Just before he knew he was sick, my father took me to a dinner theatre in a barn to see the Christian Blackwood Brothers do Elvis. The roast beast was blander than British, and the horseradish ran out before I got into queue, but the gospel according to Elvis raised the rafters.
I'd never had a thing for this velvet-throated bird: his pout was pretty but I never was convinced by all those sequins and spangles. Just didn't feel his soul in all of that. Turned out, that was true, sort of. The pomade and the girls and the bright lights had their allure, but they say all the King really wanted to do was sing about the King. When he did, all that was missing came together. His heart in his voice. All night, just him and his band, after all the hordes had long gone home.
A woman in the powder room mirror at intermission was fixing her lobster-purple lipstick. She had Indian eyes but her hair was so pale you could see through it. She was talking to a friend in a cubicle that I could only see by her pointy toed boots and the jeans around her ankles. The disembodied voice from the toilet was saying something about Elvis, about how he once saw Stalin in the clouds, before the despot turned into Jesus.
"And the good Lord said, Elvis, behold I come to you as living water," she was saying, and I could almost feel the rush of the rapture in the air as the toilet flushed. The sound was like a waterfall in Eden within the small stalled walls.
After my father closed his eyes for the last time, I came across the brochure for that barn show where we'd been while sorting through some baskets. I pictured the bales of hay we rolled past on our way on that blue and shiny day. The river tumbling under the clouds was a black ribbon between sky and earth, like the innards of a cassette tape slinging south through fields and branches. In my memory, I could hear Elvis lowing sweetly from those clouds, saw Daddy ascending through the pick-up truck to run towards him.
Lorette C. Luzajic
Lorette C. Luzajic is a visual artist whose work has been shown at home in Toronto, in Vancouver, Los Angeles, Chicago, Edinburgh, Belfast, Brisbane, Tunis, Merida, and beyond. She studied for a B.A. in journalism, and has published hundreds of poems, stories, and prose. She is the editor of The Ekphrastic Review.
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