Love Me Tender by Melanie Browne

After the hard edges smoothed away, I saw nothing but the sky. I knew the car was still burning.

I knew that he was still in there, but I didn’t care anymore.

*

The first time I saw Ed, he was passed out in an elevator. I was going out to lunch with my sister who worked in a bank on the third floor. When the elevator doors opened, he was slumped over and I thought he might be dead. He was wearing black dress shoes and then I saw the tuxedo and sideburns and thought he must be going to a costume party. It was later I found out he was an Elvis impersonator. I walked around him and bent down with my face close to his.

“Sir?” I said.

“Can you hear me?”

He made a kind of moaning sound and tried to sit up. By this time I saw people staring, unsure of how to react, so I got into the elevator and pressed the number of my sister’s floor. By the time we got up there he had managed to stagger to his feet so I showed him where the restroom was. He walked in and I waited for him to come out. At this time I was thinking he might need an EMT, but I wasn’t sure. He was in there for about 20 minutes and so I sent a text to my sister telling her what was going on. She texted me back, telling me they had asked her to work through lunch and not to help strange men I didn’t know. When he finally reappeared he looked worse than before. His face was the color of a rotting pineapple. but at least he was walking.

“Can I go get you a soda or something?”

“No, thank you.”

“Well, Elvis, you don’t look so good.”

He looked at me for a minute and then stumbled backwards.

“I’m…”

“Are you going to a costume party? I didn’t know they had those in February.”

“Nah…I’m an impersonator. I don’t get a lot of work. I stay drunk too much. Fucking alcohol…..”

“So you have a job today?” I asked him brightly.

“Sadly no. It was the only thing I had clean to put on this morning.”

I didn’t know what to do or say next.

“I live in the building, he said.

“Really? I didn’t know it was zoned for …..”

“It’s not, “

“I’m sleeping in an office my friend leases.”

“He’s also in entertainment ‘management.’”

“Oh.”

“My name’s Ed.”

“Mine’s Fay.”

“Would you mind, would you like to..get a coffee?”

I didn’t answer but I started walking with him to the elevator. WE got off on the second floor which had a deli and I slid into the booth and he said to wait and he went and ordered us two coffees.

He came back a few minutes later and drank the coffee in three or four gulps and asked me if I would like to see the club where he performed. He said he a had a little business to take care of .That sounded a bit crazy and I was trying to get my life back on track, Hanging out with Elvis impersonators who passed out in elevators in the middle of a busy work day is not exactly what you think of when you think of the words Back on track. I had to meet with my new probation officer at the end of the week, so I really didn’t need to be getting fucked up. The first one was fired after it was discovered we were sleeping together.

Ed parked me at the bar with a seven and seven while he went in search of his “Business associates.”

I heard chairs being thrown against the wall and yelling. Then there was a big thud. It felt like I was in a Steve McQueen movie and I was just waiting for the plot to thicken. I hurried with my drink because I had a feeling we wouldn’t be here long. The bartender winked at me but just then Ed came back from wherever he had gone and motioned for me to hurry and we were back in his car driving back to the building.

“I’ve never had to hurt a woman before.”

“Excuse me?”

“Big Paula,” “I had to shove her around a bit.”

“You hurt a woman?” I asked him.

“That’s no woman,” he said.

“She’s a tough broad, but she fucked me over for the last time.”

“She’s been scamming from the top of the profits for over a year now.” “That’s why I’ve been living in a bank building.”

I was shocked but I really don’t know why.

When we got back to the building we took the elevator to the ninth floor and stopped in front of a door that was labeled I’m Still Laughing Entertainment. He fished for the key out of his pants and that’s when I noticed the chunks of blood in his sideburns.

We walked to the back of the office where he showed me his sleeping bag and a couple of his costumes.

“Maybe you should wash your regular clothes soon,” I said.

He took out a flask with an engraving of Priscilla on it out of his backpack and took a long drink then held it out to me.

“I don’t think I should be here,” I told him.

But I stayed and I finished off the Brandy in the flask. He told me to sit down.

“I’m sorry about your son-in-law,” I said.

He laughed.

“Yeah, Lisa Marie, she never made the best choices….”

He suddenly pushed me down and tugged at my skirt. He tugged at my panties and slid them down my thigh. He unbuttoned his pants and pulled down his bright orange briefs. I told him I didn’t want this but he knew I was lying. He kept saying things. Things about how no woman can resist Elvis and it made me giggle because I couldn’t imagine him as Elvis and his accent was more California than Deep South.

I suddenly realized what a horrible choice this had been. How I had risked my life with a drunken Elvis impersonator. How he might have a gun. But it was too late and now I was underneath him. I could hear his groans and his hands were around my neck and I was praying that it was some kind of erotic game of his, some sort of spasm. My head was pushed against the wall and I swear I could feel the movement of the building.

“Spread your legs for Elvis,” he kept saying.

“There’s a reason they call me Elvis the Pelvis Baby,” he whispered.

“A little less conversation,” I screamed.

He was sweating and I noticed his sideburns were dripping black hair dye but I tried to pretend not to notice.

We were both breathing hard when he got up abruptly and pulled a pair of handcuffs out of the desk across the room.

“I got a dirty dirty feeling….” He sang as horror filled my heart.

He cuffed my right wrist.

“That’s when I’ll drag you home with me girl…”

“I’m gonna chain you to the wall.”

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