|Diggin' Up Elvis
Every evening, like clockwork, Boris Chopskiss would rise up out of an
animal slumber and stomp a path to his shower. He would let steaming
water wash over this huge head until something resembling consciousness stirred
inside there. While still in the shower, he would bellow for his autophone
to order three of four breakfasts. By the time the airtowel had dried off
the surface of his huge body, food had appeared. He would feed savagely till
there was nothing left. He would then dress his gorilla-like frame in a
perfectly tailored suit, stalk his way to the maglift and grunt "Penthouse".
When the maglift identified his voice, up he would go, to the two hundred and
twentieth floor. His routine began like this every night.
But tonight when the eyeprint scanner let Boris into Mr. Frank Shiller's
suite, things were different from usual. He didn't find his boss in bed with
one of his "little friends", or plugged into his blood purifying machine.
Instead he found Frank sitting in front of his panoramic picture window,
staring across space in the general direction of the Temple of Elvis, lost in
thought. The Las Vegas Star Times Daily Readout was on, but floating
uselessly near the window, where it had been discarded.
Boris had seen this kind of behavior many times before. He knew what it
meant. An animal smile cracked open his huge jowls. He dropped his broad
ass into a big floating hoverchair, which drifted towards the floor
cushioning the shock, then drifted back to its proper height. Boris waited.
And to amuse himself, he played with the autobartender in the chair arm,
making the bar send him third pints of beer, one every twelve and a
half minutes. And waited. He cycled in the hard stuff, a half a shot with
every third beer. The night passed by in total silence, neither man moving
nary a muscle. Boris dozed, the autobartender idled on hold, and Frank
Shiller continued to sit in a trance like state, barely breathing.
The year is 2065. Ultra-conservative politics guided by giant
corporations keep a tight reign on American life. When the ACLU was
abolished in 2010, and the right to free speech was amended, there were great
waves of immigration to more liberal lands, which was fine with the decent
moral minority whose intolerance ruled with an iron fist. But even an
uptight Law and Order Gone Mad America needs its dirty little back room. So
God Bless Las Vegas, an air-conditioned heaven surrounded by a hundred
thousand square miles of hell. Vegas alone has reverted back to its
traditional style of doing "business". The honest con game is considered a
quaint touch of nostalgia from a distant past. The Vegas style. It's down
to earth in its own cynical yet somehow innocent way. This town has always
primed it's own kind on a rich diet of fast lines, easy money and zero moral
This outlaw strain of natural selection has produced its true golden
child in Mr. Frank Shiller. Here is the most fine-tuned silver tongued devil
ever invented. He has made millions, thrown them away and made more, over
and over again. It is all just too easy for a man who can pick any brain at
a thousand feet, a man with a special gift in the land of the gifted. He
could talk his way into any vault buried beneath any casino, and had. Lately
he'd felt as empty as the vast desert beyond the bright lights that create
the illusion of Vegas.
From his panoramic perch Frank Shiller could see it all. A glance to
the right and there's downtown. It's as if the old casinos were little
seedlings for the giant sequoias which have now sprouted, fed by and ever
flowing river of sucker bucks. He can shift his eyes to the left and look
straight down The Strip, which is grasping out twenty miles toward the gold
of California. Inside them the sports books feature battles to the death,
broadcast from less regulated parts of the world. If the marks run out of
cash and credit, they can bet with their internal organs, their eyes and
limbs. Or those of their wives and children. It's all currency. The Vegas
rule is No Rules. It is considered Necessary Evil Land. It tries to live up
to its reputation. Quite a sight. The only place left for a fun loving guy
like Frank Shiller.
A mind like Frank's simply cannot lie dormant. Even without trying, it
was forever coming up with a new angle. An unconscious habit. But even
Frank was amazed at what was cooking in there this time.
He finally broke the silence. "Chopsie, did you read today's paper?
"Well you should, buddy. There's always something interesting happening.
Take a look at this." Frank touched with a fingertip and slid the hologram
projection of the Vegas Star Times over to the slouching giant. The article
he had highlighted was about a professor in the Genetic Sciences Department
over at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
"Whatsis, not Professor Rainer? The worst gambler I eva seen. I neva
unnastood why youse always bailin' him out."
"Aw, Chopsie, I'm just a soft touch, you know that."
"I believe in helping out a man who's struggling with something bigger
than he is. Especially a guy as smart as Rainer. You know the parable, the
Lion and the Mouse, don't you?"
"Pair a bulls, a lion and a mouse? All I know is he muss owe you all his
guts and both legs, an' probably over a million bucks, an' all he eva gave
you is that blood machine of yours."
"Just read. You do read, right buddy?"
"Whatchit, Red Rider."
Chopskiss read. Seems Professor Rainer had come up with a method of
speed cloning genetic samples. Any genetic samples. And he had linked this
process together with a method for obtaining genetic samples from long
decayed genetic sources. Any long decayed genetic sources. It made local
news because the head coach of the university basketball team had tried to
get Professor Rainer to do his bit for the Runnin' Rebels, who could use some
fresh blood, so to speak.
