The Once and Future King

by Scott A. Cupp and Rhonda Eudaly

“Testing!  Testing!  Is this thing on?  Sure hope y'all can hear me now!  Anyway, this here is Elvis Presley, the King!  Anyway, I'm not working in a pizza joint or a 7-11 or living in the Northwest like them tabloids say.  I am really and truly dead.  I'm happy up here in Heaven, at least most of the time.  There really are Rivers of Milk and Honey, not to mention the hot and cold running donuts.  There’s only a few times when I’m not happy.  That’s when radio and TV signals reach me, and I get to see and hear what passes for rock and roll today. How does a great country like America has lost control of Rock and Roll?  That ain't Taking Care of Business, folks!

I was the King of Rock and Roll.  Got the crown to prove it!  And I will be again!  True fans everywhere, well, I just want you to know that Elvis loves you!

“So ... (trumpet of horns) I'm coming back!  That's right!  This will be the Encore of Encores.  Uh huh.  I will be Born Again and I am going to reclaim the crown of Rock and Roll and make America into a great country once again.  Also, I need a few fried peanut butter and ‘nanner sandwiches.  The Holy Ghost can’t make them for shit."

Mrs. Sheila Watterson was among the first to hear the Wondrous News of Great Musical Joy.  As she played her LP of "How Great Thou Art" on her new retro-looking stereo that played vinyl records as well as tapes and CD’s.  She liked the vinyl.  Sheila was Old School about her Elvis.  Especially when the freak short occurred causing the motor to reverse the spin of the record.   Instead of picking up gibberish or those crazy Satanic messages Sheila’d always heard about, she was Blessed.  She received the first of the “messages”.

Sheila hit the floor before the needle reset.  When she came to, she knew she had to tell someone.  No one would believe her without backup.  She called her best friend Rose first.  Rose was always a skeptic.  If she heard and believed, then others would too.  And if Rose heard the message, then maybe it wasn’t just a bad reaction to taking cold medicine with a Hot Toddy.  Rose did not waste time showing up, and to Sheila’s relief, the message played again.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.  I thought for sure you were completely loony – or toasted.”

“That’s why I called you, Rose honey.”

Rose gave her a look as if she wasn’t sure that was a compliment or insult.  “Play it again, Sheila.”

“We can’t keep this to ourselves,” Rose said after they played the record five more times and got the same message.

“Where do we start?”

They began with the bowling team: Ethel, Mary, and Robert.  That turned into something between a party and a church tent revival.

“These are Tidings of Great Joy, all right,” Robert said.  We need to spread the word, and fast.  And I know just the go-to guy for that, Carburetor Charlie.”

It took some doing – and some heavy-duty bribery – but somehow Robert managed to arrange a meeting with the radio personality known far and wide as Carburetor Charlie.  They took the record player, a couple of bottles of moderately expensive booze to the radio station and played him the message.  Carburetor Charlie was understandably skeptical in thinking this was either an out-of-date message or some form of hoax.  So, Carburetor Charlie put in his CD of the album.  And suddenly, there was an extra track – the ultimate Easter Egg – The Second Message!

“Thank you.  Thank you very much.  If you’re hearing this then the cosmic alignments necessary for my second coming are nigh – whatever ‘nigh’ means.  Now, you who are hearin’ this.  It’s up to you.  Go out and spread the word.  Elvis is re-entering the building.”

“Holy crap, you’re not just smoking that medical grade weed, this is true!”

Sheila seemed even more freaked out.  “That’s why we came to you, Charlie.  How do we spread the word?”

The DJ smiled big and wide.  “That’s not going to be a problem.  I have ideas.”

Charlie got on line and on the phone to The Weekly World News, The National Enquirer, and TMZ.  Then he got on Facebook and Twitter and let the hash tagging begin.  When it was over, he sighed.  He remembered when “hash tagging” had a totally different, but equally surreal meaning and suddenly he jonesed for a magic brownie or two.  Within hours the whole world heard the Good News of Rock and Roll Joy.  Elvis – the one true King – was coming back.  Soon.

