by S.M. Murdock
Palananiya “Pal” Singh was THE best Elvis impersonator Las Vegas ever had. The only problem was that Las Vegas didn’t know it had him.
In over twenty years, he had yet to venture out in one of his thirty-two glittering polyester ensembles. Every night and fully adorned, he stepped through his bathroom threshold and into the sanctuary of his bedroom. Pal was transformed. He became another person; adored, talented, famous, powerful... Pal became the King!
Except for the ticking of his Elvis the Pelvis pendulum wall clock and the electric hum of the CPU fan, the bedroom was a quiet, secluded chamber. A few clicks of Pal’s mouse and his IM settings changed to “invisible.” Tonight, Pal didn’t want to be a part of the online net while he sat in misery. He didn’t want to feel lonesome tonight. He wanted Marie to come back and start IMing him again.
Three months ago, Marie had joined the same chat room that Pal was a member of. She wrote that she was recently divorced and new to the Las Vegas area. Pal thought her ex-husband was a fool. She was the sweetest person he’d ever chatted with, and the most sincere in her acceptance of his longtime admiration for the King. Even his family didn’t understand, let alone accept it. They thought Pal was a big joke. But not Marie, she didn’t ridicule him, pretend tolerance, or try to cajole him to stop: She encouraged Pal. She’d stated more than once that he was important, that he was preserving a piece of western culture.
Marie was gone now, she wrote that being online was fine, but she wanted something more. Something real. Pal’s shoulders stooped as text rolled down his screen. He glanced at his clock, its plastic legs swung from side-to-side at the hip keeping track of the seconds that ticked by.
A private IM box popped up onto the middle of his screen.
shiv@lasvegas: “You’re pathetic. She’s just another User... Get another, there’s plenty of ’em around.”
Pal checked his settings again. This couldn’t be right, he thought. “I’m supposed to be invisible,” Pal mumbled, annoyed, and scratched at one of his mutton chop sideburns. He quickly typed a response. Pal’s eElvis7 avatar wiped its brow with a glittering scarf and tossed it from its small animated square. The scarf’s pixels disappeared as Pal’s text popped up next to it.
eElvis7: No, Marie made me feel more like the King. She inspired me. I’m building a Graceland website for her. She-
shiv@lasvegas: She wants to meet you, Pal. She thinks there’s something behind your fancy avatar. But there isn’t, is there?
shiv@lasvegas: That’s right. We both know there’s only a lonely, mousy programmer with carpal tunnel syndrome behind that avvy.
The wall clock’s hips swayed for several seconds marking the silence.
eElvis7: How can I get her back?
shiv@lasvegas: What would you be willing to give up?
eElvis7: All I want is to see her post again... if you can do that...
shiv@lasvegas: It will cost you.
eElvis7: Anything. I’m not rich. Do you take PayPal?
shiv@lasvegas: LOL...I don’t want your money. No, no, that’s not what I want.
eElvis7: Then what... my soul?
shiv@lasvegas: ROTFLMAO... Your soul? Oh no, Pal, I don’t want your soul. That was last millennium’s commodity. I have enough souls... I have plenty of souls... Souls I got...
I want your fancy avatar.
Pal jumped out of his seat still typing. eElvis7 simultaneously sprang into action, executing a few karate moves in time with Pal’s use of the “Enter” key.
eElvis7: No! There’s no way in hell I’m giving you my eElvis7! I spent 6 months and downed two bottles of Tylenol developing it. It’s the only one of its kind. It’s very special, incomparable. I have my heart and soul invested in it!
shiv@lasvegas: How many dates have you had in the last five years, Pal? How many women have there been in the last twenty? Not many, I would guess.
eElvis7: That was low... Okay, my avatar to get Marie back? Well... I suppose...
eElvis7: Done? Hey, wait!
shiv@lasvegas: Marie will be knocking on your door in ten minutes.
eElvis7: No, no, NO! I don’t want to see her... no, wait! I wanted her to come back... to post again, not come over!!!
Muffled laughter filled the bedroom. Marie was on her way over to his apartment! Anxiety and panic racked Pal’s body as he crouched over his keyboard, hurriedly typing, hurriedly trying to renegotiate. The computer monitor went blank, and then flickered like a strobe across his perspiring face. It came on again and the picture sharpened.
Pal’s eyes opened to huge saucers, his mouth agape as he gazed at the screen. Unbearable heat jolted through Pal, his high crescent collar tightened around his neck. A low moan left Pal’s lips as he pulled at his pommaded hair. His head shook from side-to-side in denial of the scene in front of him. Pal’s chest tightened and his breath labored. It was too much!
On the middle of the computer screen, under the “Myspaceinhell.com” banner, was a scene from a Bosch painting. Tied to a pole at the chest and knees, in the middle of the monitor, was Pal’s eElvis7 avatar screaming. Bundles of lit kindling were at its feet while grotesque little demons astride elephants taunted it. No more glittering scarves, no more karate moves.
Pal’s keening was heard by his upstairs neighbors as he ran out of the bedroom, yanked open the front door, and headed toward the car-filled street bordering the apartment complex. The muffled laughter faded away as Pal exited his apartment.
And for the first time in his 38 years of life, it was Elvis who left the building...
Outside, Pal froze at the curb. Anxiety racked his body again, this time to the point of paralysis. The light from the setting sun bounced from his studded and bejeweled, blue jumpsuit to the windows and headlights of the stop-and-go Las Vegas traffic.
“Pal? Pal, is that you?” He turned his head to the soft, feminine voice. “It’s me. It’s Marie.”
Pal inhaled a long deep breath. As he exhaled with a heavy sigh, all tension left his body, and a feeling of fantastic well-being flowed through. A familiar curl touched his lips, and Pal’s hips began to gyrate suggestively.
Commuters began to honk their horns when they spotted him. Women in their cars screeched with appreciation. Pal’s hand reached out to Marie. Then in one swift move, Pal was in warrior stance and started to sing. He sang loudly.
...Would you believe that yesterday,
This girl was in my arms and swore to me
She’d be mine eternally,
And Marie’s the name of his latest flame...
And Marie’s the name of his latest flame...
“Go, Elvis, go! You’re so cool, man! I love that song!” More cheering and clapping erupted as cars crawled by. Marie stood there smiling, waiting for the impromptu serenade to finish. A pair of red-striped, lacy panties sailed overhead and landed at Pal’s feet.
He was reborn.
Copyright © 2007 by S. M. Murdock