Many of the finest Rebels ever to run were buried in a cemetery known
unofficially as slam dunk hill, near Lake Mead. The head coach had offered
Professor Rainer 5 million and the undying gratitude of UNLV if he would
resprout 5 or so of these all time Hall of Famers for the Team the Team the
Team. The Board of Regents found out and had the coach fired. And the
Federal Government was stepping in to take control of the professor's
research. End of article. In this day and age, nothing too spectacular.
Except that the diamond laser mind of Frank Shiller was lighting up like a
casino full of one arm bandits, all paying off simultaneously.
Boris pushed the readout away. "OK, I read it, now can we go out?"
"Now let me give you a little background on the Temple of Elvis over there."
"Aw, no, not that goddamn place! What a racket. The biggest scam yet."
"Chopsie, try to see it like this. See, the Temple of Elvis is no money
grubbing casino. It's a cause, a crusade, a major religion. Right there is
the world headquarters of a corporation that pulls down over 20 billion a
year, with NO TAXES! Did you know they got their own TV satellites?"
"So they got the marks to go for it. It's still bullshit."
"Buddy, just listen, you're missing the point. They've got one product
for sale, and they pay all the royalties to themselves. They've got a free
and clear monopoly on the VERY SYMBOL of lost American innocence and purity.
The Dark Angel of Graceland is a thousand time bigger now than when he was alive."
"Yeah, well why ain't they back in Memphis with their great whatsit?"
"That's a good question, buddy. There's hope for you yet. See Chopsie,
it got too big for Memphis. The cult leaders tried to force the city to
rename the place Elvis, Tennessee! Said that was what the world knew it for,
anyway. But the city said no, so the Elvisites made their holy pilgrimage to
Vegas. And after the usual grease on the wheels, they were invited to come
on in and practice their , uh, religious freedoms in any way they saw fit.
After all, wasn't Vegas originally established by the good Mormons for that
"Oh yeah, religion's big around here."
"Why, of course, Vegas is a very spiritual place", he said with a
"A rosy dawn was brushing away the darkness that insulated the world's
greatest concentration of artificial lighting. "Well Frank, you did it. You
wasted the whole night dreamin' an' talkin' shit."
"I'm just gettin' to the good part, Chopsie. Old Professor Rainer's
gonna get his chance to square with me, just like I always thought he would."
"Oh yeah, Rainer. What's he got to do with the Temple of Elvis?"
"Let's grab some breakfast and go see the old boy. You're gonna love this."
Professor Rainer, even though he was well into his hundreds, didn't look
a day over seventy. He was still making his way to the Human Genetics
Building early each morning, before he could be bothered by any students or
nosy fellow professors, just so he could check his blood stream and body
tissue for signs of deterioration. He was the oldest member of the faculty
by thirty years, and he definitely had a few tricks up his venerable sleeve.
Too bad he could never get a scientific handle of probability and games of
chance. Not for lack of trying. But he was a skin meister, not a dry calc man.
He was busy with his blood scan, so it took a full minute for him to
notice the bright red Lamborghini Airster that was hovering outside his lab
Staring in at him like two grinning jackals that had just trapped a juice
rabbit were Shiller and Chopskiss, his good "friends".
"What the hell do these buzzards want?", the professor wheezed to no
one. He knew that whatever it was, he wasn't going to like it, and that he
wouldn't be able to refuse, either. He waved them on in.
Professor Rainer was flustered. He yanked his finger out of the blood
scanner before it was ready to give it back, slicing the fingertip open.
Blood oozed down his hand and into his sleeve before he noticed. He wiped
blood across the front of his white lab coat, creating the effect more of a
20th Century butcher than a Twenty First Century genius geneticist.
"Ah, the Mad Doctor! See Chopsie, I told you the Doc was a get down
kinda guy", Frank said as he sauntered into the lab like he owned it.
"Greetings, my good friends", the professor said, faking cordiality,
"what a pleasant surprise to see you."
"Yeah, yeah, Doc, just like Christmas, huh? And this time you get to
play Santa Claus for a change."
"What can I do for you, Mr. Shiller? Is the blood machine on the blink?"
"Naw Doc, nothing so, uh, run of the mill this time. Heh heh. Got a
special little opportunity for you, a chance to square up your account."
"I always said I'd do anything you ask, and I meant it...", Rainer said,
feeling like he had just put his head in a noose.
"Cheer up, Doc, don't look so worried. This is gonna be fun. You're
gonna get a chance to prove your latest and greatest theory. This would
probably win you the Nobel Prize, that is if we could tell anybody, which
unfortunately we can't."
"My latest theory? You're talking about the accelerated cloning
technique or the regeneration process?"
"But the Federal Physiologic Commission is taking complete control. The
bastards will be here this afternoon. I'm going to retire."
