As with so many other people, I’ve always been skeptical about those who have claimed to have seen Elvis, or even have spoken to him, since that terrible day in August of 1977 when “The King” was suddenly gone, but never to be forgotten. So you can imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning, relieved myself, splashed cold water on my face, and went into my study to turn on the computer. I was about to begin my day of trying to put together enough intelligible words to form a sentence, or paragraph or, praise the Lord, possibly even a chapter for my new book. Suddenly, I stopped short. There was someone – or something, sitting at my desk. It was sort of a ghostly figure engulfed in a mist or cloud of some sort, an apparition perhaps. Then, gradually, the cloud seemed to dissipate as the figure evolved into a more distinct form that was becoming more familiar by the second.
“What the . . . ?” I exclaimed, my voice shrill with a mixture of awe and anger. I was unable to utter another sound, as my mind tried to wrap itself around the fact that, somehow, a person whom I have “known” since 1956 – someone who has been supposedly dead for over 40 years – was right here in front of me – seemingly alive and in person.” My brain tried to comprehend the impossible – Elvis is in the building. Even better, he’s in my house! And, he’s using my computer!
Elvis, who seemed as startled as I was, turned quickly, his fingers still on the keyboard of my computer. He was simply dressed in a jeans and a blue denim shirt, “I beg of you,” he drawled, his upper lip curling into a familiar smile, “please don’t be cruel and call the cops. “I just dropped in to send an email to my little darlin’ Lisa Marie. I mean, she’s always on my mind, but sometimes I just can’t help believin’ some of the stupid things she does, but, sheeet, like I told her many times, ‘I can't stop loving you no matter what ya do’. Ya know, she’s still daddy’s little girl.”
“But . . . but . . .” I sputtered. “How the hell is this possible? I thought you were, I mean, like, dead.”
“Well, basically, I am, but my spirit seems to go on and on, and, I don’t know, somehow He touched me and I have this power to show myself, but only to certain special people – people like you.”
“Wow, I’m really honored Elvis . . . er, it’s alright if I call you Elvis, isn’t it?
“Ya can call me anything except late for a peanut butter and banana sandwich.” He chuckled, before continuing. “Seriously, that’s my only name, really. Anyone who says ‘Mr. Presley’ is obviously talking to my father. Then he turned serious, “God, I still got a burning love for that man, and to this day he still has his hand in mine wherever I go.”
Elvis seemed to be turning melancholy, so I quickly changed the subject. “Ya know, I was always a big fan of your, ever since I first saw you on the Milton Berle show in 1956. You were great.”
“Sheeet, I was scared as hell – my first time on a show that big – it wasn’t exactly The Louisiana Hayride, ya know.” Elvis smiled as he remembered. “But, Mr. Berle was real nice, and a very funny man, always fast with a joke, which really eased my tension, and when he introduced me, I jus’ thought, well, it’s now or never, and went out I did my thing. Didja ever think it’d get all that crazy?”
“I sure did!” I replied with enthusiasm. “I thought you were the coolest guy I’d ever seen. I even started dressin’ like you. I bought a powder blue Hollywood jacket and even went out to a pawn shop in Flushing and picked up a $5 second-hand guitar and started doin’ my Elvis impersonations.” I paused. I huge grin spread across my face. “Hey,” I continued, “that probably makes me the first-ever Elvis impersonator.” I paused again, then added: “But I just couldn’t do the blue suede shoes thing. I thought they were ugly. . . with all due respect.”
“That’s okay,” Elvis smiled. “They were a little too much for me too. The only picture of me wearing blue suede shoes was not a real one – it was one of those, whatchya call it, an artist renderin'. I can’t help believing that some of those so-called newspaper people just write whatever they feel like. I never owned a pair of them shoes in my life. Then he chuckled, adding: “or my afterlife, either. An’, by the way, neither did my friend Carl Perkins, and he wrote the damned song. Well, the shoes may have been crap, but the song made both of us a hell of a lot of money, that’s for sure.”
”Anyway,” I continued, “I couldn’t sing or play a lick, but I could lip-sync like hell. Practiced everyday and was popular as hell at all the parties. By the following year I had All Shook Up down pat, even the way you sang: Mm mm oh, oh, yeah, yeah. And, I can tell ya – doing you was better than driving a red corvette when it came to getting’ the girls.”
Elvis laughed, then seemed to get a faraway look, “Yeah, those were the days,” he remembered. “I thought I was the one,” awright. Nothin’ I couldn’t do. Then life happened.”
“What are ya talkin’ about? I said, a little shocked at his words “You’re The King . . . the greatest rock ‘n roll singer that ever lived. When I heard you were coming to Madison Square Garden in 1974 I was able to pull some strings. On June 10 I was sitting 5th row, center, in the ‘press’ seats. I was in a state of awe for days, couldn’t stop talking about it. Still can’t. To this day, when I tell people I saw you in person, they say ‘wow’ and I can see a kind of envy . . but a good kind . . . like they’re seeing you through my eyes. Man, that night at the Garden is still a highlight of my entire life.” I paused. I considered not saying what I was thinking next, but like usual I couldn’t stop my mouth, but I managed to put it as gently as I could. “Er, excuse me for saying this, but with all due respect . . . those jumpsuits? Dotcha think they were a bit over the top?”
