Tag Archives: Fiction

White Christmas

Short Story Updated; Originally Published as Part of My Collection, Emotionless Souls

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Uncle Jay took the last of my coke. Alright I said it, still doesn’t help me. Now how will I get through this holiday charade known as Christmas Eve? Uncle Jay is standing across the room staring at the over decorated tree with glazed eyes and a cocaine induced grin. I wish he would die this instant.

Three feet away is a speaker blaring Christmas music that sounds like Barry Manilow, but I’m not sure. To be safe I begin walking across the room toward Uncle Jay; balancing my Jack on the rocks in my right hand as I maneuver past an ill placed holiday basket containing ten thousand nut variations. I approach a small table where Jake and Pete are playing Black Jack. Every year another piercing appears on Jake’s face. This year it’s the left eye brow. It’s one of many family secrets in the open that no one talks about.

Jake and Pete are discussing what girl would cause the biggest stir if she were to appear on Bangbros.com. Pete quickly says “Britney Spears” and he is so proud of his answer he hits on eighteen, predictably busting in the process. Jerry seems content with the answer, but not very impressed as if he was anticipating Pete’s response. Jerry pauses for dramatic effect and then says “Jessica Simpson”, then adds “The shock value alone”. This response draws an agreeing nod from Pete.

His form of a concession speech.

I continue past, taking a drink in the process, resisting the urge to yell out the correct answer because this would cause quite a stir.

Uncle Jay is standing alone when he spots me moving toward him. He smiles smugly causing me to get angry and trip over Aunt Carol’s new Gucci bag.

I put my hand in my coat pocket and feel the empty cellophane bag. Nothing. Less than a hour ago Uncle Jay borrowed my coat to go smoke a Lucky Strike and now my coke is gone. Aunt Carol looks up at me as I continue balancing my drink, but she doesn’t seem to mind that I kicked her bag because this gives her a chance to show everyone her new bag, for the third time this evening. A fifteen hundred dollar purse with less than twenty dollars inside.

I watch this travesty as Aunt Carol tells the story of how she saw it and had to have it and then I turn my head because there’s movement across the room where little Todd, my three year old cousin, is pulling on the tree causing ornaments to fall off. Uncle Jay just stands there laughing.

My Aunt Joyce jumps out of her seat to announce that she’s making Bloody Mary’s. Not any ordinary drink, these are made with Aunt Joyce special ingredients she stores in a leather case, stowed in the trunk of her Corolla.

Aunt Carol’s display has started an accessories fashion show. Now Aunt Sharon has to sit up and display her bright red Marc Jacobs bag, smiling proudly as if it were a child. Tabitha, a friend of the family (so I’m told), giggles when everyone looks at her asking her to show them her bag. Although reluctant at first, a confidence beams out of her as she grabs her new gold Fendi bag. A hush falls over the room until Aunt Carol asks “Is it fake?” Tabitha quickly replies saying, “No, it’s real, isn’t it great?”, followed by Aunt Carol reiterating that “Well, it still could be a fake. You never know.”

Aunt Joyce returns with her Bloody Mary, sits, and takes a big drink.

I finish my Jack on the rocks. Aunt Joyce quickly notices my empty glass, stands up and runs to the kitchen to fetch me another one before I can say a word. I stand there waiting, my head spinning from the six drinks and two grams I’ve consumed today.

My cell phone is vibrating so I answer it and it’s Jackson, my friend who’s in town for the holidays and he wants to know what I’m doing tonight. I explain the family situation and the Barry Manilow and then he tells me I’m creeping him out so I stop. Jackson asks if I want to go out later and that sounds tempting, but then I find out he’s out of coke so we decide not do anything because it really wouldn’t be that fun.

I look back at Pete and Jerry, Pete is still trying to think of someone to top Jerry’s pick, but he’s at a loss for the obvious. Next to them my nieces Jill and Candy are playing with a scarf, throwing it high into the air and crashing into each other as it falls down. Aunt Joyce comes back with a fresh drink for me and a brandy chaser for herself. She has something white under her nose which makes me think she just did a line, but then notice it’s not powder, rather foam from egg nog she was probably drinking in the kitchen.