"But we're here this morning, Doc. I'm gonna set you up with your very
own private lab. Somewhere the feds can't wipe they're sticky fingers all
over your notes. You'll have total control, no interference. Now wouldn't
that be nice?"
"Why, yes...I'd like that very much, only...."
"See Doc, we need each other. My only condition is that I choose the uh,
Rainer flinched. "Who will this subject be? Some criminal?"
Doc, Doc, what do you take me for? What do you think, I want to bring
back Bugsy Segal? Heh heh. It's a surprise! But tell me one thing. Does it
matter how long he, uh, the subject has been dead?"
The old man swelled his bloody lab coat as far as his collapsed fib cage
would allow. "Not at all. I could give you Jesus Christ, if you could bring
me his remains. No sacrilege intended, just a figure of speech."
"You're warm, Doc. Heh heh. So, you need to pick up anything from
around here, or from your place?"
"Pick up anything? Why?"
"You're about to disappear. Somewhere private, where you won't be
interfered with, right?"
"Well, I guess that would be all right..."
"Chopsie, give the good doctor a hand. I'll be back in two shakes with a
moving van. This project is going underground."
Frank was happier than he'd been in years. It felt good to be getting
back into "business". He buzzed the strip as he headed south out of town.
he was anxious to see how "the garage" was holding up.
Way out south of Vegas was an abandoned garage collapsing with time
against the foot of a mountain of flint, slowly becoming one with the sand.
To a causal observer it was just another long dead carcass gradually fading
away. There was no road left to it and no sign of life for miles around.
From 2 miles away Frank spoke into the remote control unit in his hand.
"Open garage door", and the old mechanical door creaked to life, barely
opening enough to allow the red blur of the Lamborghini Airster to slip in.
"Down lift", Frank spoke into the remote, and the entire floor of the
service bay began to sink into the darkness beneath the garage. Down forty
feet along a stainless steel shaft, the fake garage floor and its cargo
floated noiselessly finally coming to rest gently in total darkness.
"All lights on", Frank said, and a huge natural cavern the size of an
airplane hangar was flooded with light. Frank's "garage" had been the
staging area for some of his best schemes. The strange equipment used to
build many highly special devices was scattered around the floor of the huge
room: mighty forges, laser blades, cranes, a complete electronics factory, a
sterile lab sealed off by clearplate.
Frank wheeled the Airster over to the motorpool area and got out, letting
it rest down on its landing gear. he hitched up his trousers and walked
around the garage with a inward smile on his lips. Nobody had been in here
for three years, but everything seemed to be in perfect shape
and ready to go. He played with some of his toys for a while, then strolled
back over to the motorpool, climbed up into the cab of a big truck. He
switched the magturbo engine to life and eased it over to the floor of the
false garage floor platform.
"Up lift, all lights out", and he rose back up to ground level. "Open
garage door". The big truck whirred quietly and swiftly away across the
Within 3 hours Frank and Boris had loaded all of Professor Rainer's
equipment and necessary supplied onto the truck. They moved the old boy into
the living quarters in the garage. Within three days they'd recharged and
restocked the homemaker robotics with everything the professor required.
When he was settled in, they made a beeline to Memphis in the Lamborghini
magtowing a specialized airtight airtrailer. The autopilot dodged other air
traffic and chose a route far flanking standard skyways, getting them to the
bluff city a little after dark on E-day 4. They checked into the Peobody
Hotel and went for mock ribs at the Rendezvous beneath downtown Memphis.
As Boris plowed through his forth order of ribs, Frank sat lost in
thought, playing a shuffle on his plate with two picked bones. he sang
Chopskiss a little song to the tune of Jailhouse Rock.
"Come on people, I gotta new plan
We'll get our kicks and start a new band
So grab a shovel, and lend me a hand
The leader of the band's our number one man
We're diggin', diggin' up Elvis tonight
That graveyard will be rockin' cause we're Diggin' up Elvis tonight."
"You tryin' to get us in a fight, Red Rider?", Chopsie said, as if he
wouldn't love a good fight.
The following night they made their move. They were the last souls still
inside the gates of Elvisland, the ultra gaudy theme park that had as its
centerpiece the celebrated Graceland Mansion. The park's electronic security
system scanner the ground for any straggles, but Frank Shiller had them
They waited. About three in the morning they worked their way around back
of the mansion to the famous grave site. The place was loaded with alarm
systems, which Boris methodically disarmed. By 5 AM there was nothing to
keep them from carefully slicing away the earth with a laser blade, raising
the coffin out of the ground with a portable magnetractor, and summoning the
Lambourghini and trailer by remote. They transferred the contents of the
coffin (Elvis dust) to a special container in the trailer, put everything
back just like it was and rearmed all the security systems. Then the
silently stole away into the sky with Elvis' earthly remains in tow. No
sweat. They were back in Vegas by happy hour.
