April, 1957

("Well, you might have known trouble was coming if you were here in 1957. That was the year Elvis Presley paid us a visit. I think we might have made him famous, too." Sam Durham from "A Ghost Tour of Jerome, America's Largest Ghost Town" Copyright 1989, Creative Video Productions, Sedona AZ.)


"It's Elvis!!" The girl squealed in such a high pitched tone that she could barely get the word out.

"You're crazy, Carolyn," said her sister Bonnie, "What in the world would Elvis be doing in a bar in this old ghost town."

Carolyn turned to her sister with a smile that went around the block.

"Look, stupid. If that's not Elvis, then I . . . I . . . I don't know what. Look for yourself!"

Twelve year old Bonnie Martin squinted through the large plate glass window into the cave-like shadows of the saloon. She had to let her eyes adjust from the bright spring sunlight. She could hear "Anyway You Want Me" playing on an old jukebox. In the darkness of the bar she could see a big, burly bartender in a white shirt with rolled up sleeves, a thick neck, and dark hair cut close to his head. Across the bar from him was another large man. A fat, sweaty man, wearing a loose fitting sport coat and a little porkpie hat perched on his head. He kinda looked like a clown. As her eyes panned across the room she could see another figure shooting pool by himself at a table toward the front of the bar. She couldn't see him clearly, so she moved to her left inside a small alcove that contained two side by side glass doors that led into the bar. Her hair on her arms suddenly stood straight up and her whole body flushed with goose bumps. He was young and lean and his body seemed to move around the pool table like liquid. He was wearing black slacks and white and black loafers with checkered argyle socks. He had on a pink silk shirt that was only buttoned part way up. His hair was long and dark and fell in his face when he leaned over to shoot. When he stood up, he flipped his hair out of his face with a shake of his head, and she almost fainted. Her knees buckled and she screamed.


He looked straight at her quizzically from the far side of the table and smiled, and her legs gave out. Suddenly, her father was there at her side. She saw his brown lace up shoes and white socks.

"Bonnie, what's wrong, honey . . . Bonnie?"

Then her mother was there, fussing over her. As she collected her wits, she stood back up and looked into the bar again. As certain as the day was long, it was Elvis. He was still looking at her. She wanted to run into the bar - run up to him - throw her arms around him - give herself to him - hold him tight and never let go. She didn't know why. She just knew that he did "it" for her. She didn't even know what "it" was particularly, but she knew he had more of it than any other man or boy she had ever seen in her short life.

She looked over briefly to her sister who was still staring in the window with her mouth open. Her mother was trying to turn her around by her shoulders.

"Bonnie Elizabeth Martin, was in God's name is going on.!?"

Bonnie was trying to twist back to look in the window

"It's Elvis, Mom!!"

"Elvis? . . . You mean that new singer . . . Elvis . . . ?" Her mother looked at her husband, Wade. "What's his name, darlin?"

"Elvis Pretzel?" said her husband chuckling. "Elvis the Pelvis?" He laughed, "C'mon you girls, we still got to get to Phoenix by tonight. We still got a few hours on the road. We got to git."

"But, Daddy!" both girls squealed.

"No, buts. Let's go."

Both girls could see that there was no pushing their father. If he got mad enough, he would pull out the belt. They knew that. Bonnie looked back and appealed to her mother.

"Mom, can't we just get his autograph or something?"

"You heard your father, young lady. Now, let's get going!"

"But, Mom, it's ELVIS."

As she looked into her mother's eyes, she saw a total void. Her mother didn't understand. Would never understand. A gulf opened up between them at that moment that would never be closed. Elvis was something new to the world. Something new and thrilling. Something wild and unknown. He awakened something in Bonnie that she didn't really understand but she wanted more of. But as she looked at her mother, she knew it was hopeless. In one final act of love and defiance, she looked into the open door of the bar as they walked past it and screamed.

"Elvis, I love you!!!!!!!!!!!"

Her dad grabbed her roughly by the arm and pulled her down the sidewalk.

Inside the bar, the fat man leaned over to the bartender, holding up an empty glass for a refill.