While Howard rolled the Colombian into the biggest bomber Louise had seen in months, she loaded the DVD into the machine and curled up on the couch.  She held up the box.  “Blue Hawaii”. Should be the ultimate in high camp, she though.  Particularly with a good buzz on.  Due to the recently renewed Elvis craze, they had taken to watching his old movies on Sunday afternoons when they could get them.  The movies were stupid, cheesy, and a complete waste of what talent the actors had.  They also worked so much better under the influence of just about anything.  She and Howard had some wonderfully dreamy afternoons and she hoped this would be another classic.

Howard lit the joint and passed it over to Louise.  She took a good long drag and snuggled in next to him.  Several drags later, she felt a warm numbness begin to creep in over her.  Howard was cuddly and soft.  By the end of the joint, the movie had become very surreal, filled with grinning natives in hula outfits and the ever-present cleanness and dopey grin that was the movie Elvis.  This one seemed more personal than ever.  Even the songs sounded like they were being sung just for her.  She liked that.

Louise soon found herself thinking more about sex than the film.  That wasn’t all that unusual.  Generally, after a film like this, she and Howard would have a short, jerky hop in the sack.  But today was different. There was something peculiar about the movie and the haze of the smoke.  She found herself thinking of him in ways that she hadn't done in years.  She never noticed that he had several Elvis-like qualities, but then she hadn’t really thought about it until now.  She was getting very hot and very, very horny.  She began to massage the inside of his thighs.  Her touch was rewarded with a tensing of muscles that said, "Don't stop!"  She lost all interest in the movie as Howard rolled over and began to caress her breasts.  They made strong, passionate love that seemed to last forever.  Louise climaxed in a frenzy that came in waves you could surf on and left her in an exhausted heap upon the sofa.  Howard rolled over and had fallen asleep as he always did after sex.  That’s when she heard her message.

"Hail, Louise!  Full of grace!" The Voice from the television.  Louise stared at the set in a haze of confusion and THC.  Gone were the trees and wahinis.  The full glorious face of Elvis dominated the screen.  He glowed as if from a halo.  He was speaking directly to her.  Louise pinched herself and found that it hurt.  It wasn’t a dream – or at least it didn’t feel like one.  "Blessed are y'all among women for you have been chosen, Mama.  And you’re the Chosen Mama.”

“I’m the what?”

“Don’t worry.  This is Good News. You’re the Chosen Mama.  For my Second Coming.”

“But, obviously I’m not … Shouldn’t you be looking for a …”

“Virgin births are for the Almighty.  I’m big, but not that big.  Not yet. … Hey. Kidding there, Big Guy!!”

“But … but… how?”

“Now, Mama, I don’t have all the scientific details, but something about Ozone Layers and y'alls sizeable toke let me take over Bubb’s body there just long enough to … well, you know … Take Care of Business.

“On this day y'all have conceived the one who will rescue America from the depths to which it has fallen.  He shall be the new King.  He shall be - ME!  And that makes you my new Mama.  You won’t never replace my original one, but you are shore a hell of a lot prettier."

OK, I'm not asleep, she thought as she fell asleep next to Howard.  Damn it then, that stuff was GREAT shit!

As Louise drove to work the next day, she listened to the morning radio on the Oldies station.  When the topic turned to Elvis’s return, she felt a blush creeping over her face and down her chest and a weird flutter somewhere south of her belly.  Then she noticed the little statue on her dashboard.  It wasn’t a dumb bobblehead.  She made Howard promise to keep those in his truck.  It looked like St. Christopher but it had bangs and sunglasses.  She didn’t have a St. Christopher or any other goofy statue on the dashboard.  Besides, she and Howard weren’t even Catholic.  They were Baptist.  She took a closer look and jumped, causing the car to swerve onto the shoulder.  It looked like Roy Orbison!

The statue pulled off its sunglasses and winked at her.  Definitely not a bobblehead.  The statue strummed its guitar.  It was playing “In Dreams”.  Louise wondered what a therapist would say to that. “Blessed are you among women, Louise, for you have been chosen.  The Elvis Child is to be reborn and you - the greatest among women will bear him into the world.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.  I peed on three sticks this morning.  They all came out the same.  Though, let me tell you, getting and using them without Howard finding out … you can chalk that up to another miracle.  Speaking of which, do I have to tell Howard this Joyous News, or will he and the rest of the world think it’s his?”

“Chosen Mama ain't no way anyone is gonna mistake the Elvis Child for anything other than what he is.  This will be no normal child.”