Continuing to walk toward Uncle Jay, I have a clear path until Carl, my brother in law, stops me and asks me what I’m driving. I tell him “Same Nissaan” which doesn’t matter because he’s not listening, but rather waiting to tell me about his truck, the new F150. He asks me if I want to see it, and I tell him I saw it last year and then he tells me that last year he was driving the F110, not the F150. A Lionel Ritchie song starts playing on the radio so immediately Aunt Sharon goes over to Grandma and starts rocking her back and forth. Little Todd is pulling on Grandma’s leg, Aunt Sharon continues to rock her back and forth and Grandma is shooting darts out of her eyes at anyone watching. This is enough of a distraction to walk past Carl.

Finally I approach Uncle Jay and I tell him “We need to talk.”

“Okay, but hey first can you see if you have any gum in your jacket? I think I may have left some in there when I borrowed your jacket.”

Gum. Right. I put my hand in my pocket and there’s nothing buy the empty bag.

“No, check the other one.” He says.

I put my hand in my left pocket, finding a half pack of gum and another bag, my bag of cocaine. I let out a visible sigh and hand over the gum.

“Are you okay?” Uncle Jay asks.

I look across the room. Aunt Carol is now holding Tabitha’s Fendi bag and shaking her head, Grandma is kicking at Todd in an attempt to get him to go away, and Pete has a perplexed look on his face.

“Yeah, I’m okay.” I say. “I guess.”

“So what did you want to talk about?” Asks Uncle Jay.

“Oh.” I pause and take a drink of Jack Daniels. “It was nothing. Merry Christmas.” I hold up my glass and then realize he doesn’t have a drink.

We both stare for a minute at the family and chaos ensuing.

“I’ve got some coke.” Says Uncle Jay.

“Oh?” I reply.

“Yeah. I’m just saying, if you want…”

“Cool.” I say.

Walking past Pete I lean down and whisper “Olsen Twins” into his ear. His face brightens as he hears the words, knowing that in a minute he will be able to show up his cousin, and once again be on top. Uncle Jay and I leave the room and head to the bathroom, humming a Lionel Ritchie Christmas song along the way.

 

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[Fiction] Another Quiet Evening At Home, Part III

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I’m working on a song about lost love, but bigger. Having trouble concentrating because Weekend At Bernies is on my mind, those bastards.

Knock, Knock

Sherri is back, she brought over a quart of vodka, good girl. She asks me if I want a drink, but before I can answer she’s in the kitchen and has two glasses out. She pours half vodka, half water from my faucet. “Did you know Colin is super rich?” She asks. I tell her no and she brings the glasses out to the couch where we sit. It takes five minutes of back and forth to realize she’s not talking about the same Colin.

Knock, Knock

The two guys that came over with Colin are back and they are holding a bag of meat. The one that got shot is still not wearing pants. They quickly move to the kitchen find a skillet and tell me they need to cook up steaks fast. I’m ready to throw them out when one of them offers me a beer. I pause and then one of them asks me if I have bloody Mary mix. Sherri walks up and pours them both vodkas and they are happy.

It’s around noon and the guys continue to fry steaks on my stove top. I don’t know how many they have and how many they plan to eat, but the smell is something awful and the vodka is almost gone. Sherri does one more check around the apartment, looking for stashed women and then leaves. The steaks continue to cook…

Knock, Knock

Colin is back and he brought his guitar, “I’ve got a song I want you to hear.” Colin hasn’t slept either and still isn’t wearing his shirt. He starts to play and then pauses, “You cooking steaks!”

Knock, Knock

It’s Sherri, she has another bottle and half of it is gone. She is screaming at me and starts running through the apartment, once again tossing everything I have, looking for something that’s not here. At least I don’t think it’s here, I’m having trouble keeping track right now. I grab another beer. It’s now early afternoon and I’m ready to kick everyone out and get some sleep.