"It's like thet everwhere we go. Never seen nothin like it. They just go crazy." He said in his thick Kentucky drawl. "I don't know whut the boy's got, but he's got lots of it."

He looked over to where Elvis was still standing.

"See, I tole you, son. It's jus not back home thet they're like thet. It's everwhere."

Elvis looked at him and smiled.

"Maybe you're right, sir, but I still don't understand what all the fuss is about."

"Well, don't you worry about it. All thet fuss is gonna make us alotta money, son."

Elvis smiled again and went back to playing pool.

"Whatever you say, sir."

Colonel Tom Parker turned back the bartender, Jerry. Elvis could hear them start to swap war stories, although he knew darn well that the Colonel had never fought in World War II. The other man, he could believe. He looked tough and hard and had a look in his eye that Elvis had seen in other vets. He put the last ball in the corner pocket and put the cue back in the rack. As the two other men talked, he walked out onto the sidewalk and looked around. He had parked his brand new pink caddy convertible right in front of the bar. He examined it admiringly. White leather seats, air conditioning, radio, power steering windows and brakes. He shook his head and smiled. He still couldn't understand how all this had happened. He expected someone to tap him on the shoulder at any minute and tell him that it was all over and take it all back.

It was April, and across the street in a small park he could see a fruit tree full of fragile white blossoms. The park was actually above the street. The whole town was built on the side of a mountain, and what was the first floor of a building on one street might be the third floor from the street below. Elvis had seen that kind of thing in the Tennessee hills, but never on such a large scale. It was a beautiful day. Temperature in the seventies. Sunny. A slight breeze blowing down the empty main street. He sat down on a bench in front of the bar and surveyed his surroundings. He had talked the Colonel into making this detour off Route 66 on their way to Los Angeles to make his second movie, because he had always wanted to see a ghost town. As he looked down the vacant street, he imagined what it must have been like back in the wild west. He pictured gambling halls, gunslingers, dance hall girls, fast draw marshals and every other cliché from western movies. He pictured himself in levis and boots with a colt strapped to his leg walking big and bold down the street. A couple of doors down and across a small street he saw another bar. He got up, saw that the Colonel was just hitting his stride telling one of his stories, and slipped down the sidewalk toward the other bar.

When he got there, he could see that it was locked up. He looked in the large plate glass window and could almost see the cowhands off the trail whooping it up inside. He sometimes thought that he should have been born in those days. As he turned and looked around, he could see that this used to be quite a town. Up the hill from him he saw what must have been a large sprawling two story apartment building and above that a couple of rows of old abandoned Victorian homes. The bartender had said that the town used to have a population of 15,000 people. He could believe it. He wondered if there were really any ghosts here. The bartender said there were, but that could have just been talk. Shining up the strangers and such. But as he looked at all the abandoned structures all around him, he began to wonder. They intrigued him. They made him want to see what was inside. What stories they could tell.

Across the street there were a set of concrete stairs leading up to the upper levels. He realized that for the first time in a couple of years, he was alone. No screaming girls, no buddies hanging on, no Colonel telling him what to do. It seemed like everyone wanted a piece of him all the time. Part of him loved the attention. Part of him hated it. Everybody treating him like some kind of . . . what? He didn't know. But they made him feel even more alone. He decided that for once he'd do what he wanted. He bounded across the street and up the stairs. They led up to an upper road. Splitting off from that and heading further up the hill to the abandoned Victorian homes was another steep cobblestone street. He started climbing up it. As he did, he noticed a church on his right. This one was a red brick building thirty feet across and seventy feet long. Above the front door, was a large round window. Above that, the brick façade rose another thirty feet above him to a square bell tower. There was something about the church that seemed friendly and inviting even though it was obviously empty.

He climbed the three steps to the front door and tried the handle. The door opened. He smiled. He felt like he was on some kind of adventure. He opened the door further and was looking into the unblinking eyes of a small stout priest. He stepped back, frightened, and then laughed. It was a statue. But it was painted so lifelike that just for a second he had thought it was a real person. As he took his time and looked at it again, it still made him a little uneasy. It was so lifelike that it seemed as if it might suddenly speak. It seemed to have a presence.

