Elvis isn’t dead.

Elvis isn’t dead.
Really, he’s not. All of those conspiracy theories about Elvis faking his death are, you’ll be surprised to know, actually true.
He got a nose job, shaved his head and moved to Tulsa. He wears glasses now. The Clark Kent bit actually works pretty well. He’s run a NAPA auto parts store since 1977.
You see, he was a miserable man. Sick in the body and soul, and someone convinced him that he could make more money dead than alive and be free of that which tormented him.
Aaron Preston. That’s how he’s known now. He thought it’d be a bit clever to leave a small hint out there for the devoted to sniff out. I don’t think anyone ever caught on.
He still makes music. Plays in a blue grass band on Wednesday nights for free drinks and wings. He doesn’t actually drink these days or eat the wings, for that matter. The band takes care of his share without complaint.
Someone once said that there are no second acts in life, but Aaron/Elvis sure has created one for himself.
Like I said, he was sick. Sick in his body and his soul. He was sick of us, and of himself. He realized that there was a problem with being the King. There was no way to live up to that except to die. He had become what they call a living legend, except the legend was not him. It was a fabrication, a specter. We poured our hopes, dreams, fantasies and aspirations into him. Onto him. It’s a burden no man can bear. As he’s fond of saying, “Hell, all that even killed Jesus. How was I supposed to carry it around?”.
He wept bitter tears when his former son-in-law succumbed to the weight of that load. Oh, and yes, Lisa Marie has always known. She visits frequently, as does Pricilla.
They came to Tulsa one last time yesterday.
How do I know all of this, you might ask? I know because we laid Uncle Aaron to rest yesterday. He was 77.
The King is dead, long live the King.

Another chapter fragment

I met Tom Sawyer once. He was sitting on a porch in Lawrence, Kansas with Les Paul, smoking one of those cheap ass cigars that he liked. The smell was not unlike the one that came from under the hood of the car right before the big plumes of white smoke. I knew I shouldn’t have tried to drive this piece of shit all the way across the county, I thought, as I rolled to a stop on the shoulder of the highway.
The sun was starting to set, so setting out on foot wasn’t wise. This part of the country was not terribly safe to start with, let alone at night. Ever since things went all to hell, the countrysides were particularly perilous for travelers.
The old Sioux tribes thought it would be a good time to reclaim their ancestral lands from the white man’s government. They had quite a bit of success at first, ranging as far south as the Red River and well into what used to be Canada. That is until they started to run into the Lycans and the Zombies.
The Lycans were a strange phenomena indeed. At first it was thought that they were actual werewolves, right out of an old Hollywood horror film. Turns out they were actually a new species of wolf. It was almost as if they were a human-wolf crossbred of some kind. Stories of government experiments abounded, and might well be true. Like many things these days, the truth doesn’t really matter, what matters is steering clear of them. They travel in packs and mostly at night, so shelter at night was very much a necessity.
The Zombies, on the other hand, were nothing like what they appeared to be. When things went to shit, some people went completely off the deep end. Tribes formed and took whatever measures they had to to survive, including cannibalism. The Zombies were just that, tribes of cannibals. They would cover themselves in blood and entrails to terrorize other tribes and settlements. It was quite effective and their legend grew – more than just stories to scare the kiddies, they were bad news and their numbers were growing.
So night travel, especially alone was out of the question. Staying put was risky enough, but far safer than trying to cover open country after dark.