Knock, Knock

Before I reach the door Sherri comes at me with a knife. Lucky for me, the guy that got shot is showing me a steak and is the one that gets stabbed in the arm. As he screams really loud Colin rushes over, removes the stabbed dude’s shirt and then puts his mouth on the wound. While he does this he removes his pants and makes a tourniquet.  Sherri looks at Colin and laughs because he’s definitely not a rich Colin and then tells me to fuck off and leaves.

Knock, Knock

Two guys with their noses pierced tell me they are ready. I ask for what and they tell me while drunk at a party two nights ago I agreed to go to a car race with them. I hate car races and tell them to get the hell out, but then I look around my apartment, hear Colin ask me if I want to hear his new song, hear the sirens getting close again and smell steak that now has a rancid reek and realize car racing sounds pretty damn good, so I leave…

 


The Devil Wears Black Leather – Excerpt #4

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Chapter 3

The television is still on when I wake up. I feel lonely, slightly suicidal, and I’m still wearing my shoes. Staring at a commercial about lawn care I remember falling asleep to a show on how to be famous. The guy was standing on a yacht and had several beautiful women in bikinis surrounding him. I think there were three blondes and two brunettes. I shave and realize that my loneliness is not because I miss Jolie, but rather wanting to see Lucy. I turn off the television in the bedroom and walk into the living room and turn on the television. A special news report says the Python is headed to Pittsburgh. People are being interviewed as if they are expecting the Pope. Two men with beards are waving “Terrible” towels.

I start my morning ‘detox’ of multi-grain toast, peanut butter, and Acai Berry capsules. The suicidal thoughts leave temporarily and then I hear something about Frank Sinatra on the television and flash backs from the night before come racing back. I check the blazer I wore to see if I bought any cigarettes. There are none and I’m not sure if I’m happy about this or not. I shut off the television. I am breaking into a cold sweat as I recollect my prior night. My anxiety peaks when I open my computer and see that last night I Googled times to buy alcohol. I think about my pin-striped blazer. I rush to my closet. No cigarettes. I come back to laptop and check my email: two rejections, a possible acceptance for a short story titled MONEY SHOT and a job inquiry for a new escort service in Las Vegas. They want me to come out to the desert for a meeting.

Allow me to tear down the fourth wall here and explain my job. Three years ago I started a company titled 8Ball Writing, eventually shortened to 8Ball. The expectation was that individuals and companies would rather approach a company versus one individual. My first job was writing flyers, or “porn cards” for a Las Vegas escort agency named Legs, Inc. It paid well and afforded me time to work on my first novel titled “The Downtown Diaries”, with hopes of dropping the freelance work and pursuing my job as a novelist. After the release of “TDD” I soon realized that novels are whores that take and take and give very little. My first month of royalties paid my cable bill, the second month a graphic T-shirt with an ironic mustache, and then finally a pack of cigarettes. I would smoke down the pack knowing that my novel had afforded me the pleasure. Of course now I don’t even have this. What I have is a freelance business that is dependent on the escort companies in Las Vegas. Not what most people call prime job security. I have it down to a science: HOT YOUNG GORGEOUS FULL SERVICE AT-YOUR-DOOR heading with a colorful background, and a portfolio of naked women (I keep a library similar to Microsoft Word clip art). Sometimes web pages and T-shirts, but mostly flyers with big tits as the centerpiece. These companies like to stay in touch with their public. The guys standing on each corner handing out these flyers? There’s a good chance I created them. You’re Welcome. Next time you are handed one of these flyers, look for the 8-ball in the bottom right corner.

I try not to think about last night, instead focusing on my new novel. I write a full chapter then go to the gym and run for two miles the whole time thinking why would the main character in my book go back to the same strip club two nights in a row? When I get back to my laptop I delete the chapter and notice that the air conditioner is once again not working and the heat is rising in my apartment. Out of the left corner of my eye I think I see a cockroach, but once I turn nothing. The suicidal thoughts return.