He edged his way past the statue, through the vestibule and into the main body of the church. It was quiet and still, one main aisle going straight to the altar at the end of the room. The altar was tall and ornate made up of three filigreed alcoves, the middle one being the tallest. In the alcoves were more life-like figures. In the middle and most prominent alcove, where most catholic churches placed a figure of Christ on the Cross, there were Mary, Joseph, and Jesus as a small boy. In the alcove on the right was a figure of an adult Jesus, not on the cross, but standing with both palms lifted toward the congregation in a benediction. Bright red blood oozed from his palms. Tall windows on either side of the room let in the sunlight through brightly painted biblical scenes. There was an aura of peace and mystery to it all. A perfect church for a ghost town. As the shock of the fake priest and the interior of the church faded, he saw a figure sitting at one of the pews up toward the altar. It appeared to be a boy sitting quietly, as still as the statue. Elvis wondered if in fact it was another statue.


He slowly made his way down the aisle. He wasn't sure if he should be doing it, because he wasn't Catholic, and so he felt a little out of place. But he remembered his mother saying that the house of the Lord was open to all, so he figured it was alright. When he got almost even with the figure sitting on the long wooden pew, he could see that it was a living, breathing, human being. A boy, probably fourteen, fifteen years old, wearing new levis with the cuffs turned up, a faded plaid red flannel long sleeve shirt unbuttoned with the sleeves rolled up, a white t-shirt underneath. His hair was cut short. On his feet were a pair of blue suede loafers. He was leaning forward, elbows on his knees, looking at the filigreed altar. Elvis looked quickly at the altar to see what had the boy transfixed..

The boy noticed him then, his head turning, the rest of his body remaining still. His eyes registered recognition and then went blank for a moment as if this information reaching his brain could not be calculated immediately. Then he accepted what he saw and smiled slightly. His eyes looked old and somehow troubled for such a young face. He looked back to the statue of Christ and then back at Elvis.

"Look where we worship," he said.

Elvis reflexively looked back to the boy. It was a strange thing for a boy to say. He didn't know what to say in return. It seemed as if the younger man were troubled. Perhaps he had just lost a loved one. There was a sadness to him. Maybe he had come to the church to mourn in his own way. Elvis knew something was wrong because every young person that had seen and recognized him in the last year had lit up in one way or another. Every one.

"You alright, boy?"

The sadness in the boy's eyes disappeared then as if he reached out from some inner place and tucked it away in the darkness behind his eyes.

"Nobody's ever going to believe me," he said.

"What's that?"

"That I met Elvis in some abandoned church in some old ghost town." As soon as he finished speaking, he laughed. "Nobody."

At this point, Elvis moved down the aisle a couple of steps and stretched out his hand.

"What's your name?"

The boy shook his hand, firmly, and said, "Jim".

Elvis sat down and looked around again.

"This is sure some strange place," he said.

With no preamble the boy asked, "What are you doing here?"

The twenty-two year old phenomenon looked at him and smiled.

"My manager and me were driving out to Los Angeles, cause I'm going be in a movie, and I talked him into making this detour. Always wanted to see a ghost town." He looked at the boy with a twinkle in his eyes and asked half-jokingly, "Think there's really any ghosts here?"

He expected Jim to chuckle and dismiss the whole idea. Nobody really believed in ghosts anymore. But the boy got a confused look on his face and shrugged. His jaw tightened.

"I don't know. I . . ." He drifted off for a minute, looking back at the altar, and then back to Elvis with a hopeful look on his face. "What do you think? You ever seen a ghost?"

Elvis laughed and said, "No I can't rightly say I have, Jim." He saw that Jim wasn't laughing, that he, in fact, seemed deeply troubled. "What about you?"

Jim looked down at the floor and shook his head, not in negation, but confusion.

