttocks like plumbs and ‘quaffed hair to die for’ and what’s more he’s just come out of the shower wearing nothing but a towel when he’s answered the door.
This is where I hope Dane’s publisher’s step in, it’s so embarrassing.
He’s now making me sound like some gay plumber in a porno movie which would be fine if I was a gay plumber and this was a porno movie but it’s not. It’s supposed to be a hard arsed, pedal to the metal thriller with a hard-arsed pedal to the metal hero… namely me and I’ve never hinted at having an interest in men unless of course I’m punching them into the middle of next week. However, I suppose it’s up to you...his readers. If you’d like me to be a gay or even part-time gay I’m sure Dean and his publishers will oblige if it means a further increase in sales
Until then however, I’d prefer to remain straight, if it’s all the same to you.
Anyway, once I’d made the phone call, 'winking at the farmer' as I did so (for fuck sake!) I was off again to rendezvous with the military at a secret airbase, where it’s been decided that we re-take the airplane by dint of a line being attached to its fuselage.
Then one of us, guess who, will be charged with making the dangerous crossing? Madness of course and not very original by the standards of Hollywood movies these days but no doubt it will give Dane plenty of scope to indulge in his well-worn phrases, clichés and third-hand descriptions of imminent dangers, so he’ll be happy but I’m certainly not.
I’m not a young bloke anymore. I’m a seasoned agent with a body that’s already been put through the ringer on too many occasions and now he's expecting me to hand-crawl a wire, plane to plane, with an M.16 strapped to my back in order to wipe out a cartel of drug dealers who have already thrown me twenty thousand feet onto a travelling hayrick.
I’m dearly hoping Dane might be pissed and will rethink this strategy in the morning. He’s gone to bed now or he’s gone somewhere, leaving me, leg cocked, about to climb aboard an army jeep with a ‘nubile young corporal’ and ‘several of the hunky military hierarchy’ - sometimes it’s just embarrassing being a fictional character I can tell you.
At least in Rainbow over Europe I had my pick of beautiful women to describe and sometimes to bed but so far, as this absurd adventure continues, it would seem much of my attention is to be taken by the physical attributes of men.
It’s confusing I can tell you and certainly not like the old days when women were merely 'birds' and flattered by my cheeky wink or pat on the arse. Now it seems, (if you go back to the beginning of this adventure) he has me almost running scared of women and certainly not touching them ‘inappropriately’ as he puts it. I’m guessing, judging from the trail of clues so far that my enemy in this story might even turn out to be a woman which probably means, with my new code of ethics, that I won’t be able to kill her at least not brutally anyway. I don’t know of course because I am at the whim of Dane’s keyboard; it’s just what I suspect...not wanting to ruin the story for you.
Anyway we’ll soon find out because he’s back again, thank goodness and I can properly seat myself in the jeep but not before, apparently, 'touching the corporal’s knee' as I do so…really? Oh, for fuck sake!
Okay, so this is no fun. He wasn’t pissed last night and my attempt to storm the plane failed. The door blew off and hit me smack bang in the face …ouch! It nearly killed me but I managed to somehow hang onto the wire and continue to haul my way across to the empty hatch opposite where I was grabbed by the same ‘outrageously muscled fellows’ who had thrown me out in the first place.
This time however, with the jet I’d flown in crawling all over their flight path they used me as a bargaining tool, tying me up and exhibiting me in the doorway indicating my fate, should it not disappear immediately. I have to say I was mightily relieved when it complied and Dane hadn’t risked another death dive. I mean how many passing hayricks can you have in one book? It was at this stage that I was worried that he might have me tortured again or worse still, sexually molested.
You know what these Mexican drug lords are like, at least according to Dane.
But no, I began to bravely struggle and by utilizing all my SAS know-how managed to reacquaint myself with my M.16 and kill everyone on board except for the pilot, the head honcho and his number one henchman, a huge brute with a ‘fabulous body made for killing’ who currently has his ‘sculptured arm’ around my throat, ‘a well-turned knee in my back’ (at least I hope it’s a knee) and a gun pointed at my head, while breathing Tequila into my ear. If I thought waiting to board that Jeep was uncomfortable it was a mere irritation compared to this... and now Dane has buggered off again leaving me to choke beneath the pressure of this fellows monstrous arm. Has he no consideration?
What he’s doing I’ve no idea but I wish he’d bloody well hurry up and do it so I can get this brute off my back, he’s killing me.
I’ve never really understood Dane by the way. I think he must have had a pretty disturbed childhood and now takes it out on me.
I’m no psychologist, obviously, but I’d say he was bullied at school and suffered from the lack of a strong male role model. Consequently I’m part victim, part hero, part brother and part dad but still (and rather sadly) wholly wish fulfillment. God knows what he sees when he looks in the mirror but I’d guess he’s overweight and has pretty ill-defined features which is why I’m so ‘ripped’ and probably have all the qualities he wishes he had but I’m still concerned as to why he wants to tamper with my orientations.
Maybe it isn’t just to get more readers as he claims. maybe, it occurs to me, he’s had some recent experience of the gay life and found he’s rather enjoyed it, which would be fine if he didn’t expect me to follow suit.
Spade, Hammer and Bond must be thanking God and laughing their eyebrows off at my peculiar predicament.