I’m walking on William Street to Jagger’s apartment, stepping on cockroaches on the side walk that died the night before, when my iPhone alerts me of my motto of the day: LET IT PASS. When I arrive at Jagger’s on Fulton Street I notice the beads of sweat on my arms and the little bugs that are sticking to them. I go up to the third floor; his door is unlocked so I walk in. Jagger has a concerned look on his face and is holding up his Android phone. The text is from Izzy and it reads: THE NIGHT IS ETERNAL. I shake my head and Jagger asks what we are going to do about this. “Vampire intervention?” I ask and then Jagger points to his new lamps, but it’s hard to concentrate on anything because of the heat. Jagger senses my discomfort and tells me that his air conditioner also just broke. “It’s cool though, sweating is the body’s art!” Jagger leaves into his bedroom so I put on the television. It’s when I click on the DVR button I notice that Jagger records every episode of Law and Order; all of the reruns, SVU, Criminal Intent, and even the cancelled Los Angeles series. An overwhelming sense of concern and also embarrassment comes over me. As Jagger approaches I quickly turn off the television, words are not spoken, but we both know what just happened. On our way out the door I receive a text from Izzy. I hold up my iPhone for Jagger to see: I’VE LIVED 5000 YEARS and EXPECT TO LIVE 5000 MORE.

We walk down Fulton, through South Street Seaport to Front Street, ending up at the Cowgirl Sea Horse. I ask Jagger if he wants to go to Vegas, pointing out the free flight and expenses and he doesn’t answer, looking away as if I said something awful. When he looks back he tells me I was wrong to check his DVR queue and I agree because I don’t know what to say. We sit at the bar and order frozen Margaritas from a bartender wearing a sailor cap and a sign behind him reads WE LIVE WHERE YOU VACATION.

My iPhone vibrates and I’m hesitant to look, expecting more vampire messages, instead it is a text from Lucy asking if I want to go with her to an anniversary party for one of her friends. I read it out loud, and Jagger gargles, “Sounds terrible” and then “I can’t think of anything worse!” Lucy sends another message that says we should meet at Applebees. Jagger chokes on his Margarita, “Okay, that’s worse!” I continue reading: …the one in Times Square. Jagger asks the bartender if he has a gun so he can shoot me in the head immediately. Up to this point my day has consisted of Vampires, Law and Order reruns, and now Applebees is on the horizon. I grab one of Jagger’s cigarettes and head outside. When I come back Jagger has a strange grin on his face and says “I’m in” and that’s when I recognize this face, it’s the Vegas grin.

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Tech Junkie

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Tonight was different. Every other night was the same, me, working late in an old office building in the sketchy side of Cleveland. I work for New Dreams Accounting, a software company that goes by NDA. This confuses potential clients who immediately think Non-Disclosure Agreement. The company isn’t doing very well, hence the lean IT support team that has been weaned down to me and guy named Jayson with a y and refused to be called Jay for short. Jayson refused to work after 6pm, leaving me mostly alone except for a security guard who was usually sleeping or masturbating in the executive bathroom. There were rumors of messy run-ins regarding the latter.

Most nights I handled 30 to 50 tech support calls related to application performance, incorrect passwords, random Java script errors and more performance issues. Performance issues were always the worst and most frustrating for the end users. After three years, I gauge my customers’ dissatisfaction by the number of “fucks” during our call. Performance issues typically resulted in three or more “fucks.”

It was sometime after 9pm when he showed up, crashing through the unlocked door, staggering toward me. Dirty hair, baseball cap, non-funny zombie eyes and a grey short sleeve tee. He was waving a small pocket knife and had strings hanging from his arms which after closer review were tracks from shooting heroin, or something strong used to forget. He yelled something about being sick and needing a couple bucks. I had no cash on me. He started yelling louder as he approached my desk. The eyes were unfunny from a distance and were now frightening as they appeared to be full of blood. I looked around for anything of value wondering if the security guard was near climax in the john. I grabbed my laptop and slid it over to him, “take it” I told him. He looked down and stopped yelling, inspecting the laptop “Is that Windows XP?” I nodded. He put away the knife, “what the hell am I gonna do with that old thing? I can’t get 2 bucks for that man.” I put my hands up, “I have nothing, sorry.”

