Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reptile - Part 3 (title here)


I don't know how to start again. A woman once told me to just put a little star at the top of the paper, so I wouldn't be looking at a blank page. It's nice. I understand the sentiment; but since that asterisk doesn't really cut it as a star, I think I'll start with Elvis Aaron Presley.

Elvis was a decent performer. He had a great voice and he knew what his audience liked. Most of Elvis's music was stuff I might've really enjoyed if it had been covered by Primus or maybe the Dead Milkmen. The only things I knew about Elvis's life were from an episode of the Twilight Zone (or maybe it was the Outer Limits) where an Elvis impersonator goes back in time and accidently kills his idol and has to take his place.

I met Elvis.

This was one of those things that definitely happened and may or may not be true, but the story - life, really - is better if you just believe it.

My friends and I were in Tennessee, driving the back woods somewhere,


when we found a little Mom & Pop gas station on the side of the road. We stopped to ask for directions and get a fill-up. Someone got out of the car and went to start pumping gas when he came out of the little store.

He was about 6-foot, 6'2" maybe. He was lean with age, but you could see where the weight used to hang on his frame. His hair was graying black, and he still had those mutton-chop side burns.

"Hey now," he said, waving one hand at us and speaking in a low, country drawl, "we pump our own gas here. This is a full service station."

We stood just stood there a moment, mouths agape. We were in awe. None of us were really fans; but with all the "Elvis Lives!" bullshit everywhere, we all knew him well enough to recognize the man, the voice, that walk.

Here now, walking - no - striding toward us was a god. A Legend. I don't think anyone said anything other than to exchange a few banal pleasantries.

I wish I could tell you his name-tag said "Elvis," or "E.P." or even "Aaron." It didn't. But what it did say was 10,000 times better. Embroidered above the breast pocket in white and gold lettering, much too fine for the dirty blue cover-alls he was wearing was one word:


We told him we were fans and wished him well. I can't remember whether or not he actually said "thank you very much," or we just thought he should have.

The Reptile was an Elvis fan. She didn't like that story - I think - because she couldn't comprehend how a man with all that talent, fame, & money could ever long for anything other than life in the spotlight. I always thought the drugs and the eating and the excess were symptomatic of Elvis's longing to return to the simplicity of his former life. It warmed my heart to think the man faked his own death to find contentment in a full-service gas station in the hills of Tennessee. I thought - and still think - his Momma would have been proud.

She thought it was stupid and didn't get how I could suspend my disbelief long enough to believe this cockamamy story (for the record, the Demon never used the word "cockamamy." I might've forgiven her anything if she'd said it just once. I bet K says it once every year or so). This was one of the fundamental differences between us that I didn't understand until years after we parted.

Demons were angels once - and they danced through Time and Space and Thought and for all the corrupting influence, the addiction, and the downward spiral, there is something magical about them. My Demon was no different.

She didn't weigh a hundred pounds when I met her. Attractive enough without being anything more than pretty. She wore her hair long and in this archaic style that - well, it certainly didn't belong in the real world - but it made her stand out, and she managed to pull it off.

"Not hot, but porn-star hot," someone said once about another woman, but it fits here. She carried herself like a diva though - an actual Diva - not some famous tart with too much money, too many demands, and no substance or truth. She seemed to belong. Something inside her


resonated with everyone around her. She commanded a room when she entered it. I'm beating a dead horse here to say that she was a flame and we were all just moths flitting around waiting to sacrifice ourselves for her.

I sat at her bar and cashed in my chips and she congratulated me. I have no idea what we talked about. The same idle small-talk that happens at every bar in the world, I'm sure. Just a lot of nothing.

The Arkansas Redneck came back down toward the end of the night to check on me. In his drunken bravado, he locked right on the Redhead behind the bar and fired the first salvo of what promised to be an epic pick-up. And she shot him down.

The Redneck (who was probably more of a Hillbilly, really) kept coming back for more. He wasn't goign to take "no" for an answer; but the Demon was ruthless, and in the end, he conceded defeat.

She let me have the beer, so I tipped her the money I would've paid for it, and a little more. I helped the Redneck (Hillbilly? Redbilly?) into his truck and drove us back to the base, after taking a little side-trip so he could get some strange at the nearest brothel.

Nothing was fucked yet. It would've ended there if that six-foot piece of shit hadn't opened his damn mouth when we got back to the barracks.

"She was totally into you," he said.

"She was a lesbian," I replied, dismissing him. The seed was planted though; and I went back the next night.

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