There were five very efficient assistants working for Professor Rainer in
Franks secret lab. They suspected that it was a top secret government
project, these suspicions nurtured by subtle hints that were "accidentally"
leaked. But the whole arrangement was pretty strange. They had each
been brought in from a different city, no questions asked and none
answered. The huge man who hired them had them each sign a very
unusual contract, where they swore not to talk among themselves and
never to try to get in touch with each other after the work was completed.
The pay was incredible, enough to make up for the penalty for breach of
contract: The forfeit of all salaries, all fingers and toes, and their
Each morning they were picked up from separate living quarters in a
windowless van and brought to the lab, never knowing where it was. They were
ordered to keep to themselves, and not to use their names, just colors, like
Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, Mr. Burnt Umber. After a three month period, they were
all returned to their respective cities, and warned that the terms of the
contract were still in effect.
During the next phase the Professor alone fussed and fiddled around his
stainless steel "womb". Frank had promised him a beautiful retirement after
his work was done. A comfortable villa was waiting for him in the south of
France. He daydreamed of it as he watched over the chrome egg that would
hatch a King.
The blessed event came after a gestation period of 7 months. The
professor weighed the infant and fed and studied him for another month. It
Boris took Professor Rainer to France where, under an assumed name, he
lived happily for his remaining years (decades), never knowing or caring
whose DNA he had recycled.
The Boulder Dam Foundation, was once a tax shelter front for some of
Frank's holdings, was now completely dormant. There were many cozy
dwelling units within it. This became the new base of Shiller's marvelous
scheme. E2's nursery was set up. Teams of 3 nurses as a time were
brought in from rural locations in northern Mississippi and east Tennessee,
and sent home after one and a half month periods. That way, they wouldn't
notice too much how incredibly fast the baby grew. He grew the equivalent of
six months every three weeks, and accelerating. The reason they were from the
Memphis sprawl area was so the baby E2 would be immersed in his "native"
accent. No stone unturned Shiller didn't miss a trick.
A quote from "The Legend Lives", the official periodical readout of the
Temple of Elvis:
The Temple has won an important new convert, Mr. Frank Shiller,
a powerful member of the Las Vegas business community. Mr. Shiller
can bring his expertise in business and legal matters to the Board of
Directors, of which, due to a major purchase of shares of Graceland
Enterprises, he is the newest member. The Temple is very blessed to have
a leader of the community like Mr. Shiller in Powerful and Blessed arms of
the mighty mighty love of Elvis. We welcome our new brother!
Frank spent plenty to get his foot in the door of the Board of Directors.
Dozens of recreated Cadillacs were built as gifts to powerful ministers and
Board members. he anonymously bought a beauty salon near the Temple and
named it "Viva Las Vegas". It specialized in bouffants and beehives that all
the women of the Temple were crazy about, also one day plastic
surgery do-overs. Frank figured this would be a good way of collecting
random bits of gossip about goings on within the Temple.
Frank began spending a lot of time in the Elvis Archives and making
especially good friends with the Head Archivist, a fifty year old swingin'
gal named Zenith Swenson. Zenith, like may of the most dedicated women
followers of Elvis, had had herself redone by a plastic surgeon as one of His
leading ladies from His movies. Her favorite flick was Franky and Johnny, so
she looked just like Donna Douglas. There was even an Annette Funicello, who
was never in an Elvis movie. That was an old babe who felt she had to make a
statement of her individuality.
For Zenith, Frank's gift was the talk of the Temple. is was a swimming
pool in the shape of a guitar, just like the one Elvis had in Beverly Hills.
The women of the Temple were very jealous of Zenith's nocturnal desert rides
with Frank on the back of a recreated Harley Davidson.
Frank being Frank, he had an ulterior motive for the attentions he
lavished on Zenith. He needed complete access the jealously guarded
archives. He eventually removed and copied every photo, every film, TV
special, interview, home movie, out take and recording Elvis ever did. He
organized them carefully at the Boulder Dam Foundation in a special room of
huge screens and playback equipment with a full stage, all designed to
bombard E2 with himself. He studied the Memphis drawl and mastered it so E2
would be sure t' tawk rite.
Meanwhile Boris Chopskiss was quite restless. He would accompany Frank to
functions and became a familiar sight around the Temple, but he didn't get
the kick out pull the wool over their eyes that Frank did. He
liked action, not mind games. Plus, Frank was always busy now, he never
had time to go out and "rape, pillage and plunder" like they used to do.
Boris amused himself with a couple of the Nancy Sinatras, but he secretly
became despondent and bitter.
14 hours a day, 7 days a week Frank and young E2 worked. Frank had never
been a guy who went in for hero worship, but in spite of himself he saw what
people liked so much about Elvis. It was the innocence, the lack of
pretension, the childlike spirit of play in the way he approached
entertaining. This is what he felt was the most important element to insure
came across in young E2. The kid was growing so fast, it was unbelievable.