“Pills, do you have any pills?” I didn’t but it did trigger a thought. I asked him to sit for a second. I didn’t ask him to sit still because he was in heavy withdrawal and there was no way he was going to be still for anything. I go to the kitchen area, just steps away and open the refrigerator. I reach into the far back corner and pull out a bottle of champagne, left from a celebration over a year ago, the last time we signed a new client. On my way back I grab two coffee mugs. At my desk my guest is watching me and then looks back at my laptop, “you should upgrade man.” I pop the top, pour two cups of champagne and we both drink them down. He asks me what I do and about the company. I explain and his response is “Like Non-Disclosure Agreements?” The phone is ringing non-stop when I pour a second round. He proposes a toast, “to NDA and burritos smothered in cheese.” Sometime during our second drink the security guard shows up and takes my new friend away.

I shut off my computer and fill up my cup, emptying the bottle. Maybe tomorrow I will ask for an upgrade. I take a drink and leave the phone ringing.


The Devil Wears Black Leather Excerpt #3

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The Vegas Diaries – My First Time

Everyone remembers different aspects of Vegas during their first time. Unfortunately you only get one. I remember the heat; it was the first time I was really exposed to the desert and the dry air that comes with Cacti and strippers. Hot air that hits you in the face as you step out of the airport. Far away from reality, and into the taxi line where everyone is waiting.   The line was at least 100 people long, but that’s not what amazed me. It was all of the different walks of life: race, gender, sexuality, and age all with the same look, the same glisten in their eyes. They all had hope, they all knew they were going to have the time of their lives, or at least, a moment as they go for it. I know I had it. I could tell this was going to be a different experience when our plane descended in and I looked out and saw the strip. My leg began involuntarily shaking, a tear formed in my eye.

I check in at Bally’s and then I headed right for the Black Jack table. Technically I was there for work, but it was only for a conference and I didn’t plan on going and SPOILER ALERT: never went. Anyway, what do they expect sending a twenty-one year old kid out to Vegas? I guess that’s why they asked me if I’d been before and wisely I lied and said yes, twice. When they asked me if I gamble I scrunched my face as if it was worse than touching a child.

Back to the table, in no time I was playing Black Jack and already down fifty dollars, but with free drinks on the way and beautiful women ever two feet I quickly fell in love with Las Vegas.

After the first night I was down one thousand dollars, half of my life savings, but it was okay. I still had two more nights and now I knew Black Jack wasn’t my game. The next night I would play roulette, but first, I would play the horses. I had a system. Despite only sleeping four hours I felt reenergized. I went down to the sports book, but since the horses hadn’t started yet went to play roulette. I purchased $100 worth of chips and placed half of them on the numbers five and eight. Systems are made to be adjusted. Next spin was eight. I collected my winnings (over $700) and put $300 on black. The ball rolled forever till it landed on Black 5. I collected my money and went to eat a nice big breakfast. I was back to even and the horses were going to start in one hour.

Three hours later I started drinking heavy. I walked to the bar located in the center of the casino because the “freebie” drinks were just not coming fast enough. Again, I was down one-thousand dollars. I went back to roulette and lost another five hundred before going back to the bar and drinking until I passed out.

I slept most of my last day and then it was my final night. My last chance to win my money back. Maybe even win a couple of dollars. After all, I had come to Vegas to win, not lose.

By 6pm I was broke, I went to the ATM and maxed out my one credit card and then lost that as well. I went to the bar to spend my last few dollars. This is where I met Sheila, who was also known as Trikki. She was an escort that worked the Bally’s casino high rollers and on slow nights the strip.   She listened to my story and I guess was saddened, but also very wise. She mentioned my expense account and that I could still party and given it was my last night in Vegas – it was my duty to party. You have to trust me that this all made perfect sense at the time. She asked me to take her to my room where we spent the night dancing under the covers and ordering room service. It wasn’t until the morning that I thought about how I was going to explain the five bottles of champagne in one night on my expense report, but then again it didn’t really matter. I was coming off one of the best nights of my life. It was my first time in Las Vegas. The next morning I was dead broke, probably losing my job and riding shotgun while Sheila drove me to the airport. Despite my bleak outlook I was sporting the Vegas grin.