"I . . I don't know. I . . " He looked up then, staring deeply into the other man's eyes, examining him for a long moment. He seemed satisfied with what he saw and suddenly started talking rapidly in a whisper "A couple of years ago me and my mother and my father and my grandmother were driving across New Mexico and we came across this accident. Seems like this car and a truckload of Indians had run into each other and there were the bodies of these dead Indians scattered all over the highway, man. And it seems, as I look back on it now, that the ghosts of those dead Indians were running around going crazy." He looked at Elvis intently, imploringly, hoping that he would understand. "And one of them jumped into my soul." He looked away then, knowing how insane it sounded. The last words came out in the quiet sigh of an old man. "And he's still there."

Elvis just looked at the boy, not knowing what to say. He almost laughed, because the idea was so preposterous, but he saw that Jim was serious. He had never heard anything like it. Was the boy crazy? He looked normal enough.


Jim looked back at him and saw the look he had seen on his mother's face when he had told her. A blank stare. Behind the blankness, other emotions were ineptly concealed - shock, disbelief, pity. The experience had been very real and very unsettling. It had haunted him for the last two years. Waking him up in the middle of the night with violent visions. Disturbing his waking hours with unwanted feelings and someone else's memories. He had talked to a teacher, and a preacher, but they treated him as if he was delusional. No one understood. No one believed. He was foolish to think anyone would. Even Elvis Presley. He smiled then and forced himself to laugh.

"Just kidding," he chuckled, "Just a ghost story for a ghost town."

Elvis let himself laugh then.

"You had me going for a second there, boy. God all mighty. I thought maybe you were touched."

"Nah," Jim stood up suddenly, changing the subject abruptly, "Hey, you got some time? You want to hike around this place and see what we can find? Who knows what kind of things people left behind. "

"Yeah," Elvis stood up, "That's what I was just starting to do when I came in here." He started down the aisle toward the front door. "C'mon, let's go check out those old houses up the hill."

They came out of the church into the crisp spring sunlight, turned right on the cobblestone street and started walking up the hill toward a row of large, old, abandoned Victorian homes. Suddenly, they were both just boys on a spree. Finding ways into the old structures through broken windows and doors, going from floor to floor, searching for hidden treasure, pretending to be gamblers, outlaws, marshals. They made their way from house to house until they reached the last and highest home of the lot. People had left stuff. A lot of stuff. There were old cans of food in the kitchens, furniture, clothes, books, paintings. It was spooky. There might not have been any ghosts, but the things people left behind were ghostly in and of themselves. They spoke in the language of the dead and gone. The breeze blowing through the broken windows seemed to speak of the last free and wild age. It whispered, "It was here, but you're too late. You missed it."

In the last house, in an upstairs walk in closet, Jim found a long sleeve blue velvet shirt with mother of pearl buttons. It fit him perfectly.

"I'm keeping this," he told Elvis.

"You think you should? I mean it might belong to somebody. Maybe they'll come back for it."

Jim just looked at him with his eyebrows slightly raised as if waiting for Elvis to think it through. Then they both laughed and ran out of the house. They found themselves walking along a dirt road that seemed to be the highest road in town. They could see the old business district down below. Elvis pointed out his Caddy and the bar where he left the Colonel. It was the only car parked on the empty street.

Suddenly, Jim heard the sound of running water. He looked around but couldn't find its source. As they came around a slight curve in the road, they could see another large Victorian house. At some point in its past it had been painted yellow and white. It's broken windows gaped open and a breeze blew against torn lace curtains. Like the others, it too was deserted. The sound of running water became louder and Jim suddenly realized that it was coming from a large u-shaped concrete trough that came down from above them, dove under the road, and wound its way down through town. When they reached the trough, they could see clear, sparkling water running down through it like a mountain stream. They looked at each other. Somewhere up above them on the mountainside was a source of water that the builders of the aqueduct had captured and channeled down through the town. There was no question that it had to be explored, followed to it's source.


