stories from home
The King is Alive and Well at the Local Sub Shop
By Kristin Dreyer Kramer
I met Elvis this afternoon. My
friend Pam tells me that he spends a lot of time hanging out on
the corner in front of the McDonalds. On nice warm, sunny
days, he brings his stereo so he can play music and dance, apparently
trying to win back the unconditional love and adoration (and screams
from beautiful young women) that he once enjoyed. But today it was
cold, so he had to settle for passing the time at the local sub
shop, where we happened to be having lunch.
Pam and I were stuffing our faces with gigantic, messy
sandwiches, the contents of which were spilling out all over the
table. Between bites, we were covering one of the typical female
lunchtime conversations dysfunctional
families or childbirth or something like that
when Pam paused.
"See that guy?" she whispered and tilted
her head toward the door of the restaurant.
I turned to look. In the general area toward which
she'd pointed, there were about five guys. Two were carrying trays,
on their way to a table. One was seated at a table by himself...
I kept glancing around the room.
"The guy with the black hair
and the black coat," Pam told me. "By the door."
And that's when I saw him. The King himself. His black
hair hadn't been properly styled, so it flopped in his face a bit.
And he wasn't wearing a sequin jumpsuit, either. But I recognized
him right away.
"He does some kind of Elvis impersonation,"
she told me.
"I bet he does," I replied. I kept looking
at him out of the corner of my eyestudying
his hair, this wardrobe, his smile... That's when Pam explained
his warm-weather McDonalds ritual to me. I told her that I couldn't
wait to get home and call my familyto
tell them that Elvis wasn't hanging out in a Burger King in Kalamazoo
after all. Instead, he's passing his days in the sub shop in the
next town over. We had a good laugh, and then we went back to our
But The King took an interest in Pam and me. As we
were sitting there, he walked up and tapped Pam on the shoulder.
"Stop moving around so muchit's
messin' with the TV's reception," he told her, pointing to
the TV mounted on the wall behind us. Pam and I gave each other
puzzled glances and broke into laughter. Elvis smiled his big, unmistakably-Elvis
smile and chuckled along. "I like you," he said. Then
he turned and walked away, shuffling in a manner that I can imagine
a somewhat arthritic Grandpa Elvis of the New Millennium walking.
But he didn't leave us alone then and continue on
his tour of Massachusetts sub shops. Instead, he returned a few
minutes later. He picked up a salt packet that was on the floor
beside our table and commented, "Look, you dropped this...
That's a ten-yard penalty, you know." I grinned and pictured
Elvis sitting in his living room in a not-so-good part of northern
Massachusetts, wearing his polyester pants pulled up over his belly,
a T-shirt that says "Graceland" on the front, and an old
bathrobe and slippers while cheering
on the Patriots.
And that's when The King gave me a flower. He set
it down on the table in front of me. I smiled and thanked him. I
thanked him very much.
Do you hear what I'm saying here? The King gave me
a flower. Me!
Then he said, "Your boyfriend doesn't even do
that," and shuffled back to his position by the door.
I looked down at the flower in front of me and told
Pam that he was rightmy husband
had definitely never given me anything like that before.
"Is it fake?" she asked.
I poked it. "Yep."
"But Elvis gave you a flower," she pointed
out and told me that I should be honored. "You should put it
in your hair."
I smiled and poked the flower in my purse as we got
up to leave. The King was no longer standing by the door, so I couldn't
say good-byehe had disappeared.
Or maybe, I considered, he had never really been there. Maybe he
had just been a figment of our imaginationa
We got into Pam's car, and she groaned. "I'm
getting a little sick of Elvis," she said. I looked up to find
that The King hadn't disappeared after all. He was standing on the
sidewalk, just outside the strip mall that housed the sub shop and
a few other stores. And he was staring into the car.
I realize that you might not believe meafter
all, this is The King I'm talking about herebut
I'm quite sure that Elvis was ogling us.
I laughed and waved, and he smiled that big Elvis
smile one more time and waved back before he walked away.
Pam promised to take me back to the sub shop when
it's once again warm and sunny outand
Elvis is dancing on the corner. Maybe then I'll bring my camera
and take some picturesbecause my
family will never believe me when I tell them that I met The King.
You might not believe me, either. But I know for a
fact that Elvis is alive and well (and perhaps a little bit crazy)
and living in Massachusetts.
And I've got the flower to prove it.
Kristin Dreyer Kramer
Kristin is a Midwesterner who's been uprooted and
replanted in New England. She works as a freelance writer and the
editor-in-chief of NightsAndWeekends.com.
She's been widely published both online and in print most recently
in Forget Me Knots from the Front Porch and Nudges from
God, two anthologies published by Obadiah Press.
Kristin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.