“Have you met Howard?  The child wouldn’t be normal even if it had been … normal.”

“You are missing the point.  You’re about to receive another message.  Stay tuned.”

“Great, now I’m in A Christmas Carol.  Who’s coming?  The Ghost of Christmas Countdowns?  And, let me guess, Casey Kasem?”

On the radio, Louise began to hear Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue” start up but there was no vocal.  Instead, she heard a familiar whiskey and tobacco-soaked voice say “By these signs you will know it is all true.  We are the prophets of Elvis and we have come to tell you that he is really and truly coming.”

I stand corrected.  It’s Wolfman Jack because there’s no countdown for Casey Kasem to get behind right now.  Got it.  What else you got?”

The background music switched to Roy’s “Ooby Dooby” as the Wolfman continued.  “Elvis must be reborn where he first came to prominence, and you have been selected to bring him back.  So, you must make the trip to Memphis.  You will be there on August 16 for the new birth.”

“August! As in August in like a month?  Are you serious?  I won’t even be showing by then.  What happened to Christmas?  That’s at least not in Baby Spawned by Aliens categories.”

“Christmas is taken.  August 16.  That’s the day.  Memphis is the place.  The King will be reborn on the day of his original death in his hometown.  You will be in Memphis on the appointed day.”

“All right.  All right.  Jesus, give me a break.”

“Don’t blaspheme!” and he was gone.

Howard wasn’t sure how he felt about all this Elvis stuff he was hearing on the radio and reading at the checkout stands.  He’d had enough on his mind dealing with Louise.  She’s been acting weird ever since they’d hokey pokey’d during Blue Hawaii a couple of days ago.  He didn’t remember much about it, but something was off.  If he didn’t know better, he’d think she was knocked up or something.  But that was impossible, ever since that … unfortunate … mechanical bull incident.  Okay, it was a drunken college frat dare, but the damage had been done.  Howard could shoot blanks with the best of them, but they were still only blanks.  No possible kids.

“Yo! You are the Coolest among Cool Cats.”

Howard almost ran his Ford Ranger off the road.  “Who said that?”

Two of the crazy bobble heads statues on his dashboard suddenly stood more upright and seemed more stable.  Not to mention more … heavenly.  They were also 1950’s rockers and they were glowing.

“We bring you the Words of the King,” one said.  “We have some heavy truth to lay down on you.”

“Jesus?”

“No man, and you say you know the King of Rock and Roll.  I’m Gene Vincent.” The bobble head nodded to the one next to him.  “That there’s Richie Valens!”

“Hola!” said Valens.

“Vincent continued.  “We have a message for you about the King’s Second Coming.”

“I’ve been meaning to ask.  Should that be ‘Encore’ instead of ‘Second |Coming’?” Howard felt better for having asked this burning question.

“This is no time for joking,” Valens said.  Now listen close!  This is about your Old Lady”

“Louise? What does she have to do with this?”

“The Old Lady is now the Chose One,” said Vincent.

“Chosen? Chosen for what?”

Valens looked at Vincent.  “See, I told you he was an idiot?”

Vincent smile.  “Well, you see, there’s only one way for Elvis to return to the Earth.  Through the body of a woman.”

“Ew, he’s not going to explode out of her like in that Alien movie, is he?”

Gene Vincent’s head wobbled.  Valens smirked.  “No!  He just has to be reborn, of a woman.  That’s where Louise fits into the picture.  She is going to bear the Elvis Child into this world.  His seed has been implanted in her womb.”

“So, you are saying, this dead King of Rock and Roll has knocked up my wife?  How? When?  Was there zombie sex involved?  That would explain so much …”

Valens spoke again.  “You were the vehicle, Howard.  The King entered your woman through you and the power of some particularly fine Maui Wowie.  IOT allowed his seed to mingle with yours and got the job done.  Now, listen, this is how the gig will play out …”

An hour later, Howard and Louise compared notes about their All-around Weird Day.  They told each other of their visions and began to try to figure out how they were going to get to Memphis in just three weeks, if things were going to progress as the Bobble Head Prophets had foretold. ”Do you believe all this?” Howard asked her.

“I went to the Doctor yesterday, Howard.  He said I was three months along.  This was right before he did the sonogram and passed out.  Apparently, something or someone in there gave him a big thumbs up or something.”