I waited until the last of the day’s light faded and crawled in the back seat of the car, covering up with an old Army blanket and leaving a window cracked so the glass didn’t fog up. That’s a dead give away!
I slept a fitful, dream filled sleep. I dreamt of her again, like every other night. The mind is a cruel thing sometimes. It would be a blessing to be able to forget.
I was awakened by a banging on the window. Holy Shit! I thought I was done for, but it turned out to be a cop? A cop, what the hell is a cop doing out here? I rolled the window down a bit and said, “um, yes officer?”
“Out of the car”, he shouted. I complied, seeing that he was armed and I wasn’t in any position to argue. He was part of something called the Nebraska Militia Marshall Service.
“What the hell are you doing out here, boy?” he wanted to know. Not really knowing myself, I just answered, “Car died.”
“Where are you headed?” “West” I said, stating what I thought was the obvious.
“Don’t get smart with me boy, I can see you’re headed west. Where west?”
“Just west, sir, just west. Until I find somewhere to stop.” Not wanting to tell him that I was hoping to get to the Utah Territory. I used to know someone out there and it was rumored to be fairly safe and stable.
This apparently satisfied his official curiosity. “Well, I can’t help you with that. But you’d better keep moving. Things aren’t safe for travelers and there’s not much in the way of Law these days.” The irony of his statement was not lost on me.
He offered me a couple of bottles of water, which I gladly accepted, and climbed into his pickup truck and drove away without even a wave. Serve and Protect, huh?
People have become pretty untrusting ever since the Fall, and I guess that’s to be expected. When everything you’ve come to believe turns out to be a fiction and the people who were supposed to hold civilization together either fled or hid it’s understandable that trust would be in short supply.
I often think about what happened. We always expected the end to come in some grand cataclysm. A war or a plague or maybe some huge natural disaster. But no, things just kind of deflated like a kiddie pool with the stopper pulled out. First the economies started to fail and that snowballed. They called it the Second Great Depression. Then companies started to shutdown, millions and millions suddenly without work. No work, no taxes to pay the government. No taxes, no safety net. It was really quite simple, the world’s wealth just seemed to vanish in to a void. The super wealthy held out a bit longer than most, but even they had to buy groceries and no one was stocking the stores out of the kindness of their hearts. Quite the opposite actually happened pretty fast. Looting was wide spread and short lived.
People then just started to retreat into survival mode. I was in Dallas when the grid finally went off line. The whole country went dark in about 48 hours. There were a couple of nuclear reactors that went critical. Heard tell that Atlanta is gone. Apparently the CDC lost containment and their countermeasures set the whole city aflame.
I was lucky at first, I ran into Sam Houston and Davy Crockett just north of Dallas. They were starting a settlement and were looking for workers. They had guns and farmland, so I stayed on for a couple of months, until Spring. No point in trying to travel during the winter, especially heading west across the Rockies.
I set out that morning determined to get as far as the next shelter. It wasn’t smart to go any farther. You just couldn’t know when you’d happen on upon the next one, daylight or not.
The road was starting to climb into the foothills. I would soon miss the flatness of the prairie.
I was reminded of Lewis and Clark’s westward expedition and wondered if it would be smarter to follow a river’s path west, but thought better of it. The road was easier to travel on and no telling what kind of beasties would be lurking about the river banks. That and rivers didn’t tend to travel in much of a straight line.
So, onward toward the mountains…