And he, Frank Shiller, was teaching the lad how to become himself. Though it
went against his cynical grain, Frank was really taken by the spirited
developing young man. The kid WAS good.
Young Elvis had plenty of questions and the silver tongued Shiller had to
come up with lots of answers. One day E2 asked the big one. "Frank, kin you
tell me somethin'? If Ah lived and died in th' 20th Century, how come Ah'm
"Well E, lemme see if I can explain that to you. I guess you could call
it a miracle. A miracle of modern science."
"Don't real miracles come straight from God?"
Frank started to sweat. "Well you're here and you're real, aren't you?
And when you look at the stars and the great void of outer space, the fact
that the Earth is here, and we humans are here is a miracle. Now did God
have a hand in it? You're guess is as good as mine. I'm just trying to be
honest with you, E. It's a mystery. It's all a mystery, and nobody in this
world really knows for sure how it all happened." Frank held his breath.
"Huh. Well, I believe in God, Frank. I think he brought us all here for
"That's a good way to feel, buddy, a good way to feel."
"We'll whadda ya' thank them people over at th' Temple'r gonna thank?"
"They're not gonna think anything, E, they'll just be glad to see you.
They been waitin' a hundred years."
"Well that's awful nice of them Frank, but kin you tell me why?"
Frank Shiller was stumped by this one. He didn't understand why they
idolized Elvis. They just did and it mad an incredible amount of money,
which was where he came in. He sat in thought for a minute. "I guess they
see something in you that they are missing in themselves. I guess that could
"Weird, huh man?"
Yeah, maybe a little. I guess you could say it's a big responsibility to
give them a good show for their money. You can do that, right E?"
"That's why Ah'm here, right Frank?"
"You got that right buddy. And you're just the man for the job."
"Thanks fer all yer help, man. Ah shore couldn't do it without cha."
"It's an honor, little buddy, really. It's been a trip for me too, you
know", Frank said, and he meant it.
As E2 approached his "twenties", just as the professor had predicted, his
aging speed began to decline and level off. By the time he reached "twenty
five" he would be aging at a normal rate. Frank was very proud of him.
He would sit back and watched from the darkness as E2 went through his
concert show, a mirror image of the original. Frank fell in love with him,
pure and simple.
January 8th, Elvis' birthday, is the reddest of red letter days on the
calendar of The Sacred Temple of Elvis. But this January 8th was destined to
shake and rattle the very foundations that Elvis worship was based on.
It began like any other January 8th in Vegas. There was a heat wave in
progress, with temperatures in the mid 90's. ALL the hotels were full of
"the Elvis crazies", as the locals referred to them. Elvis
impersonators were playing in almost every showroom in town, with a
scattering of Carl Perkins' and Jerry Lee Lewis' in some of the lounges.
Every place with a cash register was spilling over with Elvis items, like
Elvis dice, Elvis playing cards, Elvis clothing, Elvis pharmaceuticals, you
name it. Triple shifts of beauticians were working around the clock at Viva
Las Vegas Beauty Salon. There were parades and special promotions, special
menus at all the restaurants. No bakery in town could keep up with the
insatiable demand for jelly donuts. just like every year, Vegas was
completely taken over. But this year Frank Shiller was hatching his plot
that would change Elvis history forever.
Within the compound behind the Boulder Dam Foundation there were 42
recreated vintage black Cadillacs, one for each year of Elvis' life. His
first life. Boris was out there counting the cars one last time, kicking
tires and trying to look busy, but he felt like a jerk, unwanted and so unnecessary.
He was already sick of this Elvis thing, and it was just getting started.
Inside, Frank was excitedly chattering to the man of the hour, neigh, of
the century, the very image of the King of Rock and Roll. E2 was to lead
the battalion of black Caddies riding a full dressed Harley, and Frank and
Boris would be in the limo convertible right behind them. In each Caddie
there was a strong arm bodyguard, just for show. Zenith had secretly
assembled one hundred of the "Brides of Elvis", the nun-like order of
Prisilla lookalikes. They would ride in the procession to the Temple.
At the entrance to the Temple, Frank had had a stage built for a free
concert of Elvis music performed by big stars. At least that was the cover
story. It was to be broadcast throughout the Elvis Network to all the
Churches of Rock and Roll, and seen in the homes of at least 6 billion people
from Fairbanks to Abu Dabi. The band and the stage lay poised and waiting
for the supposed arrival of headliners. What Elvis lovers everywhere were
soon to witness was gonna blow their ever lovin' minds, baby.
It was an entrance of biblical proportions. On the mighty motor scooter
all dressed in black leather, HE sat, with His jet black hair (lack mah
momma) streaming behind those classic features. An instant traffic jam
traced the route of the motorcade, as people lost control of their hovercars
and crashed. They got out and ran along side the solemn train of Caddies
transfixed, a human tidal wave with but a single thought: IT'S HIM, IT'S
HIM! Down the entire length of the strip came the Chosen One and his
motorcade, and made it straight for the Temple. The word had spread
throughout Vegas and beyond. He rode the hog up the steps to the stage that
Frank built for his SMASH RETURN ENGAGEMENT.