“But … how?  Blue Hawaii was only like three days ago.”

“Well, it is what it is, Howard.”  Louis slid out of the booth with some effort.  Apparently, clothes and things were already getting tight.  “I need to go pee.  Order me a bologna and jelly sandwich, would ya?”

Mick burned the liver of the newly deflowered virgin in the bowl set in the fireplace.  Her heart’s blood still lingered on his hands and chin.  At first, he thought he must have done something wrong.  Maybe the virgin was supposed to have stayed that way before the sacrifice.  Oh, well, too late now.  Then a Demon Lord appeared in the billowing smoke.  Burning eyes peered out.  The apparition did not speak.

"You know what it is I want.  Is He really returning?"

The demon nodded its head slowly.

"Can you stop him from returning?"

It shook its head.  The voice was a rasp and a laugh simultaneously.  "No!  No one can stop that.  Not now! The process has begun"

Mick threw the remainder of the groupie's corpse into the fireplace.  He kicked the bowl over and the demon vanished with the smoke.  It wasn’t enough.  Rage overcame him.  He ran wildly around the room, turning over furniture, breaking fragile and unfragile items alike, cursing anything that got in his way.

After the rage had burned itself out, he found the cell phone beneath the pool table where green felt turned dark black from several fires that were still burning on its surface.  He het the speed dial and spoke curtly into the phone.

"Be on the next plane to Memphis.  Find the Elvis Child.  Kill it and bring the heart back to me.  I want it fresh, with plenty of blood.  I want to eat it hot and raw, to feel his blood dripping down my chin and chest.  He may be reborn, but I'll be waiting."

Mick clicked off the cell phone.  He paced the game room, with an evil and mask-like grin, rubbing his hands together.  He was aware that it made him look like a cartoon villain, but he did not care.  Elvis may be reborn, but he wouldn’t stay that way for long.  The maniacal laugh built up.  “When the ritual is done, and I eat his heart, I will control his everlasting soul.  Then we will see who the real King of Rock and Roll is.”

John Davis got off the plane in Memphis and could not believe his eyes.  His mind boggled over the cramped flights.  Every seat had been filled.  On one flight, he’d had to sit in a broken middle seat in the back row between two over-sized fliers.  Now he was crushed by the hoards in the small Memphis airport.  It took six attempts to finally retrieve the rattling death trap of a rental car.  By the looks of it, he ended up with the rental clerk’s own car after a judicious bribe.  This was definitely going on the expense report.  He ventured out into the city streets and found himself one of the thousands of pilgrims who had followed the tabloids to where it was believed the Elvis Child would be reborn.

Accommodations were not available at the first three hotels where he inquired.  A judiciously placed $100 bill and the commitment to pay three times the rack rate – in cash - secured him a room at the local Hyatt and resulted in the noisy eviction of a couple from Indianapolis.  He locked himself in his room, cranked down the air conditioning and started planning.

Howard and Louise had made the journey to Memphis in Howard’s pickup. Like John, they found that there were no rooms available anywhere in the city.  Everywhere they looked banners proclaimed the Elvis Advent.  Banners hung from every light post reading "Memphis Welcomes The King of Rock and Roll Back To the City of His Rebirth".  Loudspeakers throughout the city played Elvis – including the Christmas albums - almost continually.  Louise looked to be 8 1/2 months along in the pregnancy even though only three weeks had elapsed.  Elvis talked regularly to Louise preparing her for the things to come.  She’d tried going to the gynecologist, but the fetus gave her a peace sign and winked.  This doctor also fainted.

Louise was not alone in her visitations.  Elvis and his angels checked in regularly with Howard following the inception and had begun to wonder what it would be.  But he still had questions about being the father of the King of Rock and Roll.  Would it get him any perks or a better job?  Would he even have to work?  Was there a trust fund?  He asked Elvis these questions but never received a clear question.  Given how fast Louise had blossomed, Howard wondered how long Elvis would take to reach maturity.  The gravy train could be awfully short.

Howard had just been turned down at the tenth motel for the evening.  He was desperate for a room.  Louise was going to domino soon and he wanted her to rest before that happened.  He had even gone so far as to reveal Louise's destiny to the motel keeper.  "Look," he said.  "I need the room.  My wife's going to give birth to the Elvis Child soon."