They clambered up, off the road, and climbed down into the aqueduct. Straddling the running water, they climbed crab-like, upward, their hands barely touching the concrete walls of the structure. The channel curved and, all of a sudden, they were in a tunnel not tall enough to stand up in. The aqueduct ran briefly underground. Cobwebs reached out and clung to their hands and faces. It was creepy. It was cool. The spring melt ran under their feet. They could see light at the other end and continued on until it opened up to the sky again. They kept climbing until they reached a spot where the builders had formed in a channel in the walls of the aqueduct. Into the channel they had dropped thick boards, one on top of the other, forming a leaking dam. On the other side of the dam, the water formed into a pool of crystal clear spring water four feet deep.

It was like finding a secret lagoon. The two boys smiled at each other. As they climbed out of the aqueduct to get their bearings, they were astounded by the view that greeted their eyes. Thirty miles away, they could see a thousand foot face of red rock cliffs that ran north to south for miles and miles. On top of the cliffs and perhaps another sixty miles away, there were the peaks of some massive snow capped mountains. The air was clear and blue.


"Jesus," said Elvis, "I've never seen this far, ever. Wait till I tell my mama."

Jim looked at him. His "mama"? This was Elvis for Christ's sake. This was the man who was a history maker, an earth shaker, a mold breaker. The man who started Rock and Roll. He was a force unto himself. There had never been anything like him before. Jim was able to really examine him for the first time as Elvis stared, overwhelmed, at the view. Here was the man who had shattered the old world, who had breathed a new wild life into the culture. The man who had released the beast and said it was good.

Jim sat down on a nearby rock and smiled, letting it all sink in. He was sharing time and space with a legend - a myth. He just sat and relished in the moment. Savoring it. He looked out to the same view that had transfixed Elvis. It did, indeed, seem like he could see forever. The sky seemed bluer than he had ever seen it before. The cliffs across the valley seemed filled with an energy that was impossible to describe. The light constantly changed, shadows shifted. Cuts, canyons, ridges appeared and disappeared. It was like watching clouds change and form from one thing to another. They sat in silence for a few minutes, just looking out over the land. Far away, in the valley below, Jim could see a thin sliver of water - a river - winding it's way south through the valley floor. He closed his eyes and relaxed. The sun was warm on his skin. The breeze brushed against him gently. The sound of the running water singing in his ears. A feeling of well being and completion swept over him. For the first time in his life, he felt right.

Elvis looked over at the boy. His eyes were closed. A relaxed smile lit up his face. It made him smile too. This was sure nice, he thought. Quiet, peaceful, pretty. Nobody tugging at him to do this or that or be this or that. Nobody kissing his butt. Just living. Like when he used to go fishing down at the creek when he was a kid. Simple and easy. He leaned back on a large boulder and closed his eyes like the boy. He noticed that his breath came easy and everything inside himself seemed to slow down. It was good. He let it happen.

He didn't know how long he rested there with his eyes closed, but at some point he heard the sound of the running water change. There was a splashing noise. He opened his eyes and saw Jim down in the aqueduct, drinking and splashing water on his face. The boy looked up at him.

"You know, I got every one of your records, even those first sessions you did at Sun Records."


Jim could see that Elvis was genuinely surprised and pleased.

"Yeah, I kiped them from the b.x."

"You did what from what?"

"I stole them all from the base exchange. It's like this department store they have on military bases."

"You got every one?"

Elvis was still amazed, and as Jim watched his reaction, a realization hit him like a freight train. Elvis didn't have a clue. He really had no idea who he was. He was actually surprised that people liked what he did. He had no understanding of the forces he was unleashing in the world around him. No idea of the revolution he had started. No idea of the immensity of his power. Jim thought of something his father had said. "This rock and roll won't last more than a couple of months. It's just a fad." Elvis was as ignorant as his Dad. They didn't see it. Jim understood his father not getting it, but Elvis for Christ's sake . . . Elvis. The realization stunned him. He didn't know what to think. His mind went blank with the incomprehensibility of it all. Elvis was like . . . what did his father call him sometimes . . . oh yeah . . . an idiot savant - somebody that was a genius in one realm and totally retarded in all others.