Now, you will have noticed, if you are a regular reader, it’s not just the gay life he’s hinting at but a healthy life as well.
Look how he’s cut down on my drinking and of course smoking. He hasn’t let me have a fag in ages. Now, if I eat, its rice or pasta and plenty of green vegetables rather than a rare steak, a bottle of Jack and a pack of Lucky's as it was in Rainbow over America.
By the way, I really enjoyed that Rainbow; tipping my fedora, shooting commies and bedding Raine Truelove.
I was a bit of redneck I remember; a throwback or at least pretending to be a throwback in order to haul in a state governor who was secretly laundering money through Cuba to help fund the IRA in Belfast. There were, as you would expect, a couple of ‘comely colleens’ too, who were more than happy that ‘my cockles and muscles were alive, alive o’ but sadly, no such luck in this one I’m afraid, unless of course Dane has a surprise in store.
By the way he’s back at last, thank God, I’m dying here. Now perhaps….
No, no surprise there I’m afraid, just another orgy of brutality. I again, using my SAS training, disable the ‘handsome brute’ who was trying to choke me, snap the neck of the cowering drug lord and then threaten the pilot with evisceration unless he lands the plane safely, which he does but not before secretly informing his bosses on the ground; which is why I now find myself strapped into a chair in some ‘dank cellar’ about to have my balls ripped off by the alarmingly named Juanita Tittimous, the real boss of the international drugs ring I’m trying to bust ...I just knew it would be a woman. You might find it hard to believe but she is also a cabinet minister in the UK government. If her constituents knew who she really was and what she was about to do, I’d imagine she’d lose her deposit at the next election unlike myself, who in all likelihood, ‘ won’t have a deposit to lose at my next erection’ (that’s one of the crude quips I told you about…so don’t blame me.)
Damn it! He’s gone again! I can’t believe it. I can’t fucking believe it.
Here I am stuck in a studded metal chair with ropes hacking into my arms and he’s gone on the piss or to piss perhaps? I’ve no idea but I do know he’s bloody taking the piss leaving me here with my flies open and my ‘monster member’ on display. Actually, come to think of it this is the first time he’s mentioned it. Normally, my ‘monster member’, ‘enormous cock’ or ‘mighty manhood’ is alluded to in his initial description but I suppose, as I’ve had very little opportunity to use it in this adventure, there hasn’t been much opportunity to remind his readers of one of my most popular features. Thankfully I don’t think I’m in imminent danger of losing it even under present circumstances because his publisher’s would never go along with that, surely?
Anyway, whatever he decides, I wish he’d bloody hurry up and decide it. The rising damp and single light shining directly into my eyes, to say nothing of the ropes which seem to be tightening by themselves, are all proving to be fucking painful.
God knows how I’m supposed to escape….hurry up Dane, please.
Oh, here he comes, thank God for that…now just get on with it.
I don’t know whether he’s pissed or had just had a piss but he’s set me up with a most peculiarly downbeat ending I’m afraid but not before I’ve received another merciless beating, this time at the hands of Juanita. She might be a woman but she still packs one hell of a punch especially with fingers saturated in gold and diamond rings. I hate to think what kind of politician she must be, pretty hard line I’d imagine.
Of course my groin has suffered but here’s the clever bit, the Dane bit. Before I was rendered completely unconscious I was able to utilize my SAS training (obviously) by fraying the rope sufficiently on the corner of the chair to not only effect an escape but also exact a measure of revenge. Heedless of my injuries (needless to say) I still managed to retrieve the knife I always carry in the sole of my shoe and use it, but this time not as a weapon, but as a deterrent with which to break out of the cellar.
I can’t help but think that in previous adventures I’d have sliced Juanita like bacon but apparently, so concerned have I become not to excerpt my physical prowess over women, that I instead just stab-up her two body-guards and leave it at that, before locking the cellar from the outside, calling the police and allowing the proper authorities to deal with her.
Of course it’s not quite the cataclysmic ending I usually enjoy but then I get the feeling that cataclysmic endings might be coming to an end as Dane seems determined to change me from an international roustabout with a ready gun (a character I really enjoy) into some part-time gay cavalier with a penchant for peace, multi-culturalism and a healthy lifestyle…if his publishers allow it of course.
If they do, I fear, in his next book or the book after, he’ll have me hunting down meat eaters, those who drive over the speed limit and defeating villains who wish to destroy wind-farms or solar powered theme parks. Gone will be the gun of course and the knife and I’ll bed both men and women equally, espousing the benefits bi-sexuality, globalism, feminism, vegetarianism, communism and any other 'ism’ that plays into the zeitgeist of Dane’s brave new world, for better or for worse?
Okay, so it’s not really for a figment like myself to comment on these things, so may I suggest you buy the next Johnny Rainbow book in the series (whatever that might be called) and decide for yourself?
Meanwhile, in case you were wondering, I’m fine. I’ve recovered from my injuries and am now lounging in an exotic bar with a non-alcoholic Mojito contemplating the ‘well-honed body of a handsome, young buck’ currently talking to the barman.
The soft rain, which has been pouring all morning, has recently stopped and the beginnings of a ‘pink rainbow’ can be seen against a rapidly lightening sky.
I knew it, I just bloody knew it!