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The Queen

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Sasha was 25 when she finally confronted her mother. Mom, mom – just tell me, was I adopted? Who is my father!

You weren’t adopted. Sasha’s mother goes to the bathroom. When she comes back she sits back down at the table. In front of her sits Eggs Benedict, whole wheat toast and a glass of scotch. Sit down, it’s time you heard the whole story. She takes a long drink, finishing her glass. Sasha moves across the room and grabs the bottle, pausing to look out the open door of their 21st floor apartment terrace overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge, there is a refreshing fall breeze pouring into the smoke filled room. She refreshes her mother’s drink.

It was the early nineties, before Cobain killed himself and cocaine was still okay. Partying was second nature and my hood was the Meatpacking District, specifically Gansevoort and Hudson. At first, it was just a scene, something to do. Get all dressed up and go out. Then the drugs came. I know you’ve seen my sober chips, it’s been many years. Sasha’s mother takes another drink. The chips aren’t for this, for something much worse. You see, before I was your mother… She finishes her drink and reaches for the bottle, filling her glass half-way… I was a queen. This is where I met your mother and we hooked up one night. A few weeks later she found me and told me she was pregnant. She never wanted a baby, but I did so we had an arrangement and after you were born you were mine. She pauses. I’m not your mom, I’m your father. A few years after I had the operation and became who I am today. I don’t know how all this happened. Your mom… Your birth mom was really into cookies and pills and unfortunately it was the pills that eventually took her. She always said there were ways of killing yourself without killing yourself. She wasn’t totally wrong. She was a good person, made of marshmallows and sensitivity.

Sasha stands up and throws her arms into the air. You are just telling me this now and you are so calm, what the fuck?

Her mother stands with glass in hand. She drains her glass and then grabs her breakfast. You want drama kid? She runs out to the terrace and throws the Eggs Benedict off the terrace. There, now what? Now what am I supposed to eat? Go to the deli and get an egg and cheese on a roll like a savage? What did you want to hear? That’s the truth.

How did you know I was yours? Sasha is tapping her foot on the floor as her mom comes back inside. Her mother sits back down at the table, Sasha sits. You don’t want to hear about what I did to get by; you don’t want to hear about the million blow jobs, do you? Sorry Sasha I’ve always been a person that needed excitement. The eighties bored me, too John Hughes for me, plus, I was a leash baby. I wanted to be bad. The yogurt craze wasn’t enough. I just knew. I knew you were mine.

Sasha walks over to a cabinet above the sink and grabs a glass, comes back and pours herself a drink. She says nothing, draining her drink in two gulps. After, she looks at her mom and then walks onto the terrace, slowly walking to the edge and leans over the railing, looking down on the traffic. She laughs and looks back at her mom. She yells, what was your name? Her mother yells back, Christopher. Sasha smiles and then walks back inside, kisses her mom on the cheek and sits down.

They both pour another drink. It was going to be okay. Right now they need to figure out what they are going to have for breakfast.


The Devil Wears Black Leather Excerpt #2

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Chapter 2

Las Vegas is a dangerous place and no hotel is more dangerous at two o’clock in the morning than The Hard Rock Hotel. You look around and see S&M dancers, gambling, big tits, and the effects of rampant steroid use. To your left there is live music and tacos, to your right, a tattoo parlor. Eddie wonders if this is the place Hunter S. Thompson was searching for.   Eddie glances at his watch; it’s getting later, which means the risk factor of being arrested is increasing. Eddie is wearing his trademark oversized Elvis aviators. He smirks, as he watches the Black Jack tables, thinking that for a true payout there needs to be risk, needs to be danger. There needs to be a body. Eddie scans his head across the Casino floor, the look of the American dream, he thinks; of course, it’s hard to see underneath the aviators.

Five hours earlier…

Eddie is at MGM placing fifty dollar chips on number one. The roulette wheel spins three times with no luck so Eddie goes to the gym where he focuses on legs and back and then to the sports book at Bally’s where he smokes a cigar and watches the horses. After three failed trifecta bets it is time for Eddie to pick up his pink Cadillac in the front of the Casino. Eddie drives Sahara Boulevard north, passing palm tree farms and neon graveyards, and then finally hooks back onto the strip, landing at The Bellagio.

