Storyglossia Issue 37, December 2009.

Karaoke People are Happy People

by Laura Ellen Scott




He was back. The 1968 Elvis. Ironically, he almost died within minutes of what would later be referred to as "The Second Comeback," when he materialized near a fjord in Qaanaaq, Greenland, the northernmost community in the world. His leathers protected him from immediate hypothermia, but the slick soles of his boots proved tricky on the ice, and he almost fell into a crevasse before the curator of the Hotel Qaanaaq discovered him and brought him indoors. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the King's return is that no one on earth doubted his identity. Not even for a moment. The second most remarkable aspect was the efficiency with which the US government, partnering with the Church of Scientology, retrieved the iconic singer to sequester him at an undisclosed location. It was almost as if they were specifically prepared for this event. Much later agents from the government tried to kill him, but no one really understands why.





In his first televised appearance, the Elvis did not speak. The strategy was to get the world accustomed to seeing the dead walk in glimpses, exposing us little by little to the impossible. Our first look was eighteen seconds, which was how long it took for the man to descend the steps of a private jet, jog across the tarmac, and duck into the black tinted safety of a waiting Suburban. He wore black jeans, a Hollister hoodie, and a Marine Corps baseball cap. The clothes looked good on him, perfectly natural. But his modern sunglasses were too chic and narrow. We'd have to get used to change. Flanked by dark suited companions, he waved to the cameras, smiled, gave the thumbs up, and disappeared into the vehicle. All this took place somewhere in Badenburg, Germany. I watched that smile over and over again, on every channel. Here was a man who knew about love. Was born with enough that he could give it away like this, in smiles. Then I scrutinized those milliseconds before and after the smile, the man appraising his immediacy. Plane to tarmac to limousine. Everything had changed, become smaller and more efficient except for this. Getting to where he needed to be was still the same old story. Was that a comfort? Or an extreme disappointment? The government wanted him dead. They feared his dominion.





On TV, the crawl read Somewhere in Montana under a rocky desert and a horizon that promised no more moons. The Elvis on horseback, and we were erect, just like. Fleet of black SUVs and sun-glassed guards not pictured. No doubt about it, he was a lovely looking feller. No images of him with his family yet. Montana, eh? Poor bastard. Hours later, the government tried to gun him down in that desert, big shoot out and such. They never explained why. The assassination attempt was unsuccessful, and the Elvis was recovered by corporate interest.





By the day of the concert, the Elvis was still a patriot, though he'd lost his enthusiasm for the companionship of presidents. He sat next to the US president, touching knee to knee on a padded bench in an air conditioned trailer across from the President of the People's Republic of China or some European dude whose title and country escaped him, but there was no thrill in it. The Elvis and the Presidents had run out of things to say to one another, perhaps because they were sufficiently embarrassed by what had already been said.


Do you feel real?


There was the cold instability of the soil beneath the trailer's wheels. He and his guests contemplated God. Music from the stage made the trailer shake. The Elvis drank bottled water. He was completely clean and sober, in small part because they no longer made the stuff he liked. He didn't know what pill did what job any more, and he really couldn't be bothered to sort that all out again. A stack of presents had collected in the corner throughout the day. Plaques, medals, totems. Tributes from all nations.


Do you have any special powers? Did you miss us?


A thingie buzzed. It was time. He stood, looking saintly and cool. At this point, any other visitor would have wished him luck, but these heads of state were submissive, embarrassed by what he was about to accomplish. "Damn right," said the Elvis. And he was on his way.


Please forgive us.





That night I dreamed of making love to my neighbor. I was lean and young, and we were back in my marriage bed in northern Virginia. She locked her legs around me, breathed hard and called me Elvis, which was perfect. I never had a better dream. I awoke in the dark to glass breaking and a security alarm going off. I looked out my window to the street below. A vampire slid down the middle of Esplanade, confident as a ballroom dancer. His half mask glowed in the dark, and around his neck and wrists he wore neon light sticks for bracelets, green and pink, which cast rainbows across his short white cape. His skateboard rattled as he surfed the shadows below my window. He saluted me. Hello you Elvis bandit, I said. I was satisfied in a changed world.

Copyright©2009 Laura Ellen Scott

Laura Ellen Scott made this year's Wigleaf Top 50 and has had two stories nominated for Dzanc's 2010 Best of the Web anthology. Her most recent stories are online at >killauthor, Pank, The Northville Review, and decomP, and in print in the Paycock Press anthology Gravity Dancers: Even More Fiction by Washington Area Women. She blogs at