The first one is the showiest. I sit in the empty upper balcony of the hotel theater, set up between tables where tan old ladies would be sitting if anybody real were playing, count ceiling tiles through fake Frankie Valle and fake Bobby Darin. Then the big guy comes out, in early period costume. Wonder if the hair is real. Doubt it. Wonder if he would do costume changes as he progressed through the songbook, but I don't give him the chance. Halfway through "Hound Dog" I draw a bead on his exposed chest, tuft of chest hair, gaudy medallion, squeeze. The THWAP-THWAP-THWAP reminds me of the paintball guns we've been working on, but that isn't paint on fake Elvis. The band doesn't stop because there's no band, just a tape that keeps playing. Old ladies on the ground floor scream and scatter. I leave the apparatus where it is, smoking, it's not like there's not more where that came from, and it's a neat calling card, no prints.
I'm rocketing across golden Vegas rooftops before there are even sirens.
Intense hooker negotiations before number two, in front of the All-Nite Wedding Chapel. Isn't the get-up a little much, she says. The only thing I think is a little much is her lip, I tell her. And besides, she says, I don't do fat guys. Nobody's gonna do anything, I say, she just has to go in and play along, no one's gonna end up hitched. I mention an indiscretion of hers from last week there's no way I could know about, she screams and slaps away, but stops right around the time five one-hundred dollar bills materialize, and I tell her there's another five where that came from when this is all over. She can be back on the Strip in a half an hour.
We fill out a few forms at the front desk. Nadine the hooker uses a fake name. The receptionist accuses me of doing the same. Then she ushers us into the chapel where the big guy comes out of a back door onto the altar, Styrofoam coffee cup in one hand, velvet Bible in the other. This guy is late-period, has the paunch to back it up. He clears his throat, looks me up and down, but he's in no position to ridicule. I smile. Nadine lights up.
The receptionist is also the organist, she starts into "Hawaiian Wedding Song." The paperwork promised we would get this guy's rendition of "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" upon completion of the ceremony, but again, I don't give him the chance.
Do you, uh huh, uh huh, he says, Debbie, take-- and I flip the Bible up and out of his hand, just to see how sharp I am, and in one motion pull a Desert Eagle from my generous waistband. Four holes in the good book, four in Father Presley. Maybe the receptionist screams, I doubt Nadine does, anyway I ghost before either happens. I leave a Bowie knife in the VIVA LAS VEGAS! movie poster in the antechamber. Nadine will find her other five bills in her g-string on her next trick, no idea how I got them there.
I can't believe my luck: On Sunday there's a goddamn Elvis impersonator convention in town. I slip in the hotel on Saturday night and do a few piano-wires in the rooms (three, four, five) then get six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven and twelve via plastic explosive rigged beneath the the speaker's platform during the USING THE POWER OF THE INTERNET TO MAXIMIZE YOUR KING POTENTIAL panel. Then I get the hell out of town, fast, like I do everything.
Apparently in the platform collapse I fatally crushed the webmaster of KingsMen.net, the number one Elvis impersonator website in the continental US, so his apprentice has taken over and posted an all-points-bulletin including a map of the US showing my reign of terror, Elvis heads everywhere I've struck, morbid. A big cluster over Vegas, two in Memphis. I see they missed the truckstop outside of Cleveland and the Indian casino in Jersey, which leads me to believe those were renegade Elvi, not in the guild. On the KingsMen message boards, which features users with handles like SuspiciousMindz and ComebackSpecial68, a debate is raging about how I hit the convention in Vegas Sunday morning when my first Memphis hit occurred outside of Graceland at 2 pm Sunday afternoon, a daylight drive-by. Somebody named JailhouseC0ck propagates a second-shooter theory.
The next two (thirteen, fourteen) are both packing: clearly, word is spreading that their number is up. Either way, I leave that Waffle House bathroom very bloody and add to my collection of tinted, gold-plated aviator glasses. I consider scalping pompadours, reconsider after mulling over a couple of factors: one, most Elvises are bald, two, that's a serial killer thing, and I'm not a serial killer, I'm on a mission. I die a little bit every time one of them dies, a little disappointed, but I don't stay disappointed for long.
I follow the big guy onto a train to the coast, anticipating number fifteen. He has a car all to himself, interesting. I kick the door open and he lunges for a big fucking Magnum, I turn to the chunk it takes out of the wall and think, yea, that thing could blow open a TV set easy. I throw a knife, he catches it. He scissor-kicks me, surprisingly nimble. Drives the knife in the floor next to my head, rakes my nose with his boot-heel. Asks what the hell I think I'm doing. I pull a semiautomatic from where it's strapped to my ankle, he takes the slugs like a champ, doesn't even flinch.
This is the real deal. If my hunch is correct, and of course my hunch is correct, I know next-to-everything, I won't be able to kill him. That's why I had to kill all those others, to find out which one I couldn't kill. I am a little starstruck, and I don't get starstruck.
He is confused when I don't bleed. Why the costume, he asks.
No costume, I say.
I pistol-whip him to the floor as getback for the boot to the face, he looks up: I've made the hangdog expression semi-permanent.
He asks again why I'm doing this.
Knowledge, I say. Why we do anything. You are a myth, and it's a lonely life being a myth. Chalk it up to that, I say, if you want. Loneliness.
He says, Do you know what it's like being a myth?
Yup, I say.
Do I have any idea, he says, what it's like when the more you dress like yourself the more people will be sure it's not you, just someone imitating you?
Absolutely, I say.
He says, Why didn't I get that air rifle I wanted when I was seven?
But he doesn't get an answer, because I lay a finger aside my nose and that same second, I'm on top of the train, lighting a Kool, radioing for the sleigh.Posted by DC at May 20, 2005 04:28 PM