With sly little grin E2 walked across the stage and looked into a nearby
camera, giving himself a closeup. He held up his hand. Everyone was
suddenly quiet. Time seemed to stop. He let out a laugh and shrugged off a
shiver of pure energy and leaned slowly towards a floating microphone.
"Shucks, evabody, Ah didn't know you was expectin' me."
A woman screamed down front, "IT'S HIM!" The crowd, waiting for something
to break the tension, let out a cheer that could be heard all the way to the
California line. Elvis raise his hand again.
"Well, I guess Ah know what yer all here for...." and he gave a hip wind
up windmill with a snap kick pop, he ignited the band into the entrance of
The crowd roar was deafening and unending. E2 stretched the vamp out
forever, striking poses and clowning with the people down front. The rampant
hysteria died down enough for him to start singing.. "Since may baby left
me..........." The crowd lost it's mind all over again, some people weeping
tears of joy, and some fainting.
With rolls of his hips, E2 could sway the audience outward in waves like
the field of a mighty magnet. By the time the song ended with "Ah'm feelin'
so lonely, Ah cud die...." , every last soul that watched, whether standing
right in front of him or ten thousand miles away in front of a screen, was
convinced that THIS REALLY WAS ELVIS. The sensation of being in the presence
of a miracle was overwhelming. Song after song, E2 was ripping their
ever-lovin' hearts out.
The air around the Temple became filled with silently hovering passenger
craft as people were drawn from L.A., San Francisco, Salt Lake,
anywhere near the occurrence of "The Miracle." The King and his Court ground
the afternoon down to nothing, pulling the crowd along on an emotional roller
coaster ride, leaving them spent, exhausted and in a state of numb devotion.
It was simply THE greatest Elvis Presley concert there ever was.
Just as the sun was setting over the mountains west of Vegas, E2 raised
his hands and everyone grew silent. The world held it's breath. He spoke.
"Ah, Ah'd lack to thank a very important man t' me rat now, if that's
awrite. This man an' his belief in miracles brung me back t' you good
people. Mah bess frein' an' a real fine fella, Mr. Frank Shiller."
There was mumbling and polite applause as Frank stepped out on the wing of
the stage and gave a quick shy little wave. The applause built to a solid
and thankful roar. Frank bowed humbly and stepped offstage.
Backstage, just 10 minutes before, in a fit of religious zeal, the Members
of the Board of the Temple had called an emergency meeting and elected Frank
as their new President and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately.
Frank was gracious in his humble acceptance of the great responsibility they
had bestowed on him.
The whole scheme had at this point come off exactly as Frank had planned
it. He now was in control of the richest and most powerful religion on the
face of the earth.
E2 didn't have a minute to himself for the better part of the next year.
The numbers of believers and disbelieves alike were endless, and all had to
be appeased with personal interviews, appearances and details of how
"The Miracle" had happened. Frank picked up a nickname: "The Colonel" He
loved it. He traveled with E2 everywhere, controlling every situation, and
essentially protecting his investment, which was paying off in spades. But
slowly the pace began to taper off. "Col." Shiller was completely bogged
down in the process of counting and "investing" the avalanche of cash that
was pouring in. The regal E-Suite 1 sprawled across the entire crowning
floor of the mighty Temple of Elvis, three hundred and sixty two floors above
On the floor of a darkened corner of the square acre of carpeting, E2
slouched in a heap like a man who had been in a three day streetfight. And
lost. He was breathing heavily and tearing angry fingers through his perfect
hair. He jerked his head up and stared at the ceiling, as if he was trying
to stare a hole right through it.
"Telephone", he demanded of the air.
"Ready to call....." a sex kitten voice sad softly from nowhere.
"Oh, thanksa lot. Ah, uh, Ah need to tawk to Frank Shiller, if Ah may,
"Anything you say, sugar." He wondered why the telephone was always
coming on to him.
After a few minutes the silky voice came back. "Honey, Ah'm sorry, but
Mista Shilla is jess knee deep in somethin' very important, and Ah'm shore
he'll get back to you at the first possible instant."
"Jess lak always, huh, sugar?"
"Aw, never mine, Ah'm jess tawkin' to myself."
"Uhmm...., was there somethin' else Ah could do for you, sug, uh,
dawlin'?" "Naw, Ah'm fine. Ah'm great. Uh, thanks, telephone off."
The air produced a soft beep. "Thanksa whole lot."
