Friday, February 24, 2012


     Twice in my life, I’ve found Elvis Presley alive and well. The first time was on Tortola, one of the British Virgin Islands approximately 150 miles east of San Juan Puerto Rico. I arrived on the small island around 6 PM in a small plane. From the tiny airport, I shared a cab with five other people who were on the same flight. After two stops at what appeared to be nice hotels, to let the other passengers out, the cab driver took off for a more remote part of the island, where I learned my hotel was located. I had asked the department secretary to plan my trip, because I thought my time was too precious to spend it making any of the arrangements myself.
     The building was a two story older structure, close enough to the water you could smell the salt air and occasionally engine flumes from the outboard engines on dinghies coming and going from the dock attached to the hotel. With hundreds of sailboats anchored off shore, people had to come in for resupplies of food and fresh water.
     After traveling a good portion of the day, I was exhausted and decided to get in a short nap before dinner. That was when I met Elvis for the first time, several years after he had died.
     I couldn’t believe it. The man was alive and well on the island of Tortola. Not only did the King of Rock and Roll look fit, he sang all the songs I remembered and loved.  When wakened by the sound of clapping, and yells of approval, I soon realized my euphoria of discovering Elvis’ hideout had been a dream.
     An Elvis Imitator was performing downstairs in the bar, which was right below my room. The entertainer had started his show at 9 PM. Not only had the secretary booked the cheapest hotel on the island, she had booked the worse room in the place. Obviously, saying something to the secretary about my time being precious had upset her. Unable to sleep any longer, I went downstairs, took a seat in the bar, ordered one of the two meals listed on the menu, and drank a bottle of water imported from some place I’d never heard of.
     The second time I met Elvis was the night after an evening out this week to see and hear the Million Dollar Quartet at the Walton Arts Center on Dickson Street. Talk about talented people.
     Cody Slaughter, a true Southern boy from Harrison, Arkansas, plays the part of Elvis. He looks like Elvis, sounds like Elvis, and moves every part of his body pretty much like Elvis did. The other actors/ musicians who play the parts of Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dyanne, and Sam Phillips are also brilliant. Those folks sang and played their instruments with the skill and depth of the original performers. Their stage performance was incredibly good.
     By now you know I had another dream. This time I found Elvis in an old run down mobile home. It was the kind of place where the furniture, floor, and walls appeared to be harboring vapors of a fatal flu virus. To my surprise Elvis was there visiting an old friend of his, who apparently owned and lived in the home decorated with early germ infestation decor and odors.
     How I ended up there, I do not know. Elvis’ friend invited me inside where he introduced me to the young singer, who was sitting on a club chair that appeared to have been broken in by twenty-seven dogs over a period of thirty or so years.  After Elvis shook my hand, I told him I was a big fan, and that I had been an Elvis imitator when I was in the second grade. He wanted more details.
     After performing before my second grade class, my teacher, Mrs. Murray, took me into the other classrooms. In each room, I sang You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog while playing a plastic guitar, with what we in the music business call a lot of hand movement over non-existent strings. I had the Elvis hair, many of the Elvis body movements, and the voice of a young rock and roll singer destined for stardom. I learned singing that song was a good way to get girlfriends in the second grade. Even Mrs. Murray had a crush on me for a couple of days.
     “Thank you. Glad to meet you,” Elvis said, after I told him of my short lived singing career in elementary school.
     Movement out the window caught our attention. Elvis and I admired a crop duster plane passing off in the distance. It turns out the guy who owned the mobile germ farm had a father who was a crop duster pilot, and he was flying by.
     The next thing I knew, Elvis left to find a bathroom down the hallway.
     A tap on my shoulder, from the guy who owned the trailer. “Why are you here?” he asked.
     Then it hit me. I realized who I was and how I got there. I could save Elvis. “I’m from the future and I have traveled back in time.”
     The guy said, “I am too, but we can’t tell Elvis what’s going to happen to him.” I took that to mean we couldn’t tell him he was going to die at age 42.
     When Elvis stepped back into the room, for some reason he decided to get into bed and pull the covers up to his chin.
     I wanted to tell the young rock and roll singer not to take drugs, not to divorce Prisilla, and not to die before his time, but I couldn’t do it. Why, I do not know.
     Gazing down at his face, barely out from under the covers, I said, “I’m from the future. I can’t tell you everything that's going to happen, but I can tell you that you will become a monumental rock and roll star of humongous proportion.”
     He smiled, not knowing his life would end too way too soon.