Chapter 1ish…

This is a little something I started back in November during the National Write a Novel in a Month program.  I didn’t even come close to completing anything, but I have some chapter fragments that I’m going to post.
I met her in Johannesburg in 2004. I was there on business. What kind of business is not important. I was out for a morning run when I saw her. She was sitting in front of a coffee shop. Sitting with her feet on on the chair next to her when I noticed those legs. Oh, those legs! Anyway, I was noticing, noticing hard when I stepped awkwardly off of the curb and just about took a header. She saw me and laughed and said to me, “very graceful!”. I couldn’t let that go, now could I? “Why thank you”, I said, “I do what I can”, with a sly embarrassed smile. I was completely busted, so I thought I’d seize the moment. “Hi”, I said, “come here often?”. Knowing full well how lame that sounded. She just smiled and shook her head. “You’re really in trouble here, you know that right?” She smiled and cocked an eyebrow. I was already sweating from the run, but that look made it even worse. She had the most amazing green eyes, like emerald stars. They just sparkled. I thought to myself, this is already worth the embarrassment. She was really something to behold, those eyes and hair so red it looked like it came out of a spray can. I had never seen hair that color. Her skin was not quite white, not like most redheads. It had more of a creamy color, covered with more freckles than I’ve ever seen on any one body. And, as I found out later, they were all over. Including a funny little pattern at the top of the cleft of her ass that kind of looked like a rabbit. Anyway, I muttered something about buying her a cup of coffee. She just laughed and pointed at the cup on the table. “Tell you what”, she said, “I’ll let you buy me lunch”. I almost choked. How did I manage to pull this one off, I thought to myself. “I’ll meet you in your hotel lobby at 1”, she told me. I started to ask how she knew what hotel I was staying in, and she interrupted, “You’re American right, Americans always stay in the Crown Plaza”. She had me there. “Ok, I’ll see you at 1, and don’t be late – I don’t wait”, she commanded. I could only sigh a sarcastic “Yes Ma’am”. “That’s a good boy, go now and finish your run”, she told me.
So off I ran, or more accurately, glided along my route and back to the hotel. This was too good to be true and likely was just a ruse to get rid of me, the clumsy American boy. I got back to the hotel, ordered some room service coffee and breakfast and took a nice long hot shower. Nice thing about 5 star hotels around the world – plenty of good coffee and hot water. Globalization was sometimes a good thing after all.
I was in the lobby at 12:45, just to be safe. I found a chair with sight lines to both street level entrances so that I would see her coming regardless of her approach. I tried to relax with a little music from the iPhone. Finally decided on some My Morning Jacket. Didn’t want something too heavy, but nothing too poppy either, so MMJ seemed just right. I tend to obsess about music like that for some reason, every situation has to have just the right soundtrack. So there I sat, trying to relax and pay attention to the music without much success. I found myself tensing up every time one of the doors started to open. 1Pm came and went. Sucker, I thought – what a sucker. She certainly had me figured out and played me. Just as I was about to get up, I heard her from behind me. “Well, what are you waiting for?” This was not the last time she completely foiled my plans and caught me off guard. “What are you listening to?” I told her. “Never heard of them”, she said, “Let’s eat.”
She suggested an Indian place around the corner. I’ve not had much Indian food, so I let her order for me. More correctly, she ordered for the both us and then asked me if I minded. The look on her face let me know that it didn’t really matter if I did or not. I just laughed and shook my head. I really didn’t stand a chance and I knew it and I didn’t give a damn. This woman already had a hold on me. This woman, her name was Linda.
We took our time with lunch. It turns out the South Africans make some damn fine wines too. We drank some, and then we drank some more. Our lunch slowly burned through the remainder of the afternoon. The waiter indicated that they needed to prepare for the dinner service and we would need to be packing it in. I paid our tab, over tipping of course. No point in looking cheap. We stepped out into the late afternoon sun. It was a beautiful October day, and the sun was warm but not overly so. I asked her if she had to go, or if she’d like to take a walk. She was game. We walked a few blocks and low and behold, what did we find, but a wine shop! We bought a couple of bottles of a nice SA Riesling.
Rather than figure out how to get away with drinking wine on the street we headed back to the hotel. As we entered the lobby, she set me straight. “We are not going up to your room”, she said. I attempted a protest, saying that I would not be so presumptuous. She shushed me and said, “let’s go the garden.” So we did. We found a table in the corner, away from the pool. The waiter was kind enough to ignore the “outside” beverages and brought us a couple of glasses. When I say kind enough, he responded properly to the appropriate and not unexpected bribe.
We sat and talked in the fading light. We laughed and laughed. Her laugh was soft and sing-songy and her nose crinkled just so when she did. She took great pleasure in making sport of me, finding something funny in everything I shared with her. I didn’t mind, didn’t mind at all. Simply having her pay me attention was enough. I was happy to be her comic foil. I was clearly smitten.
The time passed quickly, but at the same time the day felt timeless – like we’d been together for days. As it turned out, we would be. As we poured the last of the wine, we were informed that we’d have to clear out, the pool area was closing for the night.
She was true to her word. As we walked to the lobby, she slipped her arm around my neck and gave me a soft kiss. “Dinner, tomorrow – I’ll call for you.” She stepped through the revolving door and into a cab and she was gone.