To my surprise, instead of getting upset, Elvis laughed so hard he nearly fell out of the chair. When he finally caught his breath, he managed: “Over the top, and outa space. When the Colonel first suggested it I went bonkers. ‘No way!’ I told him. But, like always, I finally did what he said, saying alright, okay, you win and, by God, he was right, again. The people, my fans, well most of them anyway, loved the look. It was a big hit. Me, personally, I always wore denim when not on stage. The only costume, if you want to call it that, I really liked was the black leather I wore for that TV special, the one they call my ‘comeback,’ which I hate. Screw that. I never went anyplace I had to comeback from.
“But, anyway, thanks for the kind words about me at the Garden, an’ stuff, and I’m real proud the folks, and you ‘specially, think of me like that, and, don’t get me wrong. I had a great life and enjoyed almost every minute of it. His lips tuned into another of those patented smiles. “But I had a dream, and if I was really able to follow that dream I would have made some serious movies, ya know, like James Dean and Marlon Brando, but the Colonel put the kibosh on that. I always wanted to make a serious motorcycle movie, like The Wild One, but updated, of course.” The smile faded. “Yeah, the colonel. He – “ Aw, shucks, he was probably right. Hey, he did awright by me.” He paused, looking off into space. “I guess it was just the impossible dream.
“Then, of course, there was all that crap with my beautiful Celia. That’s about the only other thing that I regret, although we were equally to blame. We both had suspicious minds almost from the start. Well, er, I guess it was mainly my fault that she took up with that karate guy, Mike Stone. I mean everywhere I went there were girls! girls! girls! But, hell, basically they were all one night affairs, ‘cept for when I met Ann Margret when making Viva Las Vegas in 1963. She . . . well, I really don’t wanna get into that. Then in 1973, Priscilla finally said ‘I want to be free’ and we got a divorce. But we always remained good friends, just went our separate ways. Hell, I was doin' the best I can.”
I could see Elvis was getting depressed talking about certain things so I lightened the subject. “Say, Elvis? I can’t help noticing that you use so many song titles when you speak. Why’s that? I queried.
“Well, why not?” he said, answering my question with a question. “They say there have been about 30 million songs written over the years – none by me, I’m sorry to say. I mean, they’ve said everything that ever needs to be said. And some of the greatest song writers of my time, like Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and ‘specially the two Pauls -- Paul McCartney and Paul Simon – are as prolific and meaningful as anything Hemingway or Steinbeck or Wolfe ever wrote. Take Bridge Over Troubled Water and Yesterday for example. Two of the best songs ever written. Yesterday is the most recorded song in history, with over 2500 versions, and I read where it has been broadcast on American radio over seven million times." Elvis paused, and offered up a sheepish grin. “Of course, no one ever sang it better than Paul himself, but he told me my version was the second best . . . and that’s one of my greatest reviews.”
“Wow, Elvis, that’s something, ya know there’s something else I wanna – “
“Er, sorry to interrupt you,” Elvis cut me short. “I love sharing these memories with you, but if you’d be so kind as to let me finish this email, ‘cause I really gotta travel on.”
“Of course, sure, yeah . . . “ I offered. “What’s it all about, if you don’t mind my asking.”
“Oh, my little teddy bear Lisa Marie. She’s my lover doll, for sure, but she’s also such a hard headed woman. And when it comes to men she’s just too much. First, she marries that second-rate musician Danny Keough and has two kids right away, and then she really flips out and hooks up with the fool Michael Jackson. God, I woulda loved to rip it up with him, the pervert. He really was the devil in disguise. Then she goes and marries Nick Cage, a good actor but a really screwed up private life. An’ now she’s involved in a custody suit with another jerk, Lockwood, over their twin daughters. I just wanna tell her forget all those low-lifes and just take good care of my four grandkids. Hell, I left her about $100 million bucks and I think she already lost half of it to those four losers. I just hope she leaves enough for my grandkids.”
Coming to terms with Elvis as a “granddad,” even though I fall into the same category, was a little hard to take. “Okay, Elvis, finish up . . . take as long as you want with the computer. No rush.”
“It took me long enough to work this thing, But I’m doin' the best I can.” Elvis tapped a few more keys, then hit the “send” button. “Thank ya thank ya very much,” he said. He started getting up, then, as if suddenly remembering something, he returned to the computer, brought up a new page in Windows Word, and typed out a quick sentence. Then, somehow, he simply dissolved in a thick misty cloud. Amazed, I moved quickly to my desk but saw or felt nothing. Then, glancing at my computer screen I spotted his last words to me.
Aloha 'Oe . . . I still got a lot o' livin' to do.