“Right, buddy.  The fucking Elvis Child.  I've only heard that one five times today.  Can't you people get something original, like, maybe, the Hank Williams child?  Now, that would be worthwhile!  Might even consider evicting someone for that.  Now, beat it!"

Frustrated at every turn, Howard had no choice.  He was going to take Louise out of the city.  If there wasn't a room in Memphis, he'd try the suburbs and hope for a room.  As he neared the city limits, Louise began to experience sharp pains.  "He says, you can't leave the city, Howard.  Stop anywhere!  Stop fast!  I think it's getting to be about time!"

Howard turned the pickup around.  The Sun Studios parking lot was nearby.  It was the only place they could park inconspicuously.  Howard drove the pickup into the lot.  Louise was in the back bench seat.  She began to sweat heavily, and he could literally see the contracts beginning.  Howard covered the rear window and opened the cab doors to get some room.  They had some bottled water in a cooler.  Blankets and pillows were there on the seat.  They’d taken what they could.  They’d taken turns sleeping in the back on the way to Memphis.  Money and time were tight, and today was not the first time they had been turned down for a room.  Howard tried to remember what they had seen on the Lamaze DVD they had rented.  Surely all that TV they had watched had to come in handy for something, right?  And they’d delivered babies on Baywatch, right, so how hard could it be?

Louise tried to control her breathing, panting like an asthmatic dog.  She grit her teeth to get through the discomfort.  The contractions were coming faster, but the pain was not as sharp as she had expected.  Maybe it would be like those alien births she’d read about.

Just as the baby's head began to appear, the Sun on the recording studio shot a huge beam of light up into the air and exploded, producing no fallout but a flaming marker that stayed in the sky.  It was a beacon of some sort, marking the Second Coming.  Howard and Louise could see the glow from inside the pickup.  People from inside and around the historic location rushed out to see if the building was on fire or if the aliens were finally coming.  No one had been injured.  The sun seemed to settle over the pickup.

John had locals watching the hospitals, both public and private, all over the greater Memphis area.  They had instructions to call if anything aroused their suspicions.  They were not a suspicious lot.  His cell phone remained irritatingly silent.  For his part, John drove around the city looking for any sign of the birth.  His diligence was rewarded.  He was among the first to see the flaming sun over the studio location.  He nearly caused a Hollywood-style, blockbuster wreck as he flung his rental across six lanes of traffic and performed a highly illegal U-turn to head toward the flame.

Back in the pickup, the last contraction hit almost before Howard or Louise were ready.  The Elvis Child squirted out of Louise’s womb like toothpaste from a tube.  He had a full head of hair, raven black with a slight curl in the front.  He didn't cry, despite the curling lip.  Louise, however, did when she saw the baby.  It didn't seem that this small child could be the reborn Elvis.  But the resemblance was uncanny.  She showed the baby to Howard.  Howard beamed at the child - his son.  Their reverie was interrupted by a knock on the pickup door.  Howard looked out the curtains.

An eerily quiet crowd had gathered around the vehicle like some zombie film cult.  A girl in her early twenties stood at the door, respectfully.  Howard opened the door wider, tentatively.

"Is it ...," Tears filled her eyes as she asked.  "Is it really the King?  Is he reborn?"

“That’s him!” That’s the reborn Elvis.”  Howard waved his arm at the door.  He couldn’t believe the awe in his own voice. Pride and love swelled in his chest as if the baby were actually his – which it was, in a way.

The squealed.  “Yes! It’s him!  Can you believe it?”

The crowd jammed near the entrance, jostling each other to get a better view.  The girl fell to her knees, weeping uncontrollably.  Someone began to sing "Can't Help Falling in Love with You" softly, then followed with Heartbreak Hotel”.  Howard wondered at the choice of songs, but the crowd began to pick up the songs and he soon found that it was somehow right that those should be the songs.  They were classics and the baby lit up and gurgled, bobbing his head with the music.

John drove like a banshee through the Memphis traffic trying to reach the star.  The light.  Whatever.  That’s where the Elvis child would be found.  His hand caressed the carved box on the passenger seat.  It would soon hold the heart of the child.  Mick would be pleased with his work.  The Mick rewarded those whose who served him well, and the rewards would be plentiful and beyond his imagination.  Of course, Mick punished those who failed him just as spectacularly.  He wondered briefly where Mick had gotten the carved box with its dagger through a heart clasp.  It seemed familiar but not all that important.