E2 felt utterly alone. this was something new and strange, being by
himself. His head was full of questions and his heart ached with a ravenous
emptiness that needed to be filled. Who was he, really? He had been doing a
lot of reading. All sorts of stuff. The Bible. Science fiction. He plowed
through every book on religion and philosophy he could punch up on his
He didn't mess around with girls too much, because they treated him really
weird, man. They couldn't just let him be a regular person. In fact, they
way all the people in the Temple looked at him was bugging him. They never
looked AT him, but always UP TO him. Even men taller than he was by six
inches seemed to scrunch up in his presence. And during the "services", they
all looked at him like he had ALL the answers. He knew he wasn't some kind
of spiritual being, he was flesh and blood, like them, and had problems just
like anybody else. He tried to talk to Frank about it, but this kind of talk
went through Frank's head like rain through a sieve, and left no trace.
There was really nobody who could see his predicament but him He was just a
man, one who liked to have fun and kid around. Not some kind of saint.
What did it all mean? He figured he'd better find out. They expected him
to know, but to him this cult business just didn't make sense. He had
himself a real dilemma. So, way up there in his upper room, with nowhere
else to turn, he read books. Day and night. He wanted desperately to learn
to play the hand he had been dealt.
"If what the think they need is a spiritual guide, then that's the tune
Ah'm gonna play.", he said to no one. Maybe they were getting what they
needed after all.
The wheel went around and before you could say "hound dog", it was Elvis'
birthday again. Big Day. Since E's second coming, the cult had quadrupled
in size, and the amount of money which flowed through the hands of Frank
Shiller was sickening.
There was talk among the members of the Board of buying all of Vegas,
everything, and doing something like Vatican City with it. A 24 hour a day,
365 days a year celebration of the greater glories of Elvis Consciousness!
Frank Shiller wasn't sure he was ready to feed his entire home town into
the hopper of organized religion. The thought of it made him feel ill. But,
this WAS the Elvis Season, and he hoped the plan would cool down as soon as
it was over for the year. All he knew for sure was that he needed a break.
Just get through this week and he could relax. He hadn't even talked to E2
in nearly 2 months, except for 5 minutes at a time. He hoped the kid was
ready for this.
The flood of Elvis crazies was worse than Vegas had ever seen. Every room
in every hotel was jam packed, ground and air traffic was just impossible,
and even the merchants, who were usually glad for the boom in business were
sick of these "religious" loonies. They were figured to be
the largest group of living souls ever gathered in one place: blank stares
on their faces, clothed in anything that represented them as Elvis
worshippers, no personality of their own. They looked like a race of
hypnotized rejects from the human race.
Elvis looked down on them from his upper room monitors and moaned. He
stared at the monitors in disbelief. "What're they doin' to themselves and
what do they want from me?", he cried.
The culmination of Elvis week was the Birthday Concert by the King
Himself. Tickets were impossible to get, even if you had the ten thousand
bucks for a seat in the Graceland Hall. Special screens were set up outside
the Temple grounds where devotees could stand out in the Vegas sun and see
what was going on inside the building.
The hungry crowd would fill these areas, but it wasn't nearly enough room
for them all. Every showroom in every casino was also equipped with a big
screen, plus every TV in Vegas was patched into the Elvis Network feed. And
the big show didn't stop there. The satellite system was patched through to
every corner of the earth through every last satellite which floated over the
Earth, so many that they often collided. Every Church of Elvis in every city
the world over was jammed to the rafters with the glassy-eyed Elvis freaks,
and in general the spectacle made the second coming of Christ look like a
rained out ball game. Overkill times a million. Out of control.
Frank Shiller was stressed beyond a point he had ever reached before.
What was this weird feeling that he couldn't shake? Was it his conscience
bothering him, Frank Shiller, the Prince of the Amoral? Couldn't be. And
Chopsie was acting really strange. Frank had never known his man of action
to be so withdrawn, so uncommunicative. Frank was used to running his own
show, and now he felt like his own show was running him. This was definitely
NOT what he had in mind when he first had this "great idea".
The warm-up festivities in the Graceland Hall had built to a climax as
Elvis stepped out onto the stage. The crowd went wild, leaping to their feet
and rushing to the foot of the stage. A formidable squad of bodyguards,
captained by Boris Chopskill, held back the mindless throng.
E2 raised his hands. A hush fell.
"First of all, Ah'd lack t' thank youall fer th' show of enthusiasm. Ah
know why ya thank yer here, but there's somethin' on mah mine, ''n Ah jess
gotta tell ya couple a thangs."
Murmurs flashed through the crowd. Frank, from his perch off stage,
watched them as they lurched back and forth behind the barricade, trying to
keep their feet in the human riptide. He was worried as he spoke into Boris'
ear with a wireless.
"Keep them off the barricade, Chopsie!". He was speaking into a ring on
his pinkie. Boris tried to comply, but the crowd kept pressing.
"Ya know, Ah've been studyin' 'bout how a religious figger should conduct
himself t' best hep those souls that he finds in his charge. That's youall.
It's been rough fer me t' come t' th' conclusion that Ah've come to, but Ah
believe Ah know what you people really need.
A huge cheer of absolute devotion rose up, here in the Graceland Hall and
in every other place that they were gathered in His name. They were
with him completely, and would do anything he wanted. At this point, E2
could have commanded that they take over the government, go to war, anything.