And I was a goner. I don’t remember the elevator ride up to my floor, or letting myself into my room. I found myself standing looking out the window at the lights of the city wondering what had befallen me. I don’t know how long I stood there, but it eventually occurred to me that I did have a job and I had meetings tomorrow, so I’d better get some sleep. I slept the sleep of child on Christmas Eve. Dreaming soft, warm gauzy dreams full of long legged redheads!
The next morning was ordinary. Got in a run and coffee before the first meeting. Thankfully, they served a light breakfast. The meetings seemed to drag on and on, but finally ended about 3. That was a bit earlier than I expected, so I thought I’d get in a swim before dinner. I found out that wasn’t to be the case when I returned to my room. There was a note on the bed from the front desk. 5Pm, out front was all it said. I didn’t have to be told twice. I wasn’t sure where we were going, so I figured I’d better try to be prepared for anything. I put on my linen suit, with a blue shirt – no tie. I figured that would be versatile enough.
I stood on the curb for about 5 minutes when a powder blue Audi TT stopped. Of course, I thought, perfect. I got in. She was stunning! She had on a yellow sun dress with a wrap of some kind around her shoulders. Looks like I guessed right. “Ready?”, she asked. She didn’t wait for an answer before pulling out and whipping a quick u-turn.
We stopped in front of a restaurant. It looked like some kind of steakhouse, not unlike what you’d find in New York or Chicago. Fine, that works for me – I love a good steak, I thought to myself. The Matrie’D knew her, “Good evening Miss Linda”. Dinner was nice, she was charming and of course we lingered again.
And so it went for the next week. We dined frequently and even danced occasionally. She was always firm, but never insistent in getting her way. I was usually happy to oblige, and even when I resisted I fell victim to her charms.
One week to the day of our meeting, I was awakened by a knock on my hotel room door. It was early, but already light outside. I wondered who it could be, never guessing it was her. I opened the door, she pushed into me and kissed me hard on the mouth, never saying a word.
She squeezed past me as I shut and locked the door. I turned around to see that she had already almost completely disrobed. I went to her.
We made love for the first time that morning. We spent the day repeating ourselves, with barely a word spoken.
Morning stretched into afternoon, afternoon into evening. I mentioned calling for room service – we hadn’t eaten yet today. “No”, she said, “Let’s go out. You’ve earned a good meal.” Her smile was sly and a bit mischievous, and I was not about to argue.
We walked around the corner to “our” Indian place. She didn’t want to go far from the hotel. I took that as a good sign, a real good sign. As before, she ordered for the both of us and we had more wine. This time however, we didn’t linger nearly as long.
Apparently dinner was just what she needed. She was ravenous. She started tearing at my clothes in the elevator, and it was all I could do to fight her off until we were back in the room. Not that I was trying too hard, mind you.
We made love again. This time she was on fire. We fell exhausted into each others arms and slept.
I slept the dreamless sleep of the contented, wrapped around her naked body.
We woke together as morning streamed in through the windows. She was more beautiful than ever in that soft light. She rolled over, smiled and kissed me, “Good morning love” she whispered. I was in heaven. How did this happen, I wondered to myself.
I ordered coffee and we sat in silence and smiled at each other like school kids. There didn’t seem to be anything to talk about that was worth interrupting this mood, this moment.
“I could use some breakfast, how about you?” I asked her. “Of course, let’s go downstairs”, she answered. We showered together and dressed. I was a bit out of my mind at my good fortune.
“What are you thinking?” She asked me. “Oh nothing”, I lied. She laughed and punched me in the shoulder. “You’re so full of shit”, she said, laughing again. I just smiled and winked at her.
We sat at breakfast in the hotel restaurant, enjoying the energy of the morning crowd, making chit-chat and laughing with the folks at neighboring tables.
“I must be off”, she said, “I have business to attend to today.” “On a Saturday?” I asked, “what kind of business?” She just waved off the question and said that she’d be back this afternoon and not to wander off too far. With that she jumped up, kissed me and was gone before I could even stand up. “Wow”, I thought, “that woman moves with a purpose and with a really nice ass”.
I spent the day lounging poolside, going over proposals and contracts. Well, more like napping poolside with a bucket of beers and a folder of proposals and contracts serving as a coaster. It was a warm day with a nice breeze blowing through the garden. I was happy and content and just a little buzzed as I dozed in and out of my nap.
I was startled awake by something touching my foot. I looked up to see Linda standing there running her finger up the sole of my foot. “Oh, you’re ticklish!”, she said with a fiendish grin, “I wish I had known!” “Oh, shit – my secret’s out” I yelped, faining shock.

The one where I begin at the beginning…

He met Tom Sawyer once. He was sitting on a porch in Lawrence Kansas with Les Paul, smoking one of those cheap ass cigars that he liked. The smell was not unlike the one that came from under the hood of his car right before the big plumes of white smoke. I knew I shouldn’t have tried to drive this piece of shit all the was across the county, he thought to himself as he rolled to a stop on the shoulder of the highway. – to be continued…

The one where I start with a story idea…

Elvis isnt dead.
Really, he’s not. All of those conspiracy theories about Elvis faking his death are, you’ll be surprised to know, actually true.
He got a nose job, shaved his head and moved to Tulsa. He wears glasses now. The Clark Kent bit actually works pretty well. He’s run a NAPA auto parts store since 1977.
You see, he was a miserable man. Sick in the body and soul, when someone convinced him that he could make more money dead than alive and be free of that which tormented him.