     At that point I woke up and felt terribly sad. I regretted not being able to save the King of Rock and Roll from his early death.
     Dreams rarely make sense, but after having two dreams in full color, so real, I could reach out and touch the man, I have come to realize just how much I miss the King of Rock and Roll.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


     I’ve learned to never put pressure on my beta readers; therefore I use discretion when I’m trying to find out what they think about my manuscripts. I closed the lid on my cooler, exited through the back door, and headed across the driveway toward Eddy and Darla’s cabin, home to my two beta readers. Eddy and I drink beer one Friday of every month. It was my chance to pump Eddy for information, about my manuscript, without him realizing what I was doing.  I had given Darla my latest romance novel in early December, but hadn’t received any feedback from her. I hoped Eddy would at least be able to tell me if she had read any of it.
     Luckily for me, Eddy was in his back yard lifting weights.
     “Where’d you get those weights,” I said, placing the cooler down on the ground.
     Eddy hoisted the bar over his head. “Borrowed them from my father-in-law.”
     His muscles filled out a T-shirt better than many professional athletes. One would think a young man who makes his living loading trucks at his father-in-law’s Co-Op store would have absolutely no reason to lift weights. But even Elvis probably had to practice before a concert.
     “Trying to stay in shape for work?”
     He shook his head, “No. Those hundred pound bags at the store are a piece of cake compared to this.”
      He let the weights drop to the ground with a thud. The cylinders on each end put a six inch indention in the earth.
     After assessing the damage the steel plates had done to the planet, Eddy looked up.
     “Do you want to work out with me?”
     That was like asking the devil if he wanted to go to church.
     “Thanks, but I’m in pretty good shape." I flexed what little muscle I had by lifting the lid of the cooler so he could see the six bottled brews inside. "I thought we might have a few beers and relax our brains.”
     “Can’t drink beer anymore, at least not until Darla quits reading that romance novel. I’m trying to keep my stamina up, if you know what I mean?” He grinned, before picking up a jump rope.
     Holly smoke! After all these years of writing romance novels, I’d finally written a good one. Apparently one so hot it might even make the best-seller lists. I’d need to draft a query letter for Miss Prettywell at Rose Petal Romance. The Editor-in-Chief, of the premiere romance publisher house, had told me not to send any more queries to her, but obviously she wouldn’t want to pass up an opportunity at a best-seller.
     Within seconds Eddy had the rope moving so fast, it gave the appearance of a translucent shield around a human form you might see on a sci-fi movie. After what must have been three hundred reps without a missed step, Eddy dropped the rope.
     I looked at the back door on his porch. “Is Darla home? I’d like to think her for reading my manuscript.” It would be a good opportunity for her to let me know how much she loved reading it.
     Eddy knitted his brows. “I hate to tell you this, but I don’t think she got past the second page of that last one you gave her.”
     “I thought you said—”
     “Oh, sorry.” Eddy put his hand on my shoulder. “I wasn’t talking about your story. I was talking about a book Darla’s mother gave her last week. It’s was written by an author named Claire Croxton. Darla told me it’s the best romance novel she’s read in years. And the author has another one coming out pretty soon. Darla is going to pre-order it.”
     My excitement plummeted faster than a barrel going over Niagara Falls. I only had two beta readers. Eddy had already stopped reading my stories, because they didn’t have shoot ‘em ups in them. Now that Claire Croxton woman had diverted Darla from reading my manuscripts by publishing romance novels woman loved reading. It appeared my only hope to get my beta reader back was for Claire Croxton to come down with a terminal case of writers block.
     After saying goodbye to Eddy, I picked up my cooler and walked back home. I placed the beer bottles back into the refrigerator and stored the cooler in the pantry.
     My wife entered the kitchen from the den. “Hi, Honey. I thought you were going over to Eddy’s to drink beer before dinner.”
     “Eddy said he couldn’t drink beer tonight.”
     “Oh. I wasn’t expecting you back so soon. I wasn’t planning on cooking until later. I started reading a romance novel Darla just finished. It’s by a new author named Claire Croxton and let me tell you. It’s so good I can’t drag myself away from it.”
     “Not a problem. I’m not hungry.” I tried to hide my disappointment that my wife had also fallen victim to that Croxton woman’s novel.
     She winked at me. “We might want to go to bed early tonight.”
     Holly smoke! I smiled. Maybe that Claire Croxton was my friend after all.
     When she turned to go back into the den, I said, “I think I’ll go back over to Eddy’s for a while.”
     I hoped he had some smaller weights.