He was on the scene at the studio within five minutes of the star's appearance.  It was not that hard to find the right vehicle in the lot.  The crowd around the pickup was nearly twenty people.

Should be fairly easy, he thought.  His hands felt for the knife in his jacket pocket.  He pulled the knife free as he got out of the car.  There were three people between him and the child.  He pushed them out of the way.  It didn’t take much.

As John stalked toward the pickup, he saw the “father” – Howard – take the baby back from some blonde twinkie.  Howard made eye contact with him.  He would know John’s face, but he wasn’t all that concerned.  Howard wouldn’t be a problem – he’d either be too shocked to ever ID him, or he’d be dead.  Either way, John would be gone, heart in hand.  Mission accomplished.  Or so he thought until Howard’s eyes dropped to John’s knife hand and widened.

“Louise! Take the baby and find cover!” Howard thrust the bundle of joy toward Louise.

“Howard?  What’s going on?”

“Some whackjob out here has a knife!”

Now that would make John’s job more difficult.  The twenty slack jawed mooners turned toward him in horror and disbelief.  Then they all lunged at him rather than fleeing in terror.  John shoved his way through them, grabbing at Howard.  He managed to get a grip on Howard’s shirt and pulled.  Howard flew into the group of rabid fans and knocked them down like League Night at the Bowl-A-Rama.

Without a look back, John stalked over to Louise.  She hunkered down in the farthest corner from the door.  She tried vainly to shield the baby with her body.  It was touching, but it wouldn’t help.

“Don’t move and only the baby gets hurt.”

Suddenly, he felt someone twisting his arm, trying to remove the knife.  He turned and saw the sunglassed Angel of the King remove the knife from his fingers and throw it away.  He heard a sound and turned back to the child.  The baby freed itself from its mother's arms and walked over to the assassin.  John looked down into the face of the baby.  Somehow the baby didn't look like a child but like the full-grown Elvis – only shrunken.  The baby said, "Hey man, don't lay that trip on the King of Rock and Roll."

When John came to, he was nowhere near the pickup, Sun Studios, or the baby.  He was in the middle of nowhere. The Angel of Elvis stood nearby.  John saw himself reflected in the Angel’s sunshades.  “Where am I?  What happened?”

“The Elvis Child knows why you were sent.  He cannot allow you to do that which you came to do.”

“But, …”

“Chill.  He’s provided a suitable sacrifice for what you need.”  The Angel pointed.  The box, knife, and the remains fi a goat lay nearby.  “If you wish to end this path, take the box and go.  Know this, though, if you choose to come after the King again, He will not be merciful.  And, know also, the King has a very wicked notion of revenge.”  Choose now.  Choose wisely.”

John boarded a plane to London within hours and returned with his cargo, afraid of the wrath of Mick but more terrified of the Elvis Child and his Angel.

The Angel reappeared in a twinkling at the pickup.  The Trumpet of his arrival scared the bejeezus out of Howard and Louise as the pickup shook.  The baby slept through it all.  The angel crawled inside the cab of the pickup.

“He’s gone, but he will not be the last.  The King will have many enemies from this world and beyond.  He will need time to grow and prepare.”

“What do we do?” Howard asked.

“Take the child to Mexico.  You’ll know the place when you get there.  There you will find the one who will teach the child what he needs to know.”

Howard tilted his head.  “Mexico’s a big place.  How will we know it?”

The Angel rolled his eyes.  “The sign that you are on the right path will read ‘Margaritaville’.”

Howard and Louise fled the scene rapidly, guided by the angel.  Elvis must go the Mexico to grow and relearn the roots of Rock and Blues.  He would become a man there in a few years and would return to overthrow the Brits and bring Rock back to its homeland.

For Mick, it was goat's heart soup that evening never realizing he was eating “I Can’t Believe It’s Not the King”.  John was found in an opium den in Brixton two years later, wasted down to a fraction of his previous weight and health.  He died within two weeks of being removed from the mats and the smoke.

And in Mexico, Howard and Louise watched the King attain his stature and charisma, and in favor with men and especially women.