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The King Is Dead. Long Live the King

This is the best dream I’ve ever had.

I’m cruising in my first car, a 1979 Impala, back in my hometown. I don’t know where I’m going—maybe I’m not going anywhere—it just feels good to be back in my big old Chevy, driving.

It’s a gorgeous day—early summer, just getting hot, the sun mellow and beneficent. Eventually, I am so bewitched by the day that I have to get out into it. I pull over to the side of the road. After giving the Impala a loving farewell caress, I get my bike out the trunk and continue my lazy, aimless journey.

I ride. Overwhelmed for a moment by the luxury of sun and breeze on my skin, I close my eyes. I open them to I discover that I have a companion. A skinny old man—impeccably neat in creased slacks, short sleeve dress shirt, canvas golf cap and horn-rimmed glasses—is pedaling along beside me. I acknowledge him with a nod; he nods back. After a few minutes of weird silence, he points to my right. Past the road, past the sidewalk, I see a paved bike path running through a field. I look back at the old man, but he just continues to point. I turn my bike and start down the path.

It’s nice to be off the road, biking through gentle, Ohio hills of fragrant grass. Eventually, the open fields give way to trees, and the pavement ends. I continue to ride through the forest, following a dirt trail that narrows as the trees grow thicker. Finally, the path lets out onto a small clearing and ends altogether.

This enclosed meadow is lovely—overgrown grass and wildflowers, all aglimmer in the dappled light. I lay down my bike and continue on foot. After a time of wandering through the daisies and Queen Anne’s lace, I notice a small house in the distance, camouflaged beneath the branches of an ancient willow. Strangely compelled, I walk toward it.

A figure moves from behind the little house. I cannot yet make out the face—just a pompadour, shiny and black as a crow’s wing, and a gleaming white satin shirt. The air around me glows; pollen sparkles and dances in the green, golden sun. I know something wonderful is happening.

A little closer, and I recognize the man standing before me. It’s Elvis.

He’s beautiful—healthy and happy and gracefully old. He smiles at me. Something inside me—an anxiety that I didn’t even know I had—is washed away in a wave of brilliant joy. I am overwhelmed by profound relief, so happy to know that Elvis is alive and glorious.

In an instant, I understand everything—how Elvis had to disappear to save himself, how he had to return to the simplicity to which he was born to cleanse himself. I understand that he did this for me, for all of us.

“So, this is where you’ve been hiding,” I say. Elvis just laughs and opens his arms. Enraptured, I walk toward him, dazzled by the glow of his white satin shirt. I press my head to his chest, and his arms surround me. My head fills with light as I dissolve into the vast, radiant, loving heart of the King.

Me in the Meditation Garden at Graceland

August 16, 2005 | Permalink

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