He could feel the full weight of the power he had over them, and he was sure
that what he was about to say was right.
Boris, from his viewpoint on the floor of the hall could see right into
the eyes of the followers, and into their brains. "Man, these freaks are
serious!", he whispered into his pinkie ring. he could feel the manic power
that was driving them. It smelled just like fear. He filled his lungs with
it and was exhilarated.
E2 raised his hands again.
"See people, we all'r down here, below th' Angles, below th' Saints, below
God. We're alack, you, me, n'everbody. We need hep from a higher place
than up here where Ah'm standin' on this stage. A lot higher. You need it,
an' Ah need it too."
The mob was talking among itself now, suspicious it was being taken
somewhere it didn't plan on being taken. A raw energy charged the air.
Someone shouted up to Elvis, "You are our King! We'll follow you
anywhere!" Hundreds of voices echoed the shout around the hall.
"Awrite, here it is. Now try to unnerstand what Ah'm sayin' to ya. All
this.......", he raised his arms up and waved up to the great arches that
enclosed the hall, ".....it's all a buncha bull. You wanna know why? 'Cause
evabody gotta do their OWN THANG, man. You gotta know it ain't no good
believin' evathang some egomaniac yells down a'cha from up on some damn
stage!" He stomps hard on the stage making it bank like a drum. Women
scream. "This stage ain't nothin' an' Ah ain't nothin' different from
any 'a youall! This here Temple and this whole cult thang ain't nothin' but
blinders on yer eyes!"
Now they shouted in anger at their deity, "You are a God! Elvis is our
God. ELVIS, ELVIS, ELVIS....." The chant grew and filled the hall like
Boris Chopskiss could see their wild confusion growing as E2 stood up
there and called everything they believed it a sham. They pressed in again,
but with a different mood, now they were mad and getting madder. He was
getting mad with them. He never like the little bastard anyway. How dare he
say those things!
E2 raised his hands again. Shouts tore through the tense silence this
time. He took a deep breath and spoke.
"An' so that's why Ah've decided to disband th' Elvis cult after this
day! It's all over! Evabody go on home. Ah'm doin' this fer yer own good.
By the power vested in me, I desolve the Temple of Elvis forever."
Stunned disbelief swirled through Graceland Hall like a small tornado.
"Yer each free from this day forward t' search yer own hearts for yer
own true answers, an' see t' yer own soul's salvation, free from anybody
tellin' you how to live, cuz zats th' only way yer eva gonna find it!"
Ugly shouts tore up from below E2's feet at the front section of the
crowd. Frank couldn't believe his eyes when he saw that it was Chopsie who
was bellowing up at E2.
"You're a fake! A FAKE! AN IMPOSTOR! You're not the real Elvis! You
should shut up!", Chopsie cried, and he was merely giving voice to the
inflamed feelings of the crowd around him. They lurched forward and
"FAKE! FAKE! FAKE! IMPOSTOR! SHUT UP!", they screamed, and blood was
in their eyes. It was suddenly a riot. Frank rushed out onto the stage to
try to protect E2 from the savage mass as they surged up like a big wave
breaking against the barricades, carrying Chopsie before them like a body
surfer, up and onto the stage. Frank threw himself in front of E2 just as
they got to him. He turned to look into Elvis' eyes and was amazed at the
cool expression on the famous face. E2 winked at him and his lip curled into
a half smile, as if he know this would happen, and accepted it. Frank turned
back just as Chopsie was pushed by those behind him, and he smashed into
Frank with a look on his face that said, "WHAT HAVE I DONE!"
The crew of bouncers tried to do something, but it was too late. In
front of the Temple, the tens of thousands of TV screens, the whole world,
Elvis Presley's body was clawed and torn as if by a pack of starving wolves.
His blood covered the hands and faces of the fans turned rabid animals as
they tore and bit at his clothes, his face, his body, and fought each other
for whatever part they could grab. Their prize, their piece of the kill.
Frank was trampled to death. Chopsie had his eyes gouged out. The
Temple was ransacked until nothing was left but the walls. Elvis had left
Elvis worshippers walked out into the streets of Vegas, and out of the
thousands of Churches of Elvis, into the streets around the world with blank
Some wandered deep into the Nevada desert where they died of thirst.
Many locked themselves into toilets with whole bottles of Dr. Nick's
Elvis-Som and ODed themselves. Packs of young boys went mad, on a murdering
rampage. Others just sat at home and starved themselves to death, never
uttering another word.
And there were those who got the message that E2 had for them. A
precious few. he died for them, so they could be free. Free of someone who
makes all their decisions, tells them what to think, what to love, how to
live. He died for them, to introduce them to themselves. They were free.
Free to dance to their own music, be it beautiful of raunchy, and to sing
their own song. Free to leave the jailhouse behind. Forever more, Amen.
Evabody, let's Rock.