Jim just sat there and looked at his idol, stupefied. Elvis saw the befuddled, curious look cross his face still dripping with water. It was funny. He started chuckling involuntarily and the boy's look just became more comic. It made him laugh out loud. He didn't want to be impolite. His mother had taught him manners. But he couldn't help himself.

As Elvis started laughing, a relaxed, happy kind of laugh, all his magic and charisma came pouring out of him. It was like a wave of the most incredible energy Jim had ever experienced. It made him happy. It made him glad to be alive. Here and now. It made him laugh.

And as they laughed, each one's laughter made the other one laugh even harder. They didn't really know what they were laughing about but suddenly it was as if they both understood the joke of it all, the lightness of it all, the unimportance of it all, and it made them laugh even harder.

Eventually, they just couldn't laugh anymore, and they slowly wound down.

"I haven't laughed like that in I don't know when," chuckled Elvis, "that felt good."

"Yeah, and nobody even told a joke. That was weird." Jim replied.

There really wasn't much to say after that, and they sat for awhile in silence looking back at the cliffs across the valley lose their color as the sun went down over the hill in back of them. Elvis realized then that the Colonel was probably looking for him and probably getting his dander up at the same time. He knew that it was time to go. They had to be in L.A. tomorrow night, because they had to meet with the lawyers on the following morning to finalize the contracts for his next movie.

"I got to get back, Jim" he said.

"Yeah, me too. My parents are going to be pissed off. I'll walk down with you."

Slowly, they made their way down the aqueduct to the dirt road and from there down the cobblestone street past the church and into the main part of town. They were both lost in their own thoughts and didn't say much on the walk. Elvis was thinking of the future, of what the Colonel had told him as they drove through the Texas panhandle. The Colonel told him that the Army was going to draft him within the year. He told Elvis that he had done everything he could to talk them out of it or postpone it, but they weren't having any of it. He had a year at the most before he was inducted. It was an unexpected and unwelcome development. His career was just taking off. In the unpredictable world of pop music, this could end everything. For two years he would be out of touch. People could forget. Someone else could come along and capture the fickle attention of the public. It could be the end of everything. On the other hand, he didn't want to duck out on the responsibility. He felt it was his duty to serve like all the men who had served before him. He loved his country and wanted to do his part. These conflicts tore at him, and he didn't know how to resolve them.

Jim was also thinking of the future. What he had seen today baffled him on one hand and inspired him on the other. He had sensed for the last two years that something huge was coming down the road, something that rock and roll was just giving a jump start to. He couldn't put it into words, but he knew that a new world was beginning to form - a world so different from the one his parents grew up in that they would have no understanding of it. He knew that somehow, he would be a part of the change. He thought of the truck crash and the experience of feeling inhabited by another spirit. He looked over at Elvis who seemed lost in thought. He felt as if somehow these two experiences were connected. There was a similar feeling to them, as if he was being carried along in a river with a strong current, not really in control of what was happening. There seemed to be a direction to it all, but he had no idea what it was. It was unsettling and little spooky.

As they reached the highway and turned right, walking the short distance to the stairs that led down to the bar, Elvis saw a man and woman coming up the stairs. They looked like normal old couple. The woman looked over at them, and a look of surprise, relief, and then anger flashed across her face.

"James Morrison!! Where have you been! You get over here right now!!!," she yelled.

Elvis looked over at Jim whose eyes rolled in his head and then looked over at him, obviously embarrassed.

"Shit," the boy said under his breath.

Elvis smiled slightly. He knew how it was. It hadn't been that long that he had been a teenager.

Jim's mother was still going on.

"We didn't know what had happened to you! What do you think you were doing? You had us worried sick . . . "

As his mother carried on, Elvis looked over at Jim's father, a large man with a military style crew cut, crisp starched slacks and shirt, erect posture, and an angry look on his face. He figured Jim was probably in for a whupping when they got alone. He knew the look. But his father didn't say anything. He just let the mother go on.

"Mom," said Jim, interrupting her, "This is Elvis. Elvis Presley. We were just walking around."