Eddie drops his car with the valet, grabs his bag and after five minutes locates Sal, his working partner for the night. Like Eddie, Sal will be dressed as Elvis. The big difference is that Eddie is a performer, and Sal, well Sal is a male stripper. This is the second bachelorette party they have worked in the past week. Sal approaches Eddie and tells him about his date the night before and how they both ended the night sucking each other’s dicks. Eddie wished Sal would just keep it professional with a low-profile on his personal life. The way Elvis worked.

There is a small dressing room off to the side where Eddie puts on his white jumpsuit, belt and scarves. He slides his TCB ring onto his index finger and then poses in front of a mirror. No need to attach the sideburns or put on the glasses, this is all part of the natural package. Eddie rummages through his bag, looking for his cape. No cape, where could he have left it? Eddie stands for a moment as he wonders.   Outside the room Eddie can hear Sal working up the girls. He peeks out and sees the bachelorette kissing Sal on the mouth and grabbing his ass. Eddie takes a deep breath and walks through the door.

Elvis has entered the building.

Eddie starts it off with “I’m so Lonely” followed by “Hound Dog”, and then shakes his hips to “Shake, Rattle, and Roll”. It’s during the last song that Eddie gives one of his scarves to the bride to be. Her name is Courtney and she puts her hand down the front of Eddie’s shirt, eventually reaching below the belt. He laughs and backs away. Eddie plays “Suspicious Minds”, “Jailhouse Rock”, and then dedicates “Love Me Tender” to Courtney. At the end of the show Eddie slips Courtney a card that on the back has a hand written time and address. The front simply says, Elvis.

***

The North side of Vegas is where the real action is. Few cops patrol this non-tourist area unless they are filming television shows. The Lucky Paradise isn’t in the travel books, in fact it is so far off the strip even the hookers have trouble finding it. There is no roulette. No showgirls. No free drinks. There isn’t even a slot machine. The vending machine on the second floor carries only RC Cola.

Eddie is still dressed in his costume, sitting at the end of the bed, surfing channels on the television set, settling on a Nash Bridges rerun. Eddie picks up his bag and throws it onto a chair when a card for an escort service that was stuck to the bottom flies off. Eddie stares at the card, grimaces, and then tears it up. Looking around, unable to locate a trash bin, Eddie just throws the brightly colored pieces of cardboard into a corner.  The overall look of the room is drab: drab curtains, drab bedspread, and drab carpeting. On the pillow rests a peppermint candy and a 3M sticky note that reads GOOD LUCK!

The knock at the door causes Eddie to look up at the door, then down at his watch. Courtney is on time.

Courtney falls forward as Eddie opens the door, landing on her left knee. She gets up and tries to lick Eddie who moves back, causing her to fall forward again, and this time landing on her right knee. Eddie asks her to make her self comfortable and relax on the bed. Courtney removes her shirt and sits on the end of the bed as Eddie stands with his back to her, opening a bottle of red wine. Courtney slurs something about her fiancée and how it isn’t cheating if it’s Elvis. Eddie mumbles something about cheating and then clearly replies, “Elvis was a religious man”.

“Whatever”, barely makes it out of Courtney’s mouth as she stands up and approaches Eddie, grabbing him from behind, by his Elvis belt. Eddie doesn’t budge, instead removing the cork from the bottle, and then dipping the corkscrew into the wine. “The blood of Christ” says Eddie as he turns around and plunges the corkscrew into Courtney’s forehead. She screams and falls back onto the bed. Eddie jumps on top of her and straddles her. The louder she screams the harder Eddie twists his wrist, sending the corkscrew deeper into her skull. Eddie grimaces once the skull cracks through, not his first time, but also not a sound you ever really get used to. Courtney shakes her hips and then there is nothing. As Eddie removes the corkscrew he notices the wine and blood now mixed along with brain mass, dripping onto Courtney’s face. It’s at this very moment Eddie remembers where he left his cape.

Elvis has left the building.

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