His mother stopped for a minute and looked at Elvis. Her face was blank at first, her mind not putting it all together. Then her forehead knotted up in confusion. Then recognition. Then more confusion.

"Elvis, this is my mom and dad."

Elvis reached out his hand to Jim's mom.

"Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Morrison"

He shook her hand and then turned to Jim's dad, offering his hand.

"Sir. I hope you don't blame Jim. I was my idea to explore the town a bit. You got a good boy here."

Jim watched the ultimate symbol of rebellion act in the most deferential and polite manner possible to his parents. He could see that his parents didn't quite know what to make of it all. But Elvis' politeness and charisma seemed to defuse the situation immediately. He could see both of his parents soften. At that precise moment, Elvis' pink Cadillac convertible pulled up along the highway. Behind the wheel was the man who Jim recognized as Colonel Tom Parker.

"Elvis! What in the sam hill are you doin!!? I've bin drivin all over this god forsaken place looking for you!! You like to give me a heart attack! Jesus, Mary, and the Saints"

"I'm sorry, sir. I didn't mean to worry you, I was just - "

Then the Colonel finally noticed the rest of the group and interrupted Elvis.

"Oh, sorry folks. Didn't mean to be shouting, but I thought maybe something had happened to my boy here. My name's Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis an I are on our way out to Hollywood, so's Elvis here can make a movin picture." Jim watched as the Colonel took total control over the situation, talking a mile a minute. "I'm afraid we're gonna have to cut this short. We got to be at Paramount studios tomorra or we'll be in dutch. I know how much you'd like to spend more time with the boy, but we really got to go." He reached over, opened the glove compartment, pulled out a stack of eight by ten glossies. Head shots of Elvis. He handed one each to Jim and his parents, talking as he did. "C'mon, Elvis. Let's go." It wasn't a request. It was a command. Elvis walked over to the passenger door and climbed in the Caddy. Jim was surprised at his ready obedience. "Hope you all come watch our next movie. It's gonna be called 'Loving You'. We're gonna put out a new album too. Well, you folks take care now. Don't get any on ya."

The Colonel put the car in drive, and they were gone. As the Caddy sped away, Elvis turned around and waved.

"See ya, Jim! That was fun!" he yelled.

"Nice meeting you, Elvis!"

As he turned back to his parents, it was as if they had never been angry in the first place. He could see that they weren't even thinking about his transgression. They smiled at each other. He could see that they now somehow felt different. They had been touched by fame and it made them special somehow. Somehow they had been elevated to a higher level of being by the experience. For a short time, they existed in the world of the celebrated and famous. They had been touched by the magic.

Jim laughed. He couldn't believe it. His parents bought it. Bought into the separation between so-called stars and ordinary people. Did they know that two years ago Elvis was a truck driver? Someone they would have looked down upon? Now, they were all starry eyed. He laughed again.

"What's so funny, Jim?" asked his mother.

"Nothing, mom."

"Well, he sure was a polite young man. Not at all what you'd expect. Very pleasant. Didn't you think, dear," she said, turning to her husband.

As his parents discussed what a nice, polite boy Elvis was and as they walked down the steps toward their car , Jim stopped and looked out at the cliffs across the valley. The red rocks had gone dark now, and a few street lights had come on in the valley below. He looked around him at the old deserted town. All the empty buildings seemed to be filled with the past. They were vacant of people but not of memories of the lives that had been lived in them. Jim could feel the presence of those who had lived and died and stayed here. Were there ghosts? Yes, there were. He could feel their movement in the large abandoned apartment building across the street. Could somehow hear their whispering behind the broken windows of those apartments. Could feel that he was being watched. After his experience with the indian spirit he was sure that something existed after death. Something vital and real. He didn't know what it was exactly, but it was strangely comforting. It made death less frightening, less threatening. An odd thought entered his mind, and it made him smile. When the day came when it was his time to go, maybe he would come here and haunt this old town with the rest of the dead.

Then, as he looked down the road where the Cadillac had just disappeared, he wondered where Elvis would go when it was his time.


April 1957      by Terry Molloy       Copyright 2000      All Rights Reserved

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